Morning Hour

Post #215

November 19 2019

“Morning Hour”

a poem by

Lynda McKinney Lambert

from her new chapbook

first snow

 

Listen to Lynda McKinney Lambert reading her poem, “Morning Hour.”

 

Morning Hour

by Lynda McKinney Lambert

A nippy breeze

wrapped around my bare feet

like soft gray cashmere clouds.

In the early morning hour

My own reflection

slowly materialized-

I was exposed, naked,

on a clear icy glass

surface.

Outside the frozen windowpane,

an icicle boundary

surrounded my view

of the aging Douglas Fir.

I turned for a closer look

through the silent porthole

Quick movements

in the shadow

revealed

one tiny ruffled bird,

a solo performer

hunkered down, deep,

on snow-clogged branches.

Inside, this room

a blizzard-

a scattering of words still lingered-

Waited to be gathered,

In a winter bouquet-written on a page,

in spite of the bitter cold.

We have been here

for a thousand years

In the early morning hour.

*

Published:

Lambert, Lynda McKinney, Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, DLD Books, 2017.

Lambert, Lynda McKinney. first snow, chapbook, 22 Poems. Finishing Line Press, January 3, 2020.

Courtesy of PA Author and Poet –

Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

*

first snow is a beautiful collection of 30 poems

 Order Your Copy Here!

Order NOW. Your chapbook will be shipped on January 3, 2020.

Just in time for a Beginning-of-the-New-Year gift for loved ones.

Think about gifting first snow for a Valentine’s Day gift, too.  Perfect gift of LOVE.  Only 13.99 plus shipping – available ONLY through Finishing Line Press –

After January 3, this chapbook will be available through Amazon – but don’t wait.

 Order Your Copy Here!

 

 

 

Get Ready for -first snow –

first snow – Lynda’s first Chapbook

~ BREAKING NEWS ~

Lynda McKinney Lambert

first snow

a Chapbook

Pre-Order NOW

Lynda’s first chapbook will be Shipped to Customers on January 3, 2020.

first snow is a collection of wintry-themed poems.

My FIRST CHAPBOOK   – first snow.

A beautiful collection of 30 poems

Pre-Order -from September 9 through November 8, 2019.

 Order Your Copy Here!

Order NOW and save on shipping.  Your chapbook will be shipped on January 3, 2020.

Just in time for a Beginning-of-the-New-Year gift for loved ones.

And, think about gifting first snow for a Valentine’s Day gift, too.  Perfect gift of LOVE.  Only 13.99 plus shipping – available ONLY through Finishing Line Press –

After January 3, this chapbook will be available through Amazon – but don’t wait. You will save on shipping by ordering during the pre-publication opportunity.

 Order Your Copy Here!

 new publication

Chapbook:   first snow

Wintry-themed Poems

Pre-Publication Information:  Announcement plus 2 poems – Click Here!

Pre-Publication Sales begin September 9, 2019.

Orders will be taken from Sept 9 to November 8, 2019.

Shipping Date for your Order  will be January 3, 2020.

 Order Your Copy Here!

Book of the Day

Article #211

September 22, 2019

 

Book of the Day

  “I want to support you and I want to be the first to

kick-off your Pre-Orders for the new book!”

This was what I was told at my recent visit to my eye specialist.

I think I floated out of that office –

I don’t remember my feet touching the ground.

Some days are like this. Some are not.

He has examined my eyes as he has done for the past 12 years, as I lost most of my sight suddenly in 2007. He has encouraged me in my writing and art projects and told me how proud he is of the way I have refused to let sight loss side-line me.

Not only did I leave his office with a great report from my scans today, that everything is holding and I am not losing more sight at this time – but, then, the affirmation he gave me on my newest publication was a little boost that everyone needs from time to time.

And, here is the big surprise I got this evening:

 

For immediate Release: from Lynda McKinney Lambert

September 20, 2019:

 

TODAY:  first snow is Book of the Day on Finishing Line Press.

