Rainy autumn days arrived in the Pacific Northwest with bluster. With them, they brought winds that tossed colorful leaves everywhere. Our maple tree left our driveway looking like a leaf mosaic. Bob took the photo above on one of his daily trips to our mailbox last week.
With the change in our weather, the last weekend in November upon us, and new COVID restrictions on Oregon activities, it must be Thanksgiving. Things have tightened up with regard to social gatherings as the number of new cases and deaths have increased here. It is hard to celebrate while so many others are grieving, are houseless and hungry, and struggling economically to keep businesses afloat.
Our mini-forest is one of the best features of our home place. Over the years, it has provided a sense of being outside the city with extra privacy. While we were still working, our location provided ease of access to the church, shopping, and medical care.
One of the drawbacks of living in a mini-forest is the inability to grow certain plants and trees. For example, we don’t get the bright colors of leaves changing on deciduous trees or shrubs. In the summer, sun-loving flowers and plants laugh at us as we place them in our nursery cart. They only last a short time before fading away.
Thanks to our next-door neighbors I can glance out my office window and see a glorious sight. A red weeping Japanese maple. On these chilly, gray days of Pacific Northwest winter weather, that tree is symbolic of a warm campfire, or a thick red blanket, or the depth of love found at home with family.
As I soak up the warmth and beauty of this tree, I am filled with gratitude for God’s creation all around me. The diversity of people I know and see in our community and our church home. The fall colors brightening our environment despite the rain and fog. The gift of friendships committed to staying in touch during this pandemic.
It is my hope that you are fortunate enough to find something for which you can feel grateful despite this year that has often felt dry and devoid of warmth, happiness, and love.
With plenty of time on my hands, my mind runs to thinking on gratitude. What I’m grateful for in our cocooning.
We decided to substitute “cocooning” for “sheltering in place” and “quarantining.” The genesis of cocooning is a statement shared in our church’s weekly men’s Bible study group. I’ll share the entire quote in a moment.
Here’s what I’m grateful for this past week:
Shelter and food to eat plus clean water to drink.
Being stranded in the middle of Meyer Woods with the man God blessed my life with almost 39 years ago.
Health and welfare of our three children and their families.
A long drive in the countryside to see what Spring is up to, and she’s up to a lot!
Frontline workers in Portland, OR, who show up every day putting their lives at risk to care for others.
Reaching out to others in our community to check on their needs.
Continuing recovery of a dear friend after a serious skiing accident two weeks ago.
All these things for some reason stand out in greater light than usual. That’s because there are so much tragedy and uncertainty around us. The stress and tension have a tendency to bring our senses into sharper focus.
How much longer will we need to follow the guidelines issued by the various levels of government? We don’t know. But one thing is sure, and it is in the words spoken by a dear friend on Wednesday morning:
Quarantining is like being cocooned. We are waiting mostly in the dark, and we don’t know what form we will take when we emerge. But I imagine it will be beautiful beyond our imagining.
Take these words with you and while cocooning, think on those things for which you are grateful.
With family coming for a visit this past weekend, we decided it was time to work on catching up on a bit of housekeeping. This would be my first serious effort at helping Husband Bob do household chores. I’m happy to report my catching up on housework exercise worked out A-OK for a newbie (that’s what they call you after a four-year hiatus from your duties!).
Early Friday evening our niece and her husband arrived for the weekend. Our niece was attending the Rose City Comic Con. Her publisher provided a booth for authors to sell and sign books. With a new book out,* she wanted to take part. Their visit provided us with time to catch up on family and memories. Lovely house guests create a feeling of successful hospitality. We hope they’ll return for another visit when we can take in a few wineries in the area.
On Saturday night, we were happy to hear the sound of rain hitting the roof. Our summer had been so dry we desperately needed the rain. It spent Sunday catching up with the rainfall deficit. Despite a dark day, it felt good to know that this rainfall might actually be enough to make a difference. A few candles lit brightened things up.
Catching up is always a good thing as long as you’re not the object of a hunter like the tiny mouse in the photo above.
Yesterday was a bit different from other days since my recovery began. I had an unexpected visitor arrive. Despite plenty of books to read, knitting to knit, and writing to ponder, the days are often somewhat boring. And it doesn’t help that I’ve had a minor setback that limits my activity level.
Back to my unexpected visitor. Looking out the large window into our backyard, I noticed the leaves on our vine maple fluttering. If there was a breeze blowing, none of the other trees were joining in.
And then I spied him. A small squirrel bouncing from limb to limb. Stopping here and there to find a nibble of something. Then off he’d go either higher or lower on a branch, all the while bouncing as he went. I found myself giggling with joy. Laughter bubbling up inside me. This little fellow was so entertaining. At one point, he jumped from a branch and it came right back and hit him in the keister. Double laughter!
Tell me God doesn’t know when we need a boost, and I’ll tell you why I know otherwise. Here sat a woman wishing for a day brightener. And into her backyard came a squirrel with a routine at the ready. As he munched and danced his way through the tree, he also performed acrobatics. And all for this one woman-audience.
I felt lighter as he bounded on his way to his next assignment. His little impromptu performance filled me with gratitude.