Sunday, October 31, 2010

Airport Elevator Waiting Rooms

    It strikes me every time I fly that airports are kind of like a cross between giant waiting rooms and elevators. I don’t mean the waiting room as in waiting at the gate, but more of the mentality. We shuffle through all of the check points and then arrive at our gate. Then, we sit and wait – like I’m doing right now – in those semi-comfortable chairs. But, if you take a look around it kind of resembles the feel of and mentality of a cross between an elevator and waiting room. There are of course a few exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, we don’t really talk to the people we don’t know. We try not to sit right next to someone if we can help it. I have to admit that I find it kind of funny.

    I really enjoy flying; I think I always have, particularly in small planes. My first flight was when I was a little girl. I don’t remember it, but I have heard the stories. Apparently I watched the ground fall away from a Cessna taking flight, and my comment was that I had to go to the bathroom. Promptly falling asleep soon after, that problem resolved itself; but, a love of flight was born that day. Since then I have flown with family and friends, by myself, and for learning about science experiments. It really is a remarkable feat, taking a metallic cylinder with engines, a tail, and wings, and pushing it hard enough against the forces of the air and atmosphere to create thrust and lift. How magical it must have seemed to the first flyers. I think of Orville and Wilbur in their spruce and canvas bird, how amazed they might be now to see the trans-Atlantic birds.
    Part of it is the mystery of how it works, I mean we know how the engine works and how the principles of science work – but there is still so much that we simply do not know. It’s a beautiful, magical mystery and one that I hope I continue to enjoy my entire life. The other part is the view that flight offers us. Certainly there are conveniences which are unique to truly being to travel much closer to “as the crow flies.” But, the view of looking down through those port hole windows is a truly unique perspective. We can gain a glimpse of it on a bluff or even more so a mountain. But, at thousands of feet above earth, the ground itself becomes a work of art. Tapestries of fields, webs of roads – they stretch out over the land. Rivers glint like poured silver, a filigree of delicate and immense proportion to decorate the world. Oceans are not mono-colored, but have many different shades of blues, grays, and greens. The sky itself takes on a different look, as the location we are in within the atmosphere is different; we see the top of the clouds.
    We sit in the airplane, in the giant waiting rooms, and ignore this common experience. But, in truth we are sitting through something extraordinary together. Perhaps, just perhaps, we should break the mentality and really start to talk to our fellow passengers; after all we are waiting together.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Burlap Bag

   A bag sat on the sidewalk today; it just caught my eye as I drove past. It was a grayish white color, looked like a weather burlap material. Slouched down over the mouth of the bag, it seemed to be fairly full and was smashed down as if caught in a downpour. I wondered what was inside. The humble material could hide something really wonderful, or perhaps really surprising.

   Isn’t it interesting how the unlikely bag can be the holder of something really wonderful? And the most unlikely of people can turn out to be really wonderful. Think of the people around you. Perhaps there is someone like that bag. Their outward appearance may belie what is inside.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seasons and Roadmaps II

   The fall wind has been blustery these past few days. The leaves are being blown off the most stalwart of fall leaved trees and creating a staccato dance across the driveway. The windows have creaked and the door shifted in its frame as the air has moved so powerfully. As the temperatures fall below freezing, it is quite evident that fall is in full swing and winter will be arriving soon. There are many here who do not care for the snow and the cold winds of winter, many who would prefer warmer and balmier temperatures.

   But, just consider for a moment a different view, that of a macro-economist. That view would say that the snow and cold temperatures are valuable because it kills of germs in the soil. We have more productive growing seasons than those around the equator because of that cold.
   So, with that in mind, we have seasons in life as well. There are days when things are balmy and warm. The sun just feels perfect and a light breeze is keeping the temperature nice. These are the days when everything is going well, life is a smile. We have summer.
   There are times when the world changes color, we feel a little dryer, a bit shriveled inside and watch as the color we normally don’t present to the world becomes first and foremost. We find ourselves losing our leaves, bare before the world. We have fall.
   There are times when the snow falls, and though it is beautiful, it is also bitter cold and austere. The silence is loud, and our ears hear everything move. We long for the warmth of a friendly comfort, a soft blanket, a roaring fire, or a comfortable sweater. We have winter.
   There are times when everything seems to be growing and moving. We may be experiencing growing pains, but we are seeing results. It takes work and time, effort and sweat equity, but the reward is visible and wonderful to see. We have spring.
   We have all of these seasons in our lives, many times over. But, the beauty is that there is more than one, and we will move through them to provide growth. Remember the economist, the soil is better for the freeze of the winter, the heat of the summer, the cool rains of fall, and the warming sunshine of spring. We are also often better for the hardships, the trials, and the rests of warmth.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Seasons and Roadmaps

