worthshire…

In a city

Lived a town house.

Through a window

On the second floor

I could see

A garage.

Beyond that

A street,

Beyond that

More houses,

Looking back at me.

But if,

I sat

Upon the floor

Or,

Laid upon the bed

And,

Cast my eyes

Through the glass

Into

The sky

There was

A grand and towering

Pine tree.

He filled me

With hope.

He carried me

Past the sadness of the day.

He taught me

The story

That

Before there was concrete

There was this

Tall and strong

Waving in the wind

Shelter and home

To many.

He taught me

That green

Is the color of kindness.

He taught me

That to sway with the breeze

Is the secret of strength.

He was always there

As close as

My unveiled window

Upon the world.

He laughed

With me.

He cried

With me.

But always

He stayed

With me.

He never needed

Boat or plane

Car or train

To travel the world.

Instead,

He sailed the skies

And saw a million moments

Come and go…

In every pine I see

Stand tall

There is a hint of him

Within them all.

********

Written and photographed by Ellie894 February 2018

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Clyde

Once upon a time…

There was a crocodile named Clyde. He was rather lonesome and lost.

But, when Clyde slept he dreamed wonderful dreams of a home…

One day,

Clyde fell asleep in the shade of the sweet-gum tree, beneath its branches filled with stars.

And he dreamed…of shy tortoises sunning themselves on an out stretched log.

All of a sudden…

Plink! Plonk! Plunk!

Prickly fruit dropped from the sweet-gum tree onto Clyde’s head waking him from a sound slumber.

So, he stood up on his short legs and plodded along until he found a new place.

Clyde fell asleep in the shade of the wise old oak tree, beneath its branches filled with hidden homes.

And he dreamed…of birds soaring high overhead.

All of a sudden…

Plink! Plonk! Plunk!

Marble like acorns dropped from the oak tree onto Clyde’s head waking him from a sound slumber.

So, he stood up on his short legs and strolled along until he found a new place.

Clyde fell asleep in the shade of a towering pine tree beneath its branches filled with chattering squirrels.

The pine straw made a good place to rest and soon enough he was dreaming again…of frogs hopping playfully in the mud.

All of a sudden…

Plink! Plonk! Plunk!

Pine cones dropped from the towering pine tree onto Clyde’s head waking him from a sound slumber.

With a sigh he stood up on his short legs and trekked on.

He wondered if he would ever find a true home.

His short legs carried him far across the land.

He trudged through cold winter snow.

He tiptoed through fresh spring flowers.

He twirled through dry dusty summer.

He ambled through drifting autumn leaves.

Clyde wandered through wide open spaces

And through busy noisy towns

Clyde traveled on and on…

He saw a great many wonderful things.

But, none of them felt right in his heart.

So he kept on…

Until one day when Clyde was very tired and full of despair…

He came to the edge of a great lake.

There were trees shading the banks.

There were shy tortoises sunning themselves.

There were birds soaring high overhead.

There were even frogs hopping playfully in the mud.

It was just like Clyde’s dream.

It was a quiet happy place underneath enormous skies.

Clyde thought that he would stay.

Then…

Just over there…

On the bank, half in the water and half out…

Half in the sun and half out…

Was a crocodile just like himself!

Slowly Clyde approached her…

He was a little scared…

What if she didn’t like him?

My name is Clyde. What’s yours?

Camellia, she said shyly.

That’s a lovely name. May I sit with you Camellia?

I’d like that – she said with a warm smile.

All at once…

Clyde knew

That he had found…home.

********

Written and photographed by Ellie894 February 2018

the waltz

The sun blazes farewell as it sets in the autumn sky taking the light of day along to another place whose time has come. Strong silhouettes rule this moment where one thing slowly becomes another.

Lily checks her reflection in the glass once more. The long calico dress is simple but it is the best she has. Her chestnut hair falls soft about her shoulders pulled back with the only satin ribbon she owns…blue

Butterflies carry her down the stairs in a fluttering what if…

It is a time before neon lights hide the beauty of the night. Vast countryside is softly bathed in shadow. A half moon curls up as sentinel in an ebony sky.

Music and laughter call out in welcome through the open barn door. The scent of hay mingles with tempting aromas that float above the kettles simmering with hearty fare.

