Spring Contentment

First Violets of the SeasonWe may pass violets looking for roses.
We may pass contentment looking for victory.
– Bern Williams

The recent rains and warm sunny days have contributed to our lawn growing into a shaggy green carpet these last days. I am an avid supporter of keeping the lawn mowed and looking somewhat groomed.

I must admit to being a little obsessed when it comes to my mowing technique.  I tend to do the thing where I mow in a different direction each time I mow. This offers me four directions to choose from. I also like a rotation for those four choices.

My husband, on the other hand, is of the thought process…..just zip it off and you’re good. (This should not surprise me as he has the same idea when it comes to haircuts.)  He doesn’t bag the grass or rotate directions. I am grateful he does mow though!  We have a large farmyard and have not owned a riding lawn mower for the last 20 years or so.

We decided years ago that instead of a walking exercise program in the summer we would have a “push the lawn mower” exercise program. It is definitely a workout as our push mower is also NOT self-propelled.

The first of the season mowing always seems to take the longest. There are sticks to be picked up, rabbit holes to be checked for baby bunnies, and it takes so much longer avoiding plants that are just beginning to peep through the soil. It could be that my eyes are just getting older and it is harder to see all those things…..it could be that….but then again….it could just be the time of year.

I was so glad to see the little patches of wild violets were starting to bloom. I was also glad to see that they were so short the lawn mower just skimmed over them. They might be a weed in my lawn; but they are so bright and cheerful as they peep up at me as they nestle in their leaves.

It was exciting to see the hostas are beginning to push up through the soil, the peonies have sent up tall burgundy colored shoots and the bleeding heart I planted last year, survived and even has a few blooms on it already!

 

I started writing this post about our first lawn mowing of this season. As I started wandering around taking pictures today….my focus kind of changed and evolved into more than lawn mowing. Have you ever had that? You start out in one direction and you kind of make this detour……maybe several detours…… all over the place?

I went outside to get those pictures for this post and saw my husband disking up last year’s corn stalks in the bottom field. We have rain in the forecast for the next few days so it is time to get going on things like lawn mowing and field work.

I love the view that we have of the field with the river in the background. I have a feeling I had time to enjoy that more today than my husband did. I am pretty sure he was focusing on his work, while I was focusing on watching him work!

I also noticed that the tree that refuses to die has once again sent out new leaves from some of it’s branches. I used to give my husband grief about how ugly the tree was and how it should be taken down……but I have since changed my opinion.

The Tree Still Lives.....Sort Of

I have come to the conclusion that any tree that works that hard at keeping somewhat alive should be allowed to fall over in it’s own time. The tree also serves as a roost for owls, hawks, wood ducks, eagles, geese (I have no idea why a goose would sit in a tree … but they do),  and it also serves as a home for our squirrels.  I guess it earns it’s way, not by how beautiful it is, but by how functional it still is.

There is something to be learned from that tree. Never give up. No matter what you look like…..God can use you. No matter how battered, there is still a beauty if you are willing to see. I have come to appreciate that tree as much as the flowers and plants that come back each spring…..maybe more as the lessons it teaches me are so timeless.

There is a certain harmony, a certain rightness to the tree coming back to life each spring. Just as the violets and grass returning each spring; the tree stands as a witness to faithfulness and new beginnings.

 

“There is something very special about Spring.
Almost Spiritual.
Not a surprise that Easter coincides with the season……”
George
https://theoffkeyoflife.com/about/

 

 

 

 

 

Contentment

April Moon

Last night on my way home from Bible Study the moon was as pretty as I have ever seen it. It was big and orange and just seemed to hang in the air. My husband and I spent some time sitting in the cold night air just looking and enjoying the beauty of it.

Relaxing and sitting on the porch last night was a great introduction into the type of day we would have today. Calm, quiet and a rare Iowa day where the wind doesn’t try pick you up and blow you away. The weatherman told us last night that we were supposed to be drizzly and rainy today.

When I woke up this morning I believed him as our world was bathed in a soft haze that seemed to promise that drizzly weather. I decided to take my walk early today due to that forecast. (I don’t have a great fondness for walking in the rain on a gravel road…the gravel tends to stick to your shoes, kick back up on your pants and invite itself into my house.)

As I walked it was wonderfully quiet out this morning. In the background there were distant sounds of truck and cars on the highway a couple miles away. The soft haze that bathed the landscape seemed to muffle most of the man made sounds. It pleased me no end, the way it wrapped itself around me as I walked.

