A Plea For The Dandelion

Pony in field with flowers

The neighbors have a new small addition to their place this morning.  I look out while having my coffee and see him.  Adorably round and still wearing his winter woolies, is the smallest of brown and white ponies.  He's wandering a bit bewildered through his big paddock.  Horses are funny creatures and I can tell this little one is wondering why he's been left all alone and when someone will come and see him and bring a nice breakfast of oats to help ease his arrival in this new home.

Agatha watches the pony

Agatha watches him with interest, she fancies herself quite the equestrian, there have been horses at Foxglove Farm since she was a puppy.

Cute pony in field of dandelions

I call a hello to the pony and he lifts a friendly face and comes striding happily over to meet us. He's a nice fellow and Agatha and he are soon fast friends.

Pony at Foxglove Farm

Remembering my coffee, I tell him goodbye and promise to return with an apple at lunchtime.  Walking back up the hill to the house I'm astonished at the view, thousands and thousands, no, perhaps millions of the yellow flowers, and I'm glad we do no battle with these cheery guests.  The sunshine has brought a veritable ocean of dandelions to welcome us this sunny morning.

Agatha of Agatha's Apothecary in field of dandelions

You know, I read the other day that scientists are finding Roundup in the rain.  In this often bewildering world we live in, they've genetically modified tomatoes by adding the genes of the flounder fish to make them last longer on the grocery store shelves.

(No wonder there's not a bit of flavor left in the poor tortured things.)

Our pets are slathered in chemicals, the long-term effects of which I shudder to contemplate.  I saw an ad the other day showing a Beagle racing through a plastic tube in the family yard. The announcer boasted of how the monthly application of their flea & tick preparation would alter the reproductive systems of fleas that simply walk on your pet.

Doesn't that frighten anyone else?

Agatha looks worried about toxic flea products

When my sweet Agatha developed cancer almost 6 years ago, unbelievably when she was only a little over 4 years of age, I determined that I would do everything I could to help her survive.  Many of you know that journey to healing, my search for the supplements and natural products that would build her immune system.  She's the inspiration for Agatha's Apothecary and the canine poster child to help encourage other dog owners to use the products that can help their own pets live healthier lives.

Agatha of Agatha's Apothecary in field of flowers and sunshine

And so as my good dog and I head back to finish my waiting coffee, I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for the new pony and his handsome pony face.

I'm thankful for the lovely yellow, untidy but cheerful dandelions, who always bring a few violets along for the show.

Dandelions and violets

And I'm exceedingly grateful that God heard my prayers for my dear Agatha, that He helped me find the things that would help her, and that she's here with me to enjoy another year.  That she's full of life and still runs like a puppy up the hill ahead of me.

After all, she says, we don't want to be late for breakfast.

Agatha the Cavalier runs home for breakfast

Winter's Slow Departure

Springtime at Foxglove Farm

The moon rises high.  Snow-lit silver against the early evening midnight blue  Ohio sky. 

The air is still frosted and biting cold though the calendar says it's late April.  A sweetness I can almost taste is in the slight wind that sweeps up from the lake below. Chilly sounding little frogs fill the air with a hopeful springtime chorus.  "Peep Peep Peep Peep" they echo one another, brave cold little creatures.

Poor small things woke from their long winter sleep expecting spring and instead were greeted with freezing cold nights and fitful snowy days, not the warmth they must have hoped for.

Far across the valley I hear the traffic headed north on the interstate.  When I was a little girl I would lay in my bed, listening to that same traffic and long to be able to hurry along with them.  To go far far away from the sorrows that seemed to fill my small world. I'd listen to the lonely sounds of the big trucks headed north to Canada past vast storm-tossed Lake Erie, impossibly deep and uncrossable.

I've finally come full circle.  After traveling that very interstate many years and miles ago, I did find that escape, that new life and went to live on a sea island off the coast of South Carolina for two long sun-filled decades. 

But the longing for home never leaves us does it?  Even homes that were filled with sadness had their measure of love and yes, their need of forgiveness and the mending of old wounds.  The healing of old scars.

And so I came back, fiercely reluctant at first.  Back to the aching cold winters and vibrant green springs.  To the valley where I was raised.  Back to the very home-place and acres that I left long years ago, vowing it the last place on earth I would ever want to live again.  My parents old farm, which was large enough to divide me my own spot to build a life, or perhaps rebuild one.

I had almost stopped writing this sort of missive. 

The intricacies of WordPress finally defeated me and for long months I refused to enter that jungle of technology and instead puttered happily with my peppermint cleaners and sweet puppy's breath. I found myself missing a place to write about the beauty of life and the pain.  The gift of being able to share this country life with the readers I had come to love.  I found myself on nights like this one, thinking about words and writing sentences in my head that would float insistently into my thoughts of how to make the scene live for those of you who might also need a breath of sweet spring air to blow away the dust of a long winter past.

And so God had a plan, though I long fought long with Him about it and declared I knew best.

(and not He who knoweth all things)

He had a plan for a new home we would call Foxglove Farm, a new life which has brought more peace and joy than I could have imagined. 

He had a plan which included much healing and happily, yes, the dogs that I love, and a beautiful country home and my darling John to share it with. 

And yes, His plan included one very special small dog named Agatha... 


Daddy's Bear

I thought I saw a black bear tonight as I walked with Agatha on the trail through the front meadow below the house. We had taken a soggy tramp down towards the lake on the neighbor's farm and I slid to a stop and caught my breath in fear and consternation.  A large black shape at the edge of the water, the perfect image of a black bear, reared up on hind legs in alarming bear like fashion.

It wasn't really a bear, of course, just the product of my ever overactive imagination which seems to find a story lurking around every corner. 

My daddy did a lot of story telling too but some of his were quite tall tales.  When he claimed to have seen a bear many years ago, not 100 yards from where I stood tonight, we all were more than a little bit skeptical.  Bears are quite rare in this part of Ohio and I hoped his story of a lumbering black creature that flashed in front of his headlights early one morning wasn't really a bear.  

Daddy always got out of bed long before even the chickens were afoot and it was just after 4 am one morning as he drove out their long lane that he encountered a huge black creature that he described as an animal too alarmingly big to be a dog...

I've always worried about bears. Of course, I worry about a lot of things that I'm unlikely to encounter on our quiet farm in the hills of Ohio. 

I blame it on Readers Digest. 

I used to wait with baited breath for each new edition to arrive in P.O. Box 112 at the local post office.  I'd walk there after school and peek inside the tiny glass window of the ornate one hundred-year-old brass box that held each village resident's mail. 

My favorite feature was "Drama In Real Life" complete with hair-raising illustrations of large bears with enormous claws and fangs that leered out at my 9-year old self from the pages. Often, the drama would involve some unfortunate hiker (of course, also alone in the woods) who found himself unhappily face to face with an enormous, very hungry and grumpy grizzly bear.  I used to sit up late at night with a smuggled flashlight under the blankets (or covers as my country upbringing taught me to call them) shaking in my pajamas, worrying about the unlikely possibility that a bear might make it's lumbering way across the path I walked to school.

Agatha and I hadn't been down to the lake in some months, the winter has been bitter and the snow deep, but suddenly the sun began to smile on we winter-weary northerners and I gazed out from the upstairs window amazed to see the ice had melted from the big lake and a mist of green and rose had seemingly overnight tipped all the bare trees with the first glimpse of Spring.