Saturday, March 23, 2013

Snow Birds' Return

There are those we know, retirees, who spend their winters "down south". They drive or fly to Arizona, New Mexico, California, or Hawaii to escape the cloudy, wet days that make up our winters here in the Pacific Northwest. Some in the Northeast go to Florida to avoid the snow and cold. Those who are younger, or still working, may take a cruise or mid-winter vacation to places of sun and warmth. It is to be expected; human climatic migrations are eons old. The grass is always greener - no, sunnier and warmer perhaps - than it is here. 

We are drawn to other places for what we perceive as a better climate, but also for a change of scene, an adventure, a look at the world outside of our usual domain that will increase our understanding. And, interestingly, if we go often and far enough, what we really discover is ourselves. For if we find the people here cool and unfriendly, those are the people we will find in New Mexico. If we are unmotivated, bored, and find little of interest here, California will be more of the same. Unusual and unseasonal heat, rain, snow, and storms are as likely to hit Arizona and Hawaii as they are anywhere else. Likewise, we will probably respond there in the same way we do here - by complaining about the weather...

If we know how to find contentment, yet stimulating challenges, within our everyday lives, then we will find these things wherever we are. If our life is full of adventure, we'll carry that with us. If we are grateful for what we have, refusing to constantly want for more and more, our travels will always be more about experiences than about things.

It really is, to some degree at least, all about how we view and adjust to our lives wherever we may be. Granted, some surroundings may please us more than others, but we all know people who seem to shine no matter their circumstances. We also know some who are never content, regardless of how well-off they may appear. And so getting away from it all to some other environment is more than a nice change of pace - it is a way to better discover who we really are.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, the Spring Peeper frogs are again filling the nights with their songs. There is a stirring in the land, a subtle warming and gradual advancement of daylight. Plant buds are swelling, birds are singing, insects are increasingly creeping about and those gentle rains sprinkle down on everything. The gardeners among us are tending to trees, planting new specimens, busily planning summer gardens; resurrection surrounds us.
No doubt, many "snow birds" we know will soon be returning here. Perhaps it is warming a bit too much for them where they've spent the winter, the climate does not look as good now as it did a few months ago, or they simply long or need to return home. Those of us who have remained here - for various reasons - will welcome them with open arms. For they are a part of our larger extended family and, if they are friends of ours, we already know who they really are. Rain or not - welcome home!
"I will send down showers in season;
there will be showers of blessing.
The trees of the field will yield their fruit
and the ground will yield its crops..."
Ezekiel 34:26-27

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Whatizzit? 2 Answer

Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) is a native plant that grows in many places in the U.S. It is found well up into the mountains and is a hardy pioneer species, readily sprouting and taking hold in disturbed areas, especially along highways, railroads, and old burns. It gets its name from the fact that it is often one of the first plants to grow in a burned-out area. The tall spikes of rose to purple flowers bloom June through September. Although this plant is a wild perennial, the flowers quickly wither away and are replaced by long, narrow seedpods.
In the fall the seedpods split lengthwise, releasing hundreds of small seeds, each tipped with fluffy, white tufts of hair. These seeds are readily dispersed by the wind and can travel a considerable distance; the seed hairs have been used as a stuffing material or as tinder.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Whatizzit? 2

Every so often, I feature a small part of a larger photograph. See if you can figure out what it is. I'll show the entire shot within the following week. Happy puzzling!
Just "puzzle me" this
and "rhyme me" that
With green days approaching
you search where they're at
When nothing is there
they move right in
Quite hard to imagine
if they've never been
Once they were living
but now they're not
You see, the future
is ALL they've got
To see Whatizzit 1 click HERE

Sunday, March 3, 2013

You'll Be Just a Memory

One day, you'll be just a memory
for some people.
Do your best to be a good one.

I was stunned the first time I read this because it is the absolute truth and truth can be pretty jarring. None of us will be here forever and I well know that someday I, too, will be gone - just like my mom, dad, sister, and a few good friends. But I tend to think of myself in terms of the past and present, not so much in the future. I know what my past looks like and how I was then; the here and now are what I muddle through daily, but my future is totally unknown. As to how I'll be remembered by others.... that's a very good question.

This time of year seems to be one of stirring, a time when winter shifts a bit toward the spring that's out there somewhere. It was in February twenty six years ago that I lost my mom; in December a year ago I lost my sister. Recently, a dear friend's death was sudden and totally unexpected. I know that people of my age begin to experience these losses more and more often, so it follows that these lead to greater introspection.

It helps to think of people we've known and how we remember them - and why. I had an uncle whom I disliked immensely; I wasn't the only one. We did not see him often, but I never looked forward to it. Mean-spirited and rude, he knowingly asked inappropriate, embarrassing questions in front of others just to watch your reaction. It seems that he got great pleasure at the expense of others. A great "ladies' man", he went out dancing well into his eighties, so he certainly had his charming side. In his later years he did seem to mellow and the last time I saw him he was very kind and appreciative of the visit we had. I have tried to understand why he behaved as he did and to remember him as he was that last time I saw him. That's difficult; there are so many negative memories of him because of his unkind treatment of others that I'm afraid most of my memories of him aren't that good.

In contrast, there must have been two hundred people at the memorial service for the friend mentioned above. Everyone spoke of her as a well-respected friend and devoted volunteer to the myriad causes she was committed to. I liked and felt at ease with her immediately because she was approachable, down to earth, curious about the world around her, and willing to share whatever she knew. There was never a doubt about what she valued most - her husband, family, friends, and the importance of learning about and sharing knowledge of the natural world. She literally gave her all and the world is better because she was here.

Although we have no direct control over how others will ultimately remember us, we certainly can control how we live our lives today. All those "little" day to day actions do add up. Consider those who have gone before you - those you remember warmly and those you do not - and let them be your example. Your individual standards, principles, morals, and religion will guide you. As a Christian, I have a sterling example before me - all I need do is attempt to follow in His footsteps...

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it,
and gave it to them saying.
"This is my body given for you;
do this in remembrance of me."
Luke 22:19