Posted in Life, photography

Words for Wednesday: butterfly freedom

They bring us smiles and a little moment of joy when we notice them flitting through the air. Butterflies. Every summer our back yard butterfly bush is full of them as they sip the sweet nectar of the flowering shrub.

As it often does, my mind takes me hopping away on rabbit trails when my eyes view certain images and seeing butterflies is no different. I can’t help but think of an old movie from the early 1970’s entitled Butterflies Are Free.

The film was based on a Broadway play by the same name, but long before that, the famed English author, Charles Dickens, wrote these words in his 1852-53 novel, Bleak House: “I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies!” 

When watching butterflies float along in the air, they do connote an air of freedom, don’t they?  Those thoughts occur to me as I recall a day trip we ventured on last month.

Just as the calendar page turned over to September, Nana and Papa realized that the hours we normally spend caring for our first-born granddaughter on week days would become very limited. Why?

Little One would trot off to school the day after Labor Day when our local school district decided to open schools for those who wanted to attend. (Choices were made by parents to either send their masked children to school where social distancing would be the norm or continue online learning.)

So to celebrate those last days of our grandchild’s “freedom,” we suggested to our daughter that the four of us take a day trip – a visit to an interactive animal and adventure park in our area. 

Actually, we all needed a day of freedom – a get-away from pandemic life. We needed a day to feel ‘normal.’ A day for fun. A day spent outdoors in bright, warm sunshine.

Our day trip to this 144-acre park where about 60 different species of animals were available to observe, interact with, and feed was just the ticket.

Little One had a ball while her mommy helped her feed some of the animals. She exclaimed over seeing lions, bears, reindeer, giraffes, ostriches, zebras, camels, lemurs, giant tortoises, birds, and more…the animals were such fun to watch and the goats truly tickled her fancy.  

But hands down, one of the most favorite aspects of the day was entering the butterfly house. Different kinds of butterflies winged their way around us, landing on flowers planted inside the structure, and to Little One’s delight, on us!

The giggles were many as butterflies clung to her mommy’s flowered shirt, landed on Nana’s finger, and eventually situated themselves on Little One.

Butterflies remind us how truly wonderful freedom is. How delightful life can be with just a little sunshine, a day spent outdoors in nature, viewing some of the magnificent creatures God created, and spending time with loved ones.

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”  ~ Hans Christian Anderson

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Life, life changes

Words for Wednesday: Just smile

The list would be so very long.

Because of all the many restrictions that have been placed on us due to ongoing fear and paranoia about that nasty virus that somehow became unleashed on our world and created havoc everywhere months ago, so many aspects of our lives have changed.

And if we were to compose a list of those things we miss because of this craziness, it would be longer than a record of what a child wants for Christmas.

What do we miss? Let me count the ways. We miss gathering together with family and friends for all kinds of social events and observances – birthday parties, weddings, bridal and baby showers, picnics and potluck dinners, graduations, even memorial services, and congregating together for just plain fun.

We miss attending worship services in person with our fellow believers, and in some cases, just singing our praises to our God, not just sitting in front of a computer or phone watching online.

We miss visiting our loved ones in care facilities and they miss us desperately. We miss sitting in a hospital waiting room with family praying for a good outcome from a medical emergency.

We miss face-to-face meetings with our doctors, dentists, physical therapists, optometrists, chiropractors. We miss undergoing medical tests and procedures that are imperative to maintain good health.

We miss festivals and fairs, community events, and participatory fundraisers for good causes. We miss attending the theater, the movies, and concerts. We miss supporting our favorite sports in person, particularly watching our own children’s and grandchildren’s athletic events.

We miss enjoying a nice dinner out in a restaurant full of other people instead of eating take-out food in cartons at home or having “car picnics” in our vehicles after going through fast food drive-through joints.

We miss sending our children off to their first day back at school, knowing their teachers will instruct them well and they can play with their friends at recess instead of worrying over whether they’re understanding new concepts via online learning and hearing them cry because they can’t play with their friends while they’re weary of trying to learn from a computer.

We miss sending our young adults off to college in a normal fashion where they can exchange ideas in person and mingle together to make new friends instead of being sequestered in their dorm rooms doing online learning (why pay room and board for that??).

We miss seeing our co-workers in meetings at our physical offices, working alongside them as we converse and brainstorm in person instead of through video conferencing.

We miss shopping just for fun, not a mad dash in and out for just the basics hoping the store shelves aren’t empty. We miss wandering up and down store aisles willy-nilly instead of following the directional arrows and the social distancing areas marked on the floor.

We miss all too many locally owned shops and restaurants who have been forced to close their doors for good.

We miss being able to breathe freely without the hindrance of a mask smothering our noses and mouths, fogging up our glasses, and causing us to feel like a criminal every time we put one on before going out in public.

We miss living a life where we aren’t permanently attached to our little bottles of hand sanitizer, or wipes, or sprays.

We miss a lot! But you know what I imagine we miss the most? The touch of our fellow human beings. We miss shaking hands. We miss warm hugs of greetings. We miss a caring hand upon our shoulders. We miss a pat on the back.

And for me, I miss seeing people’s smiles.

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”~ Joseph Addison

Everywhere I go, I’m surrounded by masked people, for the most part. Those masks hide their expressions from me just as this darn mask, no matter how lively or bright or playful the material is, hides my face from them.

