Saturday, September 11, 2021

Tempting Trot


If anyone is to blame, I am. Poor choices always catch up with you.

 Intent on removing and cleaning the dryer vent by our back door,  I completely forgot about the door, leaving it slightly ajar. Scruffy needed no other invitation –in the blink of an eye, he was out the door. As I saw him edging past me at a  safe distance, I held out my hand and called him, knowing even then it would make no difference whatsoever.

Scruffy is our small rescue dog of undetermined lineage, although we’re sure he has a lot of border terrier in him. We were warned when we adopted him, he is an escape artist, and so we keep a close eye on him and never let him outside without being on a leash. Things sometimes happen and this was one of those times.

True to his instincts, Scruffy becomes totally blind and deaf to us when he’s laser-focused on his mission - following his nose to explore the world and water every pole, shrub, or blade of grass he comes across. Squirrels, rabbits, and rats BEWARE!!

I caught a glimpse of his little bowlegged rear end, tail straight up, trotting rapidly up the driveway and onto the road. My husband started the truck and honked the horn, thinking Scuff might come back, as he loves rides. No such luck – he was bound and determined to take full advantage of his newfound  freedom. Hubby drove off, following him up the road to the intersection with Clear Creek Road. Scruffy rounded the corner and kept right on going. Our biggest fears are that he will someday end up lost or dead on the road. I doubt he has the foggiest idea where he’s going, nor how to get home again. This was not our first rodeo…

Several weeks earlier, Scruffy had pulled the same stunt. I took out after him on foot. His route then was much the same and when I reached Clear Creek, he was well up the road. Walking as fast as I could and loudly calling his name, I must have drawn the attention of a pleasant young woman who stopped to offer help. She quickly learned he doesn’t take well to strangers, so said she’d drive ahead and try to stop his progress to give me some chance of nabbing him. It took a bit of time, but that worked, and this wonderful person drove us both home.

I have learned these kinds of angels often appear out of nowhere to help and during this more recent episode, that again happened. First, a UPS driver saw Scruffy in the middle of the road, so pulled over. Seeing Hubby in pursuit, she got out and tried to help, but quickly saw the futility of that, so left. Her efforts, however, caused the little stinker to leave the road and trot up a driveway. There, a woman came out of the house and, appraising the situation, diverted Scruffy’ s attention just long enough for Hubby to grab him, toss him in the truck, and transport him safely home.

I would describe Scruffy as “lovingly obstinate” and have to admit to being grudgingly in awe of that. Don’t we all wander off the beaten path at times, away from safety and the known? Pulled forward by some unlikely incentive, we are propelled onward by confusion, frustration, anger, or mere  
hubris. Wandering into unknown territory, we become lost with no idea how to return to what we know. But just as often, “helpers” appear seemingly out of nowhere to divert us, help, or offer alternatives, until—one way or another—we are gently scooped up and carried home.

                          No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.

God is faithful,
and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,

but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape,
that you may be able to endure it.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Seasonal Surprises

I heard them through the open window the other night. As they were high above on that quiet, damp night, I could not see which way they were heading, but I knew by their soft, syncopated honking that they were geese and must be going to some place with ample food and comfort for the coming colder months. Indeed, in this time of transition, it is a time of change for most living things, ourselves included.

While I feel myself folding inward during these short, dark, rainy days, I’ve experienced enough seasonal changes in my life to know that this is a change beyond my control; one that is necessary and important, even if we may not like or enjoy it. Change is seldom easy, after all. But during the intense, difficult work of growing, reproducing, and simply surviving, time is needed to rest and rejuvenate. We may find it odd and uncomfortable the way this happens. Where there were gorgeous blue skies, there now are moody clouds of roiling greys and intense, bruised, purplish blacks. Where there was pure, sparkling sunlight, there now is misty drizzle and chilling rain. The cheerful chirping of the tree frogs gives way to the mournful cries of those night-flying geese…

There also are moments of beauty and joy in this process. I find myself awestruck by the colors of this season: the ripe, round, red and purple berries that are abundant here, the white, orange, and brown fungi that erupt in the woods and meadows, the brilliant orange, yellow, red, and copper leaves on the trees. Whether pre-programmed or anomalies, there are some plants that manage to bloom at this time of year. Colorful Autumn crocus, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, and sedums punctuate otherwise drab gardens, while vine and big-leaf maples, red-osier dogwoods, and shiny-leaved salal and evergreen huckleberries strut their stuff in the local woods. No matter the weather, it’s always good to don your rain gear and take a walk—amazing what it can do for one’s spirit.