There is a spot, a ways down the road where you can stand and look for miles in any direction. It was beautiful this morning in the way an old photo is beautiful with those warm sepia tones. The world rather resembled those old photographs this morning. I didn’t have my camera along, but I doubt I would have been able to capture the feeling the view gave.

The fields are still shades of brown, beige, and tan. Here and there are fields, green with a winter cover crop, but those are few and far between. I strolled past a neighbor’s field that he had seeded to oats this past week. It was wonderful to smell the freshly turned earth. I also smelled the whiff of hog buildings…but yes, this is Iowa.  Fortunately that smell was also faint this morning!

The haze softened all the edges of the landscape. The farm places that dot our landscape were softened and muted by the mist that hung heavy over the fields and farms. It seemed to take away all the sharp edges.

It even took away the sharp edges of life. The world seemed a softer, kinder place. The pace seemed slower in the hazy mist and gave off a feeling of contentment. It was a great time to just stand, look around and reflect on the beauty that was there…..if you only opened your eyes to it.

I slowed my pace on my way back home so I could revel in that feeling of contentment. It was such a gift, a blessing that seemed to be made just for me. In a world that sometimes seems to unravel, there is beauty wherever you look for it.

Sometimes it is good to slow down and find the beauty in an orange moon on a chilly night. It is good to find the beauty in a hazy day where the world seems smaller and the mist seems to wrap itself around you like a warm blanket. It is good to see the gift and the blessing that is ours……if we open our eyes.

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
Lao Tzu

 

 

Wallowing or Marinating?

Grace on a Gray Day

Grace and Gray Days

 

There is a haze hanging over everything today. It is gray, somewhat foggy, and the air holds a hint of moisture that puts a fine mist on your skin when you venture outdoors.

I took my walk up the road this morning, as I wasn’t sure if that gray sky would turn to full-fledged rain later in the day. I could have listened to the weather man, but so many times he doesn’t hit it quite right and I would hate to miss out on my walk.

You would think, with the air so dense and heavy and the sky so gray that it would be somewhat depressing out there. I found it really wasn’t, because in that dense, gray, moisture laden air there was also the faint smell of Spring on the breeze. You know that smell that smells of dirt, rain and things ready to grow…..that smell….and it was good.

As I walked I could hear sounds from a couple miles away; where a farm machinery consignment auction is going on today. You could not make out the words but you could hear the sing-song chant of the auctioneer on the distant breeze.

You could also hear a variety of birds calling, singing, and just going about their business. It was really rather peaceful in the grayish world this morning.

It made me pause and started me thinking that there can be a peace and a wonderful stillness (Psalm 46:10) in the gray, heavy times. It can be a time to reflect. It also got me thinking about the mission trip my sister took a few years back to Guatemala.

A few weeks after their church group came back they held a Guatemala Sunday. We went and listened to the stories the group told about the time that was spent there. One of the things that hit me most, was when one of the group told of their experience standing on a hill, high above a huge landfill. Down below they could see people digging through the refuse, looking for anything usable or salable.

This gal related, that as tears rolled down their faces at the poverty they saw, their guide told them not to cry. He told them “Grace is like a river that runs down and pools in the lowest places. Those that are in those places marinate in it.”  That quote has stuck with me ever since.

On those days when life seems too hard, too gray, too heavy, too dense to carry on; we can either choose to wallow in our misery or we can choose to marinate in His grace. I am thinking it is our choice to make.

I must admit there are times I choose to wallow. I suspect more of you do too. I must also admit wallowing can be enjoyable but that enjoyment does not last long and then just feeling lousy sets in. Fortunately, I have a husband who does not allow me to wallow too long! (That is a blessing.)

I do find that when I choose to marinate in Grace, life is much more bearable. There is a peace and that wonderful stillness of being who you are supposed to be and where you are supposed to be.

If you are presently in a gray time…..what will you do? Will you see only the grayness or will you see the blessing of stillness. Will you see only what is visible or will you see the promise of life around you? What is your choice…..what is my choice?   Will we wallow or will we marinate?

Like any other gift,
the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.
Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.

Unknown

For it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith
–and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God
–Ephesians 2:8
New International Version

You Can Go Anywhere From Here……

The Road South

My thoughts seemed a little scattered today so I decided I should take a short walk, up the road, to the blacktop that runs past our farm. Once you reach the black top it rather feels like being  atop of the world…..at least for Iowa. You can see for miles in all directions except one.