 

 

first snow  – featured on Finishing Line Press social media sites.  

FLP is running a paid advertisement this week on social media for my new chapbook!

 

About the Author:

Lynda McKinney Lambert, is a retired college professor of fine arts and humanities. Retirement from teaching opened the door for her to write full-time. She explores the themes of landscape, mythology, pilgrimage, fine arts and literature in her writing.

She loves walking through a meadow of wild flowers; gazing at a star-strewn sky; spending solitary winter days with her husband, Bob, their 2 rescued cats and 2 rescued dogs.

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR first snow by Lynda McKinney Lambert 

My grandmother knew the name of every bird by note and call who ever sang to the sun in the fields by her Wisconsin country home, and she knew the names of the trees by bark and needle and leaf in the woods.  In these days of urban desolation and digital isolation, it is harder and harder to keep hold of the once-common natural knowledge.  Here in Lynda Lambert’s poetry the vitality of the seasons is still felt, seen and heard.   Lambert notices the colors and sounds that surround us, those sights and odes that barely register through our buds and pads and windshields, and she names them for us and she remembers them for us.  In these poems, Lambert calls her readers to celebrate the blue spruce in the morning fog, to “stand in darkness / urging Blood Moon-arise and to be alive in the old ways.  “It feels like we have been here,” she says of one icy morning, “for a thousand years.”  In these pages, we have.

–Russell Streur, editor Plum Tree Tavern, author Fault Zones.

 

 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF THIS LIMITED EDITION TODAY, PREORDER SHIPS JANUARY 3, 2020

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/first-snow-by-lynda-mckinney-lambert/ #poetry, #book #booklovers #readers #flp  #poetrylovers #chapbook


4 Sample Poems from  first snow…

 

By Lynda McKinney Lambert

first snow

 

we watch

for the first

snowfall

wait for

silent passage

along the banks of

ancient creeks

 

dull morning light

conceals

gold-plated Gingko leaves

beneath

new-fallen snow

 

from “Dream Sequence” # 4

 

In my dream (#4)

 

I climb upwards

on the ladder I stumbled upon

in the woods one afternoon.

Earth disappears

the ladder is unstable

“Keep it straight up,” I whisper.

“Keep your body centered. Stay poised.”

 

Silver Cloud Dancers

 

Silver clouds swirl & spin in circles

Inflated silence above her golden head. She

Levitates above the floor, reaches for

Variable visions of mesmerizing cloud-pillows.

Eternally drifting in uncertain lifecycles

Round & square. Touch the floating orbs.

 

Cloud dancer stretches her slender hands

Longevity is unpredictable, uncertain

Out-of-the-box survival fluctuates

Undulates

Determined by chemistry & chaos.

 

Dance your memories in silver clouds

Air and pure helium lift in rhythm

No one can calculate your journeys

Choreography of individual flights

Every Friday morning new clouds arrive

Repeat the process of new expectations

Some silver clouds last for a week. Some don’t.

 

My Daughter Cut the Roses

 

My daughter looked

at the bouquet of fresh roses

noticed two of them were drooping.

“Let me show you how to trim the roses

so they stay fresh and strong.” she said.

Her hands held the roses tenderly

One-by-one, trimmed off extra leaves

“These will make the water stink,” she said.

She found scissors in the drawer

put the roses in a bowl of tepid water

held each stem under water

sliced them all, diagonally –

“As I cut the rose under the water,

little bubbles of air come to the surface.

Now, when the rose inhales

it will only breathe water into it,

it won’t fill up with air.

The living water inside the stems

gives longer life to each rose.”

She carried the freshened flowers

In the tall glass vase

back to the center of the dining room table

darkest crimson buds, sunny yellow petals,

deep green fern leaves

and a frilly white carnation.

