Monday, June 27, 2011

Stormy Weather

Ocean View, VA 2009 photo: LAM

I was reminded the other day of a simple truth.

The Weather Channel forecasted storms in the morning before 10 and sun the rest of the day. But it stayed sunny all morning.  Throughout the day a cluster of clouds with just a touch of darkness hinted at the possibility of rain, but a strong breeze picked up in the afternoon and blew them away.

Ocean View, VA 2009 photo:LAM
And in the breeze, I heard this: Sometimes it takes a storm to bring change. In the summer we experience this, it's muggy it's hot, and then there is a thunder storm and it's cooler. Other times though, a strong breeze blows the clouds away before they can become a storm.  Maybe there is no need for a change that day and sunny skies prevail.  Its interesting that we don't get to pick the days that get stormy or the issues in life that disappear on a breeze. Maybe we shouldn't curse the sky's storms or life's battles, maybe we should just observe them and be thankful that change is inevitable and there are some things in the universe that we can't control.

"Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony." -Heraclitus

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vacation

Longwood Gardens Kennett Square, PA
It's been longer than usual because I was on 'vacation.' It all started when I read about Ladew Topiary Gardens and realized that it was nearby in Maryland (It was so good I visited twice!)  Hillwood Estate & Gardens is just a few minutes away so I checked that off the list. Then it expanded to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania and while I was there I figured why not see a Phillies game, run the Rocky steps, talk to the Curator of plants at Longwood, eat a cheesesteak, eat at Domani Star, see an Oriole Bird in the wild? Check, check, check, check, check and check!  Then I thought, "Let's see see the new section of the Highline in New York's Meatpacking district, and go to the New York Botanic Garden."  Considered catching a Yankees/Red Sox game, but couldn't stand the idea of setting foot in their stadium and adding my precious dollars to their swollen pocketbook.  In between I got to eat my first and second Chesapeake Bay blue crabs of the season, and was lucky enough to see the National Ballet of Cuba AND the Royal Danish Ballet perform at the John F. Kennedy Center in the same week!  Both productions were inspiring enough to send me back to the ballet studio.  Well inspiring enough to make me think about going back in the studio... my pointe shoes are still in the closet, but both ballet companies showcased what has made them legendary. Cherry on top of all this? The friends who ran around with me and made all the adventures possible.

The Highline NYC
Eventually, I ended up at the beach and just sat there for four whole days...Well if you don't count going to a different beach every day, watching the Osprey, going on a boat and forgetting to re-apply the sunscreen, all the while contemplating what's coming next.


NY Botanic Garden the Bronx, NY

"Yo Adrian!"

Friday, June 3, 2011

Killdeer

Killdeer
When I was about 10 years old, I saw an unfamiliar bird in the parking lot of the church we attended.  As I watched the bird, I found its nest.  The nest was built in the rocks at the edge of the parking lot.  It seemed an unlikely place for a bird home and there were eggs! Excited at my discovery, my mom took me to the library to research this bird.  I came back proud to tell everyone that it was a Killdeer and that they are frequenters of parking lots and tend to build their nests on the ground.  Kindly, the people at the church built a small barrier around the nest to prevent it from getting run over or trampled and I was forever bonded to the Killdeer as if I'd discovered the bird myself.

Fast forward twenty years or so and I was experiencing a particularly difficult day at the Arboretum.  It was hot and I had just been introduced to my new nemesis, the weed whip, also known as the weed wacker, the string trimmer or weed eater.  When a five feet, ten inch, 160lb person operates this machine it looks light as a feather and easy to maneuver.  Take away ten inches and 60lbs--not so much.  Suddenly the machine becomes a vibrating, oscillating, heavy nightmare, whipping a plastic slicing string around and making holes in the yard, covering all passersby in grass and weeds, while tearing the bark from 40 year old Oaks....ahh the excitement of a second career---curse all those women who never have to find a second career or even a first for that matter....and there I am with my hand in a spasm, and my arm on fire, when my boss tells me the next assignment: to take the Saw and cut up 3 inch diameter tree limbs so that they can fit into the bed of my three speed pick-up/dump truck.  All of this before I have realized that on a Horticulture saw (as compared with a carpenter's saw) all the power is on the pull.  (This would've been helpful information I think)...And so I'm feeling sorry for myself, my sore arm and my life choices as I pull into the parking lot of the Brickyard.

Flying ahead of me as a drive is a bird.  Faintly familiar, I think, "Is that a Killdeer?!"  It is!! I haven't seen one in five years, maybe ten.  But there he is, in a parking lot, running along the gravel in spurts.  And I smile.  After I deposit the branches, I stop for a few minutes to see if I can find its nest. Not far away I see what must be its mate and think, "Maybe she is guarding babies!"  But while they run this way and that, they never settle on one area where a nest might be.  The male and female Killdeer are difficult to tell apart, but during the next event, I become keenly tuned into who is who...The female bird stands still for a moment.  The other bird jumps on her back. (Truly! Standing right on top.)  Suddenly I am a witness to something I was not privvy to the first time I met the Killdeer, at age 10.  A few seconds later, each bird is skittering through the parking lot, showing no sign of real interest in the other. (We could make a human comparison here, but let's not...)

I smiled to myself as I headed back to the garden for the next round of weeding and watering.  The birds served as a sign for me that day:  Life is not just a series of accidents and we have not fallen off course.  Lots of times things are the way they are for a reason. There is a natural cycle to life that we are a part. Most of the time we are not forgotten and just when we think we are, there are memories and visits from old friends.