1209. Spinning round and round, everything was magical and gold. ~Karen Aba

The Carousel
the carousel turns in the carnival park
on a pier further down on the beach
the gold ring is its greatest allure

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the spirited ponies, animals quaint,
all snorting and rearing whirl round
and round in their brightly colored paints

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the spinning floor stops for us to get on
and after we choose our mounts, the
ride starts with the enchanting sounds

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up and down, round and round,
prance the horses while the calliope sings and
we go ’round waiting to reach for the rings

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sometimes we miss them as they fly by
or they’re too far out of reach but there’s
always that chance for the second try
~Edited and adapted poem
by Soul Survivor

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Who knows what triggers memories? Even childhood memories can be aroused a half a century or more after their occurrence. Today was such a day. The house where we lived California was just a half a block from the Pacific Ocean. Though I was forbidden to cross the busy street to get over to the beach by myself, the allure was just too great to resist for one such as me. And then quite a ways down the beach was a place called Rainbow Pier which had midway with a Merry-Go-Round and other amusements. And of course I was forbidden to go there by myself too. But again the lure of that Merry-Go-Round with its gold ring that if caught garnered one a free ride was just too enticing for me. Thankfully, the Lord was watching over me and no harm came to me the numerous times that I heeded not parental rules. I’m the oldest of 3 girls and not too long ago, we were reminiscing about our California days, and I told them of my stealing away alone to the beach and the midway. Both were surprised, and the middle one was indignant that I had not invited either of them to go with me. When asked why I didn’t, I laughed and said because one or both of you would have “spilled the beans” and that would have been the end of my forays to those magical places. The middle one insisted that she would never have said anything, and I had to remind her that every time she became angry with me she had “squealed” about something just to get me in trouble. The fact that she adamantly denied it doesn’t change the truth of it however. We left California to move to Texas when I was 13, but those memories are still vibrantly alive!

Purple horses with orange manes,
Elephants pink and blue,
Tigers and lions there were never seen
In circus parade or zoo!
Bring out your money and choose your steed,
And prance to the delightsome sound.
What fun if the world would turn some day
Into a Merry-Go-Round!
~Rachel Field

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. ~1 Corinthians 12:11  ✝

728. There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air is softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Poetry is a rich, full bodied whistle,
Cracked ice crunching in pails,
The night that numbs the leaf,
The duel of two nightingales,
The sweat pea that has run wild,
Creation’s tears in shoulder blades.
~Boris Pasternak


Well, perhaps not every child had such a garden in their childhood, but I wish they had. I did, but the enchanted place was actually all the blocks around our house more than just a single garden. Nevertheless, Lawrence’s description fits my childhood perfectly. For, you see, in southern California where my life began, flowers grow everywhere, and many of the houses, like ours, which were perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean had car-width alleyways behind them. While many of the backyards were filled with all kinds flowers, the fences along the alleys were covered oftentimes with sweet pea vines. So strong an imprint did those images and scents make on my mind, heart, and soul that the memory of them hasn’t faded, not even a smidgen, for the fifty years I’ve been gone from there. Had I known 20 years ago that sweet peas would grow here, I would have started sowing their seeds when I first took up gardening. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I stumbled across a packet of sweet pea seeds in a nursery and thought what the heck. Why not give ‘em a try?! And guess what? They have done fairly well the years we’ve gotten a good amount of rain and the temperatures haven’t gotten too warm, too quickly. Et voilà! Today sweet peas are abloom on my back fence again! And the halcyon days of my childhood have been flooding the foreground of my memory the livelong day. My oh my, but those were wondrous and wonder-filled times!

By helpful fingers taught to twine
Around its trellis, grew
A delicate and dainty vine;
The bursting bud, its blossom sign, Inlaid with honeyed-dew.

Oh, some may choose, as gaudy shows,
Those saucy sprigs of pride
The peony, the red, red rose;
But give to me the flower that grows Petite and pansy-eyed.

 Thus, meditation on Sweet Peas
Impels the ardent thought,
Would maidens all were more like these,
With modesty–that true heartsease–
Tying the lover’s knot.
~Excerpted verses from a poem
by Hattie Howard

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ~Ephesians 5:1-2   ✝

469. The ripest peach is highest on the tree. ~James Whitcomb Riley

This is the blessing for a ripe peach:
This is luck made round. Frost can nip
the blossom, kill the bee. It can drop,
a hard green useless nut. Brown fungus,
the burrowing worm that coils in rot can
blemish it and wind crush it on the ground.
Yet this peach fills my mouth with juicy sun.
~A verse from a poem by Marge Piercy

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Abracadrabra! Hinkety, pinkety! Jiggity, jog! Poof! Oh wouldn’t it be lovely if with such a simple incantation we could go back in time to a place where one of our life’s greatest treasures lie! For me it would be a place filled with the sights and sounds of the sea, the fragrances of beautiful flowers, the tastes of luscious fruits, and the magic of innocence. That place would always be my childhood home in southern California where sanctity fell from on high and oozed up from the ground, and the air was charged and ripe with God’s goodness.