As I stood there this morning, in the warm sunshine, I kind of felt like Tom Hanks at the end of the movie “Castaway”. You know ….. the scene at the end where he stands in the middle of the road and wonders which one to take.

I stood in the middle of the blacktop road…..I even stood on the yellow line. For those of you who worry about traffic flattening me out…..not to worry….this is a rural blacktop and you can see a vehicle come quite a ways off.  You can also hear them coming a ways off as this is fairly quiet country…..so it was quite safe.

 

As I stood there, soaking up the sun like a cat, that is sitting in an open barn door, I realized what a beautiful view I had in every direction.  I thought about all the places you could get to from this one starting point and decided you could pretty much go anywhere from here.

Even if you don’t physically go those places it is fun to dream about going to those places. No passport is needed to dream about going somewhere……a fortune is not necessary to just close your eyes and picture far off places…..all you need is a little imagination and a desire to roll with that thought.

For me those roads signify the places I have on my bucket list to go and see. They signify the people I love, who live at the end of those roads. Those roads speak of dreams.

Then, I turn to face the road that brings me back home…..

The Road Home

I realize that though my road home has a few muddy spots, is filled with small rocks…..it is still my path to the place I call home……and it brings a huge smile to my face. It is my safe haven, it is the home where my husband is, it is the place my kids come home to visit, it is the place my “girls” peck about the yard, it is the place where I can sit on my porch on a sunny Spring type day and I can dream of taking all those roads someday.

It is good to realize that home is a great place to be. It is good to be content with where you have been placed. It is also a good thing to be able to dream and dream about wandering to all the places you would someday like to see.

When I was a kid in grade school my report cards used to have comments that told my folks that I did to much daydreaming. I think I still do a lot of daydreaming and I don’t think it is a problem at all. In fact……I think it might be a gift.

May you have the time to travel new roads this weekend. May you have the time to daydream about those places that are on your bucket list. And may you find contentment in the place you that you call home.

 

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you
the strength, the patience, and the passion
to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman

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“Not all those who wander are lost.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien

Promises of Spring

Flax

The last couple weeks in our area have been dreary, gray, chilly and wet. Today we finally broke out of that pattern and ended up with temps in the 50’s, sun and beautiful weather. It was the perfect day to wander around outside and just suck up some of the wonderful, warm sunshine.

A part of the afternoon was spent, head bent down, searching to see if any little purple violets have decided to make an appearance. I didn’t find any of those, but I did head back for the camera because when I strolled past my flower garden (which at times can also be known as a weed garden) I noticed the little green shoots of my flax plant trying to break through.

I began to dig through some of last years growth and the old leaves and discovered that the sedum, iris, and a few other things were also beginning to pop through the dark wet soil. It did my heart good to see these small promises of spring. It also did my heart good to just be outside and absorb the smells of spring, the sound of birds and the feel of warm sunshine.

I love this time of year…..it is so full of promise. After a long winter (which has it’s own beauty) it is like a revival to see the green shoots of plants and grasses make their way from their winter’s sleep. I am filled with hope when I see those green shoots coming up through the debris of last years plants……hope that life continues even when things looks dreary and dead. Hope of the promise of new life that chooses it’s own time to reveal itself.

My husband pointed out a pair of cardinals that were dancing through the bare trees. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera on hand at that point! The brilliant red was such a contrast to the brown of the bare branches. It reinforced the idea that life has so much beauty so close to what appears to be dead, brittle and ugly.

In looking closer at the branches of a tree in the backyard I discovered that the leaf buds are starting to swell with new life…..another promise in the process of being fulfilled.

Promise of Life

Life, like the swelling buds on the tree is full of hope if you just take the time to search. Sometimes the search is harder than others to find that small grain of hope and life. Sometimes, it seems to take more than one lifetime to see and feel that hope that brings a sweet breath of freshness into your soul.

Hope and Life, like the seasons, are on their own timetable…..they will not be hurried or wished into being. They will arrive at their appointed time and the older I get the more I am finding out……that timetable is perfect. I am also finding out that life without hope is stark and meaningless.  Maybe that is why all the little promises of Spring speak to my heart and soul.  It is a tangible reminder that life wins, hope springs eternal and God is good.

 

For behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2:11-12 ESV

 

A Time of Birds

pair-of-geese

A Pair of Geese – A Good Match

The last few days have been absolutely glorious. (I do love the word glorious!)  Yesterday it was 70 something degrees and perfect weather for taking a camera and wandering around.