Gingham cloth drapes over and down wooden farmhouse tables laden with the bounty of orchard and fire. Hot cornbread is so golden it just might be worth something.

Pastry has been rolled and filled with the stuff that dreams are made of. A dusting of sugar and time in the oven has them bubbling and sparkling until one can hardly wait.

A few men keep time with their feet as their bows fly fast over the fiddle strings! Sometimes…they slow and soften.

One by one, couples take to the center of the barn. They are timid at first, until the joy of the song fills their hearts. In this place, skirts catch the air and not a single toe will be stepped on…wink

Then, from beyond the hustle and bustle…

the gentleman offers his arm and a warm smile. She accepts both with the raspberry blush of cheek that she knew would come.

No one notices as they make their way past fiddlers and ladies keeping watch over food and even the couples twirling round the dance floor.

…through the open door… into the fresh night air…past the storytellers spinning tales by the fire’s warm glow…

…to the lovely place where moonbeams shine and music can still be heard…

One, two three…step, two three…sweet notes drift in the air above their makeshift dance floor…eyes lost in one another…they waltz…beneath a million stars…

Long after the fiddles stop playing…long after the pies are eaten…long after the world has disappeared…hand in hand…they dance…

***********

Inspired by Ashokan Farewell by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason

written and photographed by Ellie894 February 9, 2018

Fifteen Real Pumpkins

Wish and hope and dream. Some days they are very much the same prayer, inseparable from one another and yet a whole world of possibilities within them. Some days they fill me until there is too much and they spill over with goodness. Some days they are buried in dark murky places and I cannot find them no matter how hard I try. Still…my dreams are always there…waiting for me.

Beneath a cold clear sky I send my wishes to the stars before the day begins. Star light, star bright…

Why do we wish upon a star, so far away…so up high…so out of reach. Why don’t we wish on something closer to home…like pumpkin seeds.

Cut open a pumpkin and reach inside. Feel all those seeds in the slime, held tight to the pumpkin and to each other by strong sinewy strings. It’s a mess in there! Dozens of ecru teardrops wait in the darkness like stars in the sky. Only they are touchable…and they become wondrous real things.

Pumpkin seeds do not have an outward brilliance that catches my eye. As I hold one between my fingers it feels slippery and sticky and yet, full of promise. Every pumpkin seed is a treasure chest locked tight with unseen gold.

How strange that our wishes reach to the heavens, to places we cannot go and cannot touch. Why don’t our wishes dig deeply instead. Why don’t our wishes begin in the earth and reach towards the sprawling beauty of becoming real.

I cannot touch a star or hold it in my hand the way I can a pumpkin seed. The seed is immediate and urgent as I grip it between my fingers and with my open heart it has already become an entire field of fruit, sprawling vines, delicate sunny flowers, and pumpkins one after another as far as my eye can imagine.

No man made plastic pumpkin will ever give way to such luscious possibilities.

In late September I drove to a local market for pumpkins. Fifteen pumpkins! They were a variety of crazy large shapes. No smalls. No mediums. All Larges! A couple of them were so big I could hardly manage them on my own. Would they topple on the way to the car! I had visions of them rolling all over the parking lot and me being rather helpless to stop them.

Then came the dilemma of arranging them in the car. More than one person looked at me with a smile that suggested… better you than me.

Pumpkins are deceptively dusty. Although their bold orange hides it, they carry a layer of soil leftover from their field days. And, they do enjoy sharing it with you. Nevertheless, the pumpkins were glorious and I was happy with my choices and their overflowing nature, rather like having a car full of balloons. It’s just a naturally happy moment.

So it was that fifteen real pumpkins came to reside with me.

Two collapsed before the end of October. One was given over to be carved for Halloween. A couple deflated after the first freeze. A few more were looking grim at the end of November. I lost another and another as December turned to Christmas turned to New Years.

As I head out to walk there are still some spicy orange orbs amongst the fallen brown leaves of winter. Signs of decay are easy enough to spot when you look closely. One by one they will each fall away.

Of course they don’t really go. Instead they transform as surely as the butterfly…from pumpkin to seed to green leafy shoot to yellow flower and finally, back to pumpkin again. They never stop giving.

