The Roses of Lent

“Delectable”, “luscious” are used to describe Lenten Roses in Seeing Flowers by Teri Dunn Chace with photography by Robert Llewellyn. Exquisitely complex comes to me.

first signs

Nourished in shade and deep composting tree litter, they are shy blooms rarely lifting their heads to gaze back at you. rose colonyTo see their beauty requires determination and the humility to bend low or even kneel in the woodsy damp round them. lenten rose bloomI’m sitting in the coffee shop surrounded by human bloomings and thinking about the passing of time and people and how difficult it can be to see the exquisite beauty of each person. How difficult it can be to lift my own head to look into the eyes of others. In the Book of Malachi, these lovely words are found, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings;” Lenten roses in morning sun

I think about how hard it can be to lift my face to the Sun of righteousness Who has healing in His wings so that I might then serve others with humility.

The journey is a grand adventure, The reward to see exquisitely complex beauty is before me.

Do you find it easy to find the amazing beauty in others? I know I have often walked by without even noticing.

March into battle


After the Williamsburg and Smithfield delights, we returned to winter white. While I waited for the melt I gave into the lure of catalogs. Not that I planned to garden this year, but the ground is calling me.Garden planningThrough the light snow loom piles of brush waiting for me and then our best tree guys to get things in order but I thought it might not hurt to look… and a couple of days later, the sun was warming and signs of spring beckoned to me.

jonquil startsAnd I found that the bambi-ites having wrecked havoc on azaleas, rhododendron and blueberries this winter, now march through the garden just outside the kitchen door and drink the birdbath dry. (My most creative efforts to keep them from the bird feeder failed.) They had eaten tiny shoots of new growth daylilies and tried out the iris leaves.  There was quite a mess from stomping about. You may not be able to tell, but this is deer print.deer printOut came the jug of “go away bambi-ites“; battle has been engaged with the sprayer.

That said, the last days of March were glorious making the yard clean-up rather joyous. My chore list for the house gathered more dust as I worked through the hours picking up sticks, stacking wood, raking debris and enjoying signs of new life. I hope spring has shown up in your neighborhood!snowdrops.

Spring searching in Virginia

I have a family member who hates to talk about the weather. Certainly it is a boring topic this year. Snow, wintry mix, ice, freezing rain, wind, rain… March continues roaring about but spring is beating in the heart of the earth. We were blessed to go to Williamsburg last week. One of our favorite small places there is the Botanical Gardens. We roamed and sat in warmth for hours, listening.

Virginia spring

One day, we took the ferry from Jamestown to the lovely town of Smithfield. The other month Cathy at Morning Musings wrote about bronze sculptures. This is my sole attempt to follow her lead – hubby and George Washington.

GeorgeIn her post last Monday, she quoted Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, so this one is for Cathy. The sculptor, George Lundeen, portrays the author writing that very poem.

Robert FrostThere are seven stops to view these marvelous works. All are historical figures except one.ValentineThis is “The Valentine Couple”.      Valentine    Valentine So sweet.    You can click on the photos to enlarge them and see the amazing detail.

It is cold here at home and of course the forecast is for snow tomorrow. I’m listening, I know the earth is sheltering buds and blooms and green. For now, I’ll enjoy the memory of these Lenten Roses.Virginia



March observations

March in the yardIn a futile attempt to keep the deer from lapping all the seed from the feeder, I had poked stakes in the ground to hold some fencing. I should have known they would just trample it and walk in at snack time. I pull it back up as much as possible and we repeat. The lingering snow has made it easy to see the birds. A murmuration came through and introduced a pair of Rufous-sided towhees to the feeder. Such beautiful birds!


There is a warming trend which is allowing a slow melt and the snowdrops are coming into view.


And a few hours later, the melt softens the icy white and I can begin gathering great piles of pine and maple brush from the lawn. As I commented to a passing motorist while shoveling the other week, 2014 is providing great opportunity for fresh air and exercise. It is also drawing me to search for beauty unfolding.


Winter Marches along

Marching ducks

Last week we had an out and about day. While hubby kept an appointment, I strolled through the nearby import store. I felt so warm as I returned to the car that I threw my heavy jacket in the back seat. Driving along to the library I realized it was 28 degrees. What a winter to leave me with the feeling that 28 was warm! March at the MarshShopping, services and office buildings were built near the edge of marshland. I took what I hoped would be a shortcut back and was totally distracted. Geese strolled along a stream and drew my attention to a pond full of birds.

