amazing

It had been a long while since I had gone to the woods by myself so I practically ran.

I spent so much time over the holidays inside malls, inside the house, inside the car, doing, doing, doing.  It was time to just “be”.

I took all of these photos on Friday.

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First stop was the chicken coop where I found some eggs.  Walter begged and begged to go on the walk with me but I said “no” right away because I knew (from what Grace had told me) that all he would do is feel lost and scared and meow a lot.  Therefore,  I put the eggs and the cat in the house.

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I’m so thankful to live close to running water.  In fact, I was outside again yesterday in the cold sun, laying back on the frozen ground with my eyes shut, listening to the sound of it.

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The tree I hugged.

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self-portrait

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funny icicles hanging down from a fallen pine tree

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Looks like snow or styrafoam, but it’s really some kind of fungus.

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more pretty pretty fungus on a fallen tree

The sunshine was really lovely to see on this walk, after several gloomy days.

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I am an admirer of ice.

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In fact, I ate a bite of it.  It tasted good, like pine, but later on when I gave some to Sarah she spit it out and said it “tasted like the stench of the forest.”

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As I made my way around to the stream again (the same stream from near our house, only deeper in the woods)  I found that it had flooded the day before, well beyond its banks.  Then, it froze overnight and the next morning when the water started to recede, it left its coat of ice spreading across the ground.

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I stood up on a bank to take this photo, looking down across the ice.  I closed my eyes and could hear it falling and cracking.  It almost sounded like someone else walking throught it in the distance, but I was alone.

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I got as close as I could to the water and sat on a frozen moss covered boulder for a while.

(A good thinking spot.)

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I didn’t see any birds but the closer I got to the field the more I could hear them.

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The trees had sheets of ice hanging off their lower branches.  Sometimes a wind would blow gently through and shake the ice enough to make a sound like soothing wind chimes.

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It was all such a delight and my face was pleasantly cold.  It felt good to BREATHE.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say over and over again.  Everytime I go outside for a walk I get surprised (and smile a lot) over something in God’s big beautiful world.  Which is why I always take my camera along.

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My heart, mind, and soul go back home refreshed.

“If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”

~Mary Oliver

 

 

 

walking and cooking

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Seth plays video games every day for a couple hours but his time doing it is controlled by his loving mother to a certain extent.  This morning, he asked if he could have “his time” at 9am and I said, “sure”.  But at 8 he had eaten breakfast, showered and dressed, and he didn’t know what else to do with himself so we went for a walk together.  Grace was awake but Sarah was still sound asleep.  (Seth is an early riser)

It always happens that the boys will pick up a stick and start battle on trees and such.  From Jacob to Seth, they were all the same in that regard (and still are).

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pretty pretty Indian Pipe flower.  The website (linked) adds: America’s eminent poet, Emily Dickinson, called the Indian pipe “the preferred flower of life.” In a letter to Mabel Todd, she confides, “I still cherish the clutch with which I bore it from the ground when a wondering child, and unearthly booty, and maturity only enhances the mystery, never decreases it.

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I told him how to pose on this fallen down birch tree and he was obliging enough to humor me, still with his weapon-of-a-stick in his hand.  He looks pleased.

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He even likes hitting the caps off wild mushrooms with his stick, he calls it mushroom golfing.

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This is that same fallen down birch tree, I wanted to see the wood where the tree broke and fell.  What a wonderful home for God’s smaller creatures.

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little things of interest on the forest floor…..

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He walked barefoot.

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There are even orange mushrooms.

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Big healthy ferns are squeezing in on the path, reminding me of childhood games and forts in the woods.

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Teeny tiny white mushrooms

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some mushrooms had red caps

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This one looked shy.

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mushrooms on a log

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This large mushroom was broken off and on the ground……Seth’s barefoot show how big it was.

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Seth spied these gorgeous Cardinal wildflowers before I did.  They bloom at this time of year on mossy rocks in the stream and I always delight in them.

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Almost home!

He was a good sport and I found myself thinking, “I do so enjoy walks with a child or two or five or seven, and my camera!”

Dinner Tonight:

Crock-Pot Gingered Beef
2 pounds round roast, trimmed
2 onions, sliced
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup ketchup
6 T. brown sugar
3 T. vinegar
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 cup beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef on all sides (I skipped this part).  Place sliced onion on the bottom of crock pot, place roast on top.  Mix remaining ingredients in bowl and whisk together.  Pour over roast.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until meat is tender and can be shredded with a fork.  Pour cooking juices into a saucepan and simmer on the stove until reduced, about 10 minutes.  Serve over the top of the beef.

