On King Tides and Walking on the Moon

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On King Tides and Walking on the Moon

The tide is high
A king tide these days
But when it was low I went walking
And as I walked I looked in new ways at the earth, the ground
The ocean’s floor beneath my feet

On a sandbar nearly all alone, I dreamed in my head
Wrote lines on a page in my mind that will never live out loud on a paper page

And I thought, this is the closest I’ll come to walking on the moon

Salt water raging had left craters and divots and moguls in the sand
Wave on wave had pounded and shaped the earth
In a Genesis fashion, creation formed the sea and land again

And the earth took on the look of the moon
In a moment
In one moment on a Saturday in July
Under a sweltering summer sky

The day the earth was scorched by heat
And “Fly me to the Moon” was a lullaby and a hymn
And the sea left treasures, thrown like confetti at my feet
And I was welcomed home
Like an Apollo woman re-entering
To the jazzy sound of Sting
In my head, “Walking on the Moon”
“Hey, they say”
Home again on the King Tide high

Home again from my wandering
Terra firma under me now
Pluff mud between my toes, my feet bare
Walking to a syncopated beat
Along the edge of the earth
Wearing her royal crown

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On Pulling Carrots

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On Pulling Carrots 

Some simple acts cry out to just be
Left alone, not friendly to or befitting of another poetic metaphor
Unembellished and resolute in their ordinariness
Not made to be made
To fit into an overstretched metaphor, placed strategically into the lines of
A poem, Lord please no
But raising a carrot from the ground
Is not such an act, it is artful and begs, no wails and weeps
Please place me in your bad poetry
It is replete with metaphorical monstrosities of language
And given artistic license, I could take the carrot
On a wild and winsome ride
On the wings of metaphor, allegory, simile, and mirth
A rising up from the soil is like raising Lazarus from the dead,  or the fast asleep from
Their garden bed, a grave
It is a spotting of an iceberg tip,  moss green carrot tops waving in the salt-laden Lowcountry air
Singing their siren’s song of hide and seek
Come dive down into the wet dark dirt, find me hidden here
In the shadows of the Earth
It is teeming with imagery of mystery
What lies below, we do not know
We are only given a glimpse of what lies ahead
What we are shown, a small portion of what we know
In faith, exists
Frayed green carrot tops waving from the Black Cow soil
Come and catch me if you can
It is a study in anthropology, and Psyche 101
Each one unique
No two alike
The root has ample time to develop into a carrot like no one has seen before, each one
A brilliant masterpiece
Hidden from the predators and garden thieves
Roots twist and turn, formed like sculptor, crafted art
In clay or bronze or wood
Have you pulled the orange beauties up one by one
Or even by clumps of threes and fours
Before
Some simple acts cry out to just be
Left alone
Outside the confines of a poem
Pulled carrots from my garden
May choose their rooty fate
Of death by poetic metaphor
Or roasted with olive oil and a bit of sea salt
Becoming dinner on my plate

 

 

 

Gardenbound: Mersea and Maplehurst Garden Tours

Christie Purifoy and I are winding down our writing collaboration. For now. With a gardenbound garden tour of our respective homes, Mersea and Maplehurst.

Follow the link at the end of my garden tour to visit Christie’s beautiful gardens at Maplehurst. Christie so eloquently writes these words:

Elizabeth and I exchanged a few “homebound” letters over Lent. The nature of a letter is to communicate over a distance, but the season of Lent introduced other distances – there was the space between winter and spring, the break between longing and fulfillment, and the chasm, so like a tomb, between death and new life. But what is Lent, after all, but a kind of long homecoming? It is a return and a way of erasing distance.

Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them (Psalm 126:6).

This is the meaning of Easter, and the church calendar tells us that even now, at the end of May, we are still in the midst of the long Easter season.

For Elizabeth and I, Easter has meant trading the distance of letter writing for the intimacy of a visit, first with a home tour and today with a tour of the garden. Here is our invitation to Elizabeth’s garden at Mersea.

 

 

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May at Mersea, in the garden

We are turning the pages of the chapter known as spring, here at Mersea. It is an excellent book. One I want to savor, read more slowly. I find myself both lingering on a page, reading certain chosen lines over and over again, and wanting to rush ahead to the next page and the one after that.

We have passed the point of rich pinks. We languished there a good long while. There were weeks when it seemed we were bathed monochromatically in pinks. Shade on shade of this luscious color carried us through the winter and into the birth of a true spring. We observed, no savored, the camellia, the azalea, and the fruit tree blossoms in a full spectrum of pink glory.

I am slowly learning that each season in the yard, in the soil, in the garden will bring something valuable. Something beautiful. I cannot choose favorites. The rapid renewal of growth we are experiencing here at Mersea is life-giving. If I had a favorite it would be replaced by a new favorite the very next day. On the heels of spring, if we attend well and water well, we will have a kitchen filled with vegetables. And we will know the joy of sharing with friends all summer long. Water is the key. We know there will be sunshine and we know the soil is rich. But diligently watering? That is the key to growth. That which is not fed cannot spring forth. That which is left unnurtured cannot bear fruit.