In years past I have decorated with plastic pumpkins, the cute ones with handles and clever faces. In fact, I still have some of them tucked away in the attic. They last longer, people say. One can use them year after year, people say. You get your money’s worth, people say. Yes, I guess that’s all true enough…

Plastic pumpkins need to be stored and cleaned. Climb into the sweltering attic to bring them down. Put a heavy rock in them so they won’t blow away or be carried off and chewed to bits by a canine companion. Imagine the mess made by lovable canine companion. Weeks later clean them of all the muck they collected in the great outdoors. Trudge back into the attic to put them away. Next year, repeat. Ugh.

With time and weather plastic becomes brittle and its colors fade. It loses its vibrancy. You pull it down from the attic one year and think – hmm, it doesn’t look much like a pumpkin anymore. It toughens to the breaking point. Then sharp edges jut forth, jagged and hurtful to all that dare to come close. In age and time plastic pumpkins harden to the world around them.

Real pumpkins grown by a real farmer in a real field brighten my life and bring me real joy! In age and time they soften to the world around them. Even as they decompose, they freshen. Real pumpkins give way to more life, not less. In the days and months to come they will spring forth again and again in enchanting new ways.

My colorful pumpkins and what’s real and what’s not sends my thoughts back to the childhood tale of The Velveteen Rabbit. To become real one must love and be loved and that is a profoundly messy but beautiful thing.

As time flies before you, are you real or are you plastic…

I love to wish upon the stars in the charcoal sky. I won’t stop anytime soon. I love sending my dreams soaring into the heavens to light up the night.

But the pumpkin with its seeds has something to teach me about wishing too. Even as I write this I wonder if it’s silly to wish on pumpkin seeds. People will laugh at me. Stars are so glamorous. Pumpkin seeds are so…not glamorous.

But I do wish…

I wish for bright pumpkin filled days of joy! I wish to soften with time. I wish for a quiet embrace to protect the promise within. I wish to blossom in love. I wish to be real…

May your wishes flower into a beautiful field of dreams.

Fifteen Real Pumpkins written and photographed by ellie894 February 2, 2018

Hey!

Hey!

Yes, Bo?

It’s cold out here…

Yes Bo, it’s very cold out here.

Hey!

Yes, Bo?

Are you listening…

Yes, Bo, I’m listening.

Let’s go home…

But why, Bo?

I’ve had enough of this snow thing…

Don’t you like the snow Bo?

Yeah, it’s ok but my snuggle spot’s waitin’ for me…

Ah, of course it is Bo.

It’s callin’ my name…

Your name? You don’t say Bo?

Hey!

Yes, Bo?

I’m ready to go home…

When would you like to go, Bo?

What do you mean, when?

I was just wondering Bo.

Now!

Oh…Ok Bo.

Now would be good…

Ok Bo.

Ten minutes ago woulda been better…

Ok Bo.

You know there’s bacon treats at home…

Yes there are Bo.

I’ll share with you…

I’m good Bo, you can have all the bacon treats.

You do love me, don’t you…

Yes, I do Bo…more than you will ever know.

I love you too…

Thank you Bo.

Hey, can we go home…

Yes, Bo…

Let’s go home…

Originally published on – all my heart sees

a little boy and a little girl…

Once upon a time…

There was a little boy…Who loved a little girl

***

He carried her books…

And sang her songs…

All the melodies his heart did carry

***

Wrinkles formed on his tiny brow…

What if she didn’t…

He worried, somehow

***

Once upon a time…

There was a little girl…Who loved a little boy

***

She penned him notes…

Folded tightly in squares…

All the words her heart did carry

***

She blushed as he opened…

Her thoughts so true…

She worried, whatever might he do

***

Once upon a time…

There was a little boy…And there was a little girl

***

Who had no wrinkles…

Who had no worries…

Their only gifts were hearts so true

***

Everyday…

They walked together…

Hand in hand…

In love forever…

********

written and photographed by Ellie894, 2018

live your story…

The clock ticks away, marking time. Sunday becomes Monday. 2017 falls into history making room for 2018. This minute has sixty seconds, the same as the last minute did but it is new. This year will have the same twelve months as last year did but it is ripe with new beginnings.

It is 2:18. The clock in my kitchen has not moved for weeks now. It’s not the battery. I checked that. I should take it down and let it go. I should make room for a new clock. I haven’t yet. I always wanted a great big round clock to keep the time. My dad took this one off of his workshop wall and handed it to me a few years ago. It has kept me company with its rhythmic ticking ever since, until recently.

