Monday, July 12, 2010


"Daisy Duke," Stuart smiles the words and I eat them up. I wear a white shirt and a pair of blue jean shorts, shorts that cover over middle-aged hips and thighs; Stuart pats my behind as I scoot by with an armload of laundry. "Daisy Duke." Beauty fades but he finds it still.

I grin at him over folded clothes, "I'm so thankful for you." A girl wants to be beautiful to the man she loves. The words sound sweeter with age.

All day he calls me Daisy except when he channels Morgan Freeman, "You're lookin' fine, Miss Daisy." Then I forget the day's honey and I just want to whack him with my handbag.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


My sister-in-law lugs a heavy bucket of water around her herb garden, gives each plant a long sip. "It's been three weeks since we've had rain," she sighs looking out over the dusty vegetable garden and the shriveled brown grass in the pasture beyond. We help my brother pick beans and pull the weeds around them. The dry ground pulls back and some of the weeds snap off above the roots. We give up in the strawberry plants, sit on the porch, listen to the dogs pant.

We travel home in an air conditioned bubble. The whole length of the Shenandoah valley is crispy brown, the corn stunted. We pull into our Amish county driveway, greener here but the grass is short and the air hot. We breathe shallow breaths, unpack, crank the air conditioning. No rain in the forecast, three weeks and counting.

Saturday there will be a wedding, an outdoor wedding, and finally rain threatens. Stuart is on the phone with the bride. "Pray that the rain holds off," she says. Saturday we wake to dark skies, the parched earth slurps the drops. All day the rain falls, a slow, steady farmer's rain. It's beautiful, refreshing. The ground takes all she is given; no puddles remain.

No prayers for weather issue forth here, instead I rejoice, "God, you are good! What perfect timing!" for this is a marriage that needs rain, a second-chance marriage. Two who found each other across cultures and borders. Dry and thirsty lives. So many lives. She has children, six of them, and he is willing to bear the burden.

They stand at the altar and worship, her hands raised; both marvel at God's goodness.

And it rains. Inside and out, mercy rains.

If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. Leviticus 26: 3&4

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Fourth

It's been halfway to forever since I've clicked open this space. A move and a school year and a cobwebby middle-age brain to contend with. The little things race by without my seeing or recording and I don't know how to start here again. Words are work and need mind space to percolate. I'm already long on work and short on space. Where to start?

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. A new birthday lens and a few memories of the Fourth. I grabbed the camera to savor the things that made me smile.

A yellow bird in the yellow sunlight in a cheerful yellow house. Buttercup, she's called.

Girls in straw hats in a thorny tangle of blackberries. Fresh blackberry cobbler for breakfast.

Daisies on the hills and insects fluttering up with each step in the grass.

Fresh blueberries and cream cheese frosting on sugar cookies. Assembled by at least a dozen hands. Devoured by more than a dozen mouths.

We laugh because a few years ago we carried these boys in backpacks and made hardtack and pretended to sail on the Mayflower and now there is a driver's ed manual on the kitchen counter and fireworks and fire in the kitchen.

And out in the yard in the dark, a humming street light, Mike's Hard Lemonade, IBC root beer (Charlie held his in his mouth to make the fizz dissipate) and the fireworks crackle and sizzle and pop. And the children do not cry at the noise. They cheer; they clink bottles and they laugh.

I want to wrap my arms around this moment and hold them all in it because soon they will read that driver's ed manual and they will drive away and come back to us carrying baby boys in backpacks.