Ask. Seek. Knock.


A honeybee pollinating a poppy bloom in my perennial island

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Matthew 7:7

 A fine day last May, I swiveled my writing chair to the window in search of the right word. Again. A hummingbird flew under the blooming arc of a Solomon Seal stem, sipped from a tiny, white bell, and darted away.

                Now, I’d already determined to remove this large, invasive lily from my gardens this spring. Entirely. Like its cousin, Lily of the Valley, Solomon shows no respect for neighbors. Leave one root in the soil and up pops a shoot to the pull of the sun.

                Yet, there I stood, a veil lifted from my eyes to see the bliss in the beautiful flight of the miniature pollinator.

                So I rethought my extermination of the Polygonatum. However, upon a closer look of the flower bed, Solomon’s roots infringed upon a Bleeding Heart. I’m most protective of her dangling, pink gems which hummingbirds also pollinate. Furthermore, Bleeding Hearts mind their borders.

I swiftly resolved to no longer give garden space to wandering species. Take Mother Nature’s volunteers, for instance.  

She may’ve meant well, but Creeping Bellflower appeared by the front faucet several springs ago, and unbeknownst to me waged underground warfare with deep, tuberous roots.

Suffering battle fatigue the end of April, I consulted two garden experts. “That’s probably Campuanula rapunculoides, the bad purple Bellflower. It’s everywhere,” one botanist said.

“You have two options,” both authorities agreed. “You can apply an herbicide to the leaves, or remove the roots with a shovel and a four-tined iron fork.”

I’ve never used herbicides and would rather not. However, those two basic tools are my right and left hand, which meant much labor throughout the spring and summer.

“Eventually, you’ll remove enough roots to control invasive growth. Use newspaper under your mulch to prevent the sun from sprouting shoots,” my advisors said.

After paying three weeders $350 for three hours to begin the Bellflower and lily evacuation, I counted the unaffordable, continuous cost.

Thus, I carried my shovel and fork into my perennial island, opened the earth, and rescued a blooming Oriental poppy from clumps of Lily of the Valley.

Meanwhile, honeybees flew in and buzzed through the long, quivering purple-black stamens surrounding the poppy’s ovary. With some effort launching, the honeybees flew away with black pollen sacks on their back legs.

And with some effort, I added two large garbage cans of lily and Creeping Bellflower roots to a burn pile. Then I settled on my bee-watching chair. There I observed worker bees descend upon the hive’s bottom board, many sporting orange, gold, and black socks on their legs.

Dear Reader, this bliss, a portion of my terrestrial and spiritual endowment, began thirty-four years ago when I asked God to lead us to a home where my husband and I could grow old together.

And He did.

Little did I know, come springtime, I’d find pollinators and flowers my steadfast companions.


Sixth Annual Yule Love It Lavender Poetry Contest Winners






To Draw a Rainbow


Pink florescence unfurls.

The tight loop, freed by arthritic hands

blue with cold, tickles the tannin-stained stream.

An old man imagines his grandson alongside, and together,

by his hand, teaches him to read the tributary waters they wade.


He watches. Gazes upon the opposite bank

awash in saffron nettles that sting exposed wrists and sees…

beyond the cattails, below the hemlock,

the cherry red of wake robin planted

beside a root beer float river

ripe with browns, brookies, coasters

and once, not so long ago, grayling.


In the dappled splash of apricot sun

an olive deceiver disappears. The tightness

of line revives the essence within.

Hand over hand, his rosary recited in solitude.


Here, in a place sacred to no-see-ums,

swarms of bronze mosquitos and cobalt dragonflies,

he bows, net in hand, amidst a jubilee tabernacle

of plum and purple shadows and vows:

The boy will learn to draw a rainbow from the river.



The Fun Season

In youth, I thought of summer

                as a 3-D kaleidoscope

                filled with colored, scented

                gemstones reflected six ways.

Emerald green cartwheels across the lawn,      

                fresh-cut grass tickled our noses

                and stuck to bare feet.

Orange push-ups, freeze tag, we giggled

                mad dash around the yard,

                while tongues strained to un-stick

                lips and fingers.

