Monday, October 7, 2013

As We Grow

Another summer has made its way through the ever-quickening calendar of my life and I am taking some time to reflect upon the moments that still remain ethereally suspended within my mind and soul.  It is strange for me this year.  Strange because the important string of Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year), Yom Kippur (a time for atonement and forgiveness), Sukkot (the Feast of the Tabernacles) and Simchat Torah (the joyous celebration of the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, and the rejoicing over the completion and new beginning of the weekly Torah readings) all essentially took place at the end of summer, when they typically occur in early autumn.  Sitting here with all of these significant holidays now in the past is making me feel as if I missed something and I am not quite sure what it is.  A good comparison might be if Christmas was to fall on Thanksgiving this year (which Chanukah will) and then when December twenty-fifth rolled around, the day was treated as just another day in winter, Santa sunning his tootsies in the Bahamas, Rudolph using his vacation time to visit with his cousins in the Alps ...It would leave you feeling quite a bit discombobulated, like you forgot something important even though everything on your list was already done.  Still, all is as it should be whether it feels like it or not.  Autumn has arrived, summer has passed (although the heat is still in the process of wearing out its welcome!), and all of my Angel Daughters are busy living their own lives while I am still trying to figure out where it is that I fit in.  There are so many things that nobody ever teaches us about being a mother, but I have found that one of the most poignant things is how to start up where we left off, after the children are mostly raised up.
And so, when the weather is permissive and not too hot or humid, I spend some time outside in our garden raising up flowers and plants and tomatoes and pumpkins.
And caterpillars who feast upon the Milkweed that Mark so lovingly planted for me this year.  The caterpillars who then, so much like my own daughters, spend some time suspended safely and freely in the Chrysalis stage.

Impermanent and changing seemingly before my eyes, into beings that I can sometimes barely recognize but that I know oh so well.

Until, there they are, fluttering with perfectly formed wings before me.  Flitting past my face every now and again as I stand outside watching, observing, hoping, praying and daydreaming.  More beautiful and vibrant than ever before but ready to fly off on their own leaving me to wonder how it all happened.  When it all happened.  And yet I know because if I shut my eyes tightly, I can go back to the so many moments in between, when it all happened and I can remember...

Back in June, Mark and I planted five varieties of tomatoes in clay pots on our patio.  We have done this before with fairly mixed results.  Last summer, we had no success as the plants succumbed to a fungus that overtook the tender leaves and prevented the flowers from budding into fruit.  This year, I decided to do a bit of research in order to discover some more disease resistant varieties and Mark made sure to nourish them with Miracle Grow every week.  I expended some of my restlessness gently removing any sick looking leaves off of each plant daily.  We have been well-rewarded for our attention to the smaller things, this year.
Other than this four inch Jurassic looking pest known as the Tomato Hornworm or the Tobacco Hornworm(the ones that I discovered on our plants were Tobacco Hornworms, YUCK!!!), we ended up with bushels and bushels of wonderful, organic tomatoes this year.  At first, I thought these caterpillars were just another possible variety of butterfly but upon closer inspection and a quick check on the Internet, we discovered that these little beasts were out to completely ravage our tomato plants and so they had to go!  I truly hate to kill anything but these little monsters would have killed our tomato plants and so Mark took care of the dirty work for me.  Yet another reason why I completely adore my husband.  Still, I did spend quite some time watching and photographing these little dudes as I had never seen one before and I found them quite fascinating in a gross sort of way.  And after eradicating these little buggers(I found two of them on the same plant), we were rewarded with healthy, bountiful tomato plants which have provided us with delicious tomatoes every single night for over a month now.  Regardless of what we are having for dinner each night, I slice up a melange of several tomatoes and we enjoy them.  We have also shared them with our neighbors(I had to leave them a note saying that if they did not want anymore tomatoes, to please let me know!), my doctors and our friends.  Quite the fabulous treat fresh tomatoes are!  To me, they taste like sunshine.

