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/

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Creation

IMG_6542 Island Park.JPG

If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.
Carl Perkins

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Everywhere I look I see the proclamation that Earth Day is coming soon. I thought I should google it (cause that is what I do when I want to find out something) and learned it is coming this Saturday, April 22!

I started looking through some photos and found some that I really like, that speak the beauty of God’s creation to me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Half of the fun of looking through old photos you have taken is all the memories that come back with those pictures.

I was first going to use photos that I had taken on vacations and then I decided I should find the ones, that I love, that showcase the beauty that is in the area where I live.

Flowers are something I love and these yellow flowers were a perennial given to me as a small “start” by a friend, many years ago. Their spikes with the yellow blooms are wonderfully cheerful in my flower garden.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27

I also love to take photos of flowers…..though they are never as pretty as the actual thing.

All the seasons in our area have a different type of beauty. Winter can be cold and bleak around here, but there is a pristine, quietness about the landscape when it snows and freezes. There is a stillness that lends itself to a time of ponderings and dreams.

IMG_1167 Winter along the Little Rock

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

[Meditations Divine and Moral]”
Anne Bradstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet   

There is also a beauty when the leaves are turning yellow and orange. The air has a certain smell of fading leaves, the faint hint of wood smoke from campfires and dirt as farmers get the crops out of the fields. It is busy…but it brings a satisfaction of preparing for the cold of the coming months.

The Pit.JPG

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
Albert Camus

At the end of the day. there are times when the moon is full and you can just sit on the porch and enjoy the quiet of the night time while that perfect ball shines down on you. Coyotes howl in the distance, birds rustle in the trees, and the world has settled down for a little rest.

Moon over the barn

Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah
Psalm 89:37

 

Life can be so good! God is so faithful and I am so grateful. May you have time to ponder this coming weekend. I hope you have time to stop and look around at the beauty that is in your own backyard. And may you find rest and hope in the beauty the Creator has given. Enjoy the blessing.

“There are some places so beautiful
they can make a grown man break down and weep.”

Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang   

 

 

Raspberries!

Surviving Raspberries.JPG

Last fall I was given the opportunity to get free raspberry plants from a gal in our church. So I took my spade, 5 gallon buckets and headed over to her place to dig some out. They had a huge patch that they wanted to get rid of as she said they just didn’t use them anymore.

As I wouldn’t know a sugarplum (reference to “Twas The Night Before Christmas” for those who are wondering.) if I fell over one……the visions dancing in my head were of raspberry jam, raspberry smoothies, raspberries on ice cream……..yeah raspberries for many things!

I dug up quite a few canes that afternoon and headed home with my prize.  I put them in a bucket of water like google told me to do; and then my husband spaded up 2 areas for me to plant them. (Out logic was maybe one place they would grow better than the other.) We put them in the ground, put fencing around them to keep out rabbits and watered them some more.

The canes didn’t do anything last year as we put them in quite late in the season. This year when we went to check on them after the snow had melted; we were jolted by the discovery that the rabbits had indeed found them. They had not only found them; they had chewed the canes down to nubs in several places.

I was certain there would be no raspberries coming to my freezer from these plants, no jars of jam and no raspberries on ice cream.  It made me kind of cranky at those rabbits……..actually, it made me real cranky at those rabbits.  You would think, living by the river like we do, there would be plenty for them to chew on without sampling my new raspberry canes!

Just the other day my husband came to the house and told me he thought some of the canes were alive. So we headed out to the two areas where we had planted them and Surprise!!!!! there are canes with leaves on them!  I was so excited to see that some had survived the late planting, winter season and pillaging by renegade rabbits.

I am always amazed at the tenacity of plants. It seems they can hang on through anything. They may be slightly (or a lot) battered by storms and/or pests (yes, I mean rabbits…sorry to my rabbit-loving husband) but a lot of them always seem to pull through and thrive.  There might be a life lesson in there somewhere…..hang on through the storms….better times are coming.

We also got our potatoes in the ground today so I am feeling really fulfilled. We usually try get them in sometime during the Good Friday/Easter weekend. We usually plant the Yukon Gold as we have found them to be very good keepers through the winter and we love the flavor of them when made into mashed potatoes.

Spring is such a great time of rebirth and the greening up of plants. I love the feeling that the earth is coming back to life. I realize that life has always been there, just quietly waiting to be warmed back to life after the cold winter. It brings such hope for those warm summer days, fruitful gardens and full pantries in the fall.

May you have a chance to dig in the dirt, experience the green grass under your feet and enjoy all the “surprise” plants that come back to bless you. May you find hope in the rebirth that is spring and may you be as tenacious as transplants.

“I believe in process.
I believe in four seasons.
I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming.
I believe that there’s a growing season.
And I think that you realize that in life, you grow.
You get better.”
–Steve Southerland


 

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

Frosting on the Trees

frosting-on-the-tree

Frosting on the Trees

 

We woke up to a very quiet, white world this morning. My husband’s first comment was, ” I thought the weatherman said we were going to get a dusting of snow during the night.” And we did!  It just dusted us under a little more than we anticipated.

It did make for a beautiful sight. The sun shone brightly for the morning and it was actually not too bad for temperature. I went back for the camera because I am not to sure how many more beautiful snowfalls we have left in this season. (I hope not to many! But I was going to enjoy this one.) For some reason a new snowfall seems to bring a silence to the land that holds a strange beauty. It turns the commonplace into something more than it is. It is rather like grace.

the-magic-of-snow

I loved the feeling of being the first one to walk through the snow. I did hesitate just a bit to put those first tracks in the pristine whiteness. As I walked, the snow just glittered and sparkled like someone had tossed a dusting of glitter everywhere. I am constantly amazed at God’s attention to the smallest detail when it comes to things that are beautiful and delightful.  I carefully placed my boots so I would not disturb the smooth snow any more than I had to.

