Happy Birthday, Mom ~

Everybody has a mother, maybe a sister, possibly a brother. Grandmas and grandpas and dads in there too, but our family is family thanks to you! You’ve always been with us to laugh or to cry, and sometimes (I’m sure) to think, “Why, oh why??” To this family you made, you’ve given your all, how can we say thank you, the words seem so small! But now it’s your birthday, and we cannot wait, to gather, to honor and to celebrate ~ Mother, Grandmother, and Great Grandma, now; A Campbell, Patty, Patricia Zoe Dow! Our magnificent matriarch, and I hope that you know, You’re a treasure to us, our hearts overflow, With admiration and love for all you’ve achieved, We’re blessed to be fruit of your family tree! **Love, Lynda

Today we celebrate my mom on her 83rd birthday. It’s funny how women hesitate to share how old they are, until at a certain age, each trip around the sun turns into a badge of honor. I often thank her for being a young mom. I’m sure it wasn’t always a picnic wrangling four kids in such rapid, stair step succession as she did. Of course we were perfect and always well behaved (just ask her!) but still, she had me at 18, Gayle at 22, and Mike and Jill in the middle. She was a busy mama! Still she had time to lead my Bluebird group and Mike’s Cub Scouts and go to all the little league games. We always had everything we needed and most of the things we wanted, without being spoiled.

Lynda, Mike, Jill & Gayle

Mom and dad raised us Campbell Kids on twenty mostly wooded acres, with a big, grassy backyard. We played baseball, (mom was a real slugger!) and learned to ride our bikes on a narrow sidewalk behind our house. One afternoon as we kids sat around our big dining room table eating lunch, there was a knock on the door. Not seeing a car in the driveway, mom was a little hesitant, who could it be? When she opened the door, there stood a tall woman, with short, crazy hair, all dressed in black holding a machete. Mom laughed later relating the scary thoughts that raced through her mind in those moments, but all was well. It was Betty Moe, who owned the forty acres adjoining ours. She hacked a trail through the woods so we might explore nature and maybe play with her boys sometime. As we got to know her, we discovered she played a mean ragtime piano and even gave Jill lessons for awhile.

Lavender Lady

Imagine school clothes shopping with four kids! Not even taking into consideration the budget constraints of such a big family, but the logistics of keeping track of us. Colby Avenue in downtown Everett was where it was at. All the stores were there. JC Penney, The Bon Marche, Sears, not to mention Kress, Newberry’s, Woolworths and various independent shops that catered to young fashionistas. I remember being mid block and mom saying, “Come on, the light’s green, we can make it!” And away we went like the tale of a kite, our mom being the kite, flying towards the intersection. I know a few times she must have panicked when a couple of us hid silently in the clothes rack, such a perfect place for playing hide and seek. Back then, the only shopping mall was at Northgate, and it was open air. She would load us all in the car and away we’d go from our little hometown of Snohomish off the the big city of Seattle. The coolest stores were there and then we’d get to go to Farrell’s for lunch before heading home.

~ Great Grandma, Great Grandpa & baby Quinn ~

Time has a way of rolling along, we kids grew up and had families of our own, making our mom not only a grandma, but a great grandma. So many great times, strung like pearls on a necklace lovingly made, as well as so many lessons learned along the way. Today we celebrate our grande ~ dame, Happy Birthday, Mom, we love you!

Peace. Love. Amen.

Just Add Wonder ~

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” **Rachel Carson

Walking in the woods with kids is not to be confused with taking a hike. The world that exists under the canopy of an old growth forest is akin to a magical fairy land when you take the time to meander. I took the youngest grand ones on a nature walk last week, on a trail that skimmed the edge of the Lake Roesiger, wove through the trees, and crossed a couple of rustic bridges. Watching them explore, and teaching them the names of native growth, reminded me of my own youth spent exploring the twenty acres I grew up on. It also reminded me that a person doesn’t automatically know a fern is a fern or a horsetail is a horsetail… somebody has to teach the names. It was such a pleasure to point out my favorites, such as salmon berries, (yummm), and to be on the look out for stinging nettles, (ouch!)

The Babies…

Even coming across some trash left behind was an adventure. “Oh no! Look what the litterbuggers left! Clean up, clean up!!” And we all gathered the litter and continued on our way, making a mental note to bring a bag with us next time. There is a sense of wonder as we check out different shapes of fungus clinging to the trunk of a cedar tree. Thick moss on a log becomes a velvet cushion and a black and yellow centipede becomes the pied piper as we follow him for a bit, amazed by his many legs.