It was when I read this verse today that the poet’s words actually took me back for the briefest of moments to that time and place. For you see in our backyard we had a large peach tree, and I remember so well reaching up, grabbing one, though it might not have been the highest, and eating it with joyful abandon, letting the “juicy sun” drip right down from my mouth. And then there were my mama’s peach pies!!! My oh my oh my but they were the best I have ever eaten!

The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. ~Genesis 1:12   ✝

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. With all Creation I sing: Praise to the King of Kings. You are my everything, and I will adore you!” (From Revelation Song by Phillips, Craig, and Dean)

461. When the eye sees a color it is immediately excited… ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air — explode softly — and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth — boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either — not just little boxes of eight, but the boxes of 64… And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.” ~Robert Fulghum

DSC_0053During the growing seasons in my yard, yellow sets up camp on sunflower’s faces, orange spills from the daylily’s cup, red rests on many a rosy petal, blue climbs salvia spikes and perches on morning glory vines while purple dangles from the wisteria vine and crawls along the top of the lavender’s wands. Then there’s the medley of light to dark pink that runs along coneflower petals while gold fills the Rudbeckia petals, the magenta that bubbles on the panicles of the Crape Myrtles, the hot pink that mounts the spires of loosestrife and trumpets forth from the upright tubes of Monarda, and the softer and varied shades of light pinks that adorn other roses as well as the coral vine. What I don’t have nor never will have here in my yard are what you see in the photo, the beautiful wine-red fruits of the prickly pear cactus. I am just not a cactus fan, but I think the ripened fruits of Opuntia are stunning, and in the Texas landscape the prickly pear cactus can be found almost anywhere.

Claude Monet once said that color was his “day-long obsession, joy and torment” and that he perhaps owed “having become a painter to flowers.” Similarly it is my love affair with color and flowers that led have me to become a photographer and blogger. And to think it all began with boxes of crayolas. Why? When I was a child, we lived in southern, coastal California where I fell in love with the flowers I encountered at every turn, and since we traveled every summer either by car or train, Mother wanted to make sure my sisters and I had things to keep us from getting bored and antsy. So each of us got, among other engaging things, a brand new box of crayolas and coloring books for our journeys. I looked forward all year long to those new boxes of crayolas and the pleasurable hours of coloring, but I was not then nor am I now able to draw images very well from scratch. So later in life I replaced my box of crayons for a camera and bought a house with a large yard so I could have lots of growing spaces for flowers. And now it is the pretty flowers and their luscious colors that move me daily to make “offerings” of praise and gratitude to the Lord.

Praise Him (God) for his mighty deeds; praise Him according to his excellent greatness. ~Psalm 150:2   ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! May I dwell in Your holy presence and praise Your name for all that you have given and done.

335. Here are the sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight: with wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white, and taper fingers catching at all things, to bind them all about. ~John Keats

By helpful fingers taught to twine
Around its trellis, grew
A delicate and dainty vine;
The bursting bud, its blossom sign,
Inlaid with honeyed-dew.
~Hattie Howard


Between each row of houses in Belmont Shore, California, where I grew up ran an alley which was the way to get in and out of the rear facing garages; it was also a favorite place to ride my bike or skates as well as being a frequented path to the homes of neighboring friends. Besides the garages the alley skirted the back yards of the houses and on many of the fences grew Sweet Pea vines. Not only were the flowers of these vines lovely and fragrant, but for a curious and imaginative child born in and of and wedded to one of the few remaining years of innocence the world would ever know they were the home of enchanted and magical fairy creatures.

Hauntingly unforgettable indeed have been the gardens in my childhood, but it was more than just the colors, the beautiful flowers and the lovely fragrances. Along with being mesmerized by all that splendor, I was courted by the Holy One, Yahweh, whose sole intent was to capture my heart and reveal His own. Though the world and its deceptions fought long and hard to turn me away from Jesus, He would not and did not give up on what had always been His.

The world is very old;
But every Spring
It groweth young again,
And fairies sing.
~Author Unknown


With their richly colored, yet small, delicate flowers, the sweet pea’s history can be traced back to 17th century Italy when a Sicilian monk, Franciscus Cupani, sent its seeds to England. Then Henry Eckford, a Scottish nurseryman, cross-bred the original flower and created the colorful and intensely sweet scented blossom that became the floral sensation of the late Victorian era.


The Song of the “Sweet Pea Fairies”

Here Sweet Peas are climbing,
(Here’s the Sweet Pea rhyme!)
Here are little tendrils,
Helping them to climb.

Here are sweetest colours,
Fragrance very sweet;
Here are silky pods of peas,
None for us to eat!

Here’s a fairy sister,
Trying on with care.
Such a grand new bonnet
For the baby there.

Does it suit you Baby?
Yes, I really think
Nothing’s more becoming
Than this pretty pink!

