April’s Benefits

 April’s Benefits Arrived

with the Spring Showers

Post #78 on this blog!

 

 

Today: I stand on the edge of the END of APRIL

I begin thinking of the CHANGES this time in the cycle of life can give us. I wrote a blog post  on SCAN in April 2015. I looked back at that post from 3 years ago and edited it.

 April whispers,  “Move on!”

 

Bright spring flowers flourish all around us by mid-April.

I bought a little pot of yellow tulips recently. They brightened our dining room table and made me feel happy every time I glanced at them. I am not a gardener so I enjoy buying potted plants and floral bouquets throughout the year with the changing seasons. April’s flowers sparkle with brilliance in dazzling yellow daffodils, tulips in a range from vivid red and coral, to soft pink and white. By the end of April, Pennsylvania’s grassy meadows will be covered with blankets of  purple-blue violets.

 

Our walk home from grade school took a bit longer when I was a little girl.

Our rural home was nearly a mile from the school and  we walked along a meandering path morning and afternoon. By mid-April we found the delightful blooming violets in the fields.The small, fragrant blooms beckoned my sister and me to come closer!

 

We forgot that we were supposed to walk directly home after school

on those long-ago spring days as we stooped down low, extended our eager hands, and began picking violets to take back home with us. The hot afternoon sun beat down on us as we gathered a fist full of the fragile delights. Once home with our treasured flowers, we put them in  little glass jelly jars. Our bouquets remained in a special space on our kitchen windowsill. To this day, many decades later, I still remember the joy of small wildflowers in the house

April signaled that it is now the beginnings of new life surging in Nature. 

On mornings like this one, I take leisurely walks with the dogs. I became conscious of the subtle changes today. After a long lasting winter this year, each new spring day seems especially precious as it brings warmth, sunshine, budding bushes and trees.

We forget we have several senses  that give  us information.

We dwell primarily on the visual stimulation and distractions.  I am legally blind and the entire world is a diffusion of shadowy forms that are distorted, foggy impressions. The positive aspect of sight loss is that I am more aware of  a variety of nuances I missed out on when I was fully sighted. I was too focused on looking and learning only through my eyes.

 

On my morning walk,  I listened carefully

to low sounds of an owl singing its final notes as the sunshine brought strong light to this new day. I thought about the owl and imagined it must be celebrating the end of a fruitful night of hunting for food.  It sounded content.

While the owl can settle down and relax to have a nice sleep for the day, I am just beginning my day. I breathe deeply and felt the coldness on my face and hands. My face tingled with the cold breeze and my hands reminded me they are exposed and I have not brought along a pair of gloves to warm them up on this hour-long walk.

But, I am not so concerned with the coolness of the morning today.

Instead, my thoughts move on to the meaning of spring and how each day is bringing changes to the world around me. The cold air  is just right for this new day. I reach down occasionally to tell my dog, “Good Girl! Heel. Good Heel. Good Girl!.” She glances up at me, and quickly looks back at the path before her and sniffs the air. When we come to a wooded place, near an abandoned mill, I relax her leash and allow her to enjoy tramping in the winter packed leaves that lay all around the trees. She digs down into them  and pushes the soggy leaves aside. She seeks direct passage to the scent that caught her attention. Eventually, I pull her back to heel position and we continue on for the second half of our morning travels. We turn the bend to head back towards home together.

***

I know that we often think of January as a time of new beginnings.

After all, it marks the New Year. Perhaps we might rethink this idea when we find ourselves walking in the early morning in April, with the warming of spring sunshine on our bodies. April truly is the time of new beginnings. April whispers to us,  “move on!”

April affirms life and growth

We can DISCOVER, RECOVER, and REVISE our life.

__________

This essay is brought to you by the author, Lynda McKinney Lambert.

View Publications Page for updates on my stories and poems being published.

Lynda’s  Walking by Inner Vision.

Lynda’s Author ‘s Page

this blog post is the property of Lynda McKinney Lambert.

Copyright April 29, 2018. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Visit me:  www.lyndalambert.com

Author:

Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage: Poems, Kota Press, 2003

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, DLD Books, 2017

First Snow : Chapbook, is ready for publication.

Editors: contact me for information & viewing.

