Friday, November 25, 2011

Homemade Christmas

I had a little chat with my dear friend Laura recently, and she said they were doing a “Homemade Christmas” this year. It got me thinking, but not too much. Then the Occupy Wall Street insanity started, culminating with my foray into the Black Friday shopping madness for a birthday gift.

I think Laura planted a seed, OWS watered it and Black Friday fertilized it; but I finished reading a book called "Michael O'Halloran" by one of my favorite author's, Gene Stratton-Porter, recently and it brought to fruition the fruit from the tree of hominess.

One of the characters, Junior, is a farm boy who wants to go to the city to find work; it’s about 1905-ish. In doing so, he gets his clock cleaned by the local thuggery; he’s a newcomer to the city, not at all streetwise, and it shows.
He finally makes it home, repentant, but worried; will his father say "I told you so"? Instead, the father wisely understands it's partly his own fault. He has often taken his children into the city for entertainments, the city was "where it was at" so to speak, and so what could he expect but that his children would seek outside entertainment; would seek the city for fulfillment.

It got me thinking about how I've raised my children and what I may still have time to correct. "The city", is Babylon, and I don't want them to seek riches there; I don’t want them to look “further than their own back yard”, as Dorothy says, in looking for something better. I want them to seek riches at home, in the depths of their hearts; the spark of love and affection that our Heavenly Father put there.
There is enough creativity and love in our family, to be able to shun most of the worldly things and show the others how much we love them.

We bought a digital projector several years ago, so that the kids would want to be entertained at home, instead of the theater, and for the most part it’s worked. We wanted them to want to be together, to enjoy each other’s company, and OUR company; to have their friends here instead of “there”. I can make caramel popcorn and we’ll play games or watch a movie with friends and/or family; truly making our home the center of our children’s lives.

It’s my belief that this new Christmas tradition is the next step in this “home awakening” we’ve been trying to instill; it will be a little rocky in the beginning, I imagine; someone will not feel creative, or not enjoy crafting or what have you. However I can see no better way to cement the bonds of family than to make sacrifices for each other at the time when we celebrate the Sacrifice of our Heavenly Father, in the gift of his Son to us.

I urge you to think about “Junior”, and his father; to work toward a Christmas that doesn’t require the very thing the Grinch Who Stole Christmas was irritated about in the first place.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Breath of Autumn

I worked in the steamy kitchen, alternating between sink and bubbling canning pots, feeling hot and somewhat agitated; outside it was a glorious autumn day and I was laboring inside. I needed air.

I opened the window and the breath of autumn came in, lusty and clean. I was transported to “the Farm” once again; the only place of refuge and peace in my childhood.

I’m in the forest; it’s been raining. The tiny breeze stirring the stillness; leaves, heavily laden are drip, drip, dripping around me and on me. I don’t care; the sound is at once calming and invigorating. The forest, or “woods” as we called them, is my solace. Nothing else matters; I am safely cocooned in my personal sacred grove. The world is my own.

As I ramble, the air begins to take on a life of its own; fog begins to rise around me; the mist, light and fresh, highlights the rolling hills, bringing into definition the glories of God’s creations. As the fog lifts, so too my spirit; and, finding God in the treetops, I begin to feel His presence.

The smell of damp, decaying vegetation, combined with the earthy, leafy smell of freshly fallen leaves, make a heady scent that for me is as the sweetest rose. Rough bark streaked from the rain is giving off its own woodsy fragrance. The richest lavender fields of France could not be sweeter than my woods.

I wander for hours, never needing the companionship of anyone else, perfectly happy to gad about across the duff. My mind and my heart are free; no place that I need to go; only the need TO go.
A small stream provides me a refreshing drink if needed, and fallen logs ample resting places; yet finding peace of spirit is all I really need.

Wandering as I do, the sounds and scents of nature fill my soul to bursting; there is nothing on earth that matters, no trouble too large to overcome; peace prevails once again.

