Happy Spring!

Although it’s quite chilly here in Upstate, New York, it’s been sunny and a lovely, brisk first day of Spring.

 

imageI put out my “spring-themed” flag in the front (I have 8 or so flags, to match the seasons, though I always seem to be adding more…I just put away the green spangled Saint Patrick’s Day flag).

 

 

imageAnd the first harbingers of Spring, since I can remember, have begun to poke their little blue heads from the soil next to the house. Apparently they’re called Scilla siberica (Siberian squill or wood squill). We always called them the “little blue flowers” when I was growing up. They spread a lovely-hued carpet of blooms next to the old homestead, and the autumn before my father died, he (presciently) dug me a rectangular bit of that turf from home and brought it the 1.5 hours or so to my house, so I could have a patch of them growing every Spring. Just another reason I love him and another reason to always think of him whenever I look at the beauty of those flowers.

 

Happy Spring to one and all!

May Flowers

No, not THE Mayflower.

May Flowers.

imageThese grow in my little garden behind the kitchen door. They have tiny little bulbs and I have no idea what they are or where they came from. They just started growing the year after my father died, next to a few of the beautiful iris he transplanted to this same garden at his last visit to my house before he became ill. The almost glow in the early Springtime, wide open purple and white blossoms atop slender but strong stems.  I consider them a little “gift from heaven”. ❤

imageAnd here to the right is a picture of what my father and I called the “little blue flowers”. I don’t know what they’re really called. I looked it up once, but then promptly forgot. 🙂

Anyway, this little patch was transplanted from my parent’s yard into my yard about six or seven years ago. They grow prolifically all along the side of the old Homestead and have always been the first harbingers of Spring to me. He cut out a 12×12 square of sod with the flowers in it and we placed it next to my house. Every year they come up and I look forward to seeing them (though they haven’t spread much, even though my father had thought they would considering how much they spread at the Homestead…not enough direct sunlight at my house, I think).

These little signs of spring and the thaw of winter’s ice and snow fill me with joy. They are signs of new beginnings, while being at the same time lovely connections to treasured memories long past.

Happy Spring to all of you! I’d be glad to hear some of your stories connected to plants or spring renewal (and if anyone knows what either of these flowers is really called, please let me know!)

About Fishing With Pa…and Surprises

I’ve come to understand a few things in the almost half century I’ve lived, and one of those is the realization that sometimes, people can surprise you.

Sometimes those surprises can be unpleasant, but since I try to focus on the positive, I’d like to share a moment from nearly 20 years ago that surprised me in the best of ways. I remember it so clearly, and it has stuck with me so well, that I even wrote one of the “past” scenes in Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven around it.

trout

Adirondacks Rainbow Trout Fisherman Wall Art by Paul A Lanquist

It involves a fishing trip I took with my father on a beautiful, sunny summer day when I was in my early 30’s, and Pa was nearing 70.

Now you have to understand that my father was a dedicated, lifelong trout fisherman. Some of my fondest memories involve Pa helping me learn how to bait my line with an earthworm, cast, “feel” the fish mouthing the bait, and setting the hook to reel in a beauty. We often released the fish we caught back into the river, lake, or stream, but never before admiring their beautiful markings and color.

On this particular day, we hadn’t gone fishing together in more than a year. Real life had intervened for me…I was married, living more than an hour from the Homestead, teaching full time, and had a young child, so opportunities to get away and spend an afternoon together fishing or even just visiting by ourselves didn’t happen too often. My husband had offered to watch our young daughter on this Saturday, and my father and I agreed to meet up at a fishing spot about halfway between each of us. It was a kind of dam with a running stream below it – perfect for active and hungry fish.

Pa and fishing favorite memory 2The bank of the stream was formed by a combination of large rocks and tall flowering weeds. The sun beat down hot and bright on us as we fished, and the sky was a perfect blue with puffy white clouds. Here’s a picture I took of Pa during some of the quiet time…we stood farther apart as we fished, so as not to tangle our lines in the gently moving water.

The surprise came at lunch time. We’d reeled in our lines and were sitting up on the bank; I thought we were going to decide where to head for a quick lunch, but Pa walked up to his vehicle, pulled out a small cooler, and proceeded to take out cups, napkins, two cold orange sodas (one of his favorite flavors of soda back then), some chips…and two submarine sandwiches of mixed cold cuts – salami, turkey, ham – dressed with mayonnaise, cheese, lettuce, tomato – the works.

