Suzy's Blog/February, 2007        Click for Suzy's Blog Summary

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Valentines Day! The last day of articles about love, and ads full of hearts and flowers. I'll miss them scattered throughout my newspaper. There's nothing like a few hearts and flowers, even on pajamas and boxer shorts, to mitigate what is mostly bad news.

But even love it seems has it's own bad news. Technology has changed it's expression. On the run, we send quick Emails and text messages of love which are easily lost, seldom saved and printed. Hurried and tongue tied when it comes to love, we find our sentiments on line, sentiments like "Your body is a wonderland and I wanna be Alice" Press send.

What happened to heartfelt love letters, carefully and lovingly composed, sealed with a kiss and saved by their recipients in neat, beribboned bundles? Where will we turn on a dark day when we're feeling unloved? Have we lost something important? I can't answer that question, but I do know this grandmother would recognize true love if told "Your body is a wonderland........".

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Something magical is happening in my garden. A little stick, purchased on impulse ten years ago, is now towering over me, covering itself with fragrant pink blossoms. This vision appeared on a gray day in January and, because we haven't had any serious storms, is still in progress. It is the first tree to bloom in Northern California and the first tree to bloom in Japan where it's blossoms are often seen against a background of snow. Called Ume or flowering apricot, the Japanese honor it as a sign of endurance for this ability to bloom in adverse conditions.

I know this because my gardener, George, is Japanese and wise in the way of plants. They have meaning for him that goes beyond their effect in the landscape. When I came home with my Ume and looked helplessly at my garden already full of trees, it was George who knew where it should go.

Today we are standing together in front of this beautiful tree. I've just thanked him for its wise placement. I can see it from so many vantage points as I go about my day. It never fails to cheer me. George tells me the Ume has a role in Japanese New Year's celebrations along with the pine and bamboo. These plants are brought inside for decoration as they carry special meanings. In a way, like our new year's resolutions, they are reminders of qualities we'd like to achieve. The pine symbolizes constancy as it is forever green, the bamboo grows straight and tall, yet bends with the wind, and the Ume endures or as we Americans would say, blooms where it's planted. My Ume reminds me that's possible.


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