Hanging by a Thread

On a warm October day I came across this leaf dangling above a popular local walking trail. Suspended by an invisible thread crafted by an equally invisible spider, this anomaly nearly landed in my hair. Obviously, I stopped to study the leaf, and more importantly, the source of its suspension. With just the right angle of light I saw a single strand of silk draped from tree to tree. The architect/builder was not in sight. I like the contrast of colors and shapes in this scene…such pleasant diversity.

I suddenly thought about how many of us seem to be ‘hanging by a thread’ while traversing this strange road of infection, politics, financial uncertainties, civil unrest, etc. For some, hanging on to normal is a full-time task while others carry-on without too much difficulty. Regardless of one’s station in life, all of us are affected by this period of uncertainty. I suppose we could take solace in the fact that others have experienced similar struggles in the past. However, this truth doesn’t seem to bring much comfort.

What should provide some consolation is knowing that these gray days will pass, as they always do. Waiting is difficult. Peace can be sought in many places and in many ways. I find mine through faith in an Omniscient and Omnipotent power. I hope you find peace.

Barn Art !

Kansas Happy Cow

Art means many things to many people. Mike Savage, a vibrant Kansas City artist, states the following “Art is simple; either you like it or you don’t”. In my opinion, that sums up art appreciation rather well.

Rather than delve into the various (and debatable) view-points concerning the definition of art, we know it when we see it…kind of how I like to shop.

From crude hieroglyphics scratched into cave walls to modern graffiti painted on subways and trains, what some call art can also be construed as vulgar. Why do so many folks collect Classical European art and visit art museums with ancient artifacts; sojourn through markets looking to buy that perfect sculpture, weaving or painting; treasure an oriental vase from a long ago dynasty?

There is a man in a southern city in the United States who carves boxwood trees into recognizable and eye-catching living sculptures. His mastery with the hedge trimmer is sought by individuals and the city government which has employed this individual to shape a myriad of trees along the main streets of their town. Locals call his work ‘art’.

Ice sculptures, wood carvings, various types of paintings, fabric dying, rug weaving, pottery, sculpted metals, and ornate jewelry are often recognized as art. So are some buildings, bridges, totem poles, and botanical gardens considered works of art. However, not all art is static. Some of the most recognizable art is fluid: music, dancing, flowing waters, bird mating rituals; the Autumnal color spectacles. Occasionally, even some folks are called “works of art” . Although, I don’t believe that is always used as a compliment !

I so enjoyed seeing this whimsical painting on the face of an abandoned barn that I stopped and walked a bit just to snap a photo with my cellphone camera. I like to think of this painter as an artist. How about you?

Graze

Horses, cows, sheep, bison, zebras, gazelles, rhinos, marmots, and an assortment of other mammals graze on various types of grasses. This is universal while living on planet Earth. When used in this context, graze simply means to feed on grass and pasturage.

When people graze, we slowly eat small portions of food, especially appetizers.Yum.

Another use of the word ‘graze’ means ‘to touch or rub slightly while passing something’. And, it can mean ‘to scrape the skin so as to create a cut or abrasion’. This often applies to being wounded by a projectile.

I recently came across a restaurant called Graze (makes me want to eat there) and a landscape company (not sure about their competency). Also, there is a snack food company in the United Kingdom which shares the same name.

So much for the word “graze”. It’s fun just to create something about nothing which isn’t beneficial or uplifting…kind of like our ‘unpresidential’ debate.

BLUE HERON

One must stand…

Before one walks…

And, one cannot fly until one stands…

This episode begins with a swift flight from one side of a small lake to the opposite side. From a football field away something grabbed Miss Heron’s attention which resulted in a sudden dash…from watching to flying to stalking to fishing.

Intentional, natural, instinctive, graceful, and deadly !

I was reminded once again that no matter how beautiful and inspiring nature is, she can also be lethal. Just ask the frog. I certainly don’t want to tangle with this bird.

Herein lies the purpose of the telephoto lens: to capture something up-close, but by doing so from a distance. Safer that way.

Gone Fishin’

“Gone fishin’, instead of just a wishin’ ”

This was the tagline / theme song to The Fisherman’s Friend, a local television show which aired from 1953 to 1974. Harold Ensley was the originator and main character of this production. He was a Kansas native, a minister, an avid fisherman and an astute businessman. His show was broadcast live from each venue and often with notable quests.