   Each changing season seems to lead me to want to travel someplace different. The blustery weather that we awoke to yesterday here in our corner of the state had me dreaming of getting in the car and heading off down the road, but to where?

   The fall winds blow, the leaves start making their showy appearance and I start dreaming of South Dakota. The last warmth to find the plains before the beginning of the wintry snow that will sweep through the grasses. I so would love to find myself winding the way through the pine trees as the snow starts, and then watching the buffalo walk through the whiteness, creating a path with their amazingly deft mass.
   Or the cool wetness of a spring day, whisking me off to Alaska in July; the feel of the water into the air, the vapor of the sea moist and salty to the touch. Blooms are fragrant and the leaves are deep shades of green.
  As I prepare to travel now, I think of other places I have been fortunate enough to see. There is such a beautiful world out there, so many roads to travel. I’m excited to be off and exploring.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vacation – Preparation

I’m getting ready to go on a vacation! Today, I noticed that I was counting down the days and hours – and I’m still several days away. Vacations are important, a chance to get away and relax. The daily hustle and bustle of life takes on routines which are good. But, it is nice to get away from the normal routine to a different one. The routine is disrupted, the dust that settles on the normalcy of life is shaken off and we step into something new!

I can’t wait!

Monday, October 25, 2010


   We are excited to welcome a new puppy into our lives in a few weeks. A little black male lab, he is just adorable, velvety soft, and has puppy breath. Puppies are such a joy. Yes, a lot of work – but they bring a great deal of laughter as well. Each one is unique, each with their own personality and preferences.

   There are nine in this litter, all beautiful little black labs. Meeting them for the first time yesterday, it was a reminder of what charm a litter of healthy and well cared for puppies has. The mother greeted us, still looking silky and shiny even as she cared for her babies. A mass of wiggly fur balls surrounded the food bowls. When they looked up, their little noses were smeared with puppy chow.
   Soon, all were off to explore their yard. Apparently, one had recently found a small inset pond and had fallen in. None repeated the swimming venture when we were there, but they did think it was a lovely water bowl. Puppies ran around our legs, grabbed at fingers and cuddled into our embraces. Two little girls in the litter held their ground and kept their brothers on the alert! Pounce, growl, smush, and there the boys were being sat on by their sisters.
   Puppies are a lot of work. They require care, attention, and a home that is puppy-proofed to keep it free from things which they could either hurt themselves or destroy with those teeth. They need patience as they learn what is and what is not accepted. Quick reminders and corrections, followed by a great deal of praise, and of course a stock of carpet cleaner and paper towels is needed. But, when you get past this, you find that there is a little creature full of love, just waiting to share with you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Football Etiquette

   I attended a local high school football game last week, had a great time. The kids played really hard, working together as a team. However, I found that some of the folks in the stands might benefit from a little football etiquette.

1. When a player is injured, be quiet. Stop and say a prayer for that person, the parents that have just gone  into full blown adrenaline rush, and their friends that have become worried. I applaud the players who took a knee on the field and the woman who shushed someone near her who was continuing to talk. And as far as the referee who called over the people to measure where the ball was while a player was still down – well, really?

2. There is a pseudo adult section and a student section. The adult section is really full of high school students floating in and out, and younger children who are sitting with their families. So, with that in mind, adults let’s leave the playground language at home. Come and be enthusiastic, emphatic, and have fun! Come and cheer, yell, or clap and stomp. But, check the language at the gate. If you don’t want your children to hear it, chances are that someone else will not want their children to hear it as well.

