Messages in the Sky

Many people have said to me recently that when someone you loves passes away, they stay around awhile to make sure those they love are going to be okay. There is comfort in that, and I’m not alone in having experienced amazing weather phenomena shortly after losing someone. (The day my dear friend, the artist Susie Wynne, died suddenly three years ago, the most brilliant, awe-inspiring, scarlet sunset painted the heavens. And as we arrived home from the service for my step-father nine years ago, a sodden sky cleared and a glorious rainbow arched above the house where he’d been so happy with my mother. I photographed those events as evidence that it wasn’t my imagination.)

In these past days following my Dad’s passing, I’ve chronicled the skies above my house and garden, including the dappled clouds, top, and this gently beautiful sunrise taken from my bedroom window a few mornings ago.

A friend of mine is reminded of his parents by sunsets. I’ve found that dawn is the time of day I never miss.


Some days are pretty good, and some not so good, and on the not so good ones, I sit here in my zero gravity chair and watch the sky.

And meanwhile, the garden continues to change. It’s been raining for a few days, so I’ll share some shots from last week. This is a close up of the flower of a “hosta”, a large-leafed, shade-loving plant that sends up these lovely blossoms.

Cherries from our tree, before the birds ate them all. Oh well, we can get them at the store and the birds can’t.

Another recent, and more intensely dramatic, sunrise taken from the bedroom.

Another dawn

After a day of rain, dawn crept in with soft sunshine, the best time to be out in the garden. Here is the gate between the two upper gardens, one more formal and orderly, the other a bit wild and free. The hydrangeas are at their glorious best.

Something I never knew about my father was his love of irises. Among his important papers we found a picture of Van Gogh’s Irises, which my brother said were Dad’s favorite flowers. I will be planting iris bulbs with abandon this fall.

Yet another shot of the Calla Lily.

More shots of the overall grounds and some of the house. This is the back lawn, a terraced, rolling expanse with birches and maples, bordered by firs and pines.

The view from the kitchen window.

Two views of the living room.

Looking out the living room window to the upper front lawn.


I recently purchased and moved in to a lovely old home with a spectacular 1/2 acre wooded garden in the north of Seattle. A few days after I moved in, my wonderful and much-loved father passed away. Ten days prior, I was able to spend some time with him and showed him photos of the new house, which, with it’s white shingles and dark green shutters, reminded us both of the house he was born in on the Hudson River in NY.

I am not a gardener, and have rarely kept a house plant alive. But now I own a rambling, romantic and to me, mysterious, collection of trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers. Walking out to it in the early dawn has been my solace. I am learning the names of the plants, and how to care for them, and experience wonder at the changes that occur in the landscape overnight. The allegory of growth, death and rebirth is not lost on me. In the garden I cry less frequently. Often I work at weeding or trimming, and just as often I sit, numbly, and watch the clouds pass above, thinking of my father, the aviator, and how much he loved soaring through them.

The exterior front and back gardens.

The new birdbath, which the birds have so far pointedly avoided.

Crocosmia, which brings an iridescent hummingbird to the kitchen window.

Calla Lily, a surprise in the front garden last week.

One of the five hygrangeas.

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