 

 

Solitude

When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign is Solitude!  

—Hermit

 

I arrived at the Hambidge Center  in Rabun Gap, GA in the summer of 1988. It was late at night.  In the darkness, I drove into the driveway after my long journey from western Pennsylvania. I walked  to the main house where I met the manager  who would take me to where I would live  for the next month. I was going to be doing a Residency  and would be given a studio and place to live where I could do my art every day.  It was a great opportunity and a dream come true for me.

My guide  said, “I hope you like isolation.” My reply was, “Oh, yes! I love isolation.” The fact is, I did not have an inkling what isolation was but it sounded good to me.

Of course, I had no idea what isolation truly was for I had just arrived at this isolated art colony deep in the Georgia mountains. My normal life was back in Pennsylvania where I managed my busy home and family.  I cooked meals from scratch every day for my husband and 5 children. My homemade pies were famous among the ladies at my church.   The first thing I did each morning was 3 loads of Laundry.  In between the layers of  the business of taking care of husband, kids, dogs, cats, and anything else that came up, I was a non-traditional student pursuing the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.  Every spare moment I could find, I painted.  Painting was my obsession.

Driving up the steep mountain road, I followed his car.  Then we turned onto a pathway to the isolated little house where I would be living and working.  After the man left me there, alone, in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains – in utter darkness – I began to get an idea of what solitude would be like. While I was excited to be there, to have this opportunity, I was also stuck with the reality (and fear) of solitude.

My life was changing. I was diagnosed with breast cancer just 2 months before this trip.  And, my father died 2 weeks before the day I found myself alone at night in a strange place where I would live for the next month. My nerves were a frazzle.

 

But, the month I spent there, away from everyone and everything that was my normal life  was one of the most productive times in my creative life.  In this mountain solitude,  I was united with my “better self.”  Twenty-nine years later, I remain at peace  and solidly united with my “better self.”

Article and Photography by Lunda McKinney Lambert.

Copyright, May 16, 2017. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.

Lynda  McKinney Lambert

.Front Cover

Blogger:

Author:

Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage (Kota Press), 2002.

   

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, DLD Books, 2017 

Lynda is a Peer Adviser  and writes articles on sight loss and blindness for  Vision Aware Blog

CONTACT ME: riverwoman@zoominternet.net

 Author – Blogger – Visual Artist

Red December

This frigid yet refreshing morning inspired me to write a poem. I wrote about a favorite COLOR

– RED –

And I wanted to describe my morning walk

in the darkness with my dogs.

__________

Red December

New-fallen snow glimmers in pre-dawn darkness

slender red barberries dangle from thin bare branches

I shuffle my feet, dig in to feel solid ground

near the place where my Father’s red roses

are surrounded by pillows of snow

slumbering safe in dark red December.

 

My heavy suede boots part the snow

It’s too early for the red cardinals

“Where do they go at night?”

A sharp wind makes me huddle deeper into my bright

red boucle’ jacket

while my two dogs search random trails

follow the long marks, meander downhill.

 

 

On a crisp day in mid-December

I desire red raspberry jam on warm toast

Linger by the tall pampas grass

weighted down to the ground with icy snow

I think of strawberry Sundays with whipped cream

I recall wearing Neiman Marcus Red lipstick and

dancing all night in

hot red stilettos and tight blue jeans.

 

 

We turn around – for the return home

the dogs circle in the frozen pachysandra patches

stiff, brown-green  shrunken leaves.

In memories I see my neighbor walking to her car

she wears a cranberry red hat, worsted red wool coat, flat, scarlet red shoes

carries a true-red leather handbag like the one I bought last Sunday.

 

I watched her from the upstairs window.

In her 80s, she revealed how to live a gallant life.

 

No cars pass us on the country road  this morning in red December

Where it is perpetual winter.

 

By Lynda McKinney lambert. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

This is a FREE-FORM poem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pennsylvania Spring

Gallery

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Pennsylvania Spring The final week of May in Pennsylvania Photos from my early morning walk. Rhododendrum  is a STAR at this time of year. Look for it in shady places, forests and woodlands.             Delicate … Continue reading

Nature: House of Worship

Introducing Kentucky Artist and Author,  Tammy Ruggles~

Tammy is my GUEST BLOGGER for the month.

