In some ways I dread seeing an old year pass by. There are so many great memories of friends and family who have gone forever. Yes, there are daily problems, illnesses, loss of family members; and the list goes on. Yet there are many old (and new) acquaintances that still grace and enhance our lives every day making life more meaningful and richer. In written form, electronically, by voice or in some other way these folks make our lives more bearable and enjoyable. That is why I look forward to the New Year, or even a new day here at NGA. We have so many things and reasons to be grateful and optimistic. This site is a part of our old and new acquaintances. We do not necessarily "talk" to them. However we do enjoy their opinions, contributions and ideas as though they were next door neighbors and friends.
So with these thoughts in mind I wish everyone a very happy and blessed new year in 2020. I do not visit every forum at this site, but I am enriched by the ones that attract my interest and attention. It is impossible to keep up with everything in our daily lives. However there is nothing better than seeing so many active members who have similar feelings and thoughts. In keeping with the theme of this post, there is a song that sums up some of my feelings about ending the old year and welcoming the new. For those who might also enjoy it, I post the link here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?...
Summer never lasts as long as I want! As I begin to write there are less than 5 days left on the calendar. It is a time to reflect, think and remember the things we did or didn't do in the summer gardens. It is also time to review our mistakes as well as our accomplishments. I think about the things I over planted in the gardens such as cantaloupes and tomatoes. Then I look out the rear window and see the "forest" of sunflowers which were supposed to grow only 40 inches, but have topped six feet! I think about what to plan for 2020 (I can't get used to dating beyond the 1900's). Next year is actually 2020! Hard to believe! Anyway it is time to show some photos of garden successes.
There will be plenty of time in the winter months for planning the spring gardens. As the years go by I have to stop and put the brakes on over-planting or starting new gardens. And I am slowly realizing that the need is for reduction in garden sizes and numbers of plants in them. I suppose if one is accustomed to large gardens and landscapes that the real difficulty is acknowledging our limitations; there are only so many hours in one day. And senior bodies do not have the energy, stamina and endurance as when we were in our twenties! I believe I have come to that point. Sad to say that is reality! I am also challenged with many unknown numbers of irises.
I know it is not possible for all gardeners to think in terms of limitations. When I began writing I titled this blog post "Last Days Of Summer". Then I shifted my focus to the enormous amount of work required to tend and maintain all the plants and gardens each spring and summer. It can be overwhelming, especially when weeds get out of control or insects (think Japanese Beetles) attack in masses. I know I am wandering all over the spectrum with different subjects, but they are all a reality, and all are important. I probably need to direct my thoughts to the title, "last days of summer" and what I really intended to write about. Anyway the calendar tells me Monday, September 23 will begin Autumn. I know summer is coming to an end without the calendar. How? The crickets are chirping more, the Katy-Dids are more vocal, and the oaks are shedding acorns all over the lawns. Also the cicadas are completing their life cycles by their buzzing like miniature chain saws in the branches of trees. All of these point to summer's end. If that isn't enough the Goldenrods (solidago) are in full bloom in massive numbers everywhere. Memories of summer are to be cherished. One way to remember summer is in pictures.
Christmas is my favorite holiday. I guess I can blame it on my childhood from the time I began to remember my life. It wasn't a time filled with "glitzy" trees, decorations, bright lights and presents overflowing everywhere. My memories tell me the truth. Childhood taught me to understand reality. And the reality was we were a farm family in the countryside with six children at home. It also made me understand a nasty four letter word called W-O-R-K. I realize this does not sound like a "Christmas" story. But believe me it has everything to do with the holiday, the festivities and celebrations involved. Getting back to the WORK part; we were a family of never ending chores, jobs and challenges. Each child was assigned specific duties according to age and abilities. These ranged from cutting fire wood, feeding livestock, hoeing crops, weeding gardens, hand picking corn, mowing grass, shoveling snow, harvesting potatoes, onions and the list goes on without end. From the age of six I remember performing more than one of these jobs. This was in another era of American life. The time was a late part of the industrial revolution, and before the modernization of farm life. There were no TV's, internet, or many modern appliances. And smart phones were not even on the drawing board then. Forget about digital cameras!
Christmas was a big event. The biggest for me was the school program where each grade level put on a Christmas program for the parents and community. My first participation was in my kindergarten class when we sang "Silent Night". That was well over a half century ago; and to this day that night is still embedded in my psyche. The teachers gave each student a gift; the boys got small pocket knives and the girls got hair brushes or other girl things. (Yes, we knew what gender we were back then!) All were given a small bag of hard candies. (Lord knows that would be an act of terrorism in today's insane world!) I suppose it's a little nutty for an old man to write things like this. Some might see it as an act of senility. Others might say "he's gone off his rocker"! But I say, it is experience based on real lifetime events. And the best part of all are the memories of those long past days.
What is Christmas? How do others see Christmas? And how could anyone not believe in it? We are all of the human family and cherish certain traditions, beliefs and practices. I will grant that one's environment and culture could have a profound influence on certain beliefs, traditions and lifestyle. As I continue to age I am challenged to understand the enormous changes that have evolved on the world scene. And I feel some changes are less than good or beneficial to mankind! As a child I was drawn to Charles Dickens the English author and his work "A Christmas Carol". At the time the only film version that I can recall was available in 1953 as a young lad. (probably filmed in 1938?) This black & white version starred; Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart, (actual husband and wife) Terry Kilburn and Barry MacKay. Somehow when I first watched the film and after reading the novel, I was amazed at how an author in 1843 could transfer a message of hope, faith and charity to a world 100+ years later! His writings were quite simple and easily understood even to children such as myself at that time. His messages seem lost to many in the world of 2017.
As far back as I can remember as a child we've always had zinnias in the gardens about the house. These flowers have always been an attractant for insects like bees, and assorted butterflies. In recent years as I have grown older I've tried to recapture some of the memories that I once had as a young lad. These were memories of everyday life on the farm, and in the woodlands, creeks and meadows. Of all the experiences in my life none compare to the happy memories of my childhood. For me those were carefree days of freedom from adult life and the responsibilities associated with it. Plants, animals and all living things were an adventure to be cherished and explored. There was nothing dull or boring about them. These were my "classroom studies" long before the school room and written books. These were happy years when I learned things about nature; things like plants, animals, trees and birds. Each of them held a spell of interest and appeal to me that lasts to this day. Children today miss some of life's simplest pleasures because of lack of environment and encouragement from adults.
But I digress; this post is something to do about zinnias. Oh yes, I guess it's the memories of them from childhood. It is strange how things from a half century or more can enter into the memory of an aging body and bring about happiness. I guess that is the reason I still plant and grow a large assortment of flowers and vegetables each year in my gardens. And I must admit the memories don't help me to keep everything neat and clean and all the weeds pulled. There is so much work associated with my happy memories, not to mention the reality of "real-life" gardening and hard, sweaty, dirty fingernail, grubby WORK that is mandatory for success! Here are some present day pictures that contribute to my "memory file" of 50 years plus.