Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Song of Innocence; Winter Tale.

Winter tale;
It was end of November. Snow had not yet fallen however one could smell it in the air. A blistering, cold wind was hurling itself against the closed shutters.
My mother said: “I wish I would not have to go to fetch the milk while she was already putting on her warm coat, a shawl over her dark hair, warm boots and gloves. "She won’t take the bike as the roads were wet and this strong wind was blowing."
When she returned, warming her hands and saying oh it is so cold I think it will snow to night, I would have pondered about the snow because I was looking forward to it. But my interest was taken by a young woman who was standing behind my mother. I had seen this woman before, it was Selina, she was one of the gypsy woman who lived on the edge of the woods not far from our home. In summer they moved from village to village to do odd jobs. Usually they were not on the road anymore on the onset of winter, as they had a village with houses to go to. Selina's husband did not like to go to the village. He always waited until the first snow fall before he moved there with his family.
I knew most of the gypsy women as they came to the station to fetch water, where I spend a lot of my time. Most of them were very nice and liked to talk to me. One always cursed at me even if I had been nice to her. Selina clutched a bundle wrapped in a fraying, gray blanket.

My mother led Selina to sit onto a chair in our warm kitchen. Gently, she took the bundle from her arms. She unwrapped the blanket and inside was a tiny newborn baby. It did not wear clothes and was encrusted in blood and other things I could not identify. My teeth were chattering and I was trembling.
My mother notched me and said do not panic the baby is fine it has not been cleaned after its birth. She wrapped the baby in a soft towel and placed it on a blanket near the stove to keep it warm. It was quiet like a mouse, its eyes tightly shut in a crumpled tiny face.
I was standing there gawking doing nothing while my mother knew exactly what had to be done. She placed a cup of coffee and a slice of bread with honey before our guest and said:” eat up, after giving birth one is always hungry.” The honey indicated to me that it was a real emergency, because honey was not dispensed lightly, it was precious. It was used for comfort in days of sickness, or bad coughs, to sweeten tea or milk.

When Selina was comfortable, my mother gave her attention to the baby. First she warmed a little oil, it was a special oil, called Johannis oil, it was made from the plant called St. Johns Wort. In the bottle floated a few red berries and the oil looked reddish too.
With a soft rag she applied the oil to the encrusted skin of the baby and cleaned it gently while murmuring little endearments, it sounded like a soft spell. Then she washed it with warm water and finally wrapped it in a clean, warmed blanket.
She asked Selina if it had some milk. My mother wanted to chase me out of the kitchen, but I did not budge this was to interesting to miss. My mother was to busy to pursue me further.
Selina opened her cardigan and her blouse, she did not wear a bras like my mother did. She freed one of her breasts which was small but plump, snow white with fine blue veins with a big reddish brown nipple which had little drops of milk seeping out. Unceremoniously she squeezed it into the babies mouth which instantly began to suck like it already knew what to do, then it lost its source of food and began to cry shrilly and distressingly, showing its tiny, toothless gums until the nipple was once more firmly stuck in its vigorously sucking mouth. Selina said she would name the baby Emma, after me, I felt glad about it.

