Grasshopper Green is a comical chap;
he lives on the best of fare.
Bright little trousers, jacket, and cap,
These are his summer wear.
~Excerpt from a poem
by Nancy Dingman Watson
Gary the Grasshopper sat down in the sun
and sang of the way that his life had begun.
First off as an egg he was laid in the ground
and there he remained with never a sound,
his body unmoving, all pallid and white,
till Spring came around and the weather was right.
He remembers quite clearly the day of his birth
he wriggled and pushed his way up through the earth,
then on reaching the surface he threw off his skin,
he had to do this so his life could begin,
but it wasn’t a problem because underneath
he was wearing another as green as a leaf.
Once born he went looking for something to eat
he really liked salads and seldom ate meat,
and being quite young he thought it was good
to eat just as much as he possibly could.
He grew as he ate, and three times since then
he’s needed to make a new skin once again.
But now he’s full grown and he’s learning to be
an adult grasshopper both handsome and free,
so he sings in the night, and all through the day
till a suitable lady should wander his way,
and when they’re together, and after the rain,
they’ll start the ball rolling all over again.
~Gordon J.L. Ramel
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He(God) sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. ~Isaiah 40:21-22 ✝
Today is not just another day, it is the one day that is given to you today. It is a gift, the only gift of a day that you have right now. And so the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response, to the great gift that this unique day is, and if you learn to respond as if it were the first day of your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.
Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes you can open, the incredible array of colors that is constantly offered to us for pure enjoyment. Look at the sky; we so rarely look at the sky, so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment with clouds coming and going. We just think of the weather, but we don’t think of all the different nuances of weather. We just think of good weather and bad weather. This day, right now, this unique weather, maybe a kind that may never come in that form again. The formation of clouds in the sky may never be the same than it is right now, open your eyes and look at that.
Look at the faces of people that you meet. Each one has an incredible story behind their face, a story that you could never fully fathom not only their own story but the story of their ancestors. We all go back so far. And in this present moment, this day, all the people you meet, all that life from generations and so many all over the world, flows together and meets you here like life giving water if you only open your heart and drink. Open your heart to the incredible gifts that civilization gives to you. You flip a switch and there is electric light. You turn a faucet and there is warm water and cold water and drinkable water. It is a gift that millions and millions of people will never experience. ~Br. David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine Monk
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 ✝
**Images via Pinterest except for middle one that I took at the bottom; collages by Natalie
Bright and true and tender
can Mother Nature be albeit
dark, fierce, fickle and disastrous
oft too is she.
It is sad that nature will play
such tricks with us poor mortals,
inviting us with sunny smiles to confide in her,
and then, when we are entirely
within her power, tricking us to the heart.
Every year it seems to me
I hear complaints about spring.
It is either “late” or “unusually cold,”
“abnormally dry” or “fantastically wet,”
for no one is ever willing to admit
that there is no such thing as a normal spring.
This year had been shaping up to be the best spring ever in my gardens, and then as so often happens over the Texas prairies this time of year, blustery high winds caused cold air from the north to collide with the existing warm air making Mother Nature more foe than friend as night fell. I must have had some kind of sixth-sense inclination of the impending doom, however, because I took the three photographs above before I called it a day and came inside for good. Sadly what you see in them is gone now. The reason for their demise can be seen in the picture below of the huge amount of pea-size to quarter-size hail that fell with the two-inch downpour of rain. I know that it could have been worse because tornados can and do sometimes accompany such weather events; so I’m grateful this time wasn’t one of them and that no one was hurt or experienced loss of life, limb, or property. But it was still sad, very sad today, to see masses of green “carnage” as well as the remains of flowery life and beauty scattered everywhere. Yet I will always praise the Lord for the rain.
Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime; it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone. ~Zechariah 10:1 ✝
A ring around the sun or moon,
means rain or snow is coming soon.
