Quiet Day

IMG_3530lowrezA good day is a quiet day. The savor of life, for me, is the quiet and enlivening action of being. In our society, we have all but forgotten how to simply be. We have an agenda for the whole day, meals mapped out, road routes planned ahead of time, work schedules set practically in stone, social lives that keep us away from home, all in an attempt to be full, to live life to its fullest, to be efficient, to be productive, to be visibly successful – That is the mark of our society – Meshing cogs, perfectly timed machinery, society run like efficient computers, filling our minds and our lives so full that what we’ve retained is irretrievable, lost in the stimulus.

IMG_3519.1lowrezBut what about a full life that is full in its quietness? What about a life that is brimming with possibility, instead of a scheduled, itemized list? What in the meshing cogs of our society really leaves room for creativity, spontaneity, and breathing deep of life? What about forsaking some of the world’s marks of success to pursue a kind of success that is soul-deep, built on relationships with God and people? My heart hungered for a slower life, even when I didn’t realize it, but out here where there are miles upon miles of hills and trees and craggy peaks and rugged ravines, I find it easier, so much easier to simply be.

I want to live a life that is full of purpose and hard work, that is productive and industrious and useful, but I want that productivity and industriousness and usefulness to be plaited together with quietness, solitude, and relationships, and detached from the matrix of society. A four-day-per-week work schedule is ideal! I am so thankful.

On my days off, I feel as if I flee into God’s creation, hungering to see nothing of what people have made, and simply to revel in the wonders of the natural world. For a couple of months, I’ve tried to make it down to Hole-in-the-Wall, one of my family’s favorite haunts. Finally! Sarah and I had an hour and a half or so yesterday and we made a quick jaunt down our old jeep trail to that wonderful place.

IMG_3510.1lowrezThe hardwood trees have all lost their leaves by now, or mostly, and the air was crisp and ripe with autumn. We hiked along the creek bed for most of the way, scrambling over rocks, jumping from one to the other, getting tangled in young trees which are growing bravely up through the rocky creek bottom. Battle Creek was flowing high this summer. Sarah is a tall girl, and the clumps of tangled grass and leaves above her head show the waterline to have been at least 7 feet deep in this bend of the canyon!

IMG_3523.1lowrezHole-in-the-Wall is whittled away a little more each year, but there it has been for about 100 years. I wonder how much longer it will be there, and big enough for us to climb through and hike over? I hope I never have to see it collapsed, the whole ridge crumbled to a pile of rock, but one never knows – A little more of it tumbles down with every rain. It still enchants me.

IMG_3538.1lowrezThe canyon leading to Hole-in-the-Wall was glowing brightly – Blue sky, a little breeze, and warm sunlight. What more could we ask for? I guess the one thing we could have asked for was a little more time. Salsa preparations and housework in the early afternoon and small group in the evening didn’t leave a lot of time, but we still had the leisure to enjoy our scramble to and from, to stop and marvel at fallen leaves, garnet sand, and orange berries. We had time to be.

It was a good day. A quiet sort of day.

Laura Elizabeth

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Dirt fresh

IMG_3400lowrezThere’s nothing quite like hot soup on a cold evening. Soup is a perfect fall and winter food, and I find that brewing a pot of soup satisfies a need for creative expression. I don’t enjoy following recipes, which is probably why I don’t enjoy baking. I’m not brave enough to stray from a baking recipe – Bad things can happen! Good things happen when I stray from a soup recipe. I’d be happy to share my butternut squash soup recipe.

We’re still getting produce from the garden, against all odds, and last night I was able to pick baseball-sized turnips and a fist full of leeks, which were in the pot not twenty minutes later. I only used three turnips, plus their greens, and we still have many, many left in the garden. Threw in some frozen home-grown yellow squash and home-grown basil pesto, along with ground beef, onions, and carrots – It was a pretty good soup, if I do say so myself.

Perfect for autumn.

Laura Elizabeth

Game night

IMG_3395.1lowrezI have to admit, my family is not much of a board-game-playing family, or a game playing family, period. Not sure why – Maybe we’re not competitive enough and it bores us to death, or perhaps we’re too competitive and it stresses us out. However, we do have tendencies to be a two-person game-playing family. Rarely will all six of us sit down for a game, but pairs or threes of us do enjoy games, such as Speed, Double Solitaire (some of us prefer Solitaire – alone), Rummy, Monopoly (if it is the horse edition), Herd Your Horses (yes, there’s a trend), Taboo (all of us get in on that one)…

Dad and I had the house to ourselves this evening – It was quiet. Almost too quiet. Mom, Sarah, and Anna are all in Custer, for overnight church-related activities. We had dinner, got dishes done, read our chapter in Hebrews, and decided to…play a few games. Given that it is Dad and me and not, say, Anna or Sarah and me, I expected us to make tea or decaf, make ourselves comfortable in the living room and read for a few hours. Maybe listen to Kevin Swanson’s podcast, or even watch a movie. But no, we decided to play a game or two.