Ruggles_Photo_Young (2)

Nature: House of Worship

by Tammy Ruggles

While growing up and attending a small country church, I always sensed that there was more than one way to worship the Lord, and this was by communing with Him in nature.

At the age of 12 or 13, my dog and I would walk around the 100 acres of my grandparents’ farm as I read the Bible and let the passages soak in. I didn’t quite understand the meaning of Romans 1:20 but felt it inside nevertheless. At that young age, if I had to point to one thing that proved God’s existence, to me at least, it was nature. I’m sure it’s that way for a lot of Christians or even those without a religion.

This isn’t to say that I worship the creation more than the Creator. No. In fact, creation is one of the things that speaks to me about the power and existence of the Supreme Creator.

Ruggles_Photo_Sunset Sky (2)

 

Whether a blooming flower, a singing bird, or a fiery sunset, God is in it. The whole universe is His canvas, and look what He paints.

Nature works together in perfect harmony, from the top of the higher species to the lower. I think we humans want that, deep down. I don’t think we really want chaos, but peace. But so many factors are at work that put a stumbling block in front of us.

Once in a while I pray for peace. Not just in a general, universal sense. But in a personal, one-on-one sense too. So much strife going on with those around us. When was the last time we unplugged from all the gadgets and just took a walk to commune with God and even ourselves?

I think it actually recharges us, giving us nourishment to meet each day with renewed strength, hope, and faith.

We live in challenging times, and it will help us to live as close to the Lord as we know how, and to worship Him in all the ways that are pleasing to him—serving Him and each other.

Ruggles_Photo_AcrosstheWay

I love the churches I grew up in but have always strongly felt that we don’t have to have walls in order to worship God. God has no walls, and neither does nature. Nature is one of my favorite ways to feel close to Him, and I capture His power and beauty with my camera.

Romans 1:20: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse

**

Tammy Ruggles Bio: Tammy Ruggles is a legally blind photographer, artist, and writer living in Kentucky. Her first paperback book, Peace, was published in 2005 by Clear Light Books.

Kaleidoscope: Collecting Patterns of Light and Dreams

“Kaleidoscope: Collecting Patterns of Light and Dreams”

by Lynda McKinney Lambert, 2015

Blog15_April_Violets

Note:  The first version of this essay was first published on “Amy’s Adventures Blog, by Amy Bovaird,

April 24, 2015.  Thank you, Amy, for inviting me to create a guest blog for you.

You can VISIT me at Amy’s Blog by clicking here:

 http://amybovaird.com/friday-friends-spotlight-on-lynda-lambert/

**********

 

“For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come,

and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Song of Solomon 2:11-12 ~

**********

Patti and I walked down the old, narrow stone path on an April afternoon in the 1950s. Our pastel plaid dresses fluttered slightly in the soft afternoon breeze.  We removed our cotton sweaters, draped them carelessly over our arm for the journey back home. Like most days in April in western Pennsylvania it had been raining in the morning that day. A few hours later, the day took a turn and now it had warmed up significantly since our early morning walk to school. We felt happy because there was not a rain cloud in sight as we took our time walking along our familiar path. Now we meandered at an easy pace in the opposite direction.  School was over for the day and there was no reason to walk faster.   We walked a short distance and then we were standing beside a large field.  The aroma coming from the thick blanket of woods violets slowed us down even more as we scanned the field. In a moment, without speaking to each other, we stepped lightly between the moistened deep green leaves that flourished in thick patches of weeds and flowers. We were absorbed at the moment, bent over the deep blue-violet blossoms and reached out to gather some dainty flowers.  One by one, we snapped the fragile, slender stems of the violets.  While we picked our violets with our right hand, we placed each one in the grasp of our left hand.  Our bear arms were hot as the late afternoon sunshine turned our pale skin bright pink. When our left had could hold no more violets, we stepped away from the field and continued our walk home where our Mother was waiting for us to return   we came into the 1920s frame house through the back door with our fists full of violets, she was delighted with our small gifts.  She went to her cupboard, got out two small glass jelly jars and put the bouquets in water to keep them fresh. Our floral  gifts remained on the windowsill in our kitchen.