Gulls at the pond

They must have quite a fan club from the footprints left in the snow and I was disconcerted as they came flying and running toward me. Since I was not offering them treats, some stood nonchalantly while the white ducks moon-walked away without a backward glace. ducks on the MarshIt was such a glorious afternoon and the duck chatter and antics as they slid across the ice had me laughing out loud. It was so fun to find such a treasure hidden so close to the familiar.

At the Marsh

Weather or not

There are those among us who have endured an unusual winter of steady, deep cold and white and now look at the turning of the calendar page as magical. Not so Theresa who serves at the local bakery café. “March is mean.”, was served with my coffee this morning. She’s right, that is the history here. No magic March will happen this year either; the forecast continues for bitter cold and more snow to come. No magic acts here, at least not the kind that folks want, of disappearing coats and hats and snow shovels.

But under the snow and ice and cold, wonders are happening. I’m waiting for the real magic show to begin. As a preview, here are some photos from last March.March

Another story

Ada came again after I heard that Clark wasn’t at all well. She wanted to tell me what I didn’t want to hear, she would get to meet him soon. And so she did. So again, I’m telling myself a story, if you’d like to listen in… Ada is speaking.


Hi Mom. I know you, crying your eyes out, but blow your noes nose, dry your eyes and try to listen up. I want to let you in on what’s happening here, there has been so much kittie chatting! I’m sure I’m going to like Clark. he seems like such a cozy, gentle friend.

IMG_4618Sasha wanted to meet Clark, she thought it would be best. I think The Best Cat Ever just wants to be in charge here. ha-ha! She really hasn’t been here very long so we all just love on her. What stories she has had to tell! Well, you might imagine, we are ready for an update on Our Girl!

Here they come now…go on Maggie, don’t be shy, your brother Clark is here now! Max – just chill – no herding Clark just yet! Isn’t it great, Merlin, to see all your housemates together again? Oh, yes, I forgot about Phoenix for the moment (although how could I?) Yes, yes, you remember I told you about meeting him at Mom’s house. I’m sure I will recognize him… Hello, Coal! Strawberry! Haven’t seen you in some time, welcome!

Now, we’ll all be in a down/stay/tuck in paws until Sasha finishes introductions; I’ll wait till last.

Hello, Clark! So glad to meet you! I know we are going to be best friends! You just wait and see! What’s that Sasha? He’s bringing news, well of course he is! Mabel? You left Our Girl in Mabel’s paws? Well now, that is excellent news! How delightful that there is a new pet in the house. Long-hair, you say? Wonderful! Not that you short-hairs are not attractive, no, no,  not at all! But we long-haired girls and guys do have our good points. (You may not know that Ada was a bit vain about her wonderfully curly topknot and tail.) I’m distracted – what’s that? What’s that! A ring! Bling! (Ada is jumping and twirling) How exciting! I’m so fond of a little bling for a girl!

Ok, sorry Clark, I’ll settle down. We want to hear everything, almost 14 years with Our Girl – remarkable from what I’ve heard about your eating habits…plastic bags, blankets, sheets, my, my…

But we want to know more about the ring. Sasha told us about “him”; plays the guitar, let her nap in its case, let you stick yourself to his leg…

Her happy voice fades from me and the curtain slides back into place on the peaceable kingdom.


Learning to see

At the end of our Christmas visit to Longwood, I found an enchanting book ion display in the shop, Seeing Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo. I was taken in by the photograph on the cover and leafing through the pages, I knew this was a book for me. Robert LLewellyn has transformed photography to open my eyes to wonder. When I settled in with her prose I was not disappointed. Then, I had the opportunity to hear Mrs. Hugo speak a few weeks ago between ice and snow storms. It was so fun to be taken into her passion and joy for the wonder that is a tree. Taking advantage of the season, I had been looking at bark on some trees in the yard.

IMG_2345 cedar  tulip poplar tulip poplar black oakblack oak

After reading about the American Sycamore and learning that this tree likes to follow along watercourses, I went looking for them. The soughing off of the old bark reveals their startling white beauty in the winter barrenness and makes them easy to spot in the landscape. Beautiful!IMG_2323