Many years ago, on a solo visit to Coronado, California, I captured this close-up moment of reflection…as the waves rolled out over the sand…
On my favorite beach.
On a beautiful sunny day in June.
Where the uniquely colored sand just sparkles.
If I didn’t know better, I would have guessed I had struck gold.
Birthdays are a big deal. No matter how old you are. If you are lucky, you have a party (if you want one). With friends. Family. Neighbors. There is usually cake lit up with candles (when you had a grandfather like mine, sparklers instead). Presents! Hats. Favors. Games of some kind. Pin the Tail on the Donkey when I was 5. A “Ouija Board” and levitation when I was 15.
My children always had a birthday party – sometimes more than one if you count “family party” and “friend party.” We did Pin the Tail on the Donkey a few times, but soon realized that was SO old fashioned. However, cake and candles never go out of style. Especially the trick candles…
And…speaking of trick candles…the following is one of my favorite party photos. My daughter’s 4th birthday.
The photo below is from my 4th birthday party. Trying to set up the group shot. The pointy hats are an interesting coincidence.
During the last 20 or so years we lived in our former home, we were visited every spring by wasps. They insisted on building homes behind the shutters, in the eaves, window casings, under the deck, stairs…wherever they could hide. Nests usually the size of a walnut or up to a small egg. I was constantly on the lookout and usually managed to evict them before they infiltrated our living space. Or stung us. Allergy and all.
That is, until one beautiful September day…when walking across the backyard, I glanced up and discovered a monster wasp nest like I’d never seen before. At least the size of a football. Attached to a branch in the maple tree.
The wasps were alive and well.
And not happy to be discovered.
A good friend suggested we sell it on Ebay.
My world is “new” as of 2 years ago, when we downsized and moved to a condo in a different town.
In one of those circle of life circumstances, our new town happens to be where we had also lived 40 years ago. Back then…in a tiny 2nd floor apartment above a paint store downtown. It had a small “deck” out the upstairs door overlooking the river. We watched the Blizzard of ’78 roar through town from the back windows.
In 1978, the Exeter River ran behind all the buildings on that street (aptly named Water Street) – but it was a dam then. The water would often reach high levels after extreme rain events. It often flooded the lower floors of many businesses that bordered it. Over and over.
Since then, the town removed Great Dam (as it was called). No more flooding. Businesses came back to the downtown area. The river now flows downstream; connecting several rivers throughout the state.
When I stand on the bridge, instead of high water I see what looks like a giant terrarium. A wide variety of plant life. I assume the concrete blocks indicate the old water line and one can imagine “what used to be.”
Our old apartment is still there…complete with an expanded deck!
A few years ago…for a brief 3 months, we rented a very small condo across the street from a stretch of Hampton Beach in NH.
It was a temporary home while we waited for our new condo to be finished…after downsizing from almost 37 years in a 3 bedroom house. In the interim, we stored most of our belongings and essentially moved twice. First to this rental! It was a stressful time of uncertainty, planning, paperwork, scheduling, packing, unpacking, working…oh and hosting Christmas with 3 more adults and a sweet baby.
However, this cozy oasis on the coast proved to be just that…an oasis in the midst of life’s chaos. Breakfast watching the sun rise. The stunning late afternoon light as the day ended. From dark to light and back again.
The view from any window had been more than enough to calm and restore my rattled self during that mini-chapter of life.
Backyards are often places where families gather. Children run, jump, play, swim and learn about their outdoor world. For many, a backyard is where bare feet first touch blades of grass – or – where a squirrel is first spotted racing up a tree…
And in these vintage 35mm photos…
A backyard is for reading library books in a hammock with daddy.
And a backyard is where little brother and big sister cool off and share a sprinkler on a hot summer day.
Lifting brings to mind the story of a maple tree. A crimson king maple tree to be exact.
We planted this maple tree with great care a few months after moving into our new bare-bones house and 1/2 acre. A young tree, it was just beginning to grow, as our young family was too.
Thirty five years later, the tree had grown at least 40 feet high…wedging itself between the deck and garage we also built along the way. We planned them both around this tree, but it wasn’t enough space in the end.
The tree had to go. And it had to be lifted from the back yard, swung around to the front, lowered and then put through the chipper.
Exactly a year after we said goodbye to this tree, we signed the papers to sell our no-longer-bare-bones home and its half-acre.