3. When the band is playing, give them some attention and respect. This is not the free for all run around time. These kids have worked hard, spent hours in practice and learning their parts. The comments about “band kids” are not needed (especially from adults).

4. When you have trash, put it in the trash can. Yes, someone else will clean it up, but it won’t hurt you to do your part.

5. Enjoy the game! Cheer the team on! Clap, stomp, yell, encourage. Enjoy the smell, and perhaps the taste of a hot chocolate and a pretzel with cheese or some nachos.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Where Is It

   I have found that West Wing is no longer on in the morning, so instead I find myself on the news. I’m not opposed to watching the news. In fact, I think it’s important to be informed. But, the more I watch, the more I wonder – where is it?

   Where is the calm candor of discussion of different viewpoints? Where is the righteous indignation at the skew of perspective, the injustices and the plain bad behavior? Where is the burning hope and drive to change our communities? And I must admit, that I wonder where it is in me sometimes as well. What else could I be doing, where is my ire at the child like behavior of far too many adults?
   It is an annoyance, but when I see the father yelling at his children to get in the van before they are late for school, I cringe. I cringe that I can hear him all the way down the block and he sounds so angry. But, what do I say?
   When I see a parent that is actively engaged with their child in the store, involving them and talking to them, I smile. How do I encourage them?
  When someone has no gloves on a cold day, do I stop and offer mine? Where is our love? Go and love and encourage, find some way to reach out.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Window Dress

   There is a window of a two story home that sits just off the sidewalk. The two story home that is surrounded by a colorful blue privacy fence, with a beautiful rose bush tucked just inside the gate. I often see someone sitting inside on a plastic lawn chair, just inside the gate. The sidewalk needs swept, the house needs repair. But, up on the second floor, there is a window holding a plaintive and rather poignant view. There is a large piece of pressed fiberglass insulation leaned up against the window, as if it has taken the role of a curtain. But, draped over it is a strapless white dress. With the top tucked gingerly over the top of the fiberglass rectangle, the skirt is draped down below.

   I wonder what the story is of that dress, that house, that window. Is it something that someone is using as a temporary hanger, or something someone thought would be a pretty substitute curtain? Is it a fairytale dress for some little girl? Is it a dream dress for some adult woman? I walk by and I wonder about the dress in the window.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

At the Bus Stop

   There is a bus stop across from the driveway, where students gather to go to the high school. They congregate in little groups on a frosty morning, two or three that are standing close together and still manage to look as if they are standing in part of the larger group. One girl stands twenty feet away, watching. As I drove past, I wondered what she was thinking. It could be a lonely spot, where she is not included in the morning conversation. It could be high school ostracizing, which we seem to learn naturally as people at a young age. It could be simply someone standing back to take it all in, to view the group as a whole. Maybe she didn’t feel like talking to anyone yet, still sleepy in the early hours. While I would like to think that she was pondering or thinking some wonderfully creative thoughts, she looked alone.

   I’m not meaning to head down some sob story depressing path, but how many times have you seen a group or been part of a group and catch the one person out of the corner of your eye that is standing there looking slightly apart? How many times have you walked past without even an acknowledgement? We learn very early to pay attention to our friends and family. That is a good thing. But, somehow along the way, we also learn to separate out others and remove them from our group which is not such a good thing.
   If you were take on a challenge to love your neighbor, be it the girl at the bus stop or the co-worker in the next cubicle or the neighbor who actually lives next door, what would it look like? A wave, good morning, sharing a tray of cookies, a sidewalk sweep, a hug, a conversation, the opportunities are limitless.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


   Imagine sitting in a chair trying to read a book. Next to you, someone sits with a basket full of distractions. They pull out a CD, come listen to the new song! They pull out a clock, running out time, better hurry! Mail, bills, obligations, wants, needs, hopes, dreams – they all come out of the basket and put in front of my face. “Hello, pay attention to me!”  Very frustrating!

