Welcome to The Cottage at Rooster Ridge!

We love to have visitors come and stay in The Cottage at Rooster Ridge. The anticipation of their arrival often fuels our desires to hurry along with projects, take a fresh look at displays, review conveniences and of course head into the garden for fresh clippings of flowers and greenery. During winter visits the fireplace is stacked with aged and dried wood and a basket of kindling is at the ready. Simple arrangements are a signature style allowing the glory and the source of the beauty to be the flowers.

There are two claw-foot tubs in The Cottage at Rooster Ridge which also serve as showers, each is outfitted with the traditional three-way exposed water piping; the tub-fill, the telephone-hand-held and the daisy-shower-spray. Each tub has a brushed nickel hanging basket for soap and supplies. One of our signature greetings is placing flowers inside the shower area. This cheerful greeting always receives a smile and often we hear comments regarding the fun of bathing or showering with fresh flowers!

There are suspended curtains which surround the tub to create a shower; we often opt to tie them with rope, ribbons or greenery—depending on the season and occasion!

A peek into the downstairs bath shows the spirit of welcome with the assistance of our retro-metal Hotel sign which has been painted an aged patina white.

The Royal 1937 Vintage Typewriter is awaiting use by our guests with a note of welcome and encouragement waiting to be read. The note usually reads something along the lines of;

 

Welcome to The Cottage at Rooster Ridge.

Please feel free to wander to yesteryear and type on the 1937 Royal.

Special stationery has been designed especially for this use and is waiting for you— as well as Rooster (of course) stamped envelopes.

Enjoy.

The 1937 Royal does not have an exclamation point, please read with much exclaiming.

On the second floor we have an advent calendar that we enjoy so much—we refuse to put it away after December! The little wooden numbered doors are opened to display the date of the arrival of our guest. When guest are not coming we use this as a daily calendar—after the 25th of the month single doors are opened to create the remaining days of the month.

Flowers are placed next to the bed and often if the herb garden is available—sprigs of rosemary, thyme and basil are added to arrangements creating a lovely blend of floral and herbs scents.

Notes and signs are a way of communicating which we enjoy—reusable glass water bottles are filled and labeled and stored with chilled glasses in the refrigerator for a night stand placement!

On the landing of the charming staircase which leads to the second floor we have hung a tin shelf with a wire mesh door—hanging within are the keys to The Cottage and to each room—tagged and ready for use. In the envelope-slot compartment is our guest book which we ask all guests to sign—creating a keepsake for us!

Our morning greeting is this Good Morning sign which hangs next to the coffee-maker.

Our goodnight wish is painted on the tiny and charming stairs—

We hope you have enjoyed this little visit to The Cottage at Rooster Ridge! Perhaps you will become inspired to welcome your guests in new ways to your cottage!

Please come again—

Joy Surrounds!


Decoration Day

Within the ephemera collection at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge we have two patriotic postcards honoring American soldiers which have lost their lives to battle.

One uses the original name of what we now celebrate as Memorial Day, which was previously called Decoration Day. This day of tribute began as a way of honoring fallen soldiers that had lost their lives in The Civil War; predominately women went to the grave sites of soldiers and decorated them.

The post date on this Decoration Day postcard is dated 1909 and has a U.S. Postage Stamp of one cent. The poem which is depicted on the front reads;

Though more than forty years ago,

In Freedom’s cause he fell,

While facing furious, Gallant foe,

He is remembered well.

The second postcard uses the more current and familiar term of Memorial Day also has a U.S. postage stamp of one cent and is postmarked from  San Francisco, California—May 30, 1911. The hand written inscription from the sender is perhaps as poignant as the occasion and the beautiful artistry. The inscription reads;

Dear Lena,

Will you see that my grave is kept green.

Pat

The Vintage Postcard Collection at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge is small, we have only eleven in our collection! The world of ephemera is extensive and rich with history as well as gorgeous artwork. Our attraction is to both aspects, however the artistry of the pieces always become the most important element for the selections we have made.

We keep The Vintage Postcards within reach and are openly displayed on a postcard rack encouraging the study of them. We find a profound connection when holding one of these hand selected, hand written and hand stamped relics and now, some one hundred years later, once again are being held and read. Most of the postcards are embossed and the image has a three-dimensional quality. Often, the most collectible pieces are ones which have not been written on, addressed or stamped.

At The Cottage at Rooster Ridge we prefer those which have been held, and with thought written upon and sent on a journey to another person. It is the communication from person to person; and the attempt to experience a connectedness, when doing so was not as simple or immediate as dialing a cell phone. That fact that art was a vital element in the process of speaking to another person resonates to the very depths our souls at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge!

