JUNE:  A MONTH OF STRAWBERRIES & MEMORIES

 

I have a lone strawberry plant in my backyard which is doing its very best to give me the flavor of fresh-picked summer. So far I’ve had 12 berries, but more are on the way. It is a “forever” plant so throughout the next two months, I may find one or two bright red berries every few days to keep  that first warm berry taste in my mouth.

 

When I was a child on Dad’s farm, a few wild berries grew along the driveway. I watched them daily as they blossomed, formed green berries, and gradually turned red enough to pick. Wild berries are small, perhaps the size of my little fingernail, but twice as sweet as cultivated ones. If there were two berries or more, I’d share them with Mom and Dad. That very first taste made all that watching so worth it. It was the promise of more and of a sweet summer.

 

As an adult I continue to cherish the first taste of locally grown berries. Whether from my back yard, the Thursday farmers’ market or those from “pick your own farms,” they are a treasure.

 

When I have a dish of berries, I struggle deciding whether to make a biscuit shortcake, have them in a bowl with sugar, or just sit down and enjoy them one by one. It is a dilemma!

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CELEBRATE MAY DAY TODAY

Celebrate May Day the “Old Fashioned Way.”

Find a nine-inch square of paper. When I was a child we used scraps

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MAY DAY BOUQUET

of wallpaper. Today I chose a piece of colored computer paper

1. Fold it into a triangle

2. With the fold toward you take one of the points and fold it to the middle of opposite edge.

3. Do the same with the other point.

4. Now fold the front flap of the top into the front bottom cup.

5. Poke or punch a hole into the top flap.

Now go outside and find flowers – even dandelions will be pretty. Tuck them into the pocket or cup you have made.

 

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HOW TO FOLD

As children we would hang them on a friend’s door, knock, and then run and hide. The person coming to the door was surprised and hunted down the giver to thank them with a kiss.

* * * * *

You can use this cup for many things. It will hold a drink for a short time.

As a teacher, I always made them for children who lost a tooth at school. It could be safely stored in a lunch pail or coat pocket for the tooth fairy.

Mostly I remember the fun we had making these baskets at school and then going home to search for flowers. I’d beg my mother to let me go down by the creek where I knew the May flowers were in blossom along with purple, white, and yellow violets. I never really went alone because Chum, our cowdog, would not let me. He assumed the duty of protecting me no matter wherever I wandered.

A BIRTHDAY CALL

April 9 is my childhood friend’s birthday. The date is like a holiday in my mind.

How long we’ve been friends? I don’t know. We lived in farm country. We probably went to the Sanford Methodist Church Sunday school together before we started first grade in the Sanford country school. Neither building exists today. Now we live hundreds of miles from one another with but a few annual contacts.

Yesterday I called to wish her “Happy Birthday.” We laughed about the stuff we did as kids.

She remembered the float we’d built on my dad’s pickup truck. We were 4-H members with my mother as our leader. We couldn’t remember what we did although she thought it had to do with cream cheese and sandwiches. This morning my 4-H Achievement book, I’ve kept from those years, yielded pictures of us in white uniforms and caps.

Somehow it must have demonstrated the 1946 Labor Day Parade theme Food for Europe. Our float placed third.

 

 

The pictures were taken in front of my house. The float was done totally in green and white.

A LETTER TO A GRANDSON

This is from a letter written by my husband. It is my Valentine gift to you.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

My Dear Grandson,

You were born on the 28th of August 2006, just three days ago. You will not read or understand what I am writing for a good number of years. And by the time you read this, I will be buried, having lived a good, rich exciting and satisfying life.

What can I possibly write at this time that will make any sense to you as you begin to read? What would I most want you to understand, realize, inherit, or discover? I have no profound wisdom, though I’ve enjoyed learning all my life.

I also hope that perhaps you will be able some day to read some of my journals, poetry, and essays. I have written much, published little, and never had the discipline to write a book.

I want you to know how important love is in our lives, your life. Know without question that you are loved even before birth. Your parents, my son and his lovely, intelligent, creative wife, your mother, loves you more deeply than can be expressed in these words. And as an old popular song sung by Nat King Cole many years ago, “The Greatest thing you’ll every learn, is just to love and be loved in return.”

