Snowmageddon Update

So. Today is the third day we’ve been home. All of us. This includes Dakota.

USPS has not delivered mail, and our full recycling bin sits lonely and abandoned at the top of the street. Shelton schools have cancelled every day so far. Thurston County closed Monday and Tuesday but opened on time today. Snow is up to Pepper-car’s bumper, a good 8-10″ of crunchy white powder.  This morning, Jonathon cleared off my car and tried to drive out of the piled-up snow. I saw the car’s lights turn on, a good sign. He pulled forward a little. He backed up a little. Again on both, and done. He came back inside, stamping his boots. I wasn’t going anywhere and neither was he.

snowy fence.jpg

Ruby and I have been watching the birds. We’ve seen some of the fattest birds ever. They have pinheads and chubby torsos. It’s like they knew they’d need to stock up, forewarned about the white stuff somehow. They hop around on snowy branches and look for food. We saw one of these on Monday: a golden crowned sparrow. He stood out amid all the white.

golden crowned sparrow.jpg

(source)

Was this now Noah felt, trapped on the ark with his immediate and extended family, plus a menagerie of animals? Rocking up and down, battling seasickness, no relief in sight as the rain poured down and the animals yelped, roared, barked and whined, he probably felt a little crazy. Oh, the whining! Then, a sudden calm as the skies cleared. Noah peered out of the ark’s narrow windows to see…nothing. Only water, water everywhere. I wonder if he and his family held a quiet ceremony for all the people and places that were destroyed as their new reality dawned. After more than 8 months (!), Noah let a dove out, but it returned to him. It had no place to land. It took 2 more weeks for the earth to regrow foliage and dry out enough for the bird to be safe to fend for itself (Genesis 6-8).

We’ve had a few losses on the property. Some bushes and trees keeled over due to the snowfall’s weight. Snow bowed the holly tree. The camellia bush was about to bloom before the snow started. The arborvitaes by the front gate look like a peeled banana, according to Zac. Meantime, I’m going to get the most out of it, completing schoolwork and playing with the family. But soon, the snow will melt off, allowing space for spring to step in. This too shall pass.

walmart primroses

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Hawk Eye

Today was my last day on the prairie. It rained off and on all day long. I snuck in breaks when the windows revealed a sunbreak or at least a brighter sky.

I stepped out the door for the last afternoon break. Something caught my eye. A large object looked in the poplar tree across the street. Was it a bag, caught by the tree’s branches? Was it a cancerous outgrowth?

Then it moved.

red-tailed hawk.jpg

I had crossed the street by this time to get a better look. I stood watching it. I fought with the zipper on my coat. The sound probably caught its attention. The large bird, a hawk in all it glory, turned its head around to look at me. I finally got the coat zipped.

The hawk stared. I stared. Then, bored of our silent interaction, it mounted up and flew away.

I continued my circuit around the prairie loop. I hoped to spy a female hummingbird wintering over in Washington. I named her Ingrid. No Ingrid today. But the sun had moved down low in the sky. She was probably somewhere hunkered down, keeping warm. I saw chickadees and heard the melodic strains of red-winged blackbirds calling to each other.

As I walked down the hill to turn into the complex one last time, the hawk soared above me. He flew over the road, seemingly without effort. I watched him go.

I smiled. It felt like a prairie “adieu”. Everything has its season. I’ve had mine. It’s time to move on. 

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

Trusting the Season

fruit trees in winter

Winter has hung on longer than usual here in western Washington. Daffodils have just started sprouting up. Crocuses put out vibrant petals a week before. But the cherry trees in town have yet to blossom.

This means more time for pruning. We have inherited a handful of fruit trees behind our new house. Dad and Jonathon went out to prune them. Sometimes, pruning can seem daunting. Which limbs should go? Which should stay? How do I optimize the life of the tree and its fruiting?

Jonathon got a little aggressive with the cutting. The trees look more, um, sculptural than usual.

“Well,” my dad told him, “you can do that. But you might not have any fruit next year.”

Jonathon felt bad.

“You mean, I might have trimmed them too much?” he asked.

Dad nodded.

For us, owning fruit trees is a learning curve. We will learn what works and what doesn’t. We can observe the next season and correct if necessary.

But it made me think. You may feel like you’ve been pruned back in your life. The things you used to do, the things that made you happy or helped life make sense may have gotten stripped away. Maybe people moved away. Maybe activities dried up. Maybe the Lord moved you a different direction. Any way you look at it, you got pruned. Your life acquired more restrictions. Your path narrowed to what looks like a trail winding up a mountainside.

Maybe, just maybe, you feel you got pruned back to stubs. Nothing is growing. Nothing is blossoming or bursting up out of the ground for you. You feel a sense of hopelessness. You battle restlessness. I want to tell you it’s coming. The growth is coming. It’s alright to be in a fallow season. You don’t have to be putting out huge crops all the time. Change happens to all of us. You can get refreshed and let the season come upon you when God deems it’s time. The pruning, the cutting away, the trimming, it all has a purpose. The new direction will become clear. Don’t lose hope. Stay on the new trail. Find the joy in the journey. The Master Gardener holds you in His hands.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. – Galatians 6:9

 

The Turn

Kinda like this.

                    Kinda like this.

Today is the kids’ first day back to school for this year.  We’ve hit that inevitable bend in the road. Ruby is a little nervous. Her class is out in the portables this year, one of the “big kids” now. Zac is putting his best foot forward, with comments like, “Time to go sit for 6 hours while they drill things into you.”  Yeah.  Good times. Jonathon will be glad to be able to work non-stop for several hours.  Summer has proved a balancing act for him with both kids home all day.  As for me, I tend to hold  onto summer with both hands.  I will miss the sun, the warmth, the flowers and outdoor access that disappears almost entirely come November. In truth, it’s felt like fall for a couple of weeks now.  The sun isn’t so sunny.  And these heavy bouts of rain have ushered in cooler temperatures each day.

