1449. All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar. ~Helen Hayes 

Spring has returned.
The Earth is like a child
that knows poems.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

But where did spring come from? Was it here?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.47.53 PM.pngOr here?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.50.16 PM.png
Perhaps it was here? Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.53.08 PM.pngCan you see it here?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.56.23 PM.pngWas it hiding here?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.57.39 PM.pngDid it just leave never to return?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.58.14 PM.png

Why do we even believe it will come again? Just because someone older than we has seen it before and says that it will? And someone before him or her had done and said the same? Do we believe everything others tell us? And then even if that’s true what’s the spark that creates the phenomena and sets it all in motion?

What makes something like this spring up
from what seems like nothingness?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 3.30.58 PM.pngOr this?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 3.58.50 PM.pngWhere does this beauty come from?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.01.50 PM.pngIs there a grand plan for something like this?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.26.04 PM.pngWho could make something like this?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.34.06 PM.pngCan you make one of these?
Not grow it. Not graft it. Not clone it. Not start it from seed.
Just create it from scratch?
Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.04.38 PM.pngIs there a purpose for this?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.20.24 PM.pngIs this really necessary?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.13.19 PM.pngWhy and where does this come?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 4.42.12 PM.pngWho could be responsible for something this exquisite?Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 3.13.08 PM.png

Perhaps it’s time to watch the seasons as they pass over the fields, to be still and quieted, to look and listen, to wonder and question, to consider grand divine design and not random happenstance! Maybe then when the dark nights of the soul come, and they will come again and again, and you’re experiencing more anquish than you think you can bear and have little to no hope left, you’ll be ready to meet the Holy One who has and is the only feasible answer to these questions. Then out of gratitude you might even consider inviting Him into your world. He already knows who you are and He will welcome you back into His arms no matter where you”ve been or what you’ve done or not done.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

1446. Beauty is a nectar which intoxicates the soul. ~T.C. Henley

Beauty unites all things,
links together flower and star,
with chains more certain than
those of reason.
~Henry James Slack

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One spring years ago when the flowering trees were in bloom, we came across one of the most beautiful specimens I’d ever seen. I hadn’t a clue as to what kind of tree it was, but I knew I had to have one of my own one day. Thus began the search, a search as it turned out that was not so easy. First I had to find out what the name of the tree was, and once I found that out I discovered that none of the local nurseries had even heard of it before much less had one for sale. So I went online and found a few mail order places that had them. They were fairly expensive but I knew I’d never be happy until one grew here.

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One spring years ago when the flowering trees were in bloom, we came across one of the most beautiful specimens I’d ever seen. I hadn’t a clue as to what kind of tree it was, but I knew I had to have one of my own one day. Thus began the search, a search as it turned out that was not so easy. First I had to find out what the name of it was, and once I found that out I discovered that none of the local nurseries had even heard of it before much less had one for sale. So I went online and found a few mail order places that had them. They were fairly expensive but I knew I’d never be happy until I had one of my own.

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Then another year or two went by and I finally found one at a nursery in a small town close to where we live. It was autumn and the leaves were falling off but you could tell it was alive so we bought it and all winter my hopes ran high that come spring I would at last have my ornamental Peppermint Peach Tree. As the temps began to rise, I’d go out every day looking for signs of life only to find none and eventual heartbreak once again.

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So I told myself it just wasn’t meant to be and moved on until last spring when I saw another one in full bloom again. As soon as I got home I got online to try one more time to find one, and I did. It came on a late and cold wintry day which was not a good time to get out and plant it. It was packed in ice to keep it alive until we didn’t have to plant it immediately, so it lived like that for nearly a week until at last we could finally get out and get it in the ground. And then the waiting game began again. Every day I would make my little trek out to the back fence where we had planted it to see if anything was happening and sure enough green leaf swellings began to appear and what looked like a few blossoms too. Some of the little flowers are white, some are white with red stripes, and some are just red, and it’s all one one tree, thus the name, Flowering Peppermint Peach Tree.

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A week later, we had a late freeze and I feared the worst, but although the little blossom swellings fell off the green leaves did not and so all summer the little baby tree was filled with the sweet music of many leaves and I made sure it was watered well. Then autumn followed by winter came and the leaves vanished. Nevertheless, I waited with great faith that this, the third try, would prove fruitful and praise the Lord and hallelujah it did! I know, I know, it’s just a tree right?! And many would think me silly and that such really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but you see it truly does. It reminds me that God is still in His heaven and all’s right with the world!!! Mankind may be doing it’s best to destroy all that Yahweh made, but He, the Maker of heaven and earth, is still on the Throne of Grace and in control!

