Journals by Most Beloved Poetry Seasons of the Year Spring Beauty

When Cats Watch Birds-Most Beloved Takes a Decidedly Melancholy Drift

Glorious spring, Gardens at Effingham

From the Journals of Most Beloved- Spring Journals

A mid-spring’s day, a perfect day, a day neither hot nor cold; exactly as I like it

Watching birds. 

Robin. 2 mourning doves. A small song sparrow. Courtship of the mourning doves. Choosing a nesting spot. The intentional delivery of a well-chosen site, one safe and out of harm’s way, one forever lost to who I am now. 

I do not know if I will ever not feel this guilt. It ebbs, wanes, passes. I reconcile, cry, write, despair, and yet to this end, can do nothing to change what will always be my past. I love that there are teeny tiny little song birds up high on the walnut tree. I love that these walnut trees, pesky as they might be, stand noble and strong, hosts to birds, squirrels, and ugh, a hawk who hunts our birds. 

I welcome spring, knowing never how many I can count—springs, sunny skies, bird songs, clickety-clackety drilling of our woodpeckers.

And so I sing a little song to myself, a melody that haunts no one save me this little song of myself:

And so I sing a little song to myself

Le Printemps

Le printemps, le printemps 
C'est très joli le printemps 
If only, if only I could be someone else. 
A bird perhaps or mere feather caught on wings 
Without bow and arrow always piercing the wind 
Caught somewhere between flight's lift and life's fall 
If only, If only fate hadn't taken my heart    
Most Beloved, Gardens at Effingham

Most Affectionately Yours,

Most Beloved

Gardening with Cats Journals by Most Beloved Poetry Seasons of the Year Spring Beauty

Happy Spring and Artful Blooms! A Poem by the Cat

Celebration in Spring Blooms

-by Most Beloved

The serviceberries opened their white blossoms this week.
A gentle breeze scatters their petals and airborne,
they sift and drift down, 
joy in their flight,
celebration in their journey.

White flowering Star Magnolia photographed at Gardens at Effingham
Flowering Star Magnolia
Gorgeous pink blossoms on crabapple tree, Gardens at Effingham
Flowering Crabapple
Profuse peach-colored flowering quince in spring at Gardens at Effingham
Flowering Quince
Gardening with Cats Journals by Most Beloved Seasons of the Year Spring Beauty

A Mother’s Day to Remember–Cali Cat Has Kittens

A glorious May Mother’s Day, replete with brilliant blue skies and wisps of sun-drenched clouds, became gardens requiring enormous clean-up once the storm had passed. We had walked in the mid-afternoon, savoring the sun and remarking on the cerulean blue sky. But we had no longer returned home before the skies grew dark and the birds stopped singing. The sky erupted in rains whipping sideways on gusts of high winds.

The peony bushes whipped this way and that, turbulent skies covered the gardens in darkness, and hard rain quickly transformed most of our young gardens to mush. Early flowering bushes cowered to the ground. Spring flowers (daffodils, tulips, hyacinths) toppled over.

And while unbeknownst to us at the time, Cali Cat was birthing her kittens in the peonies’ gardens. Yes, when the storm was fiercest. Yes, when the peonies whipped this way and that. Yes, when on what seemed an idyllic day, a harsh storm decided to unleash its fury. Early May ushered in particularly harsh weather this year, and great gusts of winds blew in heavy downpours of rain. Poor Cali, a first time mama cat, delivered her kittens in an sheltered area of the gardens in the suddenness of the storm.

Cali’s Kittens (Double Dipped is one of Cali’s kittens)

But Cali Cat knew instinctively to look for higher ground, a place to move her kittens where they would be protected from the storm. The storm ceased as suddenly as it had begun, and at this point, Cali left her tiny, eyes-tightly-shut kittens (three kittens in all) to seek more secure lodging. We could see the tiny kittens, huddled and rounding up and over one another, by looking out the window and casting our gaze directly down to where wet, soppy leaves, pulpy stems, and peony buds served as a canopy over the kittens. The kittens were wet, but also newly birthed.

