On the Sixth Day of Summer…

IMG_9398.JPG…my camera brought to me,

Six cygnets a-swimming.

I identify quite a bit with this swan family.

All of our children have summer birthdays, and we seem to agree that birthdays are to be celebrated with great festivity.  The swans celebrate such occasions by taking the whole family on their very first loop around the lake to see all the sights; we celebrate by hosting picnics on the lawn, with doting grandparents, aunts and uncles galore, and plenty of homemade ice cream.  Sometimes these celebrations even coincide, and watching them glide gracefully past while we eat birthday cake is almost as entertaining as watching birthday girls in their best dresses get excited about gifts of stuffed puppies and tiny baby dolls.

We both get upset with birds of prey and the other assorted hungry predators who lurk in our neck of the woods when they threaten to eat our cygnets (or chickens).  I do wish I could match their gracefulness in expressing my outrage, however.  I mean, how much more sophisticated to trumpet and flap powerful snowy white wings then to run out into the yard shouting and flailing your arms?  I’m working on that.

We both live on the same lake, and think it’s a wonderful place to raise children.  We agree that being near or in the water as much as possible is an excellent way to spend a summer.  We both think that sunshine and fresh air is healthy for little ones, and that they should be out in it as much as possible.

Perhaps the most interesting thing we have in common is that we both enjoy foraging for food to eat in the wild.  Although, I must admit that other than wild rice, our tastes are somewhat different.  They like lily pads.  We like saskatoons.  Each to their own, of course.

We rejoice together.  We identify and call out evil together.  We have things in common, but appreciate and respect the beauty of our differences.  What does that remind you of?  It reminds me of this:

“Therefore if you have any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, then make my joy complete by being of one mind, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose.” (Philippians 2:1-2)

 

 

Chipping Sparrow

IMG_0928I almost missed him there on the ground.  Amidst the bark and leaves, the neutral shades of his feathers had blended in so well I literally almost stepped on him.  Then, when I did notice him just in time, I wondered if something was wrong with him.  Surely he would have flown away sooner otherwise?  But I think he wanted his picture taken.  I got within three inches with my camera before he finally took flight.  Lucky for me, he seemed quite unafraid of the big black lens!

Sparrows are good to think about, especially when you’re feeling down, or overwhelmed, or forgotten.  They are, as I found, the sort of creature one can almost step on if you’re not paying attention.  Small, unassuming, modestly attired.  Even in song, they attract little attention to themselves.  Which is why this verse is so significant:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father…So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. “ (Matthew 10:29, 31)

If He sees even the sparrows, you can rest assured that He sees, remembers and cares for you.  So whatever your lot may be right now, take heart, dear friend!

Goldeneyes and a Chimney: a Birthday Tale

IMG_1966“Why are there ducks zooming around and around our house?” I asked my husband between bites of pizza.  It was our youngest daughter’s first birthday, and we were celebrating out on the porch.  There was a chocolate cake resting in state on the kitchen counter, awaiting its demise, and the sunshine of a splendid June day was slanting long across the green fields.  She was grinning happily as blueberry-purple-carrot puree dribbled down her chin onto her bib, oblivious to the fact that this was all supposed to be about her.  “It’s almost like they’re playing or something.”

We see plenty of ducks flying around here, but they’re generally zeroing in on the lake–so this was odd.  Around and around they went at top speed, wings whistling, tilting around the tree tops.  I’ve never been to an airshow, but this kind of seemed like one.  I moved my camera setting to Sports and attempted a few flying shots in vain.  I couldn’t even find them in my viewfinder, let alone get a clear photo!

Then, as I stepped off the porch in hopes of a better vantage point, I noticed something else.  Whenever they’d pass the garage, they’d kind of pause and flutter in around the chimney before taking off to resume zooming again.  Not just once but every time.  Now my curiosity was definitely piqued!IMG_1943I began creeping my way across the yard, in hopes of catching a photo during one of these chimney pauses.  And then the plot thickened: as a couple of them were fluttering about, one landed…IMG_1935-1poked its head in the chimney…IMG_1937.JPG…and then disappeared!  What?!