Art Lives!


Lucas

On Monday evening, suddenly and without warning, the time sadly came—to say good-bye to our favorite signature joy at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge—our mascot, friend and the official furry welcoming committee to Rooster Ridge; Lucas.

Just a month ago, in honor of Mother’s Day, the story of the day we brought Lucas into our lives was shared in a post. The last eight years of our lives have been enriched with laughter, fun, joy and love due to his presence.

If you missed the story, here is the link—

http://thecottageatroosterridge.com/2012/04/29/a-mothers-day-story/

To Lucas—

We miss you so much. Thank you for bringing us such bountiful joy.

Joy Surrounds—and for today, in the form of memories.


Well—Being

Recently I was asked if I would be able to accompany a friend for the day as she received chemotherapy. I immediately responded yes and made provisions in my schedule and other responsibilities to insure I would be available both physically and mentally. This was a first for me and for that I am so very grateful. The number of women, and men, who find themselves in the care of an oncologist is astounding—and if not for themselves, then for loved ones, be they friends or family.

However, this writing is not intended to be a story about cancer nor the ravage that such an illness can reek. This post is about friendship and the poignant lesson I was reminded of so graciously in the face of something so dastardly. The lesson being; that hope and insight can be born of such difficult trials is a tribute to the value of human interaction and connectedness. Upon reflection, the realization came to me, that the day we spent together had less to do about illness and more to do about love. The inspiration for this falls upon my friend, who, displayed exquisite dignity and charm in this difficult arena. An extremely courageous example was demonstrated, which will accompany me for my lifetime. She unknowingly granted me the gift of observing the astounding power of amazing grace.

We laughed a lot—some jokes were slightly off-color, as a way to deal with the realities of some of the physical challenges of having poisons pumped into your body.

As we were sitting in our small treatment room, during one of our planned-individual-laptop-times (this was preplanned, to give us a respite from speaking non-stop) my friend began to read an article to me which spoke about women maintaining good health. (So much for the verbal pause!) To paraphrase, the article stated that the best thing a woman can do for her health is to have female friendships. The point was made that women require this connectedness and the resulting communication of their shared female path, that only other women truly understand. I found the timing of her reading this to me to be very symbolic as we were, quite literally, in the midst of her striving to become well and enjoying friendship while doing so.

Being a minimal girlie-girl I have always had only a few female friends, this is what I told myself; that I felt uncomfortable with idle chat and discussions of clothing, hair and make-up. That of course, was just one of those fibs I had made up and told myself at some point in my younger years and never bothered to review or reconsider. There existed so many errors in that thought—clearly one of the largest being—that I had created a stereotypical falsehood regarding women. Another untruth; which I also fully believed and assisted me in further empowering my few-female-friends-strategy, was that I was fiercely independent. None of these thoughts were accurate—the cause of the discomfort with female friendships was my lack of the understanding for the value of these special friendships…and encouraging all of this inaccurate thinking, was my default setting—an inability to trust. I had conspired a belief to protect myself from the possibility of being hurt. (Not amazing grace.)

While in my thirties, two women who were in my life at the time, and who were the age that I am now, each shared with me words of wisdom. Which in my arrogant youth I promptly dismissed. One of these women had an adage which at the close of every discussion regarding a worry or concern, always ended with a summing up statement, “As long as you have your health.” As a completely healthy young woman with no visible signs of aging and clearly no ability to listen to someone older, I internally rolled my eyes. There is the possibility—I actually outwardly rolled my eyes. Yes, I was that obnoxious at times. The other bit of wisdom, gifted and refused by me was, “As you grow older your friendships with women will become of paramount importance, nurture those relationships” Neither of these words of wisdom resonated with me and I filed them away, as a form of a lecture—and one that I did not need. I was incorrect.

These perceptions, were my shortcomings, my immaturity and my lack of experience of having lived a life. As a woman now, I have been enlightened to the meaning of friendships with women and how incomplete my life is—without them. While in my twenties, thirties and even my forties the fulfillment that I sought, I believed, would come in the form of a career, my appearance (hey, at least I admit it, I’m being brave here!) a husband and children. Okay, fine, the house and clothes counted too. Girlfriends and health were under-appreciated and if something needed to fall to the wayside, well, it would have to be one of those two. Family of origin seemed to fall somewhere in the confusing category of love, obligation and guilt—which is another subject—let’s not go there! I also must honestly admit, spirituality was a distant consideration, if at all, as I attempted to create the elements that would bring meaning to my life. Silly girl.