Elm Tree, Storm Damage, Mother’s Day

And while the storm had passed for now, heavy rains began again to fall that evening. The next few days would bring drenching rains and more high winds, and as for Cali? She had already relocated her kittens once, trotting each tiny kitten, one at a time, by the scruff of the neck to beneath a shrub that was on higher ground. The storms persisted, day and night, three days consecutively, and Cali cat, ever the faithful mama cat albeit a young, first time mama cat, moved her kittens yet again.

We couldn’t find the kittens after she moved them from the shrub. She didn’t want us to. We’ve only seen Cali cat once since that fateful week during Mother’s Day, and even then, a good distance away. She’s moved on from the Gardens at Effingham, though the gardens will always remain imprinted with her memory. From the whimsical delight of her kitten-hood to the turbulent night she delivered her own kittens, Gardens at Effingham bore her love. I can still see her sitting atop the wall, looking out over the gardens as we tended the flowers. Cali cat lives on—just not at Gardens at Effingham anymore.

Cali Cat, Gardens at Effingham
Journals by Most Beloved Winter Dreams

Cat Naps and Winter Dreams: Is it Spring Yet?

Photograph of a Garden Seed Catalogue "Kitchen Garden Seed" resting on a Farmer's Almanac "Vegetable Gardener's Handbook." Both catalogue and garden book are on top of a red lap blanket, and a clipboard with graph paper is in the background on the right corner. Seed catalogs and Gardening Books
Winter Dreams: Seed Catalogs and Gardening Books

Winter Daydreams

  • Eagerly await mail for seed and flower garden catalogs to arrive
  • Bring in mail and start an ongoing (and ever-towering) stack of winter dreams
  • Pile up all garden books, magazines, journals, and catalogs
  • Gather a soft, snuggly blanket (preferably one that looks good against all my white fur)
A Photograph of a White cat named Most Beloved with one dark marking on her left ear. Adult petite female cat curled up napping on a red lap throw. an open book is tucked in and under her tail suggesting she fell asleep while reading. Gardens at Effingham
Cat Naps and Good Intentions
  • Get excited and open several catalogs and books all at once
  • Oops! Remember you meant to make a cup of hot English Afternoon tea
  • Wander aimlessly out to and about the kitchen
  • Put the kettle on to boil
Brightly colored Orange stoneware tea mug with a glass "ball" canning jar of coffee beans. window behind both cup and jar of coffee beans. close up of mug and coffee beans
Tea, Dark Chocolate Ginger, and Dreaming of Spring
Gardens at Effingham
  • Jump up in the bay window to look out over the koi pond to where the fish are sleeping–and to beyond to where the gardens are sleeping
  • Bring tea (and a snack) to our favorite overstuffed chair
  • Realize the sun is shining brilliantly through the windows
  • Stretch, Yawn, (and feign a general disinterest in what she-who-holds you is doing)
  • Settle in, get comfy, relax,
  • Yawn and. . .

Oh my, Where does time go? Seems you’ve caught me napping. Just a quick bit of resting my eyes.

Waking Up from a Cat Nap
Gardens at Effingham

Really, I had all of the best intentions.

Herbs struck my fancy this morning (when I was up at the crack of dawn). Let’s see–we have Greek Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Purple Basil, and Chocolate Mint that we brought in last fall. They’re on tray tables in our 3-season room, and we’ve put up “happy lights,” aka full spectrum lights, above them during this winter, their dormant season here in the midwest.

But really, I’d meant to write about all of the new herbs we’re dreaming about planting come spring.

Chives, “Allium schoenoprasum,” are perennials that can thrive here in our gardens. I don’t care for the strong smell of onion anything, be it red onions, yellow and white onions, scallions, shallots, ad infinitum ad nauseam for my sensitive cat tastes. But she-who-holds me uses them in her cooking. Note I said “her” cooking. Not mine. My tastes are strictly salmon and kibble.

