CONTRASTS

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The wheat is long gone-harvested in June. Barren fields now stand where the Staff of Life used to grow; ready to be plowed and replanted come late winter.

The deep blue skies and brilliant, cotton ball clouds yield to the darker grays of Autumn.

Contrasts are everywhere.

Trees shed their leaves while hedge rows bear their balls of fruit. Rains drench the good earth where wastelands once stood.

Calves are putting on fat for the winter while squirrels are busy hiding nuts for the long cold season ahead.

Contrasts are everywhere.

Birds of all sorts begin their yearly migration to warmer climates. Rodents dig deeper tunnels and store up food for the shut-in days of winter.

Even vehicles are ‘winterized’ in anticipation of frigid temperatures and people prepare for the cold by exchanging wardrobes. 

Contrasts are everywhere.

The last major hurricane, Michael, just made its way through Florida and up the eastern seaboard leaving a wake of destruction in its path. Too many lives are changed in a not-so-positive-way.

Communities gather together to respond to the crisis while strangers donate money and supplies to those they don’t know.

Contrasts are everywhere, and there is no way of escaping them. May we all engage them in a spirit of optimism and generosity. 

Change can be difficult, but also very rewarding. May it be so for each of us.

 

An Army of Sentinels

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Raked and rolled before the air turned cold and the days became shorter, these bales of harvest hay lay tall in the early morning sunlight awaiting the onslaught of man’s progress at the nearest property adjacent to them. Already foundation work has began, but these sentinels guard their field like it was their last stand..and it may well be. Urban sprawl pushes farther and farther outward, engulfing the natural terrain and man-made abundance contained within her.

 

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Regardless if there is a pasture of a hundred bales or simply a few, the significance is real. They are used as feed for livestock, ground covering for grass seed and even erosion control for the construction which will one day occupy this patch of green earth. In the meantime they will silently stand watch over the hallowed ground bequeathed to them for however long they have. For their charge to protect was without days or years. They will be missed when their job is over. They are worthy of our respect.

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Now that daylight extends beyond the darkness, companion growth accompanies the hay as if joining a symphony. Lilies of all sorts are cropping up pell mell and berry bushes are beginning to show signs of vigor. Trees are budding. Spring is certainly on her way. I’ve always lived in places with four seasons. I don’t know what it would be like not to. I suppose both have their pluses and minus’. Whichever temperate zone you live in, I believe there is a plethora of beauty to experience…so go to it !

Collateral Damage from a Day of Fun

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Despite the gloomy weather of late as the seasons change from Summer to Winter with little evidence of Autumn, except for the lovely foliage colors, I thought it appropriate to share this photo. Yesterday it was 70 degree F. in the afternoon, and today it was a cool 27 degrees F. this morning. Regardless, I like this image because it is the aftermath of grandchildren playing with some of their toys at our home…they eventually were picked up with their assistance. They have learned responsibility.

These toys are considered rudimentary these days, but they bring back fond memories for me. We try to keep life simple, yet Elliot (4 years) can maneuver through an iPad faster than I can turn it on!

Our lives seem so complicated these days. You may call me a bit old fashioned, but I believe there are just too many activities, too many videos, too many texts, too many tweets, too many meals outside the home, etc.. Families and friends have little time for, well, family and friends.

Funny, as I have aged I have become more introverted, but I value relationships as much-if not more- than when I was younger. Rather a paradox which I don’t quite understand at this stage of life. Perhaps circumstances are to blame, however, it doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is that we don’t take a moment of life for granted. Whether very young, an adolescent, a young adult or full-fledged adult with a family…every day is precious. I’ve been through depression so I know what it’s like to not feel this way, but feelings are deceiving. Even during my worst moments, I knew deep down inside that every day mattered, and vowed to wait for the good moments to reappear. That took quite some time. I still struggle, as do many of you, but I consider myself fortunate.

Be encouraged by God’s word; ” For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Sometimes we just need to have faith to get us through the tough times. This doesn’t necessarily mean loads of money or excellent health or even stellar jobs…It simply means to be blessed with His presence of peace which leads to a prosperity of a far better kind. I had to learn to be patient, and I am still learning. Please join me.

 

Change

 

It is wonderful to witness a pair of Mallards move along a pond as if ice skating…so smooth. Even more so when they are paired with their hens. The other hen is just right of this photograph. I tried to capture all four of them, but they became leary of my presence and divided a bit.

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A short walk on a very windy Fall day revealed that the season is definitely changing from Summer to Autumn.

