Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Prayers




Our first roses are blooming, just in time for Mother's Day. This bush rose is Crown Princess Margareta. I cut one rose today and put it in a vase on the kitchen table, and the fragrance is exquisite.

I'm posting this Saturday night and hoping tomorrow at church we don't sing that Mother's Day song, If I Could Only Hear My Mother Pray Again. Not that it isn't a lovely song. I can usually manage to get through the first verse dry-eyed, but by the second verse I'm reaching for a kleenex, and by the third, it's all over for me. Why is it that the good memories are the ones that make us cry? 

My Mother would talk to God about everything. She expected Him to answer her, and He did. When I was in the fifth grade, our family moved from Washington State to Northern California, and I missed my old school and friends. When waves of homesickness washed over me at night, Mom was by my bedside, praying for me, and singing in her clear, sweet voice,
Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day; 
So when life seems dark and dreary,
Don't forget to pray.
It wasn't long until I had adapted to my new environment and made friends, and when I think of my childhood home, it's usually the California home I think of.

Mom talked to God about the dress I desperately wanted for Christmas one year, when new dresses weren't in the budget. She didn't mention it to anyone else, but shortly before Christmas, there was a package in the mail with the most beautiful dress I'd ever seen. It was an off-white, A-line with bell shaped sleaves and lace. It was my size, of course, and brand new, from a cousin who didn't want it, but for me, it was perfect. 

When something got lost at our house, Mom prayed about it, because, she said, God knew exactly where it was. If it didn't show up right away, it did when we needed it. She prayed for her neighbors and her friends, and everybody at church, and she prayed for her kids. She prayed for her kids a lot.

If prayers are like a sweet fragrance to God, I like to think that my Mother's prayers haven't dissipated over time, as roses do, but continue on, wafting their perfume from the kitchen table in heaven.


First posted on May 7, 2011

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Send a Moses


Don underwent shoulder replacement surgery last week at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and so far, his doctor is very pleased with the outcome. He was cared for by an exceptional team of medical professionals. It was a skilled staff, and so as to remember them all, I tried to record their names, along with a brief description. I managed to jot most of them down, with one notable exception. The description of the man who helped us when we needed it most doesn’t have a name beside it.

The day before the surgery, we drove through heavy rain to St. Louis. We had decided to take the Tundra, because, with its large new tires, it handles well in poor road conditions. I-44, the main east/west corridor across the state, was closed near St. Louis because of the recent flooding that had impacted much of our state, so we followed a detour off 1-44, much of it 2 lane. We exited on to highway 100 and drove north and east through wooded countryside, brightened, even on that rainy day, with spring greenery, then north on 340, and finally, east on 40 into the city. We traveled by caravan in a long line with all the vehicles that would normally be on the interstate, including a slew of 18 wheelers. It might have been quicker by pony express.

When we finally arrived at Barnes Hospital and pulled into the hospital parking lot, we were numb with exhaustion. In Ozark County, where we live, a good percentage of the population drives pickups, and the parking spaces reflect that, with ample room to navigate. What we hadn’t anticipated was that in the city, all the parking spaces seemed to have been engineered for compact cars. Don started up the spiraling parking lot, searching for an empty spot that would accomodate what now seemed to be our behemoth truck. The few vacant spots we saw were miniscule. After passing several of them, it occurred to us that we had to park somewhere, so Don finally turned into one space between a black downsized pickup and a Mini Cooper, which looked more like a ladybug next to our beast. Halfway in, I got out of the truck to get a better look at the space available. Basically, there wasn’t any. Moving forward one inch would squash the ladybug, and backing out 1/2 inch would put a long gash on the black pickup, not to mention the Tundra. It was as if the jaws of a trap had closed around us.

We have a couple of friends who have driven trucks professionally, and on occasion, they’ve volunteered to back our boat and trailer into a tight spot. At that moment, I wished one of them were there. Don, who graduated with a Master’s in business at the top of his class, and is brilliant in math and language and everything related to the real estate business, somehow missed the class that covered the finer points of large vehicle maneuvering. I ought to know, being more challenged in that arena than he is. Half in and half out of the parking space, we felt paralyzed, loath to move either way. Behind us, cars lined up. The people in the next car, thinking we were leaving, waited for our spot, and the others, I imagined, were growing impatient behind them. I waved the first one on, and positioned myself to do so whenever the lineup stalled. Every time it appeared that the steady steam of traffic was thinning out, 5 more cars appeared around the corner. We were hoping that when we made our move, it would be without a large audience. My mathematical husband was already mentally tallying up the damage to 2 vehicles, and hoping it wasn’t 3. As I stood there, searching the faces of the passersby, I prayed fervently for help to come along.

