1168. To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle. ~Walt Whitman

I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day,
a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic
waiting somewhere behind the morning.
~J. B. Priestley

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I have a recliner opposite my patio doors, and the doors are wide enough to afford a great view of a sizable portion of our yard and its flower beds. When I first get up in the morning, I enjoy sitting for a while in my chair watching the sun come up and the birds begin their daily activities. In the top photo above you can see a portion of a patio chair, part of the flower bed near the patio, part of another flower bed by Natalieworld, and about a third of the island bed that’s between me and the back fence. It was started decades ago before the removal of a large stand of bamboo that was behind it and the subsequent development of a new flower bed that now runs along the fence. Thus that back bed has become a sort of secret garden since you can’t see much of it until you walk around the island bed along the path near my neighbor’s fence on the north or the path that runs along the north side of the greenhouse. So it’s always fun to see what I’ll find when I finally get up and out to go look for what’s new back there on any given day. That back bed, anchored by a purple red bud tree that I’ve watched come up from a volunteer seedling, is where I threw out lots and lots of different kinds of seeds last fall. As spring advanced first came the poppies, the larkspur, the cornflowers, and the ragged ladies, and now the coneflowers, monarda, hollyhock, allium, daylilies, and a few sunflowers are blooming there currently. Also I have several kinds of vines beginning to climb on the chain link fence back there, and so soon I’ll have a host of morning glories, moonflowers, and coral vine flowers. So it is that a garden is more of a moveable feast than a static thing and when people ask what I have growing, it really depends on the week or the month. And I think that’s what I love most about it. But then there are the transitional times when not too much of anything at all is blooming.

If you really want to draw close to your garden,
you must remember first of all that you are
dealing with a being that lives and dies;
like the human body, with its poor flesh.
One cannot always see it dressed up
for a ball, manicured and immaculate.
~Fernand Lequenne

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God. People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.~Psalm 36:7-8  ✝

1124. I love tulips better than any other spring flower; they are the embodiment of alert cheerfulness and tidy grace… ~Excerpted line by Elizabeth von Arnim

 Guarded within the old red wall’s embrace,
Marshaled like soldiers in gay company,
The tulips stand arrayed.
~Excerpt from
a poem by Amy Lowell

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Sooooo, every week when we go to the grocery story, I buy one of those little bunches of cut flowers to set on the shelf near my computer. But this last week they had a pot of tulips on sale for $5.00 and they looked like they might be very pretty ones when they fully opened up. So I saved myself some money and brought the bargain, potted tulips home. And every day I have watched as they slowly but surely opened up into a very pretty species indeed. And here’s the thing, since I’ve tried and tried planting tulip bulbs in the ground with little to no luck at all, (actually this year I did get one to come up and bloom. It wasn’t very big but it was pretty) now I’m wondering, if I planted these that are already in soil in the pot instead of more bulbs in the fall, that they might actually come up next year and bloom for me. Okay, okay, before any of you gardening gurus out there have reasons to shoot holes in my theory, just let them lie and allow me to find out the folly of it for myself. That way I’ll have a whole year to look forward to their coming before my hopes are dashed again and I am once again “tulipless.” Also should any of you feel compelled to ask why I don’t just go out and cut flowers from my garden instead of buying ones each week, let me just say that I’m greedy and can’t stand for any of my babies to be “murdered.” And yes, I am also aware that the ones I buy have been “murdered,” but hey, that was someone else’s bad choice not mine.