 

 

First snow is featured today on the following sites:

 

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/finishinglinepr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/finishinglinepress

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FLPress

Tumblr: http://finishinglinepress.tumblr.com/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/flpbooks

 

-____

 

Lynda’s Authors Page- Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/author/lyndalambert

 

Lynda’s Official Authors Page: http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert/

 

Smashwords – get my e-book:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lyndalambert

 

My Blogs:

Website & Blog:  Lynda McKinney Lambert  – Official Author’s Website

Scan-A-Blog – A quiet Place of Inspiration, Art, Nature, Literature

 

Saturday is for Sharing: Jo Elizabeth Pinto

Post #172

Saturday is for Sharing

February 23, 2019

 

Good morning to our Readers

SCAN-a-BLOG

Author’s Interview with

Lynda and Miss Opal

  We  are so delighted to welcome a fellow writer and author

 ~ Jo Elizabeth Pinto ~

 

Jo Elizabeth Pinto ~

LYNDA_ WELCOME To  RIVER ROAD STUDIO,  IN THE RURAL VILLAGE OF Wurtemburg.

 Early this morning. Lynda & Miss  Opal watched from the kitchen  window as Jo Elizabeth Pinto  walked down the long sidewalk  and stepped up onto the wraparound porch of their century-old home in The Village of Wurtemburg, in rural western Pennsylvania.

Jo arrived after a long trip from her home in Colorado. Miss Opal, the curious feline writing assistant to Lynda, was at the door, waiting to greet our long-expected guest.

Lynda_ Good Morning, Jo.  As  you see, my assistant,  Miss Opal, is here to welcome  you. She is such a help and comfort to us and we also have her sister-cat, Miss Bessie. But that isn’t all.  As you can see,  the 2 dogs, who just greeted you as you came into the kitchen, are Miss Dixie Tulip and Miss Mitchell.  The little brown Doxi-mix is our Miss Dixie Tulip,  and Miss Mitchell is  the taller one with brindle spots.  Miss Mitchell  is the  one who barked at you from the window. She gets very excited for she is a terrier.

Before you arrived  this morning, we were wondering if you have a favorite animal in your life? Do you have a bird, or a favorite wild animal that is really an important part of your life? Sometimes, we know that people have a totem animal or other sort of special creature. And, if you do, when did you become aware of that?

 Jo_At age eight, I began attending a camp for people with disabilities in the Colorado mountains. There were hummingbirds everywhere, hovering and sipping nectar from the flowers and hanging feeders. I loved hearing their high-pitched calls and rapidly beating wings.

Some years later, I was  a young woman at the same camp. I m happy to say that  the man who would become my first husband showed me a tiny nest of hummingbird eggs, no bigger than miniature jellybeans. I once freed a hummingbird trapped on a high window ledge. Before I released the exquisite creature, I relished for a moment the touch of its soft feathers and slender beak against my fingertips, its delicate feet on my palm, its vibrating heartbeat in my cupped hands.

Lynda_ Did those earlier encounters with the tiny birds give you a better or deeper understanding of nature?

Jo_ I eventually researched hummingbirds on the Internet. I was awestruck by the way the virtually weightless little birds fly nearly 450 miles, or up to twenty hours against the wind, over the Gulf of Mexico without stopping to rest, to reach their wintering grounds. I started to feel a deep kinship with the hummingbird. Both of us may seem fragile to the world, but we are amazingly strong and free. I got a tattoo of a hummingbird with flowers on each shoulder. I love my tattoos; I can cover them most of the time and show them off when I choose to.

Lynda_ Well, I have to say, I also have 2 tattoos.  They are both images of a griffin. I have always been interested in Greek Mythology and the creatures I’ve read about in those ancient writings. Sometimes, they come into my poems, too.

Miss Opal_  When  we talk about animals, I have to admit that I like to watch birds from our windows, Jo. I am really very shy, so I am contented just to see them from a distance. I would not want to touch one of them, as you did with the little hummingbird.

