This summer has been a wonderful lesson on gardening in the south.  I thought I had collected a wealth of advice and knowledge from the local gardeners and farmers here, but somewhere along the way I apparently didn't do something right.  I've all but given up on my vegetable garden.  I was so excited when tomatoes and peppers and little yellow squash started to peek through the ground, that dreams of a stocked pantry seemed to be coming true.  But today, the rows have grown weedy, the plants have shriveled up and the ground has become red clay rock again.  It looks sad and deserted over there by the abandoned house in the corner, but I'm leaving it be until the fall when the days are cool enough to start over again. 
I've been keeping a journal, notes really, of what I probably should have done in the first place....bring in good dirt, raise the beds and start planting much earlier.  I do keep reminding myself that we really have only lived in this house since December and maybe I should have dreamed a little smaller at first. Goodness, we still have a long ways to go on the inside! 
But there's a thing here, a beautiful wonderful thing that might be a southern thing or a small town thing, called sharing.  My garden may be dried up, but the fig trees are full, the pear tree is full and the basil and rosemary are overflowing in their pots.  So I trade figs for peaches and basil for lemons and if there's something else I need, there's always a kind neighbor to share.  I tell people it's an exceptionally beautiful way to live.  It really is. 
And the rewards are so sweet, peach cobbler, banana fig bread, lemon pudding and fresh herbs on everything! 
I just realized that it's August in a couple of days.... gosh, that's hard to believe.



What started as a passing comment, made with little thought and mostly as a joke, has now turned into a pleasant vacation near the beach.  Of course it didn't really require any thought because I  knew when I said it that it would mean two weeks in an empty house, at the beach, all by myself.  So I was joking, but also hoping, that my mother would take me up on house-sitting for her while she was away on a vacation of her own.

 The afternoon breeze along the shore is warm and barely moves the reeds, but I sit outside anyway, usually under a tree watching the sailboats come by or reading the books I brought.  Sometimes in the evenings I walk farther down from the intercoastal waters to the big ocean.  It's livelier and brighter there, but only keeps my attention for a short time.  I much prefer the solitude of a little corner where boats sail by one by one and the only sounds are the gentle waves and the shore birds.

When I stand at the shore and let the water drown my feet in the sand, I know the sea is where, one day, I'm meant to be.




I was going to write this morning about my garden, the new flowers and plants I've added around the yard and the beautiful granite rocks I found when I dug under the pear tree, the usual things I write about. But, I've sat at my kitchen table for most of the morning now and I can't put together a sentence about those things. Right now they seem so small, so inconsequential.
Yesterday, my son saved the lives of two little girls who got swept away from the shore and carried into the deep waters of the Missouri River.  I've been forever afraid of that river, it's dark and rages wildly under the surface.  It's claimed many lives, most who, I'm sure, didn't realize it's strength. We've taught the boys their whole lives to respect it, never to believe they are stronger than it.  Yet, every time I know they're there, I say a prayer that they remember.  

How does an ordinary day go so awry...so horribly wrong in an instant.  I struggle sometimes with the why?  Not in questioning my faith, but why this one event, how does it all fit in with the goodness and beauty of life.  Or do we just beckon our hearts to be more patient and allow faith to be our guide.... I'm constantly re-evaluating what's important to me, what I want to fill my life with, how and where I want to spend my time, my precious brief time.  Yes, I constantly do it, because in an instant, it may be gone. 
He swam in and got the two littlest girls, sisters who were there with their family celebrating father's day.  They were going to be okay, but their father couldn't hold on any longer and let go of Nick's hand.  Their family as they knew it a minute before, had been swallowed up and swept downstream.  Nothing for them will be the same, as will nothing be the same for my son. I keep telling him that he was there for the children, but I'm not sure if he's hearing me right now.
I despise the fact that a day of joy turned tragic, that two little girls have to endure this pain, that a man and father's life is gone, that his wife's life is devastated, that my son, even though he saved the children, feels like he failed because he couldn't hold onto their father and that the answer to why most likely will never be clear.
I can't imagine the horror or the pain or the void that family must feel. It humbles me and makes me care less about my garden or plants today.  I cried last week because Nick went back home and would no longer be here with us....this morning I cried because I'm so glad he was there.