Surrender 96: The Winds of Change

This day, which turned out to be the warmest one we’ve had so far this year, was the perfect invitation to bring out the spring décor.  I opted to start the transformation on the front porch, so I could savor the warmth…80 degrees was the high…the sunshine and the breeze. 


Breeze is too mild of a word, actually. To quote Winnie the Pooh, it was a “rather blustery day”! I loved it though. The fresh, and strong, currents of air carried to me the fragrance of a nearby lilac bush in full bloom. And the breeze excited my wind chimes hanging on the front porch, so that I was serenaded as I worked. 


Puttering is a form of creative expression for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my time this afternoon, removing and cleaning the items that had served the past couple of months on the porch. Then unpacking spring items to use outside and throughout the house. 

I like to mix things up a bit, every time I reset an area or change a vignette. So I never know how the competed project is going to look, until I’m done. New this spring is a great wooden sign with the suggestion to RELAX. The little metal bucket and red berries are a carryover from Christmas. 

On the other end of the table is a grouping of chippy white items with a bird theme. An empty birdcage was my symbol in 2014. I like reusing these items, and remembering the significance that they held. I’ll add a small plant to the birdcage, when I purchase flowers to freshen up my red vintage box. One of my favorite signs completes this area of the porch. 


Dragonflies, another symbol from a previous year, adorn the little side table that rests next to the porch swing. The spring pillows replaced the winter ones on the swing, and I swapped out the area rug. 


Today was an excellent start to spring cleaning and switching over vignettes and décor to the lighter colors of spring and summer. 

The wind never ceased to swirl around me. I thought of the movies Mary Poppins and Chocolat, in which the wind plays an important part in the story, signifying change. That seemed an appropriate symbol on a day that I chose to put away the old and bring out the new. 

Greg sent me the cute meme, about letting go and enjoying the ride. Again, a windy day is depicted. Those repetitions and symbols are significant to me. This year is all about letting go of control and being in the flow, trusting as I journey. 

Toni Morrison agrees. She wrote, “If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.” I am surrendering. The wind is all around me, teasing me, stirring memories, inviting me to let go and play. Today it blew in a change in décor. I am open to the other invitations that the wind might carry to me. 



Surrender 80: Spring Vignette

The first day of spring in Joplin, Missouri was, ironically, one of the chilliest days we’ve had in quite some time. However, periods of intermittent sunshine revealed signs of the season everywhere. I decided to bring spring inside and create a fresh vignette. 


I transformed my little entryway table, using an assortment of newer and vintage pieces and a couple of flea market finds. This is a fun activity for me, that allows my inner artist, my creative child within, free reign. 


The tabletop features vintage hankies formed into no-sew rosettes. The porcelain rabbit, the little white and yellow flower pot, and the artificial pansies are treasures from Greg’s mother, as is the crocheted doily. I bought the birdcage two years ago at Michaels and the glass globe candle holder and shallow white bowl are flea market finds. 

I love using stacks of books in vignettes. From my collection I have an assortment of colors and sizes to chose from. They are great for adding height and creating a perch for candles or keepsakes. 

On the lower level of the table, every item is from the Arkansas house, except for the hand blown glass pitcher, which I purchased years ago. I love the way the cloth balls look, nestled within the pitcher. And why use one little brass basket when two stacked together looks so cute? 

My children will recognize the butterfly painting. It always hung in their grandparents’ spare bedroom. I thought I’d never be able to use it, as that bedroom is where it seemed to fit best. However, I like it right there, on an easel on that lower shelf. The brass baskets and the cloth balls bring out the colors in the painting. 

The artist is R. Styles, who was with Avante Studios, and painted in the 60s and 70s. I haven’t been able to find out anything further about him. The painting has a certificate of authenticity attached to the back. I like the butterflies, which were my symbol four years ago. 

The day has been overcast, and cool, but that hasn’t stopped spring from arriving, in the northern hemisphere or in my heart. The vignette is a creative expression of renewal and hope, of life, and the return of color in my world. That little table makes me smile when I look at it, which is a worthy accomplishment. Welcome spring. 


Surrender 73: Wakey, Wakey

It seemed appropriate, on this first day of Daylight Savings Time, to putter in the garden. The weather continues to be warm, and even with the threat of rain and thunderstorms, I surrendered to the call of the outdoors. 


