Tuesday, August 30, 2011


In a few days, the children go back to school and life goes back to normal. While I always look forward to Autumn's colors and holidays, I know in a few weeks I'll find myself missing the quiet simplicity of Summer's white. 

This loss is a tradition I've never understood. If white is the absence of color, why does it evoke so much emotion, bring back such vivid memories? Could it be the stark contrast? 

The scent of climbing roses?

The velvet touch of a flower's petal?

Or the sound of waves on sand?

And yet I know white isn't just a memory of senses. So then why do I miss something defined by nothing? Maybe because, for me, white is weddings,
flowers in my mother-in-law's Charleston garden,
and sweet iced tea with my sisters on a veranda.

Then again, others may have a different view of white. For those who see the world through glasses, white has a hue. Pink, maybe?

Or yellow?
For those who just met, white is questions.  He loves me? He loves me not?
For those in love, white is promises carried in a bridal bouquet.
For those on a journey, no matter how far, white is a watchful friend. 
For those who serve, white is Duty,



But white isn't always so noble or grand. For those who've lived through a storm's devastation, white is humbling. 

For those who grieve, white is fading.
For those who are lost, white is blurry.

For those seeking forgiveness, white is redemption.

And for those who are gone, white is remembrance. 

If this lack of color, hidden within the sun's rays, dries our tears, lifts us above ourselves, brings us peace, then white is nothing short of mercy. 
And since mercy is the only thing in this world that's free, its loss leaves a yearning in my heart vibrant reds and shimmering golds can't replace. Because when all is white, 
All is hope,
All is love, 
All is Grace.

May you find happiness and peace in summer's last embrace.

What is a "Study in . . ."? 
A visual record defined by a single element, such as color, texture, or type. Previous journal entries for Study in Summer include Hide and SeekSudley ManorRed, White, and Blue, and Family Reunion, Time Spent with Butterflies, and Walney Pond

Friday, August 26, 2011


Best Banana Chip Bread
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream sugar and butter together until fluffy. Beat in eggs and bananas. Then beat in dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts, and raisins. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe journal is an attempt to work my through my grandmother's extensive recipe collection. Below is what the original index card looks like which is why I'm trying to preserve those recipes worth keeping.
Last week's recipe was Chicken Pineapple Salad. Both these recipes are perfect on a hot summer afternoon with homemade lemonade.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


One of our summer traditions is a week spent in nature camp at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park which had once been a 700 acre Virginia farm in the 18th and 19th centuries. 
The property includes the original farmhouse, the garden, a smokehouse, acres of hardwood forest, three creeks, and Walney Pond. Usually I drop the kids and head for a coffee shop to write for a few hours.

But on the last day of camp, the heat dipped below 95°, making it seem balmy instead of stifling. So while the children walked in the creek and planted flowers in the butterfly garden, I found my camera and headed for the farmhouse.

But I quickly got distracted by the colonial-era kitchen garden. Fenced and gated to keep out deer, the simple garden layout included corn, pumpkins, root veggies like carrots and potatoes, a variety of squashes, and herbs growing wild.
I also caught a few volunteer flowers hiding from the volunteer weeders (including my own children).

As I  wandered through the garden, the buzzing got louder and louder. At first I thought it was the  drone of cicadas hiding in the trees, but then I noticed the bees. 

Lots and lots of bees. 

Not being a huge fan of bugs, especially those that sting, I headed for Walney Creek, knowing it would lead me to the pond.

Walney Pond covers an acre of land with a marsh in the shallow end,and lily pads filling in around the edges. 
The marsh, besides being private and peaceful, offers a multitude of native aquatic plants and flowers that attract local wildlife experts and artists, 

bird boxes for tiny songbirds seeking solace and safety,

colorful flowers for the butterflies,
even a home to a tiny ant.

And, of course, there were more bees. (They must have heard me coming!)

As I rounded the pond, I heard laughter coming down the path with cries of "Tag! you're it!"

And I knew it was time to leave. Another nature camp over, with stories of S'mores,  snakes, and bugs. But there was one more thing to do--one more summer tradition that the children begged me for. 

A tradition I was happy to oblige!

Before summer ends, I hope you find your own special place of solace, quiet, and peace.