Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chasing Spring All the Way to Alaska....

June 10. On the train again, we were on our way to Alaska. As always, the trip was delightful with lots of interesting people, scenery just rolling by and time to sit back and reflect.

June 11. We picnicked in the park across the street from the train station in Los Angeles. It was cool, shady and full of little kids visiting the old fire station and the Mexican market.

June 12-15. We were guests of Don and Trish in Sacramento. Highlights included wine tasting, a visit to a great nursery/landscape business, some wonderful meals, a quick trip to the Rubicon, some fine time visiting, a couple of excursions to Whole Foods, and sausage unlike anything I had ever had. Best of all was an invitation to join Trish’s book club for their monthly meeting. The book under discussion was Hummingbird’s Daughter. It was a real treat even though I hadn’t read the book. Diane, Denise, Debbie, Sheila, Trish, Molly and Chris all made me feel right at home.

We spent a few hours with Cliff and Bobbie in Lodi. It is always so good to see them and talk about old times. We shared lots of adventures in Copper River, Alaska. They were hosting two young men from the local minor league baseball team. Nothing livens up lunch like two college-age kids who are excited about what they’re doing.

We left Don and Trish with an armload of books and memories of warm weather and warm friendships.

June 16. The train from Sacramento to Seattle is always a treat. We spent a rainy night and a perfectly clear morning in Seattle. Now that’s a combination you don’t always get.

June 18-July 6. Twenty days in Alaska.
Surprisingly, in spite of the harsh winter, the gardens were in good shape. Lots of plants were in bloom. Of course, the weeds were rampant and everything needed a good cleaning, but Stanley and I made our peace fairly early on about how much we could reasonably do in the short time we were there.

Highlights of the visit include time spent with neighbors, especially Kay, Neal and Donna; Solstice with Dan and Kathleen and a whole group of Palmer friends; opportunities to share plants with several garden enthusiasts; time with Scott and Sean; and lots of cleaning, sorting and packing activities.

Our 6th wedding anniversary came and went while we were there and we celebrated by spending the evening looking through picture books and drinking champagne.

My colleagues from Gladys Wood Elementary School in Anchorage arranged for us to have lunch together. It was – as always – good to make contact with these women. They have a special place in my heart.

I spent one morning on the porch watching for squirrels to fly through the air and rip through the tree canopy.

Another morning slipped by on the lake. The swans slid silently across the glassy water. Mrs. Loon sat on her nest hoping that she was invisible. The grebes and a wide assortment of ducks sang The Cacophony Opera. The beaver lodge was quiet and only two very brave fish dared leap out of the water. What a great day for canoedling.

And one entire morning was dedicated to sitting on the couch listening to the rain. It brought back memories of other rainy summer days. So many of them ended in exhaustion! But what pride I felt when I looked back at the gardens at what I had done. This is what the garden looked like the first few days of July, 2008.

We have a buyer for the house. The young man who has been house-sitting for us has fallen in love with the place. My feelings, as we drove away from Blue Poppy Gardens, were conflicted. The pain was very real, but overlaying the sadness, was a deep sense of relief. I believe that the gardens will be better off with fresh muscle, vision and strategy. I was ready to go, but walking away was hard. We drove past the front gardens to the end of the road and back again. At that moment, I couldn’t have gone back in the house even if I had forgotten my purse. (Thankfully, I hadn’t.)

I hope that Blue Poppy Gardens will bring Brian the same joy it has given me. Just before we left, I saw him out in the garden with a rake and a smile. That's a good sign!

July 8-11. Travel by plane and train back to San Antonio. After a short visit with family, we were back on the road to Mexico.