Paradise, by the Morning Lights

I am pleased—nay, relieved—to announce that paradise has arrived chez nous.

Paradise, according to my standards, that is.

Your idea of paradise might be very different from mine. Yours might not include early morning walks, with long shadows and stunning green.

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Maybe you don’t care for birds singing and roosters crowing, and woodpeckers pecking. Maybe the sight of old cats finding their inner kitten and frolicking in the sun fails to impress.

Maybe you’re bored with flowers blooming and grass greening, and the sound of lawns being mowed. Maybe the uncurling, unfurling, of tender hosta leaves doesn’t move you.

A lake free of ice and full of sparkles, with boats venturing out in spite of the water temperature being a mere 40 degrees F (that’s about 4 C)—maybe that doesn’t spell paradise to you.

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The signs of spring and the hints of summer abound. The promises of things to come are all around.

My paradise isn’t a static place—paradise doesn’t stand still. It whispers and suggests and promises that even more and even better is . . . soon.

Peonies, Solomon seal, lilies of the valley . . . they will come.

Old chairs on new grass, and the good old, same old sun. Kayaks in the water, bikes on the road, hot dogs on the grill. Music and song at the campfire.

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And two of our favorite people will arrive from their Florida home and take up residence just down the road.

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My paradise is . . . well, paradise! I hope you have your own, whatever it looks like.

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A Window in the Kitchen

geese2When I was a child, my grandmother always talked about how glad she was that there was a window over her kitchen sink. She lived in a big old farmhouse and the window looked over the back yard, with the sugarhouse and the chicken coop.

I never understood what the big deal was. Nothing happened in the sugarhouse, except during early spring when the sap was being boiled down, and who wants to look at chickens?

Now that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, tending caramel while it burbles on the stove or stirring chocolate for long periods, to temper it, I finally understand what my grandmother saw there.

Looking out a window, and letting your mind wander, near and far, helps pass the time spent doing the most prosaic chores. My grandmother didn’t just see chickens scratching and empty farm buildings.

She saw her grandchildren playing and, maybe in her mind’s eye, she remembered her own children out there. She lost a daughter, at age 12, so maybe she remembered Ruth swinging on the gate, and the boys on the ponies.

Maybe she remembered her own youth, on a farm not far away, and in her memories moved from the farm kitchen, doing dishes and baking bread, back to tree climbing and rambling through the orchards.

This is the view I’m fortunate to have outside my kitchen window, to occupy my eyes and mind while I make candy.

geeseSince candy-making season, for me, extends from fall to spring, I can watch the seasons change outside this window. In the fall, I watch the leaves turn on the trees across the bay and see, and hear, the Canada geese and snow geese as they spend a few raucous weeks getting ready to head south. Then I think about the time when I’ll fly south and visit my mom and friends, and escape the North Country winter for a little while. It’ll still be here when I get back!

Before too long, I’ll be watching ice fishermen instead of geese and reminding myself that, if one goes through the ice, I should call 911 and absolutely should not run out on the ice to try and help! I’ll wonder what makes those fishermen tick—what do they think about while they sit out there waiting for a bite? Why are they there? Do they need the money so badly that it’s worth catching fish in the cold?? Or are they out there daydreaming, while I’m in my warm kitchen daydreaming?

And, in a few months, I’ll catch my first glimpse of a robin outside this window. I’ll see those geese on their return flight and think about the cycles of seasons, days past and future, what tomorrow and this season will bring. I’ll look forward to summer, when family and friends gather here at the lake, and I’ll study the landscape for the first signs of growth, re-birth, in my gardens.

It’s not just a window to outdoors, although the outdoors is well worth viewing in its own right. My window is a trigger for my memory and my imagination, just as it was for my grandmother and no doubt her grandmother before her.

When I was a girl, I looked out the window. It just took me a while to see.