This week, Amy has chosen Layered as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I visited the Chicago Botanic Garden yesterday where they were preparing for Night of 1,000 Jack-O’-Lanterns. Peel away the layers of a pumpkin and what do you get? Scroll down to see the result.
Today, for Becky’s Square Lines challenge I’m looking to the butterflies at the Chicago Botanic Garden to brighten up the day.
The weather was perfect for a walk around the Chicago Botanic Garden on the first full day of autumn this week. The air was alive with bees, dragonflies and hummingbirds and there were butterflies everywhere!
I can never walk past the water lilies without taking a few shots even though I have so many of them in the photo files already.
There was an absolute cloud of dragonflies darting about in the rose garden but, for as long as I stood there and waited, I never saw one land so I had to be content with taking pictures of the roses.
As I was walking through the English walled garden, I overheard one of the gardeners telling a tour group that it has been almost 30 years since this particular section of the Garden was opened. Wow! Has it been that long? I remember Mum and I visiting the Garden the day after Princess Margaret attended the dedication ceremony in 1991. It was always one of our favorite areas in the Garden. According to what I was hearing, it is due for some serious renovations so I imagine it will be inaccessible for a while, in the not-too-distant future.
As usual, the Circle Garden had a splendid array of flowers and I was surprised to see some kind of giant magnolia in bloom.
And then there were the hummingbirds. The Garden apparently knows just what the hummingbirds like. I’ve never seen so many in once place before! Everywhere in the garden they were flitting about, racing from flower to flower. The giant blue sage seemed to be favorite.
This abundance of hummingbirds was great in one respect but rather unnerving in another. Those of you who have read some of my previous posts will know that I am terrified of birds, especially small ones that do a lot of fluttering. I really had to steel myself to stand still while they flashed past me and several times I let out a shriek as they zoomed by. For a while, I was standing next to someone who appeared to be a professional photographer (he had all the fancy gear and looked like he knew what he was doing with it.) We got talking and I explained that I was getting rather aggravated with my camera as it seemed to be focusing on everything but the hummingbirds. He offered some words of encouragement, pointing out the birds that were resting on a nearby branch and therefore easier to capture.
I have to give this man credit. He was very patient with me, especially after I had explained to him about my fear of birds (he must have wondered why I kept inadvertently screaming) and when, after I told him that I didn’t think I could handle any more fluttering and would quit while I was ahead, he even offered to escort me to the end of the path to make sure I was alright. If by any small chance you are reading this, sir, I would like to offer my most sincere thanks. Not too many people understand how debilitating these phobias can be (I was almost on the point of collapse by this time.) I didn’t want to take up any more of his time, however, and made a run for it, dodging more of these little flying gems as I went. Eeeeek!
Last November, my 92-year-old mother-in-law was admitted to hospital with a serious medical condition. Let’s face it, at that age any medical condition is serious and we were becoming accustomed to receiving calls to come to the hospital, but this time things really didn’t look good.
After several tests to determine the problem, it was clear that surgery was definitely not an option so the plan was to stabilize her, treat her with various medications and hope for the best.
Normally mother-in-law lived at home with one son, and at least three more of us visited her regularly every week so it wasn’t surprising that once the word got around, everyone showed up at the hospital.
I hate to sound the alarm unless things are really dire but eventually there came a point where we really believed that she wasn’t going to survive this latest crisis, and I sent the message out to our three daughters, two of whom live quite a distance away, that now might be the time to gather round. Other family members had done the same and before long there were sons, daughters, in-laws, grandchildren and their husbands and even a great-grandchild at her bedside.
Now, I’m in no way religious, but I have to say that the effect of seeing all those caring faces surrounding her was nothing short of miraculous! The joy of knowing that there were so many people who truly cared about her well-being was unmistakable. Some people may have frowned at our numbers and the sometimes-raucous joviality no doubt engendered by a nervous concern for the patient, but I truly believe that the power of family brought her back from the brink.