Selina said to my mother not to mention to anybody that she had this baby girl. The authorities would come and take it away from her, as they thought she was not fit to bring up children. She said she has three boys but they were taken away and placed with other families. She did not know where they lived and it made her very sad.
My mother wanted to cheer her up and brought out the box with a pink ribbon on top which contained my baby clothes, my mother had knitted herself. I had it opened many times and marveled at the tiny garments I had once worn.
Fancy bonnets with pompoms, Jackets, booties with pink ribbons and tiny mittens. Selina was to choose some of the garments as my mother said she has no further use for these, she kept it only out of sentimentality. Just as well this baby girl can wear it.
It was getting late. I had not my usual cup of hot milk because my mother gave the dairy a miss when she met Selina on her way to fetch water. Selina said she should get back to the camp her husband would be worried.
However my mother decided for her to stay over night with us. , I traced a little anger in her voice, when she said to Selina, your husband should not have let you go out to fetch the water after you gave birth. You stay here and have a good rest.
Selina gave in willingly as she was rather exhausted. My mother showed her the couch in the living room where she and the baby could sleep. I can sleep on the floor with a blanket, said Selina. But my mother insisted that she sleep on the couch. She gave her the baby and covered her with a blanket and a warm eiderdown.
Early the next morning when my mother left for work, Selina and her baby daughter left too with a small box, filled with some of the chosen baby clothes, dangling on a string from her fingers.
I said goodbye to Selina and the baby and said that I hoped to see her in spring again together with a much grown baby. Celina said:” she was looking forward to spring she hated the cold winter.
When spring was here again I saw Selina and waved to her, she did not wave back. Her baby girl was not with her. When I asked my mother, she said:” they have taken the baby and placed it with a respectable family.” I was sad for Selina and I knew why she did not wave back; we belonged to the same clan who persecuted and judged her and took her children away.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Today's Flowers; Angel's Trumpet;

Brugmansia are large shrubs or small trees, reaching heights of 3–11 m, with tan, slightly rough bark.
leaves are alternate, generally large, 10–30 cm long and 4–18 cm broad, with an entire or coarsely toothed margin, and are covered with fine hairs.
The name Angel's Trumpet refers to the large, very dramatic, pendulous trumpet-shaped
flowers, 14–50 cm to 20 inches long and 10–35 cm across at the wide end. They are white, yellow, pink, orange or red, and have a delicate, attractive scent with light, lemony overtones, most noticeable in early evening.

Photos TS.

Click her for Today's Flowers.
Created by Luiz Santilli JR.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Song of Innocence; Barely there;

Barely there;
I had some discipline but not much.
In the evening when my mother came home from work she brought bags full of exotic fruits like oranges, mandarins and bananas. They were already nearly over ripe
therefore my mother was allowed to take them home for free. Some of the oranges and mandarins had spots of whitish, blue green fungi which gave off dust particles when I touched it with my fingers. When I pressed harder my finger got stuck in a mushy mess. The banana’s skin were mostly dark brown but inside they
were still fine, very sweet. For a long time I did not know that ripe bananas were yellow. My mother made good use of these fruits. She cut out all the bad bits and prepared fruit salads.
My mother went to work, while some mothers stayed at home. As far as I know they all worked, some had a cow or two, vegetables and flower gardens. Some had tobacco fields. Many took home work from factories.
Some women had big piles of net curtain fabric on the table of their living room. I was fascinated by the stylistic patterns they embroidered by hand, flowers, birds and other designs onto those curtains. The curtains were mainly beige and white and the embroidery was in the same colours.
The mothers did not have time to play with their children. Most families had many children at least three but the rule was rather more. The well to do had usually less children than the ones with less money. I always thought this was odd, not really thought out well.
Anyway the older children generally looked after their smaller siblings. While my friends played I liked to look after their tiny sisters and brothers. I loved the little ones with their pink gums showing perhaps a tooth or two when they laughed . I carried them around and pushed their prams until they fell asleep.
I did not think of anybody to be poor in the village. Poor people lived in Africa or India. At school on the teachers desk stood a wooden money box with the curly haired head of a black boy protruding from the lid. He wagged his head up and down when I placed a coin into that money box, for the missions in those countries.

I was happy at school and I learned easily to be able to help other children. One boy, with a delicate pale face and a great mane of dark hair was always in the bad books. I felt sorry for him because he was not really bad but was always picked on by the teacher. I did nothing to help him I did not even tell my mother about it. Christmas time was his worst time at school, because Santa Claus put him in a big hessian bag and carried him away, while we received gifts.

