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Archive for July, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Clockwise from lower left: Ron and Aileen, the anniversary couple; Michael, Ralph, Annie Mae, Cheryl, Kevin, and Colleen.

For those of us who are officially senior citizens, it’s an amazing privilege to be able to celebrate our parents’ anniversaries. I don’t know very many people who can enjoy this sort of event. But, on Thursday evening, I was honored to be present at my parents’ sixty-sixth anniversary. It was an early evening — we all need our sleep, at our ages — but it was festive, and the waitress at the restaurant went all out to take a good picture of us. (“Say, ‘Happy anniversary!'” she hollered before snapping this picture.) Later, at home, my mom beat Michael and me at Scrabble. At 87 and 85, my parents are still teaching me how to live a good life.

For those of us who have been through a number of significant relationships, perhaps even a divorce or two (or three), the prospect of spending 66 years with a companion is, well, fantastic. We can admire it. We can celebrate with them. But this particular achievement is beyond us, now.

Another long marriage was that of my dear friends Wil and Edna Morse, who were like parents for me during my first few months as a VISTA volunteer in West Virginia. Years later, shortly after Edna’s death, I had lunch with Wil. “Wil,” I complained, “you and Edna were married for more than half a century. No matter how wonderful a relationship I may find, I will never be able to do that. It’s too late.”

Wilbur shook his head sadly. “And I will never be able to lay claim to a string of affairs,” he said. “It’s too late.”

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As I was returning home from a mostly cloudy walk this morning, with a pint container half full of blackberries I had just picked for breakfast, I was taken by the river’s reflection of a clearing sky. It wasn’t all that dramatic, looking up, but somehow the sky’s reflection within a ribbon of river really looked wonderful to me.

And, just to complete the “theme for the day,” note that the bridge in the distance is about half-wrapped, like some incomplete Christo project. It’s being repaired and painted, section by section, hence the covering.

After I left the bridge, I toddled on home to have my coffee with, you guessed it, half and half.

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Yesterday was the annual, and perhaps the last, Lavender Fair at La Paix Herb Farm, a beautiful place not far from Weston, WV. For some years, La Paix owner Myra Bonhage-Hale has hosted the gathering. I’d always wanted to attend, and I am very glad I was able to spend the day with this lovely woman and her plants. The photo above is from her Feng Shui Garden. Below, the lavender lady demonstrates distilling. (Her essential oils are intense: I just flavored a huge pasta salad with two drops of rosemary essential oil.)

In addition to the workshop on distilling, there were several other workshops, including a wild edibles walk on which I discovered that the leaves of ox-eyed daisy are delicious and peppery. Chef Dale Hawkins of Fish Hawk Farms prepared a wonderful lunch. Vendors sold jewelry, baked goods, fresh produce, and (guess who) shibori-dyed clothing. Jane Birdsong strolled among the fair-goers singing songs on request, and Ellie (whose last name I failed to ask) had set up her massage chair to give back and neck rubs.

It was even worth getting all gummy from insect repellent and sunscreen, although I will admit that the drive home seemed especially long because I could hardly wait to get into the shower. Here are couple more images from the day:

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While some folks were readying their fireworks and sparklers, Michael and I escaped from the heat and noise on July 4 by hiking in Monongahela National Forest along Otter Creek, not far from Elkins. We hiked about three miles in, then sat on a big river rock to eat our lunch. Then we took off our hiking boots, put on our water shoes, and spent nearly three hours playing in the creek: rock-hopping, wading, picking up interesting stones, sitting beneath small waterfalls, and of course taking pictures of the surroundings and of each other.

In addition to the creek’s pleasures, the entire hike was filled with flowers: the native rhododendron was at its beautiful blooming peak, and we loved every blossom, even this one we saw floating in a quiet pool at the side of the creek.

No doubt about it, there are some spectacular places in this country, and I am so glad that our national forests protect some of them. I think West Virginia has more than its share of natural wonders, and Independence Day seems an appropriate time to appreciate our bounty.

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My morning walk nearly always yields something wonderful. For the past few days, the rewards have been more than visual, actually, as I have harvested a daily pint of blackberries from vines along the carriage trail. I bring them home in a cottage cheese container and dump them over my morning oatmeal. Yum. But today this lovely butterfly sat patiently while I fiddled with my camera controls and crouched down to take a picture. Below, a closeup shows more of this animal’s intricate anatomy.

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