3Splitz Farm

Rain

5:00 am wakeup call. The faint sound…you hear it on the rooftop. Pit pat pit pat or maybe its thrummmmm. Rain. Do I drift back to sleep?

Some may say they hate the rain. For a long time, I was one of them. Rain on marching band performances made our heavy wool uniforms stink. Rain on Disney days had us dragging out the dreaded ponchos. Rain on Halloween meant a raincoat over my costume. Rain is taking things away.

Then the rain took on new meaning.

During my mother’s funeral luncheon an enormous storm came out of nowhere. We were at the Stone Mountain Women’s Club. Picture a series of long foldup tables with every variety of salad: chicken salad with grapes and almonds, macaroni salad with bits of ham and roasted peppers, bean salad with vinegar dressing. Allllllll the mayonnaise. Then the hot dishes…chicken rice casserole with peas and melted cheese, macaroni and cheese with toasty breadcrumbs, pineapple casserole under a blanket of buttery Ritz crackers. And the desserts, oh the desserts. Cookies, bars, bundt cakes, and light green pistachio fluff. A meal fitting for one of the members of the cookbook committee.

We sat at the long tables, all gathered to honor my mother. The old wooden A-frame with the floor-to-two-story-ceiling windows. I looked over with my full plate and plastic silverware.

The trees twisted, branches ready to slip off their bending trunks. Leaves and pinestraw flying. Back and forth with abandon. If we had phones back then I’m sure they’d have all been buzzing with warnings. Summer storms come quickly in the South. We all just watched the sky turn green and the rain pour down on that summer afternoon. Wondering if the windows would shatter. Eventually it calmed down, but the storm stayed with me.

Ever since that time, rain is a comfort. But still an inconvenience. My mother is gone, why shouldn’t the sky cry?

And now today. Rain…

makes traffic worse

is a hazard on the trail

keeps me from having fun outside

makes the dogs antsy

messes up my hair

creates an endless need to sweep and mop the floor

matches the sadness inside

and and and. So while the rain seems appropriate, it still brings its challenges.

Then, a life change brings yet another shift in thinking.

This time it’s…

tulips,

daffodils,

crocus,

ranunculus,

anemones.

We’re on our way to flower farming. We just finished our first bed of spring flowers. Row after row of plump bulbs, tucked into the soil with fertilizer, peat moss, and hope. I don’t see them every day so I find myself wondering about them…are they happy in their new bed? Now my peeks at the weather forecast aren’t so much about what I should wear but about the bulbs. Like babies away at boarding school. Do they have what they need? A bit of sunshine and enough to drink?

Rain is their friend. I think of how thankful they must be for the nourishment. The refreshment. I smile when I look through my windows at work and see the rain coming down. It takes some storms and inconvenience in order to grow. Storms may bend us but not break. Welcome every season and the nourishment it brings. A change in my mind. One of many lessons from the blossoms.

friendship, giving

Longest Night

When became an adult, got married, moved into a house and had kids (not necessarily in that order), I joined a Methodist church. I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school, so this was a big change. One of the first new traditions I embraced was the Longest Night. Each year, on Winter Solstice, the Methodist church had a service that focused on the darker times of the past year. People came who had experienced loss, depression. grief.

At that point, I had recently lost my mother. I had a new baby, a new home, and was overwhelmed and heavy-hearted. I joined the bell choir and played for that service. That first year, I remember just crying through the whole thing.

As you can imagine, the service is not just about loss. Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. Once Solstice is over, brighter days are literally ahead. So the service is also about finding hope. About persistence. About the triumph of good and light.

I love symbolism so this service always meant a lot to me. I like the idea of things getting better. Of marking time. The cycle of increasing light. And it always comes just before Christmas, a time of frantic preparation. It is a moment to just be still and reflect.

I don’t attend that church these days, but I still take time to reflect every Solstice and remind myself that lighter days are ahead.

This year the Solstice seemed both especially poignant and especially necessary. COVID has wreaked havoc on many lives. So many in my circle have lost loved ones this year. Some due to COVID, others for other natural reasons, but COVID took away our ability to gather and mourn in the way we all want and need to. Still others are hunkered down at home to protect themselves and loved ones, which brings all the pain and challenge of isolation, disruption of routine, and more.

It has just been a heavy year.

