Harney Peak Frosted

Even a drive home after cleaning at church can dazzle and amaze. Here at home, there wasn’t even the slightest bit of frost. But in the higher elevations around Mount Rushmore and Harney Peak, the frost and snow suddenly began. I drove in sleety rain for a very little while, and Harney Peak was veiled in fog. On the way home, however, the clouds had rolled back, leaving the peak frosted white. Even under a cloudy sky, the whitened trees and rocks were dazzling white – How wonderful they would have been under a clear blue sky!IMG_0086smallIf it hadn’t been for the rain and damp, today would have been a great day to climb to the top of Harney Peak!

Laura Elizabeth



The Cat’s Meow

There’s nothing quite like the company of a cat. Or cats. I understand, some people have very strong negative feelings on this topic. If you are one of those unfortunate individuals, you doubtless just haven’t met the right cat yet. Luna is a bit on the dense side, it is true, but you’ll not find a more beautiful feline specimen. Ever since he was a few months old, he has looked just like “textbook pictures” of a cat. Gorgeous. And there is almost nothing that I find quite as winsome and heart-entangling as Kashka’s attempts at a meow when she wants attention, or as calming and comforting as her rumbling purr.
LunaNot a lot is known about why or how cats purr – There are suggestions, some of which may have some merit, but it tickles my funny bone that purring is one of those things that just has modern science a little bit bewildered. Then I stumbled across this from the Live Science website: “A domestic cat’s purr has a frequency of between 25 and 150 Hertz, which happens to be the frequency at which muscles and bones best grow and repair themselves. It is, therefore, speculated that cats naturally evolved their purr over time as a survival tactic – a biomechanical healing mechanism that ensured speedier recoveries.”
LunaI read that and just kind of scratched my head. That’s pretty amazing! They just naturally evolved their purr to within a specific frequency as a way to equip the species? (My sister Sarah’s response to this was, “Why don’t we purr?”)

Not to create any tidal waves of controversy here, but I have another idea – What if cats were given the ability to purr specifically at the frequency best for muscle and bone repair by Someone who knew what He was doing? And because God wasn’t driven by rigid practicality in His Creation, He created a sound that human beings in general find to be soothing and relaxing and delightful, simply because He could, because His Creation was meant to be a blessing and a joy, something that causes us to thank and glorify Him. What if what we see around us that seems miraculous actually is miraculous, and is a gift from the hand of a good and loving God? Perhaps that sounds silly and childish. IMG_9998.1But I find that the more deeply convinced I become that these things are gifts from God, the more beautiful His Creation is to me. I find that my love and appreciation the natural world is enhanced and intensified by the evidence I see of God’s fingerprints all over Creation. It humbles me and overwhelms me.

I got home today from work and found Anna out in the corral playing with her kitties – What fun she (and they!) were having, and what fun it was to watch the antics! The little spectacle was, well…the cat’s meow.

Laura Elizabeth



In places like the Black Hills, glimpses of and participation in the past are not uncommon – History and its memory is kept alive in the tumbledown buildings scattered throughout the hills and plains, and some have worked to maintain those historical structures. Historic livelihoods are still flourishing. Historic ways of doing things are still practiced. I love catching glimpses which remind me of how the hundred-year-old past must have looked. Such as this washbasin in the window of our Miner’s Cabin.
Untitlednostalgia – noun nos·tal·gia \nä-ˈstal-jə

1 :  the state of being homesick

2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition

3 : pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again

Amazing how one can feel nostalgic, homesick, for a time one hasn’t even experienced.

