Black Friday at the Beach

I had a lot to be grateful for over Thanksgiving weekend.  I didn’t get pepper-sprayed, shot in a parking lot, or mugged at knife point after making my purchases at the mall.  Actually, I never went to the malls.  My husband, mother, dog, cat, and I all went to New Jersey to visit my oldest daughter.  She cooked a turkey dinner, we sat around and laughed and talked, and we watched Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and several football games.  Isn’t that what Thanksgiving should be?  I can’t understand why anyone would forfeit family time at Thanksgiving to save some money on a flat-screen television or a sweater.   Maybe our values are not really so different from our elected officials who don’t seem to be able to put human needs above personal interests.

On  Friday we all went to Smithville, a restored historical village five minutes from my daughter’s house.  There we went to our favorite stores.  One is an angel store with all things angelic.  Another was the Irish store.  We always go to the candy and fudge shop.  At night there were hundreds of  trees floating in the lake all lit in various Christmas colors choreographed to Christmas music.  It was wonderful!

The best part of Friday was the time we spent at the beach in Brigantine.  The temperature was in the 60s, we could park right next to the entrance to the beach, and we could easily walk the beach without tripping over people.  There were some other people at the beach, however.  Some were sitting in beach chairs, some were fishing, some were jogging or walking or sitting on the sea wall enjoying the warmth of the sun and the pounding of the surf.  I was certainly grateful to be able to go to the beach at the end of November!

One other moment made me grateful for what I have.  There is a wonderful older couple who lives in the condo upstairs from my daughter’s condo.  The woman had cancer a few years ago and is now dealing with a recurrence.  I saw her several times over the weekend out in front of the condos feeding the squirrels and birds.  She also puts food out for some stray cats in the area.   I am impressed by her determination to continue to live her life the best way she can.  I am also grateful that I have not had a recurrence of my cancer, and I can go visit my children and grandchildren and appreciate my family time together.

I don’t worry that I might have missed a great deal on Black Friday.  I had an unbeatable deal in the time I spent with family.  And the best bargain of the day was found at the beach.  What price can you put on the sound of the sea, the warmth of the sun, and the peacefulness of the shore?

In the Silence of the Snowstorm

In the Silence of the Snowstorm

In the silence of the snowstorm,
White flurry obscuring my view,
My footsteps a lonely pattern
As my thoughts turn softly to you.

I listen for your laughter,
Long for your smile to light up the night,
Try to feel your presence beside me,
But you are nowhere in sight.

How could you not be here with me
On this cold, white winter day?
Why when I need you beside me,
Do you feel so far away?

If my faith were only stronger,
If hope had carried us through,
If you could have held on longer,
Would I now be here with you?

As I near the end of my walk today,
Snow falling furious and fast,
The cocoon of grief within me
Brings memories of the past.

Tomorrow when I walk this snowy path,
When the sun comes shining through
And sparkles the snow like fairy dust,
Maybe then I’ll walk with you.

© Barbara Flass 2011



Pampas Grass in Autumn

The pampas grass stands tall and proud in the late fall fields and gardens,
strong still before the bitter winds of winter come.
Deceptive beauty its game,
the feathery silver plumes wave softly in the breeze.
Its razor-sharp leaves send a message defending against a truth
that it will be dormant soon after the frost comes.

Thriving both here in a northern garden
and in the pampas of South America,
it’s oblivious to damp soil or rocky areas,
adapting easily to all surroundings,
its height only part of its power.
Clinging in tussocks, it gains strength in unity.

It’s a mixture of good and bad, they say,
like so many of us.
Praised for its ornamental beauty,
(the female plant showier than the male),
but maligned as a prolific, invasive spreader,
it has learned to survive despite adversity.

Subtle weapons ready,
the filmy plumes of the pampas grass
offer to mankind a silent lesson in resilience.

Photo Elwood W. McKay III

Spider Web Artistry

One recent morning while enjoying a cup of coffee in the living room, I suddenly saw what looked like a string hanging from the ceiling.  Then I noticed the small black spider dangling from the bottom.  If you have never watched a spider spinning a web, you should.

If my elderly mother had been present, she would have jumped up in panic and run for her shoes to whack it one.  She has an incredible fear of all things spider-like.  Recently, she saw one in her bathroom, a spider she claims was enormous in size and apparently deadly.  She raced out of the bathroom to get a shoe to attack it, ran back in and chased it around before slipping on the bathroom rug, falling, and hitting her head on the edge of the sink.  She was ecstatic at her kill and nonchalant about the huge bruise on her forehead.  I made her go to the doctor who tried to impress upon her the danger of a fall at her age.  He filled her in on the horrific consequences of a broken hip, the required stay in a nursing home and inevitable death from pneumonia.  Did any of that impress her?  Not a bit.  She just smiled and repeated her story that this was a huge spider that had the potential to kill her more quickly than a fall involving a head injury.

That morning as I pointed out to my husband that a small spider was in the process of spinning his web downward toward the coffee table, he quietly got up, went into the kitchen to get a paper towel, walked back to the living room and wrapped up the little critter before he reached the table.  My husband then carefully and slowly walked over to the sliding glass door, opened it up, and gently laid the spider down on the deck.  I have no idea what might have been going through the mind of the spider at the time.  I don’t even know if spiders have a mind, at least maybe not the kind of mind that would question a sudden interruption in the spinning process, or wonder why his nice, warm environment suddenly became the cold autumn air and the solid wood of the deck beneath his legs.   I’d like to think he just shrugged his shoulders (I don’t really know if spiders have shoulders either) and went about his day.

This spider was certainly luckier than that huge, ugly, black toxic spider in my mother’s bathroom that morning, although he did manage to achieve a certain insidious revenge by causing my mother’s fall.  I am really convinced that all life is worth sparing, and the artful spider who spins a delicate web so gracefully in our presence can add a sense of wonder to our days if we only allow it.