The Lesson of the Pear Trees

23 Sep

Years passed at Heathfield, happy years for the most part. My love for the house and everything in it grew a pace. The land and the trees and the bountiful flowering bushes, lilac and snowball and Japonica. I adored the place. That first summer I would walk around it just saying silently “This is OURS, this is MINE.” It was a dream come true. Why had I delayed moving to the country so long?
I had been afraid. Afraid of change and the unknown and having to make a whole new life for ourselves. But the very things I had been afraid of became the best things. The whole new way of life was miraculous. And we all grew and changed and became better people because of it. Because of Heathfield we had a wonderful life of healthy, fun and frolic. We raised dogs and horses and cattle and chickens and pigs and even tried quail (disaster) and bunnies and I am sure I have left some animals off the list, by accident.
Time passed, our son Charley Jr and daughters Helen and Lilla grew and more were born. Robert and then Murdoch added to our young family. We entertained a great deal. Often we had parties on the terrace overlooking the yard where a pair of pear trees dominated the view. They were charming with their wide branches and tall for fruit trees. Gorgeous in springtime covered in white blossoms, magnificent in summer laden with pears, presaging winter as their leaves changed early in the fall. And in deep winter standing naked and proud of their shape, they were the first thing the eye beheld when looking south. I loved those trees.
And then disaster struck. One morning when I looked out of the window towards the south a horrible sight greeted me. One of the pear trees lay in pieces on the ground. When I say pieces I really mean pieces. It looked as if a china figure had crashed and broken into sections which were lying on the ground. I was so sad. It was heartbreaking to see the remains of that tree. And the other one looked forlorn and alone. Charley called a tree company and they came out to look at it and they brought horrifying news. We must cut down the mate to the fallen tree. We had no choice. It was dead and brittle just like the downed tree. No telling when it, too could fall. It might happen while children were playing in the yard. The situation brought a real danger to our family and needed to be addressed immediately. So we cut her down.
I cried. And I mourned those pear trees. When ever I looked into the yard in that direction, I saw only the gap where there had once been trees.

My eyes saw no further. It was as if there were a screen between me and the further fields. And so things remained all the rest of that year. Over and over I mourned the trees. I spoke of them often. It ruined my pleasure in that yard to see the empty place where they had been.
The following spring I gave a luncheon for the Mount Vernon Chapter of the DAR, at Heathfield. I wanted to please my mother in law. And I was pretty good at throwing these parties for a whole lot of people. I did not hesitate. The day was fine. Not too hot nor was it cold. There were about 60 ladies and I had tables placed all around two sides of the house for them to sit down and eat their lunch. I believe we served them quiche and a salad and then when it came to desert I realized that the pies I had bought were frozen. They needed to cook for nearly an hour in order to be ready. it was a terrible mistake. We heated the ovens extra high and tried to speed it up other ways.
In the meantime I was outdoors trying to distract the ladies from the fact that the desert was so late. I was speaking to a couple of ladies as we gazed out, toward the south. We were looking at the yard where the pear trees used to stand.
“I am so sorry you cannot see the pear trees which once stood there,” I said. “They were so pretty and big and bloomed so wonderfully in the spring.”
And the lady said “Oh that would have been terrible. They must have spoiled your view. You would not have been able to see this lovely vista!”
And when she said that, it was as if scales were removed from my eyes. Suddenly I saw the view. The gorgeous view that had opened up immediately when the pear trees were down. A magnificent view had been there all the time, and I never noticed it. I was too busy mourning the trees that were gone. Focused on lack, I failed to see the abundance which was squarely in my view.
But once I saw it, I could not UN-see it. I was grateful. And I marveled at the human brain and how it can deceive us. All that time I spent missing something that had run its course. Those trees were old. Their time was past. And furthermore, we had acquired the land on the other side of the stone wall. It belonged to us now. And we were able to care for it and mow it and keep it trimmed to some extent while still allowing cover for the little animals which lived in thickets around the fence lines.
What I saw now was spectacular. The long view, the vista, the undulating land disappearing in the distant wood and succeeding fields carried the eye on and on. Everyone could see it, but me. I have rarely been so blindsided by something that was right in front of my face. The lesson has stayed with me. I often speak of the Lesson of the Pear Trees. I have told the story hundreds of times and gained a bit more self knowledge each time. I am so grateful to those trees for teaching me.
It is one of the most important lessons one can learn. And for some reason it seems to be a common problem. People focus on something or someone who is gone, and fail to see that a better thing or person is right in front of their nose. Why is this a pattern?
I am not sure why. It is almost universal. But I preach this over and over. Don’t overlook something wonderful because you are busy looking for something that is no longer there.
There are so many properties, so many dogs, so many choices of people who could be a mate. The possibilities are endless. But you must take the trouble to look. And sometimes that is not easy. Everyone gets tired of beating their heads against a stone wall. People lie to themselves, often. The most important thing is to know what you want, and why you want it.
I wanted the Pear trees because they had always been there. As soon as they were gone I began focusing on lack. it colored everything I looked at. It even colored my thinking about Heathfield for a time. And yet there was NO LACK. Actually there was a better view than we had ever had, and besides that, the entire yard south of the house now opened up for football and tag and what ever games the children wished to play. And when we had our 20th Wedding Anniversary Dance we were able to place the tent without worrying about those trees being in the way , the way they were for our 10th Anniversary party.
Occasionally I have discovered other situations like this, that I would never have noticed it if were not for the Lesson of the Pear Trees…