A couple of months ago, we also planted one pumpkin plant just to see what might happen.  The vine wrapped around our yard with elephant ear sized leaves and the bees did their jobs pollinating the flowers as they grew.  We had several pumpkins that began to grow but did not survive for a variety of reasons, but then, there was this one which proudly sits curing on our patio right now.  I will post another photo of it off of the vine soon.  The color is a vibrant orange and the size is very nice.(12.8 pounds!)  It makes me happy just knowing that it came from our garden.  There is another one that is doing quite well on the vine right now but I do not think that it will be ready for Halloween.  That is okay because Thanksgiving will be coming up soon enough and it tickles me to watch it grow and mature.  I am finding that gardening and taking care of our seven pets as well as the wild birds and squirrels, helps to fill the void of not being as needed by my Angel Daughters quite so much anymore.  And although the gardening is a fairly new interest that has only evolved over the past several years, it is a satisfying way for Mark and I to spend some time together, enjoying the ocean, working side by side, and producing something that we can enjoy and share with each other and with others.  Funny how our neighbors smile just a little bit brighter when they greet us since we have been sharing our tomatoes with them.  Such a simple thing and yet, it really is all about the simple things, isn't it?
The Angels are all doing quite well since I last posted back in June.  I did not set out to take such a long hiatus from blogging.  It's just that every time I thought about it or sat down to begin writing, I seemed to draw a blank.  Writing has always been one of my favorite ways to work out my own thoughts so it has been disconcerting for me to not be able to express myself through the written word and through this blog which I consider my little corner of the world.  This is something that I feel like I need to explore more because in the future, I would love to be able to complete a book that I would eventually be able to share.  Sometimes I feel as if the words become "stuck" and my mind tends to freeze when I sit down to write.  To me, it feels like fear, yet I am not sure what I am fearful of.  This is one of the things that I hope to work on in the coming year.  Maybe there is a chakra or something that is blocked within my soul.  I do know that the physical feeling occurs right in the center of my heart and extends down into the upper left side of my stomach.  It is an anxious sensation and once it hits, I have a difficult time moving past it.  Most of the time, I just go on to something else because it feels futile when I do not understand its origination to begin with.  I always feel much lighter after writing.  It is kind of like putting the words into a helium balloon and just setting them free into the universe. It is a very positive experience for me and yet, this stagnating fear... Definitely something worth exploring but I don't even know how or where to begin.  Anybody else dealing with this kind of thing?  I would love to know what you might wrestle with and how you manage to move past the fear.  Please feel free to share in the comments or email me if you have had any success in this area.  It really helps to hear from others who have been through, or might be going through the same thing.

In the photo above, my dad is standing in for Angel Daughter Number Four which is why he is squatting down.  It is his sense of humor which I cannot apologize for because I definitely inherited it.  I get him but I can always spot the poor individuals who just don't.  They usually aren't sure if he is kidding or being serious.  Then they look over at me.  The blank stares tend to give it away.  Sometimes I try to explain but it is usually futile because, well, he is my dad, and it is sort of hard to explain...

At the end of August, Angel Daughter Number Three began a new leg on the journey of her life.  Earlier in the year, she completed her AA degree from the local community college and was accepted to a University which is nine hours away in order to complete her Bachelor's degree.  This is something that I knew was coming for a long time, but still, having one of my children farther than a simple one or two hour car ride away has been an adjustment.  Especially this daughter because she has always preferred to stick closer to the nest which I also enjoyed.  I do know that this is the right time and the right place for her to spread her wings in order to fly a bit further from home.  The knowing does make it a bit easier, but I do miss the heck out of her.  Not only is she my daughter, but over the past couple of years, our relationship has also very naturally metamorphosed into a dear friendship which I love.  AD3 has gone through a lot over the past few years, but she has used those experiences to grow and mature and transform into an incredible young woman.  Obviously, we all grow and transform at different rates which is part of what made it so special to witness AD3's transition from adolescent to young adult.  She has done so with grace and beauty.

She needed to drive her car up to school, so the rest of us(minus AD2 because she had to be in Las Vegas for a business convention) all flew up to help her get settled in.

We brought the boyfriends who are also the brothers.  I still get such a kick out of that.  AD3's boyfriend was also turning twenty one that weekend, so we had a lot to celebrate!  I took this photo after mostly everything was unloaded into AD3's dorm room.  Everybody was hot and tired but they all did a great job.  The really nice thing about her dorm room is that she has her own bathroom!  No trekking down the hallway in the middle of the night or taking showers in those stinky little stalls with who knows what kind of yuck on the floor!  She has three dorm mates who she shares a kitchen and a living area with, but it is a very nice setup.  Even the furniture that the school supplies is cute!
There was lots of love...

And lots of sisterly giggles.  Lots of climbing up brick walls...

Hugs with daddy...

Smooches with the boyfriends;)

And of course, tears...

But mainly there was love and joy and lots of I'll see you soons which are all a part of the journey.  All part of taking flight.  All a part of our family history.

Our neighbors have half-jokingly decided that the Coastal Commission should declare our front yard a butterfly sanctuary as there have never, ever been so many butterflies metamorphosing on these bluffs before and our neighbors have lived here for twenty years plus.  Maybe it's the extra attention and love and care that Mark and I have directed into making our home an even more extraordinary and magical place.  Maybe it is the tomatoes and the roses and the pumpkins and the squirrels and the birds who are always welcome.  But it's definitely the butterflies.  The human ones who have transitioned into lovely winged angels who flew through the past twenty six years of our lives but still return for a good meal, a loving hug and some family history, past, present and future.  Or, maybe it is the Monarchs who I have been told will also return from year to year, to feast upon the imprinted cellular memory of the actual  Milkweed that they adore, to suspend themselves in time as they transition from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly and then deposit their eggs to begin the magical process over and over and over again.

Ah, the tender, lingering sweetness of it all.  

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