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Days of Change

August 21st, 2009

A bit of a busy week…  the season of the yellow bus begins again!

 

school-again

rainstorm

 

We had an enormous series of rainstorms this week too.  Short-lived but pretty intense.  No worse for the wear except for some tree branches on the ground, and it looks like the bees took cover inside their hives.

 

 

 

 

 

squash-bugs

 

 

 

In garden news, the great squash experiment finally ended with mixed results when I found these little guys crawling around on one.  But most of the squash plants remained critter free this summer while growing next to a patch of Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). 

This little plant was on the outskirts and the squash bugs were having a feast.  I think it really helps to plant the aromatic herbs and flowers near the vegetables however.   Not to worry in this case… the bugs received a bubble bath in return!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The days are growing shorter, and everything is changing once again. Summer flew by too fast, and the afternoon light through the trees has that end of summer charm, beckoning of autumn. Not yet! I’m not ready…



Journeys Through Life

March 2nd, 2009

Time to catch up after a busy weekend- and it has been a cold few days!  The signs of spring continue to surprise me… this morning a red-winged blackbird had joined the gathering of birds at the feeder, returning to its summer breeding site near the pond after a winter somewhere else.  Technically they are listed as year-round residents in our region, but all I know is that by October-November they are gone, and don’t return until March.  I wonder where the blackbird has been and how far the journey was.  It could be just down the street for all I know, but I suspect the southern wetlands of Missouri and Arkansas provide more comfortable winter accomodations. 

The chores are piling up and now it seems spring is coming almost too fast.  Ornamental grasses sure are beautiful to look at but not much fun to cut back!  I need to come up with a better approach- I straddled this big clump between my legs and used a little chainsaw to cut through the heavy stalks.  

Cutting ornamental grasses

We’re almost out of wood completely after such a cold winter.  But that’s a good thing- I don’t like to keep old wood around because it attracts too many critters that live in or around woodpiles.   The next few months will be time to remove several dead trees on the property and to begin the wood-cutting cycle once again.  Of course we’re still thinking about what to put in the garden, and that’s kind of exciting.  If we were really on the ball we’d be planting starts from seeds… haven’t done that very successfully before.  Do you buy starts or seeds each year?  Somehow I like wandering around the garden center looking at little plants, but maybe we’ll try to plant some seeds this week indoors too.

*****

Over the weekend we had our annual cub scout birthday banquet and ceremony for the kids- they received their advancement badges and other awards, and performed some really cute skits.  Makes for a long day, but seeing the excitement and pride in their eyes is so worth it.  We did have one young scout drop out last week and I was disappointed.  He was new and only made a few meetings.  He didn’t really spend enough time participating to have a rounded view of the activities we do, most of which involve character development and learning practical things.   We also play games and have craft projects, and the kids usually love it. 

His mom wrote me an email and said he just wasn’t comfortable and she was disappointed too.   As the den leader, that gave me a little pause for reflection on how to work with the kids in a more constructive or well-rounded fashion.  We started off with about 6 kids last year and now have 10 scouts participating.  I understand people are different, but I wish I knew what I could have done to help him enjoy the experience more.

I also find myself thinking about how we close off opportunities in our lives for one reason or another.  Looking back I’m sure I did that at times when younger, and probably still do it without realizing it.  We put so much “in the moment” especially where emotions are concerned, and if not careful our perceptions are colored in ways that really may not be accurate. 

What if you never knew that green or fall-colored leaves existed? 

Reflections on Fox Haven pond

When we make decisions based on those short-term perceptions or emotions, we may be doing so without seeing what’s really going on.  Sure that could be a good thing at times, keeping us out of trouble or on the right path as we trust ourselves and our intuition.   But are we semi-rational creatures subject to changes in our emotions that affect our experience each day?  Or are we emotional beings that use intelligence and rational thought to help navigate through life?  Depends upon the person perhaps, but certainly a little of both. 

More often I think we miss embracing the fullness of life, especially when we are personally or physically challenged, and we have that little voice inside that knows we’d like to do something, yet we keep making excuses… but, except, I can’t, if only, I wish, I don’t know how, maybe…  and we hold ourselves back.  