It is incredible where fifty-five years can bring someone, well at least me. Perhaps I am a slow learner or my foundation was inappropriately set up, but today, my value system is forever altered. Spirituality, health and female friendships have now boldly and beautifully surfaced onto the criteria list of the requirements for feeling fulfilled and whole. And, a feeling of connectedness—being understood and the desire—the need—to not feel so alone—on this journey of the life as a woman. The previous list was not replaced or eliminated, I still require those things to feel complete—to varying degrees. The physical (my own and objects) has found it’s proper balance—my awakening is the realization that my previous list was deficient. I am becoming more and more aware of the versatility of womanhood, the complexity of being female and I am choosing to embrace this. With the help of my friends.

The day after I had gone on the chemotherapy outing with my friend, I received an email from another friend with whom I had lost contact with, the timing was clearly not lost on me. After six months of neither of us reaching out to one another—she had taken the risk, the leap that I had chosen to take a pass on. Seems I still require some maturing. I asked myself if the last six months without communicating with her, without sharing our thoughts, concerns and experiences had been better. And that is when I was granted the privilege of experiencing amazing grace.

Friendships with women are vitally important and an aspect of what is necessary for Well—Being. Now that I can relax and not take myself so seriously (all of the time) I am free to enjoy the pleasure of asking a friend what eyeliner works well, discuss if we should just go grey—or to teach me how they managed to be so very courageous, so absolutely magnificent and amazingly graceful in the face of such difficulty.

I am grateful I continue to grow-up.

Symbolism Abounds!


A Mother’s Day Note—1937 Royal Vintage Typewriter

May 8, 2012

Dear Mother,

This year in honor of Mother’s Day I have chosen to fore-go the purchase of a greeting card and rather, write a Mother’s Day note to you on this charming bit of yesteryear.

My decision is two-fold. I hope to transcend your thoughts to the past—gently bringing forth the gift of memories. Perhaps, recollections of your own Mother and the love and kind thoughts which you hold in your heart will softly revisit you.

This Vintage Royal Typewriter is from 1937—and you were a mere seven years old when this machine was born. Maybe this physical note, with the iconic font and hand-struck ink letters will aid you in remembering a time in your childhood, in the small town in Iowa, when as a child you celebrated this special holiday. I hope to bring forth wonderful memories to the doorstep of your thoughts as my gift to you.

Secondly, I offer to you the gift of my time—as miles separate us—I am spending time with you as I write. This antiquity of the past presents challenges for me, one whom has always known the convenience of much more modern machines. I most often write on a computer in these current days, granting me the ability to make instantaneous corrections while simultaneously providing me the indulgence of having my spelling and grammar checked. Having these conveniences at my disposal certainly assists me in avoiding unwanted errors and does seem to take much less time. (The dictionary is sitting on my lap.)

Not to mention—the ease of having an exclamation point at my disposal to assist in conveying the essence of excitement, rather than being limited to my vocabulary. The Royal 1937 does not have either an exclamation point or the number one (the numeral is achieved by using a lower case L.) I have yet to figure out how to create an exclamation point. I am curious if the Royal Company didn’t believe there was much to “exclaim” about in 1937, or if the world was just a calmer place—less drama, less hype and less exclaiming.

With regard to my time, which is expanding exponentially as I type, as I had hoped to present this to you without any errors. The note you now hold in your hand is my fifth attempt at that goal, so you now will see some “typed-over” letters. I have resigned myself to my best effort.

I am planning on purchasing a new reel of ribbon-ink as it seems this one has been reversed many, many times. Certain sections of the ribbon seem quite weary as the attempt to deliver a well-defined letter is honestly made. I am also planning on obtaining correction paper…do you remember that? I vividly recall the little white piece of paper which was shiny on one side and matte-chalk-white on the other side. I am certain you remember the process of holding the little paper over the word, back-spacing and then retyping the letter and watching the ink magically lift off the page, or seem to. I also remember trying very hard to not waste any space on the correction paper as I tried to utilize every possible corner of this expensive and precious commodity.

Through the years I recall you sharing with me that at various points in your working life, especially as a young woman, you spent hours sitting at a typewriter as a professional secretary. Perhaps seeing this familiar type will rekindle a memory of a co-worker or friend you had during that time and conversations you had with them.

My wish is that this little note has gently delivered you to a lovely and meandering walk- down memory lane. May these memories offer you a poignant illustration of all you have experienced and accomplished in your lifetime…including being a Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother and of course, a daughter.

Happy Memories on  Mother’s Day (exclamation point)

With love,

Your daughter,

Jeri

Joy Surrounds!


Finding Our Voice—

A morning  excursion to The Pond at Rooster Ridge led me to today’s post and to the clarity I was seeking.