This time of year, as spring nears, there is much tidying to do in the garden. As plants die back in late fall, I leave the dry, brown stalks and leaves in place, to mark the locations of plants. Today, armed with long bladed shears and a white utility bucket, I moved from clump to clump, cutting down last year’s remnants and dropping them into the bucket. 
 No need for a garden hat today! 

I love being in the garden. Today I was delighted to see more plants pushing through the ground, waking from their long winter’s sleep. I glanced around occasionally, to make sure the neighbors weren’t watching, as I crooned to each tiny plant, “Hello! You are awake.” I touched the plants, smoothed mulch around them, cleared away debris. I’m very sensitive…to energy, to scents. These little herb and flower plants responded, I’m sure, by releasing their delicate aromas into the still, humid air. 

This is bliss, that I’m willing to share. 

Come with me, on a walking tour of my awakening paradise…




 German Garlic

 Bee balm



There were many more plants stirring in the garden, than those pictured above. I’ve quit being concerned that spring has arrived too early. It has. I’m trusting these little beauties know what they are doing. Like children who sometimes pop out of bed earlier than expected, these plants are awake. I’ll take care of them, joyfully.  

Fat drops of rain plopped onto my head, signaling the end of my garden puttering. I was content with what I accomplished today. I snapped a last picture, of the pair of metal cranes near the meditation area. I love having the cranes in the garden. They are, unexpectedly, a connection to Thirlestane Castle, in Lauder, Scotland. The castle has a pair of cranes that grace either side of the massive front door. 

I suddenly realized that my cranes did not have names. What an oversight on my part. I decided to give them Scottish names. Calder is a Scottish word that means “stream”. That fits a crane well and ties in with my word for this year. And the other crane is now called Ainslie, which means “meadow”. That’s close enough to a garden! 

Calder and Ainslie, thus christened, stand watch over my garden. Cranes are symbolic of happiness. How perfect, as sentinels of this place. 


Surrender 49: Creating a Little Chaos of My Own

With the temperatures reaching a high of 77 degrees today, I totally surrendered to the call of the outdoors. Such a gorgeous day in February was an exciting gift, one I couldn’t wait to unwrap and enjoy. Donning old clothes, gloves, and my straw gardening hat, I sauntered into the warm sunshine and started the process of tidying up the flower and herb gardens surrounding the house. 


My priority this afternoon was to cut back the tall grasses, still standing golden and tasseled in a variety of beds. I use a wonderful electric hedge trimmer to accomplish this task more easily. The clumps of decorative grass are cut down to six inches, to allow the new green stalks to appear and grow. 

Greg arrived, after a day of playing golf, just as I started working in the yard. He graciously offered his help! Between the two of us, the grasses were quickly cut back. Piling arm loads of stalks onto the brickio, I inhaled the fresh earthy scent of the dried grasses. I was reminded of the hay that my daughter Elissa used to toss into the horse stalls at feeding time. 

The trimmer was great at cutting back dry herbs too, and I caught the aroma of lemon grass, lemon balm, basil, rosemary, Russian sage and thyme. With wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour today, and a burn ban in effect, I didn’t start a fire in the fire pit. When the wind calms down I’ll burn the grasses and dried herbs in the fire pit, creating a unique outdoor potpourri that smells so wonderfully fragrant. 


The surprise this afternoon was discovering that my garden is already stirring from its winter slumber. The weather has been mild, with very few extremely cold days. The grasses, lemon balm and day lilies are pushing tender green shoots through the soil. The clematis has new growth appearing. And the lilac bush is budding. I realize it is unseasonably warm today, and there’s likely to be more cold days coming, but I’m hoping for an early spring. My heart filled with joy, seeing green in the garden today. 


I have more to do in the gardens the next few days, while the warm temperatures linger. It already looks differently after today’s labor…trimmed back, messy, bare…and poised to explode soon with every shade of green and riotous color.  I was so inspired recently by the movie A Little Chaos, as the gardeners in that film brought beauty forth from a wild and tangled plot of land. A bit of Eden was created, that contained both order and chaos. I deeply identify with that creative urge, to bring lush, abundant life from the ground that both pleases the eye, and the soul, and astounds them. I too am creating a bit of Eden…a little chaos and wildness of my own. This is paradise found, surely. 

Journey 79: A Rare Spring Equinox

welcome spring

USA Today announced the arrival of spring by calling it a Freaky Friday. A rare occurrence happened today, with the convergence of the spring equinox, an invisible super moon, and a total solar eclipse!

