May 27It’s May, and I went to a garden party. Wait…that sounds like a song…

This classic by Ricky Nelson buzzes like pollinators in my head. It’s a gentle, pondering buzz.

“You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself…”

As selfish as it sounds, there’s wisdom to to these words. Something positive in the refrain, about how to live. And how to live with vibrancy was a lesson  from that garden party.

My neighbor, Horse Wrangler, is good at getting me out of the house. I mean, I do get out of the house. I garden, build bombs, collect rocks, spy on mating birds, go on solo day-cruises, and occasionally have a sour peach ale at the brew-pub.

But Horse Wrangler is social and likes to do people-oriented activities that I often don’t think to do. You might say, she’s a friend out to socialize me. So, she took me to a garden party in Sandpoint.

These are ladies who don’t care to please everybody. Don’t take that amiss. They care about people and causes; they care about flowers and art. I admire that they are a vibrant group of women who have led active and interesting lives without concerning themselves too much with what is expected. Having survived 14 years in the suburbs, it’s refreshing to be around independent and creative thinkers.

Horse wrangler and I are among the few “youngsters” in the group. Some of the ladies are looking at 90 years of not pleasing everybody. They make the average 60-somethings seem like youngsters! Let me tell you a secret to youth — live each day fully and get outside and garden.

We met up at a Sandpoint house I’ve noticed before because of its intricate and decorative shingle-work. Yet what was inside was even more stunning — a full atrium. I don’t know anybody who actually has an atrium in their home. It was so stunning that all I could think of was, “I wonder if she’d invite writers here for day retreats.”

Many of the ladies at the garden party have contractors, architects and yard boys. I have the Hub. He is none of those things, always wriggling out of such duties, although when roped into mowing or tilling he does work shirtless. I’m not sure he’d attract the attention of these experienced garden directors. They have an eye for younger, sleeker male physiques.

We shared lunch, a memorable spread. Our hostess cured her own thin-sliced fresh salmon and served it with limes, capers and fresh garden dill. Dill is something I grow well but hardly use. Another guest brought smoked salmon deviled eggs decorated with tiny edible flowers on a plate of nasturtiums. My daughter shared nasturtium seeds with me and I have them incubating in soil at the moment.

Other dishes included curried spring-pea salad, grape salad in butter-lettuce leaves, smoked Gouda served with homemade mustard seed sauce and prosciutto-wrapped steamed (but served cold) asparagus. Garden party ladies understand the seasons, what is fresh and how to make it special enough for lace-lined white linens and the good silverware. They also like wine.

After lunch in the open atrium and patio, we struck out on a garden tour, walking the neighborhood. While admiring a deep purple clematis that climbed up a wooden fence, I noted an interesting piece of yard art. A large metal fish, about six feet long and three feet high was filled with cobalt used vodka bottles. Clever. One of the vintage garden ladies stood next to me and commented, “I’d need a larger fish to hold all my empty wine bottles.”

Ah, I’m understanding better the path to longevity.

More art ensued on our walk. One woman we met collected metal sculpture from a diminutive beaver at a birch log to a gamboling iron coyote to a herd or curly metal sheep. Lavender (which I’m having the darnedest time to grow) and lupines filled the spaces in between. I fell in love with columbine which the visiting Horticulturist said would be good for my pollinator bombs.

The Horticulturist was even younger than the Horse Wrangler and me. She was accepting of my favorite rock game (altered for trees and plans) and I walked beside her asking, “What’s this?” I learned as much from her as I did from playing that game with my Geologists. Now I’m thinking columbines with orange metasediments would look lovely in my yard, or perhaps lupines among granites.

We concluded our tour with a second garden party — this one for dessert. The yard was a beautiful bouquet of perennials, shrubs and yellow roses with patio chairs set about for guests. Our hostess is delightfully short of 100 by maybe a decade, and spry and witty as any youngster. She pointed out her cottage under construction because her kids think she’s “getting old.” She rolled her eyes, hands on her lean hips and said, “Guess who take care of whom?”

Another lady asked after her contractor — and yes, gazes lingered. When the name rolled out, the guest choked on her fresh lemonade. She said, “I know him! I know every inch of him!” The story that followed involved nudity, desert hiking and leather chaps.

After partying in the gardens with these ladies, I do not fear to grow old! I will remain a gardener until the day I know longer smile at thought of a young male contractor in chaps.

I’m not fully going to take you where my mind has wandered. But I do want to encourage you each to live fully. What is age but a number? We all dream, we all live and the more vibrantly we can do so the more vibrant life will remain. Write with the vibrancy of a garden party in such a way that your writing pleases you. Your stories will never please everyone, so ya gotta please yourself.

Among many of my birthday adventures, I also cruised Lake Pend Oreille on the Shawnodese. We slipped past the beautiful summer home of a German real estate mogul. The property is full of commissioned art by world-renown sculptors and has impressive views of both lake and mountains. I snapped a shot of steps going up to a patio and it has my imagination peeked — what would a garden party be like, there!

May 27 Flash Fiction Challenge

May 27 Flash Fiction Challenge

May 27, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story, using the above photo as a prompt. You can make it a garden party or an international spy thriller. Who is there and why? Does the backdrop scenery make an impact or is it ignored? The place is on an island, if you wish to make use of that. Go where the photograph leads you this week.

Respond by June 2, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

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His Calling by Charli Mills

His face, craggy as the distant peaks, softened in wonder. How long has it been since I’ve seen him smile, she thought. Sipping her mojito, she quietly watched him.

The setting sun pinkened the sky to the hue of roses her host grew at this majestic summer home. Cotton candy, he called them. Even the lake water reflected pink. That’s when she saw what held her husband’s attention – baby geese bobbing on waves.

A tinkle of ice, and he turned around, face once again hardened stone. The President walked past his wife to the garden party. Campaign funds called.

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