Dorothy should have been at my house yesterday. In her red shoes. On the yellow brick road. Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion tagging along.
The Wizard of Oz has always been one of my favorite movies of all time. When I was a child, I always watched it every time a television station broadcast it, usually at Thanksgiving. My kids grew up watching it as well.
We often got a kick out of singing, “Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road, follow, follow, follow …” in our best munchkin voices. One of the lines from the movie that has stuck with me over the years is when Dorothy and her odd friends chant, “Lions and tigers and bears…oh my!”
I had an “Oh My!” moment yesterday on Page 1, Chapter 9, in my Opportunity book. On my front porch.
Hubby arrived home from work, changed his clothes, and ventured off to his civic club meeting. Home alone for a couple of hours, with just kitty for company, I decided to phone one of my best friends, Leigh, and chat awhile. My front porch swing beckoned me, so I grabbed a glass of iced tea, my cell phone, and dialed her.
We chatted and gabbed and talked….as we always do….for quite some time. Still full daylight, dusk wasn’t falling yet, and I fully intended to stay parked on the swing in the cool evening air discussing life with my long-time friend until one of two things occurred – either darkness descended or hubby came home.
But my porch swing reverie was cut short when I experienced a major “OH MY!” moment. Right in the middle of an interesting story Leigh was telling, I noticed my cat scurrying from the sidewalk onto the porch. I thought it was odd that she was kind of slinking along and came immediately to me. Then I saw it. OH MY!
A black snout emerged from around the corner where our front porch meets the garage. My first thought was “Whose big black dog is running loose?”
Then I felt those fingers of fear gripping me and it felt like my heart jumped into my throat when I realized it wasn’t a dog! That snout belonged to a really large head and that head was attached to an animal way too big to be a canine. It was a BEAR!
A black bear lumbered into full view about 40 feet or so from where I sat. OH MY! I literally froze on the swing, whispered into my cell phone in a tiny, quiet voice, “I’m not going to talk because I’m freaking out right now.” Leigh said, “What’s wrong?” And I couldn’t answer as I sat perfectly still, eyes locked on that black creature.
The bear took a couple steps, looked right at me, and back tracked a step or so. I was terrified it was going to come up on the porch when it took another step forward. Right then, a neighbor across and down the road from our house, started mowing along his steep driveway. The noise of his tractor evidently frightened the bear enough that it retreated and disappeared around the corner of my garage. OH MY!
I gathered up enough wits to grab my iced tea (didn’t want to entice that bear ONTO the porch for something sweet) and to sprint to the front door, rush inside the house – the cat beat me in though! – and lock the door. Once inside, heart pounding and feeling totally incredulous, I told Leigh, “Oh. My. Gosh. I just saw a BEAR in my yard!”
And then she freaked out and, good friend that she is, listened as I gushed frantically about what just transpired and how it scared the daylights out of me! OH MY! I nervously looked out my windows, but the bear wasn’t in the front yard. I went to the back of the house, looked out the kitchen windows, still babbling – probably incoherently – to my friend. No bear there either.
Where did it go? I can only assume it hurried down the hill behind my house and into the brush. It seemed gone, but I fought off fear that it would come back. Leigh was just relieved that I wasn’t going crazy or seriously harmed or something. She laughed to calm my nerves and jokingly told me at first she couldn’t figure out what she had said that freaked me out so much. OH MY!
Needless to say, I stayed in the house until hubby came home then repeated my “OH MY” moment for him. I told him I thought my heart might have finally started beating normally, but that my “OH MY” moment had startled the heck out of me. He couldn’t believe it either. We’ve lived in this house for over 11 years now, and we have never, ever seen a bear in our yard – lots of other critters, never a bear!
We suspect this creature of the wild had visited our garden and was making its way to a scrumptious treat on the other side of our house. That’s where the raspberry bushes are and they just started producing their second crop of berries.
As I’m writing this post, I’m discovering two things. First, I didn’t have my camera on the porch with me, so I don’t have a picture of my visitor, so this picture I found will suffice (it looked just like this!).
