Friday, December 21, 2012

Thoughts for Winter Solstice

The Christmas season holds so many thought provoking and meditative writings through carols, scripture, and stories written about this time of year.  Today,Winter Solstice and the darkest day of the year, I share two that have captured my attention and that I'll read over and over to focus on the "light" of the season, not the darkness of the day.

Carol: O Morning Star

O Morning Star, how fair and bright!
Thou shinest forth with God's own light,
Aglow with grace and mercy.

Scripture: Luke 1:78-79

By tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Words in the Week: A few from Dickens

At Christmas-time I enjoy reading Charles Dickens's story A Christmas Carol.  In my mind there is nothing better than to imagine the story through Dickens's own words verses watching one of the movie renditions.  One passage in particular stands out this year as I think and ponder about what Christmas-time is.

Scrooge's nephew has come to his office in a cheerful mood proclaiming Merry Christmas.  As can be expected Scrooge is disgruntled and wants nothing of the cheerful merrymaking.  Now in Dickens's own words:

"Nephew!...Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."
"Keep it!"  repeated Scrooge's nephew.  "But you don't keep it."
"Let me leave it alone then," said Scrooge. "Much good may it do you!  Much good it has ever done you!"
"There are many things from which I might have derived good by which I have not profited, I dare say...Christmas among the rest.  Bit I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time when it has come round - apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that - as a good time; a kind forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creature bound on other journeys.  And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Words in the Week: Nov. 28th

With a few more days left in November, I like to keep thoughts of being thankful in focus for awhile longer with this quote:

"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues." ~Cicero

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Small Stone #17: Ice skating

Two hours of skating on the ice and
I feel it.
But my little girl laughed
and I laughed with her,
playing games in the cold
and I don't even notice.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Riding in the snow

Recently my husband, son and I went for a horse ride up in the mountains.  The day was warm and we wanted to get at least one more ride in before we had too much snow.  Snow wasn't on our minds when we left our house, for although we had already had our first storm, warm days had melted it away.  Only the very peaks of the mountains showed the evidence of our first storms of the season.

We had decided in advance that we would ride up the Pole Creek Trail, a trail that leads back into the Wind River Mountains.  As our truck began to make the pull up the mountain, and ice and snow covered the road, we began to wonder if our choice in locations was a wise one.

We bundled up and went anyways.

The horses slugged through the snow, breathing heavily as the trail holds a gradual climb.

I had never ridden in snow along a mountain trail before. My little boy sat in front of me and as we moved through the trees I felt as though I could have been a mountain man or a squaw following her man on their way to a new camp.

The woods were silent other than a few birds.  My son talked most of the time and we could hear the breathing of the horses.  In several places we saw elk tracks where a herd had moved through.  A snowshoe hare darted in front of us, and at one point our lead horse stopped abruptly when a moose quickly moved deeper into the forest.

We went quite a ways down the trail. I could have ridden for miles and miles, but the cool air and the tired horses signaled our time to turn around.

Life stories come out of our many experiences, and our day of riding in the snow will be tucked away in my mind for may years to come.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Recipe: Peach Butter

In the fall I enjoy making peach butter.  Much like apple butter, peach butter is simply slowly cooked fruit with sugar and spices.  It's easy to make and a comforting addition to breads and baked goods made throughout the winter months.

Peach Butter Recipe

4 cups peaches
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water

Combine peaches and water and cook until the fruit is soft.  Add sugar; then slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thick and clear.  Add spices of choice.  Suggestions: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Words in the week...

"Words in the week" is meant to be a posting where I share words I hear during the week from song lyrics, quotes, signs....anything involving words that provoke interest and meaning to life.

For this week, and in celebration of autumn:

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Friday, October 5, 2012

Foto Friday: Arrival of cold weather

I was going to our local library at about 2:00 pm when I saw these ice crystals hanging down in this tree.  Most days they should have melted already. Ahh, the visible arrival of cold weather.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


When the first day of September came, so too did the cold.  Eerily close did the change in temperature match the date on the calendar.  Most of our mornings have been below freezing, and one day this week marked the first fire I lit in our stove to warm up our house.

Willows and trees are changing their colors, and the rivers are running low.  The geese began flying by in August, and now we hear only an occasional mountain blue jay and the black birds that will hang around until the very last minute.

Part of my mind became used to my "summer" clothes.  Now I am wearing my warm socks and am back to wearing a sweater throughout the day, at least keeping one close for when the chill on the breeze swings by.