That sadness which was real, but unrealistic, taught me. I longed for something whose time was over, and almost missed something whose time had come. And there is where the lesson lies.


Copyright©. 2018 Bonnie B. Matheson

Serious about weight loss and lifestyle change!

11 Sep

This David King, Long Term Solution weight loss program is seriously important to me.
I am losing weight, but being careful, rather than being impossibly diligent. On the other hand, I am really pretty happy eating this way. It keeps me full and not hungry. Did I mention CLARITY??? My mind is clear. Chrystal clear in a way that I had nearly forgotten. Was it ever this clear? I am not sure. Eating this way makes a huge difference mentally.

I am concentrating on me. I have completely changed my eating habits. I went through my granddaughters wedding weekend without cheating. It was a big day. All that food and all that excitement did not tempt me. None of the drinks or the hors d’oeuvres passed my lips. I think a lot of people would have found this hard. But, not if they have been in a program where all the bad carbs and sugar are completely cleared out of their system. That is why it is so easy, now.
None of the sugar demons that David King is always talking about are in my body. I don’t feel like taking a week off for poor eating, and gaining 10 pounds back. I want to continue my steady but slow weight loss. It would be nice to speed it up, now that I am home in the city. I went on a 40 hour fast starting last Monday afternoon and ending it with lunch on Wednesday. That helped things along. Fasting for 40 hours is powerful. I have done this 4 times so far.
I do not want to eat boring food. Every sort of ethnic food is my favorite. I am not sorry, I can learn to eat those things without the rice. I do love rice and that is the one food that I have chosen as my cheat food for David King’s Fat-Shocker program.

Though I went through a week of prep and two weeks of Fat Shocker I only lost 2 pounds and that is not much compared to what some people lost. But I did not exercise twice a day, as they said we should. I did not eat purely unsalted food. And I could tell that my body was getting thinner. Even though it was not as MUCH thinner as I once thought I might be able to do during the 2 week intense phase. Since I was on vacation it was modified. For me it just was not that intense. IN fact, it was fairly easy for me. Because I was so focused on the way of eating outlined in his program.
I want to get thinner and fitter. I used to believe that in order to get thinner and fit I must work out with a trainer. It does not work. It did make me quite fit, but I lost NO WEIGHT. For women my age, there is only one way to lose weight. The old fashioned way. Changing your diet. Now there are different types of diets. The fastest one by far is the Keto Diet.
But there is a huge downside. Once you start eating normally again, it all stops working and you gain the weight back. Some people gain MORE than they had lost.

The answer is David King and his Nutritious Keto programs one of which is The Long Term Solution. I recommend it highly. It has changed my life.

If my weight was to creep back up, I would be in serious trouble. So, I must adjust to never eating the way I ate before …never…again. That is sort of sad. But, I actually like the way I must eat most of the time. My clear mind and feeling of alertness reminds me to stay focused. All that soul food that I love so much is simply NOT good for me. Many years ago, I used to drink Coca Cola all day. I loved cokes. I could not imagine how I would ever give them up. But I did. 30 years ago, I gave them up and have barely noticed since. Every once in a while I have one. At the movies sometimes, but they simply do not taste the same. So, if I can give them up, I guess I can give up ravioli! And pasta of all kinds, rice and noodles and potatoes and quinoa, couscous and every type of starch that I have enjoyed, so much. No more toast at breakfast or popovers or popcorn in movies. Corn is just as bad as wheat for causing me to gain weight. It is all GMO. And I want to avoid that…
This is going to be a different lifestyle for me. But, there are plenty of things I can eat. Sandwiches are out. Hoagies and wraps and pita type sandwiches, pizza, and even quiche is all a ‘no no’. But if I can be thin, which I am NOT yet, but if I can, it will be worth it.