~Cicely Mary Barker


My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:15-16 ✝

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace!

**My sweet pea vines are climbing but not blooming yet so I’m using images here that I found on Pinterest.

268. “The true meaning of America, you ask? It’s in a Texas rodeo, in the sound of laughing children, in a …” ~Audie Murphy, one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II, actor, songwriter, and horse breeder

I wanted to be like my father,
who was a cattle man and rodeo roper.
And that was – he was my hero,
and I wanted to be more like him.
~Dave Brubeck, American jazz pianist and composer


Shortly after the beginning of the year, a sign starts flashing “this thing is legendary,” and huge trucks loaded with equipment roll onto the grounds of Will Rogers Coliseum.  But before the livestock comes, before the vendors come, before the riders come, before the spectators come, the carnival trucks are unloaded and construction of the Stock Show midway begins. Soon afterwards the Ferris Wheel and other rides rise high above the surrounding fences, the midway opens, and the “oldest continual running livestock show and rodeo” becomes a daily part of everyday life here in Fort Worth once again.  And each year when I see the Ferris Wheel on the stock show grounds, I’m transported back to my childhood in Long Beach, California, and that stretch of beach with the amusement park about a mile down from our house.  Even though I was forbidden to go there alone, the call of the midway fun and the cotton candy was just too strong to resist.  So from time to time between the ages of 10 and 12 I’d steal away to Rainbow Pier with a few dimes in my pocket and secretly partake of the Pike’s allurements.  I must have picked my days well and not tarried any longer than I should because my disobedient treks to the Pike faded into obscurity undetected.

Our move to Texas when I was 13 not only brought an end to my life in southern California but also to my childhood.  Its halcyon days, however, continue to be my “precious, kingly possessions” and a treasure house of cherished memories.  And I hold fast still to the pleasures and memories of that portion of my life which was filled with a constancy of joy that has never since been equalled.  But then perhaps, it is not the constancy of joy that changed, just the earnestness of the seeker to look for it because according to Scripture we have a promise from God that joy comes in the morning, every morning.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy.  ~Job 8:21  ✝

203. Surely a man needs a closed place where in he may strike root and, like the seed become. ~Antoine de St. Exupéry

But he also needs the Great Milky Way
above him and the vast sea spaces,
though neither stars nor ocean serve his daily needs.
~Antoine de St. Exupéry


For me, autumn, especially late autumn, is a time for reflection, contemplation, and soul searching–a time for ruminating on the things that move me and make me who and what I am.  And so as I worked out in the yard on this sunny last day of November, the windmills in my mind started churning up memories of the events that led to its door.  Rather than covering every step of the journey, I decided to start when I found my “closed place” in this house with its spacious yards where I began to “strike roots.”  In the beginning, though the home and its conveniences served my physical needs and provided me with creature comforts, relief from old emotional wounds and peaceful contentment remained elusive long afterwards.  Years passed with little change in the status quo until one summer while recalling the beautiful flowers surrounding my childhood home (above) in California, I decided it was time to try growing my own flowers right here in hot old Texas.  Since I wasn’t sure I’d inherited the proverbial “green thumb” of my ancestors, I resolved to begin on a small scale.  So I cleaned off a corner of the patio, bought some bags of potting soil and an assortment of pots and seeds, and thus commenced what I know now to have been a pivotal moment in my life.  From the minute the first seeds germinated, a soul-saving passion for gardening was being birthed in me.  Despite the summer’s miserable heat, I faithfully watered and fussed over my thriving “little flock,” and it was those familiar flowery scents that were the catalysts which sparked my spiritual reawakening.  The next summer with the success of the previous year under my belt and a renewed recognition of Ruach Elohim (the Spirit of God), I decided to branch out and actually sow  seeds in the ground and dig a few holes for bedding plants.  Success came again and with it the quickening in my spirit intensified so much so that I decided to take my recently commissioned mentor’s advice to attend church once more.  This was the first step in righting the derailment of my faith journey that had begun after the early death of my father.

Scripture tells us that Christ is the vine, and we are the branches.  Until those first two growing summers the branch that was Natalie had been withering, not because the Lord had been doing less but because I had been turning a deaf ear and  blaming Him for the loss of my father as well as for painful, emotional wounds and the awful, unrelenting migraines that had started in my mid-twenties.  Since then I have spent season after glorious season planting, replanting, listening, seeking His presence, and marveling at the wonders of heaven and earth.  This pilgrimage that was involved in becoming the Natalie I am today has taught me that He, His Church, and His Creation, which includes the Great Milky Way, the vast sea spaces, and a garden, are the “holy foods” I must have to survive and live in peace and harmony.  Now minute by minute in this place where I have deeply “rooted” myself, the hungering need for “more” has been forever silenced by miracles great and small, blessing upon blessing, and the amazing grace He continues to bestow upon me.

I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener… Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine;  you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:1 and 4-5