IMG_3390.1lowrezDad taught me King’s Corners, a card game that he learned a few months ago from his now-92-year-old former gradeschool teacher. We played four rounds. He trounced me. Oh, well. Next time.

Then I wheedled and cajoled just a little bit, and Dad agreed to play Risk with me. We have an ancient Risk board that has been in our cabin for decades, but the rules are a bit different from the ones I’m used to – We muddled through the setup (the part I always forget how to do anyway), and took off.

IMG_3392.1lowrezNot sure exactly what it is that appeals to me about Risk – Perhaps it feeds some inner desire to actually take over the world, hearkening back to my adolescent days where my dear cousin and I plotted world domination.

We played for an hour and didn’t finish, which is of course usual for Risk – We’ll revisit it in the morning, perhaps.

I’ve got a pretty wonderful dad. That’s all.

Laura Elizabeth

 

Findings | Around the homestead

Sometimes it is the simplest things that catch your eye…

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Findings | Around the homestead

Old dynamite casings left in what I like to call the “powder house.”

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Autumn waking

IMG_3050.1lowrez Sometimes all it takes to clear the mind of distraction, sorrow, worry, weariness, and pessimism is the feeling of dew on my jeans, the sound of brown leaves folding beneath my feet, the rush of a scramble into a dry creek bed, and the glint of the sun through and in the trees.

IMG_3093.1lowrezIt is impossible to capture the flicker of dew in the long grass, or to describe the captivating fragrance of the wet earth, a draught stronger than wine, the musk of earth, the sweet of grass, subtle and fresh and intangible. The flicker of scarlet and orange of berries clinging in the twigs of trees, the yellow of a fallen leaf. I wish I could put words to the changing touch of the air from shadowed ravine to sunny hillside – The chill kiss and the warm caress. Sometimes they blend – The warm caress of a breeze wafting into the cool of the ravine, or the chill wind curling and streaming into the warmth of a fragrant open trail.

IMG_3056.1lowrezThe hum of bees blends with the whisper of wind in the pines, and the trail curves ahead and disappears from sight. The ground is dark with heavy dew and the green is greener, the gold golder, the brown browner, the red redder in the rich, warm light.

IMG_3091.1lowrezWhat a mystery, to be walking straight into the sun, which seems hardly to hover above the tops of the trees, the sky brilliant with light, but to be enveloped in cool, moist valley air, walking briskly and without effort – the mystery of autumn in the morning. Or to top a small rise, emerging from a twilight-shadowed creek bed, and find ahead a glowing warmly bank of red-gold brush and sheer wall of golden rock, the pine trees standing like sentinels against the line of sky – the mystery of autumn at dusk.

IMG_3124.1lowrez“The Heavens declare the glory of God,” the Bible says. “Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard,” said Standing Bear.  Who can help but marvel at the silhouettes of trees against a lavender sky, the moon tangled in the evening branches of the reaching oaks? Who can harden the heart when the world around is glowing with life, and the air is ripe with sunshine and piney resin and heavy with the damp of morning? The clouds glow like gold in the fading sun, just dipped below the horizon, then turn to the dark of steel and sit heavy in the trees. The sky releases the last of its light with a sigh, a slumbering, sleepy, lazy breeze that quietly stirs the trees, and a few leaves drop.

How can I tame the wildness of the eerie howls of coyotes just over the hill, or calm the unbidden racing of my heart, relishing the delicious thrill of the woods at evening?  How can I keep forever the ghostly beauty of the birch trees at twilight, and call to mind their silver glow? It is all too much, too beautiful.

IMG_3114.1lowrezWhat a glorious way to fire the imagination, to calm and awaken the soul, to revive the weary body. What a refreshing, reviving cup to drink from – The cup of God’s creation, the cup of the green earth. “God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone,” a man once said, thought to be Martin Luther, “but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.” The dew in the morning, the bees flying low in the grass, the heavens and trees, the moon and lavender sky, the stones underfoot and the dying red of the cliffs in sunset all make it impossible for me to believe anything other than that this world was created by a loving, awesome, infinite God who is worthy of my worship and adoration.

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.” said Helen Keller.

I agree.

Laura Elizabeth