One car paused in the procession, and through the window, a young man with a kind face mouthed the words, “Do you want help?” I nodded my head, and he pulled over and parked his small car out of the line of traffic. Tall and lean, with a professional look, he climbed out of his car and took charge, giving Don some specific steering guidance that made the trap spring open. In the matter of minutes, the truck was out, free and unscathed.

Years ago, in our country church, one of our friends used to sing a song entitled "My Lord will send a Moses". It was about how, when the Israelites were in a tight spot, God sent Moses to deliver them, and about how God does the same for us in our time of need.

After our rescue last week, Don asked the young man for his card, and he said, “It was nothing”. He got in his car, and drove away and we didn’t even get his name. But we think there’s a good chance that it starts with an M.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Rockabye Baby


Early yesterday morning, as the sun emerged from the clouds over the horizon, the four note song of the Carolina Chickadee drifted through our window. The little birds looked as if they were doing their morning calisthenics, hopping from branch to branch. Only later did I wonder if their activity was a birth announcement.




They are nesting in a birdhouse located in the old dogwood tree near the front of our house. 
There is a quick glance out the door...




...before they take flight.




My first hint that the nestlings had hatched was when I saw the diaper disposal.
 Carolina Chickadees are very neat.


Carolina Chickadees in nest


Both parents feed the nestlings, and several minutes elapses between each feeding, so, like a bank robber timing the alarms, I calculated that I could get a look before the parents returned. As soon as one of the parents flew away, I set up a ladder, opened the hinged roof, and took a quick snapshot. In and out in 60 seconds.

At this point, the most predominant feature of the nestlings is their mouths, and considering how tightly the birds are packed in the nest and how quickly they get fed, it's good that the parents have big targets. The nestling's unopened eyes are only bumps on their heads and a few tiny feathers indicate their wings. Their are at least eight of them, and possibly one or two more.

Today we noticed that the branch that supports the birdhouse is rotten, and since rain and high winds are forecasted for tomorrow, we trussed the birdhouse up to a sturdier branch, while one of the parents looked patiently on.

We hope they sleep well as the wind rocks their cradle. We'll sleep better knowing that they're secure.


Linking with Wild Bird Wednesday




Friday, March 31, 2017

Stay Off the Menu


yellow wooly bear caterpillar


To the Virginian Tiger Moth on our front porch:

I remember last autumn, when you were a Yellow Wooly Bear caterpillar gorging on the plants in our flowerbed. Maybe you knew you'd be on a diet all winter. When your appetite was satisfied, you set out on the longest journey of your short life, trudging across the patio bricks with a purpose. You scaled the porch step, slogged across the porch, and climbed up the window frame all the way to the top.




There you found your perfect niche, and you constructed a fuzzy winter home.


Virginian tiger moth


This week, I noticed that the front of your dwelling had been opened, and that's when I saw you, 
pristine white, clothed in your miniature ermine coat. 


tree frog on window


You probably thought you'd chosen a safe place to rest, but I have a warning for you. On rainy nights, the green tree frogs that you hear singing from the pond sneak up to the porch to dine on creatures like you who are attracted by the house lights.

It's raining tonight. But don't worry, we'll leave the lights off for you.


Linking with Saturday's Critters


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lured by a Butterfly


Henbit in the Grass


Our wildflower meadow is a miniature one this time of year, with henbit, bluet and my favorite, 
Johnny-jump-up, scattered among the dormant grass.


Johnny-jump-up in the Grass


Here and there, a toothwort or rue anemone, at shoe height, tower above the others. The best way to appreciate this beauty, I think, is at ground level, and I've spent a little time there lately, laying on my sturdy old exercise mat. Besides providing padding, I've been counting on it to keep most of the bugs away (except for the pretty ones that don't think we taste good).


Falcate Orangetip on Johnny-jump-up


I wasn't just there to see the flowers. I'd been lured by an elusive butterfly. On a walk in the woods last week, I saw a male Falcate Orangetip for the first time. Flying at eye level a few yards ahead of me, he stayed over the path like a mechanical rabbit, and I had to pick up my pace to keep up with him. He was small and white with one bright tangerine spot on each wing. The female lacks the orange spot, but both of them have a delicate pattern on the underside of their hind wings. When a female appeared in the brush at the side of the trail, the Orangetip male abandoned me, and it was only then I noticed the single stemmed rose he was carrying.


Falcate Orangetip on violet


I saw their cousins in western Ozark County, about 8 miles from here, and also in our meadow, which is the main reason I was there, with my camera of course. But photographing them has been a challenge. They would speed by, flying erratically, like a house fly on steroids. When I finally saw one alight, it was momentary, on the delicate violet, Johnny-jump-up.

There's a state park in Connecticut called West Rock where people gather every year to see these butterflies. I can understand why they go to view such a sight, but now I can say with certainty, they ain't got nuthin' in Connecticut that we don't have right here in Ozark County, Missouri.


Linking with Our World Tuesday