Thursday, June 30, 2005

Wild Strawberries

Mentor is billed as the Rose Capital of the world, named well before the economies of horticulture dictated that it is cheaper to raise roses in South America and fly them up here than raise them in our own backyard. Not only is labor a whole lot less per hour, but no one is quite as finicky about DDT. So while the title still remains on a dilapidated sign on the main drag, there is virtually no sign of the nurseries that used to blanket this area.


Here and there, along the road sides, at the edges of some lawns, peeking their cheery little berry heads up between sidewalk squares, stubborn and chemical resistant are wild strawberries. Tenacious little things, barely raspberry-sized. I don't know if they are bastardized remnants from the old nurseries or from the wild prairie days. Clearly, no one planted them where they are on purpose. Since their very existence is testament to the fact that they have not been covered with poisons, this morning on my walk I decided to taste one. I rubbed the dust and the hair off, rolling it between my fingers and popped it in my mouth.

I'd like to report that the berry was sweeter than an old memory, but it was not. Not bitter, just not as juicy and flavor-full as the grocery store variety -- ill-defined, like an old sepia photograph of a bygone time. Still, I found it encouraging to find plants resistant to suburbiatosis, one of the most toxic substances to all things wild, still bearing fruit.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Q & A

What's with this word "counter-intuitive"? All of a sudden, it's all over the place. Apply it to Iraq, the schools, the environment -- everyone is explaining what might be best explained as illogical as counter intuitive.

So, yesterday (was it the day before?) I was listening to the radio and some young twenty something was explaining away all organized religion, with particular emphasis on Scientology, as being counter intuitive. Religion, in her mind, is just a bunch of stuff folks made up. She spoke with great certainty.

I think when I was 21 (or was it the year before) I used to be that certain. I remember when Katie was born, I argued with my mother-in-law that I would not have the baby baptised because it was a pagan ritual based on the premise that kids are born in sin and had to be cleansed. Rather, I took a more Wordsworthian Romantic approach, that children are born innocent and the world corrupted them, therefore I was rebelling against infant baptism. I was very certain.

It seems that the longer one lives on the planet, the less one knows for certain, that more questions than answers come with age.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Oak Island, NC

Eight (was it nine?) hours, multiple traffic jams and pit stops later we pull up to our cottages on Oak Island, NC. Four the past 3 years we’ve been visiting the Outer Banks – and we love the place, but not the traffic. What was once a retreat is now a clogged, vinyl sprawl. We are trying a new location close to my cousin Karen’s home. Our cottages are next door to one another – old fashioned cottages with paneled walls, sand ground decks, rocking chairs and a hose connected to the outside of the house to rinse off the sand. BYO sheets, towels, and kites. Although, bare bones cottaging now includes cable television and automatic dishwashers, the beach feeling was all over us as we sniffed through our digs and claimed beds.

I hesitate to tell anyone where this place is – it is so like the Outer Banks I used to know before it was (gasp) developed. Oak Island is sparcely developed, no high rises or mega cottages that sleep 20 and cost 12,000 a week. The water is warmer, too.

Stephie (aged 4) and Benny (aged 5) learned to ride the waves in tubes this year. Frankie got the worst sunburn. Michael caught some mackerel and we ate it that night for dinner. Max was separated from his love (sigh). Danny and Scottie were wary about the water and the rest of us took turns watching toddlers and riding the waves. The bed didn’t get too sandy to sleep, no one got bug or alligator bit so I guess you could say the entire time was a roaring success.

Messages from the housesitter were that our cat, Spike, disappeared during the week leaving his sister Buffy at loose ends. But when Michael arrived home, he left the back door open for a bit and Spike, like the rest of us, finally came wandering home for a meal.

Ain’t that the way.

Tidepools are for splashing. Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Two tired, traveling road poets, one nursing mom of three little ones under 5 (tired by definition), three little ones under 5, one teacher out of school for a whole day (more tiredness), two more little ones under 4, one salesman, one secret service agent, two teenagers (one in love) excused from school early, one large black dog. Four vans, bikes, kayaks, beach chairs, inflatable rings, enough food for a cruise on the trans-siberian railroad, cameras, books, puzzles, umbrellas, fishing poles, buckets and shovels. All loaded in four vans, pulling out of Kelly’s driveway in Purcellville, VA, pausing the caravan to look both ways before we turn right toward the ocean, on the radio the song now made famous again from the movie Shrek. Hallelujah, hallelujah.

Just the act of putting 17 humans (three in diapers) and one dog who thinks he’s human on the road to annual vacation is monumental and worth celebrating. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Buffy the Beetle Slayer

Living in the house we have Hector, the rat terrier who would roll over in submission for a butterfly, Spike the cat who is all white, deaf and clueless, a lizard who (I have heard) eats crickets raw (some things do not have to be seen to be believed) and Buffy, the fluffy gray and white beetle slayer.

The beetles are an inch and a half long, residents of the backyard, kin to grubs, shiny and black as my dad's old Imperial and positively prehistoric looking. They cling with velcro tenacity to carpet, socks (ohmygod) and little cat feet, which makes them fun playmates for cats, which, it is well known, like to bring their playmates home.

Before anyone considers this a sad story, please note that Buffy does not KILL the beetles. She brings them in the house and plays with them until she gets bored and then abandons them, whereupon they make an immediate beetle line for the back door, retracing Buffy's steps as if they'd dropped breadcrumbs. So far, they have turned up in the laundry room/closet, the bathroom, the bedroom and other places one might otherwise feel safe without shoes. One even attempted to set up camp on my bedside table last night along with all those books I have been meaning to read.

I want to write a letter to Dr. Phil or Redbook -- the headline on the subsequent advisement on the can-this-relationship-be-saved article would read, Can Owner Accept This Cat's New Relationship? Subhead: Will Cat's Clinging Coleoptera Break up this Happy Home?

Did you know that there are more varieties of beetles than there are plants? Why would you? Why would anyone except desperate cat owners scouring the internet at 4 in the morning for answers to a fundamental question . . .

Why do we keep pets anyway?