I started hearing about the “Christmas Star” (or Great Conjunction) a few weeks before Solstice. Again, the symbolism of Solstice, this unique astronomical happening, and the stars were literally aligned.

I also had it in my mind to go caroling this year. I say every year I want to sing for people more (and not just the poor people at the gym who have to hear me sing along to the soundtrack when I’m squatting). I don’t know why I expect opportunities to be a backup singer for Yacht Rock Revue to fall out of the sky. This Solstice I see I need to create those opportunities.

Who could I bring some light to? We decided to visit two special Moms who have had challenging years, each in their own ways.

I loaded my car and started the night by going out to see the Christmas Star. I went to a parking lot in a remote park about 15 minutes from my house. I was surprised to find about 25 other cars in the lot, all there to view this planetary wonder. I just took some time to quietly look and think about this year and its gifts.

Then, it was over the river and through the woods to the first grandmother’s house. A couple of friends and family members joined in. We dressed silly, I brought my sleigh bells and song books, and off we set to spread some cheer. Our living room concerts brought laughter and tears, smiles and singing along. We took requests. We flubbed the lyrics and stumbled over melodies. We jingled our bells, giggled, swayed and twinkled. In the end, we brought cheer and good tidings and light. On the way to grandmother two’s house we saw lights and so many other holiday sights.

Both these women have lived through this challenging year. They’ve made the most of it. I hope we brought some light and hope to their lives this December. I know their smiles and delight lifted me up. As one of them put it, when we said our goodbyes, “same time next year!”

It’s a date.

family

Fresh Air, Fresh Hair

Don’t underestimate the value of fresh air or fresh hair. Today I had a little of both. This weekend I had a plan for me and my mom. Normally my weekend involves toting kids to activities or getting to point a, b and c at set times. This weekend was different. No have tos. Only want tos.

First event was sunrise yoga. I got a fresh start on crisp morning with some wonderful gal pals. This step was important. I stepped outside first thing in the morning. I had clarity of the mind. I was all-around peaceful. Ready for the rest of the weekend.

Stop two was a pick up. A kidnapping of sorts. I got to grab the beautiful, one-of-a-kind mother of mine. I was taking her from her home to get some fresh air and a haircut. 12 weeks she had been cooped up thanks to Corona. The opportunity was there and I took it and her. Off we went. The haircut didn’t take long but how she enjoyed the shampoo and the cut. She felt like a million bucks. Even if you can’t go places often feeling good about yourself is important. She needed and wanted the hair cut for that sole purpose: to feel good. I felt amazing for making it a reality.

We didn’t stop there. We packed up for a mountain escape to the amazing cabin in the woods. A short drive but one that yields gorgeous views.  From icicles on the rock formations to mist on the mountains, it’s part of the experience. She doesn’t like to eat in the car but I packed her some sweet treats for the ride and it made for a perfect picnic. No crowds in a restaurant to worry about. Just yumminess to go. 

The weather was perfect. The cool mountain air was just what was needed. Fresh air. No smog. No mask filtering the air. Just fresh, crisp mountain air. Secluded. Peaceful. Surrounded by amazing views. What more could we ask for on our escape?

We baked a chicken. We made a salad fresh from the garden and it was ever so tasty. Fresh bread warmed in the oven topped off our meal on girls weekend. Off we went into the darkness to view holiday lights. First stop was the small town decorations. Then into the hidden homes that each played 20-minute light shows set to music. It was a new, fresh holiday treat for us. Windows were down, fresh air flowing, holiday music was blaring and lights were flashing. A great way to make new memories in a new place away from the crazy of life the dark shadows 2020 had cast on many.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I never know how much time I have with my mom. For now, I enjoyed the peacefulness of fresh air and many smiles and giggles with the woman I have adored for years.

Many I know don’t have the luxury I have of still having their mom. I share mine when I can so others can have a sliver of her wisdom, her personality, and her sweetness. Getting to your 80s is a milestone. Still moving about and experiencing new things and places is a gift. Living through a pandemic and bending and flexing to rules and lockdowns is draining. Fresh air and fresh perspective can put the fog of tomorrow in the rear view, even if it’s just temporary.

celebrations

The Red Box

Today was a day to get shit done. Lots of projects on the home front. Lots of little things to just take off the to-do list. Now enter the red box.

