Thursday, March 29, 2012

love letter to spring

Dear Spring,

It's the kind of morning that poets write about, soft pale petal weather accompanied by a birdsong symphony. I'm writing to say thank you for reminding me that there's a grander plan to life than my winter-shriveled soul could ever comprehend. Hints are always everywhere, but today there is a blatantness about it that is impossible to ignore. Like the nest in the windowbox, filled with tiny eggs. I can write a one-word poem in the neon green pollen covering the car: joy.

Love, Julie
(beautiful stationery by Mara Mi)

Monday, March 26, 2012

time is love

There's a song playing on the country music station these days called Time is Love and the words are real sweet. I've never heard that particular phrase, but I have heard "love is spelled t-i-m-e," which is pretty close and very true. It begs the question: am I spending time on who and what I love? Are you? If not, what in the world are we waiting for?
(image: Pier One)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

love floats

Leaden is a word that I think well describes profound sadness. It's a heaviness that descends like a metal cloak, causing shoulders to stoop and spirits to flatten. And it's how the Ristaino's felt when a precious member of their family died in a balloon accident in Georgia on March 16. Ed was a beloved man and a skilled balloonist who piloted five skydivers to safety before being swept away in a violent, unpredicted storm. His nephew, Alex, is Ian's good friend and their lacrosse team planned to release balloons in the Ristaino family's honor at last Friday's game. It was a week almost to the hour after Ed's accident when our weather suddenly turned terrible. The game was canceled and everyone took cover. When it blew over, we emerged, still clutching the balloons. The coach said some kind words and the boys let the balloons loose. We all watched in heavy silence as they caught the wind, slowly disappearing into the gray clouds.

It had been such a crushing week, with the shock of the accident and the subsequent search for the wreckage. Yet Alex's parents remarked how uplifted and buoyed they've been by the kindness of friends and even strangers amid their leaden sadness. It's what they are clutching on to now, that thing that floats above stormy skies and Georgia woods, lacrosse fields and lives diminished by loss. Love.
(image: Pinterest)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

spring & secret gardens

Today being the first day of spring, it's time to get your garden on. Not necessarily planting one, although that's wonderful in it's own right, but finding your very own little go-to pocket of green in which to soak in the season. There's a public garden and bird sanctuary literally around the corner from where I live and a beautiful city park just a few blocks away. But it's especially nice to find a spot as near as a corner in the backyard, under a favorite tree. The qualifications aren't many. There should be petals of some sort, the kind that drift down in a breeze to land in your hair. Soft, flower-scented air, too. And birdsong.

Friday, March 16, 2012

hello hope

There are goldfinches at the feeder, grass has grown thick with clover after soft steady rain. The air is clean and sweet. It's as if nature is saying Keep the Faith!
(image: Audubon print)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

home as hug, part 2

More visual happiness from the Hughes home, Pellyn Farm, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Didn't I tell you it was lovely? :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

home as hug

It's a most beautiful house. But what makes it a home is the friend who lives inside. It was a special treat to write an article about interior designer Suzanne Hughes and her Pellyn Farm for the March issue of Charlotte Living magazine. Suzanne's father owned Wagner's, the wild bird food company, which may be where she inherited her passion for feathering a good nest. She has an innate, understated sense of style that mixes old with new, valuable antiques with yard sale finds, treasured family paintings with a fifth-grader's self portrait. Richest of all is the color palette of buttery lemon yellow, turquoise and, always, a touch of gilt. Suzanne loves nature and animals and revels in the seasons. Above all, she makes people feel loved.

If I were to drop by today, for example, on the foyer table would be a vase filled with forsythia, quince and dogwood branches gathered from the yard. She'd have adorable bunny-shaped sugar cookies and steep us fragrant lemon tea. She'd clasp my dry hands and insist on lathering them up with rosemary scented lotion. There'd be a tiny gift, a J-shaped twig she found on a walk or some fun little treat from the health food store. She's a spring breeze, a healer and the sweetest of souls. It occurs to me that, as beautiful as her home is, the heart of it is Suzanne. And that goes with her everywhere.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

a window on happiness

Sometimes happiness 'comes on unexpectedly,' as Raymond Carver muses in his exquisite poem. Sometimes we witness it, other times we're in it and sometimes both. That's what I'm wishing for you this morning: a cup of coffee, a window, a happy.


So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.

- Raymond Carver

(image: Pinterest)

Monday, March 5, 2012

she exclaimed!

I probably went 20 years without so much as typing an exclamation mark as they're considered a big no-no in copywriting, and I still never use them in work. But they've certainly proliferated in my personal punctuation life as anyone who gets a letter or email from me can tell you. It's all very fifth grade-ish and I don't know how to explain (exclaim?), because life hasn't suddenly changed into an excite-a-thon of roller coasters, classroom crushes and spelling bee wins. Maybe there is a sense of urgency that comes with time and age. These days, I miss you just doesn't say it for me like I miss you! does. Same for Visit soon! Feel better! Hang in there! Keep the faith! and, most of all, I love you!!! (often with a few extra exclamation points tacked on for good measure). There's a great quote by Wordsworth that says "Fill your paper with the breathing of your heart." Excellent advice for a writer, which is any of us holding a pencil or poised over a keyboard trying to connect with another. And sometimes it takes an exclamation point, or three, to truly get the point across.
(image: Pinterest)

Friday, March 2, 2012

March roars in

March blusters in on a storm warning, rain drenching Lenten Roses, pelting an umbrella sea. Mornings are a degree warmer, a shade lighter, yet there's a shrouded altar somberness. March is wilderness time, ferocious and full of promise. Hold onto your hat, your hopes. Heaven's swirling all around.
(image: Pinterest)