I wonder about lots of things. Like, time passing and the way birds puff up in the cold and why am I here? Certainly the answer to the last question is not – to be perfect. Or at least I hope that’s not the answer. If it is, I’m failing miserably.

Do you suppose that if you knew why, then you would get busy taking care of that. Getting down to the business of doing what you’re here to do. Or…do you think you would drag your feet at the seeming impossibility of the task. All by yourself you should see to it that an entire continent has clean water. So, yeah. Good luck with that!

You think you want to know why. But, if you were truly given that answer…crystal clear on a silver platter, what would you actually do with it. Maybe…you already have the why and you just don’t recognize it.

Here I am again in the kitchen, so early in the morning. It’s cold and still dark out but I cannot see the stars. A thick gray sky conceals them from me. The answers to my wonderings are just as hidden as the stars.

Warmth emanates from my small pottery cup decorated with a windmill. It is hot with coffee. Soon it will fill me one bittersweet sip at a time. Even with cream and sugar there is a hint of the strength of the brew underneath. It took many years for me to enjoy coffee. Now that I do, I like it strong and with chicory. I like it to bite a little. Water should taste like water and coffee should taste like coffee.

Bo is stretched out and dreaming at my feet. I move his favorite pillow so that he can be close to me. Otherwise, he stares at me while resting his head in my lap and extending a paw in concern – you should really get my pillow…or pet me…or feed me…or you should put that pen down and pay attention to me…seriously, it’s all about me. But, if I settle his pillow, he will rest. Contentedly he will curl up and fall asleep. Every once in a while he lets out a groan of sorts and I wonder…what he’s thinking.

Growing up, I attended a sacred heart girls school. Yes, there were nuns…but no punishing rulers. Yes, there were uniforms…I still can’t bring myself to wear plaid. But, for me it was a haven. Whatever might be going on beyond those gates, for a few hours every day, there was gentle peace. I knew it was ok to be just who I was and to explore the woman I might one day become.

There was a two story white house on the grounds called…wait for it…the White House! You didn’t see that coming, did you. It looked out over a grove of pines and beyond that was a busy Houston street.

So many years of French class! I can still recite the nursery rhyme – jack be nimble – in French. You never know when that will come in handy…just saying. Quite the party trick, a lot of demand for it. Shall I do it now? No? Ok, then. I’ll save it for later…

Mrs. Doyle started me keeping a journal. My script was So small she could barely make it out and would kindly ask me to write a little larger please. Nevertheless, she encouraged me to write…thank you Mrs. Doyle…

Mrs. Finch was known to the senior girls as Babs. I never left her class without a smile. Her command of history was incredible! One morning I looked down only to see she had worn two different shoes to school. One black and one navy. An honest mistake, especially when you learn that the electricity had been out at her house. A dark closet, it could happen to anyone. It wasn’t so much the different colors that gave us a chuckle though. It was the different heel heights… Babs spent that day good natured as always but with a colorful limping down the hallways, one shoe a solid two inches taller than its partner.

Beyond reading, writing and arithmetic there was an underlying and gentle nod to what others in the world might be going through. Bring a can of soup tomorrow. What we collect will find its way to those who need it. Your own lunch will be… a bowl of soup. You will assuredly make it to the end of the day without starvation. And, if you do feel momentary hunger…there are those who fall asleep that way…nightly.

I waited too long to take that last sip of coffee. It cooled off in my hand. I have no microwave so there won’t be any reheating. Sometimes I go ahead and finish what I’ve started. Sometimes I don’t. I pour it out and let it go. Both are fine. It’s only a few sips of coffee after all. They will not save the world. But, the young girl in me is always there. Waste not. There are so many who have so little.

I think of all those who haven’t coffee or a home or any of the multitude of things that I am blessed with. Things. Just things. I wonder…if they need more or if I need less. I suspect the answer to both is yes.

At the heart of it, I admit I would love to have fewer belongings. I would also like others to have less. Less true need that goes unfilled…

If only I could translate my odds and ends into food and clean water and safety for those who struggle on without them. Then perhaps there would be peace of heart for two people…instead of one who owns items which collect dust…and another who has a hungry child…

So, I come back to asking, what is my why. But now, I add a new word. Today. Not the why of forever. Not the why of the whole world. Only the why of this one day in front of me. May I know it when I see it and be ready for whatever it may be. Grant me gentle silence to hear the song, and live the story that plays before me.