My desire to have a voice, through my writing, is based upon the intention of speaking authentically from my heart—as I hope to offer some measure of comfort to others. This journey, requires that while I speak from my heart, I simultaneously try my very best to connect with others and in doing so, take the subsequent risk of reaching out. This two-fold combination of goals had brought me to a place of confusion, which resulted in me recently questioning the direction of what I choose to write about within this blog forum.

There seems to be so many voices talking to us, at all times—quite honestly, the sounds feel more like shouts, yells and demands. Our society is in the midst of constant multi-media-communication—all screaming (tweeting, facebooking, pinning, tumbling) 24/7 for our attention! And while doing so, make the claim—that should we manage to attract some of that precious commodity to ourselves—there will be a big pay-off. Fame—with the-assumed-connected-fortune seems to be the golden ring de jour.

In all of this noise, our own voice, at times, can become—a barely audible sound.

Shhhhhhhh!

To attempt to regain the volume control of my own voice, I visited the quiet and the motion-filled-stillness of falling water and swimming fish at The Pond at Rooster Ridge. As I studied the water the answer gently ebbed towards me—and when this answer came—it arrived in the form of a question, accompanied with a visual, symbolic illustration. It seems, I always need pictures to understand.

The question—

“What would you like your voice to do?”

The illustration presented before me was the expanding and echoing wave-rings created on the surface of the pond by the falling water as it spilled into the pond. I saw the symbolic similarity of drops of words, the gentle showering of a voice, a sprinkling of kind thoughts and good intentions—peacefully falling, gracefully impacting and echoing outward further and further and further.

With that question and illustration before me, I was once again reminded—what it is I wanted my voice to do, to say. And, I also knew it didn’t have anything to do with “selling product, increasing traffic or obtaining sponsors.” The marketable and tangible possibilities available either would or would not occur. The attention I gave to those aspects—needed to float away in this clear and cleansing water.

The connectedness I was hoping for, praying for, also, was not my task nor within my power to make happen. My work was to speak—and to do so with clarity. Perhaps for me, considering and managing multiple goals was undermining that effort or better yet, my focus.

My intention of writing my book, Lessons from the Trumpet Vine, as well as maintaining this blog and the subsequent posts is to offer hope. To inspire others to seek peacefulness and to experience a feeling of safety, calm or knowing. Success would be measured by being able to give a gift to others—granting them to be able to feel a brief respite, a rekindling or a gentle reminder of what truly serves our heart and soul. And, through that, to be encouraged to see the simple joy available to all of us.

As I gazed at the water, the fish came to the surface to feed and as they nibbled amidst wave-rings—new echos were created by their presence. I was further reminded that our purpose is to place drops of love, through words or actions upon our pond. And in doing so, the echos multiply and then continue to reach further and further and further.

I believe, each comforting voice that is heard, every word of compassion that is spoken and every kindness which is demonstrated—impacts our pond—with ripples of love.

Symbolism Abounds!


The Lesson of Trust

With the arrival of Spring at Rooster Ridge we are granted the gift of being witness to the bountiful birth of nature. We have discovered tucked into the woody vines of The Trumpet Vine and within the boughs of an Evergreen Tree—Robin Nests with magnificent blue eggs. Earlier in the spring—hidden in the grass beneath a soft blanket of rabbit fur we discovered a nest of baby bunnies with their eyes still closed.

The Mothers stand guard and attempt to protect these nests from harm while simultaneously needing to care for themselves. In past Springs, we have come across abandoned nests and we have also been brought baby bunnies which had not survived the springtime. At times, as we watch large black crows hunt within the branches looking for the nests and eggs which are contained therein, there is the heartfelt temptation to hurriedly gather the eggs and somehow protect them—to assist in this process that nature has planned.

Wisdom and acceptance gracefully steps in—as we have learned—that nature truly knows and understands much more than we, and we must trust in the process of life.

With the springtime of great abundance, hope and the multitude of gifts offered to us in observing nature, we reflect upon The Lesson of Trust from my book, Lessons from the Trumpet Vine.

With these thoughts in mind and with my sincere intention of serving the highest good, I offer to you an excerpt from; The Lesson of Trust.

With my heartfelt love,

Jeri

Lessons from the Trumpet Vine

Written & Illustrated by Jeri L. Glatter

The Lesson of Trust

Please understand that, as you travel your life’s path, you can never know every element of a lifetime nor ever fully understand the actions of others. There is bound to be hurt. There is no perfect protection to be achieved. Striving to completely and always protect yourself is a futile task. There are lessons to be learned as you travel, and we ask you to work hard to learn them when they are presented to you. Equally as important is to accept the knowledge that there will still be unlearned lessons when you reach your last day. If you believe you will meet with only success, or that you will find yourself at the conclusion of this lifetime with the ability to be unhurt, or that all lessons will be learned, then you are preparing for disappointment. Your days will be marked by fatigue if you attempt to live a life without experiencing hurt, like the child who promises not to cry and falls asleep exhausted with a tear stained face.