Our focus here at Gardens at Effingham is all about growing and caring for our many flowers, trees, and shrubs that provide food, shelter, and nesting sites for our birds and insects. And I have to admit, I do like to chatter at the many birds when I watch them through the windows. I am, after all, an indoor cat (ah, the luxury of being tended to my every whim and need), but I get positively gleeful watching birds flit and flap, hovering and maneuvering through a veritable host of arial acrobatics. Delightful, if I do say so myself.

Chives are companion plants for tomatoes and carrots, (though not for peas and beans), though we don’t grow vegetables–yet. One never knows with she-who-holds me. She seems to love growing all things, great and small. But chives also repel Japanese beetles, which is seriously fantastic since we’ve got a rose garden 39 rose bushes strong.

And as if this weren’t enough to warrant planting chives, chives also repel aphids. Although I don’t know, she who-holds-me seems fond of the enormous ants that come to feast on aphids when our peonies bloom. For when the peonies split open, spilt flowers heavy on their stems, cascading papery flowers layers thick opening wide to the sun, it is the aphids who come first to the flowers.

The ants? They merely follow where aphids have already tread. Both ants and aphids seem integral to whatever balance of nature moves through the cycle of our peonies. They are both host to and hosted on, both reliant upon, dependent upon, a peony’s opening moment of joy, though both, in the offing, at the disposal of that who is next in line.

And so it is I’m both lost in thought and lost in the persistent feeling of that nagging ache of hunger in my tummy. The kibble bowl calls, and just for now, she-who-holds me can dream about what the future holds. My future is here now, in her arms as she carries me lovingly to my bowl. Supper’s on. All is well. And oh my, is that a yawn I feel coming on?

Most Affectionately Yours,

Most Beloved

Falling Leaves Journals by Most Beloved

Paradise Lost

From the Journals of Most Beloved

November 17, 2019

Sunday, cold now, but beautiful and sunny today

I found a dead bird today, vertical descent and upside down in the suet round house feeder, the one under the awning and cornering the sweet bay magnolia against the house. 

I found it quite by accident. Shock made me motionless, breath held, life suspended, my life suspended over the upending of this delicate bird.

How sad for such a strong one born with wings to fly, to die in such an unnatural position. Although really, what is a natural position in which to frame the arc of a bird’s death? Wings bear weight, and breadth, for only so long, flight inherent in the lift and swoosh upward, ascent gliding course and construct of all things its life. 

And then this—paralyzed acrobatics belonging to predator birds, big birds —hawks, falcons, owls—on such a small slim body. Though not so slim, when by proportion, two suet cakes could squeeze the life out of the little bird.

Did it dip down to eat suet? Dip in through the caged openings, big enough for small birds but not large enough to let big birds come in? Where, fully centered, sweet suet cakes, plump with fat and berries, became the gulped joy of Carolina wrens, chickadees, a female downy woodpecker, and small finches.

Is this what happened? Perhaps the bird was sick? Starving? Just plain stuck? Did it reach so far down because the suet tasted sweeter near the bottom, lodged between that just right place and its own death?

Feral cats, hungry themselves, lie completely still— waiting, waiting, patient because to wait—and to pause, to appear motionless—means to eat. And in so these cats’ eating, these birds’ demise? Is death life? Is life death? Is there a difference?

I know only this still small shock, this harsh blunt of a horrible (hideous) truth—that nature runs wild. Wild against my intent to care for and maintain life in my gardens. Wild against my will. Wild without my permission. 

And in an artful arc of my brush against this garden canvas, I find pain in color—and a hideous descent of all I intended to make divine. And so like bird, death in flight, upside down and strangled, I find a most loathsome urge, guttural choke my own throat, to cry out—how awful this is, how haunting this is, how I shan’t be able to sleep tonight. 

But I cannot speak. Nor breathe. For in sacred gardens, this moment lingers, my profaned art, decried, desecrated, ruined. 

A bird’s life ruined. And the slow sick rise that where placed my heart, my art depends on life without the descent, arc of color without the necessary flourish of denouement. In ache, my own, a small bird’s love stays still. My beloved then, and my beloved still.