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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!

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