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After the Rainbow

September 22nd, 2009

Saturday afternoon was calm and peaceful, but the sky grew darker to the south. Rain coming I thought, gladly, since we really needed it. And then a rainbow appeared in the east as the sun moved downard through the western sky. It was beautiful, brightening and growing larger until we saw the entire arc across the clouds. The young boy danced and smiled, and wanted so badly to go and chase the end of the rainbow to find the gold. He knows it’s just a story, but that doesn’t change the wonder and amazement of the imagination.

rainbow-boy-and-dog

Finally the rainbow faded as sunset came, and we looked west to see the light still upon the sky, between the clouds, with nightfall ahead. The boy raced to get his paint set and sat on the hill shouting for some gray paint. Mix some black and white I yelled back, and he painted for a time, trying to capture the stirrings in his heart and the pretty sky after the rainbow.

nightfall-before-rain

And then the rain came.  That’s a first for me… to enjoy a rainbow before the storm instead of after.  It was time for supper too, as the raindrops made splotches on his paper. He didn’t want to come in, but we finally picked things up and came in for the night. He’s still working on his picture. 

As for the rain, it seems that I spoke too soon the other day. I would have gladly shared our dry weather with some of you… instead it appears we got some of your rain. The forecast was around 30% for showers. The rain after the rainbow drizzled on and off throughout the night… almost perfect.

Almost… and then the heavens opened up at first light and we got five inches of rain in less than two hours.  With predictable results… the pond came up over two feet very quickly, rushing out the spillway and the watershed flooded everywhere. Down the road, a drainage pipe was completely lifted and washed out of someone’s drive. Our gravel driveway, which only required raking a couple times this year, was totally washed out toward the dip in the middle, leaving over a ton of crushed and larger rocks washed over the side down the slope.

grave-drive-washout

It doesn’t look too bad in the pictures, but the ruts were 6-8 inches deep and well up the other slope too.  Little car tires can become easily damaged by such terrain.  Where the water is pooled to the left of the drive is a drainage pipe, overwhelmed by the volume of water.  For a few minutes it topped over the driveway, and then gravel washed into that dip, pouring off the driveway. 

So yesterday included a half day of seat time on the tractor trying to get it back in shape, along with a couple hours of hand raking and shoveling.  Not on the list of things to do, but it needed doing.  If this is the kind of rain you’ve been having further south, then I understand your frustration. Time to get out the paddles…

All part of life right? Hope for the best and prepare for the worst… the saying goes.   Maybe, but I find that a bit defeatist.  Sure we need to be prepared,  but with divine or other providence, as each may believe,  we can try to focus on what makes our lives worth living.  I find it enormously helpful to have an abiding faith and belief that things will work out just fine.  

So prepare for the best, hope for the best, and do your best… enjoy the glad days and the moments of beauty.  Appreciate the rainbows when they come.   Sometimes it’s after the rainbow that our challenges appear. 

And that’s okay too.



Life and Ice Cream Dreams

August 31st, 2008

Why is it we surround ourselves with living things?   No matter where we choose to live, we seek life in the world around us.  We join with others to begin families, develop friendships and seek things greater than ourselves that inspire us and fire the imagination of the soul.

Sometimes it’s the simple things, and we choose kittens or other creatures to share our lives with.

Kitten drinking milk

Maybe we just appreciate the life that exists in the world, and go see it when we can.  Life is pretty simple when you think about it.  For all that we do, life is really about growth.  And age doesn’t matter.  What happens when something stops growing?   Can something stop growing and still be alive?  I don’t think so, at least not very long. 

Bullfrog at the pond

Sometimes we seek life in growing plants and flowers, and find joy in nature’s abundance.  Whatever choices we make in our lives, we yearn for something more, we seek to make our lives, and the lives around us, matter in some way.  It may be with fame and fortune, or it may be with simple moments and small kindnesses.

Sunflower and a butterfly

A few months ago one of our favorite ice cream stores closed at a nearby small town.  It was run by a family dairy for decades, and the patriarch of the family had passed away.  He could be seen quite often sitting behind the counter, smiling at customers who loved this home-made goodness.   It was his dairy, his ice cream store, and his life.   After he was gone the rest of the family didn’t want to continue operating the ice cream store and it closed.  But I still see his smile when I think of the times we visited, and the smile on my father’s face when he got one of those cones.  I’ve yet to find a butter-pecan quite the same.  What was so special about that place?   I don’t know.  Maybe it was sharing it with family, maybe it was the quaint little store, or maybe it was the ice cream.  Maybe it was all of that and more.

There are many chapters in our lives that close for one reason or another too.  But we don’t stop looking for more.  That seeking and questioning during the journey of our lives is part of our growth, even in the midst of our greatest confusion and challenges.   However complex we try to make it, life is simply about living. 

