Tag Archive | nature

The Road I Travel

“The Road Not Taken”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim because it was grassy and wanted wear; though as for that, the passing there had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay in leaves no feet had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.

(Robert Frost)

I have written before about the things I have seen in my travels. But today, something really struck me. My trip to work each day is just breathtakingly beautiful! I especially love turning on to Valley Camp Road as I head to Camp Joy El. What a treat to the eyes! Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to see bunch after bunch of lovely white flowers blooming on the banks as I turned on to Valley Camp Road. Memories came flooding back to me of when I was a little girl and we saw these little flowers blooming one day as I was traveling with my mom and dad and grandma. Grandma said, “Oh look! Dutchman’s breeches!” I thought that was a funny name for the pretty little white flowers. My dad pulled the car over and we got out to look. Sure enough, these little beauties look like a row of white pants hanging on a clothesline!  My mother, who carried a spade in the car for moments like these, dug up one or two of the plants to take home and transplant into her flowerbed. They still bloom there every Spring.

Just as the dutchman’s breeches were beginning to lose their luster, a new beauty appeared. I noticed them first closest to the creek that runs through that area. Clumps of dainty blue flowers dotted the creek bank and the surrounding areas. There were just enough dutchman’s breeches left to add to the loveliness. Virginia bluebells. Again, these flowers evoke a memory. When I was in high school, my best friend, Tammy and a fellow named Joe would go to James Buchanan High School every Saturday in the Spring to help run the greenhouse. One day, Joe brought with him a plant he wanted identified. Mr. Frick, the horticulture teacher who ran the greenhouse project told him to set the pot aside until he had a chance to look up the flower. Joe had put a popsicle stick tag in the pot labeled “Joe Fitz-unknown”. A short time after, my mom came to make her purchases at the greenhouse. She took one look at the pot and exclaimed, “Virginia bluebells!” The plant had been identified, and my mother ended up leaving with the potted treasure. She planted them, popsicle tag and all and each year there after (even to this day) we look for “Joe Fitz-unknown” to come up in our flower beds!

Very soon, there was a yellow flower added to the mix. Wild yellow mustard began blooming amongst the Virginia bluebells. This too evoked a memory of the field around my childhood home that would become a sea of yellow each Spring. The wind would blow through the blooms and it looked as though there were waves of yellow coming toward you as you looked across the land. I recall one field in particular close to my grandparent’s home that stayed awash with yellow blooms for several weeks each Spring. I knew when we got to the field of mustard, we were almost at Grandma’s house.

Another new white flower appeared just days after the mustard flowers began blooming. Star of Bethlehem flowers began to dot the banks adding to the bouquet of beauty. This time the memory these little flowers brought back was an amusing one. My parents had gotten several loads of fill dirt to create a more level area around our house. We spent hours moving dirt and getting it to be “just right”. Grass seed was planted several times, as the birds wouldn’t leave it alone. The Spring after we did all this work, we waited in anticipation to see if the grass had finally “taken”. Instead of a lush thick lawn full of green grass, we started to see thin green and white leaves protruding from the ground. Soon, there were spikes of white flowers everywhere! My mother was annoyed, but I was thrilled! These flowers were so easy to pick for big bouquets of flowers and mixed in with dandelions, looked quite beautiful to a little girl. “Star of Bethlehem flowers!” my mother sighed. “We’ll never get rid of all of these!” She spent many years pulling them out and tossing them away. She eventually gave up….it was a losing battle!

Today, to  my delight, I saw yet another splash of color on the banks of Valley Camp Road. Wild red columbine. I have always loved the various varieties of columbine, but find the wild red columbine is my favorite. It is the first to bloom every Spring and is more lacey and dainty than the propagated varieties I’ve purchased from greenhouses. I have some of this beautiful flower, again thanks to a sighting of this flower by my grandmother. We were driving around one Sunday afternoon over some mountain roads when she spotted it. Again, mom’s spade dug up some of the tender plants and found new homes in her flowerbed. She later gave me some for mine.

Now that we are heading into the month of May, I know I will soon see wild phlox blooming. I love to see this flower in it’s rainbow of colors. I don’t know yet if this flower will appear on Valley Camp Road, but it does bloom heavily on Filer Road which is close to me. So I will get to see the pink, blue, purple and white hues of this flower soon. When my hubby, David, realized I liked this wild flower too, he began to carry a spade with him so that he could dig up some of these for me! I now have some white and purple among the other flowers in my garden!

