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sprinklers2

Nearly summer. We had the first dose of heat in the last couple of days. I see the entire community is in full blossom and pristine new leaves. I see bare feet and bicycles and open windows and doors. I feel the kids anticipating the end of school year and that old restless feeling of springtime and being cooped up inside.
I was reminded of things I miss, people I miss, places I thought I’d forgotten, and songs I couldn’t get enough of…
And suddenly it dawned on me; I want to run through sprinklers again.
I want to wake up a few minutes after dawn, and pull yesterday’s tee shirt over my head. Before anyone else is awake, I want to turn the TV on and have the volume way down low, I want to watch Aquaman, and the Monkees in black and white, all while eating cinnamon toast and a bowl of cereal with farm fresh milk. The kind we got in the glass gallon jar with a few inches of thick cream on the top.
I rarely wore shoes, and could run on cement. Once I learned how to ride a bicycle, I was all over our little town. Tragedy was a flat tire, darkness and still a ways to get home. I was scared of the dark…not like today because I KNOW what is out there, but simply because I didn’t. Dark was dark, and that was all.
I want to go barefoot all day again, over gravel and hot blacktop, and cool grass and through warm mud puddles. I even want to stub my toe the old fashioned way and walk home on my heel and bleed like a nine year old tough guy.

I want to eat my grandma’s apple pie, and have her ask me to go pick out a cucumber and a head of lettuce from the garden in her back yard. And I want her and my Momma to be having coffee together, and wondering if I’m ever going to grow? (I was a pretty small kiddo.)

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Back when being 60 was real old, and the guy at the gas station actually came outside, and worked for a living and checked under the hood. And when the pump dial stopped turning, he “topped it off”. I want to marvel at muscle cars again…when they were brand new and only worth $3000…not $50,000.
I want to ride in the way back of our 1966 Chevy Belair station wagon and lay on a blanket…watching the stars out the back windows till I fell asleep before we got home…after a long day at the farm. I want a grandpa again. I want to explore his farm again…and smell the smells, and see dust floating in sunbeams. I want to ride on the back of his tractor and watch him roll a cigarette with one hand. I want to watch my uncles stack hay and feed cattle. I want all the adults to talk for an hour between the back porch and pulling away in the car.
I want to have a day with no plan, no goal, leave the house with sleep in my eyes, flyaway hair, seventeen whole cents and a Hot Wheels dragster in my pocket, a Band-Aid on my stubbed toe (for the first half hour), eat a chic-o-stick for lunch, hang out with my friends from dawn to way after dusk…and I want to run through sprinklers again. Oh how I want to run through sprinklers again.
Matthew Landsman, circa 1965 to 1971

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glenda12

This is my time. The trees that blossom are in full plumage, and those with green or deep red leaves are unfurling like a sail being raised and filled with air, propelling, compelling, and telling of the season, of this moment in time.

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She called me weeks ago, did mother earth. I was drawn to that place where last fall I solemnly stowed away the gloves that know the curves of my hands, the curls of my fingers. I had wound up hoses, said adieu to tools that work the soil, with handles both short and long. It is as much of a ritual to admit the end of a growing season as it is to anticipate the approach of the new.

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There is a marriage between the beds where late fall and winter brought succulent greens to wither and fade into winter slumber. For the time where I lean on the bouquets I hung to dry and display in the harsh throes of winter…to sustain me and remind me of the coming of an end to longer nights and shorter days.

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And recently I renewed my vows and dedications to the place where shrub and bush, tall trees and evening scents beckon me, sooth and caress me in return for the touch of my hands, the straining of hoe and assertion of spade and gentle rains from both clouds above and rhythmic sprinklers urged to life thru an ancient pump.

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She gives to me more than I to her, but there is an understanding, an oath unspoken that I will return when the stranglehold of winter is broken. It is life in a state of slumber, brought back thru the stripping away of last year’s foliage that didn’t quite have time to decay and rejoin the earth that sustained it all those months ago.

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Each flat from the nursery, and packet of seed that are emptied, made to new homes and tamped to a perfect depth give to me a promise of returned pleasure and nurturing of my very soul, as the days grow longer then shorter after the solstice has come and gone.

