Music in the Silence

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In our backyard stand two metal chairs….in the snow. For some reason they did not get put away for the season and just stayed out there like sturdy sentinels of the backyard fire-pit. (Yes there is a fire-pit buried under the snow.)

I took my backyard photos in the silence of a sunlit winter afternoon. After pondering a bit I decided that silence can be slightly deceptive. It looks so quiet and white back there in the wintertime. What you don’t see is the dormant grass under the snow just waiting for warmth and sunlight to melt the snow so it can spring up into a lush green carpet.

The flowers in the flower patch are waiting patiently for their time to break free of cold frozen soil and once again grow and bloom gloriously this coming summer. The evergreen trees stand quietly, preparing for families of robins, mornings doves and blue-jays that will nest in their branches.

What you don’t hear are the rustlings of the little creatures that burrow in tunnels beneath the snow. You also don’t hear the echos of the summers’ past. Those humid days where bees fly lazily past in search of the next brightly colored flower….the crackle of logs burning in the fire-pit with flames leaping into the sky.

You don’t smell the the smoke from that fire or taste the charred marshmallows toasted over it’s flickering flames. If you close your eyes, to the whiteness of the snow, you can almost conjure up visions of last summer and hear and see it all again.

I think it might be the same for so many things. What we perceive, when just looking at a person, is probably totally different from the reality of that person. We have no idea of the roads they have traveled, the places they have visited or the feelings locked away in the depths of their hearts and minds.

When faced with situations that seem beyond our control it is good to listen…. to be still and know…to listen to the silence and the song it is singing. Underneath the silence runs a melody that is filled with life and hope. It is giving a chance to breathe in and breathe out and know that life, like the dormant grass, is waiting to come back lush, green and vibrant.

For now….those two metal chairs sitting in the snow by a buried fire-pit are a reminder….silence may not be so silent after all if you just listen closely. Things are not always as they appear on the surface.  There are so many layers that are not obvious at first glance and first listening.

If you want to truly know something….listen with more than your ears….look with more than your eyes.  Listen and look with your heart and your memories to find the music that silence is singing.

 

 

I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.
Chaim Potok

 

We need to pay heed to the many silences in our lives….
each silence has a character of its own.
~Kent Nerburn,
“The Eloquence of Silence,” Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life, 1998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weathering the Storm

 

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Yesterday was the first time in a long time that my girls have not been let outside. The weatherman had been warning us of a coming blizzard that was set to start during the night on Sunday.

They couldn’t quite nail down how much snow they thought we would get, but they were very sure that what we got; would be blown around by very gusty winds. They were definitely right on the gusty winds.

To be honest…I still have no idea how much snow we actually had. It is kind of hard to tell when it is coming down horizontally and doesn’t seem to land anywhere. The horizon had a foggy look because of the blowing snow.IMG_5058

I took my pictures through the windows because it just wasn’t that pleasant to be standing outside being pelted by snowflakes. These were not the nice soft snowflakes that bring back memories of Christmas snows.  These flakes were kind of vicious and more than a little mean.

The flakes were driven by the wind and left bare, burnished places on the yard. They polished the little patches of ice and slowly mounded in hard packed drifts in grassy areas and against fence lines.

School classes were cancelled, businesses shut the doors early and interstates and highways were closed due to low visibility and accidents. Sometime during the night, last night, the winds quit and we woke to a much quieter scene and knew we had weathered the blizzard.

There wasn’t too much scooping to be done….thankfully. And it wasn’t that cold to be out there doing that job. This morning I grabbed the scoop and headed for the chicken coop. I figured the girls were going to be pretty happy to be let out….and I was right!

I did have to scoop them out so they could make it through the little door. For some reason the snow seemed to land in their chicken run and cover that little door. I was glad for all the bare patches left by the wind. There was no need to scoop trails everywhere for easier walking.

I am grateful that we did not get the 12 inches of snow that some people did. I do have to confess, that there is a wonderful beauty in the snowdrifts that are located around the outbuildings. That gusty wind was like a sculptor (a noisy sculptor)…..carving the drifts into strange, beautiful forms.