Lime Kiln Walk in the Woods

Lime Kiln trail was a beautiful walk in nature. Being partly on the old Monte Cristo Railroad grade, there were remnants of industry long since discarded and the shreds of history left behind. No hurries, no worries, not only was there time to ponder the men who made a living here more than one hundred years ago, but also to see how Mother Nature reclaims her own if we leave her to it. If it wasn’t for faded pictures at the trailhead, you wouldn’t believe a railroad once chugged along the bank of Stillaguamish River.

Three of a Kind, plus a puppy… checking out the array of moss clothing the low branches.

Not having children of her own, Rachel Carson borrowed her nephew to share in the joys of discovery. “…to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it…” Reading and knowing these words are true, I borrow my grandchildren for companionship and to take a peek through their eyes. When I do, I rediscover the mysteries of the wildness and remember the days that I so enjoyed as a kid in the woods at the bottom of Bunk Foss Road. To spend time with them and pass on my love of nature to the next generation is a gift to all of us.

Peace. Love. Amen.

Farm Fresh Memories ~

“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” **Thomas Moore

Sheets on the line, snapping in the warm breeze, are one of my very favorite things. It’s barely noon, but I picture myself cozy in my bed tonight, fresh scents of summer, lulling me to sleep. Is there anything as humble as a clothesline? It can be as simple as a length of twine tied between two trees (like we do when we are camping) or as fancy as a collapsible umbrella that you can take in and out according to the weather. I even have one made for apartment dwellers, that fastens to the wall to be attached across a room, then rolls itself back in when not in use.

My grandma had the best clothesline. It was a pulley system from her back porch, a mile (it seemed!) out to an ancient maple tree in the pasture. I can still see her laundry stretched above the yard and across the garden. It truly danced on the wind that whipped up from the river. Helping grandma pull it in the late afternoon never seemed to be a chore. Even as a little kid, I felt the sacredness of those times spent on her farm. Summer days filled with endless hours making trails in tall grass and searching for kittens in the dark interior of the big old barn. My brother and sisters and I couldn’t think of any place we would rather be. We grew up sitting around her round picnic table in the yard, her old transistor radio turned to KWYZ while we played cards or shucked corn or snapped beans.

Upstairs at grandma’s house was a huge bedroom. Even with the low, slanted ceilings, there were enough beds for each of us, including grandma. She tucked us under quilts made from five inch squares cut out of old wool coats and and sewn together with feather stitches in contrasting thread. Beneath their weight we had little choice but to lay still as grandma told stories in the darkened room. I loved how she spun the Mother Goose tales into a long and winding adventure where Little Bo Peep bumped into Little Boy Blue and they worked together to round up their restless flocks. Sometimes they ran into Mary and her lamb, sometimes the Billy Goats Gruff tripped along, telling of the wicked troll that lived under the bridge. We’d drift off the sleep to the soft sound of grandma’s voice and the lonesome whistle as the train lumbered on tracks on the other side of the river. In the morning we would tip toe down the bare wooden stair treads and venture into the kitchen where grandma already had a fire in the trash burner and corn meal mush cooling in the pan.

Isn’t it interesting, how our memories are stirred and pop up as fresh as if it happened yesterday when we allow ourselves the time to ‘just be’? Here I am having quiet afternoon, thinking I am alone in my backyard, when in fact I am sharing the space with my younger self, my siblings, my grandma, not to mention, long gone barn cats. Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone.” I picture underground springs of memories, that bubble up when the surface is scratched. It’s funny how it works. Here I am, the grandma now, sixty four and counting, but when I think of these old days I am six, or eight, or ten… and for a bit, immersed in the good old days, in my heart I am a child again!

My brother loves to say, ‘those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…’ (or maybe that was Judy Collins), in any case, it is certainly true! We’re busy living and growing up, and then all of a sudden here we are, looking back across the years, wondering where in the world the time went. Today, close your eyes for just a few minutes. Let your mind wander, open the door to the dusty closet where those old times were stuffed so long ago. Pull out a good time and sink into it for a while. I’ve got to go take my clothes off the line…

Peace. Love. Amen.

Empty Nest ~

“I meant to do my work today ~ but a brown bird sang in the apple tree, and a butterfly flitted across the field, and all the leaves were calling me. And the wind went sighing over the land, Tossing grasses to and fro, And a rainbow held out it’s shining hand ~ So what could I do but laugh and go?” ** Richard LeGallienne

I meant to do my work today, but the baby swallows called me to the porch. They poke their downy heads out of the round door of their cozy house and chirp loudly as they wait for their mama to swoop in with tasty morsel.

