3/31/2014

My Field TripIf you have been following this blog you know that I am writing about My Field Trip through life and at this point I am starting over – again and doing so in the country. I’m a city/rural girl and experiencing the differences of being in farm country where the wind blows and the cows moo has had moments of challenge.

At least spring seems to have finally arrived and with it the nights are becoming warmer. I’ve left my window cracked a small fraction to enjoy the night air, which has brought to my attention the sounds of the country.

I’ve slept through city noises of cars, big wheeled trucks, ambulances and even the nightly train whistle, but I was quickly awakened by the sound of a nearby donkey hawing. I lay in bed as the breeze brought me the soft mooing of cows and was startled awake by a rude, noisy rooster. All of that seems fairly normal until I discovered the sound of the owl. I’ve tried to pinpoint where it might reside but I can not locate the bird, probably it’s hiding in a barn. It does not sound like the adorable ‘who’ call of commercials. It’s more like a screeching bird of fire zooming through the air in search of prey. They don’t fly through screens, do they? I think I’m safe in my attic room listening to the night sounds.

With this nice weather, I am venturing outside more and more each day. I’m itching to plant something and hope to have the garden tilled soon. Right now I’m just enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather sitting at the picnic table. That’s when I noticed that the sounds in the country, even during the day, are different. Maybe different is not the right word; maybe just unusual because they carry so far.

There’s a neighbor whose building his house about a mile and a half away. I’ve enjoyed watching the construction of that house all winter long. Each time I’ve driven by he’s working hard either getting the roof on before the first snow or insulating against the wind. Now that I’m sitting outside I can hear his busy hammer as he nails on the siding.

As the sun sets, the winds die down and the sounds fade to an evening hush. There’s a dog barking in the distance, and I am aware of how quiet it is in the country. It becomes still as the day settles and the animals rest. Neighbors gather at the dinner table and window lights spot the distance; warm lights glowing from inside comfortable houses. I look forward to the weather warming even more and the sounds of folks sitting on their porches after dinner.

In the city there were some who sat on their porches in the evening. Usually country folk who had moved in still practiced the art of porch sitting but not those who have spent a lot of time in the city. They go inside for the evening, busy with their TV programs, Internet surfing and family noises of children unwinding from their day. The porch sitters move slower, are not interested in what’s on TV – it’ll be there tomorrow too. They gather in the soft moonlight and talk about their day. Soft muffled voices carrying to the next porch as they share a joke or tell a story. There’s a different attitude in the country, an unconcerned need to know the time. It’s not about being 9 p.m.; it’s about being time for the family. The chores are done and the evening is here, rejoice with a good dinner (always biscuits!) and a stretch out on the porch to enjoy the stars.

There are so many things for me to learn and enjoy in this new adventure of mine. Driving to town for supplies, I’ve enjoyed the fields greening with winter wheat and watched as farmers burn sections off for new planting. Within the next few weeks the trees will be leafing out from those buds I see, and animal babies will appear more frequently in the pastures.

Summer will be here sooner than you know, and I’ll have all sorts of new experiences to share. I wonder what the bugs are like in the country.

a country field shot



3/5/2014

My Field TripIt’s been a harsh winter and I’m not sure we are done with it yet. We had a few days where it warmed up to the 60s and melted off the snow, and then a new round of arctic air would fall over us and turn nasty again.

This last spell happened at the end of February, which really gave way to spring fever and the need to plant. I was ready to uncover the flower beds, till up the garden, or just clean away some of the winter mess. We ran about four days straight of blazing sunshine and warm temperatures. Birds were coming around more, and I even caught the glimpse of a red bird as it flew by. On the drive home a bug smashed into the windshield; now that has to be a true sign of spring coming, right?

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the Native Americans deciphered the seasons by the moon. February’s moon was known as the Hunger Moon, Bony Moon and even the Little Famine Moon to some tribes due to the harsh weather conditions and lack of hunting days. The Native Americans in the north and east of the country referred to it as the Full Snow Moon.

The early settlers called February’s moon the Trapper’s Moon because the beaver’s pelts were so thick during winter and made the most money.

I’m glad I fought that urge to go out and play with the garden because the weather changed again and brought us sub-zero temperatures with 2 more inches of snow. I guess it was like a brief Indian summer that we have in fall; a taste of what’s to come and then, bam, right back to winter. Indian summer actually comes in the fall between November 11 and 20 and is determined by particular details as outlined in the Farmer’s Almanac.

