Where the Wind Blows

The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.    John 3:8 HCSB

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Months of wind. Cleaning the trees, knocking things over, waking me in the dark hours of night and morning and offering me opportunities to see rare beauty. The Spirit of God is like that.

The photos above are from this morning. A few recorded beauties follow.

Amaryllis

Amaryllis

Amaryllis

These. of course, are from our anticipated visits from Amaryllis. [click on any photo to enlarge]

 One welcome visitor, one not… One must look closely where the blossom starts to see the Brown marmorated stink bug. While nowhere near as invasive a nuisance as a few years ago, some still find their way through cracks, open doors and down the chimneys to overwinter. Any warm day finds them zinging about the house looking for a landing place – or a meal. I know it was probably cozy on the blossom, but, he was removed and perished. These are an invasive, non-native bug with no known predators. They do not bite, but suck. They have been particularly destructive to fruit crops here in the Mid-Atlantic region and, according to the linked article, have continued to spread throughout the country.

That’s the way, too, of life sucking troubles: they can hide away, just waiting for the right day to get out and about reproducing their destructive kind and sucking out the joy of life. It takes vigilance to catch and dispatch them.

Jonquils   When we first bought this property, we found a country trash pile in a back corner. We spent years hauling it away, bit by bit. It was covered in leaves and brush and every layer we removed gave opportunity for the wind and rain to remove more of the covering, revealing old metal parts of who-knows-what, foil baking pans from TV dinners and lots of glass – mostly broken. I did find two lovely pieces of blue glass, one a Noxzema jar (my Mom’s favorite) and the other, this 4 inch tall Bromo-Seltzer  bottle (always in Dad’s cupboard). The Jonquils were picked before the snow came. I love them in this blue, don’t you? These minis grow near the kitchen door where the sun warms the protected area and spring comes early.

Dawn   snow   deer   deer

The last snow of the season? Beautiful day with lots of bird visitors and and this brazen thief. Totally unimpressed with me. Her kind have totally stripped the hydrangeas of buds and the warm days that inspired growth of the daylilies provided unintended salad for them too.

What do you do on cold snowy or rainy days? I find them good soul nourishing days. Sometimes I make soups and bake bread and treats and get in a bit of stitching. craft  booksAnd, there are always stacks of reading materials at hand. The top three are in my own library, the rest borrowed from the county. Patsy Clairmont’s book of short stories – Stardust On My Pillow –  is a sweet favorite to re-read from time to time.

This time, I wanted to re-read “Chattanooga Choo Choo” Miss Pearl teaches Jamie about way-markers as she tells him to remember the signs his daddy left him when he died… “the signs your daddy left you will guide you into manhood”, for “A way-marker is like a signpost telling you which way to go.”  Way-markers. “Never let a good dead go unattended.” was one that inspired Jamie to take action. We might know it under different expressions: Saying thank you, writing a thank you note, taking a hostess gift, sending a teacher’s gift… So many things can be way-markers. Things remembered by the winds of the Spirit that remind us of the best way, not only to deal with the affairs of life, but to find the perfect way to our eternal home.

                         Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,  for in You I do trust;                                           Cause me to know the way in which I should walk. for I lift up my soul to You.

from Psalm 143

20170321_132941  This last photo was taken yesterday when the whispering breeze through the tree tops could barely be heard over the honking geese, screaming gulls , occasional car traffic. Each day is different in life. I must learn to listen.

Happy Spring!

hellebores

Love token

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IMG_8711 As a child, I was an avid reader, tagging along with an older sibling whenever they needed to go to the library. Later finding my own way, and still later, delighted that a new library was built only two blocks from my home.

Jonica’s Island was the first love story I read – and reread. It is historical fiction set in Nieuw Amsterdam (New York) in the mid 1600s.  It is sweetly illustrated with line drawings. This particular book was withdrawn from a school library and ended up at a new-to-me sale at a local hospital, quite a few years ago.  It was a wonderful find! I read it then, of course. And put it on a shelf with a few other books that remind me of childhood.

Sorting through the shelves the other week, I took it down and ruffled through the pages. Stopping at the illustrations, I realized for the first time, how much the drawings of Jonica reminded me of the sweet face of my loved and long gone, baby doll! All grown up, of course.

