By Gloria VanDemmeltraadt
A yellow bird sits precariously in the porcelain palm of the hand that is part of a small fountain on my patio. He is shrouded in fine gray mist and in his frozen ceramic state peers ever eastward searching for the sun.
Stepping out my patio door, I too am surrounded by whirling and eerie morning mist. A pond borders my property on three sides. Water used to lap against the shore, but the county cleaned out a plugged-up outlet and much of the water flowed away to another nearby pond. Since then, indigenous cattails have grown wild and free in the marshy ground, and in spite of all efforts to keep them contained, they claim inches of lawn each year. Spearing up through the mowed grass, their sharp points easily push aside foreign flowers and bushes introduced to discourage their growth. With native confidence, they claim their territory and easily overwhelm the fragile roots of other plantings.
In the middle of the pond there is still open water which invites water fowl of every kind to build a home in its protected border. Loudly honking Canadian geese battle over spring breeding grounds; red-winged blackbirds are fiercely protective of their nesting areas and while their songs and chirps are soothing, they threateningly dive-bomb anyone foolish enough to get too close. A beaver dam humps upward toward the middle of the pond, and muskrats dig holes near the edge. Curious white-tailed deer come bounding by my windows, and tiny songbirds flit about and sing above all of nature’s strident cacophony.
Now, in early summer, the cattails are more than six feet tall and thick as a golf-course turf. They surround my little house with more shades of green than I can count, and form a beautiful, comforting, and protective wall between the rest of the world and me. Out there, beyond the cattails, is a world of chaos, busyness, and rules. Here, amid this calm green oasis, I find peace and harmony that help to prepare me for diving when I must, into the bedlam outside my sheltered haven.!
Gloria VanDemmeltraadt’s passion is helping people capture their memories, and she has worked with more than a hundred hospice patients and others to document their lives. She is the author of four published nonfiction books, teaches classes on life story writing, and speaks to groups on a variety of topics. Her newest adventure is in the fiction world, and her Cozy Mystery novel, Danger in Deep Lake, will be out this year. Contact Gloria through her website: gloriavan.com.