And secondly, I don’t want to feed the bears!!! I don’t want them visiting my yard or coming so near my house for a free lunch! I prefer seeing bears from a distance or at the zoo, not a few feet from my front porch swing!
And I’ll tell you another thing….it’s bad enough being startled by a bear….but if I see a lion in my yard…or a tiger….I’m moving!! Lions and tigers AND bears?? OH MY! Dorothy, move over, I’m coming back to Kansas.
Birds plummeted through the sky like they were being shot out of a slingshot or a rocket.
Last evening after dinner, hubby went outside to finish mowing our two-plus acre yard. I plunked down on the front porch swing, enjoying the cool evening air and engrossed in a book.
I didn’t pay much attention to hubby’s mowing job, but the steady roar of our trusty John Deere lawn tractor sounded in my ears, as well as a car or truck passing by. An occasional car horn toot to sound hello greetings from a friend driving past caused me to raise my head from my book and wave.
Suddenly the droning stopped and I heard my husband yell for me. I stood up, turned around because he was in the side yard behind me, wondering what was wrong. He was just sitting on the tractor with a goofy grin on his face and I couldn’t figure out why he wanted my attention. And then I saw them. Birds!
The birds were going crazy! A flock of birds were swooping, dive-bombing and coming awfully close to my husband’s head! They circled around him; they flew straight up into the air and then made a beeline for the ground. They quickly darted through the air, floating and turning, soaring and swerving.
Hubby laughed, “Look at the bird acrobatic show!” I watched as they catapulted through the air, lunging and plunging, flying and diving each time. I felt certain they were attacking him because they flew extremely close to him.
“What’s going on?” I asked. “Why are they angry at you? Is there a nest nearby or what?”
“No,” he replied. “This happens every time I mow. I think I’m stirring up all the bugs in the ground and the birds are flocking in to eat them.”
A feeding frenzy. Not angry birds, hungry birds foraging for a tasty treat, thanks to the human on the noisy mower.
Hubby shrugged, started up the tractor, and proceeded with his lawn manicure job. And the birds kept up their acrobatic performance. I imagine there were some satisfied songbirds with full tummies.
I sat back down on the porch swing, picked up my book, listened to the tractor’s constant hum, inhaled the scent of freshly cut grass, and a big satisfied sigh escaped from me. Ah, life in the country…. no annoying noise, no loud neighbors, no steady stream of traffic, no distractions, no addicting games like Angry Birds.
Just a simple evening enjoying the simple things in life, including a few hungry birds. In my Opportunity book, Chapter 8, Page 26, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You awaken to sunshine streaming in your window accompanied by wafts of fresh, clean air gently blowing through the screen.
You realize it was so cool during the night, you pulled the quilt up over yourself and you’re snuggling inside it because it feels a little chilly.
No harsh buzzing of the alarm clock rings in your ears because it’s your day off work, but you do catch the lilting melody of song birds coming from outside.
You leave your place of slumber and glance out the open window to see the most glorious baby blue sky decorated with bits of cottony fluff here and there. A dazzling sun gleams from the east causing the yard to look resplendent in verdant trees and grass.
The temperature hovers around the upper 60’s with an expected high in the mid 70’s. Throwing open the patio door and kitchen windows invites a cooling breeze into the house refreshing enough to compel you to linger at the kitchen table with your soothing hot cup of tea. You observe a tiny sparrow hopping along the deck railing and notice butterflies chasing each other, flitting hither and yon.
There’s a faint rustle of leaves as the cooling wind blows through the trees. You hear cicadas chirping, morning song birds, and occasionally a car driving by. But that is all. It’s peaceful and serene. It’s beautiful and picturesque. It’s life here at Mama’s Empty Nest.
And that’s my idea of a picture perfect morning.
That’s what it’s been like here the last few days and I can’t express how much I enjoy mornings like these. Quote anthologist Terri Guillemets wrote this: “I used to love night best but the older I get the more treasures and hope and joy I find in mornings.” I couldn’t agree with her more, especially on mornings like these.
