Peonies for remembrance

It’s been peak bloom for peonies this past week. With our hot temperatures and gusty winds I can walk outside and immediately smell the scent of peonies in the air. It’s a short-lived bloom season, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons I savor every day. We’ve added additional peony bushes over the years, but I continue to favor the ones that I transplanted from my mother and father’s house in Kansas. These are the ones that were on the side of their house, sometimes neglected, but they continued to blossom. Each year my parents would gather and cut the blooms to take to the cemeteries on Memorial Day and lay on the graves of relatives. Fast forward to now, with both my parents having passed on, I’m filled with wonderful memories and see these Kansas peonies blooming in honor of my mom and dad.

The beauty of Kansas and the midwest

We traveled south last week for a visit with family in Kansas.  Our route took us off the interstate and along two lane highways and county roads.  It was relaxing and much more interesting than the speed-view when traveling at 70+ miles per hour.  We stopped at small city parks and explored fields of corn and soybeans.  The temperatures were still summer-like but the days are certainly shorter.  The sunsets were beautiful like this one –  fields of flowers and a ball of fire going down over the horizon but still giving its glow and colors to the clouds above.  The field was full of dragonflies and grasshoppers, all in a feeding frenzy before fall and winter’s arrival.  It was a wonderful trip — not just for the scenery but more importantly for the time spent with family.

Softball weekend in Iowa

Our weekend was a two-night road trip south to Iowa for softball.  My niece plays for the Baker University Wildcats (from Baldwin, Kansas) and they were playing games in Dubuque and Cedar Rapids;  a perfect excuse for a beautiful spring weekend escape from the north.  Today’s games were against the Mount Mercy Mustangs of Cedar Rapids.  With excitement in both games, the Wildcats won the first game and the home-town Mustangs won the second game.  But the weekend also gave us a chance to explore some areas of Wisconsin and Iowa we hadn’t seen before, and also the chance to catch up with family.  A whirlwind trip, but so very worth it!

Sunrise down a gravel road

County road sunrise7D_13742_StaatsI awoke this morning before the sunrise, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door.  We were in Kansas for a family wedding.  The weather had been as perfect as is possible for August in Kansas – low humidity, sunshine, and temps in the 80’s.  But this morning the air was fresh and cooled, and the fog hung low in the valleys.  As I drove down gravel roads, the dust hung in the golden air and the sunlight glistened off the telephone lines and the grasses.  My nephew and his lovely bride were married in a garden setting yesterday, surrounded by family and friends.  It was lovely and it was just as they had hoped – a true expression of who they are individually and who they are as a couple.  As I was greeting the morning with an appreciation of the scenery and a new day, I was hoping that this first day of their life as husband and wife would be a beautiful omen of their future together.  Congrats to them; and I’m so proud of their family that has showered them with love.

Peonies in full bloom

White and pink peonies 13429_StaatsWith a burst of color, the peonies have come into bloom.  Their fragrance is brought to full fruition by the breeze that blows through the bushes, carrying the scent across the yard.  And when I’ve brought the bouquets into the house, I can catch the fragrance as I walk from room to room.  Perhaps it’s because they are short-lived that I look forward to their bloom each year.  Or perhaps it’s because they remind me of my childhood – my parents’ love of peonies and the tradition of taking them to my relatives’ grave sites on Memorial Day.  I’m especially thankful that these pink peonies are from the plants that were my parents’.