The Persistence of Spring

IMG_5578

The last two days have been absolutely beautiful around here. Yesterday we were close to 70 degrees. I am not quite sure if we made it there or not; but it was wonderful. The sun was bright and shining, the winds blew gently (for Iowa) and the mud on the yard and the road was actually drying.

During the last weeks, I have noticed that the tulips I planted in a pot were starting to come up. One even decided to bloom!  I was rather amazed they actually grew. My mom gave the bulbs to me last fall and I never got them in the ground due to being ill.

I decided to try them in a pot. I had planned to put the pot in the garage so they would be cold but I never did as I was afraid they would freeze…..so that pot just sat in the back hallway biding it’s time. I felt rather like a mother hen watching over that pot as the bulbs started sending up shoots.

I also had Gerber daisies in pots in the house this past winter. My husband took them upstairs last fall and placed them by a south window so I could attempt to keep them alive for this coming summer. If it had not been for my husband constantly reminding me to water them…..those daisies would have been long dead.IMG_5575

Yesterday he went upstairs and hauled them back down for me and put them on the deck. There was something so satisfying about working on those pots. I spent time trimming away the dead crunchy leaves, picking out the dead bugs that seemed to have accumulated through the winter and watering what was left.

I love the fact that under all the dead stuff were brand new fuzzy little leaves just starting to unfurl. It was amazing to me how much life there seemed to be and how ready those plants were to spring back to life. They really are very persistant.

Maybe that is what I love about Spring.  It is persistant. It always comes no matter how long or how hard the Winter has been. Spring is life….spring is the hope of abundance…spring is a promise.

Our lives are much like the seasons. We spend time in winter where it is dark, long, cold and just plain hard.  And then comes Spring in all it’s glory. You hardly dare believe it has actually arrived. If you are like me you are encouraged by the signs of life that Spring brings to the world around us and into our lives.

May today find you overjoyed to be in that Spring of life. May signs of new life be evident around you. May you inhale the fragrance of the promise that is Spring.

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection,
not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.
– Martin Luther

 

 

 

 

 

Beginnings or Endings

img_5450_1

The sunsets we have been having lately have been absolutely stunning. They are a mix of purples, blues, pinks…bright turquoise, oranges and yellows. There are times the sky looks like it is on fire.

It is like God is giving us a gift and making the cold days of winter beautiful in His own way. It is a wonderful way to end a day by walking out to put the girls in for the night. It is food for the soul to stand outside in the quiet and watch with awe the display that is dusk.

This time of year there  is a quiet beauty. The greens of growing things are gone, but the dazzling display that is sunset, more than makes up for the loss of greens. The cold of the air doesn’t have the perfume of summer flowers but has it’s own scent that proclaims winter……and it is wonderful.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell where the ending of the day begins or the beginning of the ending starts. The wind dies down, the winter birds grow silent, and the sky becomes tinged with pink.

There is a hush in this space of time between day and night. The air is crisp, as only winter days can be. It is a delight for the senses and I am amazed every time I get to enjoy that time.

So much of life is like that space of time. So many times an ending is just a beginning. Last week I went to my last physical therapy visit!! While that was a definite ending it was, for me, the beginning of knowing that I am, for the most part, better.( I still have to do the balance things at home and check in with them in three months.)

We are in the middle of winter and yet the beginnings of spring are starting to show up. Seed catalogs have started arriving and to me that says warmer days are not far behind. I know there will be some snowstorms yet this season but, somewhere in this time frame is the overlap of living in winter but preparing for Spring.

Maybe this is where hope comes in. The kind of hope that is not just wishful thinking but the hope that is expectation and assurance. There is an expectation that Spring will surely follow Winter. There is the expectation that before that there will be more snow and cold weather.

While we wait for those warmer days let us enjoy the day that is now. Let us realize that the beginnings and endings of things most often are somehow tangled together and it is okay.

May you be blessed with beautiful sunsets that end this day and begin the new one.

 

“The end is never the end.
It’s always the the beginning of something.”

― Kate Lord Brown,
The Perfume Garden

Considering Snowflakes

IMG_5245

I ventured outside tonight to gather the eggs and make sure the girls had everything they needed before they bedded down for the night. As I stood outside in the quietness, tiny cold snowflakes gently drifted down around me.

For some reason winter is finding it difficult to release it’s grip on our part of the country this year. We are teased with a couple nice sunny days….days that melt the latest snowfall. We get the sticky mud that comes with that melting…a faint promise of Spring and then…..we get more snow.

The last two days were spent watching the snow blow sideways past our windows. Schools once again let out early on Monday and they had a late start on Tuesday. Children rejoiced….I think teachers probably rejoiced right along with them! (In fact, I know several teachers and I can assure you they rejoiced.)

It makes me wonder if we enjoy Spring, when it arrives, as much as we do; for the simple fact that it seems to take so long to get here. The anticipation keeps building with every warming day in February and March. We are urged on in our desire for Spring with every bit of snow that melts and drips from the eaves of our buildings.

So much of life is like that. We get glimpses of the future and the wonders it might hold and then a curtain of snowflakes, once again, sweep in to block that view. Teased and tantalized our minds get twitchy just waiting for that next break in the weather.

It seems to take a lot of faith to believe that Spring will actually come to stay. I think what keeps us going is the fact that Spring has never failed to show up. I am reminded that no matter what happens in life, no matter how much winter seems to close back in…God is there and He has never, ever failed to show up.

I sometimes wonder why it is such a process to make it from winter to spring. I wonder if there is a lesson in there that I am supposed to be learning. Perhaps it is the lesson of patience….the lesson of perseverance?

Perhaps it is the lesson that I need to know, that I am where I need to be and that I need to find and understand the beauty that is hidden in that place and in that season. Maybe I need to open my eyes to the beauty of those tiny, cold, works of art called snowflakes and their place in my life.

Maybe I need to realize that each flake,  each situation, holds a beauty that needs to be held, looked at, and felt to be appreciated.  Perhaps I need to understand that some situations just need to be seen through the lens of faith. The faith that it will change, that I do not need to be in control and that I am exactly where I need to be at that time.

I always think it would be a wonderful thing if I could actually get a photograph of a single snowflake. I have never been able to accomplish that task. Maybe that is okay. Maybe it is a message to me that sometimes life needs to be viewed as the entire snowbank ….a collection of snowflakes that have banded together to make something entirely new.

 

“A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations,
but look what they can do when they stick together!”
Author Unknown

 

“Are you where you need to be?”
Quote from the Cursillo weekend

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/

 

 

 

 

 

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


 

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