I just love arriving on Valley Camp Road each day. It is a blessing to my eyes and my memories. I can’t help but think of the verses from Matthew 6:28b-29 – “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” I can’t help but think that there is nothing that man can make that is more beautiful than what God puts on His “canvas” of earth. I also thought of the Robert Frost poem…”Two roads diverged….” Valley Camp Road is not a “road less travelled” by any means, but I like to think of it as a little patch of heaven, untouched by man where God can express Himself and I want to always be able to see His handiwork no matter what road I choose.

♥Miriam

A Joyful Noise

Psalm 100:1 – “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.”

How do you make a joyful noise? Do you sing? Do you play an instrument? What is the noise you make that is joyful to the Lord?

I find the giggle from a baby makes me smile…that’s joyful. The chirping of birds outside on a sunny day….that’s joyful. The splashing of a trickling stream or a roaring waterfall….another joyful noise.

Personally, I love to make a joyful noise to the Lord with my voice. I love to sing (and those of you who follow this blog know that!) and most of all, I love to sing praises to God. I also enjoy playing the piano. Though I’m not at all an expert at it, I do spend a lot of time expressing myself through my piano music as well. To me, it’s a joyful noise.

Tonight, I got to enjoy hearing a joyful noise from my daughter! She performed in her first musical instrument concert….a recorder concert. I fully expected to go and have my ears assaulted. After all, how good could a fourth grade ensemble of recorder players sound? I fully expected to hear the occasional squeak from misplaced fingers on the holes or a note played out of rhythm, but I didn’t notice much of that this evening.

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These kids were having fun up there! They didn’t care if it was perfect. They didn’t care if they missed an occasional note. All they cared about was if their parents were watching them from the audience and seeing them applaud at the end of each song.

I couldn’t help but think about what God thinks when we attempt to make a joyful noise to Him. He doesn’t care if we’re off-key; he doesn’t care if we forget the words and just hum the tune. All He cares about is the fact that we are trying to show our love to Him by praising His name.

God loves joyful noises. I know this is true. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have given us so many beautiful things to hear!

When was the last time you made a “joyful noise?” There’s no better time than the present!

♥Miriam

A Clean Sweep

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

We are seeing many signs of Spring. I saw a bluebird this week and to me that means Spring more than seeing robins. Today was as good as any to start Spring housecleaning! That’s what we did for most of the day!

I started in my bedroom. Now, I’m not a typical cleaner. I’m sort of an obsessive cleaner (once I get started). To me, cleaning is not just getting rid of the dust and dirt, but it’s also organizing and thinning out things you don’t want or need any longer. I spent quite a bit of time just on my nightstand, which seems to collect multiple items that I don’t have any other place for. Everyone has one of those “junk drawers” in their house (admit it, you do!). My top nightstand drawer happens to be one of three (yes, three!) junk drawers in my house. But it is a junk drawer no longer!! I’m happy to say that it now houses things that I use on a regular basis! Some of the junk found new homes (some of it in other junk drawers) and some it made a journey to the trash. I straightened out my closet, cleaned out dresser drawers and put fresh linens on the bed. Then I tackled a real mess….the computer and it’s desk.

spring cleaningKatie is the main user of this computer. Lately, when she’s on this computer and I’m on my laptop, both computers run so slowly that it’s about pointless to even try. This afternoon, I spent 4 hours cleaning the computer itself. I pulled off literally thousands of photos and put them on discs, I removed programs we no longer used, and I cleaned out “cookies” and temporary files. I ran an in-depth virus scan and “defragmented” the computer. It runs like lightning now!! Another afternoon, I’ll do the same with my laptop, but 4 hours of computer clean-up today was more than enough for one week!

I was rather excited as well to complete a task I’d been wanting to do for some time as well. I cataloged all of my accompaniment CD’s and organized them in a CD wallet, eliminating dozens of jewel cases that really take up space. I even created a file to keep track of what songs I’ve sung and where I sang them at. I feel a great sense of accomplishment for getting that done!

The bedroom looks good….at least my side of the room does (Dave still has some cleaning to do of his dresser). It still needs swept and the curtains washed, but other than that….immaculate! Katie even worked on her bedroom today and also tackled her nightstand drawer!

Spring cleaning has never been my favorite thing. I really don’t like to clean….I have to be “in the mood” to do it. But, once I get started, I sometimes have trouble stopping. I didn’t have trouble stopping today….my brain was a bit fried after messing with cleaning up the computer all afternoon.

I did get to walk around outside for a while today. The signs of Spring are definitely there! The first thing I noticed was the hyacinths at my back door. The leaves are up and they’re in bud! I love the sweet smell they give when they bloom (that’s why they’re at my back door….so I smell them first when I go outside). We’re starting to see buds on the trees. Birds are gathering things to make nests. I saw a wren checking out our birdhouse this week too (I love the wrens that visit our house…they like to perch and hop around on our porch!).