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The old and the new somehow gel together. This old silo has witnessed many of harvests, but it only sees housing sub-divisions built around it these days. It seems to be inevitable that fallow days are numbered. We all need energy, but is the best way to acquire it?

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Prairie grass still stands tall, but only for a short while. Soon, blue grass lawns and residential housing will take over this parcel of land..what used to be grazing fields, ponds, and hedge trees.

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Grateful for electricity. Looking forward to other viable sources for energy in the future.

Rolled

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Did you “roll out of bed” this morning? Have you ever “rolled your own”? How about “rolled your eyes” at something someone said that you have heard a dozen times before ? As a child did you “roll down hills” or perhaps, played skeet ball or boccie ball where you “rolled a ball”  hoping to have it land at a specific spot? Have you witnessed one sports team “roll over” another in a lop-sided competition ? A funny sight is to watch a lone vehicle tire “roll down a street” for a long distance as if it had a driver.  Then there is the song “Rollin’ Down the River”…not sure how one does that, but it’s a great song. CCR and Tina Turner made it memorable. And, who can forget “roller skates”?

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A farmer rolled these round bales of hay. Actually, they are rather large and heavy. After his tractor rake gathers the hay and his baling machine rolls the hay, they are wrapped in a fiber net to hold them together. When a roll is moved a tractor with a long pointed pole impales the center and hauls it off to feed livestock.

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This year produced a productive crop of hay and bales. When you see an entire field of many acres dotted with these round bales, it appears as though they lined up to fight or to play a game of sorts. Imagine this scene fifty times larger.

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As you can tell, Autumn is beginning to reveal herself in the Midwest. Foliage is changing colors, the days are getting shorter, and the temperatures are starting to drop. This is also harvest time for several crops. The squirrels are going crazy stockpiling their winter food source which can be in a hundred places per squirrel. I’ve always wondered how they know exactly where they buried their nuts and seeds. They are fun to watch. In conclusion, I completely enjoy this season, and hope you do, too.

Four Seasons

Much has been written about the four seasons of our lives and of nature. Hence, even the calendar is based upon the stars and seasons: Autumnal Equinox, Winter Solstice, Vernal Equinox & Summer Solstice. I list these as they come at this time, and since summer is officially over (at least in the northern hemisphere) we enter the season of Autumn or Fall. Our lives correlate to nature’s seasons rather well.

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Actually, all life begins in the spring season when we are conceived, born and we begin our early years of development. I realize that some creatures begin their lives in different seasons, but I am basing my dialog on human beings. At this stage of the cycle of life we are filled with wonderment and often joy. I know, there are so many children whose lives appear to be anything but joyful. However, I have seen children in slums who find joy in the most dire circumstances. They inspire me.

Then comes Summer which welcomes the developing years of one’s life. This season is filled with activity, learning, and blessings. The later part of Summer involves adolescence and the challenges and excitement which accompany this season of life. Funny, how so many of us reflect upon this season most fondly as we grow older. Based on experience, please enjoy, but be careful as risks are often taken without any thought of danger…I am a living example!

Autumn comes next as these are the middle-aged years of one’s life. I now have two grandchildren who “knock my socks off” when I get to spend time with them. This is a joy-filled, and a reflective season, and is usually accompanied by many memories of raising our children. I believe it to be my most favored season …especially because I relate to nature so closely and the change of this season is so dramatic.

Winter follows and we experience the cleansing of new fallen snow and arctic blasts of air which cleanse the mind and spirit. It is also when we realize that this is the last season and we best make the most of it. Family and friends are most important during this time. Far too often we succumb to physical and mental illnesses which cause alarm among all who care. However, we were never promised an eternal life while enveloped in these bodies of flesh and bones.

This photograph was taken a few days ago and reflects nature’s changing personality during the season from Summer to Fall. I captured this image with my cell phone camera and admit it is nothing spectacular. Yet, I like it because it reveals an authentic representation of our reality, and of our seasons. So, whatever season of life you find yourself in, I encourage you to stop and enjoy it. As is so often stated, “Time flies”. There are no do-overs in life, only restarts!

Last Hurrah

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Sometimes photographs don’t need much, if any, commentary. I am fortunate that I follow many talented photographers who provide excellent images and equally titillating commentary. I don’t know if this image even comes close, but I like it (if that counts).

These blossoms may be this year’s last salute to a pleasant summer for us in the Midwestern United States. These Geraniums have bloomed several times, but I think this will be their last until Spring. Hence, the hurrah!

I think sometimes we, as people, reflect the natural environment around us…or could it be the other way around? Either way, I pray Texans will see such beauty again and soon after the flood waters recede.