Refreshed by a Weekend in Michigan with My Sisters

Northern Michigan is at the height of fall color. My sisters and I enjoyed a road trip, taking in the vivid, glowing colors of the trees.

Sun and shadow played on the orange and yellow leaves, lighting them up like gold. Red and green provided contrast.

We hiked through a wooded area and noticed the beautiful detail in leaves and flowers. Art designed by God.

The fall colors were glorious, and the time with my sisters was a blessing. We picked apples, listened to podcasts together, shared meals and prayed for family concerns. We gave thanks because we have seen God’s faithfulness over the years.

For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

Sharing this post with Inspire Me Monday and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday .

New Ideas for the Garden

With lots of time at home I have been able to focus attention on gardening. My neighbor and I have shared tips and little plants across the back fence. I am looking forward to garden produce.

This year I have added mushroom compost to the garden to help break up the heavy clay soil. In some places I have added earthworm castings as a fertilizer. 

In the past I have lost squash and pumpkin plants to vine borers—the caterpillars that eats the inside of the plant’s vine. So I did an internet search for ways to prevent this problem. One suggestion was to place aluminum foil around the base of the stem—I tried that before without success. Or wrap the stem with cheese cloth. My squash and pumpkin plants now have cheese cloth around their stems.

Update 8/12/2020: I have picked (and made into dinner veggie) two zucchini squash with more coming. I have butternut squash coming.

Another suggestion was to companion plant nasturtium, chives, calendula or tansy around the squash/pumpkin plants. I have tansy and calendula growing next to the pumpkin plants and nasturtium and chives next to the squash. I also planted the squash in a new area, because rotating location of plants is a good idea. We’ll see how this experiment works.

For the tomato plants I put a mix of banana peel, crushed egg shell and coffee grounds deep in a hole, covered with some soil, before placing the tomato plant in.

I am thrilled that some of my herbs wintered over. The sage and thyme were in sheltered areas outside. My rosemary plant did well in a sunny bay window during the winter and is now outside.

I am looking forward to the time our state opens up—our district of Illinois is still shut down. I am anxious to have time together with friends and family. In the meantime gardening gets me outside, into the sunshine. I look in wonder at endless variety of plants and flowers that God has created for our enjoyment.

Do you have gardening tips for growing healthy plants?

Sharing this post with Tuesdays with a Twist and the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: FORWARD

When I Observe the Robins

One of the things I miss most during the current shutdown is my weekly trips to the local library. I know, I could get e-books, but I prefer the book that I can hold in my hand. I also like to check the library shelves holding new releases.

So, instead I have been going through the books that I have. 

I am blessed to have a little cache of books loaned to me by a good friend. But I also have books that I had bought and placed on my book shelves, planning to read someday. I found the book, The Table Talk of Martin Luther, translated by William Hazlitt and edited by Thomas Kepler.

The book covers a variety of topics in short sections. Each section is a from a conversation of Martin Luther, his perspective. The first topic is God’s Word.

That the Bible is God’s word and book I prove thus: All things have been, and are, in the world, and the manner of their being, are described in the first book of Moses on the creation; even as God made and shaped the world, so does it stand to this day. . . . And ’tis no small miracle how God has preserved and protected this book . . .

Yesterday I was observing a couple of robins and discovered their nest. We have a large bush in front of our house. In the past week I have noticed rustling sounds and the flight of a bird.

Then yesterday two robins flew to a nearby tree. They twittered in a flustered fashion, and I was motivated to investigate. I peered into the thick branches of the bush. In the center of the bush, well hidden, was a nest. 

A little later I discovered that I could see the nest from my dining room window–and a robin settled in the nest.

I thought about the behavior of the robins; the ability to design a nest, nurture new life and protect the young. Have you ever watched a parent robin coaching a young robin as it learns to fly? God’s design is evident in all creatures.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: PERSPECTIVE I’m also linking with Inspire me Monday and Heart Encouragement .

Keeping a Positive Outlook During the Pandemic

Today I woke up to snow decorating the trees and covering the ground. I was drawn to spending time outside.