   Last week, the distractions were a little more urgent. I found myself getting caught up in the distractions a little bit more every day. By the mid-week I was ready to eat large amounts of chocolate and sink into a general sense of frustration.
   That is, until I had a moment of refocus. It was just a simple Psalm, but the words had the same effect as someone taking hold of my face and gently pulling it around to look in a new direction. My focus was off! My focus was on the distraction and my frustration grew. When I refocused and instead put God back into the central spot, I found the frustration decrease. It amazed me how my perspective changed when my focus changed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

God Sighting

   A news report several days ago told of how social networking software is making celebrity sightings more like celebrity stalking. The reporter was questioning if the fans of a movie star really needed to know what coffee they are having or if they stopped in at the grocery store to get a loaf of bread. It hit me that we may be spending a lot of time tracking down these people who are good at projecting different ideas and personalities through scripts. But, what if we were working on using social media for God Sightings instead?

   Did you see God today? I did! I saw him in a little girl walking to school, book bag in hand and skipping her way down the sidewalk. I heard him yesterday in the music, laughter, and discussion of a group of people seeking to build and grow each other. I saw him in a hospital, holding a scared patient’s hand. I saw him in a celebration, singing along.
   I don’t really care what type of coffee the movie star drinks or what type of bread they get at the grocery store. But, I do care about God being there. Take a look, do you see any God sightings?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tornado Song

   Just over three years ago, a tornado caused severe tree damage to my home. Around 100 trees were literally picked up and twisted from the earth. Arriving home, I found the yard completely covered in sections by entire trees. It was overwhelming, so much work needed to be done to fix this. A phone call came from a state about 8 hours away. A crew of friends came out and helped work. They drove for hours to work, worked extremely hard the next day, and then left the following day to go back to their jobs. As a way to say thank you, a slideshow/video was put together of the many hands that had served. They did such a tremendous amount of work, both in cleaning up the trees and in raising our flagging spirits. One of the songs on the CD was Chris Tomlin’s God of Wonders. The song recognizes the wonders that God has created on earth.

   I heard that song yesterday during church and it was such a reminder to me of the wonder of God! Every tree that fell either fell away from the house or was angled in such a way as it did not cause major damage. We had many who came and helped, many who worked long hot hours amidst chain saws and logs. In the middle of literally destruction, God’s wonders were many and were overwhelming.
   It is easy when the mess is cleaned back up to forget that wonder and awe. It is easy to forget the feelings of friendship and of persistence to clean up the mess. But, then I heard my tornado song and it all came back. God is a wonder indeed.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Route 66

   A series of highway cut across the country, opening up territory to those who would explore the many beautiful miles of territory. It cut through small towns, and in many places created an economy based on the traffic of the road. I think that that must have been an exciting time, as these small towns flourished and grew. The first time that they would have seen the immense spaces of the western dessert, the rolling flats of the plains states, or the rows of plants in the fields must have been so exciting.

   It has been several years since I found myself on a highway headed west, but I remember being captivated by the scenes outside my window. Sharp bluffs and sudden ravines held herds of cows. Windmills would be around the water troughs, bringing up fresh water for the animals gathered around. Wildflowers grew up in patches in slowly rolling hills, and people could be seen gathering the blooms in a few locations. Fields lined with purple wildflowers went on for miles and smelled so sweet. Trains carrying supplies across the country interlace with depots to add more textiles, corn, and other materials.
   In our own little town, it is easy to forget about the other places, to forget about the miles and miles of beauty that surround us. Every once in a while it’s worthwhile to just get out of town and spend time enjoying the sights.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


   A tour of Washington DC has been arranged for many of our local World War II veterans. They have a rousing start to the trip, drive through the streets of town being cheered for, and eventually travel on to Washington DC to meet others and travel to different sites. Yesterday, the tour started, and I was one of several standing on a street corner waving and cheering.

   I love how these men and women are being remembered for their service. The war is long over, something of which I am grateful. But, it is important to remember the service of those who have sacrificed their time, energy, and lives for us. Thank you for serving.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wind Chimes

   I was walking down the side walk and heard wind chimes making sound in the breeze. A soft striking sound followed a beautiful tone ringing out that seemed to just float in the breeze. As I enjoyed the sound, I thought about how wind chimes work. There are these tubes that just hang there. They don’t really make any beautiful sounds until struck, moved by a breeze.