I did not realize how much I wanted to be normal size, because it was so out of my reach. Now I see that I can do this, after all. I am very grateful to my daughter, Helen, for arranging it.(For badgering me until I signed up, actually)
My whole mindset is changed. With my head so clear, everything makes sense. And I have become hopeful and happy. You never know what you REALLY think, until something happens to give you a bit of clarity. Sometimes that is a desperate change, sometimes it is subtle. My 25 pound weight loss has given me a huge incentive to keep it up. I want to see how long it takes to lose another 25. Let’s make it 12 weeks allowing for unforeseen events. 12 weeks from now is about Thanksgiving. If I could lose 25 pounds by Thanksgiving that would mean that I will have lost 50 total. And I would be at a normal weight.
Now that is an attainable goal. I can do that. There will be no reason to eat sugar. No cookies, not any holiday foods, except wild rice casserole, which I will not give up. But, that is also OK. If I can have that, then I can give up the other things people like about holiday eating. If there is a turkey, I would love to have some stuffing. I believe I can just go on eating as I am and do OK. Lots of artichokes. And an occasional martini to make it festive now and then.
So perhaps without meaning to I have become a tiny bit obsessed with this weight thing. Because it keeps my mind clear. Writing is first of all, my favorite thing. It makes me happy every minute that I am doing it. All the while I am losing weight, a couple of pounds a week. That is a goal that will keep on giving, just as the writing does, in it’s own way. What a happy and exciting time this is. I am so grateful for it!






Copyright©. 2018 Bonnie B. Matheson

My Granddaughter was Married to Her Sweetheart August 25th 2018

5 Sep


August 25th, Saturday 2018—The Wedding

Today I watched my first granddaughter get married.

Delilah married Alex Harris. They met in 4th grade. And today is the culmination of a courtship, many years in the making.

On waking in D.C. at Underoak, I noticed the lovely weather immediately.

Yesterday was perfect. Today was simply more perfect, if possible. The almost full moon last night was going to be full tonight. The temperature was moderate and the humidity almost nil. The warm air surrounded us like an ocean, and the sky was full of little clouds that floated overhead so ornately, I half expected cherubs to start appearing with tiny bows and arrows of love. All day the sun shone, the clouds played overhead, and every aspect of the visible earth was green and flower- filled due to the constant rains that had permeated the countryside all during August.

The morning I spent partly with my son, Robert and his son, Jack. I was toying with what to wear and what to take with me to my daughter, Lilla’s home. I Still had not decided if I would stay or not. And in the end, I did. But at that time, in the middle morning, I was still unpacking or at least putting away the things I unpacked hurriedly yesterday, returning from Newport. My room in D.C. was a wreck and I did not want to leave it that way. Lilla called me and in a fit of wedding hysteria, wondered why I was not there already.

So, I literally threw some things together and set out for Virginia, arrived in time to buy some Asian food at the market in The Plains, which I ate out on the porch. Everyone else had had sandwiches earlier and champagne and orange juice. There was little for me to do, actually; it was a question of my just being there. The afternoon passed fairly quickly, until about three o’clock, when we were to be ready for family photos. That took a while, but then we were through and had an hour to wait before it was time to go down to the “glen” or “glade” where the wedding was going to take place.

I went down in a golf cart with Ethel, their maid, and I sat in the front pew.  My ex-husband, Charley, and his wife, Julie were there, too. All of my children and most of my grandchildren were seated in those front pews. We had a chance to greet all the guests because the shuttle that was supposed to pick up the groom’s family was VERY late doing so. So, the entire wedding had to be set back nearly half an hour.

But it was lovely there in the glen, and cool.

The gorgeous, lush green setting was embellished with containers full of ferns and a bountiful arrangement sitting on a tree stump– with deep pink roses and foxglove and other flowers in such abundance– so glorious– exploding over the sides like a fountain of flowers. Twigs sticking out at uneven angles and lots of leaves spilling over the edges and cascading downwards gave the impression of movement. The floral embellishments to the unusually shaped wedding arch, designed and handcrafted by the bride’s cousin, Charley Hilliard, gave a magical look to the venue. Cleverly attached to the sides of the arch in an asymmetrical way, they carried the eye to the center of the arch where the bride and groom stood.

First the bridesmaids came down the aisle each on the arm of a groomsman. The last 2 had a groomsman on each side.  And after all of that, Elias glided down the grassy aisle with a garland on his head and a basket of flowers and petals to throw. An unusual and enthusiastic flower “girl”. Lilla and Chris have very interesting children.