The red box filled of vanilla creme candies. Dark chocolate covering the sweet vanilla taste. Heaven in my mouth. Now this isn’t just any small box. It’s a 1-pound box of sweetness. Delivered to me by a special lady aka my mom who knows how much I love these candies. Of course I can’t refuse her generous gift. I must eat them all. Just hopefully not in one sitting!

A bigger box than normal so I must have been on the good list but my God that’s a lot of chocolate! Now did I mention this girl really likes her chocolate during a certain monthly cycle? Yup. That’s right folks. Guilty pleasure alert. Or maybe it’s a necessity.

I sit down at my desk to do some work and realize I put the box of chocolates in the drawer to avoid temptation. Yes, I told myself one per day is the indulgence. Well that reasoning went out the door as soon as I ate one.

Because one wasn’t enough. I needed two. Or was it three? Heck, I lost count. So needless to say I had to leave my office because the temptation was too much on me. I couldn’t resist. I lacked the willpower.

I have had these chocolates since I was kid when my Nana took me to the candy house. A fond memory that I passed onto my kids. Now as a grown adult it is such a comfort food. Unfortunately, my macros don’t allow unlimited chocolate intake so I must change my surroundings immediately.

Off to mow a lawn or something to combat the excessive calorie intake. If you haven’t tasted a Phillips Candy House chocolate, they ship to you. Visit www.phillipschocolate.com to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Note: the candy is expensive, but delicious! 

adventure

Taking the Scenic Route

IMG_2219

New (or new-to-me) cars don’t happen often in my life.

We usually drive our cars into the ground.  A car purchase is a big deal that comes along only once in a long while.

In my car history, I’ve graduated from sedans to minivans to sedans again.

Every car says a little bit about where I am in life.  Sedans for the independent girl paying for her first vehicle.  Minivans for the Mom of 3 carting kids and their pals and their stuff here and there.  Then sedans for the Mom looking for fuel efficiency, with some kids who can drive themselves.  And finally, as of this year all my kids can drive themselves. What a life change.  My youngest got my last sedan as her starter car.  Now what?

All the cars did have some things in common: gotta have a sunroof and a top-notch stereo.  My Mom was a convertible girl but I remember she always had problems with leaks and the mechanics of the tops in her LeBaron and Sebring.  So I stay with a sunroof.  And if you’ve ridden with me you know I like to sing loudly in the car, so my backup track needs to be high quality.

Anyway, the time came to choose a car and I lingered over the decision, as is my style.  I researched and figured out the exact car I wanted then sought it out for months.  I finally found it and after much waiting, anguish, car rentals, state line crossings, and other extraordinary measures, I bought my shiny red Jeep Compass Trailhawk this spring.

I’ve had it for a while.  I’ve tried to write about it several times but couldn’t seem to finish a post. I wasn’t sure what the story was or why anyone should care. I almost abandoned the idea to the cutting room floor.

But then last week I took her for her first true off-road ride.  I had my youngest and her friends on a weekend trip a few hours away for a lacrosse tournament. Instead of taking the most direct path via the interstate, I decided to chart a path to a waterfall hike.  It was sort of on the way but kinda not really.  It would take us off the beaten path, to a part of my state I had never visited.

I read the reviews of the hike and most of them said things like: be ready for a long off-road drive to get to the trailhead.  You need a 4×4 to get there.

And lo and behold, I have one! Yippee! Put me in, coach! I’m ready for this.

I was a bit nervous since we’ve had a lot of rain, but the road was mostly rock and gravel. We played with the road settings. I took it slow for the most part. The kids laughed as I splashed through muddy puddles.  Got some Georgia red clay on the tires and my flashy paint job. It was a long drive in and out but the hike and the experience were worth it.

I am at the point in life where I’m taking the scenic route more and more. Instead of just saying “I wish I had more time to…” (hike, chase waterfalls, stop at the sights and shops along the way), I am making the time. And no one can do that but me.   I want to see new things.  A little mud, a little rock, whatever obstacles can’t stop me from getting where I want to go.  A little prepared for anything.  I can tow things and have a few friends and our stuff along.  I can see the sun and play my beats stereo loud.

It’s a different, off-road life for me.  A little more dare, a little more fearless, a little more nothing-can-stand-in-my-way. No limits. No barriers. No exclusions.

They say the most difficult roads lead to the most beautiful destinations.  I’m embracing that as a challenge and a reward, for the journey and all that comes with it.