In the dead of winter, I always look forward to walking beneath an archway of flowering bougainvillea in the Lyman Estate Greenhouses. Exquisite pink cyclamen flowers, with their heart-shaped, variegated leaves, look just right in this stone planter.
In gardening and painting finding the perfect shade of yellow is never easy. Both this primrose and orchid have it ― a clear, bright yellow that seems to combine the best of lemon and amber with maybe a touch of mustard.
Yellow symbolizes wisdom and means joy and happiness. People of high intellect favor yellow. Yellow is full of creative and intellectual energy. Yellow daffodils are a symbol of unrequited love.
Many of the Lyman Estate camellia trees are more than 100 years old and their blossoms come in all shapes, colors and sizes.
"In 1793, Theodore Lyman, a Boston merchant in the East India and China trades, acquired thirty acres in Waltham, Massachusetts, for a country seat, which he called The Vale. Lyman hired Salem architect Samuel McIntire to build the house and an English gardener, William Bell, to lay out the grounds. Bell designed an estate in the Picturesque style as advocated by the English landscape designer Humphrey Repton, with a lagoon and a white granite bridge, specimen trees, and a deer park. The estate also had a kitchen garden and a 425-foot-long brick wall used to grow espaliered fruit. In 1804, Lyman erected a three-part greenhousein which to grow a variety of hard-to-obtain fruits, such as pineapples, figs, lemons, limes, and bananas. These two-hundred-year-old greenhouses, part of a large complex, survive today as some of the oldest examples in the country still in operation."
I just love Marguerite, the cat in residence at the Lyman Estate Greenhouses in Waltham, Massachusetts. Several winters ago she wandered in as a hungry stray. Fortunately, the caring staff welcomed her with open arms and the greenhouses became her home. Like the many exotic and fragrant flowers that are housed there, Marguerite is sweet, alluring and oh, so lovely.
Every winter, without fail, I make a pilgrimage to the Lyman Greenhouses to see the century-old camellia trees come into bloom― that’s my cover story. First and foremost, I go to see Marguerite, then the camellias, orchids and other plants. I try to choose the coldest and iciest day of the season to heighten the experience. As I approach the greenhouse door, I am happiest if a freezing wind whips my face because I know that as soon as I step inside, I will feel a rush of humid, semi-tropical air and be surrounded by the fragrance of orange blossoms.
The greenhouses are comprised of several buildings and Marguerite has the run of them all. She is beloved by staff and visitors alike and seems to enjoy posing for the camera!
I always look forward to calling her name as soon as I arrive. “Marguerite, Marguerite!” Sometimes I have to call a few times before she comes running. The sweetest moment is when she appears.
I know...Valentine's Day is over. Just the same, I have a couple more love stories to post.
Believe it or not, these two fancy roosters love each other ― a lot. They just like to spar for the sport of it. They live at Winslow Farm, a wonderful animal sanctuary in Norton, Massachusetts, where they have the freedom to stretch their legs, spar a little and just live a good rooster life. All of the animals at Winslow Farm enjoy lives of peace and contentment, thanks to founder Debra White. She worked three jobs for nearly 20 years to make her dream of building an animal sanctuary come true.
If you're interested in helping to provide a haven for more animals in need, Winslow Farm is a cause worth helping, and in this economy, a cause that needs your help.
Raven photo by Kevin T. Carlson I am posting love stories to celebrate Valentine's Day (see the February 11th posting).
A longtime member of the American Society of Crows and Ravens, I read this heartfelt tribute in a recent newsletter. It is a poignant testament to the power of love.
Tribute to Blackie, companion raven
September 25, 2008
This afternoon I laid to rest the greatest teacher I was honored to learn from in this life, my beloved “Blackie,” the most beautiful, courageous raven to have lived – at least in my eyes. She shared my life and my home with me for nearly 25 years. Dick and I rescued her from a snow bank one evening alongside a desolate stretch of road on December 23rd. She had shot in her left leg and in her left wing. Her shoulder was shattered and she would never fly again.
There, my journey into compassion, unconditional love, and true personal sacrifice began. She transformed a shallow, self-absorbed human into a brighter, more enlightened being. From then on, I never sat down to a meal without feeding her first, learned that sticking my fingers in bird poop while cleaning raven mess was not a distasteful job, but a true labor of love. I learned to appreciate her wonderful sense of humor and marvel at her keen intelligence.