I’m cooled off now, and back at my task; I thank God for memories that let me relive the comfort and peace that was so badly needed then; I thank Him too, for the Breath of Autumn that whisked me back there, if only temporarily.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring's Merry Assemblage

The rain falls hard on the windshield; great drops splashing and splattering various patterns on the glass, before the wipers sweep it away and the rain dance begins again.

As I gaze heavenward, the black, roiling clouds seem to menace and torment the travelers hurrying, in their private cocoons, down the highway.
A more terrestrial view shows the evidence of the rains bounty; green shoots are evident in fields and pastures along my route; mud and great puddles join the merry assemblage of Spring’s gifts.

The clouds part, and shafts of golden light begin streaking earthward in dazzling glory, highlighting the tree branches and flower buds; plump and ripe, full and eager to begin life.

Spring is here; new life begins again. The pleasures of summer sun await while the fury and the majesty of Spring’s renewal creates in us a Spring Fever, that is as filled with anticipation as the next cloud is filled with rain.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring is Afoot

I saw the first Robin the other day, and even though I see them throughout the winter here, my mind, of its own accord, wandered into spring.

It’s still cold here in my corner of Oregon; the daytime temperature reaching 50 degrees on a good day, but spring is afoot.
Blossoms, grown fat and ripe in these milder days of winter’s last hurrah, are eager to burst.
The bees are beginning to make furtive excursions into the wide world, between advancing rain showers.
Broody hens are snuggling their first clutches of the season; little peeps can be heard through the feathers of an ever vigilant mama or two. Lambs with their tiny bleats are seen gamboling through the pasture, their leaps and bounds, a testimony to joy.

The days, too, are changing, growing longer; the light strengthening, as the sun slowly creeps back to its summery path.
I wonder at the new blades of grass, the new leaf growth on the rose bushes. How do they know?
How does the earth know to wake up and bring the promise of new life to fruition?
Some would call it evolution. I would call it Divine.

Within us, each and every one of us, are the workings of intricate patterns and designs; gifts of the Master Planner.
Each seed, each blade of grass and swelling bud are exclamations of divinity, beckoning us to examine ourselves and our world just a little closer; patiently waiting for us to recognize our own eternal progression.

There are no accidents as some might suggest; we are where we are for His purposes. We cherish spring; as a new awakening of our divine destiny, a herald of miracles yet unborn.

Yes, spring is afoot; soon, it will be time to plant and tend the garden, sheer the sheep and putter in the chicken coop; until then, I’ll enjoy my hot cocoa and my book a few days longer; pondering eternity as I do.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mid Winter

It’s mid-winter; a time when the thin, watery light from the sun casts wane shadows across the landscape.

The days are getting longer, one silvery sunbeam at a time. The cold drives all but the hardiest indoors; we cocoon ourselves with a crackling fire, sipping cocoa; dreaming of gardens to come, picnics to share, or celestial magic overhead.

As the earth sleeps, clothed in her winter finery, we too take respite from the physical; the toil and labor of spring and summer at once a distant memory and a pleasant anticipation.

Winter in snow country is unmatched in beauty; icy jewels glittering and glistening; the fields and meadows, trees and rocks cloaked and resplendent; even telephone poles and power lines take on an air of softness and mystery.
Wander through familiar haunts and the scenery becomes new, ripe for discovery; restoring a childlike wonder we thought we had outgrown.

In non snow country where I live, we sometimes get bogged down with the sameness of winter; nothing growing, nothing snowy; nothing changing.

Yet the sky and clouds change often and wintery clouds, are dark and heavy with moisture; a symphony of grays, occasionally bordering on black; scudding along, they seem to be hurrying, like Alice's White Rabbit, to warmer climes; often bringing fog to kiss the earth with its own kind of alchemy. Skeletal tree silhouettes and birds dashing here and there join the celestial brume to bring that winter enchantment to our lives; geese flying overhead remind us that spring is on its way.