One of the other ducks fluttered confusedly about and then landed on the ridgepole.  It eyed me suspiciously as though to inquire, “What did you do with my friend?”  I took advantage of its distraction to get a good close shot before I ran back to the house.

“I think one of those ducks just went down the garage chimney,” I informed my husband. We both went to investigate. He opened up the chimney pipe and peeked inside.  Nothing.  He shrugged.  I shrugged.  Maybe I had been mistaken.  We waited a few minutes, then turned to leave.

Ka-boom!

Without any warning, one winged body exploded from the chimney pipe, followed by another.  Two ducks!  In the garage!  Bang!  Crash!  Suddenly everyone was ducking and running, yelling in excitement.  A crack in a garage door was all they needed, however, and then they exploded out into freedom.  I watched them settle onto the mirror glass of the sunset lake, shaking their little bodies as though to rid themselves of the memories of claustrophobic chimneys and dark unfamiliar garages.

Well, that was exciting.  And now that we’d had our free entertainment for the evening, it seemed like a good time to break out the chocolate cake and the bird identification books and find out what kind of ducks they were and what they were doing.  Did you know that common goldeneyes (the identification we finally settled on) are some of the few ducks that are considered “arboreal” which means that “much of its nesting is done in cavities found in mature trees”.  Did they think that our garage chimney was a just another hollow tree?  Seems like a reasonable explanation.  But why so many of them interested in it all at once, this late in the season?  This answer was not to be found in the books.  If you know the answer, let me know!

Moral of the story:  Some birthdays might just unexpectedly be for appreciating the sometimes taken-for-granted fact that on the fifth day “God said…”let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created…every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and…let birds multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 1:20-22)

 

 

 

View From a Hammock

IMG_1341There’s a breeze coming in off the lake, this hot afternoon in early June.  There’s blue sky smiling down at me through a lacy frame of green, green leaves.  Summer is in the air, and I am, appropriately, drinking it in from the luxury of an airy vacation hammock.  If the air is full of summer, the views are no less so—and so I offer you these vignettes, all visible, more or less, from my leisurely post.IMG_1467A kayak,

slice of orange against the liquid lake,

dreams of sliding through fleets of miniature maroon lily pads,

suspended on the dainty ropes of their anchored stems,

beneath the deep shadowy green of overhanging trees.IMG_1451A jeweled beetle climbs relentlessly upwards

as small hands tip a stick back and forth

and inquisitive eyes watch in fascination,

filling with tears when it finally loses patience

and flies away.IMG_1208Relentless waves

wash a thousand coiled empty snail shells

all the miles

down the long lake.

They come to rest here,

on this smooth spit of sand suddenly rising to block their path—

and so it becomes their final resting place.

And then, chubby baby hands clutch them tightly,

turning them around and around

and over and over

in sheer enjoyment of the sensory shape.IMG_1318IMG_1475 IMG_1474Bare feet,

sandy,

dripping wet,

run up and down long flights of stairs,

earning the right to ice cream cones and fat slices of watermelon.IMG_1359IMG_1415Ducks dabble along the quiet green edges.

A family of geese tests the calm waters of evening,

with a babysitter in tow, just in case.IMG_1412Great clouds sail sedately by,

swimmers leaning back against the cushion of a swim trampoline,

squinting into the sunshine to watch them mesmerized,

rocked in the cradle of the waves,

laughing at a joke I’m too far away to hear.

And I leave my hammock to go join them.  Because if there’s anything possibly better than celebrating our Father’s good gift of a beautiful day in the stillness of your own soul, it’s celebrating it with others.

“We were like those who dream…then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting…The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.” (Psalm 126:1-3)

“I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.” (Psalm 52:9)

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