The Colors of Summer

IMG_4098-1.jpgWhether the calendar says so or not, the last day of August always seems like the last day of summer to me—and seeing that always makes me kind of sad.  Nothing against fall or even the coming winter, mind you.  I truly love the changing seasons.  It’s just that summer in Minnesota is somehow just a little briefer than the other seasons, and I never quite manage to get in all the swimming and fresh peaches on ice cream that I want to before it’s time to pull out the sweaters and hot cocoa again.

As sort of a solace for this, I decided to look back over my photos from the summer months to remind myself of what we did do—and in the process, I found a rainbow.  See if you can see it, too!IMG_2193.JPGIMG_3463.JPGIMG_1792.JPGRed is for ripe wild strawberries discovered along fence rows, sweet and warm with sunshine…

and roses outside of bakeries that smell of gingerbread

and poppies along the chicken coop.

IMG_4030.JPG img_2209.jpgIMG_3892Orange is for a monarch butterfly, minutes old, clinging trustingly to my wide-eyed daughter’s finger…

and the one weed in my yard that I don’t mind…

and flower arrangements in my mother-in-law’s bathroom.

IMG_1811.JPGIMG_3920.JPGimg_9624.jpgYellow is for the elegant beards of irises…

and the freckled faces of the lilies along the porch…

and the not-quite-so showy roadside weeds that nevertheless delight the avid, amateur flower-pickers in my family.IMG_2944-1IMG_2226IMG_4721.JPGGreen is for sun-dappled woodland ferns…

and black-eyed Susans not quite open…

and water droplets on nasturtium leaves.IMG_1629.JPGIMG_4065-1IMG_2420.JPGBlue is for swan families floating on riffles of water…

and plump round berries the color of the sky going plink-plunk in pails…

and bobolinks singing on telephone wires against the morning sky.IMG_4096IMG_2882IMG_2300.JPGPurple is for brilliant masses of fireweed…

and stormy skies at sunset…

and blue flags along the creek.

“You [O Lord] have established all the boundaries of the earth;  You have made summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:17)

Vacation Vignettes: Peninsula

IMG_3667.JPGWe chose a destination on the map, a place with a name hard to wrap our tongues around, that neither of us had ever been to before.  We took an entire day and took our sweet, winding, whimsical time and way to get there.  We found places we’d spotted on maps and in brochures.  We found things that no map or brochure can point you to, small and not-so-small details that delighted and surprised us. It was the perfect juxtaposition of the expected and the unexpected, a true adventure. And so, as the grand finale to this little series of vacation photographs, come have a little glimpse of the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula with us.IMG_3680IMG_3551.JPGWe took the roads labeled “scenic” and “shoreline” as much as possible, for obvious reasons.  It’s the same great lake whose waves we’ve seen pounding the shore of our own home state, but it was no less breathtaking here!IMG_3467We peeked hopefully beneath the leaves of these thimbleberry bushes, and were mocked with loads of not-quite-ripe berries.  So we bought thimbleberry jam instead at…IMG_3474.JPG…a fairy-tale bakery that smelled of gingerbread, surrounded by magnificent fragrant rose bushes.  I never thought I’d meet a bakery that smelled as good outside as it did inside, but I was wrong.  The fact that the delicious muffins we also secured here were baked by kind bearded monks in long black robes only added to its charm.IMG_3497We climbed a red wrought iron staircase, which wound tightly to the top of…IMG_3505IMG_3528…a perfectly picturesque lighthouse with a shiny red tin roof.IMG_3651IMG_3663 IMG_3607We picked wildflowers, ate the most delicious fresh lake trout right in view of the great lake it was caught in. and explored a historic fort.   IMG_3698.JPGIMG_3709-1.jpgAnd then, as a fitting finale to the day, we drove right to the top of Brockway Mountain to see for miles in every direction, and join other happy people who were also taking time out of their busy schedules to watch the sun as it slipped like a giant copper penny into the lake spread out below us.  IMG_3714.JPGAnd then that magnificent sunset chased us all the way down the long road home.  The tired little people nodded off to sleep in the back seat, cheeks rosy with sunshine and sticky from after-dinner mints, and the great dark dusk engulfed the rugged shape of the peninsula as it rose to meet the twilight sky behind us, as the music played, softly and fittingly:

“Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above…” (Irving Berlin)

 

 

 

 

Vacation Vignettes

IMG_3724There are two things that cause writer’s block for me: having nothing to say, and having  altogether too much to say.

Coming home from vacation last week has been the latter problem for me.  I saw so much, took so many photos, thought so many thoughts and every time I sit down to try to wrap it all up in some neat little package of an essay, the sheer volume of it all overwhelms me.  After trying for a week, I’ve even considered not sharing any of it and just continuing on with regular local posts as though we never went anywhere.  Many of you would be none the wiser.

But then you would never get to see an endangered species of turtle.  You’d miss what the sunset looks like from the top of Brockway Mountain and the way the spray on your face feels like at Bond Falls.  You’d miss the warm sand between your toes and the feel of smooth polished bits of driftwood in your hand.  That hardly seemed right.

So, rather then lump them all together in one post, I’ve sorted all my photos into virtual piles and I’m going to give them to you one chunk at a time, as themed vignettes that will, altogether, sum up our golden little time away beautifully.  After all it was Jesus Himself who said…

“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31)

If they can serve as a tiny vacation for your soul, too, I will have counted my time well spent.  Stay tuned!

