Welcome Spring!

Spring is surely my favorite season…In February, we had early blooming Bulbs and Branches- then a cold snap in the last week or so. In the South, we always expect fickle weather, some downpours, a late frost or two and outright craziness. It’s been beautiful here for a few days, so what could be a better time than the first of Spring to get out and poke around, make some observations, snip some herbs, look for the bare spots and make some lightweight decisions? Here’s what I found… IMG_2402

It’s fun to make a Bouquet of Herbs, spread Clippings out, round up some errant Seed Packets and gather up some Passalong Plants.  I found sweet faced Wood Violets, Pansies and Johnny Jump Ups- all edible flowers, they would be so pretty decorating a Cake or even a Spring Salad. The Mint is looking good, the Sage didn’t do so well and one of the new Rosemary plants may need to be moved. I sketched out a new place to grow hardy herbs- and moist or sunny places to put Basil, Mint and tender Lettuces depending on what they like best! The Dandelion’s flowers are bright but it’s the leaves that add a peppery flavor to Salads. The Red Camellia is still holding forth but the new Pink Camellias struggled with the drought last year.  The Flowering Quince has just about had it for this spring and is beginning to leaf out, there are Bearded Iris Rhizomes we divided last fall- so many in fact- I know I’ll need to pass some of those along! IMG_2408

The tiny blades of Yard Chives- are fun to wrap up Tea Sandwiches like a little package or snip across a bowl of Potato Soup. The Mixed Lettuce and Spinach Seeds are up a few inches, time to plant some more and get a few pots of Basil Seeds started. I even found a few faux eggs hanging around! Wonder where they came from?? Of course nothing’s better than to sit down with a cup of Coffee with Pen and Paper to make a few notes for what the Cottage Garden’s been doing- it’s like welcoming back old friends and greeting new ones . Before the Garden Centers are a riot of color, see what you already have… I hope you’ll get out and Forage for Spring’s  Facts and Fun in your yard. Let me know what your Garden’s been up to!

Love y’all, Camellia

*photographs are obviously mine!

When Seasons Collide…

‘For everything there is a season and a season for every purpose under heaven’s canopy…’sally-smith-flowering-quince-with-snow

For valiant undaunted courage, persistent love with a magnificent obsession for life in the face of heartbreaking uncertainty as Seasons Collide…sally-smith-crocus-in-the-snow

For enduring faithfulness, unfailing civility, uncommon graciousness and transcendent hopefulness in the radiant promise of Spring…sally-smith-scilla-and-snow

‘God has made all things beautiful in His Time… ‘

Love y’all, Camellia

These beautiful photographs, which I named ‘When Seasons Collide’ were shared with me by friend and amazing Alabama photographer, Sally Smith of www.CampCreekCreations.com The dazzling photographs were taken as winter fumbled with life’s thin veil and the seasons of life collide.  The photographs belong to Sally and can only be used with permission. *The quotes are extracted from Eccelesiastes 3, with additional text added by Camellia’s Cottage.

Snow…

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Snow is in the forecast- which means in Alabama we might not get a proper snowflake. We’ll look for the signs- the heavy low hanging clouds- snow clouds we call them, whether or not the ground is too warm or too dry or even too wet to stick. We’ll get in a flurry, making sure the pipes are covered, the wood is laid by for a fire, the candles are on standby and most of all we make sure we have milk and bread in the house- don’t ask me why we get these two things, but it is a boost to the local economies.

I also like to make sure there is at least a can or two of evaporated or sweetened condensed milk in the house, just in case we get to make a batch of Snow Cream. Southern Mothers pray the electricity will stay on, the pipes won’t freeze and that we can keep the little ones from tracking the snow into the house, not to mention warm and dry! The children hop from one foot to the other trying to ‘see’ when our Southern Daddies wake them up to look outside. We get so little snow here, that when we do get enough, we have to improvise makeshift sleds; one memorable sled was made from the hood of a car with a big rope attached- it might have been a prototype for the first five person sled. We’ve been known to use the lids of garbage cans, a piece of cardboard or even a small piece of lawn furniture to get the thrill of a lifetime sledding on home soil. There is nothing like getting out and making the first footsteps in new fallen snow, amid cries of ‘Oh don’t mess it up! It’s so pretty!’ SONY DSC

Our Snowmen are notoriously small and misshapen and tend to hang around for just a short spell. Yet no one can deny the awe we feel looking out the window at a fresh glistening white blanket holding delightful magical possibilities.

