Friday, May 25, 2018

Jilly’s Strawberry Field. Forever.

Jilly loved sniffing the trees at the park. Catching her big red ball but not bringing it back to you, well, until she was ready. Eating her poached egg on Thursdays and waffles on Sundays. Sticking her head under the rosemary bush. And sneaking bites of strawberries when I wasn’t looking (or so she thought). 

Jilly spent many happy days outside. Wandering around the backyard. Patrolling the fence line checking for squirrels. Finding ‘kitty candy’ in the flower beds. But one of her favorite pursuits was raiding the garden for tomatoes, blueberries and, of course, strawberries. 

I loved that she loved so many things. 

And after she died two months ago, I wasn’t sure what I should or could or would do with her ashes. Keeping them in a tin for a while was ok, but it didn’t seem right to keep the ashes in that tin forever.  When we were planting our yearly garden of lettuces, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers  and peppers, I knew what I wanted to do. 

A garden of strawberries for Jilly.

There was one flower bed in the yard that was Jilly’s favorite. In the middle was a large, wobbly  and very overgrown rosemary bush. Ok, it became a tree but that’s because I didn’t know how to trim it properly. It got so lopsided, that we had to prop it up with rope, over time, it grew in a very twisted shape.

My idea was to pull out all the plants, keep the twisted rosemary tree and plant the strawberries around it. Unfortunately, when the excavation began, we found out the rosemary tree had cracked roots and had to be removed. I was sad because Jilly loved that tree. 

Turns out, rosemary plants are not easy to find this time of year. There were strawberries everywhere, but no rosemary plants. I decided to check one more place and I found the very last rosemary bush they had.

It was meant to be. 

After we prepped the ground, I brought out Jilly’s tin. Michael dug the hole for the new rosemary bush and I gently filled it with some of Jilly’s ashes. We planted the small, fragrant rosemary gently into the middle of the garden. 

Around the bush, we scattered the remains of Jilly’s ashes. Planted rows and rows of strawberry plants and covered them with mounds of fresh, moist soil. 

As I planted each and every plant, I saw Jilly’s round black nose searching for ripe berries. I remembered her tail wagging when she found them. I sniffed as tears of love and loss fell in and among the new berries. 

But mostly, I remembered how much she loved this spot. And how it will now and always be her own little strawberry field. Forever.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Friday, May 18, 2018


The world hums along all day, all night. But do I really hear it? 

Of course I hear many things around me everyday. We all do. I hear the news on TV or music on Pandora or the latest episode of Netflix. I hear my neighbors hammering, the gardeners mowing, car honking and planes flying overhead. 

What I also hear is the sound of my own thoughts, not silence. Oh, it might be silent around me but what I’m listening to is that critical voice inside my head talking and talking and talking. 

I want to stop hearing and start listening. 

I tried it this morning before I got out of bed, I laid there and listened. Somewhere a dog barked. A bird chirped. Tiny squirrel feet scuttled overhead. There was a buzz somewhere in the room which I’d never heard before and no it was not a bee or a fly. It’s the speaker for the TV which seems to make a high pitched noise even when the TV is not on.  I found out, I can turn it off, when I did, something inside me breathed a sigh of relief.

So many things inside and outside I may hear, but clearly I don’t listen. I don’t take the time to stop and just take it all in. And maybe, that’s ok. Because there’s so much noise in and around us all the time, taking every noise in would be overwhelming. But on the other hand, maybe it’s a matter of choice. 

Tuning out to tune in. 

Obviously, there are things I need to tune out. My TV sound bar is one. The drug commercials on TV. Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, shrub trimmers are not fun sounds but neither is my non-stop mind chatter. It’s time to work on tuning out that voice, too. 

Maybe the best way to tune it out is to tune in. Let the world in by listening. Even though I hear many things all day long, they don’t connect me to the world. Not the living, breathing, organism that is our world.

The chirps. Crinkles. Scuttles. A whoosh of the breeze. Sound is a language all it’s own and this beautiful world is speaking to me and you all the time. 

Now I need to do more than just hear it, I need to be really listening.   

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Creating and Rebirth.

It’s spring. The world is ‘mudlucious’ and robins sing. 

The lilacs bloom. 

Peonies bud.  

Ferns wake up reaching for the sky. 

Twig by twig a robin builds a nest on my patio. 

I roam around the lawn sniffing and trimming and clipping flowers. And wondering. 

What will this year bring?

It’s been lonely lately without my Jilly. I miss her trotting beside me up, down and around. She loved to smell the rosemary this time of year. I loved to smell the lilacs. She would have kept watch over the robin, quietly so as to not make the mother nervous. As I sit here and wait for her to accept my presence nearby, I feel a breeze of hope. 

Just like lilac blooms wither where new branches sprout and the crab apple blossoms scatter across the grass making room for fruit to grow, loss is part of life. Death and rebirth dance together in intricate steps through time. 

Creating is a process of making and letting go. 

Last week, I showed and sold my work. This part of the creative process is wonderful and hard work and just as mysterious as beginning a new piece. You never know which pieces will reach out to people and find new homes. Sometimes old work sells and new pieces sit patiently by. 

I am always amazed how art making happens. Like the lilac blooms that took me by surprise, I see new work is sprouting in my studio. Of course, I know I made it all. But when I’m in the making process, I only see the one piece in front of me. I put it on the shelf and create another. 

I don’t see the shelves filling up and it always takes me by surprise. Just like spring bursting from the depths of winter, grass growing from muddy patches, robins sitting in a nest on my patio, creating a rebirth when you weren’t looking.