When I realized that Pa had made the entire lunch himself, I was shocked to the core. My father had always been very self-sufficient (he was a US Marine after all), but my mother was such a good cook that, except for the occasional turn at the grill or undertaking a project like making homemade sauerkraut, my father had never “cooked” or prepared anything to my knowledge.  And this was the best sandwich I’d ever eaten, without a doubt in my mind.

Pa and fishing favorite memory

Another picture I took of Pa, smiling on the banks of the stream, just after our wonderful lunch

Pa got a good chuckle out of my astonishment, and we enjoyed the nicest lunch I’d ever had, not because of fancy food or ambience (though the setting WAS right up my alley and the food, as I mentioned, was delicious), but because of the moment. Because of the beauty of sharing that peaceful time and place together, sprinkled with the magic of learning something new about a man I’d thought (in my youthful arrogance and ignorance) I knew pretty much everything there was to know.

I learned much more about my father in the years to come, all interesting and some amazing, including talents I didn’t discover he’d had until finding some papers after his death.

However that day of fishing on the sunny banks of that little stream provided me with one of the first of those kinds of happy surprises. I guess I needed to be an adult to experience it – to start becoming aware that people often posses depth and complexity far beyond the surface we tend to assume. It’s an experience I’ve never forgotten…another important lesson learned, thanks to Pa, and one that has never left my heart. ❤

Getting Ready For Thanksgiving

image

A practice run, with a Thanksgiving-style lunch

Some of you who have been here a while have probably figured out that I like to get into the various seasons. This often includes decorating.

Since Thanksgiving (and autumn in general) is my favorite holiday, I tend to do almost as much in-house decorating as I do for Christmas (I’m sure some posts about that will be forthcoming in the next month). 🙂

The picture above is from a week and a half ago, when my sister -in-law and her friend, my older daughter and her fiancé, and myself and my husband had lunch before my younger daughter’s performance as Ursula in The Little Mermaid at our local community theater.

Because I won’t see my sister-in-law on the actual holiday, and she was feeling down, as this will be her first year without her husband, who passed away unexpectedly in May, I decided to throw an impromptu “Thanksgiving luncheon” and do a little decorating. A kind of “special occasion” meal.

imageA couple years ago, I purchased these plates (because they were on sale, and I was finally getting a chance to host thanksgiving dinner for the first time, after years of traveling to either my parent’s home or my in-law’s home for the celebration).

 

 

The way I will always remember Pa 2 and family dinnersIn fact, this picture is of the last Thanksgiving I celebrated at the homestead, with my father at the head of the table. It was the year before he died, and this happy scene is one of the ways I will always fondly remember him. This is pretty much what our table looked like most nights, in terms of people around it, when I was growing up, and my father was always the warm, steady, strong center of our large and lively family of girls (with a few males thrown in, eventually, as we brought home beaus or married). Another picture similar to this one is featured in Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven (which has  around 20 photos that are related to and sometimes inspired the novel’s scenes sprinkled throughout), so if any of you end up getting a copy of the book when it comes out, you can see if you find it. 🙂

Anyway, back to the reason for this post. Is there anyone else out there who just enjoys putting on a fancy meal once in a while – not where the food is necessarily fancy, but where you like to set a pretty table, or have things just look extra nice?

I’m hoping that maybe there are a few of you out in blog-land who have opinions about this one way or the other. So please share in the comments.

I’ll be sharing about something else that many find a little weird, in regards to how I prepare my turkey, in a future post, so stay-tuned! 🙂

Remembrance – and Rhapsody In Blue

Pa edited

Pa in 2005

Today would have been my father, ” Pa’s”, 85th birthday.

Pa, around 3 years old

Pa, around three years old in the early 1930’s

Pa was a wonderful man who had a difficult childhood with a loving mother (who hailed from Germany), but an alcoholic father. He spent his first decade growing up during the Great Depression. Life was difficult, and he was forced to drop out of school before graduating…but he valued education, and so he completed his diploma and became the first and only person in his family of origin to earn a Bachelor’s degree. He was almost forty years old when he achieved that goal, but he never gave up. Continue Reading…

Thank You!

Veterans

Pa at 17 -  when he became a United States Marine

Pa at 17 – in 1946, when he became a United States Marine

And to my own favorite veteran, Pa, who proudly served as a United States Marine…you taught me the meaning of honor, patriotism, and the importance of standing up for justice and freedom. Those lessons will live in my heart and character forever. ❤

 

Pa at the ocean during Marine years

Pa at the ocean during Marine years

Pa as a Marine at NATO event in Haifa

Pa as a young Marine at NATO event in Haifa right after WWII

Marine Corps Band

Marine Corps Band performance 2013, Washington DC

Pa in the Marines

Pa as a young Marine in Haifa…it was hot in the desert!