Milkweed

IMG_0171.JPGWe paused on our evening walk by a stand of sturdy broad-leafed plants, with their rounded flower heads bursting demurely into dusty pink.  It’s a habit formed in kindergarten for both of us, this annual foray into a milkweed patch.  After years of monarch caterpillar awareness,  we “knew” that it was just that time of summer that there should be some caterpillars in that milkweed, somewhere.  And we needed to say hello, show them to our girls, maybe remind them that there’s a nice little flower garden full of butterfly-friendly flowers in front of our house that they’re welcome to visit when they’re grown up.

But where were they?IMG_0168It was a delightful little game of hide-and-seek, peering under leaves, along stems—and it was a credit to surprisingly clever camouflage that we had almost given up when we finally spotted one.  But then it was like our eyes adjusted and we suddenly saw them everywhere!  Some tiny, some large, dressed in yellow, black and white stripes, far too busy eating to notice they’d been discovered by friendly nature enthusiasts.  Did you know that a Monarch caterpillar is capable of eating an entire milkweed leaf in less than five minutes?  Pretty amazing mouth-work for such a tiny creature!IMG_0160IMG_0169A few weeks later, walking past the same stand of milkweed, I witnessed a delicate orange and black butterfly flitting from flower to flower, graciously sipping nectar, and I found myself marveling anew at the beauty of God’s design for sustainability in creation.

The plant gives of itself so the caterpillar may eat.  The caterpillar, nurtured exclusively by milkweed, becomes a butterfly.  The butterfly, fresh out of its gold-flecked chrysalis pauses to pollinate the flowers of its benefactor, therefore ensuring that it will bear seed to produce…

more plants,

for more caterpillars,

for more butterflies,

for more seed next year.

IMG_0461.JPGAnd while we’re marveling over Monarch butterflies, let’s not forget how those gorgeously designed wings covered in tiny delicate scales will carry this creature 2,500 miles to Mexico come fall, to spend a warm winter on the exact same few trees its ancestors have spent winters on for ages before, and then all the way back again in the spring to lay the eggs that will become that next generation of caterpillars—because there isn’t any milkweed in Mexico!

There’s so much to marvel at in just this one amazing life cycle in nature!  Truly:

“…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

On the Eleventh Day of Summer…

IMG_9493.JPG…my camera gave to me,

Eleven butterflies a-sipping.

A tiny parable for you:

“Come with me!” called one butterfly to another as she floated past on the soft breezes of a bright June day.

“Where to?” the other asked from her perch on a clover bud, “Why should I leave this perfectly good flower?”

“Because I want to take you to the most wonderful flowers I’ve ever had the pleasure of landing on,” she replied joyfully.  “They’re like big round tables spread with the finest lace tablecloth, with room for the largest of nectar-sipping parties.  The nectar served is the sweetest for miles—and it’s free for the taking!”

She believed her friend, and followed, and having reached the patch of cow parsnip and finding everything just a wonderful as she had been told, never once regretted the clover bud left behind.

And, so it is for us, when we take God at His Word, and forsake what does not satisfy for that which eternally does.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live…” (Isaiah 55:1-3)

“Jesus…cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink... (John 7:37-38)

“…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

 

 

 

On the Fifth Day of Summer…

IMG_9489My camera brought to me,

Five pink petals.

I was looking for five things for this project, but the only compelling things I could find were roses.  They were exceptionally pretty and summery, but all as solitary as could be.  This presented a quandary, until it dawned on me that there can be five things within one thing.  I had been so intent upon counting flowers that I had forgotten to count petals!  I was a little sheepish at the discovery that I’d been frowning in puzzlement at exactly five identical things the whole time, but was too blind to see them!

While we’re on the topic of roses, I have five rosy things for you, one for each of those pretty pink wild petals.  I hope one or two of them brightens your day:

If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen, a lovely recipe for chocolate pots de creme that includes a splash of actual rose water.  You’ll be surprised at how delicious it is!

A waltz, by Strauss, about roses.

A quote from a favorite childhood book that pretty much sums up this time of the year: “It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.”—Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib

The song about roses that always reminds me of my Grandma, right down to the Southern Gospel style she loved.

A verse, speaking of the glory of Zion: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. (Isaiah 35:1)

 

In case you missed the other posts in this series, this way to the first day, second day, third day and fourth day.

