the second walk

Praise to the Lord,
Who oʼer all things so wondrously reigneth
Shieldeth thee under his wings,
Yea so gently sustaineth
Hast thou not seen, How thy desires have been
Granted in what he ordaineth

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Sarah wanted to go on another walk the next day so I agreed.

I also want to mention that on both days I had expressed longing to her that I wanted to find a feather.  I wished to find one.  I was looking.

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We admired an algae filled little stream in the woods, filled with the reflection of trees and sky.

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And saw frog eggs left clinging along an underwater (the clearest of water) branch that had fallen from the trees above.

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exploring

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We started to head home and to be different we left the trail to go through the woods and across the stream to home.

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Scattered among dry leaves we found a whole entire pile of yellow feathers!!

Not a brown feather, not a gray feather, not just one single feather, but many many bright YELLOW ones.

My first thought was “goodness, poor bird!” and my second thought was, “Well, I found feathers!” and my third thought was “Thank you, God, for the little things……for answering these tiny almost meaningless wishes we have, just to make us smile.”

If You care enough to answer in the little things, You must care enough to answer in the big things.

For Your good and glory.

Sarah said, “Check the bird application on your phone and see what kind of bird it was!”

And since you don’t necessarily need the bird to make a search (just the feathers), we stood there next to the pile and looked it up.

We decided it was a Northern Flicker, as they have yellow tails and wings, which obviously proved indigestible and were left behind.  We gathered them up.

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See the itty bitty red feather between my thumb and pointer finger?  Red as my nails!

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We took them home and let them soak in a bowl of warm soapy water.

Hours later, after Seth’s first little league scrimmage, and after I put the children to bed, I stood in the kitchen and carefully took each feather out of the water and arranged them to dry on paper towels.

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feather art!

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After they dried they fluffed right out again like proper feathers.  I’m saving some for my flying pig (stay tuned), sending a couple to Joanna, and putting a couple in my journal.  Some of them belong to Sarah.

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Something else made me smile this week.

I had given away a book here through the blog to Dawn R and mailed it out to her.  After she received it she asked for my address (I had ordered and sent the book through amazon) and so I gave it to her.  I was expecting a thank you card but she sent a package with a sweet little bird, a book, a note, and a lotion (my FAVORITE KIND!!).  It made my day.  Well, at the same time I was ransacking the house trying to find my Birth Certificate and to my absolute astonishment in the midst of my papers I FOUND AN OLD CARD FROM THE SAME BLOG FRIEND FROM 8 YEARS AGO!!!!  ( I save ev.er.y.thing.) So, thank you dear Dawn R, you’ve really been an encouragment to me!!!

“We have shared together the blessings of God.”  Philippians 1:7

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Last but certainly not ever least, 2019’s very first spring violet.

For Thia.

You are loved.

 

 

you come too

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“I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too…………”  Robert Frost

 

Before I went on my long walk I stopped at the chicken coop to open the doors and check for eggs.  I found three in the barrel, along with a chicken.  I took all three eggs and put them in my pocket but one of them must have had a thin shell because it promptly broke as I did so.  I’m not disgusted by much, but a warm gooey egg popping in my pocket is one of them.  I threw the shell out in disdain, along with an egg covered tissue.  I bent down and rubbed my hand off in the snow and went on my walk with a soggy pocket leaving egg residue on my jeans with each step.

I was glad I had decided to put on boots as I walked through hard snow, slushy snow, mud, running water, puddles, and regular ol’ dry forest ground, too.  My feet stayed dry.  It was 50 degrees and I wore a sweatshirt and a jacket and was nice and warm.

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I thought this was fun, doesn’t it look like a mushroom?

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Soon my eyes were opeed and I was seeing alive things, mainly birds…….

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Birds have such elegant lines.

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This one was flying SO SO FAST!!!

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Like a rocket going across the sky.

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I sat down on the hill and looked at my phone, lost in my own little world and resting in the fresh air and quiet.  Then, I looked up to see a brown animal walking straight toward me out of the woods.

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We looked right into each other’s eyes and gazed.  Then, as I picked up my camera, he turned around to run away.  Thankfully he stopped to look back a couple of times.

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He lifted his upper lip and showed me his smile.

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Then he ran off like a little bear.

Never in all my days!!!

I figured out it was a fisher, the second largest member of the weasel family in our area, the first being a river otter.  I read online that fishers are useful in eating porcupines, however they are also known to eat housecats.  This one better not eat any of my housecats!  Or chickens!

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Well, nothing could top that but I kept trudging along nice and slow.  I stood here in the woods for a while listening to a woodpecker, the thing about them being they sound so close but you peer and peer and can’t see them.  Finally I stopped being stealthy and moved in confidence and sure enough it flew and I saw it but then of course I coudn’t take a photo. But I did see another small and sweet bird busy buzzing up and down tree bark looking for insects to eat.

See if you can spy it.

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Doesn’t it look soft?

And such a small sharp beak, too.

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A charming trail.

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It’s amazing to me that the moss stays so brilliantly emerald throughout the winter months.

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It was eating.  But how did the food get there?  Did he put it there?  Did it fall in from the trees above?  Was it a bug?

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And then I came out of the woods and saw what I had been searching for all along.

A bluebird!

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And another!

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And another.

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A spot of blue, and then………. a spot of red.

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I ended my walk the same way I began it, in the chicken coop.  There were two more eggs, for a total of five this morning.

PS, Mom this post was for you.

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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