Happy April!

How suddenly the winter retreats peacefully into the shadows, places where the snow lingers a little longer and the chill hovers, while springtime appears with vigor and color and sweetness. Everywhere, new life is appearing. Tiny calves speckle the pastures, birds are singing lustily, and branches and twigs are showing green. Underfoot, flower life is waking, spreading their petals to the sunlight, drinking in the rain, little gems in the layers of pine needles and dead grass. First is the pasque, and then the rest follow.
IMG_5006eI’m reminded of these verses from Song of Solomon:

The flowers appear in the earth: the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”

The signs of spring are plainly written. We smell the clean, rain-washed air, hear the droplets pattering on the roof, feel them on our faces, hear the birds singing in the trees. We have the pasque flowers on the sunlit hills. Flocks of sandhill cranes in the sky mark the beginning of April, a new sight for me. Spring is here.

Happy April!

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Botanical | Pasque flower

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Pasque flower

The lovely state flower of South Dakota.

Botanical | Easter Daisy

Appropriately, I found this flower on Resurrection Day!

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Easter Daisy

Saturday Adventures

The Pringle PlaceThe winds sound different in the pines. They hum and murmur and sing in the needles and in the sun-warmed grass, sweeping clouds from horizon to horizon, drying the earth and warming the earth and waking up all the little messengers of springtime. The earth feels different in the springtime, ready to burst with life, like a person holding back mirth, or like someone with a delightful secret. Tiny plants push through the red soil, little barrel cacti and the elusive pasque flower and star lilies not yet bloomed.

IMG_8921Any excuse to get down to the Pringle place is a good one for me, and today’s excuse was that my cousin Ben was down in Pringle with my aunt and uncle, and I was already going to be in Custer this morning, which is more than halfway there. So after cleaning the church, Roy and I drove down to Pringle – I, armed with my camera, Roy armed with various muskets and pistols – and picked up Ben for a hike.  We couldn’t have picked a better day than the one our Heavenly Father had picked for us.

IMG_8909Our hiking took us along Box Canyon, and down west of the old stage stop, through red gullies and golden meadows, in and out of deep-cut ravines, over and under barbed wire fencing, looking at the favorite places and searching out new. We stumbled across the remains of an ancient log cabin from the homesteading days, found a piece of a rusty old license plate from 1922 and an old stove lid, and picked up a rusted steel trap that must have washed down the gully, or been dragged there.

All the little early wildflowers are beginning to bloom, giving me fresh subjects to capture and identify, from little phlox-like flowers growing low to the red earth, to scrubby yellow complex flowers with foliage that smelled like celery, to a yellow succulent-like flower growing all by itself on a little hillside.
IMG_8897And yes, we found the pasque flowers today! A week ago down on the Pringle place, the little wind flowers were waking up, though were not yet awake, but today they were in beautiful bloom, tucked beneath scrubby pines, nestled down deep in last summer’s grasses.  Whimsical nodding blossoms of palest purple, covered with their coats of silver fur, blending in and almost invisible, but unmistakable. Pasque flowerGrasshoppers chirruped. Mountain bluebirds flickered like blue flames as they lighted on fence posts and fence wire and darted here and there. The junipers and pines were spicy in the warm air, the sky was brilliant and dappled with clouds, the wind was sweet and restless, and the rocks were cool to the touch. Lichens crusted the red stone, quartz sparkled dazzlingly, and the day was perfect.

IMG_8931We picnicked on the tailgate of Roy’s pickup, and when we were done hiking, we did some target shooting. “Shooting makes a bad day good and a good day better,” Roy said. Though, it hardly needed improving – Friends and family, God’s good and glorious creation, a sturdy camera, a picnic in the open air, and the sight of a small herd of antelope hightailing it across the prairie – And, yes, firing a few rounds at some makeshift targets.

A good day. A very good day.

Laura Elizabeth

 

 

Findings | Winter Pods

The subtle beauty of winter.
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Little treasures on a winter walk.

Laura Elizabeth

A little bit of springtime

IMG_7367The first little bit of springtime waked to the world on our windowsill – A beautiful paperwhite, a species of narcissus. My aunt gave the bulbs as Christmas gifts to the families, and ours bloomed, less than a month after Christmas. Springtime is just around the corner!

IMG_7294.1In the middle of January, a 50-degree day is a more than welcome excuse to spend time outdoors. Then again, a 10-degree day with snow is a more than welcome excuse to spend time outdoors. But the blue sky, the warm sun, and the little bit of springtime are irresistible and delicious.

IMG_7176.1We’ve been working hard getting the Miner’s Cabin closer to inhabitable, and week by week, we make progress. The electical was looked at by my dad, Jess’s fiance, and some knowledgeable men from our church, so we’ve been okayed on that. Dad maintenanced the wood stove and we have raided the woodshed up at Grandma’s house multiple times. That old Miner’s Cabin is already becoming a cozy place to spend an afternoon or evening. Nothing warms like a wood fire, that’s for sure.

IMG_7217.1The fire was hardly needed yesterday morning, and before I got the cabin warmed up, it was warmer outside than in. Kashka, the black kitten, found her favorite sunny spot on the porch on top of a pile of old rugs. She basked as only a cat can. What a life a cat leads.

IMG_7321.1Finally, after lunch, Sarah and I set aside whatever we were working on and determined to enjoy the beautiful weather. We love to just start walking, finding ravines we’ve never walked through before, searching out the unseen. Sometimes the very process of seeing the connection between known places has the allure of fresh discovery. We headed towards the highway, stopping to marvel at lichens, old dead trees, pine burls, and other secrets of the winter.

IMG_7339.1When we got to the highway, our property runs down into a little hollow and when a person stands in the bottom of this hollow, the highway is fifteen or twenty feet above. In this hollow, we found a culvert we’d never seen before, with barbed wire over it to keep cows from getting through to the other side. We climbed under, of course, and clambered through the culvert. It is a good sized culvert, big enough to walk through it, bent over.

IMG_7332It was mostly dry, but snowmelt had left a few inches of water in one half of it. We could hear trucks and cars going overhead occasionally, and when we came out on the other side near the Firehouse, we sheepishly and with great amusement saw our mail lady delivering mail at a cluster of mailboxes on the highway. No idea if she saw us or not, but culvert crawling isn’t exactly a “normal” activity that post-highschool young ladies participate in, I suppose. But I find more appeal in culvert crawling than a what the culture expects that young ladies (or young men, for that matter) are to enjoy.

It was wonderful to be out-of-doors, not hampered by scarves, coats, long underwear, mittens, and heavy boots. It was wonderful to taste the sweet air, to smell the savory earth, and to breathe deep of the first little bit of springtime.

Before we know it, winter will be just a memory.

Laura Elizabeth