~Old Time Weather Proverb
People have been using signs from nature to predict the weather since the beginning of time. For example:
Some say if you notice hornets, bees, and wasps building their nests higher than usual, like in the tops of trees rather than closer to the ground, a harsh winter with lots of snowfall may be coming. Or if you notice livestock and wildlife looking more woolly than usual in the fall, they may be gearing up for a particularly harsh winter. Or if rabbits and squirrels look especially fat in the fall, they may be bulking up for a cold winter. Likewise, if you see squirrels burying nuts at a more hurried pace than usual, that may also be a sign of a hard winter. Or if spiders build larger webs than usual, it could be because they are trying to catch more food and fill their bellies for a coming cold snap. Or if apple and other fruit trees produce more fruit than usual, a harsh winter may be in the forecast. Or there’s a story which goes that the thicker the outer shells of nuts, the worse the winter will be. This theory also extends to acorns and the thickness of their shells because it could be nature’s way of protecting the tree species during harsh weather. Or some people believe that the brighter the leaves are in the fall, the snowier and colder the coming winter will be. And here in Texas, I’ve always heard it said that until pecan trees begin to bud out winter’s not over and so there’s still a chance for a freeze. And ever since I’ve watched my neighbor’s pecan tree near my north fence line, it has never failed to be true. Although it has seemed like spring for weeks, until today that tree nor others around our neighborhood had not started to bud out so I’ve worried that a freeze would come and ruin all the pretty “babies” that have been blooming in the area. But now I believe that we should be safe to continue celebrating this early, early spring because the pecan trees have started to leaf out.
He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ ~Matthew 16:2-3 ✝
O the green things growing, the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!
I should like to live, whether I smile or grieve,
Just to watch the happy life of my green things growing.
~Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
But, but, but, it’s just way to early for spring’s “ethereal madness” and the green things growing. The day after my knee surgery at the end of February last year, it snowed and then three days later when I came home from the hospital it snowed again. Our last average freeze date isn’t until March 15th, and there have been times when a hard, late freeze or an ice/snow event have occurred even as late as April 1st. So what’s up with this crazy weather? I love springtime and I’m always thrilled when it arrives, but this is just too soon for it to come. Thank goodness I got started earlier than usual on cleaning up and weeding the beds because we virtually had no winter to speak of. Also I’d already gotten the roses pruned and ready to go. But then since roses are supposed to be fed when they are leafed out and most of mine are almost leafed out already, what do I do now? If I go ahead and feed them, they’ll really get going, and a late freeze could kill all the new growth and set them way back. I’m also concerned about the ducks that winter at our neighborhood pond since I noticed last week that they’ve left already. It’s too early for that too. They could end up getting their little derriere’s frozen off by returning too soon to their northern homes because Old Man Winter and Jack Frost may have high-tailed it out of Texas, but that doesn’t mean they’ve closed up shop elsewhere.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly–and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.
Spring’s cup is indeed being filled regardless of the date and time, and it’s fire has begun to fling off winter’s garments. As well the bird is on the wing. I know this because I’ve been watching them for at least a week or two refurbishing birdhouses or feathering nests. So it looks like I’m going to need to pray for their sake and for sake of all the green things growing that winter doesn’t come back for a last hurrah!
See! The winter is past… ~Excerpt from Song of Songs 2:11 ✝
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.
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.
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
Inside the silence between
your heartbeats hides a summons.
Do you hear it?
Quiet the voices and noise around you.
Honor the Holy One calling you!
I perceive the universe as a cosmic temple and planet earth as a sanctuary in that temple. Although not given the power of speech as such therein, rain and other weather-related phenomena exhibit distinctive voices in and under the heavens. And as these things fall from earth’s chaotic atmosphere, they often blend their unique voices with other holy sounds in the natural world. In that sacred chorus is a call for humanity to seek the Maker of the temple because God not only hardwired man with a desire to connect with other human beings but also with a longing to seek and connect with Him. Thus to that end man was given eyes to witness the sacraments of heaven and earth, ears to hear the chants of their hallowed voices, intellect to question and understand to some extent what is seen and heard, and a heart that in due time turns from irreverence to deep longing. Tecumseh, a leader of the Shawnee, said, “Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing the essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the rain in its weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” And so after the 11 inches of magical, mystical rain that we’ve had in the last week, I’m a’listenin’ and doin’ little jigs all over the place.