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Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. ~Deuteronomy 7:9 ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie; the first one is the tree when I first saw it years ago in another’s yard, and the remaining ones are what’s happening now in my yard on my own little tree

1445. It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of “wonder and humility.” ~Rachel Carson

Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen,
among the beauties and mysteries of the earth,
are never alone or weary of life.
~Rachel Carson

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What is that I hear? What is it I see? What’s that smell floating along on the breeze? Are they things returning once again to remind me that just like that with a sound, a sight, and a scent winter falls slowly but surely into spring, glorious, glorious spring? Could it be that time of year has come when the greens are greener, the colors are fresher, the fragrances sweeter? Have we at last traversed winter’s domain of quietness, of drabness, of blandness to find once more that hope is tangible, love is in the air, and the “beauties and mysteries” of the earth yet have a way of filling old and young alike with wonder and humility? If so, which of these photographic delights might be the “proof in the pudding?”

Is it the forsythia I saw above?

Or is it this that was right behind it?

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Or is it these side by side hellebores?

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Or perhaps it is the glowing whiteness of this Magnolia Stellata?

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

**All photos taken by Natalie

1442. Through the dancing poppies stole A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul. ~John Keats

That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful
means that we are less alone,
that we are more deeply inserted into existence
than the course of a single life
would lead us to believe.
~John Berger

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Years ago when I first began gardening, should anyone ask me what my favorite flower was, my reply as always was the rose. And I still adore them, but that was before I had seen a poppy or a morning glory nor clematis nor hollyhock nor lilies and on and only the list grows. Now I can honestly say it’s a toss up. It really depends on what’s blooming at the time. I would never have come to have grown either poppies or morning glories had I not seen them at a plant sale on a driveway in a neighborhood not too far from mine. I instantly fell in love with both of them. The owner of the house who was having the plant sale told me that morning glory seeds were easy to start, the trick was to soak them in what began as tepid water for 24 hours before I sewed them in the ground in spring. But she said, the poppy seeds must be sown in our area in the fall in order for them to germinate and grow roots deep enough to put up their tall stems and glorious flowers. (In colder climes with much later warm-ups, sowing them in autumn is not the thing to do.) So that summer I had my first crop of morning glories and the following autumn I sowed my first seeds for the poppies which bloomed the following spring. Since then it has been a love affair I never tire of. Why all of this now, you might ask, since it’s not spring yet and autumn has long since past. Well I hadn’t been outside in my yard lately, but today when I opened the back door to feed the cats, I saw poppy plants about 6 inches tall already, and of usual childhood squeals of joy arose from deep down inside and became air borne. I was a bit late sowing poppy seeds this last autumn and was fearful that perhaps I wouldn’t have any this year, but one of the things about seeds that I absolutely adore is that often all on their own they fall from a spent flower and lie in wait for the proper time to germinate and spring up anew with no help from human hands. So I went back into my photo archives and found some poppy and morning glory photos to dazzle you with this week. Why the heck not? I can as easily put a quote on a few of my favorite things as I can on ones I find on Pinterest and Pixabay, right?! Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my…

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…” ~Matthew 6:28 ✝

**Poppy photo taken by Natalie in her yard

1432. The leaves drift toward the earth like ships to land, a voyage launched from timbers’ great lofty berths… ~Excerpt from a poem by Dan Young

Ah! the year is slowly dying,
And the wind in tree-top sighing,
Chant his requiem.
Thick and fast the leaves are falling,
High in the air wild birds are calling,
Nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn.
~ Edited poem by
Mary Weston Fordham