Yesterday all day I found myself singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma. I’ve actually lived in that state and while I’m sure native Okies believe their mornings are the most spectacular, I beg to differ. Rising to incredibly hot temperatures isn’t my idea of a beautiful morning, and that’s what I remember most about summertime there. I’d much rather sing about mornings right here in my home state.
Treated to a repeat performance of my picture perfect morning today, my mind’s card catalog of songs brought up “It’s a Beautiful Morning” by The Rascals.
“It’s a beautiful mornin’ ahhh
I think I’ll go outside a while an jus’ smile
Just take in some clean fresh air boy
Ain’t no sense in stayin’ inside
If the weather’s fine an’ you got the time
It’s your chance to wake up and plan another brand new day
It’s a beautiful mornin’ ahhh”
Morning songs just keep playing in my head on this magnificent Page 11, Chapter 8, in my book of Opportunity. Cat Stevens’ “Morning Has Broken” comes to mind. As soon as I run through that song, a Herman’s Hermits tune, “I’m Into Something Good,” follows with “Woke up this morning, feelin’ fine, there’s something special on my mind.”
When I dig a little deeper in my song file, I find myself singing “Good Mornin” from that marvelous old movie, Singing in the Rain. That tune reminds me of crooning my version to our awakening children when they were young: “Good mornin’, Good mornin’, You slept the whole night through, Good mornin’, Good mornin’ to you!”
And lastly, I find myself humming an old English folk song called “Early One Morning.” I don’t recall when I first heard that song because it seems like it’s always been in my memory. “Early one morning, just as the sun was rising, I heard a young maid singing in the valley below. Oh, don’t deceive me, Oh never leave me. How could you use a poor maiden so?”
What about you? What morning song are you singing on this fine day?
© 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com
© 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com
The scorching summer sun, suspended low in the western sky, slowly disappeared out of sight.
Darkness enveloped the house. Twinkling fireflies flickering here and there were the only light visible.
The steady creaking of the porch swing swaying slowly back and forth seemed to be the only sound, except perhaps for the buzzing of insects.
Using as little effort as possible to move in the sweltering heat, they fanned themselves and tried to catch a wisp of any breeze that happened to float by. “Ahh,” she sighed wistfully as she sipped a glass of already tepid water. “I think it’s a little cooler now.”
When they couldn’t bear swatting at pesky insects any longer and darkness had completed descended upon them, they moved inside the unlit, still, and noiseless house. He found the box of wooden matches and carefully lit the kerosene lamp in the kitchen. An aura of light radiated in a very small circle around the lamp.
They positioned themselves, he on the easy chair and ottoman, she on the couch. In the dim light, they could barely see one another. They sat in silence, each one thinking, “What should we do now?”
Minutes passed slowly and he finally stood up, stretched and said, “I think I’ll just go on up to bed. Maybe get up early in the morning when it’s light and try to get a few things done.”
She agreed there was nothing else they could accomplish and followed him up the stairs. The bedroom windows were flung as far open as possible in hopes of allowing wafts of air, now not as heavy-laden with humidity as before the violent storm, to circulate through the screens.
She tossed and turned through the night, trying to find a cooler, comfortable spot on her pillow. What would tomorrow bring? What would they do if morning signaled another searing day of this heat wave? As she tried to nod off to sleep, she whispered her prayers and thanked the Lord for yet another day and that she lived in this century.
That scene may sound like a vignette from yesteryear, back in my grandmother’s day before electricity and modern appliances, but in reality, it described our house last Friday night. A violent thunderstorm blew into our area, bringing gusty winds, rumbling waves of thunder, and wickedly long, jagged bolts of lightning along with torrents of rain that resulted in flash flooding. Trees downed across power lines, transformers on fire, and a host of other problems across our area were the end result. We lost power around 5 p.m.
Let me just state right here, for all to read, I am a wimp. I am way too dependent on my household appliances and electricity at the flip of a switch. When the weather turns monstrously hot and humid, I rely on air conditioning, big box fans, and my refrigerator’s ice maker to keep me sane.