   We often are just like the wind chime tubes. We would just hang there and not make any beautiful sounds, until we are struck by the movement in the wind. Our interactions with others, our movements and conversations can act like the wind. They move the striker along, sometimes softly and sometimes with great force. Without the movement, the sound would not occur. Without the sound, the chime is without purpose.
   Sometimes, we resist the movement, but let’s make music instead.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dear Autumn,

   I walked out the door this morning, and you were here! I’m so excited to see you. Once again, your arrival is first rate. The leaves are just at a wonderful hue of color, and when the morning sun shines against them they are little lamps of tint and dyes. They crunch under foot and make beautiful waterfall sounds falling from the eaves. You have perfumed the air with the late blooming flowers, sweet and fragrant against the cooling earth. I look forward to the smooth feel of the pumpkins, the taste of the first cider, and the feel of cool wind and warm sun.

   Oh Autumn, I’m so glad you have come. I hope you can stay for a long while.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Choosing a Legacy

   Legacies are left, we think of those who have passed on their wisdom to us, their kindness and have helped us grow. These are the people who have taken our hand and helped us along life’s journey. But, how did they ever get to the point where they could do that?

   It takes a choice. It takes a conscious daily choice to make a life where you will grow, seek, and give. It is not some magic formula. Nor is it some elixir that has a label reading, to leave legacy apply regularly for twenty years. It’s not so much about age or title, position or community standing as the goal. It’s about choosing a goal to live your life, not just watch it pass you by, but to live with purpose.
   This is the choice of the important, but not urgent, moments to occur. This is the choice to make memories. This is the choice to focus on growth rather than past failures. This is the choice of integrity in the moment of grey. Make a choice, build your legacy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Through the Lens

   I had several moments in the last few days that made me wish that my camera was handy. Through the view of the lens, the world takes on a different perspective. I would have taken pictures of…

   Three oriental rugs hung up to dry after being cleaned over a large wooden privacy fence. The patterns and colors stood out in stark contrast to the light colored wood. Each rug was a bit different, and in the midday light, the contrasting colors were beautiful.
   The dust from the farm vehicle swirled from the road, over the green wagon, and down the next bank. Corn stalks, just shreds of the golden leaves, would occasionally make their way through the air. As the sun starts making its way lower in the horizon, the remaining corn in the field took on a dusty golden hue.
   Whirling and dipping, a large red tailed hawk landed on a perch of tangled brush. It bobbed its head left and right, examining potential prey scurrying on the ground below. Wings holding a rusty red show of feathers and a beautiful snowy white underneath stretched out powerfully. Lifting into the air, it found the air currents and swirled through the columns of wind.
   Such beauty through the lens.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Waylon and Willy

   Clip, clop, clip, clop. Waylon and Willy are two large dapple grey horses, pulling a hay wagon down the street. People sit on the bales of hay, looking out at the world, listening to the sounds of the horses, and slow down to a different pace.

   I had the pleasure of meeting Waylon and Willy this last weekend at a community festival. They were four years old and well matched in height and breadth. Yoked with a decorative harness, they pulled together, with feet often moving in tandem. Their noses were soft, and their necks warm and damp from their labor.
   It was such a strikingly different pace, perched behind these two animals. No rushing, not running, but moving with the pace of the horses. The sounds were different, as the shoes clipped and clopped across the cement, and an occasional whinny. It was a nice pace, the world was moving a bit slower and it was nice for fifteen minutes. I know that given an option when in a hurry or going a long distance (like to the next town), I would not really want to choose by horse. I like convenience. But, on the other hand, daily trips to work or to the store might not be so bad by horse. You have time to wave at the people passing on the street. Intersections become less of a drive through stop and more of a conversation point. It might just be a little more civilized.
   Oh those horses were so beautiful.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Child Like Lessons

