I’m in love with words – how they sound, what they mean and the uncountable shades of meaning they contain.

Sympathy is the word I’m thinking of today.  I’m not going to a dictionary – these are ways I see the use of the word. 

To agree with some one’s opinions or feelings is to be “in sympathy” with them.  When tuning my guitar, sometimes other strings vibrate “in sympathy” or agreement in tone with the one plucked.  In an art sense, two lines with the same curves or angles are said to be “in sympathy” with one another. 

Now enter the conundrum:  In human relationships we offer our sympathy to a neighbor or friend who has gone through a traumatic experience - trying to say, I care, or I want to help.  I always thought it was the kind, caring thing to do.  Just recently, I found out what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this sympathy.  I was surprised at my reaction.  I hated it! 

Recently, in a novel I was reading, the main character has had a series of miscarriages.  She began avoiding friends because she couldn’t stand any more expressions of their sympathy.  Each expression of sympathy from a friend dredged up the pain all over again when she was trying to forget the incident and go on with life.  That’s what I was doing too.  I stayed away from people so I wouldn’t have to dredge up all the crud to explain it and be polite and thankful for their expression of sympathy.  A close relative is experiencing the same avoidance of people who want to express sympathy for the coming elimination of her job of nearly 12 years.. 

Our culture says it’s the caring thing to do – to express sympathy.  I’ve always done that. 

Now, I will try to find another way to express sympathy and caring.  Maybe just a friendly wave, or a chat about something entirely off the painful subject?   If the person wants to talk about the incident, they will.  How do you handle expressions of sympathy?  Have you ever been on the receiving end until your reaction was “Enough Already”?   


Spring Reversed

Reversed Spring

My annual migration took place last week.  I left my home in SW Florida to spend a few summer months with family near St.Louis.  This area was home to me for most of my life. 

It’s always bittersweet - this journey.  I want to be here to inspect the grandkids to see that they’re still as wonderful as I brag to everyone they are.  I want to continue construction on my cottage in Missouri.  But, I’ll miss my friends at home in Florida too.  What a delicious dilemma! 

When I left Florida, summer was just breaking.  My roses were pushing out big, fat red flowers and the grass was growing so fast you could almost hear it!  North Florida had fields of ripe wheat ready for the harvest crew.  As I traveled north, it was as though I was seeing spring all over again but in reverse.  Through Alabama the crepe myrtle was glorious.  Not so glorious is the evidence of the recent tornados.  Tennessee and Kentucky fields along rivers were entirely flooded, but higher fields showed corn 4 inches high and still green, wheat.  Southern Illinois is normally fields and fields of corn or soybeans.  Now it looks like a huge brown lake. 

Mother Nature is a fickle gal.  In the hills above the flooded bottomland, Honey Locust and Catalpa dangle their fragrant white flowers to the breezes.  I came too late to catch the redbud.  The weather is fickle too.  I’m using the heater in my RV tonight, but in the last week I’ve had the A/C on as well.  By June, the temperatures will settle down with less fluctuation.  Storms will still dot the calendar.  Hopefully will no loss of life or property.   ~pam


The Legacy of Joyce Sawyer

A rich, thick fragrance meanders through my neighborhood from two mature gardenia shrubs.  They are almost 6 feet tall and covered with creamy white, exotic blossoms.  Their fragrance evokes the time when a gardenia corsage was the hoped for thrill of any girl invited to the Prom. 

In what I call my ‘other life’, living in the mid-west, growing a gardenia indoors was a challenge with few successes.  They just don’t like dim light, dry indoor air and the times I was too busy and forgot to water them.  Mealy bugs and white flies feasted on their waxy leaves.  If I was lucky enough to get buds, they’d drop at the first sign of my neglect. 

Here in SW Florida, their luxurious blooms lend dignity to any old building.  I’ve seen them beside a shabby shed needing paint, an old abandoned mobile home, and as foundation plantings in front of very nice, cared for, homes.  This climate is their home and they flourish in it. 

It always evokes a bit of nostalgia to see a rose bush, peony, or spring bulbs living far beyond the years of the original gardener.  Wandering in an abandoned farmstead you can still see evidence of the gardener who lived there at one time.  Iris, an old-fashioned rose, daffodils, spirea – none would be there except for the planting of a long ago gardener. 

I like to imagine what the life might have been like for that farm wife.  She might have put her coffee grounds out to feed her flowers.  She may have watered them with her dishwater when the well or cistern was almost dry.  Did she overwinter her geraniums on a windowsill? 

I’ve never met Joyce Sawyer.  I don't know how many years ago she planted the gardenias I enjoy today - it was before I came.   Joyce has passed away – but the legacy of her lovely gardenias lives on.   ~pam


Breathing Thru Clenched Teeth

Ah, the love bugs, love bugs, love bugs - a plague of biblical proportions.  As a transplant from the mid-west, I’m still amazed at the number of them everywhere.  A trip in the car means a car wash as soon as I get home.  They are so thick that after a few miles, I have to stop to clear the windshield. 

Am I complaining?  Not at all.  I can remember mid-west winters when the ice or snow covered the windshield after a few miles and we’d have to stop to get out and clear the windshield.  If I have to clear a windshield, I’d rather do it at 80 degrees than 20 degrees. 

Fortunately, love bugs don’t bite, sting, or chomp on foliage – they are all out for one thing – love!  A popular Florida novelist wrote of a promiscuous friend “(he) has the sexual discipline of a lovebug”. 

We had a lovely cool, breezy, morning today.  A great opportunity to take a bit of a bike ride!  As the air temperature began to rise, the love bugs began to fly again.  That put an end to my ride.  I rode home breathing through clenched teeth to keep from inhaling them.  ~pam