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I love the efforts she matches me with the responding to my urges, the hours spent and her return of sight and scent and sounds from the winged friends that feed and nest in the mantle and bush there.

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There is no debate, no drama, only the well earned sleep and nature’s reward. I ask only for the same ancient ritual to recur, and am in turn rewarded for my faith, my bended knees and love instilled…and as always…she and I celebrate night and day with filled vases and scent filled breezes as I sleep under an open window when warmer nights return.

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The cycle and reassuring return of life to my winter ravaged and weary soul is all I ask…but she gives me so, so much more…

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Matthew Landsman 04-22-2012

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In the final throes of winter, especially this year when the infant spring is rather meek to emerge and take on the starkness of the naked branches, dormant fields and garden plots…The bulbs of fall and volunteer annuals are still evading the frost, and buds are hesitant and not about to swell as naive fools to fall victim to a killing frost.

But then and now I have had my own constant gardener, Glenda, to remind me that warmer dawns and greener views are but a Chinook breeze away. She’ll prepare to soften stiffened gloves and winter born visions of her patch of heaven on God’s green earth. And that dark earth waits with eager anticipation the attentions and loving intentions from her knowing hands.

There will be dirtied knees, hoses unfurled, spots of shade for those things that thrive in darkened corners, heartier varieties for the blossoms that can weather the midday sun. She knows these things, how to create a place of refuge and retreat there on that plot of earth bordering the canal that brings life to the desert.

No matter where I’ve roamed on this continent, I have passed nurseries and flower beds, trees for privacy and trees for shade. And for over two decades, the petals, freshly nurtured earth and shades of blue have always brought a glad feeling and reassurance that she remains. That spring will always closely follow the barren months. That hope is rarely lost even when the night is far longer than the day…

I seek shelter in the knowing that if I chance to pass her way there even just in my mind, there will be a potential for glimpses of April blossoms, hints of summer evening scents, and the essence of cool grass between toes, even in the dead of January when life has ebbed nearly into only memory. I’ll always find my gardener, and I hope when she is in need of love of a friend and words from her personal writer, that she’ll always find me…Matthew Landsman

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She won’t arrive on a bus, for that would require a schedule and a sense of time. She can’t be bothered with expectations nor does she have a need for personal validation. She knows she is anticipated, is prayed for, celebrated, and that life really does evolve around her. She shows up in whatever she’s wearing, and regardless of weather, she’ll have you step outside, and then make you wait for her. And though she runs both hot and cold…she is worth the wait and moody ways.

This lady will take your breath away, make your eyes tear up, she’ll melt even the coldest of the cold. She is a shady lady, but after she shows up late she will bring you roses, songs and cause the heart to stir to life…

After my mother, I have loved her most and longest…even though we meet but once a year…I’ll even shed some clothes for her when she does finally arrive. And she always follows a dark time and makes the recent memories seem like an endless nightmare. For her, I will cease the stoking of the fire, leave my door open wide, and even clean up the place and venture out into the light…

I do love her shamelessly and without fail. …Hello Spring, let us renew our annual tryst until your sister we call Solstice comes around and takes me in her arms, and keeps me awake till all balmy and lazy hours. Although you will abandon me once again, I will scarcely notice. You will be forgiven as always…and I will welcome you again in a few months short of a year…Adieu my fair weathered lady friend…My favorite lady, Spring.

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It’s quiet here on a winter night. The frost makes no noise, short of the sound of icy grass under feet.  I have to be honest, I miss the sounds the winds makes during the seasons that hold life above the ground. I long for the rustling of leaves in the sycamores, for the soft moan of things when a stiff breeze finds me here from its birth out on the warm Pacific.
I am the soil outside your door…the earth beneath your feet that keeps you grounded.  It has been so long since the first frost descended and turned dew to something that held a promise of a long winter…of time away from your tending hands, your steady tilling. It has been months since blossom faded to wilt and fell…then joined me here and became what I am…and waited for your return.

I am earth, and you are my caregiver, my tender, my partner in life and the giving of life to bulb, root and seed. After the dark months, during which I become hard, dry, barren, you come to me with fork, blade, hoe, and simple hands. You tend me, till me, turn and blend me. You soften my disposition after winter’s abandon left me impenetrable. You give me air, water, and plants to embrace. You give me your attentions, your efforts and heartfelt nurture. And I in return will be the giver of blossom and fragrance, green leaves, stem, branch, and bough.