Over the course of the next couple of days she perked up! She sat up and started eating. She made jokes and even managed a few steps with the physical therapist. However, this progress was short-lived and over the course of the next few weeks she was shuttled between ICU and a standard hospital room with startling regularity. It was like being on a roller coaster ride, for her and us.
Eventually it was determined that nothing more could be done and the decision to send her home under hospice care was taken. Once again, everyone came to grips with the fact that this probably was the end. But this tough old bird was not going to go down without a fight, almost literally as it turned out.
Winter came and went and spring brought hopes that once again things might be looking up. Mother-in law rallied to the point where she was able to walk a few steps with some assistance. And then the unthinkable happened.
Answering a summons from the doorbell one morning, my brother-in-law was lured out of the house by a man claiming to be there to cut down some branches that were overhanging a neighbor’s yard. While he was outside, another man entered the house and started rummaging through drawers and cupboards. Mom called out for her son and when he didn’t answer she knew there was something wrong. She managed to get out of the hospital bed that had been set up in the living room and, filled with righteous indignation, came steaming out of the room unaided and without her walker, shouting at the intruder to “clear off!” And he did, along with his partner in crime. He must have got the fright of his life when she came at him shaking her fist.
We laughed about it afterwards but things could have turned out a lot differently. Despite her claims that she “wasn’t afraid,” this by now 93-year-old, who also relied on a pacemaker to keep her heart functioning, could have suffered a fatal fall, or even been attacked by someone who could have quite easily knocked her down. But neither of these things happened and the episode became the topic of conversation for several weeks thereafter.
Summer arrived and things settled down. Although she wasn’t in great shape, Mom continued to show signs of improvement. I suppose, realistically, we shouldn’t have expected this trend to last and it didn’t.
Last week she took another turn for the worse and once again family arrived from different parts of the country to be by her bedside. This time, rather than rallying her will to live, I think she took comfort in everyone’s presence, knowing that now she could finally let go of life and eventually, on Monday morning, she slipped away.
We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues and I certainly found her infuriating at times but her loss has certainly left a void in our lives and, for some, her leaving will be a difficult thing with which to come to terms. Still, the power of family will keep us strong and together we’ll face the future with some fond memories of a woman with an indomitable spirit.
Note; – The rose images were captured at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It became increasingly difficult to coax mother-in-law out of the house when she got older but one of the last places we visited together was the Garden.
I’m still catching up with posts and replies but be assured, I will get to all of them eventually.
Today’s entry for Becky’s July Blue Squares challenge features some scenes from the Chicago Botanic Garden. These pictures were taken when the temperatures were a little cooler. As much as I love the Garden, it’s just too hot to enjoy walking around there at the moment.
Butterflies at the Chicago Botanic Garden are my second entry for the July Blues squares. Still trying to catch up with posts and emails. Our youngest grandson is visiting this week so posts and replies may be a bit sporadic but I will get to them all eventually. I am, however, making every effort to keep up with all the excellent blogs that I follow on WordPress.
This week, Amy has chosen something Unique as the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with the butterflies at the Chicago Botanic Gardens and, rather like snowflakes, it seems as though every one is slightly different. And they feel like snowflakes too, whispering past my arms and neck, giving me those butterfly kisses just like my mother used to brush against my cheeks with her eyelashes when I was a child.
And there is definitely some butterfly hanky panky going on in here. What I at first take to be one very large, oddly-shaped butterfly turns out to be two having a good time in the afternoon sun. And there are more of them at it a little further along the path.
I wonder if it’s the rotting fruit that is driving them sex mad? There seems to be a constant flow of visitors to these colorful trays of tempting delicacies, including a butterfly that looks strangely like an autumn leaf.
Whatever the reason, the butterflies are extremely active, the air is full of them fluttering around. It’s a strange thing but although moths usually send me running for the exits or screaming for assistance in the house, butterflies are welcome to land on my shoulder or, like this one, catch a ride on my camera bag.
Each one of these little gems is a unique creation of nature, living a brief, gaudy life, distributing butterfly kisses and filling the hearts of young and old alike, with joy.