Rainy fall Saturdays put me in the mood to bake. It’s the rest year for our apple orchard but hidden among the Wolf River and Cortland branches I managed to find a five-gallon pail full. Enough for a batch or two of applesauce and a family favorite, Apple Cinnamon Cake. I don’t know of anyone whose dull spirit isn’t polished to a shine when the scent of apple and cinnamon greets them at the door of home. Perfect choice for the mood my relative, Weather, is in.
While the apple cake was baking, I decided to string up the onions I had laid out on the dining room table to dry for a few days now. I hang the onion string in my kitchen. Easy access and I think they are pretty.
I struggled with tying them at first. But then I began to tie them like my prayer ties. A loop knot slipped over each dried tip. Each onion is now a prayer for our family; good health and well-being, peace, joy, laughter, abundance, good relationships. I’ll probably wonder which prayer the onion I’m using is and cry while I’m wondering. The purest form of prayer is crying.
As I stood back to admire the onion prayer tie’s prettiness a teaching came. I’m going to have to use whatever onion is at the end of the string. No picking through them. Just like life you have to take it as it comes. One onion at a time. Layer by layer.
Thick drop of honey—
What flower do you taste of?
All of them at once.
Like a river of sun, the honey pours from the extruder’s spigot. I’m preoccupied licking sticky places on my hands and forearms but I pause to be fully present during this glorious moment overflowing with gratitude.
From a summer of frequent rain came unrelenting blooms. From unrelenting blooms came an abundance of life’s sweetness. I taste it in friendship, in a sunrise, in a soft-spoken word of encouragement, in a door held open, in a smile… kindness sticks sweet to everything it touches. Bee kind.
* If you look closely at the featured image you will see the honey bee on the sunflower 🙂
On a recent day trip to Door County with my family I found a heart stone along the path we hiked. My daughter Sophie found one a little further down the trail. Seeing a heart shape in anything sends an immediate surge of love through me. Love is a universal language all of creation speaks.
Caressing those two heart shaped stones in my pocket made me stop and think about all the experiences, people and beliefs that have shaped my life. Some were wild scribbles. Others intrigue beautiful designs. None of which can be erased. The shape of my life effects everything around me. Whether that’s positive or negative is up to me.
As Sophie heads off to college I know the shape her life takes is in her heart. She just needs to follow it.
I see past your words
I feel what you are saying
Shape words into love
Early in its life a rabbit nibbled away the tender bark at the trunk base. Exposing a swath of naked wood, the length of a fully extended rabbit body nearly all around the tiny trunk. I did my best to care for the wound. No apples this year but she lived.
A late Spring cold snap brought snow. Delicate blooms fragrant and supple the day before were now vacant of scent. Frozen stiff. Some leaves anxious to begin again followed the sun’s subtle cue to unfold. The cold hardness of the world nipped the new growth. When touched the scarred tips disintegrated into a brown powder. The potential to taste pie crumbled like the dry brown leaf tip pressed between my fingers. I witnessed the vulnerability of opening. I witnessed how not to let the hardness of the world stop you from growing. No apples this year but she lived.
By all appearances last summer seemed to be the year we’d taste pie! July brought pests of biblical proportions, hell-bent on devouring every last tree in the orchard. The August sun melted summer’s green into the earth. Each day the mother tree struggled to continue her simple life. Beneath her laid the enormity of her sacrifice to do just that. Dozens of immature apples carpeted the ground. To sacrifice is to make sacred. I knew one day I’d harvest apples. The only question was when. The horses appreciated the taste of apple. No apples for pie this year but she lived.
Last week I made two pies with apples from the Prairie Spy tree in our orchard. As I peeled and sliced the sweetness of life in my hands, I reflected on the tree’s many teachings over the years. What I saw was pie. Potential In Everything life takes from us to give us what we need to grow.
And that first bite…heaven never tasted so good.
It has been an unusually soggy summer here in Northeast Wisconsin. Both in rain and humidity. Instead of making 2nd or 3rd crop this time of year, most farmers are just getting off 1st crop. The worry that comes with the struggle to harvest hay was getting real. That was until a four day break in the weather was forecast two weeks ago. How quickly lack can turn into abundance if we are willing to cease the opportunity….even if it means a whole lot of hard work. The inspiration for this piece.
Bronze skin leather tough
Drenched in salty drops
I drink in the sky
Prayers pour out of my heart
Machinery and God be merciful
Long windrows lay ready to make perfect hay
Keep breakdowns and tears of dark clouds away
Bound tight with twine square bales bulge
Full wagons waddle over the bald field
Winter’s hunger aches for your green
As stars usher in night’s moist breath
I walk up to the house feeling spiritually quenched
Exhausted muscles and mind rest peacefully in gratitude’s joy
Hard work fears me
Night bleeds from day’s break
Brilliant color stains the sky
Darkness keeps secrets
Walks with Wally in the open field are unconstrained. His boundary tethered to trust. Obedient to ghostly trails of scent, nothing stops the pursuit except one thing. My booming voice echoing, “BACK!”, over the land. He seemed to know the precise moment to come in my sights. Right before panic could set in. It was the way he returned, his joy knowing no bounds, that made me believe love and not fear brought us together.
I often followed him to that place of freedom. Flushing out unopened places in my mind. Meandering through tight thickets of thought. Like Wally I went about it unhurried and unworried.
Now that Wally carries the heaviness of age, he’s more often than not a few steps behind than a few yards ahead. In his energetic youthful days, he’d pause occasionally to glance back. Confirming my pace as either keeping up or falling behind. Adjusting accordingly. I now faithfully return the favor to my dear friend.
Wally’s devotion runs as wide and deep as an old river. Together we have walked in beauty, in the darkness that haunts the light and in each other souls. Together is all Wally and I have. Our time together is all I will remember.
Believe in love and not fear.
Together is all we have.
All of us—together— it’s all we have.
Time will remember.