 

On the Fourth Day of Summer…

IMG_9297.JPG…my camera gave to me,

Four tall white trees.

As all poplars know, white never goes out of style, particularly in the summer.

White bark,

white flowers,

white shirts,

white linens,

white dinnerware,

and, for the one victorious in Christ, gloriously, someday,

white robes.

“But you do have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments, and because they are worthy, they will walk with Me in white.  Like them, the one who is victorious will be clothed in white garments. And I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father and His angels.” (Revelation 3:4-5)

 

In case you missed them, here’s the first day, second day and third day!

On the Third Day of Summer…

img_9135.jpgIMG_9443.JPGIMG_9384.JPG…my true love gave to me,

Three turtles crossing.

That first mama snapper?  She was big and black and dinosaur-like, but kind of boring.  She lumbered up into the yard one morning, checked out our puddles, bulldozed through my freshly-planted bed of onions, then lumbered back off to the lake, without so much as doing us the courtesy of letting us watch her lay eggs.

The second painted turtle was mostly rather cross about being herded out of the way for departing Wednesday night Bible study traffic.

I’d like you to notice, however, that I switched to the traditional line “true love” for today, because the little snapper in the third photo was, literally, given to me by my true love.  She was handed to me by my husband after being saved from certain doom on a busy highway, because I was in the passenger seat and he was not, and driving a vehicle while holding a snapping turtle is not necessarily recommended in the books.  In hindsight, I’m really not sure why we didn’t just switch places so I could drive while he held the turtle, but he says he thought it would be good for me to brush up on my turtle handling skills, and I suppose he was right.

This was after a failed experiment of containing the creature in the only container we could find in the car, a (breathable) shopping bag, from which she escaped and was temporarily lost under the driver’s seat.  If you’ve never had a snapping turtle loose in your vehicle, you are really missing out, by the way.  It’s very exciting, and you will discover what you always wanted to know, which is how nimble people actually are at tucking their feet up.  It will also leave all occupants vowing to always keep A Proper Turtle Container in the trunk for future such emergencies.

So there was nothing to do but hold her, and I took lots of one-handed photos while she intermittently fought my grip on her shell with her powerful webbed feet, and hung submissively, eyeing me closely.

“She either likes you or she doesn’t,” Zach observed helpfully.  Then, as if to settle the question, she stretched out her neck very long and arched it menacingly back toward my hand, and I raised my eyebrows and said firmly, “DOESN’T,” followed with some urgency by, “Are we there [at a safe turtle launching point] yet?!?!”

“Hold on,” he said encouragingly, “We’re almost there.”  This was true, and I must say that I was relieved to hand her over to his much more capable hands when we arrived. 

But seriously?  Encounters with wildlife, even when they’re just a tiny bit too close for comfort, are one big reason why I love these summer months, right along with the rest of my family.  Each creature, in all the glory of their splendid masterful design, armored shells, powerful beaks, elastic wrinkles, inquisitive intelligent eyes, brings praise to their Creator as they move and breathe and go on that annual search for the perfect place to lay some eggs.

If we can help them out a bit, and get close up looks in the process, we consider it an honor.

“My mouth will declare the praise of the LORD; let every creature bless His holy name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145:21)

 

Did you miss the others in this series?  This way to the first day and second day.

On the First Day of Summer…

IMG_9316.JPG…my searching brought to me,

A droplet on a lady slipper.

An alternate caption might read: “You know it’s really summer when…”Go take pictures of ladyslippers” makes the Top 3 on your to-do list for the day.”

As we all know, summer in Minnesota is furiously fast and fleeting.  Every year I vow to slow down and savor it better; every year, I promise you, it’s shorter.  But the faster it seems to go, the more determined I am to enjoy it, and so in that spirit, I’d like to announce the first in a series of a summery, illustrated version of “The 12 Days of Christmas”!  Stay tuned!

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

 

Perfumed Palace

IMG_1019A little farmhouse on a lake is a very nice place to live, but there are a couple times every year when something happens to make it feel pretty much like a palace.  Like when the big old lilac bush out front blooms.  We’re rich in lilacs over here, folks.

Bonus if you have a friendly chipmunk who lives deep inside this marvelous perfumed bush and scurries out to seek handouts at al fresco luncheons.IMG_0827I wonder if he feels as rich as I do when his home is in bloom?

“Praise the LORD!  How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments… Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.” (Psalm 112:1, 3)