Because the camellia are at home here, they were our trumpeters of joy and hope in the middle of the cold southern winter. I marveled at their longevity and endurance this winter. There is a strong hint of the familiar in their radiant beauty. It seems that many of our well known southern flowers are like women I have known. They are marked by strength, dignity, grace, and a unique beauty.

How remarkable that the concrete things of this earth, the tangible things we can touch and smell and hold and grasp can spark our memories of flesh and blood influencers, companions, and friends. The double gardenia is one of my newest acquisitions, a gift from my dear friend Harriett in memory of my mother who died, as you know, in January. The sweetest of memorials, I planted it in the front yard. It is small now, but potent. From the front porch I can see the whiter than white of its petals. Its fragrance is spellbinding and triggers a flood of memories.

They say that the sense of smell is the strongest of all our senses. I would never argue that fact. Just celebrate its truth. One of my most vivid childhood memories is that of the gardenia blossoms in June. We’d return home from vacation and the fragrance would greet us as we opened the doors to the station wagon. A whole row, planted along the side of our gray salt box with the red door, my child hood home. This house, my formative home, was marked by clematis vine, red geraniums, and gardenia.

I walk to the gardenia in our front yard, here at Mersea, and pick its first double blossom, bring it proudly but guiltily (can they co-exist?) into the dining room and place it into a small silver vessel. My childhood attends every move and I am intoxicated by the memories and the fragrance of the now. I will always love the gardenia, and it will always remind me of southern women I have been privileged to know and call friend. Even after the petals turn from white to brown, I struggle to toss the flowers out. I hold on to them well past their peak of beauty and decide that tans and browns, signs of the blossoms’ age, are beautiful too. Because I remember them at their peak. And if I close my eyes, I can catch the the lingering smells of lovely.

My husband is the gardener, and I am the sous-chef gardener. He teaches me and I am learning by his side. Making my way, often in his shadow. I am hopeful that one day I will be a chef in the garden in my own right.

This morning he walked into the parlor after a brief visit to the garden and announced that my first gladiolas were blooming. And because he knows me well, he sweetly admonished me not to pick it yet. I want to bring indoors all the beauty of my garden. I want to select and fill my favorite vases with the color and vibrancy of spring. But waiting, holding back, being happy with them where they are planted is a good discipline for me. Sometime we pick. And sometimes we just go to them and abide where they are. There is an important balance in this. I can go to the source of beauty and just be there. Receive their gifts on their turf, on their soil. In the place where they have been planted. I am learning from my teacher, the spring garden.

From my window by my chair, the one I sit in and write most always, I have spied a magnolia blossom the size of an elephant’s ear. From a distance I have watched the blossom in the rectory yard. Yesterday I decided that it was time to snap and photograph, but as I approached the huge blossom, I saw that it was drooping and brown. I would have to rely on memory. My window memories. Seeing well the first time insures that I can remember more clearly in my mind’s eye when the blossoms have faded and are gone.

Memory serves as a beautiful keeper of treasures. I sit and recall the magnolia blossom. As as spring moves to summer in our garden, I will recall the cosmos, the zinnias, the gladiolas, and the hydrangae, as they each slowly fade. Hope will transition me into summer here. That and the squash and tomatoes, cucumbers and snow peas. We will almost grow tired of squash for dinner and tomatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner by the time September comes. Almost.

But now it is time to feast and to savor. To whisper prayers of gratefulness over each stem and vine and plant and stalk. And dream a little of next year’s garden. What we might add to the garden here at Mersea. And what might come to us in the days ahead, on this soil, at this place we call our home.

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Here is an invitation to Christie’s garden at Maplehurst – (Click the link to visit Christie’s writing page and gardens)

 

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What Am I Missing?

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What Am I Missing?

If you asked me if I was on a mission,
Had a mantra, a rallying cry
(I might hesitate in feigned humility and feigned surprise)
And then I might say, well yes
It covers the world and the world is covered by it

If you must know
Even if you don’t
Care to ask
Don’t care to listen
Didn’t even ever wonder
That’s okay, ’cause I am still talking
One day I woke up to the wondering of this
And the next day I woke up again to the intense unsettling of this
Days went by and I heard a trembling in my veins and in my sinew and bone
And my insides and my outsides and in time
All the parts of me were singing in unison
And the choir of me was loud
When I listened closely from the outside in and the inside out
It was like the milkyway was an orchestra, each star an instrument
And they played loudly in me, all horns and strings and keyboards, in sweet harmony
I heard a song like a psalm though the Pslams are already written
I heard praise and shouts of blessed remembering
And hymns to no more forgetting to abide awhile in Him and in my days
The verses sang a halelluia chorus of “right now is glory”
Holy is humming in the sacred now
And you are a fool, though a loved fool, to refuse to see
To listen
To behold
To dance in the music of these days
And even though the lasso was ’round the stories of now
And we were tethered, we two
Together at last
And though the harp and the electric guitar played a duet,
A hymn of holy matrimony’s first dance
Paired, partners in listening out for the songs from the milky way chorus of wonder
I with my bucket for catching it all
Slipped and fell
And the stories came shooting out, as if the heavens released the stars like rockets headed toward Earth
So I must go gathering again
And dream some more
Of the places and people I forgot to remember, but first to go see

and go behold

And go love

Because in all the joy I thought I had
My neighbor I had forgotten