I live within the limits of a small town that is still mostly rural, about 12 miles from where I grew up and where I work. It’s really the best of both worlds. I’m close enough to restaurants, entertainment, etc., but my neighborhood is quiet, spacious and dark at night. There are plenty of wooded areas where I can cut greenery for my Christmas wreaths. One of my favorite things in the area are the active farms. I like watching the seasons change based on what is happening to the land.
Driving to work one morning, a pop of color caught my eye and as I looked more closely I saw small circles of white, fuchsia and deep purple peeking through the leaves of the corn plants. Wild morning glories! And right now they are blooming gloriously every morning. The more I searched, the more I saw. In some places, the vines are clumped together and it’s easy to see a large splash of color. In other spots, the face of the bloom peeks out at you, an unexpected gift.
Morning glories are like happy faces, welcoming the new day. If you don’t look for them early, you won’t see them in the afternoon. If you don’t have any, you can sow some seeds. Toss them with abandon and next year, you’ll enjoy random acts of beauty.
Marfe, Melanie, Amy, me and Carol
Every year I get together with four of my dearest friends from college for a long weekend of catching up. Scattered from Chicago to Vermont, and Alexandria to North and South Carolina, we’ve managed to carve out 4 days a year for over 25 years. We descend on the Sullivan’s Island, SC home of one of our group in late spring. Sunny but not-too-hot days are perfect for whatever we may want to do; this year it was kayaking and a palm tree painting adventure. The warm, slow evenings are our favorite, because this is when we drink wine, talk a lot and cook together.
Historically a bunch of planner types (we have lightened up over time), we usually pick a theme for the food fest before we arrive. However, this year we decided on a smorgasbord approach – bring a recipe or two you haven’t made and we’ll experiment on each other. With enough variety on hand you can toss out the losers. Drink enough wine and it all tastes good!
Dinner is served on the second floor piazza as darkness settles over the marsh. Music, laughter and the noises of insect nightlife can go on for hours. Old memories are summoned and new ones are made. The still waters of long standing friendships get deeper.
One of our all time favorites was the coconut cake, delicious on a warm summer evening (or any time of year). Invite someone over and enjoy!
3 12-ounce packages of frozen coconut
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of sour cream
Mix well and chill overnight.
1 box yellow butter cake mix (a bit better if you add about ½ tsp. almond flavoring to batter)
Bake the cake according to the directions in two 9” layer pans. Split the layers. Cover with icing made day before. Gently wrap and put back in the frig for 3 days before cutting.
If you can’t wait 3 days, that’s ok! Just give it a little more time in the frig so the icing really soaks in.
I love a good thunderstorm and we have had several of those lately. Watching the dark clouds gather together, forming an ominous blue-gray wall…feeling the wind pick up and the temperature drop a little…it’s my signal. As long as the lightening is not cracking directly over the house, I’m heading for the screen porch.
There’s something cathartic about being in the midst of the storm. It’s like God reaches down and grabs all the ills of your world by the neck, shakes them, pounds them, drenches them and then sends them through the old fashioned ringer to squeeze out the last little bit of nastiness. Booming thunder drowns out whatever stressful thoughts are rolling around in your mind. The wind cools your skin. Your focus becomes watching for the next bolt of lightening. Then when it’s all over, there’s … silence. The air smells clean. And if the sun comes out, you just might be lucky enough to top off the whole experience with a rainbow. Or in the case of this particular day, a double rainbow.
If you’re not afraid of thunderstorms, head for a spot where you can take advantage of the experience the next time one rolls through!
I have a penchant for yard art and it has grown over the last few years. Now, a little class in selection is important and it should not be overdone. While remembering the gnomes in the movie The Full Monty still makes me laugh, I don’t want creatures peering at me from every natural area.
One of my neighbors has some cool, life size metal art in the backyard that blends in well. I like those tools (shovels, saws, etc.) that talented people have turned into garden animals. And I will admit to having a plastic pink flamingo that comes out for special occasions or as needed to bring sunshine (annoy) those who have a limited sense of humor and clearly need some help.
But my favorite is this fella who I have named Trex (the husband has named it Dina). I pass him every week. He’s perched on the corner of the roof of a business that makes coatings for iron products. I have no idea how long he has reigned in this spot, but I noticed him a couple of years ago. His strong purple color pops against a beautiful blue sky. I look for him almost every time I pass that building.
And for whatever reason, every time I see him up there, I hear the refrain from George Gershwin’s Someone To Watch over Me.
“There’s a somebody I’m longing to see
I hope that she/he turns out to be
Someone to watch over me”
If the company ever decides to get rid of him, I hope I can bring him home to my yard. I know I can find just the right spot.