Just a Reminder…

Just a reminder that spring IS on its way, for everyone despairing that we’ll ever see warm weather or the sun again.
IMG_8378eThese pasques were found in the rain on Resurrection Sunday, on the very back part of our property that somehow I’d never hiked to before! Pasques do well in areas that were recently disturbed, such as land that has been burned or logged, and these were true to form.

What a spring we’ve had!

 

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Feathers and Stars

I think we say this every spring, but the weather has been taunting us. We’ve had glorious tastes of springtime, followed by chilly, winterish days, followed by summer weather, then snowstorms. That cycle has repeated itself a few times and, as I type this, the most beautiful snow is falling outside my window, a snowstorm that began at midnight on Sunday.  I’m sure we’ve had 8-10″ by this point, in two different cycles of snow, much of which melted off in between, and it is still coming down relentlessly.IMG_8557e
IMG_8545e
IMG_8503eIn spite of the untimeliness of a snowstorm at this time of year, I can’t help but be awestruck by the beauty of snow, particularly falling snow. Part of me would prefer balmy spring weather and wildflower hunting, but the enchantment of a snowstorm – of trees in the snow, of snow-covered hillsides, of snow falling with a soft sound from heavy-laden branches, of footprints in the snow, of the silence of a snowed-in world – is hard to resist.IMG_8554eEnya, in her song “Amid the Falling Snow,” writes, “A million feathers falling down, a million stars that touch the ground.” That song is one of my favorites, and those lines have always stuck with me.

Feathers and stars, and a world transformed. Winter can last a little longer.

Sunburn and Bliss

Although I kept a great habit of hiking this winter, and getting outdoors quite a bit regardless of the temp, something magical happens when the warmth arrives. The line between inside and outside becomes deliciously blurred. I can eat outside, sleep outside, and stay outside as long as I wish to. The wind no longer bites, the cold no longer burns, and the sun no longer sets at 4pm. There is a gentleness in the wind, even when it is blowing mightily. The sun-warmed, pine-covered slopes are sweet with their resiny perfume, in a way that evokes memories and impressions of my childhood.

The frogs are singing in the dam, we’ve enjoyed our first thunderstorm, and I’ve fallen asleep to the sound of rain on our roof. I’ve woken up with sore muscles from strenuous hikes, sore shoulders that got a little too much sun, and taped blisters on my feet. I’ve hung clothes on the line to dry, and hammocked under the stars. Spring is finally here.2019-04-23_06-41-05After wintertime and never venturing out with fewer than what seems like a hundred layers, it is delicious to wear a tanktop and feel the breeze and sun on my arms, and get a little sunkissed, or even a little toasted. The days are longer, the nights are warmer, and it becomes more of a struggle to stay indoors.

But summer is almost here! And what means work at the greenhouse will start, teaching will be done for the season, and my life will be lived more and more outside. Which is what I love.

So I nurse my sunburns and sore muscles and wind burnt face as glorious symptoms of bliss.

Here’s to Another Year

Homestead Diaries just hit its fourth anniversary! How exciting. Thank you so much to all my readers, new and old, who play an important role in the life of this blog. Knowing that I’m writing for people, not just for myself, is part of what keeps me going. I particularly appreciate the time people take to leave feedback and comments, or to share articles on Facebook. That means so much!

Over the next year, I hope to continue to build up the hiking article database, as well as my wildflower identification page. I have no immediate plans, but some fun project ideas have been coming to mind! We’ll see what the next year holds.

This blog began as a way to document my family’s move to the Black Hills, and it has grown to be an ongoing project I love to work on. Writing and photography are ways that I remember things I want to remember, and I love getting to share those things with other people!

Thanks for reading!

 

Parable in a Pasque Flower

Pasque flowers appear after the bitterness of winter, often before winter has fully wasted itself out in storms and cold and darkness. They are a sign, a beacon of hope. Asleep in the ground for the months of winter’s cold, at the appropriate time they fight their way to life, seemingly delicate and vulnerable. But what strength is seen in the first of spring’s flowers! Tiny things that should be crushed under what remains of winter, they prevail. Against all odds, they spring up here and there, bathing hillsides in the glory of springtime. They are the first glimmer of hope that winter won’t last forever, and that spring will truly come. There is life in the dead ground. There is warmth, and light, and growth.
IMG_8239eFirst there is one, then a couple, then dozens, then they’re everywhere. Spring has come. Winter is defeated.

How appropriate that they bloom at Easter time, hence the name “pasque,” having to do with the time of Passover, the time of deliverance. The “paschal lamb” was the sacrificial lamb of Passover, ultimately fulfilled in Christ, our once-for-all-time Paschal Lamb.

