We are coming to the end of the first quarter of 2014. For me, it has been a year with a very clear lesson. No day is promised and each day on this earth is a blessing. I've known this intrinsically, but with so many unexpected deaths this year, it is being reinforced and magnified.
If we are fortunate to awaken to a new day, it is a gift and to be treasured. But sometimes, facing a new day also holds the reminder of loss. It may be the loss of a dear friend who shared decades of memories, a classmate whose absence leaves an empty seat where once there was a warm greeting and a smile, or the choir member who sat behind you during rehearsals and smiled across the room at his wife at every opportunity. Now you watch her quietly weep as you sing 'Farewell, My Own True Love." The loss could be more personal - a pet, a spouse, a child - leaving a constant void in what should be your safe space, your home.
Most recently, a dear friend's son died of a heroin overdose, an epidemic in our country. It is ignored as we focus our attention on a missing airplane or gay marriage. The elephant in the living room, stealing the lives of our children, is more likely ignored and denied. What if it's contagious? Another post.
Each soul's passing brings adjustments and different stages of grief. There is loss of energy and motivation. Energy loss is cumulative, further depleted with the news of each departure.
April's posts will focus on numbers, dedicated to my father who died at the age of 46 years old when I was 13. He was a calculus professor and loved numbers. I've always simply endured them, being much more interested in letters and the arts, yet they are invaluable treasures, very much on my mind as I make a commitment to make each precious day count.
Yesterday a friend posted an essay stating that a house fly is as beautiful as any other wonders of nature. It reminded me of a series of insects I painted a few years ago. We collected and studied insects when I was in eight grade and I still remember the Latin names - Diptera are the flies, the butterfly is Lepidoptera, Coleoptera are the beetles . . . The insects were so spectacular and I began painting insects, reptiles and amphibians long before I turned to birds and flowers.
My friend Doris laughed at my Mayfly and insists that the ones that splat on her car windows and form clouds at baseball games aren't nearly this beautiful, but then I'll admit to viewing the world with rose colored glasses.
The carrots from Mom's Organic Market were as delicious as they were beautiful! The colors are not an exaggeration - they were really that varied.
Carrots were originally purple, except for a rare occurrence of white or yellow, until the 16th century when Dutch growers developed an new variety. Over time, they combined mutant strains and eventually came up with a version similar to the orange carrot we know today.Their carrot has been associated with the House of Orange and the Dutch struggle for Independence.
Recently a purple skinned, orange fleshed carrot, the Beta Sweet, has been developed at the Vegetable Improvement Center at Texas A & M, boasting very high concentrations of beta carotene and is credited with curing cancer.
As a child I was told to eat carrots to improve my vision by recently have read that carrots impacting eye sight is an urban legend. I'm not convinced. If my vision seems less acute, I reach for carrots and can see improvement within a day or two.
Romans used carrots as an aphrodisiac, associating them with both lust and fertility. They have even been credited with helping women become pregnant. It's been decades since I've been pregnant so I'm skeptical.
Plants - at the Home and Garden Show
This weekend the Home and Garden Show at the Timonium Fairgrounds exploded with glorious colors! There were herbs, flowers, including but not limited to roses, and orchids, bonsai and more. It was a celebrating of color after a long gray white winter.
I took over 100 photographs and can hardly wait to begin painting. Last year I took a course on orchids and wasn't really interested in painting them but I'm feeling inspired.
Animals at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
This guy has my attention. I had his too - I took lots of photos of him today and in one he was licking his chops. I had the feeling he was wondering if I'd make a good snack! It was chilly today and there were very few people at the zoo - it was a great time to take lots of photographs. The animals all seemed to be posing. If I didn't know better, I'd think they were trained!
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is beautifully laid out, spacious and there is a feeling that the animals have plenty space and are comfortable. I was especially glad to see the rhinoceros in a place where they would be safe from poachers.
Right now many of us are sending prayers for a peaceful transition to a dear friend from Girl Scouting who is in the final hours of her life. We've known that she was struggling but the reality of the end is still coming as a shock. We've had the opportunity to send cards and messages to let her know how much we love her and that we wish her a peaceful journey as she moves to heaven, because there is no doubt that is where she is going.
This feels like deja vu. I just posted a similar message on March 3. Since then there have been five more passings and Kate will be next.
Reach out to those you cherish and let them know you love them. If they already know, tell them again. We can't hear that too often.
I just sent Rosemary to Kate to represent remembrance of wonderful memories with her friends and loved ones, and to guide her into heaven. I'm hoping the blue colored berries will give her a feeling of comfort and peace. She is so loved and her memory will always be cherished.
I enjoyed painting while it snowed today but really hope that this will be the last snow day until fall of 2014. And I've had too much time to think.
It's been a bitter sweet time. Birthday celebrations and funerals. One of our dear choir members from Baltimore died recently and a very beloved musician from Central PA died of pneumonia at 48 years of age - about the same age as my dad when he passed. Each day is precocious. Find your loved ones and give them a hug or a call. Tomorrow isn't promised.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!