Monday, November 23, 2015

Lacework at Sunrise

The frozen bark dust path crunched beneath my feet, the only sound -- save the occasional cah of the crow -- at the pond this morning.

As naturalist Edwin Way Teale observed one November morning in the 1950s, "An edging of ice, like frail lacework, runs around the quiet bays of the swamp stream. The hush . . . is complete."

I walked in that thirty-degree hush, marveling at "a thousand forms of crystalline art" that had been wrought overnight by my Creator, thankful that I had a moment to delight over the masterpieces on display in His intricate gallery.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

First Frost

The thin layer of ice in the bird bath this morning prompted me to grab gloves and a headband before heading to the pond today. Although I walked around noon, the ground was still frosted in the shady nooks and crannies that had yet to see the light of day.

Frequent rains have raised the level of the pond, and the plants have a rather "munched upon" look to them. It's a different pond today than it was in the summer, for sure. About a dozen ducks dabbled about; mallards, shovelers, and widgeons are the most common visitors now.

I took a few minutes to step beyond the worn path today -- both literally and figuratively -- in order to plop down on a log to rest, to be still. The quiet was welcome, allowing for uninterrupted reflection and prayer. (Interesting that I literally saw "reflections" in the water as I listened and pondered.)

The frosted landscape, the icy blue sky, the dazzling sunlight and the barren branches called John 15 to mind, a passage I've been working to memorize over the last few weeks.

Every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
John 15:2

Sometimes pruning takes place in an unexpected, intrusive way, with shears and clippers. Other times, pruning is natural, quiet, and slow. This is the pruning I observed around me today. The frost that subdued the landscape, the leaves that quietly fell, the branches that slowly bared, the air that carried fewer and fewer rustles, chirps and squeaks. This is the natural death that, come spring, will burst once again to vibrant, glorious life.

It must be acknowledged, however, that even this death, even this pruning, has an unmistakable beauty of its own.

As if the heavens had dripped molten sunlight over the landscape, 
fiery hues burst forth when autumn reaches its magnificent crescendo.
(From Victoria Magazine)

After a time, I reluctantly left my quiet little log and turned away from the pond. As I did so, my eye caught the sunlight as it danced in a secret corner of the woods beyond the barbed wire fence, beyond the frost. I marveled as I beheld a sight I'd never noticed before: A small stone stairway stretched upward like Jacob's ladder, golden light illuminating each step.

When we willingly surrender to the wise pruning, to the purifying frost, to the barren isolation, exposure, and raw dependence, the light will come.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:105

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life. In Thy presence is fullness of joy.
Psalm 16:11

And this is the glorious, resplendent light that illumines our steps and beautifies our lives with a deeper faith, hope, and love than we otherwise would have known.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


This afternoon, I considered.

I considered the birds of the air . . . .

The wildflowers of the field . . . .

The squirrels in the treetops . . . .

And I found comfort. As the robin tossed a hawthorne berry down its throat, as the jay flew by with a peanut in its beak, and as the geese soared toward the pond, eager to munch on a plant or two, I was reminded of provision, of plenty . . . and of the peace that comes when we trust.

Do not be anxious for your life . . . 

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field . . . how much more will He clothe you?

Luke 12

How much more. Consider that! How much, much more.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Copper and Sage

I have to really keep my eye on the clock, the daylight, and the weather in order to sneak in walks these days. The walking hours are fleeting.

And so are the last tokens of a summer that seems as though it existed ages and ages ago.

A few daisies, Queen Anne's lace, and clover continue to linger, but the trees definitely reflect the late fall calendar. Many have lost their leaves by now, although the hazelnut and hawthorne are just now turning. (I found it curious that three hawthorne trees in a row are each currently in different stages: One is still green, another yellow, while the third has lost most of its leaves.)

A little while ago I discovered a holly bush tucked away from the path. It was bursting with berries, leading me to assume that the tree I found several weeks ago on the trail (which is still berry free) must be the "male." Or still a child. A child bush.

(Among the birds of prey I see -- without fail -- along the pond route. The powerful and majestic hawk.)

The final stretch of the path welcomed me this afternoon with the warmest hues of copper and sage. I've been drawn to these colors as I decorate our living room, so I felt right at home as I swept past the shrubs which, I've learned, are called Hardhack.

A rather unfortunate appellation, but the soothing fall coloring does make up for it. As Shakespeare would no doubt say, "A hardhack by any other name . . . would still look great in the fall."