I am also grateful that every day is one day closer to Spring! That thought makes the cold and snow easier to take. It makes it easier to see the beauty in the snowdrifts and to enjoy the howling of the wind as it swirls around the corners of our home.

As I shoveled the snow onto the stalks of my perennials this morning I had to smile. I knew that this “white stuff” was going to eventually water those dead looking stalks and come Spring; help bring them back to life.

It is a wonderful thing to be able to experience the seasons of nature. They put me in mind of how closely those season parallel the seasons of life we go through. It is good to know that after the blizzard; the warmth will return, the grass will once again be green and the flowers will bloom.

Under the snowdrifts the blossoms are sleeping,
Dreaming their dreams of sunshine and June,
Down in the hush of their quiet they’re keeping
Trills from the throstle’s wild summer-sung tune.

Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford

 

 

 

Sun Dogs

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Last night as I went outside to lock the girls in for the night I could feel the weather was once again changing. We had enjoyed a few really nice days where we actually made it into the thirties.

As I stood outside, the snow was falling (as it had for much of the afternoon) and the wind was picking up. Looking toward the barn I could see the snow sifting off the roof and falling in a fuzzy sheet onto the ground.

As we listened to the weather man he told us that it was, once again, going to dip below zero  during the night. It was definitely going to be a night for the heat lamp in the chicken coop so I headed back outside, (once again), to go plug it in.

Waking up this morning, the snow had stopped but the wind had not. As I made my way to the coop to check on the girls, the wind was bitter. It did not take long to numb my face and drive the cold through my big yellow farm gloves to also numb my fingers.

With the weather this cold and the sky so clear we were treated to a rather beautiful sight….sun dogs.  I have no idea why this phenomenon is called sun dogs but you know it is almost beyond bearable cold whenever you see them.

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For those of you who are not familiar with them; it looks like we have three suns. The real one in the middle and bright lights on either side. Today the sun dogs were brilliant and lasted a long time. It was rather ironic that only two days ago we had commented on the fact that even with all the cold weather, we had not yet seen any sun dogs.

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I didn’t stay outside long to take a lot of photos this morning; as the temperatures were just to harsh and the wind to cold to do so. Today was the kind of day where you only went outside to do what was necessary as the temperature never did get above a balmy  -4º.  It was truly a day to stay in and stay warm.

There is one consolation to the way this weather so quickly changes from a beautiful day to a freezing one….you know it can change back just as fast. I am ever hopeful that this will happen soon!

If we can believe the weatherman (and I choose to on this one) we only have to survive this sub-zero cold for a little bit longer. As my husband was putting more wood into the woodstove tonight I could hear him mumbling, “Just one more day…..”

It brought a grin to my face but I was in total agreement with his heartfelt words. These are the days to hang on to the fact that this cold will not last forever….spring will come…and with it….days that are warmed by the sun and not by the wood in the stove.

 

In cold weather a good rule is to light your fire first
before doing anything else.
It is always more sensible to keep yourself warm
rather than trying to thaw yourself out later.
Mors Kochanski

 

 

Morning Anticipation

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Today was a beautiful day! We seem to have finally turned the corner with warmer weather. We made it into the thirties today for temperatures and with the sun shining it felt downright balmy. (When thirties feel balmy…you know it has been cold!)

I went outside this morning, as the sun was coming up, to let the girls out of the coop. I wanted them to enjoy the beautiful weather as long as they could. When I stepped out of the door and actually took a look around me, I realized that I needed to go back in the house for my camera.

By the time I made it to the coop the girls were eager to get out and were all waiting for me to open the door to their run. They were not patient waiters but protested loudly that I was taking too long. I don’t think they understood just how much I was enjoying being outside, watching the sun turn the world into a twinkling shimmery place.

They had no concept of what a pleasure it was to stand there and take it all in….the haze over the river, the sparkle of the frost on the trees, the quiet of the morning waiting in expectation for the day to come.

