small dramas

5A0879C1-3E8F-41EF-9F7D-802D5EEF113E

A week of drama… mockingbirds standing up to a hawk, defending their babies nearby

5CD734DD-A172-4503-A6D6-EA1CF04DE9A0

Spider crabs

FE74D1D1-2638-49C9-9098-0869FD5B9930

under the watchful eyes of rescue dogs Lily and Lulu on the riverbank

F70C7D06-9C25-47BF-BE07-E95650539CBA

and a fledgling cardinal in the road, watchful aunts, uncles, parents, cousins frantic chipping overhead

DA856985-9427-466E-9014-D9A540A2A29E

so much drama.

C7733C95-9FB6-4569-A19D-DF011157E9E3
6BC37C42-3492-4172-8433-3F9BE8FF37E9

seeing

Eyesight is so taken for granted. When asked if you had a choice of losing hearing or eyesight (neither!), many prefer to keep seeing. Things we experience by sight are very hard to describe unless others have experienced it too. If the only star someone can imagine is a pentagram or stars in the night sky how do you describe a flower?

0.jpg“Texas Star” hibiscus

How would you describe the curl of an ocean wave, or the liquid gold surface of the ocean as  it reflects the morning sun?

IMG_1183.JPG

There are caterpillars that cause a lot of damage, destroying an entire tree, and borer beetles that destroy whole pine forests. There are other caterpillars that eat a plant to a nub, only to have the plant grow back because that is one of the things the plant was created for.

IMG_1109.JPGTiger swallowtail butterfly caterpillar on fennel plant

I can’t imagine not hearing the dawn chorus each morning, rain or shine, cold or hot. Or not seeing the bright red plumage of a black-masked male cardinal. Or floating on the scatter-brained song of a bluebird. The sound of wind in the pines, ocean waves crashing on shore, rumbling of distant thunder.

Offerings of creation.

 

download.jpg

new horizons

Metaphysically speaking almost anything can be a new horizon. A new calendar year, a new job, a new home, a new day. Every year as long as I have known her my ex-mother-in-law has acknowledged my birthday, though at times I imagine she wished I did not have one, and has shared Christmas with a gift of a 3-month subscription of lovely seasonal fruit.

When Hurricane Florence threatened my area as a category 4 storm this thoughtful woman offered to have me stay with her (she lives about 250 miles inland) and had even advised a nearby veterinarian I would need to board my dogs. She let me know she had done all of this and I was deeply thankful to her for caring about me after 40 years. The forecasts about this storm changed constantly and, crazy as it might have sounded to her I said I needed to see how bad it would be since it would be difficult to return in the aftermath (it was, very) and I’d rather be there in case my home sustained any damage so I could report it quickly (it did, though minor thank God).

Though I sent her flowers this apparently was insufficient to appease her or convince her of my (slightly) insane decision to stay. For the first time in all these 40-plus years I did not receive a birthday card from her.

Ouch.

Nor did I receive the annual Christmas gift of fruit. Admittedly, her family sustained a terrible shock just before Thanksgiving in a completely unexpected death in their family so I truly did not look for anything from her. Quite the contrary I found myself at loose ends as to what I could do to help because our lives were not connected at any significant depth.  Yet this is a new horizon for me. A new phase where I proceed in life without her in it as she seems to have chosen to end contact.

This happens in life. We gain friends, we lose friends, people. Circumstances change. New discoveries are made that can change how we see everything.

Very early New Year’s night this happened. My son (who has done this since he left home) called to wish me a happy new year. I suddenly remembered the New Horizons space craft had been scheduled to encounter the outermost object in our solar system, the Ultima Thule (too’ -lee).

UT-approach-3D.jpg(courtesy NASA.gov)

What this object is as yet is unknown. The New Horizons has gone behind the sun so extracting data about it is not possible for a few days. Once it returns to a receptive position NASA will begin a 20-month extraction to determine what this is, how old it is and, ultimately, they hope to better understand the origins of the universe.

God gives us gifts. I admire those given the gift of aerodynamics, science, astrophysics and anything that enables people to create that which, in my small brain, defies the logical capabilities of anything. I’m a total geek about space travel and discovery. When the space shuttles still flew I cried with joy everytime one returned safely to the Kennedy Space Center and watched as those enormous parachutes opened to stop its forward velocity.

