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.
Summer entered the Pacific Northwest yesterday, specifically the Portland, OR area, ablaze in sunlight and blue sky. Of course, lest we’d forget our geographic location, the occasional cloud covered the sun. Yet, that did nothing to deter the soul from dancing.
In reading yesterday, I came across a poem by William Wordsworth that spoke to how I felt with summer outside my doorway and what memories of its gala arrival would mean for me months down the road. Continue reading “Hello Summer!”→
No, this is not the April I expected. And it’s likely not the April you expected either.
We looked forward to March Madness, an indicator April and spring training are ahead. Golf fans looked forward to the Masters Tournament at Augusta and a chance to see Amen Corner. We wanted to go to church on Easter Sunday. People planned outings to Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm (see image above) for the 2020 Tulip Festival. Sorry, folks, not this year.
This is the first time I can remember Holy Week when we haven’t gathered at our church on Maundy Thursday. Nor gather on Good Friday to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary.
What happened on Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection? Ordinarily, music by brass instruments and the choir singing start the service. Often there is also a children’s choir somewhere in the service. The singing of beautiful hymns offering the message of Easter is a favorite part of the service for me. This Easter the sanctuary was quiet.
We were told to stay home. After all, we are in an elite age group at high risk in this time of the pandemic. And if not at home, we were to stay at least six feet apart. How do you hold church services under these circumstances?
Enter Zoom and Facebook Live. We have been virtually worshipping together since March 15, 2020, a total of seven weeks. I miss gathering with the community of believers at our church, hearing the choirs and musicians, and coffee fellowship after the service.
Here we are in the last week of April. All around flowers are blooming. Trees budding, rain showers falling, hummingbirds humming, bees buzzing, and more. It still isn’t the April I expected.
With May arriving on Friday, Oregon’s pandemic guidelines loosed two restrictions. The first is the performing of elective surgeries in hospitals and clinics.
Also, dental offices may reopen. Yet, dentists countered by noting the risk to staff and patient. Powerful dental equipment in the mouth forces saliva and moisture into the air. In turn, this increases the risk of spread of the coronavirus. We still have a curve to flatten here and this wouldn’t be helpful.
With the departure of April, May sits on the horizon expecting some planting to happen. But currently, with our age keeping us away from nurseries and garden shops, we have nothing to plant. Looks like it will be a late planting this year. It’s a wait-and-see proposition.
How about you? Was this the April you expected? And will May meet your expectations? Just something to ponder.
Yesterday morning we sat at the breakfast table reading our morning devotional and sharing morning prayers. Our local classical radio station played in the background. I heard the on-air host announce the next song, Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles. The song was written by George Harrison while walking through Eric Clapton’s garden.
I looked out the window beside our table and there it came—the sun shining through our trees leaving dappled sunlight here and there. What a beautiful start to our day!
Usually, the rain sticks around Portland well into May but this winter has been different. It seems winter has been different almost everywhere. To experience sunlight during the wettest, darkest season of our year is a gift. Like this song by George Harrison.
Changing seasons are markers in our lives. With September, we begin to think of the end of summer and the advent of autumn. School starts up in many places. And routines at home change to keep with schedules required for school and work and more. In Oregon, harvesting apples and grapes begin. And the cider and winemaking processes start. Farm stands show off pumpkins along with fall-colored mums.
But the September to October transition has been different this year. In seasons past, October weather gave warm days with cooler nights. The rain began to drizzle and then strengthen as October progressed. But not this year. There are days when it feels like winter.
Weather patterns are changing all over our country. In Oregon, we have snow in the mountains. Today Timberline Lodge reports an 11″ base on Mt. Hood. Often the operators of the ski lift at Mt. Hood hold their collective breath into November. The wait for an opening date for the season is long sometimes. History also shows seasons when the snowfall was light enough to close the season early.
Record snowfalls hit across the midwest last week while a heatwave struck the east coast. Current conditions here and around our country and the world need us to question why.
What is going on in our world to cause these climate changes? I don’t know if anyone has the answer.
Yet, Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist, seems to have a message. Thunberg hopes government leaders of the world and we as individuals will listen. Her words may hold something close to the answer, if not the answer.
If you’d like to hear Thunberg’s message, you can listen to her speech at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 here:
I am not endorsing everything Greta says. But I do admire her courage, intelligence, and willingness to speak up. I do believe we have endangered our earth and its residents, both human and otherwise. We have not been good stewards of this earth. But I also believe our Mother Earth has gone through changes in previous times. Times when neither you nor I were alive to witness it. That doesn’t mean I wish to witness a cataclysmic change in our world.
If government and world leaders, including our own, choose to ignore what’s happening, then the words of a 16-year old young woman are important to hear. Personally, I hold my heart and hands up to a Higher Power for direction in my life. Yet, it is also important that I make myself aware of what I can do to preserve this world for generations to come.