Mornings like this one give the illusion of all things being possible. There is hushed anticipation as the world warms up and slowly awakens. Even the starlings, perched at the top of the tree in the front yard were expressing appreciation for the new day.

Days that start like this are a gift. They make me slow down and really see what a picture God has painted on the landscape.  The peace it brings is almost a tangible, touchable thing.

I never tire of the view I have been gifted with. No matter where you look there is beauty. It would seem the view is the same but there are so many subtle changes as the sun rises and sets.  The different seasons all hold a magic that turns the same landscape into such a variety of pictures.

Nature is such a reflection of life. We look like the same person but there are so many facets to each of us. Circumstances mold us much as the seasons change the landscape.  Some days we sparkle and twinkle in the sunlight and some days we seem cloaked in shadows. The wonderful thing is that no matter where we are at……it will change!

The quiet of the morning seems to grant permission to stop, be still and just absorb the moment. It gives that space of time to clear our heads, ponder thoughts and open our hearts for the blessing of a new day.

May your week be blessed with anticipation for what each day will bring. May you experience the joy of the possibilities this life holds and may this season of life find you sparkling in the sunlight.

 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Winter Has Arrived on Time

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This year winter seems to have actually taken a look at the calendar and agreed to abide by what it says. We had unseasonably warm weather right up until December 21. On that day, the first day of winter, the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and it started to snow.

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I really like my seasons to work out in such a tidy fashion…..usually they do not. I will have to confess that I really did hope for a white Christmas. A gentle white Christmas snow….not the horizontal type that sometimes seems to visit our part of the country….and this snow totally fit my idea of a Christmas season snowfall.

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There is beauty in the still, whiteness that snow seems to bring. There is an odd excitement in the “bite” that is in the air as I go outside to take care of the girls. Maybe it is just a primitive reaction to the elements…I am not totally sure what it is, but at this point in the year I am okay with it. I have a feeling that come the middle of February that excitement is going to be long gone!

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I enjoy looking out my patio door and seeing the smoke rise from the chimney on the old milk house. My husband hangs out there in the winter and gets it cozy warm by stoking up a wood stove. I think that milk house is his version of a man cave.

A few years ago my husband took our grandson out to the milk house with him. At that time our grandson was 3. My husband offered him peanuts in the shell. James politely refused. My husband shelled the peanuts for him thinking that might be the issue. Again….a polite refusal. My husband tried one more time and finally James told him that he did not like peanuts…..monkeys ate peanuts.

Later that year our son was out for a walk with James and they were finding acorns. My son asked him where they came from and was told from trees.  Then our son asked him where peanuts came from…..he received a very enthusiastic answer on that one. He was told, “Peanuts come from Grandpa!”

I begin to wonder if I love those first snowfalls because they bring back those fun memories of holidays with the family. Time spent with loved ones can be some of the best times. Family is truly a gift.

Those first snowfalls bring a quietness and stillness to the end of a busy day. Standing outside after locking the girls in for the night, feeling the sting of the cold on my face, and smelling the fresh winter air brings a calm to my soul.

There is a hush in that space of time in between day and night…..a silence broken only by the call of a screech owl in the grove, the lonely sounding cry of geese, the rustle of my chickens settling in for the night,  and the distant sound of a train whistle.

It is a wonderful time for reflection. It is a time to realize that there is an order to this life and to the seasons. They arrive at the perfect time every year. There is comfort in that fact and it brings a contentment to the soul to know that someone bigger than me orchestrates this life.

May you be blessed this Christmas season and may you be a blessing to those around you. May your soul find stillness and contentment in the busyness and may you have time to stand outside and let the beauty seep deep into your bones.

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.
John Boswell

 

 

 

Unexpected Bonus

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Corn pile on the lot across from the elevator

This week has turned out to be a busy one….again. I am not sure if I am moving slower or the time is just going faster…but the weeks seem to roll around quicker and quicker. Just when you think you are caught up, things seem to mushroom and you find out that you aren’t!

