A Bluebell Bellflower & the Rocks and Waves of Lake Superior

“Grandma, come see the blue flowers I found.”

I followed my granddaughter along a rocky path, as waves pounded the shore of Lake Superior. A light wind brushed against my face. The leaves on the birch trees rustled gently.

There they were, bluebells, growing in a crack between the rocks. God created the majesty of Lake Superior and the delicate beauty of the blue flowers—setting them side by side.

Bluebell Bellflower & Lake Superior
Bluebell Bellflower

I was so blessed to spend time at a favorite park with the grandchildren—exploring the rugged coast of this great lake. It was time to pause and take in God’s creative power.  It was a break from the news of sad and   violent events taking place in our country and throughout the world.

Esrey Roadside Park

The Psalms come to mind and the beautiful rhythm of faith displayed in the words of the Psalms. We read heart wrenching prayers and confessions. We are instructed to spend time in the Word. Still, the Psalmist takes time to pause and observe God’s power and sovereignty. He sees God’s majesty in nature giving him the glory.

Lake Superior

Psalm 93

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
The Lord is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.
Your throne was established long ago;
You are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, O Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
The seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the Lord on high is mighty.

Your statutes stand firm;
Holiness adorns your house
For endless days, O Lord.

Linking with Thankful ThursdayTuesdays with a Twist,  Seasons, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday,  Let Us Grow and Word of God Speak

Pretty Green Globes: Gooseberries for Jam and Pie

gooseberries

Berries have always been valued in my family as a special treat. When I was a kid it was mainly strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. There are so many more.  I am developing an appreciation for gooseberries,     elderberries and currants.

The latter three grow well in my backyard. Gooseberries, elderberries and currants don’t seem to mind our clay soil—although I have worked at enriching it with peat and in the fall add a layer of dried grass or shredded leaves. These berry bushes don’t need much care, just need to be picked.

Gooseberries

The gooseberries are ripening. My two-year-old grandson was fascinated with the little green globe. He held one in his hand turning it around and gazing at the stripes with wonder. So much to wonder at in nature. God has created so much for us to enjoy!

Have you ever tasted a gooseberry? My grandson took a tentative little bite. It is rather sour but good for jam and pie.

Two cookbooks are helpful in providing directions for gooseberry jam: Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits by Teresa Marrone and Stocking Up from Rodale Press. According to Teresa Marrone’s book, green gooseberries (not quite ripe) contain enough pectin to make a simple jam without added pectin.

The first step is to cook the gooseberries with a little water (2 or 3 Tablespoons of water per cup of berries). Bring the berries to a boil and then simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Mash the berries with a potato masher.   Next add the sugar (or honey) gradually—approximately ½ cup to ¾ cup per cup of berries. I tend to taste the mixture several times as I continue to add the sweetener. A combination of sugar & honey works also. I like a tart jam. When the sugar is well mixed in, bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. When I am using honey as a sweetener I add additional pectin–homemade pectin–in the last minute of cooking. (BTW – If you add a pat of butter to the boiling fruit, it won’t spit at you.)

The final step is to ladle into sterile jars and process in a hot water bath. I process half-pint jars for 10 minutes. Gooseberry jam has an interesting color and rich flavor.

gooseberry jam

Gooseberries are good in pie also. I freeze some of the gooseberries for apple/gooseberry pies.

Marrone, Teresa, Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits, Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, Inc. 2009 p. 70

Stoner, Carol, editor, Stocking Up, Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.

Linking with Our Simple HomesteadFrom the FarmTuesdays with a TwistHappy, Healthy, Green & Natural,  Mom to Mom Mondays, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday,  the Art of Homemaking and  Seasons

The Tulips at Windmill Island Gardens

In late April of 2012 we visited Windmill Island Gardens in Holland Michigan. The park wasn’t due to open quite yet, but the tulips were early and we were fortunate to see the gardens in full bloom.

The Tulips at Windmill Gardens

Tulips have so many varied colors. It it a tribute to the Creator of all flowers.

Tulips_1638

The news and politics can weigh heavy on my mind, but God makes rest and joy available in nature. I have some tulips blooming in my yard– and happy memories of Windmill Island.

When I go out to the garden the noise and rush of the world comes to a pause. Now the peony stems and buds are poking through the soil. The lilacs are beginning to bloom and I see the promise of berries on bushes and strawberry plants.

The poem by Winifred Mary Letts (1882 – 1972) makes me smile.

That God once loved a garden
we learn in Holy Writ.
And seeing gardens in the
Spring I well can credit it.

Tulips_1655

It is easier follow the guidance given in Philippians while working in the garden.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.           Philippians 4:8

Tulips_1705

Can you imagine what it was like for Adam and Eve to talk with God in the first garden?

Linking with Mom to Mom,  Words with Winter,  Word of God SpeakGrace & Truth,  Thought Provoking ThursdayNature Notes, Seasons and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday