Wednesday, September 21, 2016


It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

Last year, I planted my tomatoes along the fence. They grew, but didn't get many blossoms or produce much fruit. I got a few tomatoes - probably paid about $5 each for them, but really enjoyed them.

This year, I thought I'd try something new. I have a butterfly garden in the middle of the yard; the part that gets the most sun. I decided to plant the tomato plants along the edges of that garden, I figured they'd get more light, and I'd get more fruit.

So, I went to my local garden center, picked some promising varieties, and planted them at the proper time in the spring. The plants loved their new home, and sprouted tall and healthy.

Unfortunately for the tomatoes, the weeds that comprise the butterfly garden also flourished.  Within a month they were competing with the tomatoes for light. A month later, you can barely find the tomatoes within the lush growth of the flowers.

I got a couple of tomatoes earlier this summer, before the light got choked off. I noticed last week that there's one more green one bravely growing in the midst of the other flowers. Yup, about $5 a tomato - back to the fence line with the plants for next year.

I can't call the experiment a total loss. I learned something. That counts, no?

On another note, I love the butterfly garden. It's wild and exuberant, free and abundant. Crowded, five feet tall, it's been a magnet for several varieties of bees. You'll find the little darty ones and big, fuzzy bumblebees, there most any time the sun is out. The butterflies like it, too. I've seen a half-dozen varieties of the beautiful insects feasting on the nectar of the brilliant orange and yellow flowers that dominate the bed. And yes, I've seen some Monarchs - I cheer them on especially hard - the world will be a bleaker place if they die out.

The garden has been my spot of joy this summer. I am tired from all the traveling - there's nothing better at the end of a long day or week then to sit on the porch swing, stop, breathe, and absorb a touch of nature from the exorbitant display.

Beauty Is.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Goodbye, Again, Mom

Some anniversaries come hard every year.

The day mom died is one of them. I've gotten better, so much better, over the years, but the ache has never completely gone.  Each year, as the days shorten and the weather cools, I wish that, just once, I could see her again, feel her arms around me.

I wrote this poem shortly after she died.  Reading it these thirty-some years later, I still cry, because I still don't want her to be gone.

Rest in Peace, Mom.

'Janice', said Mom, 
just six months nigh,
'I think you should know
that I'm going to die.'

'They say I have cancer;
they have no cures.
I may die real soon, 
or I may live for years.

'We all must accept 
the things that will be.
They cannot be changed, 
but, stay happy, for me.'

I put my arms 'round her,
Tears started to fall.
I closed my eyes, weeping,
and heard her soft call.

'I love you my dear,
this much you know.
I'll love you forever,
I'll be watching you grow.

'Things will be rough,
everything will go wrong.
But when hard times come,
I know you'll be strong.'

She held me close, then, 
as a mother only can.
She comforted me, then,
she held my hand.

I cried like a baby,
I didn't want her to go.
I wanted her always, 
but that wouldn't be so.

'Cause my mother, she died.
She left us one day.
Her pain and her suffering, 
I watched it go away.

Oh, God, but I miss her,
and always, I will.
But the things that she said
remain with me still.

'We all must accept 
the things that will be.
They cannot be changed
But, stay happy, for me.

'And wherever you wander;
where ever you roam,
I'll be there to meet you,
when you come home.'

In Memory of Margaret Mary John
June 19, 1930 - Sept. 7, 1977