***

This year I set my intentions on observing small details in nature.  The landscape is changing continuously.

I see crystal  drops of dew on tender new leaves in the meadow.  They are sprinkled with transparent silvery diamonds.   Another turn, and I am walking beside a field of dewy dark green leaves with little periwinkle flowers peeking through the moisture.

Blog15_Guest_PeriwinkleRaindrops_Photo

Nature_WoodsViolets_closeView

I felt the velvet softness of Sumac branches. I looked at layers of last autumn’s leaves intermingled with shoots of new grass, and budding Hyacinths   Along the stone walk, I observed the red stalks of Peony bushes forging upwards through the moist earth.   Oh, Yes!  It’s Spring!

 ***

All these thoughts bring me to think about the beauty I have seen in a kaleidoscope. The word “kaleidoscope” has Greek roots.  It means “a form beautiful to see.”  I am compelled to ask you…

“When is the last time you have had a kaleidoscope in your hands with one eye focused through the small round window?”

“Do you recall the vivid colors, ever-changing shapes, as you slightly moved your hand around the barrel of the kaleidoscope?”

You give it a small twist and all the shapes fall into new pictures.  Hidden fragments inside the instrument create  numerous symmetrical, abstract  pictures.   Envision the world such as you have seen in a kaleidoscope!

 

Could you describe what you feel as the colors dance and flow over the mirror images inside? And did you know that inside the kaleidoscope are tiny, ordinary objects such as buttons, stones, chips and fragments – every illusion you enjoyed viewing is merely a collection of ordinary little things someone gathered and put inside with mirrors set at 60 degree angles

***

It has been over six decades since I picked wild violets with my sister in a rural farmer’s field.  I realize my faith in God still works in the same way it did when I was a child gathering God’s little presents.  Just a small twist takes us to a new landscape.

***

Big things make headline news, are celebrated and sought after. There is no mention of the ache we have in our inner being and the feeling that something is just not right.  Oh, I know that yearning that whispers from deep inside my body.  Could it be that once again I have walked on that familiar pathway that led me to places where I was not called by God to be?  There is always a sense of discomfort and painful stumbling blocks to be experienced when we are outside of his will or his calling, for our life. Fortunately, we can turn around, retrace our steps back to where we need to be and get our direction going once again. That is the good news – we can change direction!

***

Sitting in silence, being calm, listening for God’s still, small voice takes us to his glory.   Small treasures surround us   When I sit down and spend time alone with him, in silence, I experience transformation.  I turn another bend, there is a shift in perspective, and those little gifts are reflected by the mirrored light of his countenance. I am transformed yet again, by small gifts.

***

God works just like that!

The longer we look at him, the more our faith grows.  Each turn we take towards him opens up a new landscape that shows us insight into his character. I approach quietly.   Slowly, I realized the rain has stopped. I tilted my head towards the sky, listened for the songs of the circling birds as they hover above the tall trees; it is happening again.  Something new.  My feet are damp from the spring shower. Just another small turn of the kaleidoscope – yes! I can see it now.

Transformation.

***

Copyright, 2015. Lynda McKinney Lambert. May 9, 2015. All rights reserved.

Written for publication by Amy Bovaird. April 24, 2015. With much gratitude for the kind invitation to write for Amy’s Adventures Blog. Thank you!

 http://amybovaird.com/friday-friends-spotlight-on-lynda-lambert/

Little Steps…Part 1 Begin the Journey to Discover, Recover, Revise

Little Steps, Part 1 – Begin the Journey

Part 1 of 7 Part Series

~When April whispers to us, “Move on!”~

Discover the Past

Recover the Present

Revise the Future

Blog_2014_Dec_PhotoRoseCenterBright spring flowers flourish all around us by mid April.  I bought a little pot of yellow tulips recently when I was shopping.  They brightened up our dining room table and made me feel happy every time I glanced at them. I am not a gardener so I enjoy buying potted plants and floral bouquets throughout the year with the changing seasons.  Each season brings a new array of colors.  April’s flowers sparkle with brilliance in dazzling yellow daffodils, tulips in a range from vivid red and coral, to  soft pink and white. By the end of April, Pennsylvania’s grassy meadows will be covered with blankets of brilliant purple-blue violets.

