Of Sprigs and Twigs
Heart Strings and Sisterly Love
Grandmother and Grandson
Weaving Love into a Wreath
Wishing You Peace and Love
In gratitude and special thanks to the volunteers in Horticulture Therapy who donated the awesome twigs and sprigs, prepared delicious food and homemade cider, and brought special people together, including a warm visit from my mother and sister, who joined us in making wreaths and swags.
My son and I are staying home for Christmas this year, mostly caring for our sweet dog, Tiny, who has stomach cancer. Our days with Tiny are limited. I can feel the approaching time. Some days, like today, I feel it in enormous waves of sadness. I cry, which helps a little. Crying is good for you when you feel sad.
Christmas isn’t always happy. I pray for the grieving families in Connecticut. I pray for people who are hurting, hungry or without a door to hang a wreath.
I’m grateful for the time I have with my son and our dogs, healthy food, and the special time we had with family. I love the wreath my son and mother made and simply adore the little swag of sprigs and twigs hanging over my kitchen sink window.
The Spirit of Christmas is in my heart, even though there is sadness too. The Horticulture Therapy group is such a gift to me, and a special part of our lives. Who would have thought that Santa would show up in a Green Healing Day, but ‘he’ did.
“Where are we?” my mother asked.
We were in the heart of North Carolina mountains. We were also lost.
“I’m not sure,” I answered, “but I think we’re in Heaven!” I was trying to keep things light.
“Lord!” she remarked, and rolled her eyes at me the way she does when she doesn’t take me seriously. I don’t especially like it when she does that.
We were going to a farm and when we arrived at this one, (pictured below) I thought we had found our destination.
(Click on images for a more intimate view)
I was at the wrong farm, but I really didn’t mind. I was in awe at the beauty of the surrounding mountains, which live in my heart, and the rolling green pastures. A cute farmer on his tractor waved at me, which caused butterflies in my tummy.
Mother made a remark about how she wished I’d meet a farmer. Then, after thinking a few minutes, she said, “I don’t think you would make a good farmer’s wife though.”
I reminded her that it’s 2012 and that being a wife has different meanings and expectations than it did forty and fifty years ago.
“It’s not like I’d have to get up at 4am and milk cows Mother,” I responded, but then, I would if I wanted to and was able.
“Look!” I exclaimed. “Oh my God! Look how beautiful it is here!”
My mother wasn’t getting excited and that’s when I realized we were only a few feet away from some of the most handsome Cattle I’ve ever seen.
“Look at those cows!” I couldn’t believe we were so close to them.
“Michelle,” Mother said, “Just turn around. You’re going to get us in trouble. And those are just cows. I get enough of seeing cows.” Image of my mother’s backyard, where the cows usually graze.
There was a woman riding a big John Deere lawn mower. She saw us, but continued mowing. Obviously she wasn’t concerned about us.
The Cattle were shimmering under the mountain sunlight. Their eyes seemed to peer into mine. I was intensely moved. I had to get my camera, which made my mother roll her eyes again.
My mother loves flowers and the pretty things about a garden, but isn’t especially interested in sleeping outside.
She told me a story about the one time in her life she had attempted to camp. The trip hadn’t been successful, and she and my dad had to take the children home in the middle of the night. Both my sisters got an earache. I was, “too little to remember,” Mother said.
Perhaps, somewhere in my mind, I do remember. Maybe that’s why I like sleeping in tents and my sisters like cozy big comfortable beds, indoors.
Mother went with me to offer emotional support and keep me company while I drove. She was a real trooper and I’m truly grateful for her help. The journey wasn’t easy. I was under the weather and have conflicting feelings about whether or not my son is in the best place.
Maybe if we had gone on a, “real vacation,” as my mother later pondered that we might get to do one day, then having been lost may not have evoked in me such enthusiasm. I get pretty excited when something moves me in a certain way these days. It’s like I’m craving sensations that make me feel alive, and for now, nature is doing it.
I’ve learned with time that there are often hidden gems in difficult journeys. I’ve learned that the simplest of things can bring a ‘Green Healing’ moment into my heart or awareness.
Listen to a cow’s moo! (via Wikipedia)
The farm we went to didn’t capture my enthusiasm in the same way as the small Cattle farm had done, but it was just as pretty.
And of course, they had their own cows, which they proudly spoke of after I showed them my photos of the farm where we had been lost.
The cow pasture was the view from the fire-pit where we sat for most of the following 24 hours. I never thought I’d see the day that my mother would sit with me, outside in the mountains, without the most modern amenities, at a fire-pit. Alas. I have.
The best part of the trip was seeing my son. He recently went to work on a small farm in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. The group of men he’s working with had gone to the mountains for a week-end camping trip. I wanted to see my son to ask how he’s liking the place, and if he’s getting along well.
I enjoyed the time with my mother too. We did pretty good considering the circumstances, which consisted of my fatigue and neither of us having much extra money. We had enough though. This wasn’t a luxury trip. It was something I really needed to do, and like I said, my mother went along to keep me company.
Mothers keep on giving and loving.
My son and I talked about how we missed the mountains. We lived there for several years. We also talked about the air. I have bronchitis, but didn’t cough once up in those hills. I had to go to the doctor after one night back home. He said it was the first night since he left that he was able to get some sleep. I hope this changes for him soon.
We are both in a state of limbo as I write. Sometimes, I guess, that’s life. One thing I’m clear on. I love my mother and son!
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My son has gone to live on a small farm for a little while, which means he can’t attend the Horticulture Therapy group with me until he returns. It won’t be the same without him, but it’s temporary, he needed something more in his life, and he’s a grown man.
The farm is a place for healing. There are about eight or nine other men who also live there. I hope and pray that he’s enjoying his time. Last I heard, he had spent the day shoveling mulch, an activity I used to love because the labor was intense and took my mind off my problems. Pulling weeds is like that too.
Community service is part of the farm’s healing program. The guys go to the local church each week to serve food in their kitchen where people can get free meals. The most recent time I called, they said my son was helping unload a very large truck of furniture that someone donated to the farm. “He’s working hard and looks like he’s having a good time,” the director told me. There’s no telling what all he’s been up to since I last heard. I can’t wait to hear all about it!
My grandpa used to laugh when I said I couldn’t wait for something.
“What else can you do but wait?” he would ask in a lighthearted tone. I knew he was right, especially about Christmas or the summer holiday when my cousins came to visit.
My mother was telling me some family history the other day. My grandparents’ house, which is where I lived for a substantial part of my childhood, was the first house built in the town and is the oldest one still, “standing.” My memory isn’t serving me well and I can’t remember if my great-uncle or great-grandfather built the house.
I do remember that my great-grandfather was a preacher and started the town’s first, First Baptist Church. My grandma told me this story over and over. She wanted me to be the first, “woman preacher in the family.” I’m not sure why, but that isn’t how things worked out. Sometimes, I wish it had.
Many people in my grandparents’ family were born and raised in that house. Sadly, my uncle recently sold the place. The new owners painted the tin roof red. I can’t imagine. My grandma probably turned over in her grave when they did that. I’ve regressed. I do that.
Back to the farm, which is on land surrounded by low rolling green pastures and tall thickets of trees. You can sit outside under the great big sky, without city lights, revealing the bright moon and shimmering stars.
They don’t have noise on the farm. They have sounds. Wonderful sounds of nature. If there’s anywhere to have Green Healing days, this farm is surely one of those places.
They raise vegetables and take care of chickens, cows and goats. I haven’t seen the animals yet, and the men are going on a mountain camping trip in a few days, but I’ll see them (and my son) soon. I can’t wait! Well, maybe I can.
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