February Thaw

img_9611Sometimes, nearly always, there’s no end to the cold and snow in February.

Sometimes, on this past rare week in 2017, there’s an end to all the cold and snow in February.

Instead of bemoaning the skis propped uselessly up on the front porch, and the completely uninspiring waning muddy snowbanks, I got out my little girls’ mud boots and we went looking for puddles.  At sunset.img_9615img_9624img_9620And we found them—puddles, liquid blue and silver, beneath cotton candy clouds in February.

One can never predict exactly what sort of beauty one will find. The only thing certain is that you will find it.

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The Light Has Come

img_8625“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined…

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)

Praise the Lord—because He came, we can each truly have a…

Merry Christmas!

 

First Ice

img_8327The ice is in.

We watched it form all day long yesterday as a snow storm whirled, the stretch of open water slowly but steadily narrowing throughout the day.  The otters were out having a Last-Day-Of-Open-Water party along the slushy edges and the swans trumpeted restlessly through the night, clustered to the creek outlet on the south end, instinctively knowing it would be the last spot to solidify.

img_8320Today, all was still and silent.

The swans are gone, probably to the river, and will likely not be seen here again until spring.  The otters are hidden away somewhere in a cozy den.  And so winter has placed its last seal on the landscape—and then in a brief, glorious five minutes before it set, the sun blazed out from behind a cloak of heavy clouds and kissed it with fire.

And there I was, standing on the shore, breathless with wonder that I was in the right place at the right time to see it.

“Out of the south comes the storm, and out of the north the cold.  From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen.” (Job 37:9-10)

 

Worth Pulling Over For

IMG_7359.JPGSome sunsets are just worth pulling the car over to the side of the road for.

“The Mighty One, God, the LORD, has spoken, and summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.  Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.” (Psalm 50:1-2)

In Celebration of Pink

pink rose / rejoicing hills Some of the prettiest pink things God ever made happen in the month of June.

It’s the month of glorious pink roses billowing in the ditches…wild rose / rejoicing hillsAnd pink begonias blooming on my porch…

IMG_1120 editAnd pink peonies bowing their full ruffled heads gracefully to the ground…peony / rejoicing hillsAnd foggy pink sunsets on summer solstice…IMG_4937…and my personal favorite this year? IMG_4991The pink toes of a certain wee baby girl.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  (James 1:17)

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East and West

IMG_2469Every so often, usually when I’m in the middle of making supper at the close of a sunny winter day, my eye is drawn out the window to a sudden illumination in the east.

There’s a row of trees across the lake that will be suddenly be bathed in something akin to an alpenglow.  It’s not a particularly notable stand of trees at any other time of the day, but for these few brief moments in the evening, it is magnificent.

And sometimes, if the supper is in no danger of burning, I’ll run out to where the view is best and stand there for a few minutes to drink it in—and then I’ll turn around.

Because those trees glowing rose and orange and gold along the frozen lake shore are, after all, only reflecting a greater glory, that of the sun itself setting in the west.IMG_2464It’s a picture of who I am, who any of us are, if we are in Christ.

Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing special—until His glory shines onto our hearts, glowing on our changed countenances, creating a magnificent reflection of Himself on our lives.

And, hopefully, it’s a transformation glorious enough to compel those who see to turn around and look at the Source of the glory Himself, Jesus, the Light of the world.

“And we all…beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another…”  (2 Corinthians 3:10)

 

Mountain Sunset

IMG_1959 edit.jpgWe just returned from a trip to the Sawtooth Mountains on the north shore of Lake Superior.  For much of our visit there, the peaks around us were veiled in fog or falling snow, but on the eve of our arrival, I was granted this sweeping vista with a clear view of craggy Moose Mountain silhouetted against the setting sun.

Certainly this gentle series of peaks pales in comparison to, say, the Rockies or the Andes, but I still loved looking up at them as we drove up the shore.  Even more, I loved waking up to the view of this particular peak each morning of our stay in their midst.  Had I not been pregnant, I would have loved to strap on some skis and join my husband and friends on a gondola ride to the peak so I could feel the mountain beneath my own two feet during the thrill of descent.

But even though I had to stay behind and only stare up the slopes from the valley, I was content with my view.  I may enjoy the conquest of a good ski slope (and I fully intend to join them next year!), but honestly the thing that inspires me the most about mountains is not whether I’m on top or at the bottom.  It boils down to a simple fact that I can appreciate no matter where I’m viewing them from:

that they’ve been there as long as anyone can remember.

The resorts and roads and trees and homes  and towns around them have come and gone over the years, while these peaks have solidly withstood the test of time. And they’ll be there next year, and the next, and the next.  Perhaps it’s because so many things in the world seem to be constantly teetering on the brink of uncertainty, but there’s something in me that finds comfort in things that stay the same.

Which makes these passages even more awe-inspiring:

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  (Psalm 90:2)

“The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed– but he marches on forever.”  (Habakkuk 3:6)

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”  (Isaiah 54:10)IMG_1955 editThe amazing thing is that we serve a God whose eternal unchanging-ness supersedes the mountains.  Even if these seemingly immovable peaks were to unexpectedly blow up and slide into the depths of Lake Superior, He would still be God.  He is the only thing that we can truly count on to never change.

Now that is a fact to take comfort in!