My husband thought he was all done hauling his crop into town to the local elevator, so we started putting the wagons back in the shed for the year. Then the neighbor stopped by and told him that there was still about 80 bushels of corn in the combine hopper.

This was a good problem…in fact a great problem! We were glad that there was a still a wagon that had not been put away. My husband brought the wagon to the neighbor’s place; where the combine was, and left it for the grain to be unloaded.

Today, we went and picked it up and hauled it to town. I don’t usually ride along, but this time my husband hauled the small load in with his pickup so I tagged along. As my husband was unloading the wagon in the “Dump 1” area I thought I should snap a few pictures.

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This is the view heading for the dumping area. The “tunnel” is where we went.

 

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Unloading Corn

It is a dusty business in the area where the grain is unloaded. The pictures might all have a dusty/grainy look to them due to the pictures being taken through the back window and the windshield.

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I am not totally sure what the Stop/Go sign is for. I suspect it is used when the harvest season is in full swing and tractors, trucks, and semis are waiting their turn to unload. I should have asked my husband but he was busy with the wagon at the time.

I have edited this post to add a comment from a friend of mine. She explained to me what the sign means: “The stop and go lights are to tell the driver when to stop over the pit and when to drive ahead with the next wagon. You can’t see that from in the tractor. In the “olden days” ( like 4 years ago🤣) they used hand signals. Yellow means you didn’t stop quick enough…back up. You don’t want to see that one lol”

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Once unloaded we took the “road” to the scale to weigh when we were empty and get the ticket that told us how many bushels we had brought in.

It was rather fun riding along with my husband. I got to experience that part of harvest in a way that I usually do not. I am usually at home making sure a meal is ready and hot when he comes home.

The extra, unexpected bushels were also a wonderful welcome surprise. It felt rather like a smile from God….a gift….a reminder that He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, ” (Ephesians 3:20).

May your weekend be filled to overflowing with blessings. I hope you find an unexpected bonus waiting for you and that it brings you joy.

 

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
Psalm 65:11

Abundance

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Today, I happened to take the road that leads past the co-op elevator in our small town. What I saw made me stop and take a second and even a third look.  It also prompted me to whip out the cell phone and take a couple photos.

When we were kids in school we were told that we lived in the “breadbasket of the country.” I am starting to think that the bread might be corn bread.

Sprouting from the ground was a mammoth pile of field corn that ran the length of the entire block. There was an alley that ran right alongside this huge pile of corn, so of course I needed to drive past that pile to get the full scale of that golden mound of kernels.

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As I was slowly driving past it, I was amazed that it made the concrete silos behind it, look smaller than usual. I could only see the top half of those silos and that really made me take a hard look.

Those silos are really, really tall!  I know they are tall because when they were building them, as a kid, I tried climbing the ladder that ran up the side of one and never got anywhere near the top before I chickened out and went back down.

I came home and told my husband that I had taken a picture of that big pile of corn. He kind of laughed and informed me that there was another pile of corn on another location in town. I had to believe him as he is the one who has been hauling wagon loads of corn to town this harvest season.

As a farm wife I know there was talk of a record harvest. I also know that we had a dry summer so I was a little dubious if that record harvest would work out……I am now pretty sure they were right!

It is always amazing to me the abundance of a harvest. After prepping the fields in early spring, praying, then planting those fields, praying, weeding, praying, spraying, and praying some more it is finally harvest time.

I am not sure why I am always amazed….. God has never failed us yet. Even in dry years or overly wet years…there is always a crop. It might not always be huge…but it is always enough for our daily bread.

In this season of Thanksgiving I am so grateful for His faithfulness. I am grateful for His promise of daily bread. We have maybe not always have what we wanted; but we have always had what we needed, when we needed it. And that is enough.

Blessings to you in the coming days of preparing for Thanksgiving Day. May you find things to be grateful for and see the blessings around you. I know this is a little early for Thanksgiving…but I kind of think it is never to early to be grateful.

 

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received.
Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling.
Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.
Henry Van Dyke

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henryvandy402970.html?src=t_gratitude