My husband has returned home safe and sound from visiting with his Mom. He and my nephew Jon got a few things checked off her "to-do" list. Wood split and stacked, and taxes filed. Some things will just have to wait for warmer weather, like the ice pond at the end of her driveway and repairing the carport.
While they were there they squeezed in a couple of ice hockey games... a college mens game and a high school girls game. They also went to one of my favorite stores, Farm-Way in Bradford VT. I may not have had the opportunity to browse around Farm-Way, but Steven was sweet enough to bring back a few goodies!!! A pair of up-cycled fingerless mittens from Baabaazuzu, which work very well at keeping ones hands warm while typing on the computer. And two pairs of SmartWool socks, my favorite washable wool socks. They are the only wool socks that don't itch me. Steven likes Vermont's very own Darn Toughsocks best, and he did treat himself to a new pair (sorry no picture, they are on his feet).
So after yesterdays post, I went sleuthing around the my garden, looking for any signs of spring... and low and behold, I did find some Daffodils starting to poke-up out of the ground. "Wooo-Hooo!", I thought. Only to awake this morning to about five inches of freshly fallen snow, and thus I was reminded...
I'm looking for signs of spring... I've hit the mid-winter doldrums. Right now all I'm seeing is snirt (dirty snow) and all sorts of shades of brown and gray.
March is coming up quickly, and while a precursor to spring, it's my least favorite month. March is neither winter or spring. It's so dull and damp and cold. I do have to admit, it does provide the perfect backdrop for those early spring flowers, a time of rebirth!
March does bring The Philadelphia International Flower Show. The theme this year is Springtime in Paris. Oh-lalala, how I would love to be in Paris for the springtime... alas, I will need to settle for this years flower show instead.
My husband has been in New Hampshire visiting his mother and helping to do her taxes - ahhhh... taxes, now that's a sure sign of spring. He's also stacking wood for her, a reminder that winter still has its grip on us.
While up in the north country he loves to get in the car and just drive, and he's seen some of the maple trees are already tapped. He took this picture on one of those drives.
I do find it a bit ironic that the bucket collecting the sap is very clearly labeled "Not Eddible for Humans". Hummmmmmmm.
He also took this picture in Meredith, NH. You can see some open water peeking through the ice, but the bob-houses are still out on the lake.
I often wonder how many of those bob-houses end up on the bottom of the lake once the ice really breaks???
I just finished reading another book, "Waking up in Eden; In Persuit of an Impassioned Life on an Imperiled Island" by Lucinda Fleeson. While the book is about gardens, plants and flora in Hawaii, it's gotten me antsy to start digging into my garden. I am so looking forward to seeing the nodding white blossoms of the snowdrops, the bright yellow of the crocus reaching to the sun, followed by bluebells, bleeding hearts, wood anemones...
Witch Hazels in bloom at Kew - February 2009
Last night I was even searching the web for gardening blogs... I especially love English Gardens. I don't know why, but I just love the very carefully planned chaos of an English cottage garden. I'm also envious of the English, their winters tend to me milder, and springtime comes earlier. I really miss seeing the waves of yellow primrose (aka: cowslip) among the brilliant bright green of the new grass... primrose just does not naturalize like that in my part of Pennsylvania.
Right now I have visions of Kew Gardens dancing in my head, and wishing I could find a way to sneak a quick trip to the UK... at least I have these pictures taken in February of 2009 to remind me that spring really is on its way, at least at Kew.
Snowdrops at Kew - February 2009
Purple Crocus at Kew, February 2009
Thankfully Puxatony Phil has predicted an early spring, and soon my little garden and all my favorite local gardens will be in bloom once again. In the mean time, the seed catalogs, flower show and blogs will have to tide me over until I can get my hands into the earth once again.
I’ve been getting a lot of reading in lately… for me that is one of the blessings of winter and cold yucky days. I love reading, but often don’t have (or give myself) the time to sit down and read, but snow-days give me permission to take a day off from the regular routine and read.
I’ve also been on a bit of non-fiction kick lately, normally I mix-up the fiction and non-fiction more. Several of the books I have recently finished have left me wanting to re-read them and discuss them with others. They’ve been so rich, that I’m left hungry for more, wanting to dig deeper. One of those books is “A Geography of Faith; An Altar in the World” by Barbara Brown Taylor
I received the book as a gift this past Christmas… to truly be honest, I actually picked it our myself and had my husband give it to me. The cover was the first thing to catch my eye as we were browsing through the bookstore. Next I found the title just as interesting, “An Altar in the World; A Geography of Faith”… An Altar in the World, not of the World or for the World, but in the World. Then the author’s name attracted my attention; Barbara Brown Taylor, author of "Leaving Church", a book my husband read and has suggested that I read it too (which I haven’t yet done). Finally what really hooked me was the first few lines in Chapter one, The Practice of Waking Up to God:
Many years ago now I went for a long walk on the big island of Hawaii, using an old trail that runs along the lava cliffs at the edge of the sea. More than once the waves drenched me, slamming into the cliffs and shooting twenty feet into the air. More than once I saw double rainbows in the drops that fell back into the sea. The island had already won my heart. Part of it was the sheer gorgeousness of the place, but the ground also felt different under my feet. I was aware of how young it was; the newest of earth on the face of the earth, with a nearby volcano still making new earth as I walked.