For many the season of Autumn, because it is already here for us, is the season which tells us the year is about to be over.  Visible changes are occurring and will soon be covered in white. For me it is really the beginning of my new year, since by birth date is in September, and yet it is even hard for me to think of beginnings instead of ends as I see the colorful leaves fall.

And so I think about how learning and changing are continual, not matter the season.  No matter if we are at the beginning of a year or nearing the end....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Foto Friday: American Lakes Hike

Just over a month ago my sister and I had two days together where we could hike with no restraints, other than what our bodies could handle and what the weather would allow.  We visited trails that we had hiked on several other occasions, seeming to be seeing old friends from the past.  However at younger ages then and, for me, in a bit better shape.  But we totaled 20 miles that weekend.  Our final trip up to American Lakes in Colorado which is pictured here.

Several lessons were learned over that time we spent on the open trail.  One being how alive I felt as we moved through forests and past wildflowers, standing above timberline looking across valleys towards mountains that were massive and overwhelming and yet more majestic than I have words to describe. 

Life will always become too busy, too occupied.

I was reminded to be alive while I'm here.  That's what I think of when I see this photo.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Full Moon

Last night was a full moon.  The light illuminated all of the night and, like the moon, my mind was full of thoughts. 

The thoughts moving across my mind went back and forth over the busy summer that has been passing all to quickly, the upcoming events in August, always having been the final month and last hoorah before back to school, on and on until I wished I could just fall asleep.

I had heard of others not sleeping on a full moon, and now I know it's true.  Will I forevermore be sensitive to its timing?

I wondered, as I looked out across the prairie grass glowing under the moon, how distant we humans have become from nature.  Even I, one who tries to pay attention to all of the beauty surrounding me can be quickly distracted by my cell phone beeping to tell me I have a new e-mail, text message, or voice mail.  All of my attention becomes diverted, often unnecessarily.

It's quiet I want to get back to, focus on.

Perhaps it's a good thing to be kept awake at night by the full moon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pronghorn in the pasture

I have been waiting to see the baby Pronghorn that come to our pasture to graze, wondering when they will come by for a visit as they have done each year we have lived here.  Finally the other morning I saw four down along our irrigation ditch playing in the grass and sage.  Two sets of twins.  I thought I would sneak out, take a quick photo of them.

As I crept up, still at least 200 yards away from them, I heard one of the does call out.  I had missed seeing their mothers as they had been lying just under the hill where I stood.  They both sprang up, ran to their young, and scurried them off away from me.

Even though I missed taking a photo of them, the scene reminded me of something quite similar to my own life- spending time with my sister or a friend as we talk and watch our kids play.  It does make me wonder what those two does might have been "talking" about before I snuck up on them.  Maybe they were simply relaxing and enjoying the company of a companion, no words needed between them. Perhaps they were content with only the warmth of the sun and to have returned to a safe place for their young to grow and play.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer, it's finally here

We wait and wait to have the sun stay up
beyond our dinner time.
Longer days call for more activities
so we run to kindergarten camp,
back home,
in to swimming lessons,
back home.
When is there time to breath?

The T.V. is turned off for the summer,
more time to be outside, garden,
take care of animals- chickens, pigs, horses-
more intentional ways of spending time- reading, building projects.
But how do you think clearly
when you are so busy?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Foto Friday: Willows

So quickly our willows change from looking like branches simply growing along the rivers, to having fuzzy buds, to willow leaves expanding and filling in the river banks.  Spring is early here, and each change a delight to watch.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spring Migration

As the roads begin to open up, access to those places we call our favorites and our friends become available for a visit.  Soon the memory of winter will be forgotten as the grass greens and the brush begins to bloom and the addition of more tourist vehicles on the road steals away the quite views.  For now the awakening of spring is for those who go out and be a part of it.

On our drive we cross paths with a herd of elk moving, just as spring does, out and across the mountains.  They are seeking their birthing grounds, safe locations to have their young.  My husband (wildlife biologist) says they leave their winter grounds to return to a specific place they have gone to before to have their young.  I wonder why the cow elk would want to trek for miles, burdened with a full term pregnancy, just to have their calves.  He tells me they are migratory animals and it's what they have done for years and will continue to do.