Sapphire blue pool, we swam circles,

                splashed chlorine tinged water

                as lips turned purple ‘til mom wrapped

                us in beach towels, poured sweet lemonade.

Tin-copper sips from the garden hose,

                moonstone grey days, fickle rain,

                sitting in faded jeans on damp

                wicker chairs by the smoky fire.

A slight turn of Michigan’s kaleidoscope,

                the gems that were our summer days

                would reset to another prismatic slice

                of rainbow joy.



True North


Do we have a language for the world of green

A synesthesia of the scent of pine

The gossip of poplars

Or fresh mown grass

The deep beauty of ferns giving depth

To the dusk of a forest’s edge


Every morning I watch

The fire of the Sun

Rise from his bed in a cobalt lake

Scattering diamonds across the waters

A gift, the heat of a summer day

The forever blue of the sky


Each August and usually in July

I paint my toes

That particular shade of tangerine

It glows against my summer tan

Framed by the shreds of faded jeans

Last year’s white sandals


Is there a word for purple

Where the sunset fades to dusk

Where berries stain our fingertips

Is magenta an electric name for hibiscus

Faces raised to the Sun

Bursting yellow at their hearts


Does the chorus of insects

Sing me to sleep

As the coals of my campfire

Glow red

Beneath a gentle blanket of smoke




The watchfulness of love


A snapping turtle visits Erna's gardens

My earliest memory of watchful love goes back to my adolescence sixty years ago.

                A dark December evening, I returned home from babysitting the Zablocki children five doors down on Wagner Street. I opened the front door to find my mother and granny sitting on the living room sofa. They looked up with a threaded needle and tiny doll clothes in their hands.

                Granny smiled. “Well, hello Irish.”

And that’s how she spelled my name on the birthday cards she mailed from her home in Phelps, Kentucky to my family’s mailbox in Warren, Michigan.

                Both Granny and Mom had arrived at the house after I left at 6 p.m. This meant Mom brought our new baby sister home from the hospital.

                Mom stood, her belly and the bounce in her step considerably deflated. Old enough to know a bit about the birds and the bees, spontaneous sympathy and respect for my mother smarted my eyes.

                In the quietude of night, my mother took my hand and led me to my parents’ bedroom where our new baby slept in the crib.

Mom hovered over my shoulder as the soft glow of the hall light shone upon her fifth newborn.

                “What’s her name?” I asked.

                “Sonia Ann,”

                A decade later, I stood by my firstborn’s crib with engorged breasts and watched her breathe and sleep. I may have forgotten the moment beside Sonia’s crib, yet my body and spirit remembered.

Love and instinct knew to hover over my baby in prayer and thanksgiving.

                This week, twenty-two years after watching my third-born accept her college diploma, I stopped by Erna’s house in Washington Township. A fine day, I spied my friend digging holes in her vegetable garden for her homegrown tomato seedlings.

                I waved and hollered, “I’ve come for my book!”

                Erna promptly retrieved 7 Women from inside her house, then uprooted three huge succulents to embellish a terracotta pot in my backyard.

A visitor never leaves Erna’s place without something yummy to eat or rooted to grow.

Wally and Erna Hermann help their visitor make her way safe across their street to the lake

We turned toward my car when a strange figure appeared on the sidewalk leading to the backyard. Was Erna’s husband Wally playing a prank?

                “What’s that?” I asked.

                “Oh,” Wally said, “do you like turtle soup?”

                “That’s the largest turtle I’ve ever seen!” I said.

                Wally pointed to the lake behind the houses on the other side of their street. “She’s making her way home. This happens almost every year with the snappers.”

                The creature fascinated me, its neck stretched in pride to display a two-foot long prehistoric reptile.                         

                “They lay their eggs in my gardens,” Erna said. “Let me show you.”

                I followed her to a tiered garden where canna lilies laid uprooted. “The turtle buried her eggs here. One year I counted nine.”

                At last, the snappier moved. The claws on her toes scraped the cement on her way down the driveway.

                Dear Reader, Erna called today. “I found the turtle at my front door! Can you believe it?”

                Yes I can. That ancient mother knows Erna watches over what she grows and loves.