We note your intense and diligent study of your lessons and, at times, the closure of your heart, as you attempt to live a life without pain. With so much focus and energy placed upon closing, protecting, and distancing yourself, you will find very little time or space left for joy. You are the industrious watchman standing at attention at the gate of your soul and heart. You prevent entry as best as you can and, when the breach occurs, you hang your head in perceived failure. But bear in mind that on each occasion when you prevent entry, you also block openness. And that is a perfect example of the negative effects that can accumulate when you lack trust.

Your understanding of trust is referenced as trusting people, events, or situations which arise. Yet the aspect of trust which you lack is far greater than that of where your steps fall. The trust we speak of rests in the heavens, with spirit, the highest source, or God. This form of trust transcends all life circumstances and all lives. The trust we speak of involves the process—the experience of living—the trust of spirit, the highest source, or God, and of the guidance of what we can never fully understand.

When you find yourself at these painful moments, do not assume the occurrence rests solely within your responsibility. This is what most people tend to do. With their heads dropped in hurt and disappointment, they proceed to scold the child-self. This only compounds the pain. This practice must be avoided. When the world hurts you—something that is inevitable—become the loving caregiver to yourself. Gently brush away the tears of hurt quietly and do not let those tears dry into trails of shame to remain upon your face or soul. Shame serves no useful purpose, must always be avoided, and never self-applied or accepted from others. With the kindest bravery, reflect and examine if there may exist the opportunity for a lesson interlaced with your disappointment. Accept that aspect. You must take the risk to trust. You must experience hurt. You must learn. You must grow. You must seek self-comfort. You must live your life. And, in that life, joy and sorrow exist. Trust that you will find both.

Lessons from the Trumpet Vine is available online:

Amazon:      http://amzn.to/HxJBvG

B & N:          http://bit.ly/HrLpTk

Lessonsfromthetrumpetvine.com:       http://bit.ly/xvOhAs


The Small & Precious Space—Beneath the Stairs

Several years ago, the opportunity arrived to purchase the little house and grounds which intersected the L-shaped property of what is now known as, The House at Rooster Ridge. After the purchase we eagerly began to discover what would lead us to the renovation of this over-100-year-old building. Our first indication of the potential for this little structure was hidden behind a tiny door. Under the carpeted and narrow staircase which led to the second floor was a sheet rock wall and in it a small painted door, approximately 18″ tall by 15″ wide. As we peered behind the door, we found the first clue to the depth of the possibility of how amazingly quaint this little structure could become!

When the little door was opened we found a small space which had previously been used as a storage area for a vacuum cleaner. With flashlights in our hands the initial discovery was made—and the rest, as they say, is history! The floor of this tiny space was dusty and dingy—and constructed of very worn wide plank flooring. Peering inside and now with the assistance of light fully illuminating the floor we realized, what we were seeing between the several small separations between the planks, which lay side-by-side, was the stone-walled basement. This meant only one thing to us—as self-proclaimed-forensic-building-historians—that we were looking at the original flooring of this building!

The first action we took (excitedly, hurriedly) was to rip out the door and sheet rock wall which had been built to create this storage space. As the sheet rock was removed we also made our second wonderful discovery—the staircase was solid old wood. As we continued our inspection and through the enthusiastic discussions which followed, we came to understand that this wide plank floor ran beneath the existing and relatively new strip-oak flooring. This was the moment when we fully realized the little treasure we had found! And to think this precious gem was sitting right next door for—oh, over a hundred years!

One of the design themes at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge is the intention to create vignettes, small illustrated stories which are told in a visual language. The small and precious space, beneath the stairs in The Cottage at Rooster Ridge, is one of those tales.

Due to the small stature of this space the inspiration for this design-story unfolded as I pondered who would comfortably fill this space. I allowed my thoughts to meander, to carry me loftily to a lovely vision and as I did so, I imagined a young child sitting in this little room beneath the stairs. I watched an imagined tea-party with a brown furry bear and later, a quiet and special space to look upon a picture book.

And so it became, The Small & Precious Space—Beneath the Stairs. A table was added and upon it was placed a charming rooster lamp—complete with an amusing fabric shade depicting roosters and farm scenes and finished with a cheerful red pom-pom trim. The underside of the stairs were exposed by removing the angled wall—adding interesting geometric shapes and dimension then painted a warm vintage barn red.