The spring, or vernal, equinox marks the passage of Earth’s northern hemisphere from winter to spring, as the sun shines directly on the equator. The official time for this event was 6:45 PM, ET. Today, the sun rose due east, and set due west. This seasonal change happens every year. What was extraordinary today was the total solar eclipse as the new super moon crossed in front of the spring sun, briefly blocking out the sun and casting a shadow across the planet.

The eclipse was seen in totality in only a few places, in the far northern regions of Europe. In parts of Scotland, England, Asia and Africa, the sun was 50% – 99% obscured. The eclipse was not visible at all in the US. This is Earth’s only solar eclipse in 2015. The next one will occur in August of 2017.

The super moon, which was responsible for creating the solar eclipse as it passed in front of the sun, is considered “super” when it is at its closest to the earth during its elliptical orbit. When it’s a full moon, the moon appears bigger and brighter. Because this was a new moon, it was not visible except as it crossed the sun.

Freaky Friday solar eclipse

So what does this triple header heralding spring mean? It did create some interesting, high-level energy, as the super moon affects the ocean’s tides in a greater way. Paired with the vernal equinox, it ushered in a time of strong rebirth and new beginnings, growth and the flowing of life. Primarily, it means warmer weather, trees turning green as they leaf out, and plants pushing up through the ground.

It was a beautiful day here, warm and partly sunny, to mark this Freaky Friday. I spent a good portion of the day in Arkansas, visiting Greg’s dad. When we said our good-byes, Greg suggested re-visiting True Treasures in Bentonville, where I had time to browse in the beautiful and unique vintage and antique store a bit longer than my last hurried visit. I chatted with the cheerful worker there, and found a few wonderful treasures to bring home. It was a good way to begin winding down this gorgeous day.

At home, preparing a very healthy yet simple late dinner, I glanced through the kitchen window, and was lured outside by the vivid sunset. The sky was awash in bright pinks, deep reds, and dark purples as the spring sun sank. I strolled along the garden paths, checking the flower borders and the apothecary garden. New green growth is pushing up through the mulch. I was so delighted! The best sign of spring I could have received today was the appearance of Life in my garden. Gustav Mahler wrote, “Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer. I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.” Ahhhh, freaky or not, spring arrived today, spectacularly. I am breathing the air deeply again.

welcome spring with true treasures

Happy finds from True Treasures. I love the metal caddy, which now holds silverware, and the mason jar dispenser which now sits next to the kitchen sink, filled with hand soap. The vintage metal colander may end up in the garden.

Journey 73: Irrefutable Signs of Spring

proof of spring sign

Although it was a little cool today, and overcast a good portion of the day, two signs of spring appeared, to let me know that the season of awakening and rebirth is near. I noticed this afternoon that my purple lilac bush, located on the northeast corner of the house, had unfurled pale green leaves, the first of my plants to stir from winter’s sleep.

proof of spring lilac

And, my front porch began its transition from winter to spring today. I did that, of course, but it signals the arrival of spring as surely as the budding trees and the lilac opening. I love this ritual of resetting my porch and my house, creating vignettes and using pieces in new ways, as the seasons change. As the temps continue to warm up, I’ll add live plants and colorful potted flowers, and bring my yellow metal baker’s rack back to the front deck.  

I’ve come to appreciate winter for its time of rest and reflection, time of restoration and preparation. I LOVE spring, summer and fall. Although I’d be hard pressed to pick my favorite among those last three seasons, I think spring wins by a narrow margin. The stirring of the earth, the rebirth signified by flowers pushing up through the moist ground, the greens and golds of early foliage and the fragrant flowers on fruit and decorative trees, the animals who reappear after wintering elsewhere, all create an answering awakening and stirring in me. And the warming of the air and ground means I can be outside, gardening! I am so excited to see how my backyard garden fared over the winter, and begin phase two back there.

I’m letting pictures tell the rest of the story this evening, and so the remainder of my blog post is pictorial, capturing those early signs of spring. Margaret Atwood shares one of my favorite sentiments about spring: “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” I can’t wait!

proof of spring porch swing

A favorite place to watch the world go by

proof of spring side table

The letter C from Kaleb, and the green bud vase move outdoors. Dried baby’s breath and dried basil fill the vase.

proof of spring crate

My old wooden crate holds mason jar candles and fat red birds, and the ruby red bud vases from Kaleb.

proof of spring entry table

Yellow and green, blue and lavender, and hints of red and pink….colors of spring.