Friday, May 21, 2010

Agapanthus and Imprints

Welcome SkyWatchers!  Please say hello.  I enjoy meeting all of you!

I stepped out into my yard the other day, and found that this long stalk which had mysteriously shot up out of the ground seemingly overnight, was sprouting babies!  For several days before this happened, I watched this plant with interest as it stretched its long stem up towards the sun.  I was both amused and fascinated by its magical appearance and its will to be different.  Its desire to stand out amongst all of the other plants and flowers in my garden.

For me, its sudden emergence was like a smile from the Universe.  A sunny, little hello.  As I spent some time staring at this magical plant, the name Agapanthus suddenly rose forth from the inner recesses of my mind.  An Agapanthus.  And as quickly as the name made it to the forefront of my mind, I knew that that is what this unexpected visitor was called.

We are not the first owners of this beautiful little beach house.  We purchased it from a lovely couple who had spent at least ten years enjoying this healing space.  And when my brother died, two years ago, and Mark and I decided that there was no time like the present to live out a dream, we came to this lovely couple and put a bid in on their home.  We were sure that the place would be ours.  That was until we discovered that another couple had put a bid in on the home at the same time we had.  A bit of a bidding war ensued until I decided to write a letter to the owners telling them why I felt that the home should be sold to our family.  I put it out there and then we waited.  And waited...Until I received a beautiful letter from the homeowner telling me what this place meant to her, and how much she and her husband loved it.  She told me about healing from cancer and getting married.  She told me about the weddings of her two daughters that took place right out here on the bluff.  She told me about the ashes of two fathers(hers and his) which took flight right in our front yard overlooking the Pacific.  And I knew, in the moments that it took for me to read her letter, that somehow, someway, this place was meant to be passed forward to us.

There are two of these Agapanthus stalks standing side by side.  This is the second one.  I read someplace that they are perennials, meaning that they reappear each year, and I can't help but wonder if they were planted in memorial for something.  The landscaping on our bluff is breathtaking, but it is purposeful.  And yet, sometimes things seem to pop up out of nowhere, and I think to myself that someone in the history of this beautiful home must have planted those there.  A singular sunflower, two lanky Agapanthus stalks, things that reach over space and time.  Things that had a particular meaning to someone gone, yet they are still here.  They are still here.  They are still here.

We leave behind an imprint of who we are, who we were.  Oftentimes, the imprint is soft and quite subtle, the lingering touch of a hand brushing past another hand, a word which hangs in the air creating ideas and then thought.  The imprint can be that of the words in a letter long tucked away somewhere but not forgotten.  Or the reemergence of a flower planted to commemorate what we felt at a certain time in our lives.  What we left behind for them, what they left behind for us.

Gazing out at my bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean, I am reminded that even when we leave, we always leave something behind.  And I am left to wonder, what will I leave here?  In this place?  That will someday be someone else's healing spot.  And suddenly I have the urge to head down to the nursery to purchase some flower bulbs.  Some perennials might be nice.  Something strong and hearty and healthy enough to stand up to the Pacific's winds.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

To Notice

My four angel daughters.  Four individual people born out of a singular love.  Each one unique.  Each one beautiful beyond words.  Each one a pain in the tush from time to time, but each one, the love of my life.

Looking at these pictures, I can see the differences.  The distinct personalities.  The small nuances which make them all special.  Angel Daughter Number Two tilts her head in a subtly coy manner.  It is as if to say, "I'm full of mischief, but I will distract you with my adorable smile."  If not for this face, she would have been grounded for a whole lot more during her high school years!  Sweet.  Friendly.  But there is a knowing to how she lives her life.  An intuition that quietly reminds anyone who she meets, that this is someone who you should remember.  Someone whose name you should keep.

Angel Daughter Number Four with her unequivocal personal style.  She has to be the most self-assured sixteen year old that I have ever met.(and I have met a lot of sixteen year olds!)  Positively comfortable in her own skin.  Reasonable beyond her sixteen short years.  She not only received the benefit of two very experienced parents, but three older sisters to learn from.  She is the culmination of a very busy, very loving household.

Angel Daughter Number Three.  My blue-eyed girl.  Feminine.  Prissy.  My springtime breeze.  What you see is what you get.  There is a matter-of-factness about her that lets those around her know that they will be doing it her way.  She might get the joke, but she will only laugh if she wants to.  And when she does, everyone around her laughs, too.

Angel Daughter number One.  Poised.  Puts children inside of giant bubbles!  Takes on her Cinderella stance when her momma is serious about taking a picture that nobody really wants to be in.  She is lovely.  Kind-hearted.  Gentle.  And sometimes she forgets how powerful she truly is.  She recently landed a job in which there were at least one thousand applicants.  One thousand applicants!  She was one of twenty-three who got hired.  That's power.  Use it for good, my dear.
It is up to us to notice the unique characteristics in those whom we love.  Especially and most importantly, our own children.  The world is full of individuals who have been scarred by never being noticed for who they are.  For what they have to contribute.  For their anomalous gifts.  How many resources have been wasted just by being brushed over?  My heart breaks to consider the numbers.
With each one of my daughters, I envisioned a clean slate.  A solitary spirit with unparalleled capacities.  With each one, I observed.  I took in the details.  I nurtured the differences.
And with each one, I still observe as they evolve and grow and transition into who they will continue to become.  The essence of who they have been still remains strong, but the ability to thrive, to change, to embrace the gifts as they come, therein lies the future.
And as their momma, it is up to me to remind them that they are each not only one in one thousand, but one in one million.  To notice each and every new feather that appears in their wings.  To not compare them to me, or their father, or their friends, or each other, but to who they have been and who they are now becoming.

