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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Varied Uses of Milkweed

As I drove home from work yesterday, I went past a ditch bank in Harrisville grown over with milkweed; their pods bursting open and fluffy seeds spilling out. It brought back such a rush of childhood memories. For several summers (from about 7-10 years old) my friends and I had a 'fort' in a canal with old elm trees hanging over it. Of course we had to endure the difficulty and inconvenience of having our fort uninhabitable whenever water was turned into that ditch and for a few muddy days after each irrigation turn. But when it was dry, that ditch was a fun place to hang out. One of the best things was the milkweeds that grew there. We discovered a multitude of uses for milkweed. At first, we just enjoyed those large pink/purple flowers of early summer, then we watched the tiny pods begin to develop. Then came the wonder of watching the stripped caterpillars climb into place leaving holes in the fuzzy leaves where they stopped to snack. The adventure of seeing them spin their cocoons where they hung down from the largest leaves and eventually the butterflies which emerged to sit and sip on the fading flowers. As the pods became larger they could be split into two sections and used as small cups to hold sand, pebbles, seeds, marbles, etc. Later in the summer the milkweed seeds were a blast to play with. Who needed bubbles when you had milkweed fluff to blow into the wind and watch them whisked in whatever direction the breeze would carry them. We made up stories about fairies and princesses since each seed looks like a little head and the downy part like a lacy ballgown. We would play at our make-believe games for hours. Another great thing about milkweed, is the gooey, white sap you find when you break the stock. We found this made the best glue. We pasted leaves together we brought paper and stuck up our drawings on the tree trunks and fence posts along the ditch. Would you ever believe that a common weed could bring out such discovery, creativity and imagination?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Its not Father's Day nor is it a birthday month of either Dad. They neither one passed away this month but for some reason I've been thinking a lot about our fathers. Pop (Rob's Dad) is one of my all-time-favorite-people. In fact he is right near the top of that list. When Rob and I were dating it wasn't until I met his Dad that I knew I loved Rob. I'm sure it was because I figured Rob had the potential to be like his father. They become more similar in more ways every year. We lost Pop on April 14, 2002. Life hasn't been quite as sweet or gentle without him on this earth. I think about him all the time and miss him so much. Pop adored his grandchildren. He would make the trip to see us for what he referred to as "lap time" with the little ones. During our kids' school years there wasn't a concert or performance of any kind that passed without Mimi & Pop in attendance. Pop was an attorney and a very brilliant man. He loved to read all kinds of books. Some of my favorite reads are books he recommended to me.
My Dad passed away on November 14, 2007. Perhaps its the very vivid memories of traveling back and forth between here and Arizona two years ago during my Father's illness and final months of life which makes me think about our Dads these days. I miss my Dad. I look at this photo of him every time I'm on the computer. It hangs above the clock at my desk. Fishing was his favorite activity. You can't see his face in this picture, but I'm sure he was smiling as he sat in this traquil setting and enjoyed his hobby of trout fishing in a mountain stream. My Dad was the hardest working man I've ever known. Luckily I remember him as the forceful and in-charge man that he was and not the one who lost his powerful strength to cancer. My Dad was a contractor. He built or worked on so many of the homes and businesses around town. Everyone knew him as a very capable and reliable carpenter. After his funeral, I was surprised at the number of people who told me about the beautiful work he had done on their homes.

These important men in my life are on the other side of the veil. I often wonder if they get together and visit about their common family still on this side. I like to think they team up to help us out when we need it. I could use a little 'Dad teamwork' tonight because I'm really missing them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September Morn

September is a glorious month. I have always wished my birthday was in September instead of February. When I was a child September was my favorite month because we were able to fianlly return to school after working with my Dad all summer AND because I got to pick new school clothes out of the JC Penny catalog; what a treat!

In Hinckley, they would burn the ditches in September and I loved that smell (I know, weird, huh?). I also loved as the leaves began to turn red, gold and brown and the way the sun would sift through those colors. My favorite fall chore was raking leaves and jumping in the piles (an important part of the job). That smell of the crushed, dried leaves stays with me still. I really can't explain what it is about the cooler evenings and the shorter days because I don't like winter at all, but I dearly love September.

Maybe it has something to do with harvesting the garden, picking the peaches, gathering all safely in. I enjoy the beautifully-colored jars of fruits, jams, pickles, salsa and relishes decorating my countertop before I put them away for the winter. Actually, it probably has more to do with wearing jackets and fall where's that catalog!?
P.S. I also LOVE Neil Diamond's "September Morn", it transports me to a September many years ago when my new fall clothes took me back to school in college...oh happy, happy memories.