Monthly Archives: April 2014

Sweet (Pea) Melancholia

I picked enough sweet peas to compose a bouquet yesterday. It’s been a few years since the last time I was able to drink deeply of that ultra-sweet and unique, some say old-fashioned, flower scent.

sweet peas first bouqet 4-29-14

When I mention my sweet-peas, many people think at first that I am talking about sugar snap peas, the edible-podded peas that were developed only within the last 50 years or so. They are sweet to eat, while these ornamental cousins are sweet to sniff. If the seeds are allowed to develop, one can see by how tough, dry, and stringy they and their pods are that they are not anything you’d want to put in your mouth.

Our sunny garden space is at a minimum, which is why I don’t often plant cool-weather crops that will take up space into the months when I want to plant tomatoes or peppers.

In this particularly bad drought year, I’ve been thinking more seriously that the swimming pool should go. We could fill it in with good soil and immediately double our full-sun gardening potential. We may yet do that, but it’s a big project for which we’d have to get a permit, and this summer will already be quite busy with other events.

The smell of these flowers took me back to my first experience of sweet peas, sometime in the 70’s or 80’s when we lived on 1/3 acre with more than enough sunshine for anything I could set my fancy on. Among the many things I left in the past are my plantings of soybeans and chicken greens, okra and Ogallala strawberries with their foxy Rocky Mountain flavor, asparagus and artichokes. Here is a photo of me standing between the asparagus and the melons.

G garden 82

I am a firm believer in digging in the soil of contentment to find happiness, but I do have my periods of homesickness, the worst of which came on me within a couple of years of moving from our country place into town. I missed my garden so!

More recently I’ve had the good sense to realize that I could never keep up with that much garden or all of the choices I had in that season of life. I seem to need even more restrictions on my opportunities than I ever did, or I get overwhelmed by the decision-making, not to mention the work. I’ve even thought at times how nice it could be to have — gasp! — no garden at all.

I wonder if the time I spent this week, poking around for sad feelings in parched soil, has actually helped me to get over my losses again. Maybe it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I’ve decided to just enjoy sniffing this Spring’s sweet peas. (And I wish this could be a scratch-and-sniff picture I’m sending your way!)


Day of Rejoicing


The Day of Rejoicing is a tradition in some Orthodox churches, on which we visit and bless graves on the second Tuesday after Easter. Last year I posted about this happy day, when we visit the cemetery and sing “Christ is risen!”

Our priest blesses graves at four cemeteries this day, but I was present at only one. I got a ride with my godmother and another friend, and we had in the car roses, eggs and eggshells that we would later place on the gravestones. It was a hot day, so we also carried umbrellas, and as we made our way to the service the smell of roses was ever present from within and without.

In the upper part of the cemetery is the grave of a very beloved priest who founded one of the local monasteries, so the nuns always come from there to sing at his grave. It’s the one with the exuberant rockrose, which this year was in all its glory. Father accepted a sunhat from the nuns, which he only removed during the reading of the Gospel.

radonitsa 4-29-14 w poppies

We walked down to the newer and flatter area that has lawns instead of weeds, and completed the service there. Lots of bouquets, mostly of pretty artificial flowers, had been placed on various markers, but I liked best the California poppies that were decorating the older section.

One of the last prayers includes a phrase that I love, referring to our “quickly flowing, brief and temporal life,” after which our bodies will also sleep in the grave. We blessed the cemetery that it might be “a place of sweet sleep” for the bodies of these souls who wait for the time when they will receive them back, when all the dead will be resurrected, some to condemnation, and some to a Resurrection of Life.

Even now, with God’s help, we can live in that Life that Christ has given us, as we wait for the fullness of our own redemption, when we also will put on incorruption and immortality. We have much to be glad about on this day of rejoicing.

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

radonitsa blessing Zossima 14

Space is the womb of life.

G.K. Chesterton said he believed that…the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe.” (I can’t find the source for that quote; does anyone know it?)

He would have liked this article I read in Touchstone magazine, “Lost in Space.” In it Michael Baruzzini compares the viewpoints of Carl Sagan and C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy character Elwin Ransom, and relates what modern astronomers have discovered about just how empty it is out there.

Ransom’s thoughts are quoted in the article, and they are appealing in their expression of what seems to me the nurturing and provision of the Creator:

 “…the very name ‘Space’ seemed a blasphemous libel for this empyrean ocean of radiance in which they swam. He could not call it ‘dead’; he felt life pouring into him from it every moment. How indeed should it be otherwise, since out of this ocean the worlds and all their life had come? He had thought it was barren: he saw now that it was the womb of worlds, whose blazing and innumerable offspring looked down nightly even upon the earth with so many eyes….”

Baruzzini: “Where Lewis had Ransom find a life-giving environment, Sagan found affirmation of man’s essential loneliness. While Sagan’s picture of space focused on the vast distances and vacuity of the heavens, Lewis’s character, eschewing the nihilism of modern sentiment, focused on the connections between the planets and space.

“Who was right? Is space really just a vast, empty void, as Sagan imagined? Or is the earth not rolling through emptiness, but floating in a cosmic sea of light and radiance, as Lewis envisioned?

“It turns out that Lewis was largely right.”


“Without the astrophysical processes that power the stars, the very matter that makes up our bodies would not be here. Science writer Simon Singh points out that this means we are made of nuclear waste; Carl Sagan for once got it right, and poetically so, when he stated that this means we are made of star-dust. In either case, Lewis’s instinct is confirmed: Space is the womb of life; it creates the very matter from which life and its home on earth is made.”

Read the whole article here.

Linking up to Weekends With Chesterton.

Joy in any language.

[update: the video is currently unavailable, but if I find another link for it, I’ll put it back up.]

Christ is risen! I’ve been searching for this lovely Easter song that I have enjoyed in the past, but I couldn’t locate it until this morning, Bright Saturday, when I find that Fr. Stephen posted it on his blog a week ago, along with a translation of the words, from a poem by St. Nikolai Velimirovich. But lacking a full translation, if you knew only that they are singing “Christ is risen!” then the rest of the imagery communicates a lot.

People rejoice, nations hear:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Stars dance, mountains sing:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Forests murmur, winds hum:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Seas bow*, animals roar:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Bees swarm, and the birds sing:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!

Angels stand, triple the song:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Sky humble yourself, and elevate the earth:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Bells chime, and tell to all:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Glory to You God, everything is possible to You,
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!

serbian easter eggs xfinity