Dear Diary, {Summertime Thankfulness}

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Our summer-soaked lives are humming along, not unlike the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird of yesterday, yesteryear. It hovered over the Day Lilies, right at eye level with my perch on my my porch swing. I sat silently drinking in the flash of green, flip of red, as this whirring wisp sipped the sweet nectar. We’ve had an usually mild summer, with the humidity staying south on it’s own vacation, perhaps. We’ve been swimming, mowing, ignoring weeds, and having bonfires with family. We’ve enjoyed reading aloud The Swiss Family Robinson together, hours of building with little plastic bits of the rainbow, baking, and riding bikes. Stories being acted out in the midst of chores, neighbors organic cows are here for a visit with a field of ours, so their own home can rest and grow a bit. Hours of dealing with fencing for that visit.  Roofs being fixed, Amish metal guy certainly must be delighted with us. Wood being fashioned into bows, arrows, and swords mixed with duct tape, paper bags, and moms expensive washi tape, whenever the regular tape gives out. Beef hot dogs and S’mores staples, crock-pot chicken BBQ, ice cream, and watermelon on an endless rotation. Summer days, sigh, sunlit and golden. The dirt and sweat are canceled out by the cerulean sky and marshmallow clouds. Rain and then cool sunshine-y days are a perfect recipe for lush green, trees, grass, and life everywhere.  We’ve seen family and friends, summer bringing parties, outings, camping, cabins, and reunions, so many it reminds me of the stars piercing the night sky. Speaking of the night, words cannot begin to capture what it is like here, deep into the country. I don’t have the camera equipment or where-with-all to begin to hope to ever capture it’s still, silent presence. Where the earth and sky meet is hard to discern, an endless expanse too immense for my stumbling words. Nature is an extension of our home and family, long walks along the wild-flower strewn roadways, my prayer room, the little streams and rivulets, my music. Drumbeats of rain, and melodies of the wind, this summer sits like a gracious gift in my mind. The stories I’ve personally read, longer expanses for reading given during these warm, sweet months, meld together with moments of relationship with my family and glorious Creation, a nod to my loving Creator. The words from Isaiah, The Holy Bible, poetry from Edward Thomas, a beautiful story of bravery, love, and children from Nevil Shute in the Pied Piper, all bring a richness and relief, a feeding of soul, to each day. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned my love affair with my huge clothesline. The lines of beautiful clean linens and towels whipped in the wind are a sort of art to me.  Our black cat running between them, his tail curling, his playful batting at them. They represent something to me. That immense beauty can be found in the small dailies of life. This is just the beginning of gratitude for this summer for me. The glimpses of precious people in my life. My oldest daughter curled on her bed working through book series, flashes of my own self, reminiscent of summers spent the same special way. My  oldest son and middle daughter faithfully tending their garden and chickens, fights and friendly discussions inevitably growing out of these projects, pecking away at frustrations and learning to love. My littlest, a pure delight to us all, his humorous actions, love of his books, blanket with bears, and glasses of milk. His early morning wanderings into my husband and I’s bed, kicking us, snuggling, and stealing my pillow. All the requests to guzzle my coffee (really creamer with a dash of coffee) and, “Please mom, it’s been way too long since you’ve made tea” reminders. My gigantic baskets of Amish-grown flowers on the deck, faithfully watered, and tended, so many lovely conversations around these blooming gifts with each of my children, and that midnight swing with my husband, the pepper-y smell of the geraniums, a special favorite of mine. We, of course, have seen our share of disagreements, spills, messes, and frustrations. The washer is leaking, we run out of gas, we snap at each other, we scrape our knees, we get stung by bumblebees. That’s life. But by turning the eyes of our hearts up in gratitude to all of the fireflies sparkling, the cake-candles blown out, wisps of smoke lingering, and the hands clasped together around the dinner table, we can rest.

