The right way

At the center of my picture stands Jeff, surrounded by  forces of nature beyond our control. But I must admit, even the kudzu is beautiful.  September 2014

At the center of my picture stands Jeff, surrounded by forces of nature beyond our control.
But I must admit, even the kudzu is beautiful. September 2014

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”
Frances Hodgson Burnett

Recently on an early evening walk, I was basking in the new cool of September, and as I approached our Alexandria townhome I looked over the expanse behind it and felt almost as if I was seeing it for the first time.  It’s a lovely view, and I’ve walked past it dozens (really maybe hundreds) of times, but something about the sublime weather combined with the verdant landscape to engage my full attention.

For perhaps the first time, I realized that I could barely see our own deck in the distance.  I ran home for my camera, and convinced Jeff to step outside on the deck for a photo while I ran back outside to take the shot, as the last of the daylight faded rapidly. Jeff humored me, even waving as I snapped away.  I wasn’t the only one enjoying the beautiful evening, because looking at the photos, I can see our neighbor on her deck, right behind Jeff.

Inexpensive cameras have great telephoto lenses nowadays!  This was taken from the same spot, a few seconds after I took the first one.

Inexpensive cameras have great telephoto lenses nowadays!
This was taken from the same spot, a few seconds after I took the first one.

Life really is a garden, isn’t it?  We all have to work the soil with no guarantees of what will spring up and thrive.  Sometimes we are deluged with weeds.  Sometimes the expensive perennial we bought gets choked out by the more invasive and less charming ground covers.  But I love digging in the garden, trying new things and always hoping for favorable rains and sunshine to produce dazzling colors.

The whole world is open to us, available for our admiration and enjoyment.  When things seem bleak, remember to look the right way and see the garden. It may not look like much right now, but just wait until the spring and summer are here!

One year ago today:

Drinking in the surroundings

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    Wow, what a stunning contrast!
    What are your favorite places to walk in your new neighborhood?

    • Sad to say, I walk the same route every day, down to the river and back. Just a mile round trip, not enough. They are finally getting SOMETHING done on the vast area where the train station and town center were supposed to be. Now they’re saying mid-2023 for the train station to open. That will be here before we know it, assuming this deadline (like literally a dozen before) doesn’t keep getting moved into the future…

      • Yes, I remember thinking I could possibly arrive by train next time I visit! And I suspect I may see you again, prior to arriving by train!

        • Are you planning to make any work-related trips to New England before Christmas? It would be fun to plan a festive day or two in some charming, well-decorated town. 😀

          • That does sound fun,Julia! Unfortunately, with my parents and also my Dad’s brother with their aging, issues and needs, I am spending most vacation time I have this year in AZ or FL. My sister’s son has told his friends that all his vacations this year have been to “go see old people.”
            Despite all that, I will miss them when they’re gone.
            Seasons change!

            • Susan, you are completely right to prioritize them. You will never regret the time you are spending with them, and it will mean a great deal to you when they are gone. And sometimes we have to make hard choices in order to be there for them. I did that during my parents’ last years, and I have no regrets, other than the year after Daddy died, when so much of what (I did not know then) was going to be Jeff’s last year on this earth, was spent trying to help Mama through various problems– most of which Daddy had tried so hard, mostly in vain, to prevent happening to her. But Jeff always had a special, almost protective regard for my Mama, who was so like him, so he supported my taking so much time away to be with her. But it’s hard not to wish I had had 100% of that last year with him. In any case, I am so proud of you and supportive of your being there for them. That, too, is a kind of devotion that is sadly lacking in today’s world…

  2. Susan

    This one made me catch my breath, Julia. So many moments you captured, not knowing that they would not go on indefinitely. I hope this one brought some happiness despite missing Jeff so much.

    • Susan, it did. Sometimes when I think I’m making ZERO progress with my grief, I realize that my memories now bring me (mostly) more joy than pain. I’m learning, at the ripe old age of mandatory Medicare, to be grateful for what WAS. I still have to stay focused on what IS, but loving and losing is far better than never loving at all. I really believe that. BTW it’s super fun to read your comment and know that you can recognize EXACTLY where that photo was taken from! 😀

  3. Susan

    You have had to go through this process younger and earlier than most people do. I’m glad for the healing.

    Over the weekend I was reading your blog with a couple of my children visiting and showed them a picture and told them how I admire that you and Jeff did so much during the time you had together and how amazingly you preserved so many of the memories with your photos.

    I know you don’t use facebook much but now that I’ve been on it for over a decade, I appreciate having Memories show up each day, reminding me of things I had forgotten about, similar to what your blog “reruns” do here.

    I found last week that I unknowingly had access to genealogy records and photos from my dad, who passed away last year. He had sent me links to individual sets of photos but I didn’t realize this gave me access to the entire collection. There are so few photos from “way back” that seeing some in there that I hadn’t before is such an amazing discovery, along with notes of family details that I didn’t know.

    • Wow, what a treasure trove! Honestly the “richest” legacy he could have left for you, and I know his death increased the emotional value of those records exponentially. I’m so happy for your wonderful discovery! Let me know if you turn up any famous (or infamous 😀 ) ancestors you didn’t know about!

      Thanks so much for your kind words about Jeff and me. Sometimes when I look back on all that we did together, I feel exhausted just thinking of it– especially the many cross-country and transpacific moves that were part of being a military family. When we were first engaged (unofficially for about a year, and then officially for another year before we married) I told him “the world is too big to live in one place all your life.” Of course, we had always imagined we would do the most traveling after he retired. Since his life was far shorter than we had expected, I’m now grateful for every bit and small bit of traveling we did manage to do together, and for the airline employee benefits that made it possible in our lean years. I’m also glad I took so many photos, thought it often got on people’s nerves! 😀

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