So, to love and be fully, unconditionally, continually without having to constantly earn that love, is about as wise as I can because that has been the experience of your father’s parents.

At another time he wrote:

(Parenthetical thoughts)
Monday, February 21, 2011
(I just took a writing break and sat in the other room leafing through some of my writing from past Februaries in the South. I’ve decided to take up brick making. I’ll imprint my words on bricks, fire them, and then bury them in abandoned blue stone quarries and let them be discovered some later centuries by anthropologists seeking evidence of our decline as a world power.)

MORE ON WARSAW

PHOTO: View of a small museum from our apartment on Observatorow

 

EXCERPTS FROM A LETTER TO FRIENDS DATED DECEMBER 2, 1989

We get mail that comes to us through the American Embassy. If we wait until we’re home (to open it), we make a pot of tea, then sit with our feet up and relish every word.

Our life here can be described as a set of small victories. I have begun to feel as if I’m digging for Herkimer diamonds and find small (and large) perfect jewels. The hall of the opera house is lovely with great crystal chandeliers made in Poland. It has a huge stage canted uphill for a true life-like effect and the possibility of nearly any stage effect including someone jumping from a suspended bridge into the water.

At another concert hall we saw Garrick Olson, an American pianist born in White Plains, New York, who won the Chopin competition here in 1970. He played to a standing room only audience who called him back for encores several times. While I had not heard of him, the Poles certainly had and love him. He was excellent. On December 8 we have tickets to a symphony concert to hear Saint-Saens Organ Symphony, which I’m looking forward to.

I have been teaching English to a group of novitiates of Mother Theresa’s order. I will not go back now until January when I expect here will be a totally new group of girls. They impress me. They thoroughly enjoy life together. Mother Theresa believes in laughter. While these girls are very serious about learning English, they giggle and share silly things that have happened to them.

In addition, I’m singing in a choir led by an American expat. It consists mostly of Poles, so 98 percent of the instruction is in Polish, which I miss. I can understand the letters, so I usually know where we are. We sang Mozart’s Requiem. It was a thrill to be a part of it.

Shopping  produces jewels. I found a lovely plaid skirt, a blouse, and a sweater for 174,500 zlotys, translated is about $25. Clothing appears in strange places as do odds and ends one needs–Crest in local news stand, or slippers in an underground cross walk. I have also been able to get great haircuts just up the hill from our house for the equivalent of 75 cents.

Enough for now, another chapter to come later.

 

MY MOTHER’S MEMORIES

I found this bit of writing when looking through my mother’s photograph album.

The things I miss and the memories I cherish … .

I am an old lady and this is the day before Easter.

We only had one child, a blond-headed baby girl named Phyllis, who we called Dottie as she was very small.

I miss the first bouquets of spring of a few yellow dandelion and perhaps a violet or two, clutched tight in a grubby little hand and given to me in love to put in a vase.

I also miss the May baskets the neighbor’s children hung on our door, who would come in for ice cream and cake afterwards. Now it seems the children don’t have time for the simple joys of life anymore.

I also miss the country schools and the programs put on in the old country church, and the happy little faces when Santa Claus came in.

These are just a few of the things that take me back many years. They were the good old days when we lived on the farm and you had neighbors who cared about you, and would always help each other out, if needed.

We had lots of hard work, but many pleasant memories, never forgotten.

We have lost many dear friends through out the years and made new ones also, but the memories linger on–never to be forgotten.

Now it’s my turn to be the old lady. I too remember

those days as a child on the farm and the country school.

FASHION: 1963

This picture of my husband and I standing in front of the Bloomington Reformed Church the year he was ordained shows a considerable change in clothing people wore to church.

We had lived in Bloomington (our first church) about three or four months when this was taken. Richard is still in his Genevan gown following service. I am wearing a suit I do not remember but would presume to be a neutral light brown, tan, or gray. My hat is red. In the 1960s a woman always wore a hat to church. I am not wearing gloves which were also demanded if you were to be “properly dressed.” I would guess this was taken after the congregation left, so they had been discarded. When I went to church I would also have carried a matching purse. Certainly a new minister’s wife was expected to be properly dressed.