I buy a box of these treats before Christmas, divide up the contents and slip some into each gift bag for loved ones.
Two years ago, I discovered the real beauty of this box of sweets: once emptied and washed, the container makes an excellent jewellry box. Far more practical than the expensive wood-and-glass ones I’d had for years, the box makes a perfect earring holder.
Perfect. One pair in every slot, and my earrings never have to fraternize with each other and get mixed up or lost. (I am easily confused; this box provides order.)
Turns out I had been given a lot of earrings over the decades, but in recent years, I couldn’t find them. As a result, I always wore the same pair, everywhere.
I proudly showed the filled box to my husband. He admired it.
“It’s a bit small, though,” I said. “I had no idea I had so many earrings.”
Of course, pride cometh before a fall. I made the mistake of divulging the box’s origins.
My dear husband had obviously never heard the phrase “Blessed are the cheap, for they shall protect the earth from landfills.”
My good man is embarrassed when I wear my relatives’ old clothes or display other such cheapo behaviours. At my age, he thinks, I should show some dignity. And using a plastic food container as a jewellry box is definitely undignified behaviour.
“Please don’t post this on your blog,” he begged.
So I won’t breathe a word. You didn’t hear it from me!
The things you couldn’t find
If they ever were
A favourite sweater
Made by Irish hands
From the Aran Islands
Cut glass earrings
Sparkling bits like emerald
Set in fake gold
The things you had bought
And wisely never wore
Long black leather gloves
With leather laces
A cross between a biker chick’s
And a long-ago lady’s
The things you forgot
And bought again
And sometimes yet again
Spools of cotton thread
White, grey, brown
White, grey, black
Colours of suffering
A wardrobe for pain
The things you came across
And greeted like old friends
Scarves with geometric patterns
Stylish back then
Bikinis, tops and shorts
For vacations planned
The things I now sort
These will stay
These ones will go
Prodigal bits of memory
Of times and things
In boxes and drawers
An interrupted life.
The above is a pourem I wrote one night a year ago. A pourem is an un-poem, an unedited stream of thought.
I hoist my grandbaby onto my left hip, cane grasped with my right hand, and stroll through the garden. I stop and show her each plant, sometimes calling them by name. She reaches out to grab a flower, and inspects it up-close.
Meandering is a lovely word. Better than strimping, that word my mischievous husband made up to describe my fervent attempts to stride while limping. One of these days, he will probably settle on “mimp” to describe my meandering style, but until then, I’ll meander.
July is the time of plenty, my garden’s multicolour month. Flowers bloom abundantly — in several shades and colours. Clematis vines flower in pink or purple. Daylilies bloom in pink, peach, orange, red and creamy yellow.
So many flowers to show her on our July meander, that I sometimes settle for calling them “leaf” and “flower”.
July’s colourful phlox are mostly faded now, their flower-heads exhausted. Vibrant pink and salmon blooms are turning brown in August. Once-upright flower stems bend over from the weight and heat.
August is usually a serious month. Garden chores ignored in the sunny days of July demand attention — the deadheading, the dividing, the transplanting, the watering. August signals both the fading of the colours and the end of play.
Each year, I treasure spring flowers especially because they are new. Now I treasure my late summer ones largely because they are few.
Last week, I noticed that the red bee balm still bloomed in one part of the back garden, near the birdfeeder. The birds above are more numerous now, but the bee balm flower-heads below have fewer petals, their colour less brilliant. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies still visit though. The leaves are still green.
The August garden is greener, softer, the colours more muted during the day, the shapes of leaves more pronounced.
Flower stems now removed (‘deadheaded’), hosta’s leaves are no longer overshadowed. Gone are the lavender blooms which caught the eye the moment we entered the garden.
Now, as we meander, I point at large leaves, small leaves, pointy leaves. Glossy dark green, green edged with white. My granddaughter looks at each intently and, as always, I wonder what she is thinking.
What do green leaves mean to a nine month old baby?
In the back garden, yellow and coral canna lilies still thrive in their pots. Soon they will be the main sources of colour there.
The frontyard relies on various shades of green and white for ‘colour’.
The light, sweet scent of white trumpet-shaped flowers greets us as we enter.
These are the most aromatic of all our hosta flowers. To walk by them in a slight breeze is to bathe in fragrance.
At one side of this garden, the caryopteris shrub has tiny blossoms. Across the driveway, in another bed, the sedum plants already have buds.
My granddaughter and I will meander through the garden on good-weather days till cold weather settles in. I will point to the sedum blossoms that will by then become sturdy pink flowers, to caryopteris’ wispy flowers forming a mist of blue.
Together, we will watch butterflies and bees taking a late-summer sip of nectar from both. I will then feel – Deo volente — as I do now, triply blessed. To be alive, to have a loving family and to be able to walk with my grandchild in the garden.