I await the gardener, the lover of life…of inspiration… and seeker of distraction from life beyond the confines of property lines, flower bed and shade ‘neath the mantle of green.

I cling on occasion to the soles of your feet, to the nurturing hands…for an extended moment of the partnership between you and me. I am the earth, the soil you tend.  I am your refuge…your reward for all you do, and in return, you are my reward. It isn’t about harvest or show. It’s about doing what’s right to bring life to the soul, to the heart, to the sight and senses.

You are the gardener that will soon awaken me from slumber, loosen me up and give me life to bring along.

And you are Matthew’s constant gardener too, as you tend to his need for a place to sit and seek the quiet…the balance here in the mist and the midst of a town growing older. The two of you, not yet old, but no longer young…can use the cool of me beneath your feet…the lily of the valley, song of the mourning dove, and late evening’s breeze. We are all partners in the struggle, the turning of seasons year after year…and each other’s reward for returning to what is pure, validating, and grateful…perfect as only the bond between a patch of earth, a garden, a gardener, and a grateful visitor can be…

Matthew Landsman

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I was almost ready to write off today…until I thought about a friend who recently was cured of an “incurable cancer”.  I realized that all days are worth living, one hundred percent. And so I will embrace this day and squeeze the grapes, that arrive as minutes, until every drop is savored and night has come…then I will drink the wine that arrives as memories and friends at my door. MLL

It is a little cooler today, but still pretty outside. Summer gave a final gasp, but she is in a state of retreat.  As in life itself, all yield eventually to the irresistible march of seasons, of chapters, of firsts and lasts.  She will return. The falling leaves and drops and flakes will feed her while we await her arrival. And the four winds will carry the echoes of her laughter and warmth…Happy November, MLL

Halloween after nine pm…the silence after the children have made their way home, booty in hand…Then all that is left is just the coming of November…Thanksgiving…the turning, descent, then decay of leaves…of summer memories. There is the shortening of daylight, the hopes for fair and happy holidays…the missing of souls departed…and the anticipation of the coming spring…for now, just the approach of November.

Time to reflect the year having just passed, the dreams realized, shattered, put away…or simply laughed at. The roads traveled, recalled…repaired and broken. Bridges crossed, rivers crossed, pigskins tossed, wagers lost…and gatherings ‘round a fire…MLL

Steve Chapin put it nicely years ago…”I recall September, and leaves turnin’ brown. Remember October left leaves on the ground…and here comes December, like an elderly friend…and I feel like I need you again…”  MLL

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Signs of spring…

I saw signs of new green on the road to Walla Walla this week. Winter
wheat a few inches high…and a fringe of fresh shoulder grass on the
edge of the road. I smelled fresh plowed ground. It was foggy and
mostly bleak…but one must look closely, have an open mind…and a
smaller glass to avoid the “half empty/half full” syndrome in the early
part of February.

Today I heard a songbird…life has returned to my desert abode.  My smaller glass is overflowing…and I am stronger knowing that I’ve survived my 50th winter on God’s green, sometimes snow and frost covered earth.

It’s not quite time to store away the down and wool, but soon the splitting of kindling and cord wood will be but a memory.  I am grateful for my foul weather friends…for the warm hours on the phone when midnights left me chilled and otherwise abandoned…but never really alone…

I’ll see you when the bud is on the rose bush in my front yard…and the
robin gathers sprigs of last year’s spent grasses to build her home in
my sycamore…and I too will roam the desert in search of breaks in the
clouds, and love…

Matthew L Landsman, February 2010

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In the dead of winter, even ‘neath frigid snow and the dark of the
early arriving night, a rose is still a rose. Though it may appear
lifeless, but a stem, thorns, and ravaged leaf…there lives on in the
ground a slumbered root…fed by the fallen petals of fading autumn,
later…the dripping icicle, and the mere promise of spring.