At Easter, we celebrate hope, the hope and certainty that our Salvation, our deliverance, is secure, through the paschal sacrifice of our Lamb of God, to redeem His people from their sins. The hope began with one man, amidst a storm of controversy and opposition, against which a mere man never could have prevailed. But the God-Man could. His ministry turned into a couple, then a dozen, then hundreds, confounding the religious elite of the day who did everything they could to crush His ministry. It seemed as if they’d succeeded, that gruesome day when they nailed Christ to the cross of crucifixion, a horrific instrument of torture. Christ, the God of the Universe, was slaughtered, brutally, willingly, voluntarily, in order to satisfy the Plan of eternity to save, to give hope, to change hearts, to reconcile sinners to God.

“There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain.”
IMG_8386eFor two dark days, His broken body was dead, buried, but on the morning of the third day, Christ defeated death. Against all human odds or laws of science, Christ broke the chains of death and returned in a glorified human body. Death was defeated.

“Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!”

What began with one man has blossomed into millions, millions of tiny beacons of hope that light the darkness of this world, that give us hope that the darkness won’t last forever, that the winter of our souls can become springtime, that death can give way to life, that goodness can come from decay. No other religion or person or movement has ever rocked world history like Christianity, and no other worldview can boast the lives radically changed for the better, hatreds healed, hearts transformed. In spite of all opposition, Christianity has flourished for over two millennia. And where it is hardest pressed, there it blossoms the most gloriously. Each life changed by Christ is a testament to the truth of the Gospel, the hope that we have to be reconciled to our Heavenly Father, to have our sins forgiven, to have our hearts radically changed. We aren’t doomed to ourselves and our sins forever. There is hope.
IMG_8255eRemember that, when you see these first flowers of spring. They are a mini parable of how God works and has worked to bring about Salvation, to defeat death, to bring life and hope and peace and reconciliation.

 

“Hello, Old Scout!”

Lots of memories were raked up and mulled over, over the last week and a half. Memories mostly of Grandma, but sweet memories of Grandpa surfaced as well, things I hadn’t thought of in years.

Pastor Walker was reminiscing at Grandma’s funeral, and with one phrase he brought back a flood of memories of my Grandpa, including how much I loved him. This one phrase was the first thing he said, every visit: “Hello, old scout!” he’d practically shout at me, or at my siblings, or at whomever it was who came into his line of sight. No matter that he said it to everyone, it always felt special, intentional. “Hello, old scout!” and he’d pull me into a crushing hug, or slap my shoulder. It was a signature phrase of his, and went right along with his squinty-eyed smile, eternal plaid shirts, tuneless whistling, limping gait with one shoe thick-soled because of a broken leg during the war, muscled arms and work-hardened hands.

Grandpa was a farm boy son of German immigrants, who grew up to be a combat veteran in World War II; a man who didn’t treasure his army decorations but let his kids play with them and lose them; a man who loved animals and loved the country, who built his house in the middle of his property on the hardest spot to access and in defiance of a friend’s advice, and was colorblind so bought a bright orange Jeep, thinking it would blend into the South Dakota landscape. He was a small town veterinarian in eastern South Dakota, with stories to rival the best of James Herriot. If only he had written a book. He sang in the church choir, was a rancher in the Hills in his retirement, had horseback accidents well into his 70s but walked home and was none the worse, and ultimately went out with his boots on – he died in his mid 80s of a heart attack checking cattle in his bright orange Jeep on a logging road that probably has a grade pushing 50% (and I’m actually not kidding) just after a massive thunderstorm. What a way to go, doing what he loved.He was a man who never retired. As a rancher in his “retired” years, he built fence, planted trees, built a log cabin, worked cattle, rode horse, continually worked at improving the land, and in short never quit doing work. Good, physical work. The above picture was taken by my uncle when Grandpa was well into his 80s. That’s what he looked like as a retired man. He was a man who loved to work. What a wonderful example, and I hope to imitate him in that.

In the time that I worked for Jack, the rancher who rents pasture from us, I’d meet people who’d hear my last name and ask, “Say, are you Doc Adrian’s granddaughter?” I loved that, absolutely loved that. Not that I could take any credit, but I was proud to be Doc Adrian’s granddaughter.

And what a legacy he left. Not only has he left a spiritual legacy, as a strong man of God, which is the best and most important legacy to leave, but if it hadn’t been for his financial wisdom in dealing with the success God blessed him with, we never would have come out to South Dakota. As it was, we had a place to move to, and that made all the difference. The beautiful family property is a huge part of what has given me a love of wandering, and some of my best memories have taken place around “the home place,” and new memories are created every time we explore.  I think he would be delighted to know that his granddaughters are living in the log cabin he built out of trees cut off the family ranch, and I think he’d love to know that I’m on the same fire department he was on.

I miss him. I didn’t realize how much until I was reminded of Grandpa’s greeting. Because somehow those three words and the way he said them summed him up. All his love and enthusiasm and enjoyment of life. “Hello, old scout!”