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Flowers heal me. Tulips make me happy. I keep myself surrounded by them… ~Excerpt from a line by Rebecca Wells

…the cheerful heart has a continual feast. ~Excerpt from Proverbs 17:22   ✝

1013. I saw old autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening 
to silence. ~Thomas Hood

After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things.  It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir(way of knowing).
~Wallace Stevens

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O splendid, lusty autumn, you who come with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, with cooler days and lengthening chilly nights, it is, I’m sad to say, time for you to go. This year’s first frosts have come and gone, migratory birds have vanished over distant horizons, and crops have been harvested from garden and field alike. And all the while your while beauty and bounty “shined unconfined” as your days spread a “common feast for all that live.” Grateful are we to God and thee, o “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” that rains fell in good measure and gusty winds laid abundant, leafy blankets over the ground in protective readiness against winter’s icy blasts.

silence
seeks the center
of every tree and rock,
that thing we hold closest
-
the end of mere songs
~Michael McClintock

O Lord, I have truly enjoyed listening to nature’s solemn, autumnal hymns once again. And I’ve watched in wonder as leaf upon leaf floated down disrobing the earth. Now I find delight in the millions of shining stars I can see through the bare tree branches, and I know, according to Your promises, that when autumn’s allotted sands of time run out of this year’s hourglass that it’s not an ending. So I’ll go to bed tonight assured that with the arrival of the winter solstice near midnight this evening that the slamming shut of fall’s back door is in reality just a new beginning, a fresh start that will usher in another season, a season of restful silences. Thus at the morrow’s first light, I will rise and begin in earnest to prepare my heart to welcome Your son, Emmanuel, and to rest–to rest, to observe, to listen, and to continue worshiping You.

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease. ~Genesis 8:22  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

614. If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. ~Earnest Hemingway

I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
I love Paris, why, oh, why do I love Paris
Because my love is there.
~Excerpted lyrics by Cole Porter

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Ooh la la! Je t’aime, Paris! It was my high school French teacher and lines like these above that began my love affair with the French language and Paris, the city of lights. Now more than half a century later, I still have to agree with Audrey Hepburn that “Paris is always a good idea” and with Earnest Hemingway that “Paris is a moveable feast.” In fact I thought it was such a good idea way back then, that when I went off to college, I decided to major in French in hopes that one day I’d be able to go there and live for awhile or for that matter maybe for the rest of my life. But alas and alack, as the poet said, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” And so they did! Before I graduated from college, I met and married my husband, a born and bred Texan who vowed he’d never leave this place, but being the young romantic that I was, I thought I could change his mind. It took awhile but eventually I did. During the summer of 2013 after we’d been married 50 years, my daughter, her husband, their three children, and James and I left Texas for a whirlwind visit to London, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Dublin, and Paris, all places that we thoroughly enjoyed.  But go figure! James fell in love with Paris at first sight, so much so that if all goes well with my knee replacement next month, he and I are going to Paris again this coming summer. The rest of the previously mentioned crew will head to Italy while James and I stay in Paris, and then we’ll all come together in Strasburg for a 5 day Rhine River Cruise before coming home. The moral of the story: No matter how old one gets, he or she should never give up on his or her dreams, and God is always good!!! Four weeks, four days and counting…

Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
~Excerpted lyrics by Guglielmi, Luis Gugliemo/Gassion, 
Edith Giovanna/David, Mack

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“You know, I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around (in Paris) and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form… ~Quote from the movie, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

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Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. ~Proverbs 13:12  ✝

**All collages created were by Natalie from images via Pinterest

579. How beautifully the falling leaves grow old! How full of light and color are their last days! ~John Burroughs

Thy bounty shines in autumn unconfined,
and spreads a common feast for all that live.
~James Thomson

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The leaves on my blackberry vine are among the last to change colors in autumn, and so I think of them as the dessert in the “common feast” spread for “all that live.” Earlier while I was out snapping photos of this year’s “dessert,” I watched the sunlight first touch only the tip of the leaf and then eventually spread “unconfined” throughout the span of its surface and onto the other leaves. As I stood there shooting from different angles, it occurred to me that the same thing happens in our lives. As the Lord labors in our inward “fields” of spiritual growth, His light in us expands and begins to spread from us into the lives of others. It also dawned on me that the “fruits of the Spirit” of which Paul speaks in Galatians are not meant to be the product of a single season’s growth. Both the expansion of light and the bearing of fruit develop in a one-thing-leads-to-another kind of progression. Thus there’s a purpose for falling into non-productive “briar patches” while our inward skies are gray; it allows our “fields” to lie fallow until they can be reconstituted and strengthened. Afterwards the soil of our human experiences is ready to bear more fruit and display the fullness of the Lord’s light in us. To that end then we need always to be deepening our relationship and intimacy with the “Vine” by twining around and clinging to Him with thankfulness, patience, and prayerfulness until the fodder being cultivated in our souls becomes sufficient to fuel a new crop of “fruit” as well as widen the reach and intensity of our inner light.

