Commuting with Nature

IMG_3036My daily drive is fifteen minutes, or a little more, coming and going from my country home in Ohio to our child care center on the edge of town. Some curvy, hilly stretches. Some straight and flat. All narrow by my standards growing up west of the Mississippi.

It is a lovely way to start and end the day.

Saturday I checked Google Maps, just for fun, and was informed of “light traffic” on my route. So I counted.  I passed one truck and a tractor in the first 10 miles, but it really picked up after that.  A whopping 13 other vehicles on the road before I arrived.

Light traffic allows time to enjoy the scenery.

I don’t think Google Maps tracks the deer. Yet. They are the most frequent hazard I face on my commute, yet beautiful to see when not jumping into my path. I enjoy random glimpses of fox, hawk, rabbit, and other wildlife, too.  I scan for potential danger like approaching deer (or skunk!) as I admire the changing scenery during the growing, blooming, and color transformation  seasons. “Thank you, Lord. It’s glorious!”

Then in the bleak winter months of barren fields and naked trees, I watch the sky.

I find the early light, bright blue skies, wispy or puffy shape changing clouds, the colors of sunrise and sunset easy to admire. “Beautiful!”, I comment to the Lord, “Amazing!”.

The beauty of winter is more elusive, beyond the obvious glory of snow covered everything or sparkling ice laden trees. The long weeks of gray can be dreary, but I am learning to look deeper. The sky still offers change in shade and shape of gray cloud, the  gray-brown tree limbs against the sky a striking contrast. My commute may begin and end in darkness for many weeks of winter. Through patterns of stars and reflected light from the waxing and waning moon, the cold night sky reveals God’s glory in beauty, also.

I do not look forward to those cold gray days or long dark nights, but they will come.  And God will be with me still, revealing His glory. Helping me find beauty in the difficult seasons of life.

 

 

 

 

Falling

I haven’t allowed myself blogging time for over a year.

Too many demands on my time.  Falling short in too many areas.

I’ll write…

When the big work project is done…

When my home is orderly, organized…

When family needs are fewer…

Time invested does not fill. More time is needed.  Another project looms.

Time is limited. Demands urgent.

I haven’t allowed myself blogging time.  It’s unnecessary. Just a personal pleasure. There is so much I need to do.

Guilt.

I’ve gotten so much done this past year. There will always be more I need to do.

False guilt.IMG_3321IMG_3322

No need to blog.  But I miss the time thinking and assigning words to express my thoughts.

And a part of me falls away when I do not write.

 

 

Lucky Man

20160518_161422.jpgToday I have a dinosaur in my pocket and it made  me think of Dad.

Moving through the dozen rooms of our child care center each day, I pick up stray items, dropping small ones in my pocket or purse to take with me to its proper place in the building.  Often I promptly relocate the items.  Other days they go home with me, forgotten, but eventually returned days later.

That’s how little blue man ended up as a gift for my dad.

When we learned dad was to have major surgery, there was little time to get things organized before flying out to be with him. Cleaning out my purse did not make the to-do list. Somewhere above Missouri, before landing in Kansas City, I discovered little blue man among the pens and paperclips that always sink and line the bottom of my purses. Laughing at myself for carrying such an odd item, I decided to present it to dad as a lucky man, for a lucky man.

We always teased Dad about his luck.  In his lifetime he won recliners, televisions, microwaves, and much more.  Not a gambler, and years before State Lotteries were the norm anyway, he won by signing up at every possible free drawing at fairs and business promotions.  So I told him this little blue guy, now dubbed Lucky Man, was to remind him how lucky he had always been, and would be as he faced the major surgery and subsequent cancer treatment.  He laughed and kept it in his hospital room among the balloons and cards. (I knew he’d like it; the goofy gene in our family definitely came from Dad.)

Lucky Man earned a permanent place on Dad’s bedroom dresser for the almost four years Dad battled pancreatic cancer, post surgery. Lucky years for all of us, to have more time together.

