it’s cold

I think I have never been so happy to see the end of a summer.

I love summer. Lazy, humid afternoons, cicadas singing, birds preening, flowers virtually drooping with the heat. But storms. Rains. This was not a typical summer. The entire month of July had one day with no rainfall here. We received our entire annual total in that one month.

Tonight will be kissed with frost in places. Grass will sparkle with it in the dawn sunrise. Sea oats will be fringed with shiny tassels of ice crystals.

Meanwhile nobody can give a chain of custody of tens of thousands of election ballots in Florida. Final results for several states’ elections won’t be known for days.

Southern California is in process of being incinerated.

Hate groups are singling out specific individuals and are terrorizing them in their homes.

Crazy people get their hands on guns and everyone decides the only answer is to take guns from everyone, even those who respect them and do not use them for insanity.

My son has assumed a persona of someone I do not recognize. I suppose to make his girlfriend happy, I can’t imagine any other reason, not that this is a good reason. I have never felt I could not relate to him.

So my world, or what I see, hear and read about, appears to have turned into a hostile, foreign place, unrecognizable.

Maybe it is appropriate that this Veteran’s Day marks 100 years since the armistice that ended the Great War. My mother’s father was a Captain in the Army. He fought in that war. I have the strategic map he used in France, pencil markings for his company’s maneuvers in the Argonne. I have the German helmet he mailed home to his father with the address hand-written on medical tape stuck to it. I have the bayonet he would have affixed to his rifle.

I have memories of his singing the refrain lyrics to “Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parlez-vous?” Only the refrain. Not that I would have understood any of the rest of it but my grandmother always stopped him.

We would watch twin-boom military aircraft that we’d see occasionally and called them Scotch airplanes. I have no idea why.

I loved my grandfather. I often wonder what he’d think and say if he were here now. Or my Dad. He was a straight thinker. No one ever wondered where he stood. On anything. Without these men in my life sometimes things seem confusing, distorted, horrible.

But God.

Because of God I have hope. I can cling to One who is true, real, and reliable to be who He is, to keep His promises, to be just, and to love.

Thank God.

And I thank Him for the cold.

proxy.duckduckgo.jpgfree stock photo — public domain

 

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:”  –Ecclestiastes 3:1

#capefearstrong

Chain saws, bucket trucks, wood chippers, hammers on roof shingles, semi trailers, disaster relief…. these will be here for a while.

The river is expected to crest sometime this weekend, maybe begin to fall Tuesday. Interstates are still closed, roads have collapsed, dams are failing.

The power of water.

And there is nothing anyone can do to stop it, like the wind.

IMG_0645.JPG  Trees appear to cringe against fear of more wind

Recovery is incremental at first… the winds and rains stop, electricity is restored, traffic lights flash, then hold steady, fuel and grocery stores reopen, limited hours, limited persons allowed to shop, gradually reopening to full hours. People venture out more, less afraid… has it really gone… ? Aftershock.

Life returns to a form of normalcy, people eager to complain impatiently about waiting in a check out line rather than humbly, gratefully in a line waiting for ice, water, MREs, tarps.

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Even nature is disoriented, seeking shelter wherever they can, emerging from fallen trees, crushed vegetation, where is home?

Water recedes, surges. the abnormal seems normal until it isn’t and you realize how awful it all really was. How grateful, fortunate you are it was not worse.

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Eventually the detritus of the storm disappears, flatbeds come and take it away. The chainsaws stop, birds sing louder.

Life as we knew it resumes, the same, but so different.

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When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”   __Isaiah 43:2

“Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”   –I Kings 19:11, 12

squirrels

My dogs truly completely hate these creatures.

I am beginning to feel the same, the way these fluffy-tailed rats dig up my seed beds, planters and flowers to bury… what? There are no acorns yet. Maybe they are burying the sunflower seed I put out for the songbirds. They hang upside-down munching away while the birds wait their turns in top tree branches.

Then the hounds are loosed.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu streak out the back door, flat out the entire 25 yards to the feeders while the squirrels nonchalantly swing down from their posts of fatness to idly climb the nearby trees. They know Lily and Lulu can’t follow them up there. No sooner are the dogs back inside than the squirrels are back at the feeders so we loop this circuit over and over until the squirrels finally give up. The birds resume their feasting until the squirrels come back again, which they always do.

Where I moved from there was a neighbor I was told a couple of blocks away who used squirrels for target practice with a BB gun. He was a lousy shot. I replaced 3 windows in the 5 years I lived there. Four, if you count the side window that was lost to a neighbor’s fireworks misfire.

The late Bob Ross, the television landscape oil painter/teacher had a rescued baby squirrel he sometimes carried in his shirt pocket on tv as he painted. He named this squirrel Peapod. Well once you name something you have claimed it for your own, which he did. Evidently this relationship was congenial. I was not a regular viewer of the program but the times I did see it when Mr. Ross spoke of this squirrel or had him on he never mentioned that it bit him, scratched him or did any other squirrelly things.

Not likely but I do hope my dogs do not ever catch one. Pretty sure husky-mix Lily would make quick work of it. Terrier-mix Lulu is more likely to want to play with it, I think, but I hope she never catches one all the same.

The other day as we wound up our nature park walk we came across an adolescent (?) squirrel lying on the path ahead of us. At first I thought perhaps he fell out of his nest as they sometimes do and was stunned. As we got closer I saw he had no head. Likely some owl or hawk got him and was too eager to begin its feast before dining properly atop a tree branch or electrical pole and dropped the remainder of him. Just as glad I saw it and retrieved it before the dogs did.

Drama of nature.

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.

 

What’s in a name…

Old Glory, Stars and Bars, Stars and Stripes… these present days some individuals seem inclined to take their hatred against whites, rich people, laws, parents, truth, grace, hope, faith or whatever they are currently hating out on the flag. The flag that represents everything this country fought to establish for itself in its short-lived history: 239 years ago today.

The 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies. The stars each represents one state. The color red stands for valor and hardiness. White, innocence and purity. The blue: justice, insistence, alertness.

Justice for all, the last words in the pledge of allegiance to the flag, used to mean just that. We each looked out for the other, not only ourselves. When circumstances got out of balance we called in someone with wisdom to help restore equilibrium. Nowadays that wise person is usually found in teams of maybe not-so-wise lawyers, thrashing it out because 2 people could not or would not work things out between themselves and perhaps thought to do a bit of gouging of the other in the process. Who can appear the more beleaguered?

Our fighting within our own borders has escalated to epic proportion. Most of the fighting is simple destructiveness. Once chaos occurs demons run amok, let’s see how much looting and terrorizing and burning and destroying we can do before the police/powers-that-be get hold of the situation.

Yet that flag still flies from its standard. It is inanimate. Its destruction, desecration now permitted by a Supreme Court ruling only shreds fabric. Mere thread, dye, nothing more. But what it represents will always exist. Maybe not in the United States of America, maybe nowhere on this planet. But those principles, truths, standards, values– whatever you might call them. They will exist forever. They existed before we were around to give them names. They will remain long after we are gone.

I hope we can get them back.

(Information on the American flag from http://www.mapsofworld.com/flags/united-states-flag.html)