Springtime Treasures

The Black Hills are full to bursting of treasure, if one knows where to search for it. I waited so eagerly for the pasque flowers to bloom, springtime’s first flowers, and they finally have. What a delight! They are such ephemeral and elusive flowers, springing up while winter still lingers in the Hills, and fading again in a breath – Perhaps that is some of the excitement surrounding these little flowers. There is a sense of urgency in the hunt.  The silk-like hairs sparkled on stem and petal, and the flowers nodded in the breeze, glimmering like stained glass in the sunlight on their carpet of pine needles. We found them up at Buzzard’s Roost this morning, scarce along the trail but plentiful as we neared the lookout. Amazing how these delicate plants can establish themselves so firmly on the rocky, barren hillsides, fighting their way to the sunlight. IMG_4507eIMG_4620eIMG_4575eIMG_4499eIMG_4519eIMG_4568eI could have taken pictures of the little things for hours.



Spring’s First Wildflowers

It sometimes seems that Springtime has arrived at the door but hesitates to enter. The door is open and fresh breezes blow in, bringing the fragrance of the new season, but Spring just waits outside, biding her time.
IMG_4297In spite of the winter weather we’ve had (interspersed with warmer days), we know spring has arrived when the pasqueflower finally decides to bloom. Dad and I took a picnic lunch over to Falling Rock today, where I had heard rumours of pasques beginning their blooming. Sure enough, we found them. Not many, although I’m sure there were many more, but before we could comb the area above the canyon more thoroughly, a brisk cloudburst opened up and didn’t seem likely to quit anytime soon! We left before we could get soaked. IMG_4272eI don’t know what it is about the little flowers that is so enchanting – Perhaps it is their evasive, reticent nature, and how entirely ephemeral they are. They spring up as joyous heralds of Springtime, and fade again as quickly. They are like little gems, and finding one is a delightful thrill! I am looking forward to hiking more this weekend, and finding more of these glorious jewels. IMG_4284eGod’s Creation wonders never cease to amaze me. The first wildflowers of the year.

The First Day of Spring

With snow in the forecast, we welcome the first day of spring!
IMG_4213The glory of springtime is the promise of things to come. The springtime frosts will continue, eventually giving way to the warmth of May and June. The buds begin to leaf out on the trees and the lilac shrubs, poppies and daffodils and tulips push their way above the soil, and beneath the layer of last year’s grass, a new world of green is springing up. Springtime is the season of anticipation – Anticipation of new life, baby creatures in nests and dens, delicate flower life, fresh rain on the earth, new birdsongs, new color to the landscape. We can begin to imagine the fruitful garden we hope to enjoy in the summer, the hopeful harvests of wild fruits, the putting up of produce. We can begin to imagine the heat on our backs, cool dirt between our toes, sunburnt noses, ice-cold tea, picnics, hikes, warm evenings and cool nights. Springtime is a time of promise.
IMG_8716I’m looking forward to prowling around in search of flowers, or stopping in awe at the sight of speckled fawns, or feeling rain on my face and hearing the sound of thunder in the distance. I’m already savoring the longer days, the warmer temperatures, the fragrant mornings.

Winter has left us, but she will return in season. For now, we welcome spring.

The Last Days of Winter

Winter comes and goes too quickly. I love the snow and the chill and the heavy clouded skies shot through with sunbeams, shedding snowflakes like tears of joy, and frosted, laughing breezes scattering the ice and snow and creating a second snowstorm. I love the vim and vigor of wintertime, when the earth itself is fast asleep but the air is bursting with mischief, and what creatures dare to brave the cold are full of life and energy.IMG_3679eIMG_3791eOur last days of winter trickled past like a melting stream – Winter, with spring interspersed, days of chill and frost and fog and snow intermixed with days of warm sun, warm breezes, and a cool, blue sky. Snow still lingered in the sheltered places on the north sides of hills, or on the banks of the creeks down where the sun doesn’t reach, but elsewhere the springtime is bursting out with new life and fresh vitality.IMG_3824eDown by Battle Creek at Big Falls, catkins, like gold-green pendants, hung in delicate grace on the limbs of shrubby trees, and the grass is greening up beneath last year’s brown. The gold of last summer’s rabbit brush still catches the sunlight, but new growth will come up soon to replace the old.IMG_4126eThe passing of winter is bittersweet. We likely will get more snow this next month or so, but the sparkling beauty of winter is past, the earth too warm to preserve frost or snow for long. And it isn’t just the snow, but the mood of the winter. The silvery silence, the frosty sunlight, the laughing, sparkling mornings, the clear, cold starlight. It is seeing my breath in the frozen air, coming in from outside to thaw, the fiery tingling in my fingers as they start to warm up again, the sound of a fire crackling in the woodstove, the layers of blankets to keep cozy at night. IMG_3577eBut springtime has honeyed the air, with the musky-sweet of thawing ground and moldering leaves, the delicious savor of pine sap, fragrant in the warming air.IMG_4171eThe last days of winter have wafted by like a spent but sweet breeze. And spring is now here.

The Singing Tree

A low droning caught my ear, as I was working outside today. It sounded like a whole swarm of wasps, of which we have plenty during the summer, but I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. I don’t like wasps. As I listened, I realized the humming was coming from the large tree by the old chicken coop. I thought there must be a wasp nest in the tree, or perhaps in the old tractor sitting out by the coop.
IMG_3905bIMG_3883bIMG_3880bUpon closer inspection, I saw that the tree was in bud, the spreading boughs covered with delicate mahogany flowers, and flitting daintily from flower to flower were the little glinting bodies and sparkling wings of honeybees. The source of the song. I have no idea how many were working, but they were creating quite the chorus of springtime music. What a harbinger of blessings to come!

The Second Year

March 1st is an exciting day on my calendar, and marks an epoch in my life. Two years ago today we crossed the Missouri River into western South Dakota, for the first time with no departure date in the future. Two years ago today we saw the Rapid City lights flickering in the winter night, welcoming that sight as those coming home after a long journey. Two years ago today we drove south on Hwy. 79, and finally – finally! – saw the familiar flashing light marking the small town of Hermosa, marking now the nearness of home. I watched for that light every time we came to the Hills, and I still get a sense of nostalgia when I am driving home after dark and see that light blinking in the distance. Two years ago today we pulled down the long, red dirt driveway into what had always been home for us. Two years ago today we came “back home,” although no one but Dad had actually ever lived here. Two years ago today. How fast time flies.
IMG_9878Our second year in the Hills felt like our tenth year in the Hills – Nothing about it doesn’t feel like home. We have truly settled in. Our church has  become family, and the closeness hasn’t diminished, but increased. The days and weeks are marked by time spent with family and friends, spent outside in God’s glorious Creation, exciting hikes to new places, teaching piano, fellowship over meals, experiencing a close-knitness with my church family of welcoming and being welcomed into one another’s lives.
IMG_8490The last year hasn’t been without its struggles. There have been plenty. Grandma’s health issues, personal health issues, trials of various kinds, fears, struggles with the general busyness of life and the snug living arrangements. But in all those things, God shows Himself to be faithful. He always provides. And the trials He gives are actually gifts, just like the things we readily perceive to be blessings.

On to Year Three. We will see what God brings!

Laura Elizabeth