Laura Elizabeth

Winter Lingers

When I woke up yesterday morning, there was snow on the ground and continuing to fall from a heavy-clouded sky, a wet snow, melting and puddling in the red dirt of the driveway, but lightly coating everything else. I ran outside in my summertime footwear, refusing to go back to socks and boots. “Cold feet, cold feet, cold feet!” I scraped an inch or two of slushy snow off the truck, then ran back to the house for my camera. “Cold feet, cold feet, cold feet!” What a change from our 80-degree weather on Friday and Saturday!
IMG_9888The driveway up to Highway 40 was a fairyland. Trees were silvered with snow, grasses were bent and covered. The springtime landscape was muted and softened and pale. Low-lying cloud cover obscured hills and hilltops, altering the scenes I am used to on my drive in to work. I’ll have to admit, on Monday I wasn’t looking forward to the snow that was expected – But something about a quiet snowfall always changes my mind. The magic never fails to enchant me.
IMG_9878Snow and rain fell pretty much all day yesterday, as temperatures hovered in the 30s and 40s. When it finally warms up, how green everything will be! On the way home, I drove in and out of places where the snow was clinging tenaciously. Higher hilltops had snow on them, and the tops of trees were frosted over.
IMG_9899Living in the mountains, even relatively low-elevation mountains such as the Black Hills, the weather patterns are unpredictable and extremely changeable from one town to the next. As I drove home from church on Sunday, I drove into rain a mile or so outside Custer, as a pickup truck covered in 2 inches of snow whizzed past me the other direction. The snow and slush increased a few more miles down the road, then tapered off as I approached Mt. Rushmore. And at home, it was sunny and springlike.
IMG_9892I love the varied weather and the hesitating entry of each successive season. At this point, I am fully ready for springtime, the sun and the warmth that chases away the chill. But for now, winter lingers. Might as well enjoy it.

Laura Elizabeth



One Year Anniversary

DSCN0006.1I just realized today that Homestead Diaries just celebrated its 1 year anniversary! What a great year it has been. In light of that, I just wanted to thank all of you who stop by, for subscribing, reading, giving feedback, and for passing the articles on. As a writer and photographer, I enjoy the process and the product of both the writing and the photography, and would enjoy them regardless. Honestly, I think that is how it starts: by enjoying the process in solitude, and then having the courage to share. But what a richness there is when I know that other people are sharing that enjoyment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo thank you, thank you, thank you – for your time, your interest, for reveling with me in the beauty of Creation, for words of encouragement. Thanks to my friends and family for sharing hikes with me, tolerating the shutter-snapping, and giving me material to write about. Thanks for giving me the motivation to share 150 posts (and counting), some hundreds of pictures, and a growing love of writing. Thanks for taking the time to let me know when a picture or an article touched you. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to share what I love to share: the joy of the written word, a love of the beauty of Creation and (for many of you, I know) a love for its Creator.

Thanks again, and God bless!

Laura Elizabeth

Parental Instincts

The parental instincts of wildlife are nothing short of miraculous – And, often, a sign that God Almighty has a sense of humor. If you’ve ever taken the time to marvel at a killdeer, and pester him a bit, you should be familiar with the miracle, and the humor. Killdeer are ground nesters, and mama and papa stick pretty close to their eggs to guard it, sit on it, and to steer predators away.
IMG_9500They are birds roughly the size of a robin,  not gifted in areas of strength or intimidation. But they are very talented actors. When a threat is near their nest, mama and papa tag-team to draw the predator away, by keening and taunting, staying just close enough to the predator to keep the attention of the predator, and always moving further away from the nest. But if the threat gets too close or approaches the nest, the little birds launch themselves into a charade of dying birds, flopping around on the ground rather realistically. KilldeerI had been informed of a killdeer nest near the shore of Canyon Lake and went to find it after work today. Sure enough, mama and papa successfully drew me away from the nest the first time, and put on a pretty convincing dying-bird act when I actually approached the nest. As quickly as possible, I snapped a few pictures,  staying a healthy distance from the nest and trying not to look too vicious – I would have felt pretty bad if one of the parents had a heart attack or something. Not to mention, if I had gotten any closer I’m not at all sure that one or both of the parents wouldn’t have flown at my head. Parental instincts, and all. And what beautiful treasures they had to protect! IMG_9508God’s creatures never cease to amaze me.

Laura Elizabeth