Unfurled

Spring in Middle America is a delight for the senses. The rhythm of nature’s ritual creates longer days of sunlight, much needed rains, and the awakening of life around us People generally respond to such change with a renewed sense of optimism. Exiting our caves for new adventures (and tasks) somehow lifts our spirits, especially after a year of lock-downs.

The amazing and methodical unfurling of the iris’ glorious petals reminds me that beauty still exists in our world, and can be found as close as my backyard. This flower is simply one of thousands upon thousands of plant species which explode forth from their winter dormancy. The change of seasons not only rouses my senses, but does something wonderful inside of me. Hard to explain, but I like it’s effects.

I contemplated including (in this post) myriad flower photos which I have taken over decades, but declined for several reasons: too painstaking to select just the ‘right’ ones; my images cannot equal those of so many talented photographers (not that I am into comparing, but I enjoy looking at best rather than good); don’t want this post to end up like a run-on-sentence!

So, I have chosen to limit my photos to one flower with the express purpose of narrowing my written expression to only a few words. Optimism. Hope. Renewal. Beauty. Unity.

ADAPTABILITY

When it comes to adapting, we humans rank high on the list, maybe even the top tier. Often, we are assisted by technology of some sort. This is especially true of adapting to various physical environments. However, we don’t always fare well when it comes to psychological changes (there is plenty here to evaluate, but not in this post).

There is a common flying bird in our region which is extremely adaptable to the environment. This fowl is the Canadian Goose. She has little to no fear of people or vehicles or even dogs.

Recently, while on an errand, we stopped at a local department store called KOHL’S. To our astonishment, there was a mother goose resting in a mulch bed less than twenty feet from the main doors where hundreds of people pass by every day. What was she doing there?

Nesting, of course !

She didn’t flinch when we stopped to gawk at her and her four eggs. Glad the male wasn’t around or he would have tried to run us off…they can be a bit cantankerous.

Ten days later we stopped by the same store and she was still there nesting. The only difference was found beneath her. No longer eggs, but four developing goslings !

Go figure, we didn’t know this store even had birds !

“Live and learn”, never gets old.

Variety

Among the varied scenery I am fortunate to witness on a typical driving day, I witness horses, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, alpacas, chickens, etc. in their farm environments.

Color patterns and variations in sizes of the same species intrigue me.

Most critters are curious and these two are no exception.

This short post wouldn’t be complete without a photo of Double Trouble !

Whether alive or cast in bronze, horses are astounding creatures. I suspect most will agree !

L’AMOUR

” It was almighty still. I could hear the chuckle of the water in the creek some distance off, and once in a while a horse shifted his feet in the corral. I guessed that the fire had gone out or died down because smoke no longer came from the cabin that did duty as a bunkhouse. The door gaped open, a black rectangle that suggested a place a body could hide and stand off a crowd, but I liked the open where a body could move.”

“You know something? It was beautiful. So still you could hear one aspen leaf caressing another, the moon wide and white shining through the leaves, and just above the dark, somber spruce, bunched closely together, tall and still like a crowd of black-robed monks standing in prayer”

Ride the Dark Trail by Louis L’Amour, 1972…one of his 100 novels. He also wrote 250 short stories and has sold 350 million copies of his work with 12 books made into movies).

Silhouettes

Angus cattle on Kansas pasture land

Ever feel lost in a crowd…a faceless bystander watching the world go by ?

Looking, but never seeing…life slipping away ?

Often, in my travels, I pass farm animals of various kinds. One thing they all have in common is ‘looking’. They are intrigued by what is passing in front of them…just like people.

However, I don’t believe they feel like they are missing out…unlike people.

Sometimes I think I should be more like our farm friends who often appear like silhouettes, but in actuality are experiencing (enjoying) life one day, one moment at a time…easier said then done, but not impossible.

Calf on a mound

Barn Art 2

Rural Kansas Barn Art

As I travel rural areas of eastern Kansas, I come across many farms with barns. Some barns are old and dilapidated and some newly constructed. Most have stood for several generations and are still in regular use…these are the ones with the modern quilt design plaques.

Multi-use Barn Signage

I am intrigued by the newer generation of farmers and ranchers who want to spruce up their property with this attractive art form. Whomever started this mini-craze has successfully marketed their product in this region. I wonder if one can find these plaques in other parts of the American landscape.

Newly Mounted Barn Art

Not all barns are stained red, but this seems to be the prevailing color. The older barns are mostly faded gray wood. There is something special about these old structures. For me, they conjure up thoughts of a simpler, more physically demanding time…one which dreamily seems to have been more satisfying.

Nostalgia is Like a Salad

Greek salad by Cheryl

We fondly look to the past, recalling care-free days filled with fun, laughter, friends and family. Our first kiss; most memorable car; best friend; beloved pet(s); dreams of travel and adventure, and on-and-on the list goes. We look at the gilded past through diffused lenses. Unless our coming-of-age-days were horrible (and for some they were) we weed-out the unpleasant things and recall the good things. We all had some bad stuff.

Life is a toss-up of sorts: a mix of greens, veggies, toppings we can and can’t always discern, cheeses, maybe select meats, and usually coated with a dressing of choice. Sometimes we separate the items we don’t like and eat the ones we do. Or, we eat all of it and recall the unique sensual flavor of every bite. Nostalgia is like a salad.

Nostalgia can become a futile exercise. What I mean is that if we view the past through rose colored glasses and consistently recall the days of yore to be nothing but blissful moments of joy, we short-change ourselves in the present. I have very fond memories of my formative years, raising our children, and my continuing love affair with my wife. I am deeply grateful I have them. Although the years were/are ripe with many difficulties, challenges, struggles and sorrows, my fondness for these days rests upon the happy and joyful moments.

Interesting to me that the span of tough times seem to have been pretty much an underlying constant while the positive recollections only snapshots, but that is how my mind works. The moments of quality overcome the quantity of monotony and struggle. I suppose this is a psychological survival dynamic given to us by a benevolent and loving God.

Recently, my thoughts have focused on my failures and mistakes. No optimistic clichés, please. I have read and stated most of them. I understand the power of positive thinking. My mind simply chooses to wander into dangerous territory. I remind myself that life’s circumstances have shaped me into the man I am today. The past doesn’t define me, but it has affected me. So, I choose to push aside the distasteful parts of my salad and eat with gusto the yummy ones. And, I look forward to the next appetizer. Consider this a note to self.

P A U S E

I came across these images via different Pinterest posts. I don’t know the artists, but kudos to them for creating such dynamic and striking art. The lion seems to have been created by some type of digital software (just a guess) while the post title for the two fish states they are made of y a r n !

Pause…

In a world which is tainted by hatred and animosity and seems to be driven by fear, we seek refuge from the darkness in manifold ways. Whether solace is found through what we see, hear, read, smell, feel, think or do, escape for even a moment can be beneficial. This is why I share these two images…simply to enjoy viewing them for a moment.

The problems we face today are not new-they just manifest themselves in different ways as a result of national and global dynamics. I believe solutions will be forthcoming, but we must not fall into the mindset that they will be easy. “One size does not fit all”.

I also believe that It will be beneficial for each of us to learn from the past, keep an open mind, turn off the hostile social rhetoric and relearn how to be civil towards one another. Years ago a police officer pulled me over for a driving violation (of course, I didn’t think I did anything wrong), He said, “Son, ignorance is no excuse”. I submit that we cannot afford to be ignorant of the causes for our woes nor turn numb when quick fixes are proposed. We must be better than that. I believe we are.