But her injuries from long ago finally caught up with her. She could no longer get to her perches because her leg became stiff with arthritis. She was also going blind. She had difficulty getting around her yard. I don’t know how old Blackie truly was because she was an adult, fully imprinted in the wild, when we rescued her. Now, I have to learn to live without her; no more shopping for food she prefers, rising at dawn to let her outside each day, hearing her amazing repertoire, putting her wishes first, and laughing at her constant mischievous antics.
I have lived with her longer than any other living being in this life.
Tonight, with all my heart, I need to believe that, at long last, finally shed of her crippled body, Blackie flies again and can soar free and unfettered. And I need to believe that when I can finally shed this body of mine, that she will be there to greet me and show me the way to the Other Side.
This afternoon, after all these many years, I was finally able to kiss that lovely, long black beak, made luminous with my tears. My Blackie, my friend.
With Valentine's Day approaching, I say it’s time to think about love, not money! In my next posts I will be doing just that. I begin with a love story that lasted 15 years, not nearly long enough.
Tazzie (orange and white striped) and Kia (tortoiseshell) were a year apart and inseparable. When I brought eight-week-old Kia home, she was immediately drawn to Tazzie. Like many closely bonded people, they simply could not live without each other. When Tazzie died in May 2003 at 16, Kia grieved so deeply that she fell ill and died six months later. The vet said it was lung cancer, but I think the true diagnosis was grief. They are buried beside one another in the garden and I do hope they are together again.
The girls welcomed Rachmaninoff without much fuss. They were five and six by then and bossed him around from day one, but they loved him and he loved them back.
It's hard to believe that the girls have been gone for almost six years now. We continue to miss them.
It’s good to know that there are many other geese lovers out there. One who deserves special mention is Barry Koffler. He had a Brown China goose named Paté that lived for 23 years!
When I first began looking after the GirI, I turned to Barry for advice and information. He was and continues to be incredibly helpful. His passion for keeping and preserving heirloom varieties of ducks, geese and chickens has made him a true expert, and his poultry pages, which function as an online poultry encyclopedia at www.Feathersite.com, are an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more.
I admit that I am somewhat biased because, like me, Barry is a writer, animal and nature lover. He also has cats, dogs, fish, sheep and more. When you visit his site, take a gander (pun intended) at his beautiful farm, Featherside, in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York State. Now, that’s what I call living the good life.
Note: I will not discuss the evils of paté production here, but hope visitors to this blog know that it is cruel and miserable beyond imagination for the ducks and geese forced to endure it. Do not support it and do whatever you can to help end it!
The Story of the Girlbegins with the posting on January 8th. My true account spans a four-yearperiod from 2001-2005.This is the third and final chapter. The Story of the GirlChapter Three conclusion
January 2006 made weather history again, ironically, as the second warmest on record. I thought of the Girl and how the simple fact of timing, perhaps more than anything else, had determined her fate.
A domestic China White goose can live two decades or more. But in the wild, her lifetime is measured in seasons, and by moon and star, leaf and stone.
The Girl is gone, I know, but in my heart she lives on and her image continues to illuminate the halls of my memory. I think of her in every season, especially in spring when the willows green up along the riverbank and the warblers return to the old sycamore tree.
The Story of the Girl begins with the posting on January 8th. My true account spans a four-year period from 2001-2005. This is the third and final chapter.
The Story of the Girl
Chapter Three continued
In September, I continued to make sporadic visits to the dam, hoping the migratory travels of the Canada Geese would bring me a glimpse of the Girl. In an effort to console myself, I crafted a story of my own imaginings, as writers will often do: The Girl had found a mate, yes that was it, and laid a clutch of eggs. She was tending to her goslings in a protected marsh nearby and would make an appearance sometime before late fall. In retrospect, I understood that it was a story one told a child and one my child’s heart wanted very much to believe.
My visits to the dam that autumn became a melancholy sojourn. What had once been a lovely, pastoral place, a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, now seemed desolate without the Girl. The memory of her calls haunted me and the sound of water rushing over the dam became like a dirge.
When the holidays approached, I decided to write some cards that I kept stashed away in a secretary outfitted with cubbyholes and drawers. As I opened one, a large white feather rose upward for a moment and then landed softly on the black leather blotter. It was one of many down feathers that the Girl shed; I often found them on the grassy slope above the dam. I had gathered this one up — snow white and perfectly intact — and kept it for remembrance. It was more than a keepsake now; it was all I had left of her.