The hyacinths in front of our house were still peeking up, despite the snow.

The sound of many birds twittering and whistling filled the morning air. As I took a walk through our neighborhood I caught sight of a couple robins.

Can you pick out the robin in the tree?

It was refreshing to walk in the brisk cold air–a few other walkers were out as well.

A variety of activities and tactics are helpful in this unusual time.

My morning Bible study is an essential part of my day. Did you know that the Bible has hundreds of reference to fear? This pandemic is stirring fear and panic, but God’s word tells us to fear God alone. I need to remind myself each day. The following verses give instruction.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Psalm 111:10

Jesus said: I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:4-7

I have begun to limit the amount of time I spend watching news briefs. I read books. Sunday morning we met with our church from our home through the zoom platform. Last night I watched an episode of Call the Midwife. Almost every day I have FaceTime with my daughters and grandchildren. We are blessed with the technology that allows us to stay in touch.

How are you doing? What is helping you during this time of isolation?

This post is shared with Sue’s image-in-ing.

Seeing God’s Artistry in the Fall Colors

My grandson and I were looking out of the dining room window at the trees. The leaves were changing color. “See the linden tree—the leaves are turning yellow.”

My grandson said, “But look at that tree. Its leaves are bronze.”

In the distance we could see a tree with orange leaves. I explained what I knew. In the fall the chlorophyl  in the leaves diminishes as the days shorten and temperatures drop.

Other questions arose in my mind. Why do the leaves of some trees turn yellow, others bronze, orange or red? Why are the colors so rich and vivd this year?

The Old Farmers Almanac has answers.

 . . . pigments, carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (red), exist in the leaf all summer but are masked by the chlorophyll which helps plants absorb sunlight. (The browns in autumn leaves are the result of tannin, a chemical that exists in many leaves, especially oaks.) 

In general, a wet growing season followed by an autumn with lots of sunny days, dry weather, and cold, frostless nights will produce the most vibrant palette of fall colors. This vividness is especially true of red leaves, such as those on sugar maples and red maple trees.

This year we are blessed with an array of colors: rich red, flaming yellow and orange, bronze with a back drop of evergreens. God’s artistry in the design of trees.

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the earth in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96: 12b-13 ESV

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing and Inspire Me Monday.

Do These Flowers Like Sun or Shade?

Today I made my first trip to the farmer’s market this year. Early produce was set out in abundance: lettuce, swiss chard, kale, asparagus and strawberries. But the first booth I came to had flowers and plants, both annuals and perennials. 

When I saw the sweet williams, I wanted two plants. I asked the man who was selling them, do sweet williams prefer sun or shade? He said, “Definitely the sun”.

I thought about my question. Every plant has its preferences—the soil pH, tolerance for dry periods, sun or shade. And every type of flower is unique. And then there is the color range within one type of flower. All that information is contained within the seed.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1: 11-12

When we pay attention to the amazing intricacy of the world God created, it is awesome. I give praise and thanks to God.

Why was I drawn to purchase the sweet williams? My Grandmother grew sweet williams (and lilacs). A few of them still grow on the hillside by the old farmhouse. Since trees and bushes have grown up they are in the shade and have become sparse. Now I know that they like the sun. I came home and planted them where they will have lots of sunlight.

Today the Five Minute Friday community has the prompt: QUESTION To see the different thoughts generated by writers or to join in, visit Kate’s site. .

Living Well, Reflecting on the Psalms

Every morning my husband and I read a Psalm together before we begin the day. Today we are on Psalm 115. We have read psalms of praise, lament and remembrance. Memories of crossing the Red Sea and the years in the Wilderness are recorded. 

God’s power over the Red Sea and the Jordan River is extolled. God’s presence, care and salvation is remembered. 

We have challenges and troubles like the people of Israel. But in the midst of difficulties we can say that it is well with us. We are blessed because God loves us and will help us if we call out to him.

O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord. He is their help and their shield.