And maybe life is a little like ice cream too.  So many flavors, so many choices…  Now, what kind of life do you want to have? 

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.

Trees and Changing Perspectives

April 30th, 2008

Can a tree morph into something more than what we have seen for so many years?  Sometimes it can, and our perspective or the way we see something changes abruptly as well.  It’s not always easy to accept change, especially if we’ve invested our life or being in the certainty of something. 

For those of us who love exploring the natural world, change is always present and we thrive on discovering new aspects of the world around us.  Maybe that’s what we love about the dynamic, changing world of nature.  Much remains the same, but as with the seasons, each day brings new experience or a new shade of color to our lives.

Early one morning last week I noticed different shades of color between the many branches of this oak tree as the sun brightened the landscape.  A few more weeks and I might never have seen it, but on this day something was different and I was looking.

 Red Oak tree and White Oak tree growing together

My perspective of this tree changed very quickly after noticing that it was not just one, but in fact two trees growing closely together.  And more than that, it’s not just two trees, but two different species of Oak trees growing together.  Why had I not noticed this before?  

In the summer, this seems like a single enormous tree, providing a leaf-filled shady corner to the pond.  But the largest tree trunk on the left with most of the crown is actually a Red Oak.  The double-trunked tree on the right is actually a single White Oak. 

It seems so apparent now as I look at the distinction between the two.  So my perspective of a “three-trunked” oak tree group is very different today.

It’s kind of amazing, because think how much our lives are really like that?  Many of us love making new discoveries in the fields and forests, and yet we are so sure of ourselves, and the way we see the world… until something happens that changes the context of our perspective. 

Our existence and the way we see the world has now changed.  For some of us, these changes in perspective happen at key places in our lives and take us in new directions.  And yet others hang on with a death grip to the frame of reference that is known, afraid to let go and move with the currents of change in their lives. 

I’ve found it’s important to remain open to change, to be willing to let go, and to be receptive to the uncertainty that a new path brings.  Or at least I learn that again and again. 

How many absolutes are there in life?  In many ways, the older I get the fewer there are.  Is it always that way?  Everything we see, hear, feel and believe are all part of the context of our life experience.  And that context, that experience, is always changing.  So why would we ever think it normal to remain the same?

I am humbled by the changes that have occurred throughout my life. I hope to always welcome change and uncertainty, as well as experience that fosters growth.  Sometimes that’s not so easy, yet nature can lend color to the context of our experience and understanding in new ways.  Today I am thankful for oak trees.  

Our lives should be a shifting pallete of colors that grow more beautiful as the years go by.  If we paint only with the experience of one brush or one color, how very dull our lives would be. 

 

Getting Outside for a New Perspective

March 14th, 2008

What a beautiful day today!   Watched the news early and it just sounded so negative… so I spent much of the day with the young boy outdoors cleaning up, trimming and pruning.  It was great fun actually, and he found that the hard stems of year-old Pampas Grass is good for all kinds of things.  And he says it’s the most amazing plant he’s ever seen!  I’ll have to get a picture up tomorrow.

Sometimes the news on the economy is just a little much, and I have to head outside to work, breathe some fresh air and gain perspective.  Groceries cost a little… okay, a lot more these days it seems, and fuel for the vehicles is crazy high.  I suspect I’ll let the grass grow a little longer this year and not use the tractor quite as much! 

We may also try growing a few more things in the garden this year.  I’m not quite ready for chickens and goats.   I would love to have them, but we like to take trips fishing and camping. I would be the primary caretaker, but it seems to me that it must be a family commitment.  Honestly we haven’t reconciled the desire to have animals (beyond cats and dogs!), and the desire to be a little more mobile.   That may change…  :)

For now we have enough work to do getting cleaned up from winter.  Spring is so energizing though!  Just the warmer days and brighter sunshine lifts the spirit.  The buds are swelling and little green shoots are poking out of the ground everywhere.   The year is in full swing- and things can always be worse.  Especially for the guy who watched his new $12,000 engagment ring float away in a balloon before he could give it to his fiance… Doh!

Early March Snow is Fun for Everybody

March 5th, 2008

After an amazingly warm weekend, we were hit by 5+ inches of snow. Made for an interesting day, especially watching the animals.

Many birds hung around the feeders through the storm, especially the litttle Juncos.

Juncos at the feeder during snowfall

The snowfall covered the barn quickly.

Country barn after snowfall

A flock of Robins perched around the trees, looking out of place with the ground covered in snow.

Robin perched in tree during snowstorm

And I learned something new about Robins. Several of them flew in and out of this Juniper tree eating the juniper berries. Who knew?