I haven’t made it in a while but in the notes I wrote “Yum, E approves.”  So I’m hoping he still approves tonight when he gets home from work and eats it for dinner.

Grace and I have been enjoying this today:

Black Bean and Rice Salad
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 onion, chopped, and 4 cloves of garlic, pressed, sautéed until translucent
3 cups rice
salt and pepper

Mix together in a big bowl and serve each portion with a spoon of salsa on top.

Both recipes from my ever-favorite cookbook Saving Dinner, by Leanne Ely

I’ve done lots of laundry (don’t you love hanging clothes outside on the line?) and still have some to fold, which I will do while the Waltons are on TV.  Seth and Sarah are outside playing.  I fell asleep reading a book on the couch with Seth next to me earlier and now Grace is in my spot, reading her book:  Messenger, by Lois Lowry.  She says it’s nice to read a book that doesn’t task the brain like some of the old classics she’s been reading.    I am reading Dead End in Norvelt, which is a Newbury award winner.  I’m almost done with it and it’s been delightful.  I love it.  Maybe you would, too.

 

PS, ANOTHER WALK WITH SETH that’s kinda making me cry right now.

 

 

 

lovely things

Jeremiah 32:17   Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too hard for you.

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Lovely things are silent…
Rosebuds waxing bloom,
Shadows stealing softly
In a darkened room;
Dragonfiles on rushes,
Stars in dark blue skies;
Hatching, fuzzy birdlets,
Love in sweethearts’ eyes.

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Lovely things are silent…
Rainbows in the sky,
Violets shedding fragrance,
A soft breeze waltzing by;
An apple tree in blossom,
Sunsets all aglow;
Moonlight on the water,
Falling soft white snow.

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Lovely things are silent…
Foam clouds in the sky,
Hummingbirds at flowers,
Butterflies gliding by.
A spider’s dainty spinning,
Wild flowers on a hill.
I bow my head in silence
And in my heart I’m still.
~Betty Fox Solberg

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The cobwebs look blue in this light.  I’m down on my stomach in the woods to take a picture of a mushroom and I ask God to show me one more thing and I turn my head and see another tiny mushroom pushing up the leaves that I wouldn’t have noticed if I was walking…….

I like this feeling of walking without being in a hurry.  The woods around me are so still.  And I’m becoming still as well……..

I stand in one spot and don’t move anything but my eyes.  

Shanda, July 13, 2018 6:26pm

 

new lens in the great outdoors

Next month at this time I will be in Alaska with my friend Hannah.  Joanna suggested getting my hands on a fisheye lens so as to be better prepared for the gorgeous Alaskan spectacles of nature that I will be sure to see and want to photograph.

The lens came last week and as soon as I was able, I went outside for a long long walk and took photos of everything.  These are the ones that made the final cut:

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First off; it seemed fitting and right to take the first photo of the hens after I let them out of the coop that morning.  This one seemed especially interested in my new lens.

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And on I went; there are many varieties of ferns in the woods.

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Butterfly

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Strawberry Blossom

I must remember where I saw this so I can go back and eat the berries later.

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A lovely bunch of white violets.  All the violets were at their peak of loveliness in the woods (by the house they were done blooming) so they were a joy to see.

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Quaker Ladies//Bluets grow everywhere.

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Thanks to recent rains the outdoors has become a stunning shade of emerald green.

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Unfurling ferns

I was lying on the ground to take some of these photos.

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Dappled sunshine

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit

A favorite spring flower.

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I hung my jacket off a tree branch at the old beaver pond in the woods as I explored.  There was a water lily bud about to bloom that I will go back to look at soon.

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Please pardon some of the edges of my photos which is a hazard of the fish eye lens.  I am learning to be more careful about adjusting the lens so there are no shadows in the corners.  But this chair was found in the woods by my daughter and I a few weeks ago and it gave us a bit of a creepy feeling.  Has anyone ever silently sat here and watched us walk by?

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Standing up high on a boulder and admiring the stream.

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There were violets growing everywhere and it was about this point when I lost my lens cap and had to retrace my steps to find it again.

I had no pockets so I was putting it down my tucked in shirt, and when I bent over to take photos it fell out.

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I know I have a lot to learn.

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But these photos make me happy today.

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And I hope you liked them, too.

*****

I’m thankful I can go for walks like this without having to drive anywhere, I can just walk out the front door and be on my way.

It never gets boring, there is always something new to see.  New flowers blooming, insects, small creatures, birds, mushrooms, plants, water, pinecones, trees and bark, leaves, and so on……….

And always thoughts of God and the Creator of such good things.

“I think this is how we’re supposed

to be in the world–

present and in awe.”