I was fortunate as a youngster to have a wonderful family that supported many opportunties to explore and grow.  I also had many incredible experiences and met other people who challenged me in ways that proved very helpful.  At some point in my life I realized there were few absolutes or real answers, and that Emerson had it right when he said that, “Nothing at all will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be removed…”     

So between the fear, the misgivings and the uncertainty, I began to question and seek what it really was that I wanted in life.  All I knew was that some things make you come alive in thought, vision and experience and we are not on this earth forever.  All I know is we can be active creators of our experience- we can be whatever we want to be in our lives!  And that questioning and exploration has been the seed to every aspect of growth… coupled with a willingness to learn of course.   It’s not a journey that ever really has a destination.  Just when you think, “I’m here! I finally made it…” life will surprise you and present some new challenge or opportunity.

The older I get I find myself both more and less certain about many convictions once held.  I feel humbled by so many things, and thankful for so many more.   I walk outside and breath the cool, fresh air of the morning, and hear the birds sing.  It’s a new day,  and regardless of the challenges that exist I feel such an enormous sense of appreciation.  

Cub Scouts

I watched our son fixing his bowl of cereal this morning, and running around feeding the animals.  Is there a pride greater than that of a parent for a child?  I don’t really know.  He carried the flag through the audience before the cub scout ceremony started this weekend.  It was his first time to do that- and afterwards I asked if he enjoyed it.  He said, “Uhuh…”  and I asked if he was proud of himself, “Uhuh….” and I told him we were proud of him.  I asked what he was thinking about while carrying the flag, and he said, “Umm… like 250 people were watching me!”   I laughed, understanding the feeling.  “But you did it, didn’t you?”  And he smiled.

Autumn Change

October 31st, 2008

Beacon of color,
A Maple, standing alone-
Change in the forest.

Maple in Autumn in Missouri

Sunrise Over the Fields

June 5th, 2008

The dew has just been hanging on to the grass and leaves in the morning because the ground has been so moist.  I love how the sun glows brightly over the landscape as the day begins.  But our days are heating up quickly, and the humidity is much higher now.  Isn’t it amazing how the seasons change?   It can be such a gradual process, but sometimes I look around and wonder how everything changed so quickly.  

Sunrise over hayfields covered in dew

Maybe life is like that sometimes too.  Just when we start to get comfortable with something, it changes!  But isn’t change important too? I think that it promotes growth, depending upon how we handle it.  Many of the more beautiful moments in our lives are simply that- moments to savor and enjoy. And then things change.  But like a beautiful sunrise, they can be moments to remember.

 

Growth and Change

May 20th, 2008

The wind was really blowing the past weekend, and the grassy fields looked like an ocean of waves.  We were up early spreading mulch around trees and shrubs.  I came upon a solitary daisy in the field.  It looks like a common variety of asters, but it makes me wonder how it ended up in the field.  Dandelions are supposed to be very good for the bees, especially in early spring.  But rather than thousands of the yellow little blossoms, I would much prefer some more of these!  But what do I know, apparently the bees don’t take as much pollen or nectar from asters compared to other flowers.

A daisy flower in spring

On the subject of the bees, I checked on them this past weekend.  The queens were out and about, and the bees were building new honeycomb for the queen to lay eggs.  So far so good, although until yesterday it was so windy I was concerned about how they were doing.  But nature seems to just do fine, and as the wind calmed and the day warmed up they were coming and going. 

We checked our apple trees and found apples growing!  The bad news is that on one tree all the blossoms dropped off, and on this one only four apples were developing.  I remember when they were in full bloom, I didn’t hardly see a bee or insect on the apple flowers.  It was also very cool and windy during the early spring bloom, so perhaps they were not pollinated successfully.  We also had a light frost that may have caused the drop, but maybe still we’ll have an apple or two by fall.

Apples growing in spring

Lots to catch up with these days, but really are we ever “done” doing anything?  So much of life is just a journey from one project or phase of growth to another.  My nature likes to find completeness with things, often very quickly.  But my nature has little to do with Mother Nature, for which completeness is a varying transition from one state of being to another.  In our rush to and fro I sense the irony of it all in the grass and weeds that grow, and the trees that sway in the wind heavy with leaves that will begin falling before I can finish my little list of projects. 

We orient our lives around the rhythm of the seasons, trying to join a cadence that fits.  Eventually I find myself sighing deeply, throwing up my hands with a knowing smile, and joining the flow to embrace what simply is.  I watch the birds dart around the trees, and the dogs chasing each other.  I marvel at the energy of a boy testing himself and chasing imaginary creatures. I see the bluebirds catching insects and watch a fish rise to the surface of the pond.  I see flowers bloom and fade, sharing a few days or weeks for the year as they slowly grow. 