A shelf followed—the top could hold little books and the shelf was adorned with wooden pegs to hang a little sweater or bag. During a recent antique excursion a French Iron Painters’ Chair was found and brought to The Cottage at Rooster Ridge adding the finishing touch. On the shelf hangs a Vintage Wreath Form, which was used to create fresh wreaths of greens and flowers, now the form awaits—to be filled at a moments notice should an announcement of a tea-party occur!

The Small & Precious Space—Beneath the Stairs came to be—as structured thoughts were invited to float away—leaving a small and precious space—within our thoughts, for a day-dream vision to arrive. We offer to you the same invitation, let go of what it is you actually see and welcome the ability to dream and design in your cottage!

Symbolism Abounds!


Once a Year, The Peonies Bloom—

Once a Year, The Peonies Bloom—their arrival, with their abundance of delicate, soft as a whisper petals is one of the true signs that Springtime has arrived. The Peonies only bloom once and the remainder of their summer is spent growing to ensure that the following year they will once again burst forth with glorious bounty. As I began to think about sharing their radiance with you—I came to understand, to realize—at certain times, words—become unnecessary. Nouns, adjectives and verbs only seem to create noise.

Sometimes, in the splendor of magnificent, natural beauty—silence speaks the clearest, the most exacting and perfectly precisely.

Once a Year, The Peonies Bloom—

Symbolism Abounds!


A Mother’s Day Story—

Some stories—in their depth, preciousness, wisdom or humor with earnestness and heartfelt desire, long to be told—and at times, over and over again. This is one of my favorite stories and I would like to share it with you. Please pour yourself a beverage and make yourself comfortable! I’ll wait!

Twenty years ago as my children left behind the world of toddler-hood and began their journey into being young children the understanding and tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day began. As parents, we teach our children what to celebrate, as we decide for our own individual families what we choose to honor—and how.

I have been fortunate to be the recipient of many wonderful Mother’s Day gifts, beginning as they often do, with my child’s hand-print embossed into a ceramic disc accompanied by the official “hand-print-poem” which completes this lovely keepsake. In looking back, as a Post-Mommy, the evidence of their growth, development and maturity can be observed in the gifts I have received on Mother’s Day. As dexterity increases, a painted macaroni necklace is carefully laced upon ribbon, and before you know it, the gift-making has advanced to a small shelf which has been proudly built, sanded and stained in a wood-shop class. Often, at some point in time, these hand-made gifts give way to the process of gift selection, which also tends to have a measurable quantifier of the age of the child! (Do I really have to wear that???)  In addition to gift giving on Mother’s Day often there is the decision of a desired activity, what would you like to do?

When my children were 5 and 3 years old, I was asked what I would like to do on Mother’s Day. Unbeknownst to me at the time, a wonderful tradition was born—and this is one of the reasons I wish to share my story this Sunday, 2 weeks prior to Mother’s Day, should any Current-Day Mommies become inspired to add this tradition to their own family. In the Northeast, May is the month when Spring with all of it’s flowering glory has finally arrived! We begin planting annuals—Impatiens, Petunias, and Snapdragons—which will spend the summer adding joyous color to pots and in rows and in mounds of brilliant color. My choice for Mother’s Day, was to share this task with my children.

Enthusiastically I responded, “Let’s plant flowers on Mother’s Day!”

I refused all gifts, I forbid being served breakfast in bed and restaurants were out of the question! This was my day and I wanted to plant flowers—together!

On Mother’s Day we embarked upon our adventure, starting with a trip to the local nursery where selections were made—everyone was allowed to pick a flower. Let’s just say the previous years of coordinating rows of colorful flowers and pots filled with size and color-balanced-blends was obliterated. Little gloves and spades were purchased, mud boots were donned and digging began. To say this was a peaceful experience would be untrue. Flowers were rudely plucked from the plastic flats with abandon as I hurriedly explained the need for the roots to remain intact. At some point a watering can was involved, which accidentally sprinkled all over a younger brother! When we finished our planting, I am uncertain whether there was more soil on the walkway, boots, children and our Golden Retriever puppy than left in the ground in which we had been planting. This Mother’s Day was filled with laughter, fun, flowers, mud, a puppy and children—and was—simply wonderful!

The next day, I solemnly walked into the garden, whispering quiet apologies to the flowers that had not fared too well, as I attempted to prop  them up—reorganizing their roots to actually be completely in the ground. I must honestly admit—there were casualties.

The following year a declaration was made; each year, every year, all I wanted for Mother’s Day was a flower-planting-celebration—and so we did! As the years continued little hands became more capable of tasks, color preferences and the kinds of flowers that were appreciated developed, and then changed, and then changed again. Specific areas in the yard were “claimed” as their own—to design and create their own unique and beautiful display. And the plantings were gorgeous.