We have one hardy plant that surprises me every year. It is an old rose bush – likely a heritage variety because it smells wonderful—that was here when we moved in 40 years go. We’ve dug it up and moved it several times and, sadly, I never really cared if it survived as it is rather leggy, with a puny lavender color. Not my favorite, for sure. The last place we put it was in a corner garden, just below our kitchen window. With very little care, it has thrived there, growing taller each year and producing continuous blooms all summer long and well into the Fall. Even now, with many fully formed rose hips(fruit) which I’ve neglected to prune off, it is continuing to bloom, refusing to give in to this season of darkness. I know that eventually it will stop, finally resting up for next summer. In the meantime, I cherish its fortitude, for it is a good reminder that a new season is always on the horizon.

 As I remember that my dad said: “Life is a series of adjustments,” I now know how true that really is. We DO need to “Grow where we are planted “and carry on as best as we can. It helps if we hang together on the journey!

"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.'"                  Genesis 8:22

Friday, September 13, 2019

Motorcycle Mama

Digging weeds on this crisp, clear day, I’m trying to gain a bit on the endless surge of green life that surrounds us here.  The horse tails and other ancient relatives have gained a foothold in the yard this year, no different than any other, I suppose.

This narrow strip of flower bed is only the edge of what used to be a vegetable garden, years ago when we first moved here, stripped the heavy sod, hauled in some good soil, and planted what I was used to growing—beans, beets, carrots, corn , strawberries. But this was not Idaho, so the carrots and beets remined small, the strawberries went wild, and the corn, barely ripe, was pillaged by marauding raccoons, which took one or two bites from each yellow ear and left them scattered across the grass. I worked that garden for many few years, learning what did and didn’t grow well here and planting accordingly. We ate a much from its yield.

Digging deeply now, to get to the roots, I unearth a surprise. What first appeared to be a small branch or extra tough root, is actually a small toy motorcycle, remnant of a partial childhood that existed here, once. I pick it up, turn it over in my hand, hold it gently, as if the child who left it was still here somehow.

You played in those huge mounds of dirt that we had dumped next to that garden, running your small cars, trucks, and motorcycles over and over the make-believe roads you formed there, making those revving-up motor noises that you were so good at. You laughed when I tried to emulate you, but I never could sound like a hotrod. That delighted you so.

You came to us already born, already burdened by what came before, things we knew nothing about. There were many days spent in the sun here, and in the rain. You played often in the tree house that Dad built for you that first summer, swung on the swing, had friends over and ate the picnic lunches that I made for you packed in brown paper bags. 

I watched you climb the huge, old, cedar tree until you could barely be seen, wavering between pride in your fearless accomplishment and guilt for allowing you to risk such a thing. My own father’s voice echoing in my head: “Be careful!”

On your first day of school, when we walked to the end of the driveway, I could sense that you were reluctant to meet that big, yellow bus. It turned the corner and came down the road, stopping by the mailbox. We crossed the road, the door of the bus opened, and the friendly driver greeted you by name. Bravely you climbed up the steps and took a seat, waving goodbye. I blinked back tears; I think you might have been braver than I was that day. A few weeks later, I watched from the window as you came home from the bus stop, a few houses down the street, happily stomping through every rain puddle that you could find, in your brand-new shoes. I could not scold you; you were so very joyful!

There was the Halloween, when we walked through the woods to a friend’s birthday party. As we walked home, you felt sick and threw up; no Trick -or-Treating for you. You still wore your monster costume as you moped around the house. The neighbor kids kindly brought you some of the treats that they had gleaned, which helped some. But you and I both knew that Halloween only comes once each year. There is no rewind. Parts of life are like that, too.