“As well as being warm, the atmosphere during Indian summer is hazy or smoky, there is no wind, the barometer is standing high, and the nights are clear and chilly. A moving, cool, shallow polar air mass is converting into a deep, warm, stagnant anticyclone (high pressure) system, which has the effect of causing the haze and large swing in temperature between day and night. The time of occurrence is important: The warm days must follow a spell of cold weather or a good hard frost.”

Do you know why it was named ‘Indian summer’? I thought that was interesting as well. The Farmer’s Almanac explains, “There are many theories. Some say it comes from the early Algonquian Native Americans, who believed that the condition was caused by a warm wind sent from the court of their southwestern god, Cautantowwit.

"The most probable origin of the term, in our view, goes back to the very early settlers in New England. Each year they would welcome the arrival of a cold wintry weather in late October when they could leave their stockades unarmed. But then came a time when it would suddenly turn warm again, and the Native Americans would decide to have one more go at the settlers. 'Indian summer,' the settlers called it.”

I remember hearing weather facts or folklore weather predictions when I was growing up. Did you ever hear these predictions of rain?

No dew on the grass at night.

When the crow flies low it’s going to rain.

When a cat washes behind his ears.

When flies bite.

Spiders leave their webs.

Dust rising in dry weather.

Flowers become more fragrant.

Cows lying on the ground.

When the leaves show their undersides.

If your table salt is sticky and gains weight.

Bones aching.

Of course, we’ve all heard the ‘If March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb.’ Well, it roared in with a cold blast and more snow so the end of month should be the real sign of spring arriving, right? According to Native Americans, the March moon was referred to as the Full Crow Moon because during this time worms start coming out and drawing in the crows – now that has to be a sure sign of spring, right?

Probably not, I remember the year we had an ice storm in April and it killed my blooming African Lilly – oh it was so beautiful! Killed the bulb and it never came up again.

I guess a true sign of spring is as different as the region of the country you live in. The only true sign I know of is – when the dogs and cats start shedding their winter coats all over the furniture, its spring!

The Last Bloom 

The last blooming of my African Lilly; she was beautiful.



2/12/2014

My Field TripSnow fell quietly overnight coating the country with a mystical blanket of sparkles. In the morning I ventured out (slightly – it was bitter cold!) to take photos. In the city when it snowed overnight all I heard were the scrappers on the road in front of my home. In the country I heard nothing! The usual snow piles of dirty snow scraped into parking lots and side streets were nowhere to be found. Instead I was greeted with unblemished sheets of white sparkling in the rising sunlight. So beautiful, so peaceful and quiet, and then a strange thing happened, a neighbor plowed through our drive with his small tractor blade thingy. There are so many differences between city dwellers and country folks.

Moving here after the divorce was one of the smartest moves I’ve made in a long time. I was worried about the holidays approaching though. For the past 34 years I’ve spent holidays with his side of the family (because mine is so far away) and believe it or not I was kind of missing the usual family day. It is what you do for so long it becomes the norm. I thought about them having the holidays and talking about me the entire time (no, I’m not sure if that’s good or not).

My fears were quickly erased and any tangs of memories replaced with the invasion of Cheryl’s grandchildren. They arrived in the morning bringing excitement and anticipation, not for the snow that fell overnight but for the wrapped packages under the tree. I was thrilled to see them and very grateful that I was invited to share their Christmas excitement. There is little else that compares to the joy of watching children tear into their gifts. The youngest, a 5-year-old boy named Rebel, brought me a present of his old Garfield stuffed animal. I was quite touched when he explained that I didn’t have a stuffed animal to sleep with. Children are priceless in their ability to recognize the heart of the matter.

That night I pulled out my boxes of family photos in an effort to feel a bigger part of life’s plan. I’ve found that when I am suffering a loss it’s important to remember who I am and where I came from; to keep that family connection (especially when they are a thousand miles away). I have three brothers who live on the East Coast and plenty of nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces all growing up without the aid of my wisdom and experiences (lucky kids). When the divorce happened I thought about moving back to the East Coast, but it’s been too long. The area is now so overgrown with traffic, buildings and people on top of people that I am no longer comfortable in that setting.

Instead I decided to stay here in Kansas. I love my family. I wish they lived here, but they don’t and I had to make that decision to stay where I felt grounded. The beauty of this land carries me forward each day with hope of a promising tomorrow.