And I hate it. I hate not seeing people smile. I hate the fact that people I pass as we must social distance (!) can’t see me smiling at them. So they don’t respond with the same gesture.

It’s depressing. It’s denigrating. It’s dehumanizing.

It stinks, it makes me angry, yet it makes me even sadder over the state of our humanity right now.

I live in a state where our governor has enforced and keeps imposing draconian measures (just my opinion, you may have yours). Where parents are not permitted to sit in a football stadium to watch their kids play, where restaurants were allowed to open for inside dining, yet could only seat at 25% capacity.

To attempt to stay sane and experience some sense of freedom during the last few months, Papa and I have taken some day-long road trips – away from home just to get away, traveling to outdoor destinations.

We opt for taking picnic lunches along with us, but on one of our journeys on a week day, not a weekend, we found ourselves still a distance away from home at dinner time. 

We located one of our favorite chain restaurants that was open for indoor seating. Donning the dreaded masks, we walked up to the hostess who was stationed outside the restaurant door. She informed us we would have a 45-minute wait.

Not knowing if we could find any other place to eat dinner besides a drive-through fast food place, we gave her our name and cell phone number so she could text us when a table became available for just the two of us. We sat in our car and waited and waited and waited.   Forty-five minutes turned into an hour and then we received the text.

Walking into that usually bustling, busy, and noisy large restaurant which was only filled to 25% capacity at dinner time was odd to say the least. It was so quiet. There were no people seated near us. Entire sections of the restaurant were closed off with only one party in them. Honestly, it felt like the twilight zone – eerie and unusually strange.

Of course, every person inside that restaurant, including all of the wait staff naturally, wore masks until their food arrived. The few folks, even while eating, weren’t talking. Everyone was quiet as if the masks, even after we took them off to eat our meals, had stolen our voices.

Masks certainly had stolen our facial expressions as no one appeared to be smiling. What once was considered a normal, entertaining thing to do – enjoy a meal in a restaurant – was anything but.

But you know what? There was one bright spot in this dismal picture. Our waitress. Even though most of her face was hidden by her mask, she exuded joy. I’m sure she was happy to just be back in employment.

Regardless, her voice and demeanor were sweet and she seemed genuinely pleased to serve us which cheered me up considerably. I took off my mask and smiled at her.

And she smiled back at me. How do I know that? She had her own mask still solidly covering her nose and mouth and chin. She smiled with her eyes! Her eyes – I could see her smile by looking into her eyes.

So if there’s one word of encouragement I can give to everyone during this most trying and difficult time – one word to help us through this, one word to make not just ourselves feel better but everyone around us, masked or not – it’s this, SMILE.

Smile not just with your mouth because another person can’t see that behind your mask. Smile with your entire self. Smile from your heart so it reaches your eyes. And I guarantee someone else will see your smiling eyes and smile back at you.

“Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.” ~ Chinese Proverb

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Independence Day, photography

The beginning of freedom

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We stepped back in time for an afternoon.

For history buffs like Papa, he was in his element. Bright sunshine filled the blue skies on that warm, summer day.  We parked the car in the asphalt parking lot and left the present behind with our vehicle for just a couple of hours.

This vacation day, filled with tourists and visitors, was unlike a day in April 242 years ago when colonial Americans made a stand right on the place where we stood. Because where we stood at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts was the place where the shot heard ‘round the world was fired. 

At that place, it all began. A fight for freedom. A revolution. A stand against tyranny. The American Revolutionary War had begun.

And it seems only fitting on this Independence Day – this 4th of July – that I post photos I captured during our recent vacation to the area.

As we stood in silence imagining a spring day in 1775 when soldiers of the mighty British army met an armed group of patriot colonists and gunfire rang out, I paused to think. What if those colonists had not been so brave? What if they had simply continued to suffer under the rule of the British Empire yet done nothing? Where would America be?

Again I am reminded that freedom isn’t free. Many lives were shed to ensure liberty. Many willingly gave up so much to fight for independence and many gave their all, including their very lives.

Gazing up at the battle monument in that place by the North Bridge, I remembered proudly my American history and the significance of this place. Sixty-two years after this battle, American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson penned these words in the opening lines of his memorial poem, “Concord Hymn:”

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled

Here once the embattled farmers stood

And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Emerson’s grandfather, a minister who was known as one of the “patriot preachers,” had witnessed the North Bridge incident from his home, the Old Manse, which we also visited. No doubt, the stories young Emerson must have heard from his grandfather made an impact on him when he spent time in Concord as a child and inspired him to write the poem. Emerson eventually moved from Boston to Concord permanently, and we also visited his home there.

On July 4, 1837, at the dedication ceremony for the monument, several Concord townspeople sang the words from Emerson’s poem.

And on this July 4, 2017, I pause to remember why we celebrate this day, thanks to an improbable, resilient group of patriots who unbelievably, against all odds, defeated the British and refused to settle for less than independence.

God bless America!

 “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” –Ronald Reagan

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Uncategorized

Let Freedom Ring

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“America, America, God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

Happy Birthday, America!  

May we seriously reflect on the great courage and sacrifice our forefathers endured just to provide us, the future generations, with liberty on this Independence Day.   And may we thank God for our freedom and do everything we possibly can to preserve it.  Will you join me today in praying for restoration of our great nation?  

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com