Time doesn’t stand still for questions or answers. They are worth wondering over though. There are places and people who do make a difference, even when they don’t know that they do. A single bowl of soup may not feed the world. But, it may open someone’s heart to a lifetime of wondering.

Every year offers a new adventure. Every day holds a new surprise. Every moment carries the seed of a new thought. Time always dances forth in hope to embrace the new.

I don’t know what Bo is dreaming of when he groans. I can only guess. I don’t have the answer to why we’re all here. I can only guess at that too. My guess though, is that it’s the same for all of us…

…love…

Clouds have cleared! The sun has come out after a long week of gray skies. How lovely it is to see the future shining brightly before me with hope…

Happy New Years my Dear WordPress Friends!

Thank you for sharing this journey. You are a true delight to me. May each of you have less in the year ahead…so that all the empty places left open may be filled with great love…

suzanne❤️

I believe…

Dear Santa,

I love a letter that begins with Dear. Don’t you? Right there at the start you know this will be different. I cherish you – it says. You are in my thoughts…not just at Christmas… but, always.

We are waiting for a cold front here. It should arrive in a few hours. One prediction even calls for snowflakes on Christmas. Oh! how lovely it would be to have an honest to goodness White Christmas!

Rather normal for you, I imagine. For me though, it would be a magical first.

I’m writing this letter to you in the sweet place where I do most of my writing…my kitchen island…home within home.

Some days it is more of a writing desk than a kitchen. Funny how it can be as much a place to be still as to be busy. I love it so. I wonder Santa, do you have such a place. One where you go to be quiet and just think…

A tree is tucked into the corner of the room. It sits cradled between a window with a lovely view of the bird feeder and a bookshelf full of favorites. Its top grazes the ceiling! A tree that’s taller than me please – I always ask. Giggles. It sticks out in places and is far from perfect yet oh so very right… lighting up the whole room with its joyful presence. I’m happy for its sharing and being…just being here with me. It draws me in as much as the candle flame that flickers nearby. One hypnotizes me with dozens of twinkling lights and the other with its dancing flame. Has a sky full of stars come to rest in the confines of my cozy home…

I am lifted and carried beyond roofs and treetops and even outside of myself…upwards to another place altogether…a place where I ride the night sky with you…wind in my hair…cheeks rosy from cold…delivering gifts across the wide wide world.

Your life’s work…giving love to others…

Toys! Each teddy and train, has his own story. They journey to a new home…to warm the heart of a child…to take their place and bring great joy and comfort…thank God for toys…thank God for you…

My tree is like that…like your sack full of toys. Every ornament bears a memory, is the keeper of a moment in time. Branches are full with them, imperfect, ragged, faded. The white felt rocking horse with a few hand sewn sequins still attached…the white rabbit on his sleigh made of candy cane ribbon…the shiny cluster of grapes…the treasured Mexican tin ornaments, hand hammered and colored then carefully wrapped and brought from far away…

they hold the stories of what has been, bring beauty to the now…and leave room for those adventures yet to be told…yet, to be lived. There is always room for one more. What new tales will be added this year…

Cookie Day! A flurry of flour and sugar and sprinkles! My little kitchen springs to life in the name of baking. Baking with love to share. A colorful apron tied just so for the occasion, because after all, we make an awful mess. Christmas carols of all shapes and sizes resound from the rafters with glee, keeping us company. These sweet details are just as important as the icing and sugar crystals that decorate our tiny bites of delight.

The warmth of the oven…the glorious sugary mess…the hum and the buzz…and at the end of the day a farm house table laden with all manner of treats. Then, I will gladly drop into the porch swing to catch my breath, rest my feet and… listen…for the sound of sleigh bells overhead…

No worries… I shall save the very best cookies for You!

I confess that sometimes I grow weary with all of the doing of Christmas. Not enough time to Be. Even when I do manage an outer stillness my mind is racing ahead of me with all that is waiting to be done.

