Holy Harmony

What ear doesn’t turn towards the winged-one’s song thick in the March air?
Passionate chords strung together on heart strings,
hoping to snare a mate.

On a limb touching the sky I see him.
His crisp crimson outline easy to spot against the drab scenery.
His whole body reverberates the rapture in each note.
The beat found in nature’s pounding chest.
I pause.

Such intensity.

I wonder, could it be a primordial song of survival?
I feel the lifeless unborn come alive.
That’s what spring does.
It saturates the world with fresh life.
Soak in the song of rebirth.

I thought of St. Augustine who said, “He who sings, prays twice.”
Listen for the holy harmony around you.
You will hear singing from your heart.

Thankful Thursday

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

A dear friend and I started a grateful practice some years back. Gosh, it must be six or seven years now. Everyday we email each other five things that gave us gratitude. Somedays it’s more. After all this time, the gratitude is a flow of thoughts easily put into words. I don’t wonder about what to write. It’s just there. Take joy from something today. Open gratitude’s gate and life in all its fullness will come in.

On this thankful Thursday I am grateful for…

the bright sunshine burning off the cold from the snow and my soul
the winged one’s song of spring filling up the woods this morning
good dogs walking by my side. Those here in physical form and those I feel in Spirit
believing in what I believe in
time enough in this day…this hour…this moment to create what it is I want

The Red Ranger

She’s not much to look at on the outside; bare bones on the inside; stick shift on the floor; no cruise control; no heated seats; no automatic nothing. On her tail gate are two bumper stickers. I’M A VIETNAM VETERAN and NO FARMERS. NO FOOD. What she lacks in appearance appeal is made up in the heart that pounds under her hood.

“She” is a red 1995 Ford Ranger, Reggie White Signature Edition, complete with floor mats bearing the Green Bay Packer “G” emblem. Reggie White played defensive end for the Green Bay Packers football team in the early 90’s. He helped the team win Super Bowl XXI with a game-ending sack. Green Bay, Wisconsin raised his standing in the community to sainthood after that.

I’m borrowing her from my brother Eddie while my daughter is home from college during winter break. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to earn money during her time off but we unfortunately are short on vehicles. Thanks to my brother’s generosity purchasing another vehicle can now be put off until spring.

On the first morning behind the wheel, I spilled most of the coffee in my mug trying to find the cup holder. Its awkward position almost completely under the dash and behind the stick shift on the floor created the dilemma. No worries. When I tried to wipe it up I couldn’t tell where the coffee spilled. I found it’s quite difficult to drink coffee driving a manual transmission anyhow. Every time I reach for a sip it seems I have to shift.

Adjectives to describe the complex interior aromas cover a wide range of essences. The prominent odor emanates from the three-inch long, one-inch round cigar stub balanced on the edge of the ashtray. I don’t think they put those in vehicles anymore. Do they? I love the scents that swirl around inside an old pickup. The Little Tree air freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror is long past its freshening stage. I was a little sad. I wondered what Black Ice X-tra Strength smelled like. My brain is constantly deciphering the potpourri of airborne wonders wafting past my nose. One deep breath in and all those cherished childhood memories bumping around with my Dad in his pickup truck were revived.

A two-inch round chip in the windshield with an uncanny likeness to a bullet hole, lines up squarely between my eyes. Highway speeds give me a palpable feeling of vulnerability as my body slowly slouches down into the well-worn hollow of the seat on the driver’s side. Seventy mph seems like I’m exceeding her engine boundaries so I keep her five miles under the speed limit. Traffic passes me; make that everyone in the slow lane behind me, with an aggressive attitude. I notice their vehicles roll slightly from side to side from the sharp steering maneuver to cut in and out of the lanes at Nascar speeds. “How rude of them,” I think to myself. With a quick glance from the passing lane they think they know where the Red Ranger and I stand in the world. I take her daily doses of humility to heart.

I’m going to genuinely miss driving her when Sophie goes back to college at the end of the month. I didn’t expect the driving experience to be so fun. Her energy was more zoom zoom then chitty chitty bang bang. She’s slowed me down and sharpened an awareness with my surroundings. Every shift in our lives, up or down, is impeccably timed to slow us down or speed us up. On the winding road of life freewill may be doing the steering but a higher power is working the clutch and stick shift. Getting us where we need to be. When we need to be there. We are all vehicles of Spirit.

Seed Catalogs: Positive Propagation

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The woods are slow to fill up with snow and cold this winter. I have yet to wear more than one layer of wool when walking Wally. Old man winter’s unpredictable emotions keep me wary. The snow shovel and extra woollies will be kept within reach. Unable to enjoy the usual playful snow activities has left a void in this winter. Then with impeccable timing they came! Slow at first. Soon opening the mailbox needed to be done with great care. Or an avalanche of shiny slippery catalogs would land on the ground.