Neither hubby nor I slept well without power, not just because we had no air conditioning, but because we kept waking up asking each other, “Is the power back on?”
And it wasn’t. The next morning, still no electric. No electric meant no cooking (and no pickle making either, by the way). Using the side burner of our propane gas grill on our back yard deck, we heated a kettle for a cup of tea. Then we decided to acclimate ourselves to the heat by working in the garden.
I know. What an idea! As the temperatures soared and the humidity closed in on us, we sweat buckets while we hoed and pulled weeds and did some general clean-up in the garden and yard.
I didn’t last as long as hubby did. He’s obviously made of more sturdy stuff than his wife. Why I’m so wimpy is a puzzle because my family background consists of people who most definitely were made of strong stock. All I know is that I probably wouldn’t have survived being a pioneer woman.
So after my eyes burned from sweat rolling into them and my lips were the saltiest I have ever tasted, all I wanted was shade and a huge glass of water, with a scanty smidge of ice cubes still left in the freezer, which I grabbed out as quickly as I could so I could slam shut the door and keep the coldness inside the appliance.
Later that afternoon still with no electricity, we listened to generators hum through the neighborhood and chain saws cutting up fallen trees. We decided the outage was lasting so long, we needed to act fast to prevent losing our refrigerator and freezer food. Hubby drove off in search of any nearby store that still had bags of ice. When he returned, we loaded up our coolers to commence packing them with food.
And that’s when we heard it. The distinct hum of the refrigerator sounded after almost 24 hours of silence. The air conditioning unit sprang to life once more. Our electric clocks flashed at us screaming, “Set me!” All was right with the world once more….except for this…I made a resolution, and it’s not even January, to start being more grateful and less helpless.
It’s Chapter 7, Page 25, another day in my life named Opportunity, and as I’m refreshed by central air and ice cubes, I’m so very thankful for electricity and modern appliances.
But I’m even more thankful for all of those power company workers who toil many, long hours in blistering heat and freezing cold to restore our power just so I can flip a switch. Thank you God, for those who make my life easier because those who do so surely are not wimps.
Well, not only has mum been the word lately at Mama’s Empty Nest, but Mum has been fairly mum herself as well.
Definition of mum: (adj) silent, not saying a word. The origin of the word possibly came from “mmm,” the humming sound we humans make with our mouths closed, which indicates either unwillingness or an inability to speak.
Shakespeare used the word in Henry VI when he wrote: “Seal up your lips and give no words but mum.”
In other words, keep quiet, say nothing, shut your trap. The saying “mum’s the word” worked its way into our language as a means to advise another person to not reveal what he knows about something, to keep a secret, or stay quiet on the subject.
If you regularly follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been awfully mum in the last week or so. Throwing in some synonyms for the word – mute, speechless, uncommunicative, wordless – adequately describes me right now. And I know it!
I can’t admit that I’ve been quiet because I know something I shouldn’t reveal because that’s not it. I don’t know a secret about anything! So I honestly have no clue why I’ve been so uncommunicative (which is very unlike me anyway).
Should I blame my wordless state on busy-ness? No, I cannot. No more busy days than usual. Oh, there has been a little wedding planning, some strawberry picking and freezer jam making sessions, a bit of cleaning and household chores here and there in between my hours at my job, but nothing that demands my full attention.
Even my computer sits idle. I check my email occasionally and then shut off the distraction. Logging in to Facebook has become a rarity because I see those words asking me to declare what’s on my mind, and I’ve got…nothing, no status updates, nothing interesting to say.
If I do fire up my laptop, I sit and stare at the blank screen and I am…. speechless. Wordless. I feel like I have nothing to impart, even though my notebook of blog ideas paints an entirely different picture. I just don’t feel like saying it or writing it or even thinking about the ideas long enough to put a sentence together.
It’s like I have a disorder – a non-communication complaint, summer speechlessness, or author’s apathy. I can’t decide whether it’s just writer’s block or summer’s siren song of idleness.
