Williamsburg Hill

Williamsburg Hill

Monday, June 30, 2014

Man's Best Friend Could Do Without All the Fireworks

July 3rd marks the sixth birthday for my best canine friend.  If you believe Merriam-Webster, she has finally hit middle age.  Maybe that's why the fear of sudden and loud noises seems greater this year than in the past.  In addition to crawling under any piece of furniture that will support her golden retriever's frame (something she has always done), a new sign of stress for her seems to be excessive panting and drooling during these times.  Other noises will cause panic, too, such as thunder and loud trucks, and when we had our roof replaced, she spent the entire time in her crate (a place she feels safe). It's the July 4th celebrations, however, that do the most damage.

Our sweet dog has always been afraid of the fireworks associated with the July 4th holiday...going into sheer panic and running aimlessly and wildly throughout the house.  We call it bouncing off the walls and sometimes it literally takes a wall to stop her.  She's terrified and I'm terrified of her ever getting out of the house during these times.  Too often our pets get lost this way because they take off when hearing these sounds and there are no walls to stop them. 

I'm certainly no Fourth of July Scrooge, as I love to see fireworks to celebrate the holiday.  It is symbolic, after all.  However, I could do without some of the pre and post celebratory bangs.  When you hear loud booms from dusk throughout the night, everyday, for about two weeks prior to the big event, well, that's a bit much.  Add a week or two of winding down and our pets could use a prescription for Xanax.  We might need it, too, simply for dealing with them.  Of course, the normal concerns arise, such as fireworks legality (depending on where you live), fire, safety (kids can get hurt, after all). Yet, the celebrations continue for weeks.  Maybe I'm just getting old.  According to Merriam-Webster, I've been there awhile.

So, have a safe July 4th holiday, everyone.  Take care of your pets, keep them as calm as possible.  I have a feeling my girl will be secured in her crate for the evening.  If she could understand me, I'd tell her we were all just celebrating her birthday.  If she could talk, she'd just say a new can of tennis balls would suffice.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

And A Hummingbird Hovered...Starved Rock State Park

Decompress.  Restore.  Relax.  Recover.  Anyone who has been part of the wedding planning process for a daughter understands how fully these words are felt once the special day is over.   When months, oftentimes years, are spent preparing for the nuptials, it’s sometimes difficult to remember how living (or even breathing), sans wedding discussions, ever was. 
This past weekend, my younger daughter walked down the aisle.  It was beautiful and ran smoothly, but it took a lot of work to make it so.  Now I’m feeling that sense of “what to do with myself” quandary, which followed the foggy numbness post-ceremony.  A glass of wine or two helped clear that haze and made relaxing a little easier at the reception, but Monday rolled around and I felt lost.
I can’t say enough positive things about the location of the wedding, which helped us keep cool heads and our sanity.  Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, Illinois made the bride and groom’s weekend one of memories they’ll always cherish.  Situated on over 2600 acres, the park is known for its many canyons and hiking trails, along with fishing and boating opportunities and overnight accommodations in cabins and the lodge.  It’s also a premiere wedding venue, hosting most ceremonies outdoors with the capability of moving everything inside due to inclement weather conditions.  And we just missed the rain.
With a 5 p.m. outdoor ceremony, small droplets started dotting the sidewalk at approximately 4:20 (just as I exited the lodge).  As the weather had been perfect for the past two days until that point, my first thought was, “Are you kidding me?”  Braced and ready for what was to come, I went back to my hotel room and grabbed two shawls I’d thought to bring (to throw over someone if necessary in an attempt to salvage dresses and hair) and my husband brought our only umbrella from the car.  Groomsmen were buying umbrellas from the gift shop.  Ultimately, none of it was necessary.
Throughout the ceremony and photographs afterward, the rain stayed at bay, and everyone enjoyed the lovely setting Starved Rock has to offer.  But one of the most special moments of that time, in my opinion, wasn’t planned.  As the bride and groom said their vows, a hummingbird appeared above the wedding party, hovering for several seconds, dipping, darting and hovering a little more.  Then it was gone as suddenly as it appeared.  I’m one to believe things like this have some sort of meaning and given the Native American history of the park, I readily accept the symbolism of a hummingbird’s appearance at such a time.
In general Native Americans viewed hummingbirds positively, but it depended on the tribe as to the legends and symbols they represented.  Hummingbirds are often associated with beauty, harmony and integrity, but they’re also seen as healers or spirits helping those in need…or the spirit of a departed loved one (something even more special given the timing).  Some think seeing a hummingbird is a sign of good luck, but it has special meaning for different people and cultures…symbols of joy, life and a savor of life, tirelessness, eternity and everlasting life.   For myself, I’ll take any of these.  It was a very special moment I’ll always remember.
As for the rest of the evening…reception, dinner and dancing occurred without a hitch indoors, which is a good thing as the skies opened and it poured the rest of the night.  The timing was perfect and everyone had a wonderful time.  I couldn’t be more pleased with Starved Rock State Park…thank you, Margie and Tiffany.
Now, let the recovery continue (perhaps a vacation will help, then seeing book three reach publication).  Onward.