We can rest in the love of our glorious God, we can rest in this moment, right now, and be glad.  I’m still holding on to summer, it’s not over yet, and I’m truly grateful.

~

Folk Call the Road Lonely

IMG_4340Folk call the road lonely, because there is not human traffic and human stirring. Because I have walked it so many times and seen such a tumult of life there, it seems to me one of the most populous highways of my acquaintance. I have walked it in ecstasy, and in joy it is beloved. Every pine tree, every gallberry bush, every passion vine, every joree rustling in the underbrush, is vibrant. I have walked it in trouble, and the wind in the trees beside me is easing. I have walked it in despair, and the red of the sunset is my own blood dissolving into the night’s darkness. For all such things were on earth before us and will survive after us, and it is given to us to join ourselves with them and be comforted.

-Marjorie Kinnen Rawlings

Cross Creek

p.14

Flowers, Lanes, Gates, and all around Charm {English Memories}

 

Once Upon an England Trip

One of my favorite things about England was the irresistible, old-world, natural charm. Something about all the old stone, the gates, stiles, narrow lanes, the cool, rainy temperatures, flowers, ivy, and the landscape saturated by green, just thrilled and delighted me. Through all my years of reading about England and dreaming, this was one area, in which, I was not disappointed. Foxglove was naturally growing all over in the wild areas and it was a shocking surprise to come around the corner into its regal and intricate beauty. We started our adventures in North England, flying into Manchester Airport, landing in a little bed & breakfast near Bowness-on-Windermere. I will NEVER forget North England, it is the stuff that dreams are made of and I could imagine the inspiration and delight that flowed through many authors and poets who lived and worked in this area. Have you experienced this beautiful feeling of being transported to another time? Where were you? I’d love to hear of other areas that are naturally gifted with this sense of history and beauty.

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Summer Rainstorm

Mountainous-Landscape-Behind-Saint-Paul-Hospital - Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh – Mountainous Landscape Behind Saint-Rémy, 1889 {Source}

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too”

Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

 

As I crest the hill on Branton Road, I’m always stunned and surprised by the view. I often find myself holding my breath, just waiting for it. Looking down upon an idyllic valley, Amish fields, barn, and home, horses tails swishing, I sigh. The sky, however, is mainly what grabs my attention, especially on this particular June afternoon. As I turned onto Jessop Rd., I was admiring the angry, moody, van Gogh-like way the dark clouds were swirling. My area is blessed with such an expressive sky, you know how it’s feeling and what it’s thinking miles ahead of any change in weather. The grand expanse grew darker, rolled, and I caught a whiff of damp as I hastily put up my window. The sky opened up, sharing the gathered rain and suddenly my world became infinitely smaller. I had come from a land of vast vistas, teeming with life and movement, instantaneously whittled down into the interior of my vehicle. This space too, however, had its own loveliness. The sound of the rain on my roof, the flashes of light on the dash, the distant crashes heard through the window, and the huge splashes as my tires met puddles. As I drove, I enjoyed the relative calm and safety in the midst of the storm. The swish, swish of wipers, my breath fogging the window, my headlights cutting a swath through the gray sheets of rain. Boot Jack Rd was my next turn, the rain slowly trickling to a stop and as if the sky had been washed of its grime, the clouds curled away, and a happy, refreshed sun peeked its face out. Everything dripping, glistening, and new. I clicked off the wipers, letting in the outside air, and found myself back in the big, vast landscape once again.

~

 

Haiku

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{precious moments}

 

Strands

willow bough unfurled

shifting riotous wild strands

daughter’s curly mane

 

Plain

clop, gleam, clack, hoof-beats

solemn, silent, saddened face

stooped figure, plain

 

Logophile

words afloat, dandy fluff

flitters through air lazily

mind and pen a swirl

 

Silly 

i’m hungry mom

nothing to eat in whole house

fridge and cupboard groan

 

(I recently met with some of my library writing ladies and we learned about and discussed haiku together. These above are my attempts. I really enjoyed trying to learn this form, the Americanized version usually following a juxtaposing of a nature element and other topic with a 5-7-5 syllable count.)