…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— ~Proverbs 1:5 ✝
Winds of March, we welcome you,
There is work for you to do.
Work and play and blow all day,
Blow the Winter wind away.
March bustles in on windy feet
And sweeps my doorstep and my street.
She washes and cleans with pounding rains,
Scrubbing the earth of winter stains.
She shakes the grime from carpet green
Till naught but fresh new blades are seen.
Then, house in order, all neat as a pin,
She ushers gentle springtime in.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. ~Psalm 85:11 ✝
Autumn is the eternal corrective.
It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity;
but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.
What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop
and fail to see the span of his world
and the meaning of the rolling hills
t hat reach to the far horizon?
Nature reveals intimations of its Maker in so many ways. It can even mask disturbing realities in this fallen world so that in the remaining clarity one can gain a better perspective of the bigger picture. The exact beginning and end of nature’s seasons, like the seasons of our lives, come and go shrouded to some extent in veils of mystery. And we can never really be sure of the exact moment in time that the spark of change ignites. Nor do we know when the remaining ember of that initial spark will die, but the time and space between beginnings and endings, like autumn, ripen life with more than enough breadth and depth and distance and color. For example it was over 80 degrees here today and although I did not “waste anything as precious as autumn’s sunshine,” I know November’s door will close at midnight and the winter solstice is only 3 weeks away. But I also know there’s no guarantee that the solstice will mark the exact end of lovely autumnesque realities. The weather forecast may say that an arctic norther will start blowing in here in the wee hours of the morning and plummet our temperatures to below freezing by tomorrow night. But the same forecast also shows that a day later we’ll be on the climb right back up to the warmer ripeness and color that is quintessentially autumn. So who knows? Is this cold snap the beginning of the end or will it be the next one or the one after that? There may be many things we cannot know in this life, and although it has been said that “life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” others perceive life as a different kind of tale. I, for one, find that standing outside in autumn, or any season for that matter, gives me glimpses of Yahweh, the Holy One, wrote the tale, who knows everything, who’s in control, and who has a plan, purpose, and time for all things under heaven.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ~Ecclesiastes 3:11 ✝
And now November rains erode the nests
That mourning doves assembled in the gardens
From where their mild and wind-warm coos caressed
My ear, to quiet earth that cools and hardens
~Edward Alan Bartholomew
As I worked in the yard today, a mourning dove somewhere above my head sang her sad, sad tune in the dwindling hours of the late November day. Although I could hear her long before I could see her, eventually I spied her and her soft, pinkish underbelly on the high wire where she sat in an intermittent reverie between her sorrowful cries. Perplexed by her pleas I sat pondering the meaning of the doleful melodies. Why does she cry I wondered? Does she lament the closing of the day and the dark, moonless night that lies ahead? Have her children come and gone too soon? Where is her lover that he might console her? Is she hungry? Is she frightened? Surely she doesn’t lament the regrettable affairs of men. Then I noticed that the stone rabbit with the upright ears seemed to be pondering her despair as well. Again I mulled over what the cause of her woe might be. The weather and the garden, though not perfect this time of year, should be no cause for such sorrowful sounds. Other birds had for sure been chattering gleefully which made her cries and lamentations even more pitiful. Cooah, coo, coo, coo she’d called over and over again as the day wound down, and then suddenly just before all light was gone her melancholy voice vanished. And then it occurred to me that perhaps her haunting, soulful sounds were simply songs of praise for another day of living and it was time to rest her weary wings.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” ~Psalm 55:6 ✝