Monday, July 16, 2007

The Garden, Part Two

As I thought would happen, Lois looked at the blog and said, "You were right. You got all the wrong pictures!" I gather I used more annuals than perennials, even though the garden has more perennials than annuals. And I showed too many close-ups so that one cannot grasp the shape of anything, let alone a flower bed. And so on.

She is right. I don't know a pansy from a daffodil. I have learned to recognize autumn joy, but they aren't flowering yet. It's not Autumn! Anyway, the pictures that follow are her selection, and they confirm me in my belief that I am incredibly fortunate to live in the midst of such beauty.

A problem with these pictures is that I don't feel like following the necessary steps for a more attractive format. So I place them here, stacked one on the other like a card house. They need more commentary, so that you can see the fire pit at the back of the yard, or discern where Lois' flowerbed blends into Mary's (our neighbour's, who planned her flowerbed to extend from ours), or see where the local park flows from our yard outwards. But enough. It's summer, and time for gardens.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer Garden

In Manitoba winter is for snow, and summer is for gardens. Lois enjoys summer. When we moved here, our yard was surrounded by mature, full, well-tended hedges. But they had fireblight in them and had to come out. They left lots of wonderful space for Lois to express herself.

The boys and I remember the beginning process well. Lois marked out the flower beds, and together she and the boys and I dug out and hauled away the Manitoba muck that permeates our yard and this whole area. This muck grabs you and won't let go when it's wet, and bakes hard when it's dry. Not good for gardens. We brought in and spread topsoil, filling in the beds, which Lois carefully shaped to give her dreams shape.

Since then she has filled the garden, mostly with perennials, carefully placed so as to bloom at different times throughout the summer. We have mosquitoes in Manitoba, and sometimes we have to compete with them to enjoy the flowers. But the garden is wonderful!

The pictures below can't convey adequately what we see in front of and behind the house. Pictures can't. (And I am quite certain that Lois would have chosen different pictures: but I wanted to show a bit of what is there.) We have extraordinary beauty, God-given, carefully tended (Lois as God's steward), constant reminder of the creation: "And God looked at what he had made and it was very good."

In Manitoba winter is for snow, and summer is for gardens. When the winter bites, and snow covers all around, we remember the summer garden. Snow lasts from mid-November (usually) to late March/early April. Close to six months of winter a year. It has its own beauty, and we have come to enjoy winter also. At the moment, we're enjoying the garden.

Monday, July 09, 2007

When you're tagged ...

My sister tagged me. Sort of, she says; but to a brother a tag is a tag! This tag consists of a simple instruction, which I shall try follow, at least partially:
- Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
- People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
- At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to tag and list their names. Leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog. (Participation is optional, and it's OK if you defer.)

I will give eight random facts about myself, but refrain from tagging anyone else, whether by good breeding or shyness or lack of appropriate network.

1) I was born in Zambia. My sister (the older tagging one) says that she no longer starts with the fact of growing up in Africa. I think I still do. Perhaps it is partly because the immigration officer at the border occasionally asks me: "You were born in Zambia. How did you become a citizen?" I was born an American, not an American in Paris, but an American in the Southern Province of Zambia.

2) I cross borders often enough to notice. We went across the border again today, Lois and I. We wanted to send in our American passports to be renewed, and had some questions that a trip to Minnesota helped answer. One of my questions was how I show I am an American if I need to the next time I go down to Minnesota in August. Birth certificate? I was born in Zambia. But I have an old passport (showing a younger and red-haired Daryl), and I have my certificate reporting my birth to the American Embassy in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. The immigration officer's son had been born in Japan, so he was sympathetic and helpful.

3) I am a dual citizen. American and Canadian. My American identity is well-established, and if I had to hold on to one or the other, I would hold on to my citizenship by birth. But the Canadian identity runs deep, since one of my grandfathers was Canadian by birth. I am told that when he used to cross the peace Bridge returning to southern Ontario, he would say, "Ah! The free air of Canada!" I'm learning what he meant.

4) I like sports. Cricket; Soccer; Basketball; Football; almost any sport. Cricket and Soccer and basketball and floor hockey for playing. After 42 years without a cricket bat in my hand, I was able to play three times last week because several Indian families have moved to our town. Joy! And the fact that I can still play Soccer, at a slow and gentle pace, is a delight. At 57 I have learned to be grateful for such delights.

5) I like the music of southern Africa. And I like dancing. Lois forced me to take dancing lessons as the price for a DVD player. It was a good deal!

6) My sense of humour is an acquired taste -- like orange soda drunk through a licorice straw (a favourite treat from my college days).

7) Reading, ideas, chess, arguing: I like the things of the mind. Physical play is good; mental play is good. The best jobs have a sense of play within the inevitable drudgery.

8) Perhaps not a random fact: I cannot conceive of life without God. Paul talks about how all things "hold together" in the person of Jesus. Another meaning of the word translated "hold together" is "find their meaning"; that's life for me: something that finds meaning in walking with Jesus. I honestly can't imagine myself any other way. I know that there are many "ways": I teach world religions among other things. But my own life only makes sense within my faith. Maybe it's like that for everyone in one way or another.

Well, no tags for anyone else. But eight is a good number. Okay Denise, Donna tagged you too! Your turn!