~

 

Monday Ponderings {Memorial Day 2017}

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All old farms, I imagine, have some such rustic flavor in their walls; country dwellers will recognize what I mean. A hundred and fifty years of barrelled apples, of vegetables stored in a field-stone cellar, of potatoes in the last of spring, of earth somewhere and never very far, of old and enduring wood and wood-smoke, too, and perhaps the faintest touch of mould from things stored long, long ago in a bin – all these and heaven knows what other farmhouse ghosts were unmistakably present in the neat room with its lamps and books. The cold and humid night had stirred the house as well as ourselves: it had its own rustic memories.

Northern Farm: A Glorious Year on a Small Maine Farm 

Henry Beston

p. 70

(I can just feel and smell what the author is saying here, can’t you?! Hearth Ridge isn’t nearly as old as our former home, yet it has a touch of this mystery to it, and it’s one of the many things I love about old country buildings and rural living.  The history of so many lives is carried right on through the warp & woof of the buildings. That’s also why I love England. You just tangibly FEEL the history. Sigh. So beautiful!)

Green

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Spring has taken me by surprise. I completely missed it last year. I’ve been drinking in the green, and it got me thinking when I had last seen such a verdant spring. We’ve been drenched with rain, its drizzle helping paint the land with deep, delicious greens and the sky with brilliant blues. Last year, we were in the agonizing process of showing our former home, packing, doing important remodeling on Hearth Ridge (putting in plumbing and electricity) on a deadline, and lastly, I was preparing things for my then upcoming trip to England. Needless to say, I completely missed spring. Green is my favorite color anyway, the one that makes my soul sing, knocking me speechless as I gaze on the fields, woods, and far-reaching vistas surrounding me. It’s a small thing, yet it has swept through my heart in such a profound way. I think of the endless spreads that reach on and on for miles, I think on the pioneers crossing the meandering streams, finding perfect spots for their homesteads, battling the beauty of this land, eking out a life. I think of magical forests, remote kingdoms, I think of my Creator, His beauty and love for me. I think of hope, the beauty of all things new, I think of a living poetry moving and breathing over the land. I think of all the beautiful literature I’ve read, flashes coming alive as I feel, hear, and see what I read. It kinda of sparkles and swirls just like the bokeh of light glinting off the water. I never want to forget this spring, the first one I’ve spent here at Hearth Ridge, and especially, don’t want to forget today. The gorgeous sunshine, framing the splashes of green and blue. The birdsong, the soft-leave-rustling wind, with occasional gusts like a delightful dream hitting you, the perfect temperature, cool, yet sun warmly kissing your face, eyes closed and chin turned upward, you could just feel the rays seeping into your skin.

My young, sweet daughter, pointing as we walked, crooned, “Mom, the wind in the trees is just like little bells.”

I couldn’t have said it any better.

~

Hearth Ridge Diary {Tuesday night}

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{ a stream near us that I dubbed The Withywindle. It’s stuff dreams are made of, don’t you agree?}

Tuesday night is always taco night here at the farm. I don’t remember when we instituted this tradition, but anticipation builds every week. I’m glad a bit of meat, sour cream, salsa, cold lettuce, a big giant family-sized bag of shredded cheese, with a side of crispy tortilla chips elicits such rave reviews. The home cook takes all the encouragement they can get! ¡Olé!

The morning dawned cool and rainy, misty grayness hovering over the farm. Perfect for coffee and reading together. We were particularly moved and had a good discussion over Elizabeth Yates’, Amos Fortune, Free Man.