“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 15:5   ✝

482. Spring flowers are long since gone. Summer’s bloom hangs limp on every terrace. ~Louise Seymour Jones


On such a day each road is planned
To lead to some enchanted land;
Each turning meets expectancy.
The signs I read on every hand.
~Eleanor Myers Jewett

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Wait, wait, wait! What did I just hear? I think it was about something coming this way. Shhhhh! Did you hear it? Okay, okay, listen again! There it is! Did you hear it this time? All right, if the voices are yet imperceptible, perhaps the eye can see what the ear cannot hear. Let’s see! Berries are turning orange, red, or purple, spent perennial flowers are being replaced by seed pods, ornamental grasses are sending up pretty seed heads, the spider and oxblood lilies are in bloom, monarch butterflies are reappearing in the garden, the sun is moving southward, days are shortening, and rain paid us a visit last Saturday. Now do you know what I’m hearing? Well, if not, I’ll be happy to tell you what nature’s voices are saying! “Signs on every hand” are declaring that the heat beast is dying and that autumn is, slowly but surely, coming this way!

Lord it is time.
The summer was very big.
Lay thy shadow on the sundials,
and on the meadows
let the winds go loose.
~Ranier Maria Rilke

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What a feast for the senses autumn is! Before long dying leaves will be filled with stunning colors and golden light so that their last days will thrill the eye. When the brightly colored foliage begins to fall from its branches, the leaves will swirl about like colorful party confetti in chilly autumnal winds. After they litter the ground, the crunch under our feet will charm the ear, and bright orange pumpkins prepared in scrumptious fare will gladden the taste buds. And if that’s not enough, there are migrating birds and butterflies, sparkling patches of frost on the ground, and clouds bearing blessed rain that will also add to autumn’s thrilling drama. Oh come sweet autumn, come!

He (God) makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. ~Psalm 135:7 ✝

477. With finger in her solemn lip, night hushed the shadowy earth. ~Margaret Deland

Night is a dead monotonous period under a roof;
but in the open world it passes lightly,
with its stars and dews and perfumes, and the hours
are marked by changes in the face of Nature.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

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A black and white cat has leisurely strolled across our patio for several nights in a row now, and it, like all the other felines who wander by, doesn’t seem to be the least bit interested in or fearful of us as long as we’re on the other side of our patio doors. Actually some nights it’s like a holiday parade out there, only it’s peopled by cats, possums, and raccoons, all of whom are the suspected culprits of destructive mischief such as the broken rose stem I discovered this morning. Then some nights, in addition to all that activity, there are the gecko lizards who like to run up and down our patio doors chasing bugs. So it is that though the enchanting yard and gardens have disappeared into the darkness, even in our absence life and the living prevail in the hush of night.

I call our glass patio doors, our big screen TV because the indoor cats and I have wiled away many an hour just watching what goes on outside. In so doing I’ve witnessed a wide spectrum of good and bad, feast and famine, and life and death over the years. And I’ve always found a comforting harmony and balance in those opposing forces. For example it’s easy to lose a sense of how beautiful a garden or the earth in general is without a picture of the kind of devastation that a storm or a drought or some such can do to it. That’s why I think the beauty of spring is so breathtaking; it comes after the landscape has been ravaged by winter’s often harsh and cruel assaults. In the same way, who among us could ever begin to bear the brutality in the world without having also witnessed life’s abundant goodness.

I love the house where you live, O LORD, the place where your glory dwells.  ~Psalm 26:8   ✝

 **Image via Pinterest