I find strength in friends who believe in me even when I doubt. I’ve also started setting short term goals. Its true what they say; don’t try to plan out five years in advance when you are starting over from scratch. Just worry about today. Every morning Cheryl asks me, “So what are your plans today?” It makes me smile because that’s exactly how I think about it – just today.

I’m working on putting my short stories into e-books entitled, "Rural Route Reader." I’ll let you know as soon as I have one ready for sale on Amazon.com.

Some days I just drive and take photos of the landscape and the farms. Sunsets are so gorgeous, especially with a windmill in the background. It is almost like being on a sabbatical where I am learning to take care of myself and my retreat is here in the country where snow lies without disturbance and families share their hearts.

I know how to count my blessings instead of my losses. Remember the movie, "White Christmas"? Sure you do, everyone does. The scene where Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney meet in the inn for a late sandwich and they sing a song about counting your blessings instead of sheep; I’ve found that to be true my entire life, even when the blessings were low, I kept counting.

When you are starting over, after a divorce, a death, whatever has happened to you in life, counting your blessings instead of dwelling on the depressing truth can really keep you going. It has for me. Blessing No. 1  is having friends like Cheryl and Mitch, who selflessly give to a lost sheep like me. Blessing No. 2 is moving to this beautiful country life where I can be calm, peaceful and explore new adventures.

I feel like I’m growing up all over again, learning new ways to survive and find myself in the crumpled mess that was once my life.

 Garden Goose holding up in the SNOW!

My garden goose is waiting for spring!



12/21/2013

My Field TripSince my last post a lot of major changes quickly flooded my life. I am now divorced, 63 years old and starting over with just a Social Security check and two wonderful friends who saved me.

 They didn’t have, too. We are not relatives, just friends who have known each other for over 30 years and who, I found out, were actually angels in disguise. They moved my boxes into their home and welcomed a weepy, depressed, mess of a human being into their hearts.

Even with Cheryl’s encouragement, I was falling apart from the fear of tomorrow. I had visions of being alone the rest of my life; my imagination even conjured images of poverty, homelessness and hopelessness. I can report that I have found a new life in the country.

The farther we drove from the city, the more I relaxed and from the car window I watched rolling hills turn into dark soil plowed for planting. Fields became more prominent with each mile. Some held wheat ready for cutting, and some fields were planted with seed waiting for the spring harvest. My breathing quieted as I tried to soak in the colors running through the prairie grasses along the side of the road and into full size fields. So many colors within those strands, noticeable mainly when the wind teased their stalks revealing the gold meshing into a brown and then fading dramatically into a yellow-white.

I even drew a laugh from her when I passed a farm with several cows standing in the foreground, I said, ‘hello there cow’ and I swear I don’t know why I said it. It was just the mood I was in, relaxed, relieved and peaceful. The country has given me peace of comfort, as well as challenges. I’ve learned several interesting facts, such as, when you go camping and you have to pee, go over by the vehicle so you can hold onto the bumper or you might just roll over backward. Another point, when you’re in the position peeing – don’t look up at the stars or you might just roll over backward.

STARS! I have never enjoyed looking up as I have since moving to the country. I’ve been in the city so long; I had forgotten the wonder and sheer spectacular view of looking up at the heavens. I have witnessed the beauty of a sunrise, to the awe of sunset and afterwards a light show of immeasurable joy.

It has been a long time since I have felt joy. Divorcing is a hard decision to make and a painful situation to find your self in, but after 34 years with that one person, wow, this is the hardest step I have ever taken.

Water Towers HOTChanges are inevitable in our lives; there is no way around that fact. We pass from one change to the next every year whether it’s graduating to the next grade, accepting a promotion, getting married, or having a baby. There are too many examples to name them all. We change, that’s life. We age. We live and we die, facts all of them. Just knowing is not enough, we also need to know – how to change. How to make the changes and accept them; sorry, did you think I had the answer? Naw, I don’t have the slightest idea how to do any of this. It is a trial and error process.

I now live way out in the country, past the bridge that you can’t cross when it rains and just before you get to the two water towers of Canton marked HOT and COLD. Country folks have a great sense of humor (but don’t believe the Snipe Hunt routine).

It’s been three months now, and I have finally stopped crying. I will never stop hoping. I’ve seen a Sun Dog and I didn’t know what it was until Cheryl told me, and then I had to look it up online to make sure she wasn’t pulling my leg. I love this new life. It is peace, quiet and a constant source of amazement.

Be sure to check back and see how I am progressing on My Field Trip through country life and learning to live on my own again.