For there is much Joy to share…with those I love…and with many more whom I will never know… Whenever I wonder how I can possibly manage it all, I think of you…

You fill my heart. You give me hope. You show me a country lane that flies through the stars rather than the trees. For you do not Do Christmas. You Live Christmas! In every ordinary common day you smile that warm smile of yours and open your heart to All the children of the world – young and old alike…make no mistake…we are all children…

There are so many lovely things in this life that are sometimes invisible to my eye, though they beat on in my heart. Because of you, I trust them. I believe in them…as I believe in you.

Yesterday morning as I crossed into the field a sweet mist lay as soft as a downy comforter resting gently upon the meadow and reaching into every nook and cranny. Over the grass and in the lowest of the trees…gossamer threads were strung with sparkles of dew. Quite magical…

In the nighttime the faeries had danced. And in so doing their sweet song come to life decorated the meadow with delicate lacy treasures. They are preparing for you too…in their own gentle way. I wonder, will you leave them a gift of faery dust as you fly overhead. Does their glittery offering reflect in the stars and light up the ground…even as my cookies which are arranged just so on the dearest plate…my own gift of love…waiting…waiting only to be received.

It is after all, the tiniest gesture in the most ordinary day that often hides warmly in a heart…a cookie shared… a warm smile… a lovely song…a magical bit of faery floss…a glimpse of a sleigh in a dark night sky…

I have no list to send you this year. I ask for nothing at all for myself. Instead, thank you. thank you for every precious gift ever given to me…

rays of hope as warm as any sun drenched afternoon… echoes of laughter…four paws and a tail dancing with joy at the mere sight of me… brilliant dreams delivered in the silvery moonlight…messages that begin, dear…so many invisible gifts tied with blue satin ribbons that wave in the gentle breeze…each one…

Making love visible in the heart of the world…

May your heart be always filled with lovely invisible gifts… suzanne❤️

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!.

P. S. – Ellie, Jack, Huckleberry, Bo, Sonya and Dobby would be very grateful for a stocking full of bacon treats… >

Mud Pies Rock!

Have you ever begun to tell a story only to realize that it won’t make any sense if you don’t tell this other one first. But even that one needs another one and so on and on. There you are bogged down in telling backstories until you lose sight of The story. Wait, what was the point of this? I remind myself to start writing and soon enough the details that matter will work their way in. And if they don’t, they probably don’t need to be there anyway.

I began writing this several weeks ago when it was fresh in my mind. That was late October, and now here I am surrounded by mistletoe and holly. I wasn’t ready then. Everyday seemed to throw something else at me. You know – when there’s too much, or it all comes at once, or you Find ways to be brutal to yourself. Because it’s not enough to face the world. I must seek out new and inventive ways to be unkind to myself. I should have done … I should never have said… If only I had…

When I was a little girl my Aunt had a farm in Slocum. It’s not far from where I live now. Oh, how I loved it there! Most of the time I was the only child for acres and acres. I had a beautiful freedom to wander woods and hills and all manner of places. I cannot think of the farm without remembering dozens of stories and part of me wants to tell them All!

One time I was the youngest in a group of cousins exploring a wooded creek area where a copperhead lay stretched before us. They all ran away quickly… leaving me behind. Somehow, I knew not to get too close to the living S shape. When the kids arrived back at the house without me, my dad came looking. He scooped me up and held me close…safe from harm’s way.

On the farm was a wonderful sliver of a creek that wound itself from the first pond to the second. My tiny legs could cross it in one step. It trickled under wide open skies to my great delight. Because I could be seen from the back porch I was allowed to meander down there by myself and play alone as long as I liked. A sweet joy to me… clay and all!

East Texas has clay, lots and lots of clay! Deep rich red clay. We never made a visit to the farm that my mother didn’t admonish me to be careful Not to get clay on my clothes! She said that the red clay of East Texas would stain them. It would never come out. No matter how long they soaked, no matter what kind of soap you used, your clothes would be ruined… I was never successful at staying clean which was a great frustration to her. Nevertheless, there I was baking rich red mud pies and loving every sweet minute of it.

In late October…

Ellie is still sleeping as well she should be. It’s been a long week for her…for me too. I’m afraid that if I begin to write of it I may not stop for days and that it will be too much.

