Beauty in the Barren Places

IMG_4739 Sunrise

Sunrise Over The Badlands

Sometimes beauty shows up in the most unexpected places. Barren, desert like landscapes are strangely beautiful when you really start to look closely at them. When the sun rises over them; they are cast in an amazing glow that makes the land take on an entirely different life.

The world takes on a feel of expectation….a waiting to see what the day will bring….a hush that borders on the feel of standing in a holy place.

As I walked through the crunchy half dead grass of the Badlands of South Dakota; I began to notice that this barren looking land was filled with life……blooms and plants that are fragrant and colorful.

Trees cling tenaciously to life in this land and golden yellow flowers bloom with abandon along the Sage Creek roadway. Perhaps it is the contrast of the lifeless looking grass that elevates the blooms of flowers to something so much more than mere patches of color.

The days can be amazingly hot, with a wind that never seems to quit. As we camped on the rim of the badlands, our pop up camper was buffeted by winds that seemed to want to tip us over the edge. The second night my husband actually chained our camper to our pickup for a little extra safety measure!

20170909_174618 Camping on the Edge

Even with the downside of sudden storms and hot dry winds, this land has much to teach us. It teaches us, at least it teaches me, that beauty can be found in the barren spaces. I have learned that if you look closely you will find an abundance of beauty.

That beauty may not be flashy or showy, but it is abundant. The sage gives off a wonderful aroma if you happen to step on it and the sunrises and sunsets are some of the most beautiful I have seen.

IMG_4237 the Badlands

I am hoping that if you are stuck, waiting in a barren place, that there is one small patch of beauty  to be found. A place for you to rest your heart and feed your soul. May you take delight in a sunrise or sunset….and may it cast a wonderful glow over the barren spaces.

IMG_4732 Day's End

Sunset Over The Badlands

 

 

“The desert,
when the sun comes up…
I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped and the Earth began.” 

― Tom Hanks

 

I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought.
Hosea 13:5

Dew on the Grass

IMG_4146 Sparkling Grass in the Morning

These last foggy mornings have been something wonderful. I have written before how I love the muted morning sounds and the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket of fog. I realize I get to feel that way because I am not forced to be traveling through that fog on a busy road.

I, instead, get to drink my morning tea on the porch and take it all in. I love the way the dew drops cling to the very tips of the grass. Once the sun starts to break through it looks like a sea of diamond tipped slender grass spears.

I am amazed at how that small drop clings so tenaciously to the end of that piece of grass. There doesn’t seem to be much structure for that drop to cling too and yet it hangs on.

It is beautiful how that small droplet sparkles and glimmers in the morning sun. It seems like one minute that drop is there and when you next look it has disappeared. Dew on the grass is one of those gifts in nature that is fleeting.

Life is the same. From breath to breath things change so fast. One minute your kids are babes in your arms, a blink later and they are in school, two blinks and they are walking down a church aisle and leaving your home. Before you know it a small child grins at you and calls you grandma.  Life is fleeting; but life is oh…..so very good.

Take time today to experience the small gifts around you…. the smile of a child, the feel of the sun on your face, the beauty of a fog-laden morning and a drop of dew sparkling like diamonds in the sun.

 

Life is fragile, like the dew hanging delicately on the grass,
crystal drops that will be carried away on the first morning breeze.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

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


 

Security Under a Corn Tunnel

Tenacious Rhubarb.JPG

I was really surprised today when I looked out my patio door. I could see rhubarb growing underneath it’s “cages”. I had not expected those plants to be that large already. It did not seem that long ago that my husband suggested I put some corn tunnels over them as they were just starting to break through the soil.

Rhubarb is a tenacious perennial; but I think the “girls” out-tenacious the rhubarb.  Before we put the protective corn tunnels over them the girls would spend hours just scratching and digging for whatever they could find in the dirt around those plants. It was getting to the point that the poor plants were losing the battle against the chickens.

I have found that if I want to have any rhubarb to freeze for muffins or use to make jam I had best protect them till the leaves are really big. A few years ago my husband brought me some corn tunnels to use to protect them.

I should probably explain what a corn tunnel is for those of you who have never dealt with storing ear corn in a corn crib. When you put ear corn (field corn that is picked and not combined) in a crib you put these wire tunnels along the bottom of the crib to help with aerating the crib so the corn will dry on the cob and not rot and turn to compost.

We have found these corn tunnels work great for a lot of garden plants and flowers that you want to protect from rabbits and chickens and who knows what else. Once your plants are mature enough you can remove the protective tunnels and let them thrive on their own.

I think there are times in our lives when we are like those new shoots coming out of the ground in the early spring time. We need “corn tunnels” to help protect, shield, and give us security from the things that would scratch and dig at us before we are ready to handle that kind of treatment.

In these last few weeks of recuperating I have felt like those rhubarb plants with their corn tunnel protection. I have been shielded, nurtured and protected by so many friends and family. It is truly a humbling experience; but oh so very appreciated!

I have observed others during their times of needing that same kind of help and it is wonderful to see people close in around them to take care and nurture. I have also found that it is such a blessing to part of the nurturing crowd.  It does take a conscious effort to do that and I find you cannot blindly ignore those hurting around you.

In this week before Easter I would encourage you to be the security……. be the corn tunnel for those put in your path. Be the one to step up and nurture them, give a word of encouragement, and be the blessing to someone else.  I have a feeling you will be greatly blessed in return.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:4

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verse-about-helping-others-21-top-scriptures/#ixzz4dtpppWYn

 

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully,
everyone is blessed.”

Maya Angelou