My Appalachian sister called Sunday, May 28. “Houston graduated yesterday,” Patty said.

She’d mentioned the date of a grandson’s high school commencement ceremony some weeks prior. “How did everything go?”

“Well, you won’t believe this. Houston didn’t tell us he was president of his class and was going to give a speech. He wanted to surprise us.” Admiration swelled in her voice. “And he sure did! Mike and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Now, Patty has ten grandchildren, and two great-grands, fertile ground for sowing surprises and reaping such bright spots. For instance, she called several days later.

“Iris, we went to watch Jerrilynn run in the State track meet yesterday.”

“Jerrilynn joined the track team? Isn’t volleyball her sport?” I asked.

“Yes. But this year she also wanted to run track, so she trained as hard as she plays volleyball. The girl placed at 102 seconds in the 400 meter!”

I looked to the wall where I display my belated firstborn’s All-State certificate issued by the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association dated “30 May 87”.

“Iris, watching my beautiful granddaughter race was like watching Becky. Wasn’t that a State meet where I saw her win a race?”

“No. You weren’t with us at the State meet in 1987. She took the championship in the 200 meters and 400 meters in Class D.”

“She took two championships?”


“What were her times?” Patty asked.

“26.0 seconds in the 200 meters, and 58.83 in the 400 meters. I’m sure they’re not the best times of today’s athletes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jerrilynn breaks Becky’s time before she graduates.”

“I’ll keep you posted,” Patty said.

Meanwhile, in this season of much to admire, I planted my first sunflower patch in my vegetable garden-weeded Kentucky Wonder green beans-oh, and pruned tomato plants to four main stems, per Richardson Wright’s recommendation in his The Gardener’s Bed-Book.

I made asparagus soup from the tail-end of this season’s yield. Baked strawberry-rhubarb pie to share with guests.

Lest my flower gardens become jealous, I arranged bouquets of iris, peonies, and tall phlox in a sturdy, crystal vase. Even in this present drought, the peonies bloom in spectacular succession: common pink, pale pink, white, and now, the dark pink. Their scent rivals their beauty.

And of all glorious surprises, this morning, the lone foxglove in the perennial island blooms at three and a half feet tall! Facing east, she outgrows the floundering foxglove outside my study window, shaded by a peony bush. Another gardening situation to correct.

Dear Reader, while I ponder this luscious season of admiration, I think next May the perfect time to visit Patty and her husband Mike. If Jerrilynn sticks to track and meter runs, wouldn’t it be wonderful to watch her race? Honor that remarkable day Becky stood on the champion’s block with her medal. Twice.

Indeed, our children and grandchildren bring us many bright spots to shine in dark times. To share with those who need some light.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail. com.