534. The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest. ~William Blake

A year of beauty. A year of plenty.
A year of planting. A year of harvest.
A year of forests. A year of healing.
A year of vision. A year of passion.
A year of rebirth.

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Irish immigrants fleeing from the Great Famine of the 1840’s brought versions of Halloween to North America. For them the celebration had its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian “All Saints Day” on November 1st. The festivities of the centuries-old holiday began at sunset and ended at midnight on October 31st. Samhain meant roughly “summer’s end,” and it was a celebration of the end of the “lighter half” of the year in which the daylight hours steadily increased and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year in which the daylight hours steadily decreased.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.
The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.
Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.
~Excerpts from a blessing by
John O’Donohue

The land yields its harvest; God, our God blesses us. ~Psalm 67:6  ✝

**Images via Pinterest

286. Where flowers bloom so does hope. ~Lady Bird Johnson

Live each season as it passes
breathe the air, drink the drink,
taste the fruit, and resign yourself
to the influences of each.
~Henry David Thoreau


Smitten (v.) – affected suddenly and strongly with a specified feeling; affected mentally or morally with a sudden pang; impressed favorably; charmed; enamored.  I love the word smitten, I love being smitten, I look forward to being smitten, and on days like today I’m in desperate need of being smitten.  And what might the source of my “smittenness” be today?  It’s tulips and daffodils and hyacinths and crocus.  After years of planting bulbs in the ground to little or no avail, I’d resigned myself to being able to admire them until now only in books, magazines, and yards where others somehow have success with them.


Nothing speaks of springtime louder or more clearly than flowering bulbs.  They are the epitome of spring’s opening opus, and now that my greenhouse is abloom with many of them, it feels like spring is close enough to reach out and touch.  Ah, spring, the season of increased sunlight, warmer temperatures, and the rebirth of fauna and flora, the season when the tilt of the earth relative to the sun is zero, the season which begins one month from today.


For me drinking the drink, tasting the fruit, and resigning myself to the influence of each season as it passes is a way of life that inevitably brings me face to face with Yahweh and Son, the Holy One with whom I am beyond smitten.  Like Tennyson, I’m convinced that if one can understand what a flower is “root and all, and all in all, one should know what God and man is.”

O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in Him.  ~Psalm 34:8   ✝

273. The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done something for the good of the whole world. ~Vita Sackville-West

The most noteworthy thing about gardeners
is that they are optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied.
They always look forward to doing something better
than they have ever done before.
~Vita Sackville-West


During World War I and World War II, victory gardens were planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.  Vegetables, fruits, and herbs were grown to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war efforts.  Not only did these gardens indirectly aid in the war efforts, but they were also considered civil “morale boosters.”  By planting them, gardeners felt empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce they grew.  As a result victory gardens became a part of daily life on the home front.

Amos Bronson Alcott said, “Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps, perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvests reaps.”  Can you imagine what it must have been like to stand in Eden? And to listen for the Lord as He walked in the cool of the day?  There are times when I’m in my garden that I get a sense of the incredible thrill that must have been.  The perennial pleasures of my garden plant a rightness in my days and a comfortable feeling of harmony in my spirit.  And the wholesome harvests I reap are not just the fruits, the flowers, and the beauty all around me but also the peace it brings and the times when the deep sanctity of it touches my soul where the Lord is planting and digging for harvests of His own.

There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil.  This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment.  ~Ecclesiastes 2:24-25  ✝

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