We are a family of faith, and credit God with that time, not luck.  For me, counting yourself lucky in life is mostly about deciding to be happy.  It is choosing joy, wherever it can be found.  Even in the midst of fighting cancer, that was Dad’s  choice, and it served him  well.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Whimsy

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 Happy that the recent unseasonable frosts spared my  daffodils and hyacinth, my mind wandered to the flowering season ahead, and to Eden long ago…

The book of Genesis tells us that Adam was given the job of naming the animals. Bear. Wolf. Lion. And so on.

I suggest that maybe (just perhaps!) Eve took it upon herself to name the flowers.  Heliotrope, Delphinium, Daisy, Honeysuckle, Lily of the Valley. Oh, I can imagine it.

Adam calls to Eve, “Come check these flowers out. They smell great!”  Eve inhales deeply, gazing at the red blooms.  “I will call this the Rose bush”, she declares.

Gently admonishing, Adam tries again to direct her attention to the wonderful scent.  “Eve, a Rose by any name would smell as sweet.”

But Eve demurs. “No, Adam.  A Rose, is a Rose, is a Rose.”

 

 

 

BOOM – It’s Spring!

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The changes were so subtle at first. So longed for. But sometime this week, maybe on the rainy day when I failed to watch for it, Spring arrived full force. Last week’s tight buds now tree-fulls of pink and white blossoms,green leaves of Hostas unfurled. Hyacinths, tulips, and asparagus magically returned for another Spring appearance in our yard. Planted over forty years ago by my husband’s grandmother, this reappearance never ceases to amaze and delight me.

The view from my window has been changing daily. I am watching the Lilies-of-the-Valley, trying to catch the moment little white bells first appear. Soon.

This poem by e.e. cummings captures the magic of Spring changes, so I share it for April poetry month. (I almost chose his poem In Just for my joy in the word mudlucious, but I love how this one captures the changes of the season.)

Spring

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere) arranging
a window,Into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and from moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

Spring Breaks

The winter has been full of work, writing limited to policies and memos. Too many deadlines to allow myself time to write for pleasure.

The deadlines continue, but on this lovely Spring morning I took a break, read some blogs, and discovered April is poetry month.

It brought to mind a poem I love. It reminds me of myself and Spring. Perhaps I will find time to share others this month as a much needed Spring break from policy writing.

She Never Finished Anything by Lenore Langs

was distracted from
her prayers
by the flash of a finch’s wing
decided to follow a regime
of monday cleaning
tuesday laundry
but took her coffee to the backyard for
ten minutes
on the first monday
and stayed all morning
watching the light change
on the leaves of the lilac

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Grandma’s Noodles

My family alternated holidays between the grandparents when I was a kid. We had a Fat Grandma and a Skinny Grandma. Not that we called them that, but it was a noteworthy comparison.

I won’t say that we preferred one over the other, but Skinny Grandma served boiled okra as a Thanksgiving side dish.

Fat Grandma always had homemade noodles.

We entered her home through the kitchen; immediately greeted by the wonderful smells, and a kiss on the lips no matter how you tried to dodge it. While the men sat in the living room talking about the Army/Navy game, the women and children were put to small tasks to speed the meal. Not that Grandma needed much help. The turkey and stuffing (plus dressing on the side for those who preferred it that way) were baking, the pies and cranberry sauce already made, and the air humid from boiling pots of potatoes and broth. Grandma’s apron was already covered in flour as she began to roll out the noodles.

I loved watching this process. She rolled the dough almost paper thin and then rolled it up jelly-roll style to slice into long strips of noodles. I got to help unfurl each roll and hang it to air dry just slightly before she cooked them in the boiling broth.

Somehow, without aid of microwave, everything was served hot, crowded on the serving table, ready for Grandpa to say the blessing as we all gathered. We didn’t all agree that the noodles were our favorite thing, but with their melt-in-your-mouth perfection they were part of everyone’s Thanksgiving plate.

“Everyone” could be a sizable crowd. Various of Grandpa’s eight siblings, their children or grandchildren made appearances over the years, along with our family, aunts, uncles and cousins. Neighbors, friends, and strangers like a young missionary pair working in their town, joined our meal at times. We brought along last-minute friends one year, but feeding four unexpected teenaged mouths was no problem for Grandma. (I think they each got a kiss, too.) At her house, space would be made for all who came. There would always be enough food to share.

In many ways, it was always Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house.