Alabama is a true beauty covered in snow! We may only get a few flurries, but we know that Winter is the time to dream… SONY DSC

A huge thank you to Jeremy Miniard, who once again has shared his photographic talents so generously!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are the sole property of Jeremy Miniard- visit his site at www.jeremy-miniard.fineartamercia.com – Most of these were taken several years back but we are so glad he shared them!jeremy-winter-23

Strong but Fragile…

imageIt happened again. I broke down and cried. And once again, it took me by surprise. As I stood in line waiting my turn, I saw masses of people-all kinds of folks- from this country and from foreign lands waiting their turn too. Like the tangled historic roots among cobblestones, bricks, asphalt and concrete-their faces were solemn even anxious as they quietly waited, I’m sure mine was too. I read again the history of it. The difficulties, the immense courage of men in another day and time, the decision made knowing what it would cost them.image

I saw so many other landmarks, so much more history, walked in the old cobbled paths read about for a lifetime. I didn’t break down at Betsy’s House or in Ben’s Business, I didn’t even break down as the tour guide pointed out- place after place where history was being made so many years ago. I didn’t break down at Christ’s Church, though I was deeply moved.

Dare I say it? I love this country. I love the red, blue and white star spangled flag and even though it is off-key I do love to sing the national anthem. I still put my hand over my heart when I pledge the flag. Every. Single. Time. I get exasperated with my country, the kind of exasperation I feel when I find a new wrinkle or another gray hair. Not the kind of exasperation that would ever make me want to give up on her, my roots are among those cobblestones, bricks and concrete too.image

This country is Strong and Freedom has always been Fragile. What started as a Dream, a Pursuit and a Bill of a Dozen Right Ideals were formed in the Fiery Furnace, a Foundry filled with the lives and fortunes of a few good men. On a heavy wooden beam their hopes were mounted and hoisted up with the strong belief that there was a better way to form a more perfect union. No one noticed it was imperfect, that a hairline crack had formed. After loudly proclaiming freedom-there was always the possibility that it could break, the ringing could be silenced and the whole idea would become a shining part of world history. image

A dozen years ago, I saw it. I broke down and cried. It took me by surprise then and it took me by surprise again last week. I saw masses of people yearning to be near her, I saw my own family pause by the Liberty Bell- The Liberty Bell spoke to me gently in passing and then I cried.  She stands silent, she stands in full view of Constitution Hall- a Strong Fragile Lady aging gracefully, unruffled and calm.. Even her tiresome quarreling children became quiet and reverent, desperately trying to be more perfect, more united in her presence. Beneath the hem of her garment, created equal with certain inalienable rights-Liberty’s children share her Love of Freedom.  This Southern Belle knows a true Lady when she sees one. Lady Liberty, I salute you, Darlin’.

May God’s generous Grace, His unmatched Mercy and His abiding Love continue to shine His Glorious Light upon you.image

Our Holiday Vacation was an inspiring trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The City of Brotherly Love and the Birthplace of Freedom-where the Lovely Ladies are Strong, the Goodlookin’ Men are Brave and the Children of Liberty strive to be Far Above Average.*

Love y’all, Camellia

*quote- is a play on Garrison Keiller’s statement about the fictional Lake Woebegone – ‘Where the women are strong, the men are goodlooking and the children are all above average.’

All photographs are mine- from Old City, Betsy Ross House, Benjamin Franklin’s Print Shop, Elsfeth Alley, Constitution Hall and of course- Liberty Bell Center

Christmas…

‘Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.’                        Norman Vincent Peale

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‘For unto you is born a Savior…a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes…Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth- Peace Goodwill toward Men…’ from Luke 2:11-14

Merry Christmas from Camellia’s Cottage!

Love y’all, Camellia

*The beautiful Alabama Winter photograph was taken by Jeremy Miniard- jeremy.miniard.fineartamerica.com

Redbirds…

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When a streak of red passes my window in the gray days of winter, I know the Redbirds have returned. In the South, we call these stunning Cardinals-Redbirds. Their cheerful ways and bright feathers always make me happy and remind me of a beautiful poem called ‘At the Winter Feeder’ by John Leax. Winter Holidays can be difficult- may we never forget those who are broken. The Winter Season falls hard on some. These are the special ones- the ones whom God has sent to us as Messengers of Need. Look for them, offer them relief if you can- a kind word, a gentle embrace, a seed of hope at the Winter Feeder.

At the Winter Feeder

His feather flame doused dull by icy cold,  the Cardinal hunched into the rough green feeder but ate no seed. Through binoculars I saw festered and useless his beak, broken at the root. Then two, one blazing, one gray, rode the swirling weather into my vision and lighted at his side. Unhurried, as if possessing the patience of God, they cracked sunflowers and fed him beak to wounded beak, choice meats. Each morning and afternoon the winter long, that odd triumvirate, that trinity of need, returned and ate their sacrament of broken seed.image

An ‘odd triumvirate that trinity of need…a sacrament of broken seed…’ We would do well to watch for Messengers of Need throughout the Winter Season.image

Love y’all, Camellia

These Amazing Photographs were taken by my friend Sally Smith of www.CampCreekCreations.com and are used with permission.

