Hearth Ridge Diary {Tuesday night}


{ 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


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!


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.



Sunlit and Shadowy



Pondering this…


That is a problem everyone has, whether in sketching, in photography, or in treating life realistically – knowing what to do with the shadows that belong in the picture. Nearly every job has its sunlit side and its shadowy aspects, its happy rewards and its drudgery and disappointments. A measure of contentment can be achieved if the job-holder knows that some shadows belong in the picture, and he accepts them without irritableness or bitterness.

pg 161

Thoughts Afield

Harold E. Kohn




Snow pouring down. Cold, wet, gray, and blindingly white. Mirrors my soul a bit. Yet, hope is like a thing with feathers, indeed. Somehow just acknowledging that I can’t control others, that I have to love despite hate and frustrations, and that I am loved deeply and completely despite my flaws. This hope truly perches in my soul. It takes wing and it soars into the doubting parts of myself, it alights on the self-loathing and pecks away at it. It sings beautifully in the face of the storm, no matter its fury. I gaze at my new, wonderful bird feeder. It has been inundated with Dark-Eyed Juncos. Fluffy, fat, delightful fellows. They don’t seem to see the snow. They shake it off, dance a bit, grab the seed, and flutter in happiness. Those seeds of hope. There is always joy, love, and light in any bit of darkness. Jesus is that Hope. A gentleness and love pours from Him, making me great, strengthening me to sing again and again in the face of bracing winds, and icy fingers of life. Hope to sing long and loud, hope to rise up on wings like eagles.


{ Emily Dickinson’s poem Hope is a Thing with Feathers, Psalm 18:35, Isaiah 40:31}



Harold E. Kohn


Winter Thoughts

Long ago geographers and anthropologists proved that civilization advances most rapidly in the temperate zones where there is a mixture of weather conditions – summer balminess followed by autumn chill and wintry blasts of wind and snow. The year-round warmth of the tropics makes for spiritual torpor, mental laziness, and physical dullness. It takes all kinds of weather to stimulate men to be at their best.

     While we pray for lives full of sunshine and pleasantness, God could do us no greater harm than to answer these prayers, for it takes all kinds of weather to grow a soul. Radiant days are necessary, when bright blessing shine down upon us from above and we absorb providential goodness as a sunny hillside soaks up light. Rainy days are needed when the spirit is refreshed and cleansed as when leaves, grasses, and crops of countless forests and fields drink deeply of heaven’s plenty. But wintry cold and snowy blasts from the North are also required in the temperate life -days when our lives are revealingly tested just as hard winds, heavy snows, and slashing sleet prove the strengths and weaknesses of a Northern woods, bowing snow-laden evergreen limbs in humility and breaking rotten branches off all the trees. So life’s hard weather demonstrates in us what deserves to last and what ought to fade and die. Only winter clearly shows which trees are evergreen!

     All weathers make a soul. It was after blindness descended upon John Milton that he wrote his sublimest poetry. Beethoven’s loveliest sonatas were composed after he was stricken with deafness. What would Lincoln be without his lifelong seizures of melancholy? What would Christ be with be without His cross? 

     An American tourist in Italy watched a lumberjack at work. As the logs floated down the swift mountain stream the lumberman would thrust his hook into a particular log and draw it aside.

“Those logs all look alike, ” said the tourist. “Why do you pick out just a few?”

“They are not all alike,” the lumberman replied. “Some were grown low on the mountainside where they were protected all their lives from harsh winds. Their grains are coarse. They are good only for lumber, so I let them pass on down the stream to the lumber mills. But a few logs grew on the mountain top. From the the time they were tiny seedlings they felt the lashings of high winds and the weight of heavy snows, and they grow strong and tough and fine-grained. We do not use these for ordinary lumber. No, sir! These few are especially selected for choice work.”

     So God uses wind buffeted souls for His choicest work.

Thoughts Afield

Harold E. Kohn

pg 132-133

Thinking this morning more on this and this lovely piece here also!

Speak to me…


The past summer I moved to a different property. We had been renting it and found ourselves in need a bit more space. My husband was itching to spread out a bit, his love of wide open spaces drawing him. I was really struggling with this plan. Various reasons, really. Hidden Valley Farm had owned a piece of my heart for the last 10 years, so many memories. As we traveled back and forth, readying our new farm, I began to notice the beauty of the drive and the area in which I was going to be living. It was like through my worries about the remodeling, paying bills, house showings, and all the minutiae, the nature, along the way, really began to speak to me. I stopped being frustrated about how far it seemed from our little current city and our life activities. I saw it in a new light. It took me awhile, a really conscious quieting of the litany of voices running through my head. How had I hated this drive? How had I been so frustrated by being removed more? Fast forward to today, November, a few months into our new residence. A few months of a sense of place. There is nothing more lovely then what these vast views say to me. The stream’s meandering, hill’s solid stance, and tree’s dance. It is like a true Church to me. A extension of my faith. I exit my car or return from my walk, inspired and in awe. Seems like a lot from a little bit of nature, huh? The sunsets, slanting light, the quaint, slow simmer of country life, all are a prayer and a song.

And one cried unto another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
 Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you;
And the fish of the sea will explain to you.
 Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?” Job 12: 7-10

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord. Psalm 96:11-12

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 19:1