But…I ran out under the stars today.  Haven’t seen them in awhile. A robust half moon glowed above me.  The black sky turned deep velvet blue, then paler.  The rain had stopped.  I saw the sky.  And I remembered all the good things in this life. Each season brings its own unique blessings.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Baby Blues?

Not mine. Image by dreamatico.com

Not mine. Image by dreamatico.com

I held the baby on my knees. Her bright pink socks encasing tiny toes contrasted nicely with my brown work slacks. We sat in the bleachers at Ruby’s school in order to view her last PiPs performance.

Not my baby. She’s a month old.

Zac, sitting on my left, leaned over. “She’s drooling on your pants,” Zac said.

Never seen white drool before. My intrepid trousers quickly absorbed the formula residue. I recognized the smell from when I bottle fed my babes. Baby smelled oaty. Out of her mouth bubbled streams of goo. Undaunted, I collected a burp cloth from the neighbor girl who brought the baby to me.

I turned her a little to get a better look. Tufts of sandy hair stood up from her head. Her face contorted into old man grimaces. Her head, obviously quite weighty, tipped from side to side. I jounced her with a gentle bounce, careful not to be too energetic.

Zac smiled at her. He’s good with kids. But not a huge baby fan.

Meanwhile, baby girl blew magnificent bubble sculptures. I swiped her face again. The full weight of her chunky body rested against my hand. Her blue eyes gazed out at the gym floor where kids tried to spin, bounce or toss balls to the music.

I like babies.  I really do.  And yet, to be completely honest, I’m glad to be out of that stage. No more diapers or night feedings or rotating your outfit several times a day. I could go on, but you get the point. I like my kids telling me what they’re thinking about.  They crack me up with their funky little schemes and ideas. Babies, for all their inherent cuteness and adorable outfits that come with, have little personality in their bitty bodies.

So I handed the baby back.

“Thanks,” I said to our neighbor, who though only 9 years old already knew the expert baby hold. The future mama smiled. She carried the wee one back to her seat. I thought, Let the next generation rise up.

Seasons don’t last forever. I do remember thinking at low times that each day lasted a thousand years when my kids stood only 2 feet high.  My baby-raising (and baby-making) season is over. I work full-time now, and both kids attend school. Ruby’s time with PiPs finished last night. We’ve entered a new era. I want to enjoy and make the most of each season.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. – Ecclesiates 3:1

Camellia Corner

camellia

I did a 30-minute kettlebell workout this morning after breakfast.  It felt good to get those muscles moving again. Later, after lunch and a Rexless nap, I walked for 20 minutes. The Seahawks vs. Green Bay game dominated local interest.  Hardly anyone stirred in town. I didn’t even see any cats roaming the streets. Shelton resembled what I think of as Post-Rapture. The sun shone down, sparkling on the wet pavement. Faint rainbows appeared at random intervals. The wind gusted in from the sea. I walked and thought, solitary in my rambles.

I’m still working on the no desserts/no junk food three-week plan.  I confess I fell down over the weekend.  Two words: bridge mix. Oh chocolate, my love for you remains true and unsullied. I discovered when I’m worn out, I want comfort food. Instead of beating myself up, I’ll remember for next time.

I still feel like the Lord is calling me up higher. I’m restless. I want to be further along in maturity, in serving, in loving and understanding. Too often my flaws trip me up. I strode into downtown Shelton, passing several houses with realtor signs in their front yards.  What’s the next thing, Lord? One of the yards had a large camellia bush growing in the corner. The bright pink blossoms with yellow centers exploded against the dark green foliage.

Their beauty made me smile. I’m reminded yet again that everyone and everything has a season. Can I find contentment in this season of working full-time, changing my eating habits and keeping up with family and social obligations? Can I keep a good attitude and work to the best of my ability? Camellias bloom in the winter, the coldest time of the year. Their flowering is a testament that growth continues on, no matter the season. With God’s help, I can, too.

Fall Facts

I’ve been thinking about fall a lot lately.  Tis the season, I suppose.  But I bet there are some things a bit different about fall in the Pacific Northwest.

Let’s start with the negatives. For instance…

  • Rain happens.  Fall is a time when it can rain.  A lot. It’s kinda how you know summer, with slightly less rain, is over.
  • Jumping into a pile of freshly-raked leaves is discouraged.  And not because we’re neatniks. Damp leaves and a possible close encounter with a slug could create an unpleasant experience.
  • Fog. It won’t be enough to cancel school, but comes on thick.
  • The birds stop singing.  Guess they need to conserve energy to stay warm, or they’ve all flown south.
  • It feels like twilight all.day.long. It never quite gets bright enough to call it “daytime”.

On the upside….

  • Pumpkin everything!
  • Coffee earns a greater place in the spotlight. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
  • Fleece.  Not just for sheep.
  • We have colorful fall leaves, too.  I’m sure we’re no match for the east coast and their lovely trees, but we do well.
  • The shorter days make us huddle indoors around cozy real or fake fires, catching up with friends and family.
  • Along the same lines, we start to gather together to stave off the isolation of bad weather and colder temperatures.
  • We reflect on our own mortality and remember this, too, is only a season.

What’s fall like where you live?

 

Dear readers:  I will be covering the Microsoft PACs again, starting tomorrow.  I probably won’t be able to blog much over the next week as I take and edit the notes.  Please know I haven’t forgotten about you or died.  My keyboard will belong to others for a few days.  Back again soon!