Monday, July 09, 2007

SANCTUARY - Part II, The Woods


Not long ago 13-year-old Jake, one of our grandsons, was gazing out our kitchen window at the woods behind our house. With a look of nostalgia on his face, he said, "Nana, I have such good memories of those woods." This delighted me.

For years our woods was the official domain of our grandchildren. It was their kingdom. They filled it with their enchanting fantasies transforming the woods into a place of magical adventure. They constructed fortresses out of brush and cleared paths that meandered. And they dug holes. What is it about children and holes? They appear to be born with an innate need to dig. They seem instinctively attracted to shovels of all sizes and shapes.

Those days when our grandchildren had free rein in the woods and could do almost anything they pleased are over for the most part. A few years ago my husband and I reclaimed ownership of the woods. But the woods will never belong to us entirely. Those youthful spirits remain and seem embedded in the trees themselves. Some days if I close my eyes and I am really quiet I can hear the sound of dry leaves crunching as they give way to young feet rustling about in their midst. Or maybe it is just a hyperactive squirrel causing all that ruckus I hear.

This is Shagbark Barney. Shortly after we reclaimed ownership of the woods, we nailed his happy face with all that moss stuck between his teeth to this tree. We intended Shagbark Barney to be something the younger grandchildren would enjoy. It turns out that the little ones are afraid of him, not that I blame them any.

In the distance under our stately old oak tree, which is the centerpiece of our woods, is our contemplation bench. In the forefront is a large bed consisting of hosta, brunnera macrophylla, corydalis lutea, and a groundcover of deadnettle. The delicate brunnera blooms are azure blue. The corydalis produces lovely bright yellow flowers. The deadnettle with its interesting greens produces dark pink flowers. Be sure to enlarge the photo by clicking and see if you can spot Woody our woodland gnome.

Ah, someone is planning something here looks like. I spy some books. And what is that, a tea cup? Let's zoom in below for a close-up.
Tea and Tennyson
I dedicate this arrangement to Paul of Original Faith, because one of his posts in which he talked a little about Tennyson was the inspiration for me to go on a hunt in my house for that antique copy I own of Tennyson's poems. Eventually I found it. When I did I thought how nice it would be to sip tea and read Tennyson's poems under that stately old oak tree. To be honest I have yet to do that, but the thought is such a delight and doesn't the arrangement make for a pretty picture though.
I have not given a name to this little iron woodland creature yet. Any suggestions?

This is our faithful canine companion Max looking for Woody. We adopted Max a few years ago through Collie Rescue. He has been a wonderful dog, and what a beauty.

Looking south through our woods. As you can see the woods just keep going from our property to the next and on to the next.

This is looking north through our woods. The woods just keep going in that direction too.

And now for a view from the edge of the woods of the back of our house. This photo was taken in the early spring a few years ago. Not much as changed though.

The two lovely young ladies in the photo above are our granddaughters Rachel and Jackie. As I told everyone in a previous Sanctuary post, our place is kid friendly. In 2000 our oldest daughter was experiencing financial hardship due to a divorce. She and her four young children had to live with us for a few years until she could get on her feet. In preparation for the children to be in our home, we bought this super duper swing set/slide/clubhouse/sandbox/gym combo and put it together. It was an instant hit with all the grandchildren. And this is one of the reasons our grandson Ricky calls our place "Nana and Papa's park."

Another shot from a different angle of the swing set affair. Note the American flag in both shots. Are we patriotic or what?

These are the steps leading up to our deck where a plethora of potted flowers are waiting to delight your eyes in part III of Sanctuary. Each step here hosts a pot of daisies. A bit of sad news....since the photo was taken all the daisies have gone to that big flower pot in the sky. I have no idea what I did to kill them off, but I must be guilty of something. Oh, and excuse the condition of the paint on the trim. Shortly after this picture was taken, we painted the trim.



  1. The first thing I have to say Susie is your dog Max is so cool, I love Collies.

    The way your neighborhood is setup reminds me a lot of one the places that I used to go fishing when I was a child. The hosues all had the woods and creek running at the very end of the properties. The woods were owned by a farmer and he cut a path with his tractor next to the creek.

    There is nothing like the woods to spark the imagination with all the birds, animals and different varities of trees standing and fallen all to be used for make believe stories.

    Mr Shagbark is a little scary though and if you were walking through the woods and came upon that it would probably startle you a bit.