Waiting for lunch…

The babies aren’t bothered by my nosy watch and I keep my distance so I don’t upset the parents. This house has been hanging on my shed for over twenty years, empty of any inhabitants until last year when a swallow family claimed it. The paint has faded and chipped, but they don’t care about that. Is this the same family returned, as the swallows do to San Juan Capistrano? I don’t know and I guess it doesn’t matter, does it? I have enjoyed watching the adults glide across my backyard and zoom into the small opening. Look at the swallow as she swoops and soars. She’s like a tiny orca of the sky. Shiny black back that glistens violet blue in the sun and a smooth white belly… tiny orca! I love hearing the first faint peep, peeps, knowing there are small, featherless hatchlings growing inside. Now, as they are about to fledge, I just can’t leave my porch. In a day or two I will have an empty nest, a quiet house.

Coming soon, room for rent…

That’s the way it goes, isn’t it? We have our young, nourish them and keep them safe until it’s time for them to spread their wings and soar. My kids left their cozy nest for nests of their own and are raising their own fledglings now. I like to think we are connected by a thread as thin and tough as a spiders silk so they can always find their way home. The circle of life is infinite even though our lives are finite. We live and learn and grow as time keeps ticking away. It makes me think of an old Mary Engelbreit card that read, “You’re always the same age inside.” The view is the back of a chubby grandma looking in a mirror reflecting a pretty young woman. I love that image, while I laugh to realize that’s me to a “T”!

I will enjoy these summer visitors and the memories of the warm, breeze will cheer me on cold winter days. The one certainty in this crazy world is that summer will turn to fall, will turn to winter, will turn to spring, and I will watch for new residents as I add another ring to the tree of my life…

Peace. Love. Amen.

Good Times ~

“The return to good times is not wholly a matter of money. There is a prosperity of living which is quite as important as prosperity of the pocketbook. It is not enough to make the best of things as they are. Resignation will get us nowhere. We must build what amounts to a new country. We must revive the ideals of the founders. We must learn the new values of money. It is a time for pioneering ~ to create new security for home and family… We are becoming specialists at living.” *excerpt from Ladies Home Journal/October 1932

As we continue to stay close to home to stay healthy, a few good, old words to ponder…

Peace. Love. Amen.

Bluebird ~

The bluebird carries the sky on his back” *Henry David Thoreau

Just as I was leaving my driveway, heading for work, one morning in March a few years ago, I spotted a bird in my front yard. “It can’t be!” I thought to myself. “That looks like a bluebird, but there are no bluebirds here, we are not in their flyway!” I parked my car and watched. No doubt about it, there in my yard were a pair of bluebirds. Dad and mom, husband and wife, brilliant blue and lovely silver. There is good reason for the old line ‘the bluebird of happiness’. Any cares I had that morning vanished as I happily watched the couple flit about my yard.

Mama ~

I was beyond excited! I even had a ‘real bluebird house’ I brought home from Bickleton, the bluebird capitol of Washington, several years before. It had housed many swallow families ever since I attached it to a fence post, could it now become home to bluebird family? He was checking it out!

Papa ~

I enjoyed watching this sweet pair, he was busy! He took a peek in the window of my chicken house and considered hitching a ride into town on the rearview mirror of my bug.

Peeking in ~

Ultimately, they were on their way, and though I have watched for them, I have not had another sighting. Swallows continue to call the bluebird house home and I get a kick out of those babies crowding the small circle of a doorway as they wait for their parents to swoop in with a bite to eat.

You might be wondering why in the middle of 2020, (which could be defined as the year of pandemonium/pandemic/unrest & crummy weather) I bring up this memory. And here is the answer. In the middle of it all, I am reminded that there is hope. Just as I hope someday the bluebird will wing it’s way back to my yard, I hope for a brighter day for our world. We will get through these dark days and when we come out on the other side, we will be stronger for it.

Henry David Thoreau said, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” Today, let’s take a collective deep breath and endeavor consciously. Close your eyes and picture a bluebird, the color of the sky. Feel the summer breeze, warmed by the sun. Dip your toes in frothy waves on a sandy beach. We are not the circumstances we find our world in.

“We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” *Joni Mitchell

Peace. Love. Amen.