Spring, God’s gift of hope and renewal is right around the corner, but take time to enjoy the beauty and magic of winter; it’s all too fleeting.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A String of Ordinary Days

I’ve been pondering life lately, likely caused by a looming, landmark birthday.

I have come to understand that my life is a strand of gold, fine and precious and filled with dozens and dozens of ordinary days; I do the shopping, I do the cooking, I wash the clothes-although I do not iron; I’m a mom; I’m a grandma; I’m a wife and daughter. I’m a Sunday school teacher, a gardener, a would-be farmer. Nothing one would consider special yet these things, while ordinary in their ordinariness, are anything but ordinary.
Like the oyster with an ordinary piece of sand, we take the ordinary days and create beauty and joy.

A day at the beach with sand in our hair and between our toes becomes a glowing pearl in our string of days; a kite flown at the park, an ice cream cone on the patio; the whispers of a child playing hide and seek in closets and cupboards; all of these ordinary events create more pearls and lengthen our string; polishing them as we go.

Heartache and sadness take away some of the glow, but can only break the string if we let it; some laughter and giggles, love and tenderness, and the glow becomes vibrant once again.

After my brother died, I hungered for ordinary days; I longed for the averageness of life to resume. It has. As the first anniversary of his death is marked this week, I realized that the string never really broke at all, but has been fortified with faith, and we go on; not letting the complacency take root again is a daily routine, not taking anything for granted again is a continual process, but we try.

I have tried to treasure every grain of sand in my growing string of pearls, and endeavored to make extraordinary my string of ordinary days.

I'm taking it one Ordinary Day at a time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Old Friends

I had intended to post about winter, but that will have to wait; we lost a dear friend on New Year’s Day and I have to tell you about him.
His name was Meshach, and he was 13 ½ years old.

Meshach came to us as a mewling,  at around sixish weeks old; our youngest son, Ethan, was just one year.

His mother was a pure bred Siamese; his father some old neighborhood Tom who happened to court his mother one winter’s night.

My husband’s sister was the owner of the Siamese, and we were offered to “go see" the kittens; what fun! I love babies of all types; “let’s go” I said!
I think there were 8 kittens; I’m not sure. We sat down and let them crawl all over us. They lost interest rather quickly; all except one. He lay down next to my husband and cuddled up close; he’d made his choice.
We had no other choice, we took the tiny thing home; he survived the 6 hour car ride from Utah to Colorado nicely, getting lost amid the bodies and baggage to emerge happily with his new family.

Meshach and Ethan became fast friends; Ethan would stuff the cat in a cooler or in a suitcase; I would ask “where is Meshach?” “We’re playing” my toddler would exclaim. “You have to let him out!” “We’re playing!” After a couple of go rounds, the container would be opened and dear Meshach, sleeping on the bottom, would look up at us as if to say “Are we done already?”
Ethan would pull the cat across the room by his tail; “STOP!” I would holler, and he would; the cat would just sit there, waiting for the next round of “Pull the cat by the tail”; nothing, literally NOTHING, would faze him.
Meshach would tend all of the other animals--we are a multi-animal family here; washing the babies, holding them down for their baths; mothering everyone. Strange for a male cat I was told; not so, he learned from another male cat, but that’s another story.

He was quite the mouser in his glory days as well, catching eight-EIGHT mice in one day (OK, so we lived in a drafty but glorious old farmhouse; there were mice). One never feared; Meshach was on the job.
Meshach got old; he lost his inside manners, and had to become an outside cat. He did well for a while, sneaking in for a snuggle every now and again; the people he owned looking the other way.

In the last year, we could tell he was failing, but he couldn’t be trusted inside, so he was alone in his final moments; something I will always regret.
We lost a beloved dog about three years ago, his name was Bear; Bear and Meshach were best friends. My daughter asked if I thought Bear and Meshach were together again.

I told her I absolutely believed they were!

Farewell beloved friend.