If only for a season

At the rescue, people and dogs pass through our lives. Some we know only for an instant; others stay on for years. Each makes a special impression – often in often unforeseen ways.


I was touched and honored this week when a woman reached out to request a copy of a “going home” day photo I took earlier this year. I remember the day so clearly. The woman was 80; the dog she chose was also in her sunset years. I will never forget the look of sheer joy on the woman’s face and devotion on the dog’s. The connection was instant; captured in the click of a shutter.

While she and the dog are both in good health, she is making her final plans so her family will be spared that responsibility when the time comes. She would like the photo to be present at her parting because it “reflects so much of my life.” I cannot share the photo here as she wants to keep her plans secret for now. But I told her I would happily provide prints – which I hope she will not need for a very, very long time. I had no idea that our simple meeting would present such a gift to each of us.

In the garden, some blossoms last but a season –


others return year after year.


Annuals fill in when perennials take a much-deserved rest.


What would this Feather Grass be without Amaranthus?


Or the purple of Barberry without the compliment of Cosmos?


Or summer without Sunflowers and Dahlias…though there stay is always too short.


With new volunteers, you’re never sure if they here for a moment, or will return season after season.


They require the same amount of initial nurturing and care – an investment of time and effort, and a bit of a leap of faith – not knowing how long someone will stay. Yet, you never know what gifts they have to share.


I have tried on lots of different volunteering opportunities in my life. In fact – I tried on Homeward Bound years ago. It was the wrong time to be the right fit. I wasn’t even an annual; I lasted about as long as a cut flower. When I returned three years ago, I found my place. And it found me. I want to continue to be a welcoming “perennial” – finding room for, and appreciating, those that come in and out of our effort – even for a short while.

“Some people come into your life for a season, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. But only for a season.” ~ Ritu Ghatourey

Kind hearts are the gardens

Rescue is hard work. Incredibly rewarding…but very hard work. Rescue is not for the faint of heart. Not all can be saved, not all endings are happy. But every day we put one foot in front of the other to walk this path together and do the best we can – because the ones who depend on us, cannot.


Rescue relies on people so passionate that they give of themselves, their time, and their hearts with nothing expected in return except the joy of seeing an animal saved and going home.

Passion can sometimes be messy. We chase perfection, because so much hangs in the balance – the protection of each other, the dogs – and of each others’ hearts. But when it comes to living creatures – human or canine – perfection is near impossible to achieve.

“Nothing that is complete breathes.” ~ Antonio Porchia

That’s where patience and kindness come in. And forgiveness. Of each other and ourselves for our human flaws and inevitable failures.

Each of us is as unique as the parts that make up this passion vine flower…


put us all together – and we can achieve beautiful things.


“Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms,
Kind deeds are the fruits.”
~19th century rhyme


Kindness. Patience. Forgiveness. These are the required tools of rescue.

“There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life — reciprocity.” ~ Confucius


Today is a Gift


“The flower that you hold in your hands was born today and already it is as old as you are.”  ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwi


I don’t know where the summer went; the time passed so quickly. We leave soon for our annual Labor Day camping trip – a week on the ocean and river where the salmon run. It seems like summer arrived just yesterday and it’s gone in the blink of an eye – or the life of a flower.


“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


We paid our dues early this year. Having survived two straight weeks of 110 degrees in June, we have been treated to much milder temps all through August. The garden is showing its gratitude now.


And so are the pups. This is Lukey.


Handsome Shane.


Sweet blind boy Brutus.


And hug-a-boo Mickey.


With a light breeze blowing, our golden oldies were treated to a group play date in the large park. So many beautiful sugar faces.


Little beasties, meanwhile, were having their own party in the Butterfly Garden.


Ocean camping is heaven, but its hard to compete with this bliss.


“For there you have been and there you will long to return.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Purple: Royalty in the Garden


The color purple is associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, and power.


Purple also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic.


The color purple is a rare occurring color in nature and as a result is often seen as having sacred meaning.


Purple, unlike violet, is not one of the colors of the visible spectrum. It is called a non-spectral color. It exists in culture and art, but not, in the same way that violet does, in optics. It is a combination of two primary colors. Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red.


Because the purple color is created by combining a strong warm with a strong cool color, the color retains both warm and cool properties.


On one hand, the color purple can boost imagination and creativity, on the other, too much purple can cause moodiness.


Purple is said to be associated with spirituality, the sacred, higher self, passion, third eye, fulfillment, and vitality.


It is said to uplift spirits, calm the mind and nerves, create feelings of spirituality, increase sensitivity, and encourage imagination and creativity.


The color purple and its lighter lavender shades introduce romance to nature; think lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers. Lavender suggests uniqueness, while purple invokes mystery.


Purple is considered a cool color in landscape design. Its appearance has a calming effect in a garden.


Purple plants visually recede in a garden, helping to make a small space feel larger.


Purple was one of the first colors used in prehistoric art. The artists of Pech Merle cave other Neolithic sites in France used sticks of manganese and hematite powder to draw and paint animals and the outlines of their own hands on the walls of their caves.


Its complimentary color is yellow.


Dog Days (Before Summer!)

Saturday, it was 111-degrees in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden by 2PM. The birds were seeking water…


and shade.


The Coreopsis was wilting…


Even the flowers were sweating! Kidding…but they would if they could!


White looks magnificent and cooling when it’s hotter than hades.


Kondos had the right idea. He makes a kiddie pool look dignified and cool.