As a child I would occasionally tune-in to Gone Fishin’, as the show was affectionately called. I remember being confounded when I watched his show. On the one hand it was like “watching paint dry”, and on the other hand it was informational and relaxing. Fishing didn’t grab me like it did Harold and a host of his dedicated followers. Perhaps my lack of success affected my enthusiasm. However, I was pretty good at snagging underwater brush.

Yesterday, as I watched the sun rise above the east treeline, I caught a glimpse of a couple fishermen. This fellow had just set-up on a small dock while the other fellow trolled the lake in his boat…he had a four-legged companion with him. I spoke with this man for a few minutes. We talked of the fantastic, unseasonably cool weather that encompassed our geography (men usually talk about weather). We also spoke of seizing opportunities such as the beautiful morning, a freshwater lake, and having the availability required to fish. We didn’t talk about CV19, politics, BLM or finances. Refreshing!

You will not find an epiphany in this post nor a judgement of any kind. Instead, I have chosen to share a mundane moment in time and place…with the under-current of exceptional. To rest in the midst of nature, commune with the Creator, and enjoy a brief interaction with another individual is sublime. Prior to this moment I spent an hour with a good friend, talking over coffee as the sun warmed our faces. I am blessed and take nothing for granted.

Wildflowers

These wildflowers came-of-age after seeds were scattered on a small plot of ground. Over the course of a few months and with nature’s guiding hand, the verdant foliage grew and the flowers bloomed.

There are myriad features concerning flowers which fascinate me. From indigo lotus’ of ancient Egypt to contemporary and magnificent hybrids of an English garden; from fields of ruby-red poppies to rows of French lavender, flowers are simply amazing. They are undeniably marvelous!

The fullness of colors. The variety of shapes. The sizes and heights. The plethora of fragrances. Their insect attracting and repelling qualities. Many have medicinal properties and some, such as nasturtiums, are edible.

Whether growing near the top of oxygen-starved mountains or in the harshest deserts, flowers are a reminder of resiliency. Conversely, they also reveal the delicate nature of life since a flower-pot zinnia won’t survive more than a week without water.

With about four million species, flowers are one of God’s best creations.They make us smile. They usher in feelings of awe. They remind us of days past. They hold the promise of future joys. They comfort and decorate and celebrate. They make living more enjoyable.

Why not enjoy a flower today? Observing is better than picking! And, planting is even better.

“Here’s Looking at You, Kid”

I had the privilege of visiting an old friend of mine. This gelding, whose name escapes me, showed himself in a nearby pasture. I have been looking for him for months.

He was not aware of the C-19 pandemic, civil unrest, financial crisis, political pandering or other maladies that plague America (and much of the world).

I told him I wish I wasn’t so informed. Then, I sighed.

He swished his tail, turned back to grazing, and slowly walked away. He was content with what he had and what he was doing.

As I surveyed this grand creature enjoying his simple life, I looked towards the rolling canopy above and simply said, “Thank you”.

For a moment I was reminded that peace and contentment are a condition of the heart, and not based on circumstances or stuff.

As Bogart told Bergman in Casablanca, “Here’s looking at you, kid”. It was Bogey’s way of saying I gotta go now, but things will work out.

STONES

Visited a part of Kansas City, Missouri the other day…hadn’t been to this area for quite some time. The above home is Tiffany Castle, built in 1909, from native limestone. This structure is young compared to a plethora of the world’s architectural treasures, but it is still impressive. Worth the visit to view it and adjacent houses of like materials.

What comes to mind when you recognize the word STONES ?

Rock. Hard. Strong. Building Block. Tool. Weapon. Table. Cliff. Escarpment. Fjord.

Petrology: Igneous; Sedimentary; Metamorphic.

Brief History: Two stone tablets; Five smooth stones; Millstone; Cornerstone; Capstone.

Quips: Hard as a rock; Dumber than a rock; Heart of stone; Rock solid; Stone cold.

People & Things: Rolling Stones; The Rock (actor); Stony River; Fortress; Cairns; Grand Canyon; Victoria Falls; Petra; Parthenon; Stone Hedge; Pyramids.

Thought: When the heart is like stony ground, no seeds of hope are allowed to sprout. Only when the hardened crust is broken loose can a sprig shoot forth, penetrating what was once thought impossible. Hence, the reason farmers use plows to breakup the fallow earth. It is a process I have learned from, and much to my chagrin, continue to repeat. There is hope.