One staple of the dark white season I can always count on is currently piling up on my kitchen counter. I save them for those especially long dreary days—seed catalogs! They come at a time when forgiveness for last year’s garden disappointments is easy to offer up. I’m ready for another go at the garden’s blank canvas.

I have my favorites, the tried and true. Oh, but on the next catalog page I’m tempted to believe the “too good to be true”. The colorful photos and persuasively written descriptions fill me with anticipation. Small seeds of optimism take hold with a promise to grow.

Life is like a mailbox full of seed catalogs. You never know what opportunities optimism will grow.

Wishing you and yours the best from life in 2019.

Seed Catalog

Spring seed catalogs
loyal as my old dog
piled up on the table
a late winter mailbox staple.

Slippery glossy pages for some
no frills no fancy for others
black ink on plain paper
for this one.

New and improved promises to create
bountiful blooms on the garden’s clean slate
last year’s disappointments easily forgiven
with one glance to the next page
I escape from winter’s white prison.

Favorite varieties come first
the tried and true-blue
but then there are the new
that make you utter, “Oooo”!
Could they be too good to be true?

Colorful descriptions shout
no pest no drought will kill you out
this one will grow anywhere
without a doubt!

In deep winter optimism can be hard to muster
these light moments keep their luster
dog-eared pages mark the best
scorn the limits on the sum to invest!

Recipes for Love

Ever holiday I find myself seated at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, sifting through a drawer of recipes. The search is as much for family recipes as it is for memories. It doesn’t take long before I find them both.

Before my Mom and Aunties passed they gifted me a few of their kitchen secrets and well-used kitchen items. There’s Busha’s (Grandma’s) hand-forged, three pronged fork. The stubby handle fits perfectly in the palm of a hand when cutting in shortening. Busha cooked on a woodstove. Any meal was a laborious monumental task. I don’t think the stove was ever cold to the touch.

I treasure Mom’s solid wood rolling pin and flour sack towels. Mom always rolled out her dough on a well floured flour sack. Thin from two generations of washings, I handle them with extreme care and use them exclusively for rolling out dough. To find one of Mom’s recipes with actual conventional measurement is not the norm. Her measurements were by feel or taste. It’s probably why Mom would call me up to come over and “watch” her make something. She would often tell me, “I’m not going to live forever. If you want to learn how to make this keep watching.” I’m glad I did so her love can nourish the next generation.

There’s Auntie Anna’s substantially cracked and chipped blue speckled enamelware pan. It must have been a favorite based on its condition. I’m so happy she held on to it and passed it on to me. Believe it or not nothing ever sticks to that pan! Auntie Anna’s cooking instructions were loud, clear and concise. Her stern direction carried over from her many years running the kitchen for the local church’s annual picnic.

Then there’s Auntie Rosie’s titanic sized cast iron frying pan. In her later years, arthritis prevented her from lifting the heavy weight. The pan than became a permanent fixture on her stove-top. Cleanup was a wipe or two with a paper towel. Still is.

I can’t forget Auntie Vickey’s delectable dessert recipes. The handwritten recipes have yellowed with age. Torn edges of the fragile paper taped together several times. The tape too has yellowed. A busy farmer’s wife, Auntie Vickey’s countertops and kitchen table held much of the overflow from her cupboards. She could make a meal fit for king in minutes!

If you haven’t guessed, I am descended from a long line of amazing Polish women that knew their way around a kitchen. Ever since I’ve been old enough to hold a  wooden spoon in my hand, they pressed me into service at some task that was age appropriate. Any gathering of the family cooks ended with a meal. Crumbs on the table were never casually wiped to the floor. Licked fingers firmly pressed the bits against the tabletop. The finger with moist crumbs attached was promptly licked clean. Ever last crumb of life’s deliciousness was savored.

The strong Polish women in my life grew up in a generation that didn’t say, “I love you,” out loud very often, if ever. Words of love may have not been shared but what they did share was the recipe’s to taste it. What else could be created in the heart of the home—the kitchen—but love?

Give and Thank

I am grateful for you!

Expressions of gratitude tap into a deep down internal force that instantaneously shifts negative energy into positive power. Having a daily gratitude practice is a wonderful way to find a positive path on any journey you are on. As they say; Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress.

Make ever day a happy day of giving thanks!

Anniversary Happiness

Gratitude Haiku

Thank you gratitude

Reflection of kindnesses

Everything’s a gift

September 29th was the one year anniversary of this blog. I struggle with words to communicate the depth of my gratitude to all of you that have given a moment of your attention to view or like my posts. You can’t imagine the joy I feel from those small gestures of kindness.

In the future, the posts will be more spontaneous then scheduled. Fields, family and four-legged’s keep life full. Writing posts will be more in the flow with the work demands of living close to the land. What I’ve learned from my blog journey can be summed up in this beautiful Mary Oliver quote, “Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”