To notice.  To notice.  To notice.

And to acknowledge, accept and acquiesce.

I try to notice the gifts of not only my angel daughters, but of anyone whom I might come in contact with throughout the course of a day.  There is something to notice about everybody.  I am not saying that there are days in which I am feeling rather crummy myself, and I forget to take the time.  But most days, I notice.  And I say something nice.  And in return, I receive a very genuine smile.

Who would you be if someone took the time to notice?  To really notice you?

Friday, May 7, 2010

In Awe of Mother Birds

For the past several weeks,  my front door has been an off-access area.  This happened when my husband and my two youngest Angel Daughters informed me that in the mornings they noticed that there was the shadow of a little bird sitting quietly behind the wreath which I had placed there last fall.  So, thinking like the mother bird that I am, I quickly realized that this little bird had built a nest behind the wreath that I had hung upon my door and was using it to sit on her eggs!
Like the obsessive-compulsive, fairly over-protective(I have seen worse!) Jewish momma that I am, I quickly went into "protection" mode.  I made two signs, one for the inside of the house and one for the outside.  I taped the one sign on the inside over the doorknob(which my family instantly rolled their eyes at in that "Here goes mom again..." way), and then placed the other sign on the outside of the door.
There is something inside of me, something that I have absolutely NO control over.  Something that makes my ovaries tingle(sorry, guys), which makes me want to protect every living thing that I encounter.  It has been something that has possessed my nuturing soul since as far back as I can remember.  My first encounter being with three baby squirrels that I found in the woods behind my childhood home.  Their mother had abandoned them and I just knew that they would die if I didn't take over the job, so, with my father's permission(or most likely, submission), I found a tree stump in our backyard which would serve as their new home.  Everyday, I fed and played with them.  I even went so far as to try to teach them tricks because I was going to be the ringmaster of the first Squirrel circus!  But, alas, squirrels are...Well, squirrels, and after two of them succumbed to an illness and went to squirrel heaven, the third one continued to grow.  When he began to bite me, we decided that it was no longer a good idea to handle him and he moved into our garage.  We left the door open far enough for him to come and go, which he did for well over a year.  I like to think that after that, he was mature enough to go out to create a little squirrel family of his own.

After that, my parents let me keep a stray cat which had slept on our porch for over eight months.  It was difficult being the animal-loving child of a mother who did not want paw prints on her clean tile floors.  But even she could not keep me from rescuing as many stray and wounded animals as possible.

The drive in me could not be ignored.

At the top of the wreath, there sits the little nest just where the hook holds it onto the door.  Not exactly engineered with sturdiness in mind, but if I were a little bird, I might look at the little nook as an out of the way safe place to nest.

And so, for the next three weeks, we watched as momma and daddy bird waited over their eggs.

We have two tall trees in our front yard, and whenever I would go outside to retrieve the mail or to pick up packages from the front doorstep, this is what I would encounter.  This pretty daddy bird with his red neck and head, singing a chirpy warning song from atop the tree.  He would watch me intently as I went about my business.  I'm still not sure what he would have done had I posed a threat to his babies.  Dive-bomb my head?  Poop on my shoulder?

His lovely, long-tailed mate would sit at the top of the other tree, waiting for me to go away.
Sometimes she would give me the tail-feathers.  But once I walked away, she would swoop back down and sit protectively upon her nest.  A mother's work is never done.
I am happy to report that there are two adorable baby House Finches nesting safely behind the wreath on my front door.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get a good picture of them because of my height restrictions.(even while standing on a chair)  I was able to get a photo of another set of babies who are about the same age.  There are three tiny hatchlings in this nest, although they are beginning to crowd one another out.  These little beauties hatched about nine days ago behind a light fixture at our beach house.

Soon they will learn to fly and the cycle will begin again
I know that someday soon, I will be able to remove the signs from my door and activity in and out of our home will resume to normal.  But I will not be removing the wreath or the nest.  I have read that House Finches often return to the same nesting spot to hatch their next brood.  I have also witnessed this by experience.  I will honor this momma bird by leaving her home in tact and not disturbing her nest.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mommies out there and also, to all who mother.  Being a mom does not only mean creating children.  It means nurturing others.  It means cultivating ideas.  It means fostering, sustaining and providing.  It means loving and cherishing.  And sometimes it means birthing oneself.

Four Angel's Momma(most days)

PS-To my own little flock of angels:  Thank you for making me what I have always wanted to be: A mommy.

AD1-You were my first.  Thank you for letting me practice on you.  I may not have always gotten it right, but I certainly tried my best.  You are the best teacher that a mommy could ever have. You are such a shining star in my sky.

AD2-Thank you for challenging me and teaching me that coloring outside of the lines is just as important as coloring inside of the lines!  You see colors that the rest of us may never see.  You are my monkey butt!

AD3-Thank you for bringing springtime into my life.  Thank you for reminding me that there is always room in the world for "the other Gabriellas"(as long as they clean up the monkey poop).  Thank you for wearing flowers in your hair.  You are my laughter because you get the jokes.

AD4-Thank you for reminding me that we should all dance more.  You taught all of us that there is always room for one more and that the one more is more than one could have ever dreamed of.  You are my sunshine.

And thank you, Mark, for being the best daddy that a momma could choose.  Without you, none of us would be who we are and who we will become.  You father your daughters like a guy who actually knows what he is doing!  And to all of us, YOU ARE THE MAN!

Hello Skywatchers!  Thank you for popping in!  Please say hello and let me know a bit about you.  I look forward to seeing your SkyWatch posts this week.
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