    I once found a submarine in the woods. It was there for years and the woods were completely landlocked. The name on the stern was H.M.S Frog and it was painted green. It fit probably a 4-6 man crew and it was perfectly restored. We never could get into it though because the hatches were welded shut.

  2. Oh how I love Max!! He is beautiful!

    Your home and yard/garden/woods...what can I say? Just glorious!

    I think that Mr. Shagbark is just too cool. I would keep expecting him to say the trees in The Wizard of Oz!! : )

    The woods are a wonderful place to dream and plan and be at peace. I know how your grandchildren must live it there...


  3. I think Tennyson would approve, and thanks for the link! It's been such a long time since I read him too... I'm having trouble recalling my favorites of his.

  4. SusieQ, those pictures are just delightful. Have you read "The Road to Terabithia" or seen the movie? Your post reminds me very much of that movie. Your grandchildren must love it there.


  5. This is so strange. When I began writing this post there were only tree comments. Then I remembered that Josie told me about "Bridge to Terabithia" in a post I wrote about an oak tree a few months back. So I closed out of my unfinished comment and went back to that post. You told me of this oak back then in a comment, but the real reason I went back was to see how Josie spelled "Bridge to Terabithia" and in the two minutes it took for me to do that I came back and Josie left the above comment. Hi, Josie. Is that strange or what? I have since seen the movie and she's right this will remind you of that film. Anyway...

    I enjoyed this post. Even before I saw the name of your shagbark hicory tree, it reminded me of the shagbark that our tree swing "fort" was in. The rope swing was in an oak but the tree fort was in a shagbark. The tree toad I caught and wrote about few weeks back was in that shagbark when I found him.

    I used to teach a unit on Tennyson. One of his lesser know poems that I like is

    Flower in the crannied wall,

    I pluck you out of the crannies,

    I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,

    Little flower -- but if I could understand

    What you are, root and all, and all in all,

    I should know what God and man is.

    I like the way he takes the simplest thing and sees how complex it is and how it contains as much mystery as the other bigger unanswered questions of life.

    I liked your answer to Naomi and cut and pasted it in the comments following your comment at that old post you directed me to.

  6. Your woods are beautiful, lush and green and look so relaxing. That photo of tea and Tennyson is just perfect.

    I think Mr Shagbark might be just a little scary but everything else looks fantastic.

  7. WOW-that is all I can say. I would just keep repeating it. Maybe I would throw in a cool too.

  8. Jennie (JG): I will be sure to let Max know that you think he is cool. Poor doggie, he sure doesn't get to go on as many walks as he would like. I suppose collies are our favorite breed. No doubt my husband and I were greatly influenced by all the Lassie movies we saw as youngster.

    The one thing that seems to be missing in our neighborhood is that creek. My husband keeps trying to convince me that we need one of those artificial creeks in our backyard. I dunno. Will have to give it more thought.

    You found a submarine in the woods one time? Now that has got to be a kid's fantasy to die for.

    Susie Q (the other one): I keep trying to get Shagbark Barney to talk to me, but so far no luck. I bet he has a lot of stories (spooky ones) he could tell too. Do you suppose all thr moss stuck between his teeth is interfering?

    Paul: About my linking to your blog, you are welcome. One of these days I will sip tea and read Tennyson under that old oak tree. And maybe I will be inspired to write a poem about the experience.

    Josie: No, I have not seen the movie or read the book. I joined Netflix a few months ago. After I read your comment about the movie, I went to Netflix and tried to order the movie. Turns out the name of the movie is The Bridge to Terabithia. I went ahead and ordered it. It is a movie I can share with my grandchildren. Thanks for the suggestion. It should be fun.

    Tom (Patterns): I know you have fond memories of your childhood experiences on "the property." Isn't that what you call the old homestead of your youth? I seem to recall seeing it in something you have written lately, maybe in a comment to me.

    The way you describe the fort and that rope swing...well I wish you knew an artist who could paint a picture of all of that.

    Thanks for sharing the Tennyson poem. It was nice. When Paul devoted a few of his posts to the poets of that period of history, I decided to read up on some of them including Tennyson. It is interesting how the times and what was taking place in the world of philosophy back then influenced the thinking and, consequently, the writings of these poets.