… I was hooked, I knew I needed to read this book! And I was not disappointed. The author takes you through twelve spiritual disciplines,
1.The Practice of Waking-up to God – Vision
2.The Practice of Paying Attention – Reverence
3.The Practice of Wearing Skin – Incarnation
4.The Practice of Walking on the Earth – Groundedness
5.The Practice of Getting Lost – Wilderness
6.The Practice of Encountering Others – Community
7.The Practice of Living with Purpose – Vocation
8.The Practice of Saying No – Sabbath
9.The Practice of Carrying Water - Physical labor
10.The Practice of Feeling Pain – Breakthrough
11.The Practice of Being Present to God – Prayer
12.The Practice of Pronouncing Blessings – Benediction
Barbara Brown Taylor meshes the practical with the mystical and it is because she does that so well, I find myself needing to peel back the layers of her writing and slowly and purposely re-examine what she is saying. I’ve often found that doing that kind of reading is more fruitful (as well as challenging) with others.
“We need others (a community) to save us from the temptation of believing in our own self-sufficiency.”
(paraphrased from the chapter, The Practice of Encountering Others)
I’m hoping I will be able to get a small group of others, willing to take the time to read and discuss this book along with me… naturally the challenge is always finding the time to do just that. I’m also looking at other ways we could do that, maybe an on-line discussion? The downside of that is the intimacy of meeting and sharing is lost... the very thing essential to spiritual growth. Ideas anyone?
"Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether is comes to us as a sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our heart, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity."Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Wondering what I will see today...
...and hoping I’ll have the faith and courage to see it ! ? ! ?
In my first blog entry I wrote about some of my goals for 2011, one of which being the starting of a blog... I've taken that plunge and found that blogging is both fun and challenging. I've also discovered some really great blogs in the process.
Another goal I've been considering for 2011 is the 3-day 60-mile Breast Cancer walk... I've done some research on it and spoken with some friends who have already done it... AND, I've decided that it is definitely something I want to do this year!
I've signed up for an informational meeting, which takes place later this week... and in Honor of my Sister Karen, I've purposed myself to register on February 17th for the Komen 3-day walk... the 17th is my sister Karen's Birthday, Karen would have been 49. This year, 2011, also marks the 10 year anniversary of her death due to complications from breast cancer.
Here's to you Karen, my Sister, my Hero - You are remembered, loved and missed so very much!
Here is to some day soon finding a cure for cancer, so no more families will have to face, struggle against this illness ever again
Here is to ALL the Daughters, Sisters, Wives, Mothers and Friends who have battled, are battling and will have to battle Breast Cancer - I will be walking for you!
"Gradually my impatient desire for immediate results, which is the besetting sin of all beginners, died down. I began to take joy in the work for its own sake. Until you actually own a garden, you cannot know this joy."
Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space.
It does not seek anything in return;
it asks not whether you are friend or foe.
It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished.
In Anglican and Orthodox traditions Candlemas Day (Candle Mass) is also knows as The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple or The Feast of the Purification of the Virgin. Candlemas Day is seen as a day of purification, renewal and hope. At the service candles (made from beeswax) to be used in the coming year are blessed. It was often customary to bring candles from home to also be blessed. During the service candles are lit and carried in a procession celebrating Jesus being the light of the world.
So how did the groundhog get linked to this holiday? It turns out that many Europeans held similar beliefs about how Candlemas weather portends the length of winter...
If Candlemas Day be bright and clear,there'll be two winters in the year.
When the bear sees his shadow at Candlemas,he will crawl back into his hole for another six weeks.
When it storms and snows on Candlemas Day, Spring is not far away;
if it's bright and clear, Spring is not yet near.
The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:
4 February 1841 — from a Berks County Pennsylvania storekeeper James Morris' diary …"Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate."
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800s. The first official trek to Gobbler's Knob was made on February 2, 1887. As the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br'er Groundhog. 2011 marks Punxsutawney Phils 125 prognostication!
So what was Phil's prediction today? No shadow, Spring is near. Hooray!!!
In keeping with the themes of love, light, hope and renewal, here are a few more quotes to ponder. Enjoy!
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism
or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. Martin Luther King
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King
There are two ways of spreading light;
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. Edith Wharton
Faith is the bird that feels the light
and sings when the dawn is still dark. Rabindranath Tagore
Well, I think I’ll make myself some tea, light a few candles and browse through my seed catalogs as I await spring and the awakening of my garden. Or maybe I’ll put in the Movie “Groundhog Day”.