Human beings must always be on the watch for the coming of wonders. –E.B. White
Human beings must always be on the watch for the coming of wonders. –E.B. White
A flock of crows circled overhead this morning –a sinister gathering of dark-winged forces that broke my backyard reverie.
“Nevermore,” they rasped.
“Nevermore,” the canyon echoed.
“No more,” I whispered, and hurried inside.
Friday the 13th. It’s a fretful date for many, steeped in a brew pot of superstitions and ominous warnings.
But not Freckles. I mean, c’mon! Sunny skies overhead and a bellyful of herring…who wouldn’t be reveling in their good fortune?
Life isn’t perfect, of course. Tsunamis hit and storm clouds threaten. But if anyone can teach us how to turn an inauspicious day toward the good, it’s Freckles. He just goes with the flow, our pinniped pal, and so can we.
#FrecklesFriday is a relatively new blog feature, here at Joyful Noise. Let me know what you think! (If you want to see the first few entries, click here.)
I met this sweet little harbor seal pup a year ago today.
Maverick showed up on my social media feed again this morning–
a gentle reminder of the goodness that exists in the world, within and all around us.
And loving kindness, which reveals itself in every single moment of every day.
To the vast blue ocean, I offered a single rose,
and whispered a simple prayer about gratitude and grace.
It was ushered into deeper waters by the outgoing tides.
The ocean swaddled it in velvet,
And sang to it sweet lullabies and old, familiar hymns.
Time passed. The tides rolled in and receded.
I waded in the shallows, watched the rosebud sink and rise again.
A deep peace washed over me, and when the tidewaters dipped to their lowest ebb, I discovered these treasures from the sea.
Is it any wonder that Freckles likes to lounge here, in Treasure Island Cove?
This is the face of a woman who shows the world her best side: friendly, confident, brave. Even when her insides are wracked by nausea. Even when her legs feel Gumby-ish and her ch-ch-ch-cherry-bomb shoes are cushioning the stabby pains of neuropathy. Even when her hair’s gone missing, and her puffy cheeks bear silent witness to the cumulative effects of cancer-fighting pharmaceuticals.
This is the face of my friend Donna–a woman who’s fighting cancer with every fiber of her being, and who challenges every stereotype you might have about that battle. Peek behind her mirrored sunglasses, and you’ll see the fierce look of determination in this warrior woman’s eyes.
Donna’s the pinniped-loving member of my posse. You might remember her from previous blog entries, including the one where she advised Secretary Clinton to “Let yourself be great!” She’s not one to ask many favors, but she’ll always support your dreams.
This is the point where Donna’s chemo buddy enters the story. Had you already noticed the woman in blue, with the beaming smile and sunny yellow laces? That’s Marilyn. An inspiring woman in her own right, she’s been waging war against cancer for more than two years now. If you’d asked me beforehand, there’s no way I could’ve predicted what they’d accomplish together in Boston, last Sunday.
The sun was strong and the humidity was almost unbearable. Even worse, both women were feeling the lingering effects of their latest chemo treatments. But Donna agreed to walk a “mere” six miles of a 26.2 mile marathon, alongside Marilyn. She wasn’t entirely sure how (or if) she’d make it, but they’d pledged their mutual support for The Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund, and it’s not like either one of them to renege on a promise.
Check out the sweatshirt! When Donna spotted it at the starting line, she just about fell out into a fit of laughter. Happenstance, or a secret nod from her harbor seal friend, Freckles? Food for thought. For sure, it fueled a few miles’ worth of discussion, as Donna explained to Marilyn the longstanding joke between the two of us. (Donna: You need to take a pail of herring to Freckles! Me: No way! It’ll stink up my car! Donna: Then roll down the window…let him smell you coming!“)
Donna followed through on her promise, and then some! She walked the entire 26.2-mile route with Marilyn–one foot in front of the other, from Hopkinton School to Fenway Park, to the top of Heartbreak Hill and around the corner, until (“Don’t ask me to tell you our time”) they finally crossed the finish line at Copley Square.
This is the medal they placed around her neck last Sunday–a token of achievement for having accomplished something very few people manage, even when they’re healthy. It symbolizes the whole of her life: refusing to run from her diagnosis, but electing, instead, to move forward every day with a healthy sense of humor, generosity, and positive intentions.
Author Brené Brown once said, “You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.” My friend Donna lives this quote every day, and this is her race to win.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. —Chinese Proverb
In Southern California, summer shifts almost imperceptibly into fall. But if you step outside on an unusually brisk morning, you can almost convince yourself that it’s hoodie weather. Wait a little longer and there it is: a gentle breeze rustles through the trees, carrying with it the faintest whiff of moldering leaves. Autumn: The season of subtle shifts and new beginnings.
It’s time, now, to re-imagine the yard as a whole. Time to backfill the bare spots and brighten dark corners. Time for soil amendments and color splashes that pay tribute to fall. And you know what that means: Time to head to the garden nursery!
Riding shotgun in my little roadster: yellow hibiscus and Shasta daisies, and frilly pink azaleas for a shady corner.
I also brought home a pineapple guava tree. Not on impulse, mind you–I’ve been tempted for a good long while. But now that daytime temps have dropped a bit, I’m hoping this little sapling will find it easier to put down roots.
For me, anyway, it was love at first sight. The leaves are leathery, with silvery green undersides, and the flowers are 100% edible. They’re velvety smooth, with a melt-in-your-mouth sweetness– tempting treats for winged visitors (not to mention the full-time residents).
But wait, there’s more! Pineapple guava (aka Feijoa sellowiana) is an easy-going, drought tolerant plant–just perfect for our Mediterranean climate! Should I shape it into a low, wide canopy, or allow it to reach for its 15-foot potential? Hmmmm…I love its sprawling nature, but there’s something to be said for low-hanging fruit.
I’m told it’s a mash-up of flavors: pineapple and guava, maybe also Juicy Fruit gum. Yum! I’m really looking forward to next year’s crop. Until then, I’m satisfying my cravings with lovely images, shared online by generous gardeners.
As serendipity (and this year’s calendar) would have it, the autumnal equinox aligns with the Jewish New Year. Shana tovah to all who celebrate! It’s planting season, here and elsewhere–for flowers and plants, and seeds of all kinds. Forgiveness, compassion, and peace come immediately to mind, and a sweet little folk tale called “Honi and the Carob Tree.” It speaks to me of tilling the soil at the turning of the seasons, and the joys that come of planting trees. A rabbi might explore with you its deeper significance, but I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
One day, Honi the Circle Maker was walking on the road and saw a man planting a carob tree. Honi asked the man, “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?”
The man replied, “Seventy years.”
Honi then asked the man, “And do you think you will live another seventy years and eat the fruit of this tree?”
The man answered, “Perhaps not. However, when I was born into this world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather. Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees.” — A Talmud tale, via Spirit of Trees