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It is hard to fathom an end to an endless night…relief from the need
for constant tending of the fire…for support on the icy slope. Life is
cruel for extended moments in the hard throes of January and the month
afterward…a desolate landscape of hues of grays and mottled whites…Not
a fertile ground conducive to optimism and hope…But even then…a rose is
still a rose.

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As I did last winter, and the one before…I leaned hard on a dried
blossom from the blossoms of summer…I recalled the first hint of yellow
green leaves straining against the still chilled days of March…the
swell of buds on the tips of infant branch in search of yet feeble rays
of sun…But hope made it’s shy debut along with the signs on the bush
awakening there…

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And so once more I lie wait of a sign of the re-emergence of the rose
in you…of the spring that lies beneath a mantle of snow…and a
sprinkling of the frozen rain…Hope springs eternal in the faithful, the
love filled…the keepers of memories, of laughter and smiles…of promises
and heartfelt wishes…for an early spring…for the hint of green…for the
rose to mark the return of all I have had to only imagine since the
first frost so long ago…MLL

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autumn leaves in wind

Where did this year go? Time for that matter? It’s been collecting in
the leaves of summer. Now its been captured in the autumn breeze…the
leaves and time have served their duty, now they will be captured in
the throes of a chilly fall, carried off on the breezes of evening and
passing hours while we sleep… Time isn’t lost at all…it just rests
in slumber at our feet, spent of livelihood, returning to the earth, to
the banks of tomorrows…recycled, replenished. Time can be a leaf
pressed between pages of a book, or a photograph in an album…

leaves bible

With the summer freshly behind us, the green leaves of spring are a
distant thing…but I still recall their rustling in balmy evening
breezes…as memories were being made…My barefooted trips thru the
grass…songbirds in the predawn hours…Now they lay at rest in the corner
by my porch…along the wall of my home…Like a pile of clippings and
memories waiting to be scrapbooked and catalogued…

Autumn leaf pile

While I rake…I shall recall the days…the moments that are freshly
etched even while the shade is laying in decay around my feet. If I
could leave them to meet the soil that nourished them to initial life,
they would replenish and richen the mother earth at the very place they
were given life…cradling one another…returning from whence they
came…reunited in an eternal embrace…in wait of spring after winter’s
slumber…Time in search of a taker, a user, a memory maker…

trunk

Autumn…its early autumn in my life too…after half a century, I’m
ready for longer nights and cooler days. The rings on the tree tell the
truth, the cumulative collection of yearly fallen leaves have richened
the soil where my shade trees dwell, made my knowing and memories grow
in kind…richer, deeper more meaningful. Where did time go? It lives
inside of me…life is more precious, hugs are more valued.

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My time gone by and memories are captured in those autumn
leaves…Outside my house, they lie in wait…teasing me, taunting
me…conspiring along with a breeze from the south…each stroke of the
rake is laughed at as both simply carry the stack right back to the
spot I moved it from…Holding on for another day or two…the
metaphoric gathering of moments passed are reminding me to appreciate
the life I’ve lived, before I toss it away like so much fill and
refuse…

Its early morning…I just stepped out on a chilly porch with a hot cup
of coffee.

coffee cup

The winds that tormented us yesterday have moved on…the
leaves are at rest in places they were deposited during the hours they
frolicked in that very wind…Now, exhausted and finally having given
in, they simply lie in fragrant piles, saying one final good bye to
yesterdays, to hours spent under summer’s sun…to duty shading my
home, being a part of the symphony that plays while breezes fill the
air. And though the passing of time will dull the vividness of
individual memories, I will have a few scattered leaves to keep…in
the form of photographs, of theater tickets, gas receipts from several
states over…a faded rose, a shirt that smells still of her perfume
when she hugged me good bye.

theatre_ticket

I will think of these things, of the music, the extra cups of
coffee…the sunsets of May…and I will embrace them all, while I tend
to bagging and hauling those leaves to the place where so many leaves
convene…at the fill just a few miles down the road…

leaf bag

Then I’ll move mostly indoors for the duration of the cold season, in
wait of spring buds, of the return of songbirds and the first green
leaves on the branches and boughs…But I won’t simply wait till time
has passed, I’ll meet it at the door…and frolic in those breezes, as
did the leaves…once more…

Matthew Lyle Landsman…autumn 2009

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