The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those that fear the Lord, both the small and the great. Psalm 115: 9-12 ESV

Note: The photo shows the Dan River–one of the tributaries that flows into the Jordan River from the north. The book of Joshua states that the Jordan River overflows its banks at harvest. But God provided a way for Israel to cross the Jordan: the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap. Joshua 3:13

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: WELL

Thoughts of Spring on a Cold Day

It’s cold outside. Our thermometer reads -5 degrees. We have almost a foot of snow on the ground and when I went outside to take a picture my fingers became stiff in minutes.

It is winter but spring will come. I have begun receiving seed catalogues. My thoughts turn to the garden. My favorite plants are the herbs.

Some will come back on their own. The perennials are mint, sage, chives, lemon balm and lavender. In the spring I will plant basil, calendula, dill, and thyme. I will buy a rosemary plant. 

It is so pleasant, so convenient to have fresh herbs on hand in the summer. 

I am linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing on the prompt: CONVENIENT. Visit Kate Motaung’s site to join the fun.

Colorful Foliage and Flowers in Northern Michigan

A week ago my husband and I were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We had six days mostly off the grid, reading and doing small projects. The day that we arrived it was raining. It rained a couple more days. One night we had thunder, lightening and a heavy down pour.

The benefit was all the bright green foliage, the wild flowers and the apple trees heavy with apples. When I took time to see the flowers, to pick apples and watch the birds flitting from tree to tree, I was refreshed.

wildflower

 

Sweet pea

 

wildflower

For I know the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does in heaven and on earth,
In the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain and
brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Psalm 135: 5-7

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: RAIN   Visit this community of writers by clicking here.

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Garden Notes: The Plants, Animals and Pests in My Yard

From spring to fall the garden is a place of wonder, amusement and challenge. Here are thirteen examples.

The tulips are one of the first blooms in my yard.

The Garden

The scent of the lily of the valley is pleasing. I love how the little bells peek out from the green fronds. This is the flower for the month of May—the month that my first baby was born.Lily of the Valley

The elderberry bushes had abundant flowers this year so I picked the flower heads (umbels) and made elderflower syrup. You can find the recipe here.Garden

When the elderberries are ripe—they are also abundant—I  will  make   elderberry juice. You can find the recipe here.Elderberries

This year I picked 6 quarts of cherries from the cherry tree, but this tree requires a lot of tending. You can read about it here.

Labor of Love

The grandchildren enjoy picking the raspberries, mulberries and currants.

Raspberry

It was a delight to see a hummingbird flit among the branches of the cherry tree. I placed a hummingbird feeder close to the tree. The little bird has been back.

The pickling cucumbers are growing well. I have been making lacto-fermented pickles. You can find a recipe here.

lacto-fermented cucumbers

This year I am growing tomato plants in containers. I was so pleased to see the developing tomatoes. And then I noticed a half eaten tomato. The next day I realized that there was a huge tomato worm on the plant. (Where do they come from?) He had devoured the leaves from two stems and was devouring another tomato. I had to call my husband to pick him off. (Didn’t even think about taking a picture this voracious green worm!)

I have become quite good at finding the Japanese beetles on my plants and can readily pick them off. If you find them in your yard, pick them off and drop them in a container of soapy water.

Japanese Beetle

The calendula flowers in glowing colors are blooming. I pick the blooms and dry them for tea. The flowers are also good for making a salve. Read more here.

Calendula Flower
Art Shades Calendula

As I watched from my kitchen window I noticed a squirrel that was busy trying to untangle a burlap strip that I had wound around the base of the plum tree and a steel rod. The plum tree was growing at an angle, and I was trying to help it grow upright. The squirrel ducked in and out of the burlap, gnawing at it. When I went outside he scampered away. He had it shredded the burlap in places, hoping to carry it off.

The zinnias are beginning to bloom. At first they have a single layer of petals. And then additional layers appear and the color becomes richer. It is a nice metaphor for the way we grow as Christians. As we follow the Lord obediently, spending time in the Word, our life becomes fuller and richer.

Garden

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday is:  THIRTEEN                                Visit Kate Motaung’s blog to see the various ways writers were inspired by this word. Thanks for visiting!

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