 ***

Our walk home from grade school took a bit longer when I was a little girl. Our rural home was nearly a mile from the school and unless the snow was too deep, or a storm was brewing, we walked along a meandering path morning and afternoon. By mid-April we found the delightful blooming violets in the fields.  The small, fragrant blooms beckoned my sister and me to come closer!

Blog15_April_Violets

We forgot that we were supposed to walk directly home after school on those long-ago  spring days as we stooped down  low, extended our eager hands, and began picking violets to take back home with us.  The hot afternoon  sun beat down on us as we gathered a fist full of the fragile delights.  Once home with our treasured flowers, we put them in our mother’s little jelly jars.  Our bouquets remained in a special space on  our kitchen windowsill. To this day, many decades later, I still remember the joy of small wildflowers in the house. From now through the fall season, my home will have wildflowers  and weeds from the woods in little vases and jars as the months move towards winter.

***

 April signals that it is now the  beginnings of new life surging in Nature.  On mornings like this one, I take leisurely walks with the dogs. I became conscious of the subtle changes today, wanted to focus on them.  After a long lasting winter this year, each new spring day seems especially precious as it brings  warmth, sunshine, budding bushes and trees, and colorful flowers to my little part of the world.

Blog15_April_Tulips

***

I considered my different senses and how I experienced them as I walked my usual path around the neighborhood  today.

“Sometimes, we get too caught up with the visuals all around us,” I reflected.

We forget we have other important  senses giving us information if we dwell primarily on the visual stimulation and distractions.   I am legally blind and the entire world is a diffusion of shadowy forms and distorted, foggy impressions.  The positive aspect  of sight loss is that I am more aware now about the things I missed out on when I was fully sighted.  I was too focused on looking and learning only through my eyes.  Really, my excellent vision in my earlier, sighted, years, prevented me from discovering many aspects of the world that I appreciate now.

***

I listened carefully, became aware of the low sounds of an owl singing its final notes this  morning as the  sunshine brought  strong light to this new day. I thought about the owl and imagined it must be celebrating the end of a fruitful night of hunting for food to eat, and flights in the comfort of the darkness where it can be free.  For the owl, I thought about how the rising morning sun marked the end of its cycle of hunting and searching for food as it flies over the treetops and settles onto high, dense pine  branches.

While the owl can settle down and relax in the dense tree branches to have a nice sleep for the day, I am just beginning my day.  I breathe deeply and feel the coldness on my face and hands.  My nose is moist and I take out a tissue to wipe the droplets of moisture that come from breathing in the wetness of the early morning atmosphere.  My face tingles with the cold breeze and my hands remind me they are exposed and I have not brought along a pair of gloves to warm them up on this hour-long walk.

But, I am not so concerned with the coolness of the morning today. Instead, my thoughts move on to the meaning of spring and how each day is bringing changes to the world around me.  It feels good, the cold air, and my lighter jacket is just right for this new day.  I reach down occasionally to tell my dog, “Good Girl!  Heel.  Good Heel.  Good Girl!  She glances up at me, and quickly looks back at the path before her and sniffs the air.  When we come to a wooded place, near an abandoned mill, I relax her leash and allow her to enjoy tramping in the winter packed leaves that lay all around the trees.  She digs down into them in places, and pushes the leaves aside, seeking a direct passage to the scent that caught her attention. Eventually, I pull her back to heel position and we continue on for the second half of our morning travels, and we had back towards home together.

 ***

I know that we often think of January as a time of new beginnings. After all, it marks the New Year.  Perhaps we might rethink this idea when we find ourselves walking in the early morning in April, with the warming of spring sunshine on our bodies.  April truly is the time of new beginnings.

While it is true, January urged us to begin anew, set our intentions for the New Year.  Like most of you, I did carefully think about my intentions and weighed them out while considering my own talents, skills, and passions. Now, April urges us to move on.  I recognize I need to look back to DISCOVER anything that will keep me from reaching the heights I’d like to find this year.