Tears flow with the ups and downs of life…real life. They are at the edges of me this morning like the rain that Dobby watches from the safety and sanctuary of home. It was only a few months ago that he was lost and without a home in torrential spring weather. I wonder if he remembers that time. I wonder if it makes him happy to have a home and a family now.

Thunder woke me in the night. A gentle rumbling vibrated the whole house. Once awakened the flashes of lightning kept me entranced. Their sudden brightness invaded my dark room like a light bulb flashing on and off as one sleepily grasps at thoughts…it isn’t time for light. A glance at the clock told me it was only 3:30. Blissfully I sank further into my pillows and pulled the soft covers up around me. Not yet…I drifted back to sleep.

The overflow pipe has slowed to a trickle as the water levels in the lake drop from drought. One by one counties all around me announce burn bans. Where is ours. We should be there with the others. Not yet. With this day’s rain we may not get there at all. But I would rather have the rain than the ban anyway.

Not long ago someone built a fire in the woods near the lake. The embers they left behind and that I discovered the next morning were too strong. I let the someone who should know…know. Then, I wrote of fires and fire builders and change – embers and ashes and a lovely place to swim.

Some moments this week were not captured in a photograph.

There was the slow and measured walk around the small room with help. It was a grand achievement! Afterwards, I enjoyed a leisurely lunch with two fine gentlemen. One was a delightful conversationalist with stories of adventure. He reminds me of Santa Claus! The other man was quiet. He has lost his own stories. The way his face lights up is enough for me though.

I sat criss cross applesauce with hands in my lap just like the little ones who surrounded me. All of us were entranced with the firemen and their big red truck. Sharing photos of the children is unwise and could even be unsafe for them. How very sad our world can be. And yet their smiles sustain me all week long!

I had another backyard bunny adventure. Dobby found a prize hidden beneath the dry leaves and handed it over upon request. Perhaps not gladly…nevertheless, he did share. I held the baby gently until he caught his breath, then hopped away. Bouncing joy on four small furry feet!

One whom I love dearly had his very first author event and I was able to be there, to be some small part of it. A moment I will always treasure.

Before all of these, on Monday evening there was a scare at what might have been… I happened upon smoldering ash in a place heavy with trees and underbrush. It frightened me. Instead of a charred forest floor, it could have been far worse…far more devastating. My concern over untended fire has been ongoing for weeks now. I wake with it in the morning. I fall asleep with it at night. I am tired with thinking, what if…

I don’t know who did it. Someone probably walked away unthinking, not realizing that the tiniest embers left unchecked can creep hungrily at the dryness of the forest floor and lap at the bases of the trees.

I made the proper phone calls. And I waited. Ellie stayed close by my side. Night darkened around us as stars began to sprinkle the sky. They had a stunning beauty that hinted at the mysteries of eternity. The coyotes who began to chorus not so far away were an odd accompaniment to the stars. They sent a chill up my spine. We drew in closer, Ellie and I. What other dangers might be nearby. It is the animals who do not announce themselves that concern me. I wondered if she was thinking the same thing. We waited for the sound of a fire truck on a back country road to drive away our fear.

It took longer than you might imagine. When they arrived, the flashing lights frightened Ellie. Still, she never left me. Even when she was afraid, through the dark, the unknown, the flashing lights, the roaring sounds, the threat of danger, she stayed with me. These things should have sent her running for the safety of home. Was she too scared to leave…or, am I her safety…am I her home.

I would have understood if she had left…but I am grateful she stayed. yes, she answered me…

All ended well that night. Are we done yet? Not quite, Life answered…

A few days later dark gray clouds filled the sky as we walked. No rumbling yet, just the hopeful gathering of them. Up from the center of the field eight blackbirds took off making their way noisily to the treetops. Something about their flight reminded me to send my thoughts up high with them, on wings and let them fly. Trust in the air itself. Trust in all the goodness you cannot see.

We turned south at the end of the dam. There is a twenty foot drop that winds into a different kind of woods. We never come this way. It’ll be nice to try something new after so much unrest lately…

A short way in Ellie found a watering hole. She stepped down into it for a drink. In less time than it takes to blink, her back legs had sunk as far as they could go! I could see the panic in her eyes as she began to fight to get free. It scared me! In a flash I wondered if we were both helpless. There was no way of knowing how deep it might be. Once again this week I found myself in a place of fear…Ellie and I both did…

I dropped to my knees reaching for her to pull her towards me and to a landed edge where she could get a strong foothold. Honestly, I wasn’t thinking how or what or even why. I wasn’t really thinking at all… I was just there, holding Ellie as tight as I could and Not letting go. Anything I could grasp, I did. Talking to her…all the while pulling her back to safety.

