About composerinthegarden

A composer by vocation, a gardener by avocation. My garden and my life as a composer are deeply intertwined - the yin and yang of my creative life. . .

How beautiful the leaves

How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days. ~John Burroughs

The weeping cherry glows as the last bit of gold in the lower garden, an umbrella of light in the late autumn garden.

The mild fall weather has delayed leaf fall and a few days have been warm enough to dine outside. Bill and I ate lunch at an outdoor restaurant in our local park; a mild sunny day filled the patio with diners in November.  The stillness and beauty of the lake we viewed from our table stayed with us for days.

The garden is a place of constant change. Two weeks ago, the trees were still loaded with leaves 

and the skies were blue.

What was golden

became bronze

and finally fell to the earth.

Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they’re falling like they’re falling in love with the ground. ~Andrea Gibson

The last burst of color of autumn is at the entrance to our driveway, where the kousa dogwood and azalea leaves are having a multicolored moment.

I want to send a special thanks to all of you who read and commented on my last post about our beautiful Angel – your words meant so much and helped in the healing process. One of our longtime friends sent us a sketch he created of one of Angel’s photos; we were surprised and thrilled and he promised to send an oil painting. Gus was the best man at our wedding and our drummer when Bill and I were performing many years ago in Pittsburgh as Sundance (Gus is looking over my shoulder). He retired and moved to Florida a few years ago with his wife Shirley, where he has returned to drawing and painting – his work is regularly shown at a local gallery. We were deeply touched when this beautiful painting of our girl arrived this week – Gus caught the essence of her beauty and expression and it was one more gift of friendship that is healing our hearts.

For those of you who celebrate the coming American Thanksgiving holiday, I wish you a warm and loving holiday and a joyous autumn to all.

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them—
The summer flowers depart—
Sit still— as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Autumn

 

All images and text ©2021 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved except where noted. Painting of Angel Eyes by © 2021 Gus DiPerna All Rights Reserved

Angel in the garden

Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in. ~Mark Twain

Angel Eyes and I went out early one morning a few weeks ago and the light was extraordinary. The slanted rays of the October sun rimmed everything it touched with a halo and Angel, being the angel that she is, seemed to glow. It was one of those timeless moments not easily forgotten, when the light was just right, the birds were singing, the air was cool and fresh and Angel was by my side. Angel in light

Those of you who have visited these pages in the past have often seen Angel as she accompanied me in the garden, my constant companion.

She loved exploring her world, sniffing flowers, watching insects, tracking down the scents of the creatures who shared the garden with her. (click on any photo in the mosaic to see full size images)

It wasn’t just the garden in bloom, she loved winter too, romping in the snow with her ball or her cousin Charlie Brown.

Angel came to us as a four month old puppy – as soon as she arrived and jumped out of the car, she ran to Bill and immediately became Daddy’s girl, remaining his lap dog forever.

Bill posed her in his studio one day and dubbed her “Sound Dog” because she would lay under his mixing board for hours while he worked. She once ran over to greet a friend of ours she had never met because she recognized his speaking voice – she had listened to his singing voice while Bill was editing his CD and made the connection! She loved music and often went to outdoor concerts with us, barking with joy every time the audience applauded the musicians.

If there is a heaven, it’s certain our animals are to be there. Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them. ~Pam Brown

A few years ago, dear friend and gifted photographer Mary Pegher put together a wonderful photo book of dogs who graced our local park. Angel had a grand time at her photo shoot, leaping and chasing her favorite pink ball while Mary worked her magic with the camera. When the book arrived, we were delighted to find that Angel was featured in her own two page spread – many friends and relatives got a copy of that book for Christmas that year!

I had sensed this spring that this might be Angel’s last year in the garden. She struggled to move at times but still looked forward to our mornings walking the paths together, however slowly we might move. Although she was 90 in human years, she was still beautiful and sweet and joyful. You may have guessed by now that Angel is no longer with us. She passed away peacefully in our arms, in her favorite spot on the sofa, and surrounded by those who loved her so much. 

I still expect to see her face at the door when I come up the driveway and I continue to reach out to pet her before I remember that she’s not there. I think it will be the hardest next spring when I look up the stone steps and she isn’t standing there at the top, waiting for me to put my camera away and join her exploring the garden in the morning light.

