May 2019 

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"It's not about me."

THR, 2018

Spring Table


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

THR

For at least the last ten years, May has been what I call "Me-Month." That's when I get to rest from spring cleaning and garden work to sit pretty on the patio with a favorite children's book such as "Wind In the Willows," paint my nails, drink exotic juices, and bring my arms and legs into sunlight again.  It's all about me and how I want to spend this fresh new month. 

May is a good month for such a thing, because the whole world around me is coming out of its winter stalemate, but it's not quite hot enough yet to wilt my enthusiasm.  There is a chance this pampering might do some good.  

I found a wonderful magazine at the grocery store about artists' studios and how they go about their work of creating. . . just the kind of inspiration Me Month is all about.  Each artist was sucessful, young, and adventurous--exactly how I imagined myself during this carefree month, minus the tatoos!  I brought it home to read during mid-day sun breaks.  

As soon as time allowed, I made a bowl of chicken salad with pecans and dried cranberries, found some special wheat crackers, and poured myself a glass of mixed juices with sweet tea. . . mango, coconut, and apple. 

Then I chose just the right plate for my first Me Month lunch.  I decided on the new turquoise one with the large red strawberry in the middle.  Once everything was arranged to my liking, I carried the colorful plate, along with my new magazine, to the round wood table on the patio.  The just-swept patio, with the two white rocking chairs.   

The sky was deep blue and clear.  A moderate breeze passing through the oaks and pines was the only sound--no lawn mowers, no racing cars.   I turned up the Etta Baker music and left the back door open for Tucker the Dog to go in and out at will--that's the Dog Version of Me Month. 

All was well on this first day of May.  

After lunch I decided that tomorrow I would paint my nails and make a list or two.  Something like "Things That Refresh Me" perhaps, or "What I Love About Our Porch."  Small things, important only to me.  

I closed my magazine and looked at the beautiful field of green just past the blueberry bush.  Everywhere around me were wild strawberries in bloom, and honeysuckle vines covering fences.  It was as good a beginning to Me Month as I could have hoped for. 

Tucker On Watch

May with its delicate earthiness is my "wildwood vacation" time, perfect in its simple, energetic beauty.  Busy as it is, however, it still looks me in the eye and listens to what I have to say.  The curious thing happens, though.  With each passing day, I have less to fret about, and less and less to say, until toward the end of the month I'm doing the listening and May is doing all the talking.  And it always has things-a-plenty to say.  

When it's over and I'm all cleaned up and clipped like a new lawn,  I'm more relaxed  than at any other time of the year, and happy to move on to the next thing.

And that feels just right.   

Until next time,

The Head Rabbit

"Listen up, cause I got nothin' to say,

and I'm only gonna say it once."

Yogi Berra, Baseball Great


Friday, May 3, 2019

Except for one or two cool days, the weather has done a good job of warming everything up, outside and in.  We passed our mid-April frost date, so I expect the flowers and fruit trees to suffer no further winter loss. It's all downhill to summer.  I'm coasting now.  

Not that I can let everything go merrily along however it wants.  Just recently I got out our plastic owl with the big glass eyes to see if I could scare a few squirrels from the blueberry bushes.  I know for a fact the little critters are checking out the tiny, pin-sized berry buds already. 

The cheaply-made owl is not the most convincing preditor in the garden, but plastic was all I could find.  Sometimes you grab whatever is handy, plastic or not.  Desperation calls for desparate measures.    

Owl on the Prowl

The owl is about 18 inches tall and full of righteous intimidation.  He's not as handsome as this art picture I made of him.  In real life, he's brown and gray, more like a real owl.  When I bought him two years ago at the feed and seed store, the man at the checkout said, "Trying to scare away some squirrels?"  

I said yes and left it at that.  We both knew it would probably not work.   

It did work for a short while, though.  Long enough to convince me to store it in the potting shed for another 2 winters.  I have to set it upright every day in season, since it's as light as a feather (no pun intended), and falls over at the slightest bit of breeze.  An owl laying on its side is only half a threat at best, and no threat at all to a quick-witted squirrel.   

This spring, in the early morning and late evenings, My husband and I have begun to hear a very real owl in the Woods Out Back.  His voice is deep and comes like a stranger out of perfect silence.  We usually don't recognize it until the 3rd or 4th call.   

My husband is always the first to take note.  "There it is," he says, and he stops again to listen. "Did you hear that?  It's the owl."  Then I listen carefully; and once, or sometimes twice, I too hear the lonesome sound.  It's as if this imposing stranger knows the minute we stop to listen, so he hides back into his private night.  But it's too late!  Like uninvited guests, we've already heard him speak his secrets to the dark.  