As she was just about to break free…Dobby went in. Aargh! Dobby is shorter. Even his sides began to disappear in the thick clawing mud. Once Ellie was safely out and catching her breath, I turned my attention to freeing him. It all happened so fast.

Some sort of horrible East Texas quicksand… I finally stopped to breathe…the three of us were covered in wet red clay. My hands had disappeared under the thickness of it. I couldn’t have taken a picture if I had wanted to. The phone never would have registered my fingerprint. I could feel the mud heavy on my arms and splattered over my face. Already it was drying in places, drawing the skin tight underneath it. My heart pounded with what might have been.

With Dobby’s natural coloring he only looked soaking wet. Ellie, however, became my two toned Halloween dog! Her top half was shiny jet black while her bottom half was bright pumpkin orange. There are no pictures, only muddy fur and relief.

Dobby looked around for Bo and Jack and his next adventure. Ellie and I stuck close to each other, much as we had on Monday night. We were thinking the same thing…there’s fresh water a few yards away at the lake.

Are we done?…not yet answered life…

We turned to head towards the lake…when on our right…a magnificent buck bounded past us! He was so close that I could feel his presence more than see him. Leaves rustled as he passed us. If my arm had been outstretched his sleek fur would have grazed my fingertips. He radiated a graceful strength. His fluffy white tail waved goodbye before I fully realized he was even there. Awed by his beauty so close on the heels of our struggle to break free from the clutches of the muddy earth I could only stand and wonder at it all. There are no pictures of him either…muddy fingers and invisible grace. It all happened so fast.

A fresh batch of mud greeted us at the edge of the lake, this time it was dark gray to offset the brightish orange. But at least my hands were a little cleaner. There might be some pictures on our way home.

As I looked from my hands to my unicorn T-shirt I thought of my mother – Be careful Suzanne, your clothes will be ruined… Clothes are easily replaced. The clay of East Texas has seeped through them and into my heart – in less time than it takes to wipe away a stray tear. Stained with hope in the face of whatever may come.

As I caught my breath I thought of my Dad – how he had come for me and gathered me safely from harm. You’re never as alone as you fear you might be.

Ellie and I together fought for safety and freedom twice that week. Unknown strength filled us. And as we breathed in sighs of relief…grace flew past us at lightning speed…leaving us to wonder over all that had been or was yet to come.

Making our way home through the grassy field and happy for the surety of the ground beneath our feet, dark storm clouds closed in around us giving way here and there to glorious pockets of light. All of a sudden… Tears from all of the moments welling up from deep inside of me…

The trials, the struggles, the chaos, the beauty, the hope, the waiting, they come into your days. Each time…yes. You answer a quiet, yes. The moment and what is asked of you…yes. To be held in unimaginable ways that you will never understand. The gift of all that is needed just then and the grace to answer, yes.

How many more moments of yes lay before me. I think it’s better not to know. I might buckle under the weight of anticipating them. And then I would be too tired to answer yes when the time comes. One moment at a time. Right now…this one…a grateful heart filled with the blessings that are as close as my own heartbeat.

I will never be a woman who aspires to perfect clothes all the time or to perfect anything for that matter. Life is rich in the messy places. There is no joy without sorrow. There is no courage without fear. There is no peaceful lake unless first you dig a messy muddy hole and wait for it to be filled with life giving water.

Please be kind to others. Everyone struggles. Please be kind to yourself. You are far more loved than you can ever imagine… Now, go on out there and make a mud pie. In fact, make two, one for you and one to share…because…well…mud pies…they just Rock!

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!

Only Moments to spare,

The spiced scent of cinnamon

Drifts through the air.

The warmth of the oven

Brings the kitchen to life,

Promising goodies

Sure to delight.

Kettle gives a whistle

Saying tea’s ready too.

A bounty of treats

St Nick tucks in your shoe.

Ever so merry

Cheeks red as a cherry.

Kindness and tenderness

Never shall hide.

Hearts ribboned with love,

Sweet gifts from inside.