   It has been a pleasure the last few days to keep a friends children. Three beautiful girls moved in with clothes, clarinet, and toothpaste. For someone who does not have children in the house very often, it was a blast. I could already see how parenting is a full time job. But, after helping with three little ones for a few days, I had to say I have laughed more and learned some interesting lessons along the way.
   For instance, lullabies and bedtime prayers are sweet quiet times in a busy day. Chalk drawings on the porch are a fun and colorful place to make art. Reading books requires cuddly blankets and snuggly chairs. Strawberries are the perfect topping for a cinnamon vanilla cake. Chalky handprints on a door are really a beautiful thing. A little girls skip through a house just makes you smile. Backpacks, planners, and teachers notes are really for the adult not the child. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to share them for a few days.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


   I had never seen a flood before I moved here. Oh, I have been through two hurricanes, tornadoes, and wild snow storms. But, flood plains were just never part of the topography. Then, I saw my first flood. I was amazed at the volume of water that it was composed of. It could move the bedrock under streets until there was no street there. Houses could topple into the water. Just water, not rapids, just a current but higher volume would move tremendous objects. It seemed to stay at flood level for a long time, the water inching back down so slowly. I’m sure to those who had homes that were now small islands, it was an achingly slow process.

   Sometimes our lives can be a lot like floods. It’s not so much that it suddenly becomes rapids with whitecaps, but that the volume changes and continues to build in pressure. We feel things snap, move, become sodden. And the time it takes for things to change can be so slow that we miss the movement. But, take heart. The waters go down. There is a mess to clean up, but then it’s done. We can rebuild something stronger, better.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Have you thought about?

   When things are humming along smoothly, it is easy to complete forget about how they got started. For instance, have you ever thought about how it was decided to have multiple branches of government and what each would look like? How did letters become shaped they way they were? Who first had the idea of a light bulb, a car, a computer, or a hot water heater? Who had the idea of the different inventions around us and then pursued it enough to either creation or the encouragement of others? Who thought of wiring or pipes or carpet? Trade, taxes, laws, and infrastructure – it all becomes something that we don’t even think about, just simply accepted. But, each of these had a beginning, a brainstorm and then action.

   There have been many inventions, decisions, discoveries, and designs made. It is easy to forget that each started from an idea. What idea do you have that could result in the next invention, decision, discovery, or design?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

PBS Special

   There was a PBS series last year, or perhaps the year before, where people were chosen to go and live in a recreation of a colonial village, early Texas ranch, or western pioneer homestead. They were put in costumes, given the tools and resources of that time period and then were put forth to fend for themselves. Obviously, it would be a pretty steep learning curve for most of us.

   But, I was thinking about that the other night, when dreaming of Jenny Lake at the Teton Mountains. What would it be like to have a snug little cabin, tucked in among the pines in front of the lake. Open the door and there is Oxbow Bend winding past with otters playing in its current. It might be refreshing to be there, removed from some of the conveniences. Okay, I’ll admit I don’t want to give up all of them. I like central heat and air. I like hot water and washers and dryers. But, I could give up some of it for a while.
   Maybe that should be a PBS special, maybe we should have something where we can remove ourselves from the business of busyness. When else can we stop to think through the beauty of the world around us? When else can we pause to appreciate the beauty of the stars, the joy of the movement of moose through the birches? I like technology, I like connecting with friends and family through facebook, I like the easy way to communicate with text and the handiness of cell phones. But in a moment this morning, I paused to look at the sunrise and wanted a little time to slow down, and appreciate the beauty surrounding us.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

For Now

   When I was a little girl, I had a baby-sitter. I couldn’t pronounce her whole name, so it became Ena. I would spend many days at her home, part of her family.

   The years have passed, and those memories are still very special. I now live hours away from that home, from the maker of the best sweet tea in the world. Today, Ena will be remembered by family and friends, because she has moved to Heaven. She has gone, and I have had to say good-bye. But, it is only good-bye for now.
   My eyes have burned with tears and my heart is sad. I remember hiding under her table, drinking tea, watching the Price is Right, playing with perfume bottles, and being very loved. I’m so glad that it’s just good-bye for now. I love you Ena.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October in Iowa, July in Alaska

   October in Iowa is beautiful. The corn and soybean fields turn gold, the leaves start changing colors, and the temperatures drop. While there are so many colors outside, the last of the hardy flowers put on a fragrant display of color. Mums in orange, rust, burgundy, yellow, white, and gold line the side of the barn and the brick gate. They balance against the glossy green of the rose bush leaves, and the dark red of the rose hips. Marigolds of orange and yellow continue to bloom, bushed amongst the peppermint and yarrow. The deer are putting on their winter coats, growing darker grey and coming to eat and put on a winter weight. The chipmunks and squirrels are stashing away their walnut and seed findings for a wintry banquet.