One of my task was to go to the dairy and fetch the milk. It was open at 7 pm. In winter when it was very dark my mother went to get the milk. I liked the balmy summer evenings when it did not get dark until 10 PM. After I had purchased the milk I would play hide and seek and other games with the village children.
I liked to go to the village to watch the farmers bringing the milk. Some brought it with the tractor , but some still carried a heavy load on their backs. The small stone dairy was cold inside in summer. It was full of activity. It was like a social gathering, the children played while the adults had a word and perhaps a bit of gossip.
I could swing the full milk bucket, it was every day two litres of milk, over my head without loosing one drop of milk. I had to swing it very fast so the milk did not splash out. A half full bucket of milk ended in a tirade and a slap from my mother for wasting the milk.
My father explained to me the gravitational pull when I asked him why the milk stayed in the bucket when I swung it fast. I also learned about the magnetic force of the moon who influences rivers and oceans with ebb and flow. I gathered there were forces in nature I did not know about. It stimulated my want to know and learn more, I was only seven.
To go into the village I had to cross a bridge over the young river Rhine. There were small windows along the lower part of the bridge.Flat on my stomach I could look down into the fast flowing water. I saw its urgency to become more important and while rushing to its destiny tame and ruined.
There were no boats, very seldom a canoe. It was still a dangerous fast flowing river with boulders and rocks lodged in its bed.
We lived quite a way from the village. Our house was isolated though it was not far from the railway station. We did not have neighbours.
In the war years the house was sometimes a hiding place for refugees. They were on transit and not allowed to stay or go through Switzerland because they did not have identification papers or pass ports. They moved when it was dark. They were like shadows, here and then gone. I saw some fleetingly but did not know what was happening, pale faces with sad eyes. I knew nothing of their tragedies. The door to the cellar was always open whoever wanted could stay there for a day and as soon as darkness fell move on. It was something hidden and one had to be quiet about it. Only once somebody came up the stairs into the kitchen ate all the leftovers and took a pair of my fathers heavy work boots.
Many years later my mother received a postcard from a person who made it to the USA, addressed to the lady in the chalet near the train station.
In late summer the harvest of the grain was finished. We with many others went to the fields to glean the leftovers. We stuffed the grain into bags which we brought to the threshing barn a noisy and dusty place. In return we received a bag full of milled flour.
I was barefoot and the stalks hurt the soles of my feet. That instigated my resolution not to walk barefoot any more. My mother knitted socks and bought me a pair of sandals.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Today's Flowers; Daylilies;


A self sown seedling Daylily;

Bold Encounter;
Delta Blues;

Always Afternoon;
Daylilies in the Garden;
Photos TS.
click here for beautiful flowers around the world;

Friday, March 20, 2009

A little bit of music;

Some of my all time favourites.

Antonio Vivaldi; 7 Concertos;

Violin Concerto in E RV 271 L'Amoroso.

Franz Schubert; The Trout Quintet A major.
The work was composed in 1819 when Schubert was only 22 years old; it was not published, however, until 1829, a year after his death.

Filippa Giordano sings Ave Maria (Gounod)

Rimsky-Korsakov; Sheherazade opens a passage straight into the Arabian Nights or into One Thousand and one nights!

The Seekers singing Isa Lei a Fijan Farewell; from the Seekers Jubilee Album.

Demis Roussos singing Kyrila from The Phenomenon 1968.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Today's Flowers;

For Today's Flowers I want to show some unusual flowers.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

A very tall Canna, over 1.50 m, dark wine red leaves wit satiny soft orange flowers. This Canna does well in a bog situation. It is a graceful, tall Canna.

Globba with its unusual pink and yellow flowers plus dark red foliage looks very exotic. It belongs to the Ginger familie and disappears complety in winter to grow again during the hot summer.
Globba winitii is a tender perennial from Thailand. It forms clumps of mid-green, lance-shaped leaves, which has a heart-shaped base and is slightly hairy underneath.
Blooming Time: July-October. Each stem produces a terminal pendant inflorescence with mauve bracts and yellow flowers.
Culture: Globba winitii needs a well drained, slightly acidic potting mix (1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite). Water it abundantly while it is growing actively. Globba needs a minimum night of temperature of 65 degrees and day temperatures of 65 degrees or higher. This plant thrives in at least 50% shade. When night temperatures fall below 65 degrees the plant goes dormant; at this time restrict watering to a minimum of once a week. Repot and divide plant when the growth period begins.