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Fixing Stuff and Heading Outside

March 2nd, 2008

One of the neat things about sharing thoughts and pictures with a blog is the ability to reach so many people. The internet still amazes me, and through writing on a blog we can appeal to a diverse array of people from all walks of life and all over the world.  Sometimes we find a blog accidentally while searching for something else.  But most people who visit a blog or website do so quietly, preferring the anonymity of the web.   In blog jargon, people who visit a site but don’t comment much are called “lurkers.”  I read somewhere that more than 80% of a sites visitors usually just browse the site without commenting.

I must admit that I’m a lurker on most of the sites I visit!  Usually I just don’t think I have much to share or contribute.  When I do make a comment however, I find that the host really appreciates it.  Sometimes I’ll “subscribe to a feed” or RSS link in my newsreader, and receive updates on daily posts. 

Kuma of Fox Haven

But for other sites I’ll sign up directly for an email subscription so that whenever a blog post is made, I’ll get that email on the same day even if I have not visited the site in a while.   I find it easier because I don’t always remember to visit different sites, and frankly I just don’t have the time.

One of the companies that has simplified blog feeds and email subscriptions is FeedBurner.  The company grew so quickly and was so effective that Google bought them last year!  But FeedBurner is not perfect as I found out yesterday.  I’ve had a “Subscribe vie Email” page and link on the site for some time, and when I went to help someone sign up yesterday I found it wasn’t working. Arrggh!  It seems that if FeedBurner makes some tweaks to their system without notifying users it results in a broken sign-up process. 

So that link is now fixed… if you’ve tried to sign up in the past and didn’t succeed, I offer my apologies.  And if you haven’t tried to sign up in the past, well then I hope you’ll consider it now! :)   

Feedburner!

I certainly understand if you enjoy reading quietly from afar.  But if you ever think about commenting on a post or topic, please feel welcome to do so.  Soon it will be time for the garden, and I hope some of you can share your growing insights! 

After fixing the links on this site, it’s time to head outside.  It’s supposed to warm up to 73 degrees today before turning colder again this week.  But the cold won’t last for long!  I hear the birds singing… Best regards-

Things Undone

March 1st, 2008

It was warm today!  The ice on the pond slowly melted, giving way to dappled sunlight.  All of a sudden I felt an urgency to do so many things that I’ve not yet finished.  Spring is coming… more to do!

Pond ice fades under warming sun

Sunlight and Wistful Thinking

February 15th, 2008

Somehow today I felt a twinkling of spring in the air. I don’t know why… the temperature was in the high 20’s, although sunny. Over the past week we’ve had some very warm days, and very cold ones. Maybe it’s the light? Animals and plants have an innate biological clock that marches to the rhythm of sunlight. I found myself in the barn this morning looking over the machinery. All the engines and moving parts need to be cleaned and lubricated. Some of them will need to be de-winterized and I need to clean up a bunch of stuff that I’ve put off for some time. I also find myself looking wistfully at the garden! Hard to believe, but it’s just about time for planting seeds indoors to get a nice start in spring.

Are the days moving faster or is it just me? Seems like there’s always so much to do. So with that in mind, here’s a picture celebrating the lengthening daylight. I took this a few days ago as we played outside on a beautiful, sunny and warm day. It was one of those afternoons where the clouds drift lazily across the sky and you just want to curl up and soak it in. Think we’re ready for a few more days like that… :)

Sunny day in late winter in Missouri

Moon Among the Leaves

October 5th, 2007

     Another warm fall day coming up!  We’ve hit 90 degrees this week which makes it nearly record highs for temperatures in the area.  I’m hoping we’ll still have many cooler days to enjoy without jumping straight into winter.   Seems like the pace of “things to do” is increasing, but that’s probably just my perception right now. 

Maybe it’s a sign of the times as well, but it seems like there is hardly enough time to do what we want to do while focusing on what needs to be done.  Does that make any sense?  Sometimes I wonder how we get anything accomplished at all!   But while going to and fro, I try to take a few pictures and remember the little joys of each day.  I don’t always succeed by a large measure, but there’s usually something (or someone!) to remind me.  Sometimes that someone is the young boy or his mom, and other times it’s a dog or a cat.  

Autumn moon through the oak tree leaves

Yesterday I was walking under the canopy of oak trees and found the crescent moon between the leaves.  The leaves are still wonderfully green, but that will become “wonderfully colorful” in the weeks ahead.  It’s interesting though- when I see the moon in the sky above the trees, I can’t help but feel as a very small, integral part of the whole of planet earth.   It makes me wonder about so many things… those who have come before, and those who will be looking at the same moon long after we are gone.  Somehow that helps me appreciate each day a little more.



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