So ingrained in the elk to migrate across ancient paths as visible to them as the mountains are to us.  Their breath, their calls and their steps are heard by us as we listen to them and watch them move across the sage.  Before long they are in the timber and we drive on, taking our own migratory route through the changing season.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sometimes being a writer can be, in a word, frustrating.  Trying to release the stories in your mind, the action, the inspiriataion, can become overwhelming.  And then I read a quote like this, one that helps explain the reasoning, the desire to press forward.

“What did I want?
I wanted a Roc's egg. I wanted a harem loaded with lovely odalisques less than the dust beneath my chariot wheels, the rust that never stained my sword,. I wanted raw red gold in nuggets the size of your fist and feed that lousy claim jumper to the huskies! I wanted to get u feeling brisk and go out and break some lances, then pick a like wench for my droit du seigneur--I wanted to stand up to the Baron and dare him to touch my wench! I wanted to hear the purple water chuckling against the skin of the Nancy Lee in the cool of the morning watch and not another sound, nor any movement save the slow tilting of the wings of the albatross that had been pacing us the last thousand miles.

 I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom. I wanted Storisende and Poictesme, and Holmes shaking me awake to tell me, "The game's afoot!" I wanted to float down the Mississippi on a raft and elude a mob in company with the Duke of Bilgewater and the Lost Dauphin.

 I wanted Prestor John, and Excalibur held by a moon-white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be what they had promised me it was going to be--instead of the tawdry, lousy, fouled-up mess it is.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Glory Road

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mountain Blue Jays

A Mountain Blue Jay, and friends, have been landing in our backyard over the past few weeks.  Their vivid blue color speaks out against the drab brown and yellow grasses that are poking up from the remainders of our snow.  I'm hungry for their color, such a stark contrast from the white I am used to seeing, that my eyes follow wherever they fly.

On a drive up the valley along the Wind River mountains they zig-zag and fly across the road.  So many!  Even when we get a spring snow storm they stay, unalarmed by the sharp change in temperature and the ice that gathers in the corner of my window.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Small Stone #16

"The red-winged blackbirds are back," she said, making small talk in the post office.
The red-winged blackbird, I sigh. I can hear their throaty talk, see them perched on a willow.
They are our mountain sign of spring, of running water, of life under the sun with a song.
"I hope they know what they are doing," she said.
So do I.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A case of "PPP"

I'm going to call last weeks post Winter Days a classic case of "PPP".

What is PPP?

Positively Premature Positivity

Only a short amount of time went by, after hitting the button to publish my post, before the wind began to howl, tossing snow across the wide expanse between mountains and filling in the roads in between the piles of snow that already existed. 

That night car lights lined up down the road, stuck in the drifts, nobody was getting out.  Even my husband got stuck on his way down our lane, having to walk home and get the snowplow to plow his way to retrieve the abandoned vehicle.

The wind howled all night, and with the addition of snow falling, we knew the morning could be an interesting one.

He was up early plowing, but when the side of the plow struck a bank of snow and caused the truck to turn into the drifts, he was done.  A neighbor with a tractor and a snow blower was our rescuer.  We made it to town for work and the kids were off to preschool, but I couldn't help but worry that the wind would start back up and our road would be blown in again.

In our part of Wyoming we are having a mild winter, no doubt.  As one lady in town put it,  "We'll get our snow this year, even if we get it two inches at a time until June."

Thus, PPP.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Winter days

For the most part our winter has been very mild.  We have still had -40 days and a couple of full weeks in the negative degree range, but I don't feel myself anticipating the dread that the winter will never end.  Perhaps it's because I've gotten used to the snowy landscape, the low light where everything is gray and wearing sunglasses is a must to see where you are going, I'm not sure.  Maybe my body is finally used to the long season of winter and has adjusted.  It could be that I have gotten used to driving on icy and snow packed roads and no longer find them as a deterrent to getting out.  Talking to an older gentleman while waiting for an appointment he mentioned how fast the years go by as you get older, this could be another very likely reason I feel the time of this winter going by quickly.

One thing is for sure, my husband and I both recognized the sun staying up longer into the evening as we were driving home the other night, and as the soft light still persisted on towards 6:00 p.m. our minds were triggered to the difference and the changes taking place around us in our "natural" world.

Maybe too the long winters where I live are still teaching me to enjoy each day for what it is and where it is in the seasons, keeping myself fully aware of today- the present- and not wishing the days away into the future.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Foto Friday: Winter and sage

My fascination with sage continues.