Propagation: Globba winitii is propagated by division or by seed in the spring. Start seed in a mixture of 1 part peat moss to 1 part sand, seeds germinate readily at temperatures of 65 to 72 degrees in about 21 days.

Pretty Euphorbia specie with small pink flowers. It flowers profusely all year round, sets seed which can end up in a new, different plant as it interbreeds with other Euphorbia species.

The exotic looking flower of a Heliconia specie is emerging.

Tall red spikes with tiny yellow flowers of a Bromeliad specie.
Click here for Today's Flowers worldwide.

All photos from my Garden. TS

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Poetry; Dorothea McKellar;

My favourite poem;

The Colours Of Light; Dorothea McKellar;

This is not easy to understand
For you that come from a distant land
Where all the colours are low in pitch -
Deep purples, emeralds deep and rich,
Where autumn's flaming and summer's green -
Here is a beauty you have not seen.

All is pitched in a higher key,
Lilac, topaz, and ivory,
Palest jade-green and pale clear blue
Like aquamarines that the sun shines through,
Golds and silvers, we have at will -
Silver and gold on each plain and hill,
Silver-green of the myall leaves,
Tawny gold of the garnered sheaves,
Silver rivers that silent slide,
Golden sands by the water-side,

Golden wattle, and golden broom,
Silver stars of the rosewood bloom;
Amber sunshine, and smoke-blue shade:
Opal colours that glow and fade;
On the gold of the upland grass
Blue cloud-shadows that swiftly pass;
Wood-smoke blown in an azure mist;
Hills of tenuous amethyst. . .

Oft the colours are pitched so high
The deepest note is the cobalt sky;
We have to wait till the sunset comes
For shades that feel like the beat of drums -
Or like organ notes in their rise and fall -
Purple and orange and cardinal,
Or the peacock-green that turns soft and slow
To peacock-blue as the great stars show .

Sugar-gum boles flushed to peach-blow pink;
Blue-gums, tall at the clearing's brink;
Ivory pillars, their smooth fine slope
Dappled with delicate heliotrope;
Grey of the twisted mulga-roots;
Golden-bronze of the budding shoots;
Tints of the lichens that cling and spread
Nile-green, primrose, and palest red

Sheen of the bronze-wing; blue of the crane;
Fawn and pearl of the lyrebird's train;
Cream of the plover; grey of the dove -
These are the hues of the land I love.

Photo TS

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Today's Flowers;

Autumn is the time when some of my hardy Miltonia Orchids start to flower. Unfortunately the label has became unreadable. They are growing outside in hanging pots under a tree.

Today's Flowers around the world click here

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Reading; My Desert Kingdom;

My Desert Kingdom by Jill Koolinees
Finding a life in Saudi Arabia;
First published in Australia in 2004

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
It is uniquely personal, a great portrait, it offers a rare insight into a hidden world.

Page 83
....At various points along the coast of the Eastern Province, the miracle of fresh water occurs. On a Friday morning we set out to visit one of these places; the legendary oasis of Quatif, situated only thirty kilometres to the North of Dhahran....

Page 271
....The pilgrim route from Damascus to Mecca once ran close by Medan Saleh and, because they believed that the ancient city was accursed in the sight of Allah, the pilgrims would avert their eyes as they passed by.....

Fortune cookie: Truth is a torch that gleams through the darkness without dispelling it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Today's Flowers; in my garden;

Daylilies are having a new flush of flowers; Please click pictures to enlarge.

Groundcover Convolvolus mauritanicus; I have always known this plant under this name. I am not convinced that it is its right name. The flowers are sky blue, it is drought tolerant and spreading; it needs a cut from time to time to rejuvenate its growth.

Abelia; its sweet fragrance drifts lazily through the summer garden and evokes longings for lazy, carefree days.

Abelia Grandiflora; evergreen shrub, with arching branches to 2m. Shiny dark green glossy foliage, with white flushed with pink tubular flowers. Appearing in summer to autumn. Suitable for informal hedges, and screens.
Today's Flowers around the world please click here