To tell this story and claim that every year was glorious would be, well, not the truth. As the years went on negotiations began, as unsuccessful attempts and an upping of the ante of possible gifts were offered—in exchange for being released from having to go outside and plant flowers. There were several years of eye rolling, multiple claims that this was “unfair” and the insistent questioning, as to why they couldn’t just buy a gift—like a normal family? Nature also offered challenges, as a rainy Mother’s Day arrived—we adapted by carrying terra-cotta pots into the garage enabling planting to be done inside, as they “froze to death” requesting cup after cup of hot chocolate. (With marshmallows please!)

During certain years, I did find myself wondering; why am I doing this? However, for the most part, over our twenty year tradition the day was joyful, even when the planting event was a version of teenager joy—blasting music and hose fights between siblings. Nevertheless, it was our tradition and I loved every moment, okay fine, almost every moment.

The puppy which I mentioned who attended our first planting, joined our family as my oldest child began kindergarten. The idea (relentless begging) to add a puppy into our family resulted in Cody, a Golden Retriever. My thought which solidified the decision was that a source of unconditional love seemed a worthy endeavor. During the days when a required “time out” was appropriate Cody was always included, as he dutifully followed behind them. (“Come on Cody, we’re in a ‘time out’.”)

Cody filled the role of unconditional love to perfection, he would savor the opportunity to serve as a pillow during movie watching, with two little heads resting upon him. He insisted on wearing a pink tutu every Halloween as he accompanied princesses, hippies, ninja turtles and monsters trick-or-treating. Cody became the mascot for every team that was played on—as he proudly sported a team shirt. When a sick-day arrived Cody would assume his position—next to the bed of the little patient and wait protectively for recovery.

The secret wish I had—was that Cody would be able to be photographed with each child at the start of each school year from kindergarten to high school graduation. Having not taken the time to do the math, as this was in the wishful thinking category, this was asking Cody for fifteen years of offering his unyielding love—while simultaneously granting us the gift of loving and caring for him. That wish, as some do, remained unfulfilled. Cody enriched our lives for nine years and he was able to attend two elementary school graduation celebrations. While my daughter and son were in middle school the time came for us to say good-bye and to thank him for his love. The first Mother’s Day without Cody joining us while we planted flowers was bittersweet—by the next year we had adapted—families change—and this was just one of ours.

If asked, I would guess hundreds of flowers had been planted when The Mother’s Day arrived when my daughter was a sophomore in high school and my son was in 8th grade. The annual planting of the flowers was planned and due to their advanced ages, I decided we were ready to go to the next level of flower planting!

This would take preparation! I began two weeks in advance sharing with them my plan to obtain seedling flats to plant that year. Without them asking me (meaning they reluctantly listened and feigned interest and enthusiasm) I began the informative explanation of seedling flats—they were the source—of the flowers we had always purchased in the past from the nursery. Excitedly (not feigning at all) I explained that we were getting the original flowers from the growers—which would result in “this year, our flowers will exceed every other year in beauty and bountiful growth!” I told them the story of the four Dutchmen who had come from Holland to New Jersey in the late 1800′s and subsequently become the leading suppliers of all of the flowers in the United States! I wasn’t exactly certain how much of this information was historically accurate, these were stories I had heard and admittedly I had not taken the time to do my own research for verification. My rationalization—I was the Mother who had taught them about Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy and The Easter Bunny—I took the liberty of assuming all would be forgiven—as is the case in the other similar accepted Mommy-approved-teachings.

This year we were going to go the distance—the four Dutchmen and their farms—were a two-hour drive away!

An iPod Nano was offered, I was enticed with wonderful visions of a relaxing spa day, coupon books which would be filled with tickets redeemable for the least favorite of household chores and months of their savings for any purchase was willingly being offered—dangled before me in exchange for the cancellation of the flower planting excursion!

Pleadingly they begged, “Anyyyyyythingggggg but planting flowers! This is not just planting flowers, we have to drive two hours, go to the Dutch-whatever, pick up the seed-things, drive back 2 hours and THEN start planting flowers??? Can’t you go get them before Sunday?”

I replied with a non-emotional, “We’ll need to get an early start, 8:00 in the morning will be perfect. It’s Mother’s Day and I get to decide what we’re doing.” (Wow, that was impressive—why couldn’t I manage to do that more often?)

At this point in the story I ask you to please imagine moaning, complaining, yawning and overall general pathetic suffering on the morning of Mother’s Day. When we finally got into the car for this horrid, unfair trip—I handed each of them a gift wrapped in spring-like flowered paper. I’m a big fan of themes.