Even in the winter time sage is such a beautiful part of my landscape.  Although it is dormant and not as fragrant as in the spring or summer, in certain areas it still rises out of the snow and brushes the landscape with its existence. 

These plants are a larger type and a welcome site on my winter walks.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

#15 Small Stone

I have enjoyed the project of writing "small stones" through the month of January.  Although I might not have shared each on here, I do have a wonderful notebook filling up.  The process of finding a "small stone" for each day has helped me to be aware of my surroundings- people, nature, weather- and keep my mind focused, leaving the negative out, and bring the most important moments in the light to be remembered and savored.  As the year goes on I plan on continuing to capture fully engaged moments in my life and share them here as a normal part of my blog.

As for now...#15

Stirring two cups of hot cocoa I realize,
though at times mundane and monotonous
with dishes, laundry, cooking, and cleaning,
that I am here where I want to be
and for this moment life is as it should be.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

#14 Small Stone

10 below outside,
 and we are sitting around the table
eating Popsicles.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

#13 Small Stone

On days like today when the light is low
and it continues to snow,
Jimmy Buffett fixes my predicament
with songs of the sun, the beach,
and being carried far

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

#12 Small Stone

Today as I drove towards the mountains,
I turned the radio off
and simply drove in the silence.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

#11 Small Stones

My little girl puts on her cross country skis and takes off down the road,
this year needing less instruction and hardly any help at all.
She heads towards our bird houses in the middle of the pasture, and
I can't resist the powder of new snow and the chance to put on my skis.
Breaking a trail makes it easier for her, but she is loving the time outside,
being in the sun, looking at rabbit tracks. She repeatedly says, "Keep going mommy,
I want to keep going for miles."  Our skiing is great exercise, and she doesn't
wear out as soon as I think she would.  She asks when we will go again.
It's been awhile, but now I have a new skiing partner and can't wait for more days like this.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

#10 Small Stone

Two friends talking as our kids play around
her house. We know each other well enough
not to worry, not to compete, only
to understand and enjoy the time, the
company. A friendship worth the comforts
not always so easily found.

Friday, January 20, 2012

#9 Small Stone

Snow is finally here and I am alone this white expanse.

How can something that is so beautiful leave me so vulnerable?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

#8 Small Stone

A good book, where I can read and read and be so intrigued with the characters and the story line and the authors voice that I'll stay up late just to read and skip all other duties I have during the day, only happens here and there.  But when it does there is only the book, a lamp, a mug, a blanket and the world in which I enter.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#7 Small Stone

Purple skies and mountains in the morning, the day eases in.

Triumphant pinks and oranges stretch from mountain range to mountain range
at sunset as the day ends.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

#6 Small Stones

A Saturday visit with neighbors reminds me of when I was young, of the people who lived close to me and became so much like family.  Hot chocolate and friendly exchanges, my kids running circles around their house, one that does not have little feet running around other than a small dog and cat.  A few lessons in manners- no jumping off of the couch, no interrupting, leave the cat alone, don't wipe your boogers on the window, don't make the dog growl- and we left under blue skies, content that my kids will have some of the experiences I did.

Friday, January 13, 2012

#5 Small Stone

ice reflecting moonlight
illuminates a path
one i could even follow
without straying or losing the way

Thursday, January 12, 2012

#4 Small Stone

new day

one cup
first sip
sun rises

fresh snow
fresh start

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#3 Small Stones

Conversations with my sister,
an extension of myself.
A seperate set of eyes she understands
without explanation,
knowing what I do, having been there too.
In the morning or in the afternoon,
it's me and her figuring out our worlds.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

#2 Small Stone

My little boy zooms by me
pushing his Tonka truck.

His noises sound just like one,
as snow boots and little legs

glide over an icy road with
ruts.The sun shines down upon us

as our daily chores are finished.
He leads us back up up up,

rosy cheeks from such exertion,
bright eyes from such excitement.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Beginning Small Stones

Even though a couple of days of January have already passed, I am going to join in the Jan '12 River of Stones by writing about a "small stone" each day.

What are small stones?  A short piece of writing that captures a fully engaged moment, as described on the Writing Our Way Home website.

To me it's a bit of poetry out of my day and life that will become a memory, my own stones I find along the way.  My hope is to publish most of them here throughout the weeks ahead.

The first small stone....

I walk along the twilight snow
towards horses dark bodies.

Their breath and mine intermingle
as I touch their thick coats.

Silence. No words. Understanding.
Only the sound of their hoofs as I walk on home.