We keep these little pools in each yard exactly for days like Saturday. When it is even too hot to trek the dogs to the big swimming pool, we bring the water to them before returning them to the air conditioning to nap away the afternoon. The pools are dual purpose; they double Steve’s Scuba Training Center. He taught Scrubs how to scuba by slyly placing his cookies at the bottom of the pool. We think he’s a natural!


The Delta Breeze mercifully kicked in Saturday night, and today we enjoyed a cool breeze while we worked, letting out a collective….ahhh.

Drink from a hose not a bowl

Have a great week all!

Sunshine, Freedom, and a Little Flower

A perfect long weekend starts early with the afternoon off and a sneak trip to the garden.

The Hummingbird Garden with Veronica, Coreopsis and Asiatic Lily in bloom….


The Cottage Garden, freshly tamed. Ina has been here!


The Butterfly Garden, filling in at a rapid rate. I saw a Monarch today, but it got away!



The Dahlias, making their way skyward…


Maria’s Garden, a jumble of color awaiting the Sunflowers arrival…


Darn bunnies burrowing beneath the blueberries…


And visitors. A lizard with a keen sense of irony…


And Pelican Bay. Taking up residence in the flooded rice fields.


“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
~ Hans Christian Anderson

(I’ll be back tomorrow.) 🙂

Vignettes from the Garden: May 2013


“Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning, and under every deep a lower deep opens.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France


The gardener as instrument

“All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.” ~ Helen Hayes


My friend Tanner is still dreaming…while I am working.


But what a wonderful feeling to weed and mow and trim as the Memorial Garden bursts forth around me.


Two different visitors confessed today that they never believed this garden would be realized.


I guess there is no telling what a few devoted gardeners can accomplish.


All of last season’s hard work is evident again.


Even those we thought were lost, like this butterfly twig bush is now making a comeback.


“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.” ~ Geoffrey B. Charlesworth


“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” ~ Margaret Atwood


Dirt, and dogs, I say. And I so happily do.

A return visit

The fertile soils (former wetlands) and Mediterranean climate of the Sacramento Valley provide an ideal environment for growing. The winters are temperate, the summers warm – cooled by Delta breezes. Old trees in established neighborhoods provide frost protection and shade from the blazing late July and August sun. Buildings create closed spaces blocking cold winds that can otherwise quickly freeze fragile plants. As a result, microclimates can be a full zone apart from an area just a few minutes away.

The Memorial Garden is in the country not far from Sacramento – surrounded by flat rice fields. It soaks up sun, but cools off quickly with nothing to block the wind. That’s a wonderful air conditioning system in the summer when breezes come off the wet fields, but it delays our spring, keeping nights and early morning temperatures cool cold.

So, while we wait for our full spring to burst forth at the garden (and while some of you still wait out winter) I made a return trip to the Sacramento City Cemetery, which sits not far from the river, but in the middle of town. Sheltered, and blanketed with old trees, it boasts a much milder growing environment. You might remember my last, late summer visit captured in the post From Whence They Came. I was anxious to see what it looked like in spring. It did not disappoint. Enjoy.


The virtues of dogs and gardens

Maria was out at the Memorial Garden today doing some January clean-up and bare root planting. I’m jealous; missing both the pups and the garden. Funny how I’m drawn to such seemingly different obsessions. Dogs offer unconditional love;


gardens require conditions that are just right for sharing their bounty with you. Too warm and they shrivel; too cold and they withhold; too wet and they wilt.


Dogs are grateful; give them food and water, an old blanket, a worn tennis ball, and a pat and they will reward you with devotion.


Gardens have never-ending demands. Water and feed precisely; weed continuously; prune judiciously; stake correctly; and divide appropriately to coax that hoped-for display.


Dogs are loyal; gardens plant their seeds with abandon and will turn on you the minute you take them for granted.


Dogs are defenders; gardens are thorn-bearers.


“Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is a triumph of hope over experience.”
~ Marina Schinz

Maybe that is it. Gardens are like the rescued dogs of Homeward Bound; an exercise in patience, the consistent the application of kindness, and most of all, hope. The reward: blossoming trust and love. Both leave me breathless.


The Year To Come

Ina and I spent Sunday in the Memorial Garden, cutting back the perennials after the first hard frost of the winter season.


Most everything survived the recent deluge, although a few of the youngest trees are worrisome – their roots not yet deep enough to withstand so much water and wind. Ina cleared their bases to ensure they would dry out well. We’ll see what happens over time.


I could not resist playing with my new Christmas present: a macro lens. There are few blooms left in the garden (sunflowers, still!), but those that remained were happy to let me practice. Much to learn.


Homeward Bound was very busy with adoption and foster appointments this weekend. While I do not have the official list to share just yet, there is one I am confident of.


This is Norman. A very sweet boy with a very sad face.


He came to us recently, full of lumps and bumps; thankfully, benign. His age is listed as 10+…which could mean anything north of that. He has difficulty walking, and we suspect, hearing. The walkers had to wake him to entice him out. Once up, he was happy to go and grateful for the company…but had little chance at a forever home due to his age and special needs. Until Edna showed up. Some of you will remember Edna from the “heroes in the garden” post I wrote last August. This week, she is Norman’s angel, taking him home as a likely permanent foster. Late in the evening we heard that he was happily curled up with a kitty in his new home.

Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” ~ Alfred Tennyson


It will be a happier new year for Norman, thanks to his angel, Edna. We wish the same for all the pups out there still waiting. Happy New Year to all.