I look at trees that have fallen over in the wind seemingly too soon, because I was not yet ready for them to leave.  And I think of family and friends that have left in much the same way.  Sometimes acceptance is a difficult thing, but if we don’t embrace what is, then I think we hinder so much in our own lives.  For me life is about growth and managing change.  I’m constantly trying to manage the growth and change that occurs right around me from an external viewpoint.   Of course that’s not really what I mean.  Everything about that external context is part of my journey too, and it’s really about managing the growth and change within.

Before the Leaves

April 20th, 2008

I walk sleepily around early in the morning thinking of the many things I would like to get accomplished.  Knowing full well I’ll come up a little short on my mental list at the end of the day.  There’s something strange about appreciating nature… it tends to foster daydreaming and staring into the forest, the trees, the sky, the water. 

April morning before the leaves come out

Maybe that’s as it should be, or maybe it’s my addiction. In some ways I’m appreciating the last of the open sky through the trees, the sounds of birds, and the changes sure to come.  Next week and through late October, the leaves will once again wrap the landscape in a blanket of green. It’s a hopeful time, beckoning of warmth and summer. I’m ready for that too.

Predictability, Change and Barn Swallows

April 7th, 2008

Somehow we are reassured with constancy, or at least routine.  Not that I prefer routine mind you, but I appreciate predictability.  It helps frame our experience, or maybe serves as a foundation for other aspects of our lives.  But then again, I’ve always thrived with chaos and change too.

The Barn Swallows represent a constant in my life, and predictability as well as strength.  They returned last night.  Funny… at dinner I was musing about when the Barn Swallow’s would return because last year it was on the 7th of April… today.  Or at least that’s when I noticed them last year.

But then after dinner I went out to clean up a few things and as I sat gazing at the sky, our feathered friend swooshed overhead!  I thought I was seeing things, but then the other swallow of the pair flew by and I smiled, yelling “Welcome back!” to these fleet birds intent on their mission.  I marveled at their speed and hurried pace.  The day had been warm and insects were emerging everywhere.  So the swallows were having their supper.

 Barn Swallow returns to Fox Haven

How do they fly to South America in late summer and back here 6-7 months later to arrive on about the same day?   This morning I took the young boy to meet the bus, and we watched the swallows flying low over the fields.  Returning to the house, I saw one perched above the roof, preening and enjoying the morning sun after a long journey.  It looked at me briefly and then away.

I wondered what was different along the journey that the barn swallow may have encountered, and what might be different here.  We are different perhaps, and then we are also the same.

I love the chaos and change that seasons represent, and yet too their predictability.  We’ve had our share of dynamic weather, and yet the seasons, the birds, the morning sunshine –  all are new, and all are the same.  All are alive, and flow together as one.

This Moment

August 21st, 2007

It seems that many communities received far too much rain this week, and I feel for those whose homes, communities and lives have been changed by it.  Nature is so unpredictable, it makes you wonder where we fit in the scheme of things at times.  We go about our lives in a quiet and insulated perspective that exists around that which we know and are aware of. 

And yet in so many places, not so far away, there are people struggling with the world in which they live.  What can we do?  What should we do?  Perhaps our goals for contributing to charitable causes helps in some small way to alleviate the challenges that others face.  Some admirably choose to become involved personally in order to “make a difference.” 

Of course doing so takes nothing away from those who choose a different path for themselves.  In so many ways we are all “one” and part of the same whole on this great planet Earth.  When I really think about it, I wonder if the best thing I can do is simply to be the best person I can individually, and within the local family and community. 

I have to believe that the example and strength of that which we are in our own lives must relate exponentially throughout our existence, and that of others.  Change comes slowly for some, and seemingly not at all for others, but still it comes… often thrust upon us when we least expect it. 

I believe change can be embraced both as a frame of mind and an attitude serving in part as a foundation for the choices we make in our lives.  Small steps, choices and actions can lead to profound results over time.  We awake in the morning with a day full of opportunity… a blank page to be written upon by our thoughts and deeds.  Each new day, every morning we awake is full of promise.  It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes…

“The past is history, the future is a mystery, and this moment is a gift. 

That is why this moment is called ‘the present’.”

                                                                                                                                    Deepak Chopra

Summer dawn in August a new day!