It would have been fun to have the grandkids here. This was the perfect snow for packing, fort-making and snowman construction.  Perhaps I should have just gone ahead and made them anyway? I did not as I was enjoying the beauty of undisturbed snow to much……That is my story and I am sticking with that one!

pristine-view

The Gully ~ a Study in Silent Beauty

 

I knew that by the end of the day our landscape would, once again, look very different from this morning. I knew the mud would be back as the sun melted this snow. I knew there wasn’t long to enjoy this snow…..so I took the time to enjoy it.

So much of life is like that. The “good” things, the wonder and amazement are only here for a short time; just like this snowfall……here this morning and some of it gone by evening. It is a good reminder to stop and take time to just look around and enjoy the gift that is given.

I hope your day held a bit of wonder, a bit of magic and something that made you stop and appreciate the beauty around you.

Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.
Andy Goldsworthy

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Even in winter an isolated patch of snow has a special quality.
– Andy Goldsworthy

 

 

 

Life as a Puzzle

thomas-kincaid-puzzle

What does one do on a snow day when you have already read all the books that you have in your home and the library is 10 miles away through horizontal snow? Last week I had this problem. (I did have work I could have done…..and yes, I did do some of it.)

I also chose to start a puzzle. Winter is the perfect time to start a puzzle…at least I think so. And since winter decided to show up again, I thought it was the prime time to get one started. My husband helps occasionally but typically leaves it up to me. The puzzle I am working on is 1000 pieces and is a Thomas Kincaid picture.

When working a puzzle, I tend to start by finding all the outside edge pieces. I wonder if this is typical? I think I would find it impossible to fix if I had to start with one of the center pieces. I like having the edges as a boundary.

There is something about fixing puzzles that makes me think of living life. Life is made up of so many colorful pieces that don’t always seem to go together. When all those pieces are in the box it can look like a mess and a hodgepodge of mismatched bits and a swirl of colors. It is a great help to see the picture on the lid so you know what the finished product should look like and where all those colors fit in.

I have no idea what the finished picture of my life looks like. I just know there are a lot of little pieces that make up my life. I also realize that I haven’t even seen all the pieces that are still to be used to fix my life puzzle. They are somewhere in that box labeled “Chicken Grandma”.

It takes the Master to take those pieces out of the box and slowly begin putting them together. He takes the colors and all those crazy shaped pieces and places them just so in my life to make a beautiful picture of Grace. He makes order and beauty out of a box of pieces that seem so random, but are not really random at all.

I am so glad He has the lid to the puzzle box that is my life and He knows exactly what that life will look like when it has been completed. I only get to see the portions that He has already put together for me.

It is amazing to me when looking at the parts of my life that are already pieced together what a picture of blessing my life really is. Even the pieces that are dark and gloomy looking are just a part of a much bigger beautiful picture, that all speak grace and love.

I am wondering if the puzzle that is our lives actually has those finished edges that I like to start with. Or, do you think maybe our life puzzles just fit and intertwine with the next persons puzzle and their puzzle fits with the next and so on? I kind of hope so. I love the thought that we are all part of a bigger picture that takes all of our pieces to finish.

I love all those pieces that represents the friends and family that are part of my life. You all make my life so much richer and add so much color. And yes some of you add a little craziness and so much fun!  You also add so much blessing. May you be blessed in return.

 

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16
NIV

 

 

Lessons From Geese

img_3011-geese

The past few days have been unusual with our very warm weather. It has been a wonderful reprieve from the cold days that we had in January. The last few days we have even heard flocks of geese as they fly over our farm on their journey north.

It is hard to believe that the geese are already migrating. This is really early for them to be moving that direction again. It makes me wonder how long it will be before they are thinking they may have left those warmer areas a little too fast.

I love the wild sound of those flocks as they fly overhead. It is usually that wild cry that alerts us to their presence. Once you hear it, you start looking up till you finally locate them. Sometimes they are just small groups of a dozen or so. At times they are so large they have several V formations within V formations.

I am amazed at the instinct these birds have in knowing when it is time to hit the migration trail. Year after year, they unfailingly take wing and go when the time is right. Year after year they follow that age-old path to get to the same location as they were the year before.  Against all odds they  manage to make that same trek over and over.

There is a great comfort in the constancy of the geese as they migrate. It is wonderful to know that even though this world may be in an uproar…..the geese still fly when it is time to go.  They do not take their cues from man-made circumstances. They go when it is time….no matter what; because that is what geese were made to do.

There is a lot to be learned from geese I think. They are not swayed by circumstances and opinions. They do not try to be something they are not. They stick together so their journey is easier.  Just think if we were not swayed by the opinions of people who care nothing for us. What would happen if we did not worry about being good enough? What would this world look like if we stuck together and loved each other enough to help each other through this journey called life?

What if…..against all odds….we stayed true to being who God made us to be and we stayed focused on the business that He has given us to do? I cannot speak for anyone else….but I am thinking that would be a mighty fine thing.

May you have a blessed weekend and enjoy the things that God has put in your path . May you find something to marvel at in the days ahead. I pray that someone is placed before you and you are given an opportunity to love, serve and help…… and may your life be filled with simple pleasures like geese flying overhead.

 Morrie Schwartz quotes 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/against-the-odds/