Wren

Wren

As I see the signs of Spring and begin my Spring housecleaning, I can’t help but think that this would be a good time to do some personal “cleansing” as well. In Psalm 51:10, David writes, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” That is my prayer as we go into this season of the year. I want all those “cobwebs” in my soul to be swept out and God’s love to “cleanse” my spirit. Spring is a time for beginnings and renewal. Our desire should be to be renewed and revived with God as the focus of our lives.

Hyacinth budHappy Spring!

♥Miriam

Aaaah…the first robin of spring! Ooops! Or not!

This evening on my way home from work, I saw my first robin of spring. In fact, I saw two of them bobbing along the road. Aaah, yes! One of the first signs that spring is truly on the way. I smiled as I saw them hopping along. And then it happened. It was so quick, so unexpected. Just as I reached the happy little pair, they lifted off ready to fly.

Robin

I didn’t mean to do it. It just sort of happened. I heard a little “thump”, and when I looked in the rearview mirror, there was nothing but feathers in sight. I had killed the first robin of spring!! (At least the first one I saw this year.) This can’t be good! It must mean something like a year of bad luck or something. I feel terrible. Poor robin! I feel sorry for your widow or widower that I left behind. Hopefully, they will find another robin just like you!

I’m quite proficient in hitting birds with my van. Perhaps I need to get a big fake owl for the grill to warn birds to get out of my way!

Oh well! Spring will come even though I killed the robin. This morning was proof of that as all the snow we got yesterday was already melted and gone and I was comfy going to work in a light jacket.

Come on Spring! Come with your flowers, your warmer weather, your longer days…..and I’ll try not to kill any more of your robins!

♥Miriam

Snow Days and Hot Chocolate

We are having a snow day today, if you can call it that. It started to warm up during the midst of the storm and started to melt nearly as quickly as it laid. We did get enough (maybe about 6-8 inches) of the white stuff that Katie was able to go outside, sled for a while, and build a snow fort.

It was nearly lunch time and so I started heating a pot of water to make instant cocoa to warm her up when she came inside. I started hearing a scraping noise outside and realized that she was cleaning off the back porch! Wow! Without being asked? Unbelievable! (Sorry for the poor quality picture, but if she would have seen me taking this, she would have stopped shoveling!)

Katie clears snow from our back porch.

Katie clears snow from our back porch.

I realized that her coat was absolutely soaked as well as her snow pants. I waited until she was done cleaning the porch to call her inside. She stripped out of her wet things and it brought back memories of snow days gone by. I guess I had one of those “far away” looks, because she asked, “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” I replied. “I’m just remembering when I was your age what it was like to be out in the snow.”

“Tell me about it,” she said.

So, while we made turkey sandwiches for lunch and stirred our hot chocolate, I recalled memories of snow days gone by.

When I was her age, it seemed like we got so much more snow than we do now. I remember large drifts in my backyard that would get as high as me. There was one year, and I can’t remember what year it was, we had an abundance of snow. There was a large drift that formed in our side yard and it packed down quite tightly. I had recently seen a movie or TV show that had a St. Bernard on it rescuing people and found it fascinating! I decided there “had” to be some sort of lost victim in that snow pile. I found an old broom handle and went to work searching for victims by poking the stick down into the snow bank.  The giant drift was deep enough that it nearly covered the entire handle! The neighbor boy happened to see me doing this and wondered what I was doing. I soon explained that there were “victims” trapped under the snow and I was poking the stick down to find them. He quickly produces some sort of stick and began to search with me. Needless to say, we didn’t actually discover anyone, but our efforts were good!

Sledding at my house was awesome!! There was a field beside us that was hilly (we lived at the top of a big hill….one of the highest points of Peters Township, PA!) If you got the sled going just right, you could fly down the hill about 250 feet. If there was some ice involved, you went even further and could sometimes land in the stream at the bottom of the hill. The neighbor boy and me and my mom and dad would spend hours out there sledding and sledding until we couldn’t feel our hands, feet or faces. Then we’d decide we had enough and go inside for hot chocolate. We’d warm up long enough to thaw out and get dry clothes on and then we’d go out again. We’d sled until it was dark.

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We lived in a quiet area. There was one point on our property where our land met with the farmer’s field that had two huge cedar trees . I loved to go back there at night in the snow and sit in a spot I’d create between the two trees, and look out over the snowy countryside and gaze at the stars. I felt very close to God in those moments. I’d often sing as I sat there with nothing but the moon and starlight to illuminate the night. It made me feel like I was the only person in the whole world. I haven’t felt that type of solitude in years. It was wonderful.