This is all so incredible to me. I receive email notifications when the International Space Station is on a trajectory of my area’s longitude and latitude and I am given coordinates and times so I can go outside, if it’s clear, and watch this tiny dot of reflected light arc the sky overhead. And I stand there in awe of what God has enabled mere man to do.

So people, things, events, circumstances come and go in life. I have learned to enjoy them, be grateful and see them for the gift that they are however they present themselves and when they go, to continue to look ahead without regret or discouragement. Only God knows the number and substance of my days.

I hope to live them well.

proxy.duckduckgo.jpg

Poetry in motion

Picture0125181100_1.jpgRescue dog Lulu testing the ice during the recent cold snap

She just walked right out on the ice. It is a small pond at a favorite park. I can’t imagine the ice was thick, it had not been that cold for very long. I did not try to walk on it. Lulu only weighs about 20 pounds. Still, she walked maybe 5-10 feet out on this pond. Both she and husky-mix rescue dog Lily enjoy their watering hole but not much in the way of refreshment even with licking the ice. She carefully stepped off the ice, we went on our way.

Picture0127181702_1.jpgRecently we visited another nearby park. Lulu enjoys stopping to sit on a bench to rest. Directly in front of us was a wetland. Small brown birds darted in and out of the dried reeds crackling in a gentle breeze. Suddenly a flash of white, an ibis emerged slowly stalking prey. Taking no notice of us it continued to move as fluidly as the water, stabbing the shallow waters for a bug or small mollusk.

I do not share this coordination. I can trip over smooth sidewalk. I’d like to say I inherited this from my mother but really can’t blame her. Like a stutterer that can sing as beautifully as Pavarotti Mom was a graceful dancer. Alas, I am not.  And I drop things, lose keys, forget appointments. It’s not dementia, I have always been scatterbrained.

Then I read the 8th Psalm …

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers –the moon and the stars that You set in place– what are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them? Yet You made them ….”

So with all our flaws, troubles, challenges, idiosyncracies, self-consciousness, fears, inhibitions, cares, we are seen by God. In Zephaniah 3:17 He loves us so much He sings over us–

“For the Lord Your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

So the One Who made this

Picture0125181056_1.jpg

loves us so much He not only made this for us, He sings over us!

Thanks and praise be to God.

(Bible verses quoted from New Living Translation)

 

The end of things, a new beginning

My parents were pretty social when my brother and I were little. We often found ourselves at the mercy of some strange lady of a Friday or Saturday evening, having been tucked into bed by mom or dad before they left. But the best times were when they’d let us spend the night at our grandparents’ house. Lavishly doted on, read to for hours, innumerable card games of “Go Fish” or “Old Maid”. These nights were the best. There were rules of course, and bedtimes, but the thing of it was we simply felt adored. Not spoiled. Just loved, unrestrained.

I do not know how much furniture, books or other items Nana and Papa rid themselves of when they moved to Charlotte from New York to be near us. They moved into a tiny brick cottage: a living room, small kitchen, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. There must have been cases of books, arm chairs, bureaus and other things that were given away or simply left when they moved from their apartment near Columbia University, but they did still have a few books, adult and some children’s, that my brother and I enjoyed when visiting them.

So when both my brother and I stayed there we shared a bedroom, but the most special times were when Jon was at basketball camp or at a friends’ house and I got our grandparents all to myself. There was one book which both my brother and I loved, a very small book of a “parable in pictures” (I suppose the first graphic novel) as the author himself, James Thurber, called it. The Last Flower, originally published in 1939 and so named because as the book opens during World War XII there is massive and unimaginable destruction. Afterward the people who were left had no idea what to do, how to begin again. A young girl happens upon what may be the last flower on the earth and it is dying. She tells people about it, no one listens except one boy. So they nurture this flower until it lives again, the earth flourishes and love returns to the world. Pretty soon there are merchants, and communities, and of course, soldiers. So the story cycles again to discontent. But what remains: a boy, a girl and one flower.

Somehow this little book of new beginnings and the truth of human nature told so simply and humbly attracted my brother and me. Today my rescue dog Lily and I were walking where the new development of homes has cleared many pines, scrub oaks and wild blueberry bushes. As we walked down a remaining trail I saw a small cluster of ovate, white flowers.

A tiny wild blueberry bush.