In my younger days, I could be quite the talker, making chit-chat and small talk to fill any awkward silences. But as I’ve aged, I’ve become more of a listener than a talker. And honestly, sometimes I really have nothing to say. Absolutely nothing.
This speechless state has woven its way, spreading like runners of ivy, into my writing. I don’t want to bore my readers with just any old words. I won’t publish a blog merely for the sake of publishing every day….or two…or 12. If I have something worth writing, it also needs to be something worth reading. And alas, I feel no compulsion to write. And so I’ve been mum.
I hope I haven’t been disappointing, but I fear I may have been just that for those of you who log into this blog each day expecting some new post from me. Bear with me, my faithful readers, I’ll get my words back.
For now, on this 21st page in Chapter 6 of Opportunity, my deck and the coolness of the evening after a warm summer day are calling out enticing me.
My softly cushioned patio chair whispers, “Come hither. Come rest and bask in the quietness of a country evening. Inhale the scent of freshly mowed grass and savory strawberries, plucked from the garden. Listen to the birds warbling their sing-song melodies. Feel the gentle breeze as it ruffles your hair. Gaze westward and witness another spectacular sunset. Evenings like this won’t last for long. Maybe tomorrow you will find your words.”
I love living in the country, really I do. When we moved here from suburbia, my family and I concocted a little ditty on our cross country car trip from there to here.
We sang it to the tune of the old TV show theme song, “Green Acres.” Oldest daughter wasn’t too sure about leaving the suburbs behind for life in the country, so our song went something like this:
[Mama & Papa sing] “The country is the place to be,
Country livin’ is the life for me,
Land spreadin’ out so far wide,
Keep that shopping mall,
Give me that countryside.”
[Oldest Daughter sings] “The ‘burbs are where I’d rather stay,
I don’t know how to rake in hay,
I just adore the city view,
Daddy, I love you but give me Murray Avenue.”
[Papa sings] “Fresh air!”
[Oldest Daughter sings] “Washington Square!”
[Papa] “You are my daughter.”
[Oldest Daughter] “Goodbye, city water!”
[Everyone] “The country we are there. Da-dum, da-da dum, dum dum!”
Our family, including all three children, adjusted quite well to life beyond the ‘burbs, even if oldest daughter was a little frightened by cows when she trained for her cross-country season running on country roads. And when we finally built our new home, we managed to acquire city water!
I reminisced about our move here just the other morning because we mark our 13th anniversary of living in the country at the end of this month. That milestone makes this place the abode where hubby and I have lived the longest ever in our married life. Like a well-seated tree, the roots burrow down pretty deep now.
So when I awakened early just the other day, I paused for a minute before I began my morning routine. The evening before had been cool and we slept with our bedroom windows wide open. I always sleep well when fresh air wafts into the room.
That morning, sunshine poured through the windows, and I could hear the serenade of several birds singing their good morning song. As I listened, their melodies were the only audible sound. No traffic. No noisy trucks, no honking horns, no loud people, just song birds. What a lovely way to wake up!
While I sipped my morning cup of tea in our breakfast nook, the view out our back windows provided a lush landscape greeting my sight. No tall buildings, no houses, no sidewalks or streets. Just leafy trees, a verdant hillside and a farmer’s field. Flowers in brilliant bloom in our yard added to the assortment of a colorful feast for my eyes as well.
Driving to work that morning, I cranked open my car windows and that’s when I caught a whiff of a delicious odor – the indescribable smell of freshly mown hay. Yes, there he was – the farmer driving his tractor over the field, performing the first hay cutting of the season, hay that will be gathered up into large round bales later and will dot the meadows.
Summer time has arrived in the country, even if the calendar doesn’t say so. Mornings like these which evoke such feelings of bliss make it seem like all is right with the world. That is, until I caught another distinct odor – road kill, and in this case the most smelly kind - a skunk.
And that reminds me of another song. Anyone ready for a round of “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road?”
Ah, life in the country….in my Opportunity book, Chapter 6, Page 9, I wouldn’t have it any other way.