Katie and I finished our sandwiches and cocoa and she went off to play.  I sat looking out the window at the birds in the back yard pecking at the suet in the feeders and thought how lucky they were. They could fly off and find that solitude I once experienced any time they wanted to.  Suddenly, I felt very warm and fuzzy inside. I think it was a combination of hot cocoa and good memories.

I was happy as well to be home in my nice warm house. I didn’t have to go out and drive in the bad weather with all those crazy people who don’t know how to drive in snow. I felt blessed to have a job that I could do from home and yet enjoy a little quiet time with Katie. God had kept us safe in this “biggest storm of 2013” (so they said) and we were having a great day.

I remembered a scripture that would often come to mind when I would have those moments of solitude in the snow. It’s always been one of my favorite passages and has been a passage I’ve turned to many times in times of distress or fear. Psalm 121 says – “I lift up my eyes to the mountains–where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you–the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.”

Cardinal in our backyard.

Cardinal in our backyard.

♥Miriam

Better Stock up! It’s Gonna be a Big One!

My entire town is in a tizzy. They have called for bad weather starting some time tonight. We’re supposed to get snow. No one can pin point down how much we are to actually get. I’ve heard anywhere between 1 inch to 18 inches. I’m not convinced we’re getting anything.  After all, it was 53 degrees at one point today.

However, weirder things have happened. I recall one year, about 20 years ago, that it snowed in April. It’s not April yet, so I guess it could happen. Some of our biggest snow storms have actually come in March. I remember in 1996 we had one of the worst snow storms I had ever seen. I had recently moved to a townhouse in Chambersburg, just 4 months before. We had over 2 feet of snow that storm. Even though I worked less than a mile from where I lived, I wasn’t able to go to work for 3 days! On that 3rd day, the office tried to open, and someone came and picked me up because I still couldn’t drive my car. They hadn’t plowed out our parking lot yet. It took us nearly 20 minutes to go 9/10 of a mile to work. We got there and saw two patients who were able to get out in the weather, and then we went back home. It wasn’t even worth trying to go!  I ended up missing the next 2 days of work after that, not because of the snow. It was because when we got back from that uneventful opening of the office, they were plowing my parking lot. Under all that snow there was a sheet of ice. My foot found the ice and down I went like a pile of rocks and landed (hard) on my tailbone. Ouch! The next couple of days I could barely tolerate sitting down! Ugh!

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So, here we are a few hours before the next big storm and I am amazed how different things are than they were just a few years ago. I remember when I was in school, you would go to school and get dismissed early if it started to snow. Now, here it is, hours before school is to even start, the snow hasn’t even started yet, and all the schools have closed for tomorrow! Really? Is this necessary? What if the storm doesn’t actually come? Will they reinstate school….no.  Churches have already cancelled evening services for Wednesday….did I mention that it isn’t doing anything yet? Businesses are already announcing late openings for tomorrow….are they seeing something I can’t? Government offices are on liberal leave….well, they’ll take any excuse not to actually work!  And even my own workplace has decided that we’re all working from home tomorrow.

When we dropped Katie off for Kid’s Klub this evening, we heard the usual jokes about getting enough milk, bread and toilet paper to hold us through the storm.  David and I decided we didn’t need bread, milk or toilet paper….we’re well supplied at the moment. We were in desperate need of some potato chips though, and so we went to the store. Chips were picked over….perhaps everyone else had the same need. There was still plenty of toilet paper, milk and bread. I think they overstocked to prepare for the madness.  I tried so hard not to laugh at the woman in the check out in front of me. She had 2 gallons of milk, 3 dozen eggs and 6 tubs of cream cheese. The guy before her had …you guessed it, milk, bread and toilet paper.  The lady behind me had eggs, butter and flour….I think she planned to bake!

I’m ready for whatever comes. I’m prepared to work from home, and if I do work from home, I plan to rise early and get most of my day in before my daughter wakes up. Then, if there’s time left in the day, we’ll watch some movies and munch popcorn, and finish riding out the storm.

Job 37:6 says, “He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’” (NIV).  It doesn’t matter much if we want it to snow or not, nor does it matter if we’re ready for it or not. If it’s to happen, God will speak it into being.  We’ll survive without milk and bread. After all, doesn’t He also tell us in Matthew 4:4  “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” So, I think I’ll partake of some of His “daily bread” and spend some time in His Word tomorrow as we wait out the storm.  Are you adequately prepared for the storms in your life?

♥Miriam