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Day by day autumn’s end draws nearer, and thus even more strains of “nature’s solemn, autumnal hymn” fill the coldish air. And because the temperatures finally dropped below freezing for several nights here, the things that had been hanging on perished or are now in the process of dying and so their joyous songs of life have ceased for the year. The terrain too is well-nigh down to its barest essentials, and all that we’ll soon hear are winter’s deep sighs and silences or the wailing of her bitter, gusty winds. Things that  hold onto the promise of spring either in their roots or in splitting seed casings will be busy beneath the soil whilst they wait for the sun to invite them to flourish “Thick and fast” falling remnants of leaves have been and are layering the ground to protect what lies beneath waiting for the appointed hour of rebirth in earth’s next circle around the sun. It’s all a God-ordained and Scripturally- declared grand plan, and I love watching Yahweh’s strategy play out round and round as the years pass. In fact on days when I feel out of sorts, I’ve learned to get outside regardless of how cold or hot it is, and as I look, listen, and wait under heaven’s canopy, it’s not long before my inner compass is made right again. Feeling earth’s heartbeat and becoming a part of its rhythms keep at bay the sense of hopelessness that’s often engendered by the trials of life and a world torn by depravity and meriless madness. Being close to the land is as comforting and reassuring as when I was a kid and slipped my hand into the safety of a parent’s hand. The same thing happens even more so now that I’m aware I’m drawing near God and what He has made. Standing in His Creation, I’m certain that even though humans transgress and frequently fall short of what they’re meant to be and do, He still stands ready to take His children by the hand, comfort them, and proffer His magnanimous gestures of mercy and redeeming grace. It’s not unlike what I experienced when I first felt my child move in my womb. I knew that the sensation which felt like wings of a butterfly barely grazing my inner flesh was the unmistakable touch of something sacred stirring inside me. The Lord’s movement in our inner and outer lives is much the same. It may be an ever so slight brush against our flesh and/or soul, but we know that we have indeed felt the Almighty’s loving Presence.

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. ~Isaiah 40:10-11  ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie

1412. Life, when it was good, was indeed pink. La vie en rose. ~Lydia Michaels

…the right kind of day is a jeweled balm
for the battered spirit.
A few of those days and you can become drunk
with the belief that all’s right with the world.
~Ada Louise Huxtable

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Pink is not just a color; it embodies a variety of attitudes, all of which are uplifting. There’s the cool and collected pinks, the bold and sassy hotter pinks, the soft and drowsy pinks, and the daring and dramatic deep pinks. In the spring I think of pink as a somewhat shy presence but as summer’s fiery temperatures rise, pink is anything but timid. In Texas the scorching days of July and August punish the flesh and the spirit relentlessly, but even the smallest touch of pink pours over us a soothing salve of goodness. The pinks of summer may not entirely keep me from walking “without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer,” but they do keep the flames from licking up so high that they completely snuff out my breath. While locusts screech, pink flowers murmur softer melodies taking some of the edge off the insects’ discordant harmonies and my discomfort. I’ve even seen ribbons of pink in spectacular sunsets at the end of “right kind of days” in all seasons and they, too, cool down the heat in the fiery glow of the summer sun. Studies show that colors effect the human psyche; that could be why when a person is well, he/she is said to be in the pink. Since Creation is full of colors, the Lord, Himself, must place a premium on them and their effect. So whenever I hear someone say, “How majestic is His name,” I perceive God’s majesty in a broad spectrum of the amazing colors I’ve seen on earth and in the heavens.

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People usually associate the colour pink with weakness and naiveté; but I associate this colour with the most beautiful parts of the day— dawn and dusk! And in my searching through mystical writings, I have found that pink is actually related to the utmost levels of the Tree of Life. I’ve also seen it in pictures of the sky surrounding the most magnificent Aurora Borealis! So pink is strong and wonderful. ~C. JoyBell C.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. ~Psalm 8:1 ✝

**Photograps taken by Natalie in her yard today

1381. May…the month when the foliage of herbs and trees is most freshly green, when buds ripened and blossoms appear in their fragrance and loveliness. ~Sir Thomas Malory

Well, spring sprang.
We’ve had our state of grace 
and
our little gift of sanctioned madness,
courtesy of Mother Nature.
~David Assael

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As oncoming summer’s blast furnace begins to heat up so do the colors in the garden. It has literally become a lively fiesta outside my doors and creatures, great and small, winged or afoot, are partaking of the feasts that have been laid before them on Creation’s table.

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In fact they’ve been so busy of late supping on the produce of May’s “potent blood” that I’ve only been able to capture two recent “critter” images with my camera. But I wouldn’t keep any of them from their tasks even if I could for what they’re doing not only satisfies their hunger but also mine, and it guarantees that this time next year there will be more.

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God’s designs are such ingenious plans! For example these pollinating creatures are so much smaller than we and their lives span such a brief period of time, but what power their tiny wings and feet have in the grand scheme of things! We, mortal humanity that is, think ourselves to be so mighty and yet mankind literally owes its very existence to what comes from the labors of these annual pollinating dances upon earth’s stage.

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And sadly too many lives play out solely in the technological bubbles of modern society and so are completely unaware of the miraculousness of such scenarios and the utter life-supporting significance of what goes on outside myopic, sterile, and godless environments.

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Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. ~Excerpted line from Jeremiah 8:7 ✝

**All photos taken in her yard by Natalie