*** 

My definition of a successful person is an individual who knows the will of God for her life, recognizes it, and chooses to do God’s will as she walks her unique God-given path in life.~ Lynda McKinney Lambert

***

I don’t want “just enough” or “good enough.” I want a life of personal integrity and excellence.  That does not mean I want perfection – no, just the opposite of that! Perfection is unrealistic; we could chase after perfection forever and we would never reach it for it is an illusion. But, integrity and excellence are  attainable because we have the promise of new life, renewal, and rejuvenation each spring.  Life is bursting out all around us in every direction. We can fully participate in it.  We are creatures who have the gift of choice. We can CHOOSE to have integrity and to be excellent in everything we do.  I have witnessed so many people running after the myth of perfectionism.  I see it in just about every magazine I pick up – perfect homes, perfect neighborhoods, perfect careers, perfect lawns, perfect cars, and perfect lies.

***

April asks this question:

Is there anything that will hold us back and take away our joy of life?

 ***

April affirms life and growth, just like all of nature, we can DISCOVER, RECOVER, and REVISE our life.

***

Here in Pennsylvania, we have “stink bugs” that slip unseen into our homes in the late fall, just before winter sets in.  They are hiding in drawers, closets, attics, and basements where they will sleep, hidden away, through the winter months. When the April sunshine comes into our homes, it wakes up the stink bugs who begin to come alive. We will find them to be annoying as they zip through the house, wake us up in the morning light, or buzz around light sources at night and disturb our sleep.

***

One important FIRST STEP is to DISCOVER hidden, sleeping, secret forces inside of us that may be holding us back. Just sit quietly for awhile and think about your past and the hurts that may still be haunting you. We all have them. We have all experienced  rejection, suffering, failures, disappointments, and personal disasters.

***

 In April, begin to DISCOVER the past hurts that will prevent us from living a life of peace, joy, creativity, excellence and purpose.  We cannot hold on to those feelings for unforgiveness will always hold us back. We will actually find that we are stuck in the past – our minds will go back again and again and relive the hurt. From this day forward, vow to never again speak of this hurt but to give it over to God today. Refuse to relive it or speak of the hurt or demean the person who has hurt you. This will set you free from the hurtful past so you can come alive again and experience the eternal forces of spring inside your own spirit.  Be assured, the words we speak are living forces. If we continually drag up the ugliness of a situation or personal hurt, we are creating our present and our future unhappiness.  Our words are LIFE.  Speak what is good, nourishing, and excellent.

***

 You can move on, and April is the perfect time to do it. Join me on this FIRST LITTLE STEP of our life’s purpose and journey to wholeness.

Yes, forgiveness is a choice, and it has nothing to do with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is the choice to hand your hurts over to God and let Him make up the difference. When we choose to extend forgiveness, that’s when we choose to receive His forgiveness! ~Joel Osteen

***

I am DISCOVERING the prickly thorns in my own past that have prevented my growth to excellence. One by one, I am giving them up, allowing God to take them away, as I RECOVER from the hurts.  I won’t be talking about them any longer. I won’t be going back to feel the pain again.

***

The good news today, in mid-April, is that after we DISCOVER and RECOVER from past hurts, we can REVISE our own future.  As I take the higher path of forgiveness, I find the days are growing brighter and brighter still, with each new day!

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Listen to Lynda McKinney Lambert, interview on April 17, 2015_ Purpose Talk Radio.

Discover your CALLING in LIFE by examining your own Life’s Timeline.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/purposetalkradio/2015/04/17/7-little-steps-discover-the-landmarks-in-your-life-timeline

February is Pruning Season?

February is… Pruning Season?

“Oh, I saw a Robin this morning. Spring must be just about here!”

Did I just say that?

No, it is an “old wives tale,” or a commonly believed myth that Robins fly south for the winter and then return for the spring. It simply is not true yet most people choose to believe it. I walk in the woods every day with my dog, Mitchell. In the stillness of the woods, we listen and hear the Robins melodious, lyrical songs. These lovely red breasted birds are still here but you have to be aware of them and listen for them. You will hear them and see them but you have to be where they are. If you stay inside the house, you’ll miss them. Blog_2015_PHOTO_RobininSnow

Robins are resident birds in western Pennsylvania. I see them all winter long.  It is true that some Robins do head south, but certainly not most of them. When the snow melts down to expose the ground, you will find the Robins feeding.   I live beside a winding creek  and the Robins stay right here where they have shelter in the woods, fresh water to drink, and food in abundance on the floor of the meadows and woods. Yes, I know, there are always those announcements in the local newspaper that some man or woman has reported that the Robins have returned because they saw one.  Chances are that person was not out walking in the snow and woods on winter days; therefore never heard the Robin music floating in the breeze.