   On these days, when there is just a hint of moisture in the air, it reminds me of Alaska in July. It reminds me of the beautiful flowers grown in planters and baskets outside of windows. Carefully tended, the colors showcase every possible blend. The green is seen in the trees, turning into the teals of the water. Beautiful streams made from glacier melt create a feeding area for bear, moose, and other animals. Soon the long winter nights will settle in there, but in July it’s still long days and the colors are amazing.
   As I walk down the street this month, if there is a hint of wetness in the cool air, if there are flowers blooming, be sure that I am thinking of Alaska in July.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stoves and Christmas Trees

   With a favorite season of autumn, it makes sense that I love wood fires, the smell of the smoke and the crackle of the wood. But, even as I sit here and listen to that sound and soak in the heat, my thought is turning already to Christmas decorations. Fall is my favorite season, but I love to decorate for Christmas.

   In the living room, there sits a person size wood burning stove. It’s from around the early 1900s and has maintained its material integrity over the years. The wood is burning in it right now, converted over from a coal stove. Two birds grace the sides, decoratively made of iron and attached as part of the filigree and artistry of the entire piece. Perhaps it was original to the house, but if so it would have been an older item even then. I wonder how many autumns the stove has been through, how many Christmas decorations it could tell us about.
   With a heat that can seep inside each muscle, I am quickly ready for the autumn nights to grow chilly, the skies to show Orion. I will be snug inside, contemplating Christmas decorations.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


   There is a song that we have sung for a few years now as a family, titled Jerusalem. It is a song about the new Jerusalem and signing it yesterday, I had the pleasure of not only singing with my family but with several friends. Standing on stage, I could hear the different voices blending together. If I could have, I would have just listened because right at that moment, it struck me how beautiful the sound must be as the voices of praise and petition all gather together.

   The very young, old, and every age between raised in song, in worship and word to God. How much Jerusalem must be simply beautiful!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fall Festival

   Today, a yearly Fall Festival occurs at our church. It’s not really all that fancy, but it’s a fun day of music, friendship, food, and activities. I’ve helped at all of these festivals that I’ve been around for, and each one has had its own personality. One of the first memories I have is the weather being so hot that I ended the day standing in a pile of ice. Then, there was the festival that I really couldn’t walk because I had a bum leg. I remember the donuts being a big hit, they were freshly made and so yummy! A fire truck comes, which is a favorite with the kids big and small. A scarecrow contest has been held a few times, which showcased some amazing creativity!

   It’s not about anything fancy, anything terribly elegant. It’s about time together to have fun. It’s a lot of work, but with many helpers the load becomes much easier to bear. I’m looking forward to today, even though by the end of the day my feet will be blistered and I will be so ready to see my bed. If you are around, come on out! And bring a can for the food pantry, you can help serve someone in need, because hunger is a terrible thing.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Smell of Fall

   The time of year, I eagerly await the first day that smells like fall. The combination of musty leaf smell, with the sweet smell of pumpkins on the breeze signals the changing season. Unlike the warm smell of summer, the fall smells carry so many different things with them. Last night, just for a moment, I caught a hint of the autumn smells and was so excited.

   It is the smell of leaves, wet with the cooler rains and the earth cooling for winter. The smell of chili on the stove, with crackers and cheese melted in. The quiet of a cool fog on the river, as the sound of the boat horns cut through the stillness. Leaves that dry and scatter across the ground start crackling like the bonfires, with the aromatic smells of the wood being caught in their smoke. I’m so looking forward to another fall, another season of smells and sights to enjoy.