Monthly Archives: July 2022

They tell me to be…

THEY TELL ME TO BE…

They tell me to be a star, shining brightly for everyone to see.
I tell them I am a brick in a wall, not easily spotted.
They tell me to be a written book, everything in life predictable.
I tell them I am blank pages, my life story always changing.
They tell me to be Atlas, holding the weight of the world on my shoulders.
I tell them I am an ant, strong but meager.
They tell me to be a bottle, holding in every emotion.
I tell them I am a door, opening only to those with my key.

-Thomas Robert Hamilton-Bruce (1846–1899)

Durham Castle – Pippin photo

 

Madonnas and their tears.

Icons of Mary with Christ seated on her lap are venerated in the sacramental churches of East and West, Orthodox and Catholic, and have their commemoration days just as saints do. I’m most familiar with the Orthodox tradition, and how these days are scattered liberally throughout our liturgical calendar. Today I was at Divine Liturgy in the morning, but we were remembering various other saints and events in my parish, and I didn’t notice until I was home again that today we also commemorate the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God.

I would never have foreseen, fifteen years ago, that I would have favorites among icons of this subject, but it happens; this version is possibly my favorite of all because for ten years or more it was the only one I had in my house. My humble print resembles this one:

Icon Reader tells us that “It is known as “directress” (in Greek Hodigitria) because the Mother of God is shown directing our gaze to Jesus Christ with her hand. This style predates the Smolensk icon, and is one of the original ‘types’ traced back in Church tradition to St Luke.”

The tradition is that the first icon thus depicting Mary and Jesus originated in Antioch, and went from there to Jerusalem, then Constantinople, where it remained until, “In 1046, Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos gave his daughter, Anna, in marriage to Prince Vsevolod Yaroslavich, the son of Yaroslav the Wise. He used this icon to bless her on her journey.” And there it stayed in Kievan Rus’.

Many, many versions have been painted based on this style, and even the Black Madonna of Czestochowa in Poland, in its less innovative versions, can be seen to contain the same elements:

It seems that Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and Belarus are also fond of the Black Madonna version of this icon, as well as sharing a love with Russians of the style generally. One of the icons in this article from 2014 is a Smolensk icon of Mary: “Weeping Icons of Ukraine and Russia.”

While Icon Reader has reservations about the meaning of these tears, he was able to affirm one clear word from the news reports that surely still stands:

“What is certain is [the] tears of the Mother of God
speak directly to the heart of every Orthodox believer,
calling all to repentance, amendment of life and return
to Orthodox faith and tradition in their fullness.”

A song from the suds.

A SONG FROM THE SUDS

Queen of my tub, I merrily sing,
While the white foam rises high,
And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring,
And fasten the clothes to dry;
Then out in the free fresh air they swing,
Under the sunny sky.

I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls
The stains of the week away,
And let water and air by their magic make
Ourselves as pure as they;
Then on the earth there would be indeed
A glorious washing day!

Along the path of a useful life
Will heart’s-ease ever bloom;
The busy mind has no time to think
Of sorrow, or care, or gloom;
And anxious thoughts may be swept away
As we busily wield a broom.

I am glad a task to me is given
To labor at day by day;
For it brings me health, and strength, and hope,
And I cheerfully learn to say-
“Head, you may think; heart, you may feel;
But hand, you shall work always!”

-Louisa May Alcott

Waiting for Queen Lime Orange.

 

After seeing the beautiful zinnias that several of my fellow bloggers have showed on their sites, I was plotting  through the winter how I could create my own display, featuring my favorite colors that I rarely find in the local nurseries anymore. Others have told me that they have had a similar experience to mine, of ending up with mostly magenta flowers, when they buy a mix of zinnia starts in a six-pack.

So I bought four packets of seeds, and started most of them in the greenhouse. When many of those seedlings mysteriously died, I bought single plants in the nurseries, 4-inch pots in which the buds were beginning to open, and didn’t appear to be magenta. Two coral colored to begin with, and later, true orange. And I planted seeds again, at the end of June, directly into the ground or pots.

The seeds I planted the most of were called Fruity Beauty mix. They came in a clear cellophane packet, but online they are advertised to look like this:

Now various of the seed-started are beginning to bloom.  I’m not sure which are which, I think I got a little mixed up, and lost some tags. Maybe when they have fully opened and all bloomed I will be able to tell more. But I think I am still waiting for the Queen Lime Orange ones. Every day there is a new flower to look at and rejoice over.

I’m also thrilled to have eggplant this summer; and true Echinacea Purpurea, Purple Coneflower, which flourished for years and years in my old garden. The interesting subspecies of echinacea in various colors that were installed in my new landscape have mostly died out. It took me a few years to find good plants of the “regular” type at the right time, but now I those are in bloom, too.

The white echinacea are very enduring, too. They are in the front garden, and faithfully grow up tall and elegant every summer. They seem to make more flowers every season.

This last picture I think of as Lovely Layers. There is a whole community of plants at their peak here, from the echinacea on the right to the volunteer sunflower poking out from under the asparagus fronds on the left… yellow abutilon against the fence and golden marguerite in front of that, and even lamb’s ears and salvia sticking up. My cup runneth over with these sunny gifts of high summer.