***

By mid-February, we begin to have thoughts of spring.  By now, we have had quite a bit of snow, zero temperatures, blustery winds, hours of shoveling snow, and we might begin to have “cabin fever.”  I concentrate during winter months on doing activities such as knitting, or beadwork, or listening to books which I get from the National Library of Congress program for blind and handicapped people. It’s a cozy time of year, if you think about it. While the winter winds sweep the landscape, I am in my special place where it is warm and comfortable. What do you do on such winter days?

***

Personally, Bob and I have been traveling through a pruning season in our life.  The past year has been a season of cutting out the frivolous and inessential things from life because Bob was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  Every day is a battle as we work together to meet challenges that seem to face the cutting edge of the gardener’s pruning knife.   We begin to feel like God has been pruning us in so many ways.   God is like a loving gardener who knows the trees and shrubs will be stronger, flourish better and bloom profusely after the pruning time. But, oh, the pain of it! The bleeding, the rearranging of the tender leaves on the vines.

***

Another famous myth is that Groundhogs are associated with the forecasting or arrival of spring here in western Pennsylvania.  I know you have heard of “Punxsutawney Phil,” the world famous groundhog who comes out to greet the thousands of fans on February 2. He has done this for the past 129 years. Phil’s handlers carry him out of his burrow at 7:28 am, where he “sees his shadow” or not.   Phil’s predictions depend on sightings of his shadow. The town of Punxsutawney, PA has made this location a favorite tourist attraction on a frigid mid-winter day.  Visitors come from all over the world every year on Groundhog Day.  The President of the Groundhog Day Organization holds Phil up in the air for all to see. Phil’s prediction this year, because he did see his shadow, was that there will be 6 more weeks of winter.  Well, all we have to do is look at the calendar and we will see that for you!    blog_2015_Photo_Groundhoginburro

You can read more about Phil by visiting this link:

http://www.groundhog.org/

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One of the things I have been thinking about is how Nature prunes the vegetation outside, much like God prunes us because he loves us and wants us to flourish.  There are a number of examples in the ancient texts of the Bible that indicate God prunes his beloved children.

John 15:2 I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”

I was astonished today when I learned that the Greek word for pruning means to clean. And, now I can see that a vine must have branches cleaned from it so that it will flourish.  I said, “Ah, yes, we are being cleaned!  God, himself, is cleaning us right now as we walk in the season of deep, uncomfortable, late winter.”

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Are you aware that February is a time of pruning?

Many trees and shrubs need to be pruned during February for the best results.  Pruning is when the vegetation is cut back so that the plant can become sturdier during the forthcoming growth season of spring and summer.

Right now, the temperature is hovering around zero, and snow covers the ground. It’s hard to imagine that anything is actually happening in this frigid weather, beneath the ground, or in the bare branches that would induce growth. But it is!  Life is surging under frozen ground, and gaining strength from the water that is melting down through the snow.  Those bare skeleton branches are hiding secrets that will explode in a few weeks into buds that will become leaves.

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According to Richard Jauron, Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University, mid-February is the best time to begin pruning a number of trees and shrubs.   The plants will be healthy and productive if you know when to do the job.  That would be mid-February!

I am delighted each spring when the Lilac and Forsythia bloom!

Lilac and forsythia are deciduous shrubs.  My lilac shrub was growing very tall and willowy – getting away from me and I realized last summer it needed to be pruned.  The plant grew so fast that the flowers were so high in the air that it pulled the branches downwards. Lilac is my favorite spring flowering shrub and I wait through the harsh winter for the first signs of growth on my plant.

Our Forsythia shrub is old and overgrown. This year, it will be pruned back extensively to give it a chance to be renewed and rejuvenated.  This shrub was planted in our yard over forty years ago.  If you take care of your shrubs and trees you can enjoy them for a lifetime.

For additional information about pruning in mid-February, visit this link:

http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/2000/2-11-2000/prunetime.html