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ~Khalil Gibran

Hope is the thing

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

Angel and I stood out under the almost full moon last night. She was restless, so was I, and the moonlit woods beckoned to us, mysterious and full of the sounds of night creatures awake and moving. I stood and watched the sky while she investigated every rustle and sigh – it was nearly midnight before we returned to the house. We were up early this morning to catch the sun.

Spring is here and the world is growing greener. I’ve been walking the garden every day, starting with the morning sun and ending at dusk and still I wish for more. Angel, at age 15, is a little gimpy, a little slower – we make a fine creaky pair as we circle the garden beds and pause for a closer look at each new flower that appears. 

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size. ~ Gertrude S. Wister

I finally had to admit that if I wanted to keep my garden, I would have to hire help for the heavy lifting. I called my friend Bill, who built the stone walls in my garden.  

He and Ron have been weeding, pruning, moving shrubs, and mulching garden beds for me for the past few weeks. Finally, the garden that was slowly going to ruin has now re-emerged, its bones intact and eager to grow. 

The bones of the garden

I can take pleasure in the easy stuff of gardening, knowing that I have able and knowledgeable help for all of the tough jobs that I no longer can manage. I designed, dug, planted and maintained this entire garden by myself for twenty years and now wonder how I managed to do that. But being forced to slow down has its pleasures. I’ve long enjoyed the contrast of the white daisy-like flowers of Anemone blanda ‘White Splendour’ against the dusky purple foliage of Euphorbia dulcis‘Chameleon’.

For the first time, I noticed the pink and purple tones of the anemone’s flowers and stems when its petals close for the night, entangled in the purple arms of the euphorbia.

Nearby, creeping sedums (S. rupestre ‘Angelina and S. spurium purpureum) have mingled together in a jazzy gold and burgundy combination.

White forsythia (Abeliophyllum) has pink buds before it opens but I’ve never noticed them before.

White forsythia buds

Delicate as a ballerina’s pink slipper, the buds eventually give way to the sweet-scented white flowers that gives this early blooming shrub its name.

White forsythia flowers

I had the pleasure of watching daffodil ‘Verdant Meadows’ open as a yellow and white flower before it slowly paled over a few days in the spring sun, eventually becoming creamy white.

My sisters-in-law gave me a lungwort (Pulmonaria) from my mother-in-law’s garden after she passed – its first bloom of the season opened this week on her birthday, a lovely synchronicity. 

The weather is mild enough to sleep with the window open; what a joy it is to awaken to the pre-dawn bird chorus. The garden is awake and this gardener has hope that she will be able to tend to it with ease and joy, and revel in nature’s beauty. May you also have hope and beauty in your daily world as spring works it magic.

Cornus mas blossom

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

~Emily Dickinson

A quiet season

Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness. ~Mary Oliver, Snowy Night

Late last night, Angel and I ventured outside into the deep snow. It had been snowing for two days, a wet heavy snow not easily moved aside with a broom.  As we stepped away from the porch lights, the world glowed in the dark, everything covered with a thick white coat that gleamed in the starlight. It was the quiet that struck me, though. There was not a sound to be heard, no distant cars, no breeze moving the trees, no voices. As we stood there drinking in the silence, a Great Horned Owl sang his deep hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo in the woods behind us. It was just me and Angel and the owl, sharing the silent night. 

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ~Lewis Carroll

My life has been quiet for the past several months. Retiring in August triggered a need to turn inward, to catch up on years of lost sleep and the energy drain of too many projects. Instead of writing, I began reading. Instead of pushing through the mid-afternoon slump with coffee, I took long naps. As I drifted through the days and weeks and months, I was content to stay home and spend my days in quiet introspection. 

Winter is a season of recovery and preparation. ~Paul Theroux

As Mother Nature moves into her quiet season here in western Pennsylvania, I finally find myself refreshed and slowly turning back to the world. I sent out Christmas cards for the first time in years. Decorating the house was a pleasure instead of a chore. I’m wrapping up my Watershed CD project and will be making the music available publicly in a week or two.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The snow continues to fall here, creating a winter wonderland that is all the more welcome since I have no place I need to go. Whichever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you peace and joy. Stay safe, have hope, and enjoy the quiet of the season.

Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless. ~Terri Guillemets