That old plant holder, I found in my Mother-in-law’s basement storage years ago. I cleaned it up and tucked in these flowers. In the last illustration I realized how much it must have reminded me of Jonica’s beloved Gerrit, in his broad brimmed hat.

And as any good love story and fairy tale, should end, the young man gives the girl a love token and one will assume they lived happily ever after!

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There is a welcome glossary of Dutch terms and food descriptions. Customs, and the daily lives of these Dutch pioneers is well presented and the book is well written, drawing me into the story once again. A very satisfying read!

Out and about

Do you ever push the doctor’s advice? “Do what’s comfortable.” he said. How do you know unless you do something? So I took my healing foot and drove to the lake to see my tree friends. (After breakfast at Panera.)      Loch Raven   It was a beautiful day and I was so grateful to be able to go out on my own. Of course, when I got home, foot suggested I give it a rest! Driving a standard transmission for so long now, I don’t think about how the left foot flexes to do it’s job. I was reminded!

African violet In my indoor garden, I have a very aged African Violet which I love. Watching the buds open each day is soothing to my soul.  African Violet  I will try again to propagate a new plant. I’ve not been successful in the past.  I rooted cuttings from the aged Christmas cactus and was delighted with a first bloom.     IMG_8673

My indoor gardening efforts require patience. For the first time, I succeeded in killing the bud on an amaryllis. That made me very sad. My old bulbs seemed to want to sleep in till spring! Then all of a sudden, they grew! Amaryllis  The pot on the left is my failure to bloom. Maybe next year! Soon, I will be showing off fabulous flowers!

The winds have been fierce this winter and the lawn and field are littered with downed wood. Ignoring it all is also a lesson in patience. On the one glorious hint-of-spring day, I ventured out into the backyard for the first time since mid December — because there were snowdrops!  snowdrops And those funny little rosettes of Autumn Sedum. It was so lovely to be outside, I had to go look for Lenten Roses. 

Hellebores The reward was mine! The next day it was again windy and cold with a dusting of snow that melted as the sun rose.

20170214_120512  Someone else’s fun. On a nearby street, many trees have been cut down. This property owner re-stacked quite a few pieces of the trunk of his tree and uses it to show his address, and his creativity. Last fall, the figure of a Black Headed Vulture was perched on top. The bird celebrates all the holidays. Here we have Cupid.

mug

On a sweeter note, not only on Valentine’s Day, but everyday, my prayer for you —

May your cup be filled with JOY!

Winter – is it over yet?

No, but the page for January has been torn from the calendar. It was a slow month, a healing month with lots of resting under cozy quilts – with days when I felt like a hibernating bear. winter quilt  The good news is that the big boot has now been retired to the closet. Another month of caution and care has been prescribed, but healing is well under way in my bones and I am grateful.

The month began with robins celebrating the New Year here. The large holly tree we watch is at the front of the house and the bird bath at the back. There was constant activity and socializing for several days until the trees were stripped of every berry. Something we note every year – they eat the berries they pick fresh from the tree and ignore any that have fallen.

robins

I tend to wake early most days and love to open the shade and watch as night fades away. Some days there is drama, others just a gradual lightening of gray, but always there is beauty as the new day of promise dawns.dawning

My small world has been enlivened with candle light candle light and more bird watching.   Days I hear the Carolina Wren even before sunrise, his cheery wake-up call is very welcome. We have many woodpeckers: the Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied and Flicker will all come to the suet feeder outside our kitchen door.

This is a Northern Flicker.Flicker Several days I watched one or two poking about in the lawn/field for the longest time. They did seem to be successful in their hunting.

My month of self care has been full of reading, stitching, tea and coffee drinking, letter writing and musings. I found my word for the year – Trust – and started a notebook for verses, quotes and thoughts. notebookI also received a wonderful gift for this time when I discovered a month long online writing course from the very gracious and encouraging Andi Cumbo-Floyd. Each day was informative and thought provoking. The material she provided will be teaching me for quite some time – helping me to discover myself as a writer.

I’m watching my indoor garden plants come into bloom. I so appreciate the life and color they add to my life.

 Christmas cactus

I hope your January offered fulfillment and joy. May you be blessed in the coming month.

