This is What You Shall Do

I try to keep politics off these pages but, increasingly, I feel as if I live in an alternate reality.
The daily news confounds me.
Disavowing science and banning its words.
Ignoring clear and present dangers while creating divisions between us at home.
Setting our history back decades – maybe more.
Have we forever lost sight of who we are and the compass that guides us to common ground?

Words for our times from some time ago:

“Other states indicate themselves in their deputies … but the genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors … but always most in the common people. Their manners, speech, dress, friendship…their good temper and open handedness—the terrible significance of their elections—the President’s taking off his hat to them, not they to him…

This is what you shall do;
Love the earth and sun and the animals,

despise riches, give alms to every one that asks,
stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others,
hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people,
take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men,
go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families,

read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life,
re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul,
and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

― Walt Whitman, Preface to Leaves of Grass

A Wedding in the Garden

This weekend, the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden created a brand new memory – our first-ever wedding.


Susan and Frank are volunteers of Homeward Bound. Susan walks dogs, feeds and provides companionship to our sanctuary dogs; Frank is an awesome talent who helps to keep our vehicles running. Susan also sought help for her beloved Stella – a story shared here.


Artistic, and completely unconventional – Susan chose the garden as her venue. There were probably more than a few raised eyebrows over the decision to have a wedding at a rescue, but in the end, I think everyone would agree it was a perfect place and a perfect day.


The garden is peaking, but waited just long enough to play host to the event.


Susan loves fall – so Maria and I arrived early to ensure that fall was on full display. Grapevines and garden flowers draped the arbor;


twig wreaths added a fall touch to the training pavilion where the reception was held…


and the simple bouquets were from the garden.


About 100 invited guests and a couple of special dogs (Susan’s Stella among them) were joined by uninvited guests: frogs and lizards (much to the kids’ delight) –


and the farmer’s combine which chose Saturday to begin the harvest. Thankfully, they stopped working about 90 minutes before the ceremony.


The garden has always been a special place to Susan – she has followed its progress in person and on this blog since nearly the beginning.


I was touched (and terrified) that she would trust her photos to me and Rob. I’ve tried not to share too many personal shots here as she has not seen them yet, but I’ll hope she that she won’t mind my few selections. We were all touched by their decision to request donations to Homeward Bound in lieu of wedding gifts. What a completely unselfish and generous act on behalf of the dogs.


The garden was always meant to be a place for fond remembrances. The love that filled it on Susan and Frank’s special day is a reminder that it is also a place where we create new memories. An unattributed quote: “The garden is a mirror of the heart.” Saturday, the garden mirrored two very devoted hearts. What a joyous day it was.


Congratulations to Susan and Frank with this hope: “The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung.” – Walt Whitman