Time has passed since we lost three of our six cats to coyotes, and I'm slowly recovering from grief and guilt. If I'd called back Old Blue when I saw him amble down the driveway toward his mouse hunting area . . . for 14 years he'd evaded coyotes and owls, even though he was creamy white and would stay out all night. But this happened in broad daylight. Or, if we hadn't gone to Oregon for a long weekend the week before, our orange tabby Ricky and tabby Tigger wouldn't have gone hunting in the pasture behind the house. They were a part of my present and suddenly they are in my past. You can't turn back time. I know this.
The two long rows of red peonies have finished blooming. I did get a bucket full to my cousin's wife, Peggy, to be divided with her two adult daughters. I did take some to a neighbor and reminded another to come and get some. But so many never were cut. When we moved up here in 1951, these peonies were young and just beginning to bloom. Now they are old and mature. They've thrived despite no fertilizing and grass and evergreens encroaching on them. The old man who homesteaded the place with his parents in the 1890s planted these peonies maybe in the 1940s.
He'd earlier planted other peonies - red, pink and white - in another area and they were mature in 1951. Only one year did they bloom for Memorial Day (it all has to do with warm springs) and Mom and Dad picked and rubber-banded bouquets to sell out of the trunk of the1949 maroon Pontiac on the old highway early in the morning as people were heading for work. 50 cents for a dozen. I recall being cold and sleepy in the back seat. But those are all gone now - too many neighbors wandering through the place, pulling them up by the roots because they lacked a knife or scissors, or digging them up for their own gardens. But these peonies, up higher and out of the way, still give pleasure to those of us who know they are here.