Early afternoon found us tackling chores, while listening to an old folk song and hymn collection from our Charlotte Mason community group. “Goober Peas” rang out and the broom sweeping seem to keep time to the beat. The sky clearing a bit, I was able to run out in the afternoon, in an attempt to help at a friend’s yard sale, but alas they really had it under control. I felt a little like Mel Gibson in his movie “Brave Heart” while out, silently screaming, “FREEDOM!” in my mind as I drove gaily down the road. A diet soda, chocolate-definitely-not-on-my-diet, and podcasts cheering me on my way. I threw around all sorts of ideas with this empty bit of time on my hands as I pointed my Dodge Caravan homewards. Should I find a place to sit and sip coffee? Are there any nice places open in my rural area past four o’clock in the afternoon? (Don’t laugh. A real dilemma in rural areas.) I settled on a bigger public library. I ransacked the memoir, writing, and poetry section and sat down to peruse in a comfy chair by the window. Pure bliss.

Glancing at my phone, I realized it was time to head home. I put some of the books back including a fascinating one about literary places in the Midwest. I definitely hope to check into Sterling North’s museum and a few other places someday. Road trip, anyone? I am currently reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand Country Almanac and would love to visit The Shack.

As I left the town, my eyes drank in the view. Oh my. Spring here is delicious and food for the soul. The green is so hopeful, so light, so refreshing. The hills reaching to the blue sky, touching the clouds. The Amish were out enjoying their little horses and carts, scooters, and roller blades. I saw the freshly plowed fields finished, I had passed them working earlier.

It looks like more rain moving in from the east, but the rain-scented air is worth it. My two year old is out picking bouquets of dandelions for me, the sun setting. A lump forms in my throat about these precious children I’ve been given for such a short time. Glorious gift and weighty responsibility. I read this morning about how Gladys Taber’s mother left the to-do list and took her on a picnic,

“And it occurs to me now that it is a good thing for any parent to stop now and then and wonder what memories they are giving their children. We all try so hard to leave real property, but memories are property of the heart.”

Stillmeadow Sampler

pg 33

~

 

Springtime Thoughts from Harold E. Kohn

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There exists a real temptation to be academic concerning nature, to spend one’s nature study hours among heavy natural history textbooks and journals, seeking what the most authoritative scientists have to say about those problems. But if that is done, one misses the most important aspect of nature study – the exposure of one’s eyes to beauty, the inhaling of evergreen-scented air, the feel of rough bark under one’s finger tips and the softness of a pine-needle-carpeted forest aisle under food and the soft caress of a lake breeze across one’s face. The well-balanced student of nature is one who recognizes the problems of his field of interest and works towards their solution, but in the meantime he experiences nature directly, living it, breathing it, rejoicing in it.

This balance between recognizing the problems of life and exploring its joys is a secret of achieving happiness. If we do not weigh the problems at all we become jittery activists or empty-headed sentimentalists, and if we consider only the problems we become burdened by discouragement and pessimism. The most satisfying attitude is to face the problem of a situation realistically while wringing from it the most possible good.

Thoughts Afield

Harold E. Kohn

pg 22-23

(emphasis mine)

~

 

 

Happy Birthday, Gladys!

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Today marks Gladys Taber’s 118th (give or take a few years due to my Math skills) birthday. I originally was introduced to Mrs. Taber’s writings through the beautiful quotes in Susan Branch’s art and books. I am so glad I found her! I have been inspired and charmed ever since, appreciating her attitude of thankfulness for the simple moments in life. A life where beauty can be found anywhere, if (and this is a big if) we just S L O W down and notice it. Be still and know. The little hands of my baby boy squishing his hamburger with delight as he takes a bite, the stamp on a handwritten note, and the moon’s light casting a haunting glow over eventide. The way my husband’s hand rests on the back of my neck, our 12 year old, humming while he does the dishes, and the light hitting a stack of books just right. A gratefulness wells up in me, an astonishment over these gifts I have been given. It turns my heart towards my Savior, from whom all blessings flow. Thank you, Gladys for sharing your life with us. I think I will go make a cake in your honor.

 

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