Tag Archives: Winter

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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Wondrous.

 

Fragile beauty

I had my lengthy to-do list. It snowed in the night and I decided to keep to my plan. Then I looked outside and saw the woodpecker pecking at snow to find the small bit of suet left in the feeder. I picked up my camera as I went out to feed him. Beauty.

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woodpecker  I’m sure I heard my grateful little friend say, “Come out and play!       And  so I did. To-do list forgotten. But not the fresh coffee!   travel cup

lamp post  Join me on my journey – not to Narnia, but still, into cold winter beauty. The roads are clear!

Roadtrees

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trees

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woods

lake

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It was a lovely morning adventure and unusually quiet at the reservoir with little traffic which made it rather perfect.

And then the sun came out and melted it all into memory. I’m so glad for digital cameras!

A click on a photo will enlarge the image for you.

February Quiet

January ended with deep snow and cold blowing in snow   the Snow Queen took up residence snow    and has been reluctant to leave, affecting this whole month. Barely had one storm been cleared when the next blew in. While this week brought heavy rains and flooding, there are still tall mounds of icy snow in some yards and many parking lots a month later.

squirrel  This guy was a frequent visitor harassing the birds and learning tricks to steal their food.  squirrel

Of course, he wasn’t the only animal out looking for a good meal. deer  Not that there is much left to browse, but still they come, now by the herd. deer

Usually February is the time to pour over seed and plant catalogs, dreaming of beautiful, lush flower beds, fragrant herbs and bountiful vegetables. No more.

The robins are delighted that neither deer nor squirrels have a taste for holly.  I spied them at the bird bath   robins   and realized they must be stripping the tree by the front deck, and they were.

Holly

For my indoor gardening efforts – a sunny window, occasional water – and the amaryllis are finally coming along. amaryllis  These bulbs are at least two years with me and get exactly the same care.  They seemed quite healthy when I potted them up so I find it very odd that one has no leaves, just the bloom stalk. It was very, very slow to even decide to put forth that effort. A mystery.

snowdrops

I’ll close now with the lovely, lovely snowdrops – pulsing with life, they pushed through frozen ground and soggy leaves this week. Like little bells ringing out good news – Spring is coming! Spring is coming!

I’m almost ready.

Cabin Cozy Time

The long quiet of Christmas spilled over into the New Year. While I normally find January rather invigorating, this year has been different – a long slow cozy. I had a long slow re-reading of last year’s discovery, The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge. One of the features of the country house is the conservatory. I have a small unintended collection of house plants, they could use such luxury!  What they get is some light from the dining room windows. Being real here.

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The pinky stem violet blooms magenta, the pale one, white. The Christmas cactus dropped all its bloom this year – I was using the dining room at night – too much light for bloom. The aloe was beautiful and now is suffering through winter. The amaryllis — who knows! And then there is the pot in the corner of ‘things’ that are ancient and love me in spite of my neglect.

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Yes, I’m a very accidental window gardener. The thing that drives me is Winter. Drab, long, usually cold, winter. So, when I was offered a bulb vase, I said yes. How difficult could it be to buy a bulb and sit it over some water?

At the garden center, I couldn’t decide on color or bulb from the few remaining offerings. Hyacinths are more popular than I knew. I was reluctant to invest in another vase, and surely I could create something useful… so I bought two. I did some research and set my expectations on a shelf in the garage and promptly forgot them. Out of sight… and the fact that in my research I missed some key instructions, something about changing the water…

In spite of my ignorance of their needs, the great desire locked in their heart was to grow ‘at the scent of water’, and so they did. When I saw some foliage, I moved them to my “window garden” which proved a happy place for them to bloom.

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Whether bulb or container, I cannot know, but the growth in the bulb vase was much better than my jar creation.  The leaves remained short  and the blooms rather stem-less but these are minor defects. See for yourself!  IMG_7242

How I wish you could inhale the heady fragrance! Lush and full of the promise of spring, it became my favorite place to linger with tea.

20160113_124706They have about given their all for my happiness. I’ve fallen in love with them and I’m making plans for next winter:

  1. Obtain more vases.
  2. Shop early for pre-chilled bulbs.
  3. Make a plan – 3 weeks till the blooms appear.
  4. On schedule, Set the bulbs in the vases over lukewarm water and plan to change it out about twice a week.
  5. Put the vases in a cool, dark place (garage shelf for me) and monitor the water levels, root and foliage growth.
  6. When the roots are developed and the foliage is growing, move the vases to the “window garden”.
  7. Prepare the space with a cozy chair, pillow, throw and books.
  8. When the day comes for first fragrance, prepare tea* and settle in for deep breathing. Forget to open the books.
  • Personally, I found Chai to be a good companion.

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Yes, I added water to the top of the neck of the vase just after taking the photo.

Ruby glory

RubyIt’s been a long wait. Summering on the back porch, resting in the garage through fall, re-potted at Thanksgiving…waiting…hardly a green tip for Christmas…

Jan 9 Jan 9   Feb 16 Feb 16   March 7Mar 7

Two pots; the first to show green will be opening in the next day or so. This one had another stalk which will open in a few days. An abundance of richness was forming slowly, so slowly this year.

I don’t know if you love houseplants; I’m really not the best caretaker, but on long wintery days I love sitting in the dining room with living green while the earth outside still hides its treasure.

While the temperatures outside have been moderating, the snow and ice accumulation this winter was such that the reservoir has been frozen over. I could not resist the drive early last week.

Loch Raven

I’m sure we all hope that winter is truly over and the first day of spring will bring in a long and lovely new season. These last days we have had rain and fog and now wind howls about drying the surface of things. Tomorrow, the ground should be firm enough that I can look for the Lenten roses. I optimistically freed them from their thick overcoat of oak leaves the beginning of February at the suggestion of the garden columnist. I have hoped that the blanket of snow has kept them safe. Are you hunting for signs of spring too?

February Snow globe

Swirling snow, glittering ice changing scenes inside my world like a snow globe upending daily.

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Outside our home, brutal cold; while inside, a kind of hibernation seemed to take hold as both I and my computer had viruses. I am delighted to report we have both recovered ourselves.

This has been a winter not soon forgotten. We’re so very grateful for home and warmth and traveling safety these long days.