    I left a response (another comment) to you in that older post of yours about Bush and gave you some background information. Maybe you have already read it.

    Janet: Thanks. I was pleased with the photo of my table-scape under the oak tree. I got my inspiration to do this from another blogger who creates some of the most beautiful table-scapes I've ever seen. In fact she is that other Susie Q above.

    Wreckless: Ha! Thanks! I see you are asking for suggestions for a name you can call your wife besides Wonderful Wife. I've been thinking....

  9. Finally I am able to get this slow
    internet to connect; it has been a
    Anyway, the pictures are delightful.
    They remind me of the woods behind
    the place where we lived when I was
    a child. It had been my great-grandparents farm. Roaming around in those woods was a sanctuary for me as well. There was also a creek that ran through the middle and into what is now a
    I still miss those woods.
    They were magical and took me to
    many places that I have since forgotten about. Of course, the
    best part was a long trail that I
    road the ponies through. It took
    me at least a quarter of a mile
    from home. Those were the days.

    We also had a border collie some
    years later. Rex was a very smart

    Happy Trails.

  10. Hi Susie - Just a quick, irrelevant (to your post) copy and paste from my comment thread to yours to be sure you don't miss this just in case it might be useful to you or any of your readers:

    "SUSIEQ, btw: Your aching feet might be resolved by Poron insoles or a plastizote/Poron combo. You'd want to see a pedorthist rather than a podiatrist for this kind of thing. Without it, I believe I would have been forced to leave work about a year earlier."

  11. Crystal: Thanks. Not long ago you had a photo up of a flower which I thought was a really good shot. I am glad you stopped by. Come again.

    Sharon: I knew you would be able to connect up to these photos and the Sanctuary theme. I always wanted a pony. So did my dad. Neither one of us got one though.

    If I were not so concerned about being thrown from a horse and breaking major bones at my age, I would consider getting a horse. I think I have outgrown ponies. We have a stable nearby where I could board it.

    Paul: Thanks so much for the tip. My feet don't give me a problem as long as I am wearing my New Balance athletic shoes with an extra cushiony insole. But if I slip on a pair of flats or, God forbid, some heels and walk around much in them I pay the next day. Ouch!

  12. S_Q,
    I have a feeling you've had this happen to you before, but it's new to me. I promise not to do it again but...
    You've been tagged!
    Some of your readers have already been tagged so good luck. I guess I'm supposed to direct you to my blog (The "tagged" post is below the one you read today) and then your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read the "rules" and write 8 random things about yourself. :)

  13. "One of these days?" What's stopping you?

  14. Nice yard! I am sure that the cleome flower would grow nicely in your area. You would have to get seeds at first but after that they will come up year after year. I collect some seeds each fall just in case, or for planting elsewhere (they look like poppy seeds and are quite prolific) but for the most part will probably come up from seeds dropped from the flowers.
    The iron creature looks like a flying potato from that angle! How about "spuds"?
    Thanks for visiting.

  15. Oh wow...those photos made me want to step through the computer screen and enjoy your woods myself. And my two girls would absolutely love it! You are so blessed- and so are your grandchildren!

  16. Tom: As you know, I accepted the tag mission. It was more work than I thought it would be though.

    Dearest Lord Tennyson: What a great honor it is to have you stop by with your query "One of these days? What's stopping you?" Um, what's stopping me from sipping tea and reading Tennyson under that stately old oak tree in my woods? Well, I suppose there are a dozen things on any given summer day that are likely to interfere. What I had in mind is a fall day, an October day, one with a bite to the air as being the perfect time to have tea with Tennyson under the old oak tree. Would that interest you, Lord Tennyson?

    Goatman: Thanks for the info on the cleome. I was fascinated by your description of what happens when you pull off one of its blooms. I will look into this flower for our yard. A flying potato? Ha! I like that. Spuds it is!

    Tammy: I bet you and your girls have seen the movie Bridge to Terabithia. I took the advice of Josie and Tom above and decided to buy it. I was going to rent it through Netflix, but we had grandchildren spending the night with us on Saturday and I wanted to watch it with them. Well,our woods and the way our grandchildren were able to turn it into a fantasy world for themselves certainly does remind me of this movie. I loved the movie.

  17. To everyone: I am surprised that no one has claimed to have located our mischievous little woodland gnome Woody in the photos. In Sanctuary III, I will show you what he looks like and where he is located.