My Backyard



10/22/2013

My Field TripLife changes at any age can be devastatingly difficult. I recommend you do not attempt such a feat on your own; you need a friend. I have the best.

I needed the best too because not only was I making a move, I was making the catastrophic move of ending my thirty-four year marriage. It was more of escaping rather than ending, but let's not nit-pick.

Before me lay a mountain of details, decisions and tasks that had to be performed in order for me to survive. First, there was a place to live; my friend offered a place in her home. Next, I had to actually declare my intentions and my friend was there to hold my hand, providing me the strength to accept the truth of my situation.

I admit I have trouble when a mountain looms in front of me. I struggle not to give up. There just appeared to be too many changes at one time to scale that big a hill. With my friend's help I have made the leap of faith that life is going to be better and left the city for the country.

I'm talking farm life; chickens in the backyard country. Driving to my new destination was a field trip in itself due to the beauty of the land.

I was treated to soft green hills rolling along the highway; cows grazing, slowly working their way to a small pond or stream. Fields, some plowed exposing rich black soil, others barring crops, butting up against a grove of trees where in hides a farm house, porch, clothes’ line and children running free. Every house that peaked out from its protective shade tree covering bore an American flag. I felt like I was driving into the 'American Spirit' for the first time in my life. I felt freedom, not only from the wind blown fabric of stars and stripes but free to live in peace.

I found that peace in the quiet of a country evening. It is such a joy to see the stars again! For so long the city lights have denied me the glorious view of a night sky; a simple treasure hidden and hoarded in the country.

Without the support and love from my friend, Cheryl, I would still be facing a mountain and suffering the fear of taking that first step.

Thank you my friend, forever.



3/13/2013

My Field TripIt has been a hard winter, not so much due to snow and cold as to this depression. My mother passed away a year ago March 10th,
2012 and still I am bogged down with this sadness.

Spring is close now, so close I can smell its promise and just as it renews life in our gardens it seems to be lifting my spirits as
well.

My friend, Cheryl has started her ghost hunting again. You can see her exciting ghost hunts at www.ceesghosthunting.blogspot.com. She has been instrumental in keeping me alive this winter. Friends have the power to do that - keep you going when all you want to do is stop feeling pain.

I am looking forward to getting into my garden! I’m trying not to do too much because spring can surprise you with a quick moving storm. I know from experience that a surprise storm can ruin your garden hopes. About four years ago an ice storm came through at the end of March and killed my Japanese Lilly bulbs. That was a beautiful flower and each year it came up it bore an addition to the original flower. I was so excited to see how many blooms would appear that year, but I was caught off-guard and uncovered.

This time of the year, I do some cleanup of leaves, and limbs but not too much. I call it piddling around the garden. I like to pull some of the leaves away to see if the Tulips are starting to come up, but then I cover them back so the weather won’t get them.

It’s just great to be outside in the sunlight and warm air, but it won’t be long, not now.

Here’s to spring, warmth, sunshine and flowers.

garden flowers



12/4/2012

My Field TripThe world hasn’t been very good this year. There have been bombings, and terror, and death, and destruction all around us. Many fear the end is near and that Christmas might not make it this year, or the next, or ever again for that matter.

I’ve been frightened for a long time now, and pretty much gave up the fight. Why buy insurance, the world is going to end. Why vote, the world is going to end. Why save, the world is going to end and no one will be using money then.

I’ve spent days, weeks, and months watching the documentaries on the pending doom. I’ve heard what the Bible says, what the Mayans believed, what Leonardo da’Vinci spent his life studying  The scientists point to the alignment of the galaxy as a possible downfall to our world creating polar opposites, sun flares that can burn us up, increases of warmth to the surface of the earth creating melting, blah, blah, blah.

I scared myself into hiding and preparing for the end so much that I stopped living for today.

This morning I watched one of those old sappy Christmas movies and found myself hoping, praying that we will all wake up on December 22nd and have a good laugh. The world will still be here just as we left it. 

Santa, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want anything for Christmas this year, but I must warn you that I want more than I deserve.

I want the miracle of miracles; peace on earth, goodwill to mankind.

I want to feel joy again. It’s been a long time but I still remember the excitement and the depth of enjoyment involved with that emotion. I want to feel joy again. The world needs to feel joy.

So dear Santa, pack your sleigh with miracles of joy, peace, love and goodwill to all.
I’ll pray for your safe flight.

Your friend and admirer,

Susie

P.S. - A little snow would be nice.





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