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.
Autumn in Oregon heralds our rainiest season of the year. Weather prognosticators promised rain for days. Areas nearby and surrounding us received showers. Sometimes only sprinkles. Our neighborhood received nothing.
Until…last Saturday night. We awoke on Sunday morning with evidence of overnight rain. And we’ve had several good…let’s say heavy showers since.
When it rains in Oregon, we experience fog of varying levels–light, moderate, heavy. Especially when driving through forested areas. The fog dances through the branches of thick and heavy evergreens. It may sound a bit spooky, but it’s a lovely site and cozy too. The white-gray of the fog softens everything around it.
Sitting here watching the rainfall, I’m entertained by everchanging colors. The sky goes from blue to gray to almost black and then bursts open with either rain or sun breaks and white clouds.
The leaves are changing from green to the bright colors of autumn. With the days shortening, darkness drops its curtain earlier. Then the sky turns a blue-black dotted with sparkling lights if the sky is clear.
As I watch the changing of the seasonal colors and weather, I sense the Presence of the One who made it all possible. He calls me to rethink changes in my life and the lives of those around me.
I take a few moments and reflect on family and friends. I realize our great-grandchildren are no longer toddlers but are four, seven, and ten. Oh, and a new one on the way in January!
I take a look too at those friends who have left us for a better place and give thanks for their presence in our lives. God now has new angels in His heaven looking down on us.
Always present God provides our every need. Even a good conversation on a somewhat dark and dreary day.
Sunday started the cruise-in season for car guys. Last year was our first year to take part. We had purchased a 1964 Studebaker Commander (see above image) in May of 2018, and we wanted to show her off. Cars have interested Bob since he was a young boy. As his wife, I came along carrying my dad’s interest in cars and built on that history to enjoy Bob’s interests.
Studie is the child of one previous owner. The gentleman who owned her took meticulous care of her outside and inside. Not much, if any, restoration occurred during that initial ownership. Car records note a new paint job (in the original color) and new upholstery (close to the original).
We never fail to receive a thumbs up along the highway, and then at the cruise-in a lot of “she’s a beauty.” Who knew you could feel as proud of a vintage vehicle as you do your three children? Well, it isn’t quite the same but similar.
Dad also had a love of Studebakers. So when Bob mentioned he’d found one for sale nearby, there was no question that we’d go take a look and kick some tires. I loved Dad’s Studebaker. It was where I got some of my best alone time with him.
Dad’s Studebaker was also a Commander but a few years older than ours. It was born in 1949.
The pictures below are of Dad at the wheel of his blue Studebaker. The other is of me on the first day of school (either first or second grade) waiting for my ride to school with Dad.
I find it amazing how threads of passion weave themselves through your life. Who knew as a young girl in first or second grade I’d be the wife of a man who, like my dad, had a special love of cars? Who knew I’d have fun going to cruise-ins?
Gratitude fills my heart for a lot of things shared in this story. My car guys are men so similar. A father like my Father in Heaven with plenty of unconditional love. And a husband, also a good, hardworking man who loves and cares for his family. I stand in awe of the connections found across two generations in our family.
On Tuesday, Bob and I spent the greater part of the day at OHSU (aka Oregon Health & Science University). OHSU also houses two hospitals, and my surgery will take place at one of them (OHSU Hospital) on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s schedule contained three appointments, each of which included questions and answers, tests and more tests, and an introduction to a research study I’m participating in. At the time, my head was swimming until we got a stretch near mid-day for lunch and taking a breath.
Everything went well. All of our questions were answered. We also received a detailed description of my surgeon’s plan. The end result came at the hands and compassion of medical staff at the Spine Center.
In the midst of all the negativity around us by the government, protesters, the news media, and more, it was a delight to meet people who were actually soothing souls. Not one negative attitude during the entire day. Not one person who came across as an ego-loaded jerk. Not one shrug or smirk at any of my questions.
These soothing souls provided me with the sense of calm and peace I’ve been seeking as I head into the most complex of the spine surgeries I’ve had to date. Prayers from friends and family helped me along. Coming home felt almost unbelievable when compared to how I’d felt that morning heading out.
Gratitude is lifted to God for the gift of these people committed to working in the field of medicine spreading calmness and peace.