Until next time,

The Head Rabbit

 

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I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.

Vincent Van Gogh

Sun Sets Into Night


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Southern Living

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A friend of mine sent me a picture today of her patio garden.  She had planted lemon balm and moonbeam coreopsis as well as  several larger potted plants.  Nice.

She hesitated to call it a "garden," because of the small size, but I had no problem calling it exactly that.   

"Of course it's a garden," I said.  

It reminded me of My Sister's home in the pines, in the pines of north Florida, the one we still call "The Big House."  Big house, big pots.  You can see how well it all worked. 

Anyway, every spring My Sister bought a car-full of flowers and green plants to arrange in large pots of various colors and shapes, then place them outside in several miniature patio areas around her home. The patios were cheerful seating arrangements just large enough for two people.  Us.  

We often took a sandwich or cup of hot tea with us, maybe even a hat, and enjoyed  being southern.  The chairs always had plush, colorful pillows with small side tables nearby for our drinks or food.  For me,  the pots were the focal point.  Each one was like a tiny garden all by itself, and each one different.  Some had tall spikes and bright red flowers.  Others had delicate yellow things hanging over the sides and plants with uptown names like aster and lobelia.  She knew their names and spoke of them with confidence. 

No spot on any pot was left unplanted.  The highlight of our day was deciding which "garden patio" to sit in next.  

I was in heaven.

It wasn't just the outside patios that had charm in The Big House.  Inside were wonderful cottage floral sheets on the beds and a pantry full of unhealthy, delicious snacks.  I could eat randomly and with abandon.   

Best of all, at night after everyone went to sleep, the big home didn't go dark like my home did.  Small lights were left on so that a soft, amber glow filled every room, upstairs and down.  If I came in late for my visit or woke up in the middle of the night, everything said, "You're up!  I'm glad!." 

Even at night the house was alive and friendly. 

I often say to my family:  "It only takes two people to make a party."  In the same way, it only takes one pretty bed to make a home, or one pot of flowers to make a garden. 

As things stand now, I have three places I can call "garden."  Each is small and all three include places to "sit a spell."  

Perhaps soon I'll start considering floral sheets.  

Corner of the Garden

Until next time,

The Head Rabbit

"The outside world doesn't have a lot to offer.  You have to make your own heaven in your own home." 

Bette Midler, singer/actress 


Monday, May 13

Berry Butter

In the hedges and along the back roads of our area, wild blackberry brambles are beginning to blossom with small white flowers.     Every year I forget to watch for them, so every year they surprise me.  This week was my blackberry surprise. 

A friend of mine once gave me a jar of homemade blackberry-apple jelly.   She had canned several jars and wanted to share the joy of her new-found jelly.  It was, indeed, delicious.

She and I enjoy many of the same things, so we found ourselves talking blackberies not long ago at the first hint of spring.  The thrill of finding a perfect "brier patch" before the birds and snakes find it is the best kind of conversation--one of our favorites. The canes the berries grow on are very common here, and occasionally I see someone with a bucket picking ripe berries along the side of the road.  

My mother always said "snakes love blackberries," and she would know, foraging the woods as she did as a child.  One summer my husband and I did a little foraging of our own . . . kind of.  

We were wandering in our car down a narrow dirt road north of here when I noticed that the brush all around us was actually blackberry bramble.  It was loaded with full, ripe berries, ready for picking.  The five and six-foot canes were everywhere, behind us and in front, on both sides of the road, right up to the car.  I could have picked berries from the window with very little effort and no fear of snakes.  

"Let's pick some," I said to my husband.  

"We can't do that!  They don't belong to us.  It's not our property," he said.

My ears were lying to me.  The biggest ever, the motherload of blackberries, and tomorrow we would be back home empty-handed?  Say it isn't so.  

But what about the berries?  What would become of them?  Well, the birds and snakes and mice were surely preparing for the biggest berry party ever! 

I protested, but in the end, lost the fight.  Yes, we drove away, backed down the dusty dirt road to the main highway (there was no place to turn around) and haven't been back since.  The pain would be too much.  

The roadside critters in that area always look plump and healthy, and I think we all know why.  

Until next time,

The Head Rabbit

        "Drown me, roast me, do whatever you please, said Brer Rabbit; 

        only please, Brer Fox, please don't throw me into that briar patch."

 

From Joel Chandler Harris's "Song of the South"


Go to "May Continued" for more of May.