Fast away the old year passes…

tree quilt

In many ways, I shall be glad to see the end of it, if only one had not got to carry the sadness of loss into the New. But so it is. Recently, someone expressed what I have often thought – “if only I knew it would be the last Christmas with _____” or dinner, or chat or card or letter…

As this New Year begins, my intent is to be more mindful of the hours and days and the time spent with others because one never knows when the last of something comes.

And, there will be more partings in the coming year I’m sure. An old friend is already clearing house and making plans to move many states away. The constant in life is change. How I longed for it when young, how I wish to hold on just a little longer now.

So, like every year I can remember, I’ll hold on to Christmas through its 12th day. Christmas tree

The intent to ‘keep Christmas in my heart all the year…’ will be an excellent resolution!

creche

Happy New Year!

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Christmas treat

old pines

A beautiful morning unfolded and the forecast was for the temperature to be in the 60’s F. Unseasonable and guaranteed to be a short phenomenon.  With my foot injury,our usual holiday plans have been set aside, so we choose an adventure with limited walking for me.

gull   container ship   Key Bridge                                                                sky   sweet gum

An afternoon drive took us to Fort Smallwood, an old county park near the bay. I would like to return someday and walk the trails, maybe fish from the long fishing pier, picnic on the grounds. But for today, it was gift to sit and listen to the water lapping the rocks, watch a few gulls, watch all the folks walking dogs and enjoy the sky changes.

We found the best parking spot near the pier for me to watch the sky drama unfold at sunset.

 sunset   sunset   sunset

Wondrous.

 

Tidings of comfort and joy

Christmas tree

If someone had peeked in a window here today, they might have thought I had worked so very hard on Christmas day, as I slept away the afternoon on the couch while carols played, tree lights twinkled, the tea grew cold, my book slipped from my hands and all was dreamy…

dreamy

But I didn’t work hard at all. I’m so very grateful for my beautiful, thoughtful, and efficient niece who prepared and served our Christmas dinner. And for my wonderful hubby who made sure the kitchen and dining room were cleared and cleaned.

 snowmen chocolate

There were wonderful conversations with loved ones far away and precious gifts beside. So blessed to enjoy this peaceful Christmastide.

Christmas comes

candleIt’s late on Christmas Eve. Only now, as I’ve stopped by this place with a cup of tea do I realize what has really been wrong this last week.  I’ve been cranky, and it’s more than the exhausting pain of two small broken bones in my left foot. It’s more than the clunky boot that makes it so I can get around somewhat pain free but will keep me from driving and makes the stairs a challenge. It’s more than the shopping missed, the cards not written, the cookies not baked…

Cookies not baked… the actual cookies don’t bother me much…

I ran a soapy mop over the kitchen floor – I’ll spare you the description. But the ‘lick and a promise’ clean-up in this quiet helped me to see what I’ve been missing, longing for — the portal. The one I once saw while the cookies baked, the one that even not seen, settles “heavenly peace” over my soul. Do you know it? I’ve been so caught in the web of my painful misery and this following on an autumn of loss, that I wasn’t looking for it. I wasn’t waiting for it. But I am now. I’m quieting myself, waiting.  creche

cropped-20161222_170231-e1482632221986-2.jpg Past the glitter, lights and fancies, the small straw creche with it’s array of wild animals calls. creche Everyone is welcome there: the tiger, the armadillo, moose, penguin, sheep, squirrels, fox, raccoon, owls, mouse, llama, elk, horse, polar bear, a lovely poodle and you and even me. The weak, the mighty, the feared, the loved, all creatures great and small come to adore their Creator.

creche

May we sleep now in heavenly peace on this silent, holy night while angels sing around us.

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Joyous Christmas to you.

 

30 days hath November

porch There were glorious days, warm ones and cold ones that had me scurrying about freshening bed linens and garden beds, planting bulbs and dealing with leaves and leaves and still more leaves! Oak leaves 12 inches long!

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The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore was only available as an audio book from my library. I debated and then reserved my space. When I saw it was 10 CDs, I wasn’t sure I would persist. But I did. her masterful storytelling kept me company as I dug and pulled and trimmed and planted a garden bed and then kept me company as I restored the edging of our old quilt with fresh binding. Then I listened to it all over again!

