1369. Beauty. –A sun which dwells in the souls of all… ~“A Chapter of Definitions,” Daily Crescent, 1848, June 23rd

Beauty unites all things, 
links together flower and star,
with chains more certain 
than those of reason.
The poet, the artist, thus finds
 the clue which
guides them in their 
pilgrimage throughout the world.
~Henry James Slack,
The Ministry of the Beautiful, 1850

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As many of you know, I have suffered with chronic pain since I was around 25 years old, and since I will be 75 in 6 months, that’s 50 years of coping not only to survive the pain but to thrive in life as well. In a recent conversation regarding that statistic a fellow blogger thought it interesting that I surround myself with beauty and lovely words. And it occurred to me that I, in fact, had been doing that more and more as the years rolled on. Maybe I some how knew they could and would help me survive the “dark nights of the soul” and “guide me through my difficult pilgrimage in this world.” And perhaps again ‘tis why finding this clematis abloom in the yard this week thrilled me almost beyond what words can adequately convey. But as I think it’s important for all of us to find something profoundly uplifting for ourselves, I shall try. Last spring I went in a local nursery to buy some seeds, and as I made my way to the back of the store where they were kept, I passed this pure white clematis you see in the photo. But since I had already spent my bi-monthly yard allowance,  I forced myself to walk on by. I hadn’t gone very far however, when I decided to go back and see how much the beauty was. Of course it was a tad pricey as I expected, but it was so very beautiful and already full of buds. About that time I heard someone call my name and turned round to find my next door neighbor standing nearby. She asked what I was looking at and I told her to come and see. We both agreed it was exceptionally beautiful, and she asked if I was going to buy it. Woefully I told her, “No, I’d better not,” and headed off to get my seeds, and she headed up to the front to make her purchases. When I found my seeds, I did the same and even went down a different aisle so as not to be tempted to go over budget. And I actually got almost to the cash register before I said to myself, “Natalie, you know you will regret it a hundred times over if you don’t buy something you love that much.” So I went back, picked it up, and brought it home. For weeks, its blooms delighted me and then as the summer’s torrid heat befell us, it quit blooming which is what happens here with a lot of things. But to my utter surprise, it began blooming again in the fall when the temps began to drop below the “fry” level. So I patted myself on the back for having bought it because not only was it beautiful, it was also going to be a repetitive source of joy and delight. Then as winter approached, I hired someone to come clear the yard of all the spent and dead perennials. Unfortunately the industrious little soul took it upon himself to venture into the area where this treasure was, and by the time I discovered him there, he had already cut it completely down to the ground. So after he left, I lamented with tears that it might not come back in the spring, and that even if it did, it might not bloom for another year or two. So you can imagine how excited I was when a few weeks ago, I saw new growth coming up from where it had been. Then as it climbed up and up and I discovered buds, I squealed like a happy child. Finally to find a few days ago that one of the buds had opened was all that it took for the “sun to bloom in my soul” despite some recent very difficult pain-filled days. Everyone faces trials and suffering in this world, not the same as mine perhaps, but suffering nonetheless. So I pray that all of you find some way or some things that let the sun shine in your soul as well as guide you on your path and pilgrimage through life. God’s Holy Spirit will indwell in you, if you but believe in Him and ask, and it is the Holy Spirit who will point the way to the “sun,” the light that will illuminate and hearten your passage here.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. ~John 14:26  ✝

Beware the ides of March…

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Today, the ides of March, is the average last freeze date in north Texas. There are times, although, when after the 15th of March we’ve experienced one or more late freezes which kill the smatterings of early spring blooms that often start here as early as February. But interestingly there’s a saying hereabouts which purports that if the pecan trees have not yet budded by the 15th, there will definitely be more freezes. So I keep an eye on my neighbor’s pecan tree as it actually has branches reaching over our common fence line, and I can easily see whether it has started budding or not. That’s why today I went out for my usual ides of March sojourn over to my north fence and looked up to find that tiny buds are beginning to appear on some of the tree’s branches. And silly as it may seem, I’ve been watching that circumstance for over a decade now, and it has never failed to be quite accurate in its forecast. So now I can and will bring the ferns out of the green house to enjoy breezy and fresher open air, and I will be able to move forward with more and more plantings. Isn’t it fascinating that seeds which fall to the ground during the growing season in summer and/or autumn know when it’s time to start germinating in the spring and that pecan trees and other already growing things know when it’s safe to start budding and leafing out. Indeed, the Lord’s designs, in all things, are amazingly far better laid out than “the plans of mice and men.”