Then from far away, the bride walked down the grassy path from out of the mist (if there had been mist) She was joined by her father at the back of the audience seated on the pews made of tree trunks sawn and treated to be smooth.
They walked together towards the altar, and once there, they were joined briefly by Lilla who came and kissed the bride and went back to her pew with Chris, her husband, father of the bride.

They were married by a judge.

I said, quietly, to Charley, “So they aren’t really married, are they?”

And he said, quietly, to me, “That is what my mother would have said.”

We kept silent.

It was a moving ceremony. Beautiful. Many, many tears…shed by the wedding party, the bride and the groom! (not to mention, all of us!)

It was a lovely ceremony with readings by a friend of the groom, and by the bride’s sister, Georgina. She read a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.

The bridesmaids wore pink tulle skirts with separate ecru lace tops, with some tummy showing if they let it. They looked ethereal, their outfits blending in with the floral and natural elements of the space.

The bride’s dress was very bare, and rather full of detail. The back was bustled slightly, and there was lace and many layers. And, she wore the veil! –the veil that was worn by my grandmother, when she married my grandfather. Mother did not wear it, but I did.  Both daughters, Helen and Lilla, wore it, too. And now my granddaughter, Delilah, was wearing it. It had developed a big rip in the train, and Lilla cut it shorter and trimmed it again with tiny pearls, as it had been before. Lovely to look at, the veil is light, airy. A simple net trimmed with pearls, it is unusual. There is a design of pearls on the back where it cascades down from the crown, and a separate row of pearls stitched horizontally across the back to enhance the look. I loved wearing that veil at its full Cathedral length, but Lilla’s cutting it made it more contemporary and much more wearable for a modern woman like Delilah. It suits her. The whole wedding suited her.

The blue of the sky and crying out of two owls during the ceremony, and the happy crowd watching as the new Mr. and Mrs. Alex Harris walked back up the aisle, now husband and wife.

They were married, and so…Let the party begin!

We had more family photos taken, and then we went up the hill to the house. Though I went in a golf cart most of the guests walked up a mown path between thousands of wild flowers. Spectacular!  I went into the yard above the pool where cocktails and hor d’oeuvres were being served. So many relatives and friends made if fun for everyone. We chatted and ate and drank. People were milling around, but not too many people. The entire crowd numbered about 250. A manageable size. And that perfect weather continued.

All sorts of relatives attended. We were missing two boys, but  fifteen of our grandchildren were there. And that was an impressive sight. They were all having fun seeing each other. All of them are lovely or handsome. They laughed and danced and talked and enjoyed each other. It was a very happy occasion, all in all.  And everyone was smiling. Only rarely does a wedding occur where both sides know each other and those who do not meld right in.

After what seemed a very long time, we all were summoned into the big tent for dinner. There was a main table for the wedding party and two separate tables for the older folk. Grandparents, for instance. Lilla and I had “seated” these tables not too long before the wedding. They looked marvelous.

Later, I saw my ex-husband Charley and his wife, Julie, get up and begin to dance, and I felt, just a twinge, a moment’s  regret at not having a partner myself. Then later, while standing and talking to Helen, I saw Julie motioning me from the dance floor. I went over and she said to me, “You both have such wonderful grandchildren, you should dance with each other.”

And so, Julie left the dance floor, and Charley and I had  a long and a very nice dance together. Apparently, it was “noticed.”  A guest came over to me later and said how nice to see us dancing. He did not know my ex-husband and I are friends. We are– in many ways– lifelong friends. I care about him and like so many things about him.

I thought of my own wedding, at nineteen years old, and my marriage. It suited me at the time. We are only able to do what we can do at any given time. I make no apologies for my previous faults when writing privately in my journal. Even though, if I were talking aloud to someone, I would probably make excuses. But that is not totally honest. And what I strive for now, is total honesty.

That perfect weather continued for the entire wedding celebration.

It was not too hot, not too cold. No wind; lovely clouds scudded by without darkening the sky, and everything was lush and very green, very unusual for the end of August. A rare day in a rare month in a rare year. As evening came and the sky darkened a full moon rose over the right shoulder of the bride and groom. A super omen for the happy couple. And it was breathtakingly beautiful to watch. Everyone was thrilled with the weather. It was a constant source of conversation because everyone recognized how lucky they were to have a weekend like that at the end of August. It will be interesting to note what the weather will be like on this day next year


Copyright©.  2018 Bonnie B. Matheson