Anne Lamott

 

 

 

 

 

 

sarah & mom blog post

“Set me a task in which I can put something of my very self,
and it is a task no longer;
it is joy; it is art.”
 Bliss Carman

We went for a walk together in the woods–all her idea–and then I found a paper in her backpack from the field trip she took to a local wildlife sanctuary.

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What did I hear?

“I could hear water, the crunching leaves, and birds chirping.”

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What did I see?

“I saw, trees, and a squirl, and deer poop, and pine cones, and birds, and vernal pools.

fullsizeoutput_5484We found a bone so we slipped it on her “adventure stick.”

What did I smell?

“I could smell skunk cabbage, and a fresh nature smell.”

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How did I feel?

“I felt rain, and the cool air, and the cruching leaves under my feet.”

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one dollar photo shoot

“I live to enjoy life by the littlest things, feeling the grass between my toes, breathing fresh air, watching the wind sway the trees, enjoying the company of loved ones, a deep conversation, getting lost in a good book, going for a walk in nature, watching my kids grow up. Just the feeling itself of being alive, the absolute amazing fact that we are here right now, breathing, thinking, doing.”   ~Marigold Wellington

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On Wednesday the temperature reached 63!  I was too hot at times!  And the very next day the temperature dropped 30 degrees and by that afternoon it was snowing enough that all after school activities were cancelled.  I looked out the window from the couch, where I was cozy with a soft blanket, and saw the big wet flakes falling straight out of the sky.  It was so pretty.  I remembered how I would have Grace dress up so I could take her photos out in the snow.  Sarah was downstairs playing video games.  I sighed.  I didn’t feel like bothering to ask her.  I was too tired.  I knew it would take some convincing on my part to do a photoshoot with Sarah.  Therefore I watched the rest of my movie.

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Well, lo and behold about an hour later I had to shut in the chickens because there were no mature children home to send instead.  As I pulled on boots and took my coat from the closet, Sarah came upstairs.  “Where are you going?”  “I have to go shut in the chickens.”

“CAN I GO WITH YOU?”

“Sure!”

And so it happened!

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After the hens were properly shut in she asked,

“Do you want to see Ethan’s secret hiding place?”

“Sure!”

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It wasn’t very far away but traveling there was was rather difficult.  I had to crawl on my hands and knees to get past some of the branches.  I had to remove briars from the both of us at times, too.  We were crawling through the bushes and trees to get to Ethan’s secret hiding place.

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It was a big tall white birch tree.  Caleb discovered it once a long time ago when Sammy the cat led him to it by meowing.  And then he in turn showed Seth and Sarah.  It’s all a secret.  They knew what it was by Ethan’s name scratched into the bark.  It said, “Ethan loves……”  and I’m not going to tell you the name because it’s a secret, too.  By the time w got home I had forgotten it was a secret hiding spot so I told Ethan about it and he laughed and Sarah said, “Did Sammy show you the spot, too, E?”  And he said, “I think a cat did lead me to it actually.”

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FOLKLORE:  the traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth.

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Isn’t it amazing that in just one afternoon enough tiny snowflakes can fall to cover the ground and the trees?  A million little things………all together can add up to something significant.

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the mom

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Sarah Joy age 7 years and 9 months.  On a small walk with mom to the chicken coop.

Thanks for letting me take your pictures, Sarah!  I love you!

PS, I had to pay her a dollar.

brisk jaunt

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We had a deep deep freeze last week and now…..it’s 58 degrees.  Oh it’s just so lovely outside, the air is mild and moist, slippery mushy snow is covering the ground, a mix of warm air and cold snow adds a misty fog to the atmosphere.  Grace and I couldn’t resist a brisk jaunt.

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On school mornings, David’s alarm wakes him and he then goes downstairs to his brother’s room to wake him up.  Their bus arrives at 6:30 and I often don’t wake up until after they leave.  Seth and Sarah wake up next and I’m always awake and busy with them getting their breakfast and packing snacks.  Well, this morning to my surprise Caleb appeared from his bedroom half asleep.  He and David had both overslept and missed their bus.  I drove them to school, but had to wait until the digger got out of the way…..the town was digging out the beaver dam yet again.  A deep dark cold watery mix is what is left of the solidly frozen beaver pond.

Ice impressively thick and just the gentlest of blues……

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She threw in a small boulder of ice.

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Ice thickness

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fullsizeoutput_4fd9Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!

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Be not dismayed whatever betide
God will take care of you
Beneath His wings of love abide
God will take care of you

God will take care of you
Through everyday o’er all the way
He will care for you
God will take care of you.

***