**Crocus photo taken by Natalie

1356. The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within. ~William C. Bryant

yellow jasmine and
daffodils too have I seen
springtime harbingers

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poppy progeny
grows where seeds fell from dried pods
as summer drew nigh

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tulip foliage
as well as anemones
break ground ‘neath the oak

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new leaves appear on
roses that survived the first
hard, too early freeze

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This is what the Lord says to me: “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat…” ~Excerpted passage from Isaiah 18:4  ✝

**All but two images taken by Natalie; collages created by Natalie; haikus written by Natalie

1128. One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds. ~Dan Bennett

Gardeners are artists,
 their brushes a tiny seed,
an ever changing picture emerges from their deed.
~Author Unknown

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Watching hands transplanting,
Turning and tamping,
Lifting the young plants with two fingers,
Sifting in a palm-full of fresh loam,–
One swift movement,–
Then plumping in the bunched roots,
A single twist of the thumbs, a tamping and turning,
All in one, quick on the wooden bench,
A shaking down, while the stem stays straight,
Once, twice, and a faint third thump,–
Into the flat-box it goes,
Ready for the long days under the sloped glass:
The sun warming the fine loam,
The young horns winding and unwinding,
Creaking their thin spines,
The underleaves, the smallest buds
Breaking into nakedness,
The blossoms extending
Out into the sweet air,
The whole flower extending outward,
Stretching and reaching.
~Theodore Roethke

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~Colossians 2  ✝

1098. How can I stand on the ground every day and not feel its power? How can I live my life stepping on this stuff and not wonder at it? ~William Bryant Logan

A garden is the mirror of the mind.
It is a place of life, a mystery of green,
moving to the pulse of the year,
and pressing on and pausing the whole
to its own inherent rhythms.
~Henry Beston

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After the autumnal equinox passes sometime in late September the days begin to grow shorter and shorter so that light blesses the soil less and less. Soon with each new cold front that blows in temperatures start dropping more and more from the feverish pitch of their summertime highs. Then as the year’s last child draws near its end, the first freeze comes and the garden starts to wither and unravel. Soon afterwards another freeze arrives, harder than the last, and then another until the stage is set for ice or snow or frost to layer the land. With each onslaught winter’s sting strikes deeper and deeper at the remains of the garden. However, after the winter solstice occurs, the process of “pausing the whole” slowly but surely begins to reverse itself so that day by day there’s a little more sunlight and a little more and a little more until somewhere in all of that movement of the sun and the earth and the stars, the divine mystery and its miracles spark children of the soil into being once more. Faithfully in hidden wombs beneath soil or in bark, embryos have been growing and waiting for the elements to create the right catalytic mixture to push tiny tips upward or outward into the light of day. Following the first emergence of new life, earth’s sacred rhythms, which had been faint as we traversed winter’s veil of grief, become louder again until buds, nurtured by water, warmth, and sunlight, grow large and ripe enough to come into their time of blossoming. So it is that the “pausing” at last comes to an end, and spring’s first comers to press upward, outward and onward burgeoning into flowers and the “mystery of green” that’s a garden. And then in the mirror of my mind I can see clearly the countenance in the Face of all faces because as Robert Brault says, “As a gardener, I’m among those who believe that much of the evidence of God’s existence has been planted.”

Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. ~Psalm 85:11  ✝

755. “I’m glad I am alive, to see and feel the full deliciousness of this bright day…” ~William Allingham

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In June, as many as a dozen species
may burst their buds on a single day.
~Aldo Leopold

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By 1890, San Antonio, Texas, was a thriving trade center with population of 38,000.

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In 1891 a group of citizens decided to honor the heroes
of the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto with a Battle of Flowers.

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The first parade had horse-drawn carriages, bicycles decorated with fresh flowers
and floats carrying children dressed as flowers.

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The Belknap Rifles represented the military.

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The participants pelted each other with blossoms.

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Today it’s the largest parade in Fiesta and is second in size nationally
only to the Tournament of Roses Parade.

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It’s fiesta time again in yard too!

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Whenever I look out the windows, especially this time of year,
I think of these hispanic fiestas which are always so very colorful.

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So I hope you enjoy this frenzy of oranges, reds, pinks,
yellows, blues, whites, and purples.

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I don’t often post two entries in one day, but it’s getting awfully hot here
and some of my pretty blossoms don’t last too long in the heat.

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This is what the Lord says to me: “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” ~Isaiah 18:4   ✝

696. Welcome, wild harbinger of spring! To this small nook of earth… ~Bernard Barton

Listen, can you hear it?
Spring’s sweet cantata.
The strains of grass pushing up.
The song of buds swelling on the vine.
The tender timpani of a baby robin’s heart.
Spring!
~Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

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In the glow of the dawn,
Welcome a new day,
Greet the golden sunlight or rain,
Nature in all its subtlety.
Whip of the wind,
Earth unfolds,
Softly falling rain,
Growing plants and buds blossoming.
Visions of the earth, with glories of nature,
Beauty of the daffodils,
Sunshine and rain from a rainbow,
Awe! Nature in full bloom.
~Blanche Black

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. ~Isaiah 35:1-2 ✝

And so spring begins in my small nook of earth with a smattering of roses and a new piece of yard art.  I took this photo early this morning of a portion of the north quadrant of my back yard.