John Leax is a retired English Professor and Poet in Residence of Houghton College. His author page and wonderful books may be found on Amazon.com and other major book retailers. All material may be subject to copyright

Decorating the Southern Home…

imageNo matter what the budget is, Southerners love to decorate their homes at Christmas! A beautiful Christmas tree, a wreath on the door, family heirlooms or sentimental ornaments gathered throughout the years and fresh poinsettias are particularly well suited to the Southern home. The very best holiday decorating includes the home’s year round décor worked in with special holiday touches. Pine is a particularly Southern fragrance, they grow prolifically in the South, and we all love to gather pinecones. I personally love Loblolly Pinecones- perfectly formed or Longleaf pinecones- huge and beautiful. Gathering pinecones to pile in a basket feels just right at Christmas.

The beautiful photographs represent two homes where budget is not a consideration, however we all love to be inspired by Southern beauty wherever we find it.

I hope it puts you in the I’ll be Home for Christmas Mood– if only in your dreams. I am so proud to tell you that my sister supervised the decorating of the gorgeous tree in the top photograph I enhanced her photograph- and the rest are from her very own home! Also edited and enhanced by me…now, really y’all- it sure is pretty! She is an amazing decorator with impeccable taste in her home and beyond and the epitome of a sweet, spunky, smart Southern Lady!

Love y’all, Camellia

*The photograph of the Longleaf Pine may be subject to copyright, the sized pinecones photograph is from www.mr.lsu.edu -*please note a Longleaf Pinecone is very large often up to 9 inches in length, the Loblolly pinecone photograph is my own photograph. The personal photographs should not be used without permission!

Alabama Backroads Beauty…

 

 

75BEC44E-B2E7-4316-ABFA-802C59978E7FAlabama is a beautiful and unique state- we have mountains, rivers, lakes- all the way down to the most beautiful beaches and bays you can imagine! In the Fall, folks like to take a Sunday drive to see the colorful displays of autumn beauty or stay beside one of our Lakes, hike through the woods to see a Waterfall or stop at a Roadside Stand. When Mother Nature shows out and throws down carpets of gold, green and red and happily reaches her arms up to the sky with brightly colored leaves– it’s breathtaking when we have a beautiful Fall, y’all! Let’s get going on our Road Trip- through the Backroads of Alabama…

Off we go!

Let’s get over to the Rivers and Streams…

And take a look at these close ups!

 

And stop at a road side stand…jeremy-fall-30-marketYou can almost hear the singin’…. ‘For the Beauty of the Earth…’ ringing out from the churches!jeremy-fall-27-church

 

How thankful we are for the enormous talents of Jeremy Miniard and his generosity in sharing these beautiful photographs of Alabama the Beautiful! Enjoy!

Love y’all, Camellia

find Jeremy at jeremy-miniard.fineartamerica.com

photographs may not be reproduced without express permission from Jeremy!jeremy-fall-26

Happy Halloween, y’all!

 

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From the backroads of Alabama, a precious scene, harvested just in time to wish all of the little Trick or Treat-ers a Safe and Happy Halloween!

Love y’all, Camellia

I’ve been saving this adorable photograph by Jeremy Miniard for your viewing pleasure during Fall Festivals and Halloween! The photograph is the sole property of Jeremy and not to be reproduced without permission.  Please visit Jeremy’s site at www.jeremy-miniard.fineartamerica.com  He sent me more beauties we hope to share with you soon!

Haunted Houses of Alabama?

Step inside if you dare…

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Alabama has always claimed to have some hauntings…Lord knows I’ve been some places that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck! So, just for fun, I scanned through some of Jeremy Miniard’s wonderful photographs of Alabama with ghosts, goblins, squeakin’ swings, creakin’gates, swingin’ doors or rundown chairs in mind! I found peeling paint, rusted out roofs and ominous clouds over old montrous mansions and scary broken down houses for some spooky and frightfully good fun! Enjoy!haunted-house-10

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                                                                                     Boo!

Don’t plan on going trick or treatin’ at these places! And make sure you have your face pot in plain sight to scare away the evil spirits! Camellia’s Cottage has one that seems to be working so far! imageBut there’s this fella playin’ his guitar upstairs- sounds like he’s singin’ Long Black Limosine…whew I’ve got the shivers …IMG_0596

Love y’all, Camellia

as always we are so thankful to our resident photographer, Jeremy Miniard- all the good photos are his- the face pot and the guitar picker photos are mine. Find Jeremy at www.jeremy.miniard.finartamerica.com  ‘Long Black Limosine’ is an old song by Bobby Bare- I have to admit it always makes me cry…