I began the quilt long years ago. When I started the class with Lois Smith, I was excited by the possibility of making – start to finish  a quilt for our bed. Under her kind, clear, tutelage, I learned so much about color, pattern drafting and machine quilting. But life, or a kind of death in the specter of fire, happened and rearranged our lives for a season. When it was over, nothing was quite the same and I chose not to work on this autumn themed quilt. I moved on and took several more classes with Lois and finished two more quilts. Sometime, I finished it off and hung it  in our family room in winter. Then I started using it, the weight and comfort just right. It was a shock to realize it is now a shabby beauty, warm and cozy.

quilt

Autumn color can be a long, slow, unfolding here. Tender plants first, some trees seeming to forget to change, high winds swirling leaves around steps and doors. Holly berries ripped from their stems. One has to look for the beauty in all the pain and dying of this month.

golden tree   ruby trees   trees   oak   yellow   lighting

And, of course, we went chasing the super moon. It doesn’t look all that exciting, but the chase was fun. One more to come on December 14.  November moon

squirrel Of course there are always squirrels running to and fro and sometimes hanging from their toes to eat the suet cakes.  Woodpeckers, Flickers, Titmice and Nuthatches are the usual diners. But one day, I happened to catch this Bluebird too!bluebird   Things are always a bit fuzzy through the screen and glass, but there is no mistaking the color of these beautiful birds.

One of the surprises of the garden cleanup were stalks of Hosta seeds hiding deep within a large plant. Hosta seed pods  I’ve done a little reading and I’m not sure I will try to grow plants from the seed, but the pods are quite interesting. Hosta seed pods

This season of apparent dying and seed planting has been brought home to me these past days in the sudden and untimely death of my niece-in-love. At the several services we attended, even her pastor, who knew her well, marveled at the packed church as people came to show their love and respect for this lovely, quiet woman. She sowed seeds of love and acceptance in everyone she met. I pray that those seeds will bear much fruit in the coming days and years as her family struggles with her death and the changes in the home and for her children who were being home schooled.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

tree

October Days

tree

“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Just a few more things as we leave this October…

tree   This tree. I can see it across the field, leaves all a-quiver even on the calmest days. Like a Quaking Aspen. Golden leaves in autumn, like an Aspen. I used to think that was its identity and I waited for it to grow into the white bark. But it didn’t. And actually, when I really looked at them, the leaves are all wrong for a Quaking Aspen – too rough around the edges. It is possibly a Bigtooth Aspen or maybe even an Eastern Cottonwood. But, no doubt , it belongs to the genus Populus with its quivering leaves.  As tall as it has grown, It is impossible to see the catkins in spring, so I may never really know. But then, I don’t need to know its formal name. I can just enjoy this happy tree, so sensitive to the slightest breeze.

mushroom   This is actually not an October find, but I just need to share it!  We went to the park down by the river and I spotted this as we pulled into the parking space. As large as a good sized cauliflower and nestled as the base of an oak tree. Cauliflower mushroom is its actual name and they are edible. Best harvested when white, cleaned thoroughly and cooked. Maybe next year! My research says that they tend to colonize in the same area year after year. Oh, and they are related to the Hen of the Woods mushrooms that you can find in your grocery store. wood ear

Loch RavenI hadn’t driven through the reservoir in a while. But on a particularly lovely day, I stopped. I have several observation points along the portion that allows parking. When I first stopped, I spotted a goose who appeared to be the watchman. He stood in one place for the longest time while the other birds foraged. A car pulled up and that drew all the ducks to the curb, looking for a bit of bread to go with the bugs, I suppose, They were disappointed and had quite a lot to say about it. I moved on down the drive to a more quiet stretch, to have a bit of forest quiet and my own lunch.

Carolina wren   Our house wrens fly south come fall, but then the chubby little  Carolina wren makes itself known. They sing loudly! And they mimic other birds’ songs and calls. They are almost always busy flitting about under the shrubbery and shy away from having their picture taken. I was happy to catch this one!

Last Friday, my hubby came home from an early morning meeting and couldn’t wait to show me photos he had taken before the dawn. A sliver of moon and Jupiter! Beautiful. We made plans to go back to that site and watch for the sunrise on Saturday. With coffee and a breakfast nibble, we waited. Of course, the sky is never the same two days in a row. The moon was slimmer and paler and Jupiter was moving farther in its course, but it was a lovely adventure all the same.

                 sunrise  sunrise   20161029_072431

Everyday things really are amazing in variety and complexity.

maple tree