1328. It is an old story, this irresistible and ceaseless onflow of life and time… ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.
~William Blake

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Dead and brown is all that once was verdant and full of life. And again today a north wind blew to scatter more of autumn’s splendrous, leafy remains. Willy nilly the leaves whirled about and over the ground as if they were happy children chasing one another. Though a smattering of leaves yet dons a tree or two, for the most part the yard is a graveyard of clattering skeletons, desiccated leaves and withered flowers, bare soil and beige sod. Too, the beating heart of Creation’s life has grown ever so faint, but nonetheless it is discernible to the listening, longing ear. All the while beneath the surface, there’s an entirely different story evolving. For it is there that miraculous, even magical, proceedings are taking place and moving to the rhythm of winter’s muted heartbeat. And as they advance, they gather strength from their sacred sources, mother nature and Father God. So carry on tiny embryos of earth’s womb; I shall wait patiently and not lose heart nor faith while surrounded by this death and decay for I trust and know you will rise in the Spring and once more thrill me beyond the ability to speak so that only squeals of joy will fill the space herein between heaven and earth.

How can those who do not garden,
who have no lot in the great fraternity
of those who watch the changing year
as it affects the earth and its growth,
how can they keep warm their hearts in winter?
~Francis King

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

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1071. Mother Nature is a son-of-a-gun. ~Murphy’s Tenth Law

Nature reserves the right to inflict upon
her children the most terrifying jests.
~Thornton Wilder

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Winter? What winter? Did we have winter? We did? I do seem to remember some gray, gloomy and very short days as well as a few times when the temperature fell below freezing, barely, and the leaves fell off the trees. But was that it? That’s all we’re gonna get? No blue northers? No snow? No sleet? No ice? No fog? No rain? Nada, zip, zilch! Or is it gonna be like what’s happened sometimes before, Mother Nature? You’re gonna let everything get started in the garden and then wham bam! You’re gonna hit us hard with a late and bitter blast of winter’s fury that will nip everything in the bud as it has before. Or maybe, you’re just gonna let us move right along into an early spring and then onto a very, very long hot summer, one that’s so especially wretched that it redefines what a  long, hot summer truly is? Is that it? Oh fickle, fickle Mother Nature, what a beastly shrew you can be from time to time! Okay, okay, I know it’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature or say bad things about her. So perhaps I ought to strive to see the error of my fractious ways once again and just be grateful for the exquisite beauty above and below that started blooming in my yard today.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. ~Romans 7:21  ✝

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1020. Come, see the north wind’s masonry… ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Through the sharp air
 a flaky torrent flies…
and hides the gloomy skies;
the fleecy clouds their chilly bosoms bare,
and shed their substances on the floating air.
~George Crabbe

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What a weekend weather wise it has been! We’ve been dealt nearly the full gamut of frequent Texas weather patterns in the last 72 hours–high winds, thunder, lightning, heavy rains, flash floods, hail, tornados. And then as if that were not enough, for good measure Mother Nature also threw in an earthquake and a white-out blizzard in the Panhandle and a few other places. On top of that I woke up here to find a smattering of snow on the ground which given that it didn’t freeze overnight nor was it 32 degrees or below when I awoke is very unusual. About the only thing that got skipped the last few days was the intense heat of summer although on Christmas Day the temperature did climb to almost 80 degrees. So hellooooo Winter! It seems you HAVE arrived ready to go, ready to wash off last year’s grime, and bringing nighttime temps right at freezing or below for the next 10 days. Makes me kind of wonder, and a bit fearfully I might add, what more Mother Nature could have up her perfidious sleeve for truly she’s demonstrated once again that she can be most untrustworthy at times.

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Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. ~Psalm 51:7  ✝