There were the birthday parties, with the home-made cakes, always carefully decorated with whatever your favorite cartoon character or superhero was at the time. Dad made up scavenger hunts, which got progressively more difficult each year, as you and your friends grew. We invented all kinds of games and you always tore the paper off each gift and spent hours playing with them afterwards. When you got your first bike, the neighborhood expanded for you; you delighted in riding down the road to play with friends and then bringing them back to play here. One year, we got your bike equipped so that you could do bike tricks, something you had been bugging us for. I remember you spending hours and hours practicing and calling for us to “Come see!” you perform. How proud you were when you ran through your current “routine” and we gave you hearty applause.

Years passed, and your bike was abandoned, cast aside for skateboard, boombox, and CDs. There were the friends we did not know, the disagreements over homework and privileges, the long nights when we did not know where you were. Those nights became months and, worst of all, we had no idea of what to do.  Where is the teenage instruction book, when it’s desperately needed? Time went on and became years; we are grey now, and have slowed down.

I clean the toy motorcycle off in the kitchen sink. It is broken, missing one wheel and a handlebar. The remaining handlebar cannot steer the missing wheel, but the kick stand does allow the cycle to stand upright with one wheel. I place it in the sunny windowsill, although I have no idea why. Maybe the sunlight makes it appear whole again. I know it needs to be thrown, but some things are difficult to do. 

You are a man now, living your life as you’ve chosen to. I am an old woman, feeling left behind as  in the dust of a motorcycle speeding  off to who-knows-where. I have no answers to the questions that arise as echoes from the past reverberate in my head. Vroom, vroom…

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Communing with Nature

At any time, I can close my eyes and be transported back, and I am brimfull. Full of wonder, serenity, peace, and love. The forest is a magical place for me. On a trail, I can hardly take it all in, but I do try. 

My eyes scan the tree trunks, taking in the colors, textures, lichens, and spider webs. Are there holes in the trunks? If so, are they a sign of damage, disease, or animal activity?

I search the ground at my feet, looking for signs that lead to knowledge. I see tiny fungi, lush mosses - really all miniature worlds. Sometimes my imagination runs wild and I envision small beings living there and find myself wanting to live in their world for a brief time, just to see what it might be like.

I see signs to help better understand this place. For the type of flower petals, tree leaves, needles, branches, and cones that litter the trail tell much about the giants that loom overhead. I know a small squirrel has been above in one place for I see the scales of the Douglas fir scattered about that he (she?) dropped as he tore the cones apart to reach the seeds. In this case, the cones were still green, and I know they were the female cones for they are the ones with seeds. 

I note the nearly invisible strands of a spider web stretching between the branches of a red huckleberry whose berries have ripened and are mostly gone now, likely eaten by a robin or towhee. The web leads me to look for others and I begin to see them everywhere, even high above the ground. Some appear tattered and empty. Others contain their tiny weavers, unobtrusive and lurking at the edge of the web, waiting for the hapless bug that becomes caught and struggles against the strands, creating vibrations that alert the spider.

I notice and bask in the quiet. I only hear an occasional bird call and try to identify which bird made it. “Shick-a-dee-dee-dee” gives away the Chickadees, while the “Me-meep” of the nuthatches remind me of a Volkswagen horn. Robins are numerous and have distinctive calls and songs. Woodpeckers are often, though not always, loud with their rattling calls and punctuated hammering against a hollow tree trunk.

Gazing through the woods, the trees stand like silent sentinels and below them, covering the forest floor, tall sword ferns reach skyward with gracefully arching fronds. I often wish the trees could talk, for what tales they could tell of all they have seen and heard through the years. 
Logs covered with thick green moss attract my attention. I love to search them to see just how many kinds of mosses grow there, to discover small, oddly shaped fungi and the occasional centipede or other creepy- crawly.
What a wonder it all is, and my thoughts often lead to the Creator of this wondrous place. I feel a strong presence here, unlike anywhere else and it speaks to me. I breathe deeply of the  rich, moist  air and am free.

But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
 that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
                                 and the breath of every human being.                                   
 Job 12: 7-10