Chastising me they said, “Mom! This is Mother’s Day you’re not supposed to give us a gift—we’re supposed to give you a gift! And you said no gifts!”

Smiling I replied, “You are giving me a gift, you are traveling to the four Dutchmen to get seedling flats—these will be the most beautiful flowers we have ever planted! I gave you each a gift for making me a Mom, because without you—I wouldn’t be one!” (I channeled Doris Day for that response!)

Corny always pushes them over the edge and after all it was my day—and pushing them over the edge? Well, that was just a little gift to myself!

Obligingly they opened their respective gifts; for her—a pair of pink gardening gloves (her least favorite color at the time) and for him—a pair of blue gardening gloves (he would have preferred rugged leather.) Ahhhh, payback!

To which they sarcastically exclaimed, “Oh, wow, Mom, just what we always wanted…”

I smiled and said “You’re welcome!”

As a sophomore in high school my daughter had her driving permit, in an effort to placate them, I acquiesced to being relegated to the back seat. The 8th grader inserted a never-ending continuous flow of CD’s—his preassigned position (unknown to me) was to serve as the official DJ during our road trip. It was a reallllllly long ride—two hours can realllllly seem like an eternity!

After our drive (torture) was completed, we arrived at the home of one of the four Dutchmen. As we approached the house I reminded them to be courteous. We were being invited into someone’s home and we were being welcomed to share in their wonderful tradition of growing flowers.

Shocked that an additional request was being made of them (to be socially appropriate-how dare I?) they responded with, “What? Are you kidding? We thought we were coming to a store?!”

With great reverence I responded, “Oh no, this is one of the original, four Dutchmen families, this is very special.”

As we knocked, the door opened and we were greeting by a lovely woman who graciously stepped aside welcoming us to enter, “Please come in, I’ve been expecting you.”

As we entered the foyer, from another room, came a bounty running down a long hallway towards us—14 adorable, romping, bumping, rolling and yapping Golden Retriever Puppies! At the sight of all of this fluffy joy, two teenagers dropped to the floor to greet the puppies and in doing so, assumed their true roles—as children. (Mission accomplished.)

In childhood glee I heard, “Mom, look at the puppies! Did you know they had puppies here? I can’t believe it! They’re so cute!”

And I said, “Pick a flower.”

With confusion and possibly a hint of slight annoyance they responded, “What do you mean, we are here to pick flowers!”

“No we’re not, we’re here to pick a puppy-flower!”

There is no greater pleasure (well there is…but at this moment, there was not) than to render a teenager speechless, to be able to surprise, truly shock the all-knowing-ness of a teen! (I am victorious!)

We spent over an hour in the charming back corral of this gorgeous farm—playing with puppies—as we were being relished with licks, soft fur and playful nips as we picked our flower. The drive home was very different from the one which had brought us to this place. I was asked if I minded driving and the back seat was requested to enable turns to be taken to hold our flower. Gleeful, adorable discussions followed; a name needed to be chosen, when and how did I orchestrate my master plan, they wanted to know everything as they began to appreciate the nuance of the details I had constructed; the story of the four Dutchmen and the gloves I had given them. They questioned if we had food and supplies at home for our new family member and I assured them everything was prepared for our new arrival. As our journey ended, we pulled into the driveway of our home with our new puppy, and yet, the best moment was still to come.

With realization they asked, “What about the flowers? We didn’t plant any flowers this year!”

Was I hearing disappointment? That Mother’s Day, I received the best gift in the years I have been graced with the privilege to be their Mom, when they said—

“Let’s plant flowers next weekend.”

Lucas, our Mother’s Day flower, is now eight years old. He stepped in with an abundance of unconditional love and playfulness. Lucas has been part of our family for two high school graduations and two college graduations! During the six college years of my daughter and son participating in the to-and-from college departures and arrivals, the most outwardly enthusiastic greeting on every one of their returns came from Lucas.

This Mother’s Day the flowers will be planted without my children being present, who are now young adults. My daughter is on an amazing adventure in South America and my son is on location as he begins his promising career. I am not disheartened that they will not be able to join me this year, to me their absence represents that they are blooming—just as flowers do. I believe, in this summer-time of their lives they have all they will require to grow abundantly. To keep me company as I plant our flowers on Mother’s Day, I have twenty years of joyous memories to share the planting with—and of course Lucas!

When my daughter and son return this summer I know we will look at the Mother’s Day flowers together. I anticipate that they will appreciate the beauty of the flowers and acknowledge how magnificently they are growing. And I, will be looking at them—and agree, yes, they are growing beautifully and magnificently—their garden is thriving.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Joy Surrounds!


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