**Weather image found on Facebook; all other images taken by Natalie; collages created by Natalie

662. The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only. ~Joseph Wood Krutch

Out of the bosom of the air
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.
This is the poem of the air.
~Excerpted lines from a poem
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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Snow again? Unfreakingbelievable! I’d been waiting and watching the skies all winter for signs of snow and when did it finally come? Three weeks, more or less, before the arrival of the vernal equinox and at the time of my knee surgery. Not only that but before the snow fell last week you’d have thought spring was springing up and out all over my neck of the woods.  Why so?  The neighboring Bradford pear trees were budding out, my redbud tree was budding out, the willow at the back was leafing out, the roses were also leafing out, some even had buds, hyacinth were blooming, daffodils were flowering, and an assortment of green things were sprouting up and out of the ground. But then and in the twinkling of an eye– wham, bam, boom, the temps plummeted, the rains came, and as February’s doors closed the “poetry” of snow fell. Go figure! But then since our last average freeze date is March 15th, silly old me thought perhaps the sun would be back this week and we’d start warming up. But oh no! Sunday, on the way home from the hospital I heard forecasters predict more below freezing temps for the week as well as additional rain, sleet, or snow. And wouldn’t you know, the weather gurus who are often wrong when it comes to Texas weather were 100% right this time because once more as this week progressed the temps plummeted, the rains came, and then last night out of the “bosom of the air” fell the “poetry of snow” for the second time in less than a week! My oh my oh my, but Mother Nature can be quite the fickle and cruel old gal at times, can’t she?!
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Throughout the evening I watched the snow fairies
As they were falling, falling from the sky, and
Whirling willy-nilly about in the misty air while
Contending fiercely for space supremacy.
Then as the night deepened they flew down mightily,
As though in heaven there had been a revolt or a riot
Which drove the frail things into a panicked flight
Down to the calm earth in search of peace and quiet.
Finally I went on to bed but rose early at dawn
And saw myriads of them huddled together in heaps,
Each merged into the other upon any and all surfaces,
Fast asleep, worn out by their sharp struggle.
~Edited and adapted lines by Claude McKay
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. ~Psalm 4:8   ✝

653. He (winter) withers all in silence, and his hand unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life. ~William Blake

Drops fell…and rang like
little disks of metal.
Ping! Ping! and there was not
a pinpoint of silence 
between them.
~Amy Lowell

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Mama, mama mía! Here we go again! Down, down, down plummet the temps! And this time newly birthed lives will be lost in the chicanery of this winter skirmish.

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Why? Because here in north central Texas late January and early February often conjure up enough unseasonably warm days to convince the land that spring has sprung. And the dastardly scoundrels have done it again!

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These two deceiving culprits have successfully hoodwinked gardens and parks alike into believing it is time for blooming things to emerge from branch and soil. Now, after their two-faced, heartless lies, a harsh north wind doth blow.

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Moreover, freezing rain is falling and soon will switch to sleet and/or snow. In the frigid, darkness of night, the samaras of a Red Maple, the yellows of a smattering of daffodils and forsythia as well as the pinks and whites of some saucer magnolias will be washed out leaving only the browns of death and decay. Oh what a wicked, wicked, fickle web Mother Nature ofttimes weaves.

So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you. ~Proverbs 22:19   ✝

585. On the first day of winter, the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself. ~Laura Lush

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!
~Excerpt from poem 
by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Winter is Awakening
The Solstice Sun is Rising

The Heart of Nature
dreaming
Poems of Earth
now sleeping

The Seasons are
weaving
The journeys
of Creation

The Seeds
are Quickening
in Mother Nature’s
Sacred Wing

~Edited poem by Victoria Pettella

Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. ~1 Corinthians 16:6   ✝
(Paul was speaking here to Christ followers in Corinth, but this could well be a prayer we lift up unto the Lord for safe passage through winter’s dark realm.)

**Image via Pinterest

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

In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there.
To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe.
I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.
~Dodinsky

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A fellow blogger recently wrote about the garden of her childhood and at the end her post she asked her readers if they, too, remembered a garden from their childhood. And though I do, mine wasn’t just a single garden, it was garden after garden after garden because I grew up in Southern California which is a garden in and of itself. Simply put I remember flowers at every turn, colors at every turn, and fragrances everywhere; so amazing were they that more than half a century later, they are as vivid and fragrant as ever. Also my grandmother and my mother’s sister who lived in Texas where we visited almost every summer loved flowers and had lovely gardens of their own. So for me the answer to Annette’s question is a resounding yes, yes, yes.

Today while I was at the nursery buying fertilizer for the lawn, the first plant I saw (the bougainvillea below) was one that grows all over Southern California and sometimes so wild and unrestrained that it covers rooftops. So I decided to make photos from the nursery along with some of my favorite garden quotes as an answer to her question and an offering to you.

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The garden is a long son, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature.
~Jeff Cox

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To this day, I cannot see a bright daffodil,
a proud gladiola, or a smooth egglant
without thinking of Papa.
Like his plants and trees,
I grew up as a part of his garden.
~Leo Buscaglia

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As a gardener, I’m among those who believe
that much of the evidence of God’s existence has been planted.
~Robert Brault

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A garden really lives  only insofar as it is an
expression of faith, the embodiment of hope, and a song of praise.
~Russell Page

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Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 ✝

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!