My husband pointed out that we had a pair of geese standing on a sandbar; on the river that flows through our farm. We had been watching the large flocks fly overhead on their way north; so it was a treat to see a pair that had decided take a break on the river.

I am hopeful that this pair, that seems perfectly matched, will decide to take up residence for the season in our area. In the past we have had resident geese and it is so much fun to watch them when they have goslings. I find it to be really neat that geese actually pair up for life. I have no idea how they go about finding their perfect mate. But as they stay together they must be a good match.

Nest in the Plum Thicket.JPG

Nest or Hideout

I finally remembered to take my camera on my walk yesterday. Every time I walked past the plum thicket alongside the road; I loved seeing this nest just waiting in the trees. I cannot wait for spring and summer when, hopefully, a bird will decide to reuse it as a home. If they don’t use it for a home, perhaps they could at least use it for a temporary hideout from a predator of some sort. My husband tells me it probably will not be reused but I am ever hopeful.

the-road-home

The Road Home

As I journeyed my way back home I could hear the sound of thousands of birds singing in the trees along the river. The closer I got, the louder the noise became.  It really made me wonder how many birds it took to make that much noise. I soon discovered how many it does take…..

migrating-red-wing-blackbirds

Red Winged Blackbirds

There were so many Redwing Blackbirds sitting in those tree branches that they looked like leaves. It was an amazing sight when they decided it was time to leave. A rush of wings, the sky dotted with an amazing amount of birds, the air echoing with the cries of all those birds …… and they were gone.

So much of life is like that. Moments that are precious are gone in a rush of wings and a few last cries. I guess it is a reminder to cherish those moments when they are here. Take the time to really enjoy them before they are gone in a blur of passing time. Realize when God has given you a friend, spouse, or family member that is a good match for you and let them know that you love them. Enjoy the journey that is life.

Memories are the key not to the past,
but to the future.
Corrie Ten Boom

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A Little Tour

the-little-rock

Today the blogging well seems to have run a little dry so you are going to get a short tour of the farm.  The blogging well might be slightly on the dry side but our farmyard definitely is not.  We are enjoying some amazing, unseasonably warm weather around here. I am not going to complain about the temperatures…..but there is a downside.

The downside of these early warm temperatures is that all the snow melts….rapidly. When snow melts that quick and the ground is still frozen, our yard turns into a pond fed by a small creek that winds it’s way  from the field to the west, to our farm yard.

This all sounds delightful and probably would be if we were in the mountains and we were talking about bubbling brooks and clear mountain streams. What this means for us is that our yard becomes a pond which then turns into a mud pit.

Our car is no longer parked in the garage but up the driveway a ways so that we will not have to go “mudding” every time we need to go somewhere. There is an upside to this beautiful weather….there is usually an upside to most situations if you look hard enough.

I find that we can go outside with lighter weight coats on. Gloves are no longer needed to keep your fingers from freezing.  And it is now enjoyable to take a walk down the road as the wind is not howling with a sound like that of a roaring freight train.

the-eagle-has-landed

My husband pointed out to me that we had an eagle in the bottom field the other day. I headed out, camera in hand to try get a picture of him.  The expectation was high that I would be successful in getting this accomplished.  As I came around the corner of the barn I could see him sitting in the bottom field.  He was quite far away but I managed to get a picture of him before he decided I was too scary for him to stay put. If you look closely at the picture at the top of this post you will see him flying away, heading towards the river.

As I slid my way through the mud (and of course wearing my chicken wellies)  I found much to appreciate.  From the trees that are patiently waiting for their summer clothes, to the girls enjoying themselves with some treat they found in my wheelbarrow…..the farm was a delight.

 

Even with the mud, this farm not only makes a living for my husband and me…..it also feeds my heart and soul. It has so many facets to it’s personality. Each season brings a certain beauty that makes me stand in awe.

There are times it is so still that you wonder what will happen when that quietness has passed. There are times when the soil comes to life with the green of corn, beans, and hay fields. The air is fragrant with the life of growing things.

This piece of land is a feast for the senses in every season. There is a connection to this ground even when it has turned to mud. It is much like life. There is promise and there is hope. There is a knowing that God is faithful and Spring is on it’s way. It is a reminder that life is rich and is the accumulation of so many wonderful little things.

 

 

“Farming is a profession of hope”
Brian Brett