Are you shy, too, Jo? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? I like all people, but, I am a little bit shy around them sometimes. My sister, Bessie, always hides from people.

Lynda_  What makes you think you belong to a certain  group of people?

Jo_ I’m definitely an introvert. That doesn’t mean I don’t love people, and it doesn’t mean I’m shy around them. Neither is true, although I do prefer small groups and intimate settings to large crowds. I’ve never been afraid of public speaking, and I enjoy good conversation and an active social life. Still, I draw my energy from taking some time to myself every day. If I don’t get a bit of solitude at least several times a week, I feel overwhelmed and out-of-sorts. Introverts and extroverts may both care equally about people. But introverts refuel by taking time alone, while extroverts recharge by seeking interactions with others.

Lynda_ What do you think about your name? Do you use your own name for your professional work?

 

Jo_ Most of my family calls me Jo Elizabeth, which I’ve always loved. Friends usually shorten my name to Jo for convenience. That exasperates me a little, but I’ve gotten used to it. When I published my novel, I decided to use my initials, J. E., because I wrote the book from the point of view of a teenage male protagonist. Jo Elizabeth sounds like the name of a young woman in a romance novel, not a scrappy teenager from the projects.

 

Lynda_ Before you have to leave, would you tell  us about your AWARD-WINNING  book?

 Miss Opal_ Can you tell us about how you began to write that book?

Jo_ My novel, “The Bright Side of Darkness”, began as a short story assignment for a high school English class. I fell in love with the hard-pressed, loyal, smart-mouthed teenagers who became as real as my own friends while I wrote about them. I couldn’t quite put the story out of my mind even after I tucked the assignment away in a scrapbook and moved on with my life.

I never forgot those characters. In my twenties, in order to learn how to use a word processor, I dragged out that old short story and typed it into my first computer—a DOS machine with 5-inch floppy disks and no Internet. The writing needed a lot of work, but the characters still captivated me. I added to the story, changed and deleted weak parts and moved paragraphs and chapters around. I picked the project up and laid it down many times over the next twenty-some years as life happened. In June of 2015, I finally published my book.

Lynda_ Please, j:ust give us one page from that book – we want to  hear more!

Book Excerpt

 

                “Would you like to know why I came here today?”

                I nodded. “You were the last person I expected to see.”

                “I saw your suicide attempt in the paper when I was glancing through the police reports. I spotted a lot of potential behind your smart mouth when you came through my chambers, and it would have been a terrible shame if you’d bled to death on the floor of an isolation room at a state detention center. You deserve more out of life than that.”

                “You sound like my folks.” I picked up the picture and traced my finger over the smiling faces. “They told me over pizza once that I was going to do great things some day.”

                “You can’t let them down.” The judge read Daisy’s note again. “You have your life ahead of you. Live it for me and the rest who believed in you. Daisy was a smart girl.”

                “Yeah, she was.” I glanced around the dreary little room. “I guess she wouldn’t be too impressed with how far I’ve come.”

                “Are you ready to do something about it?”

                I stood up and washed the blood and tears off my face. It looked like whether I wanted it or not, I had a life to live–for the people who had believed in me.

                The judge pushed to his feet and strode toward the door. “That’s a good start. Now we better find you some real clothes. That outfit you’re wearing doesn’t leave much to the imagination.”

 

Reflection – About the Book

Jo_  I chose this excerpt from Chapter 8 of my novel, “The Bright Side of Darkness,” because it takes place at a pivotal moment where mentoring makes a crucial difference in the life of the protagonist. The overarching theme of the book is that all of us, wherever we are, have the potential to reach out to others in big and small ways that can change the world one person at a time.

 

 

Lynda_ When you say, “All’s well,” what do you really mean?

Jo_ “All’s well” refers to an abiding peace that runs deeper than the situation at hand, a contentment not based on anything happening in the outside world or ruled by passing emotions or temporary doubts. I’ve pretty much gotten to the point in my journey where I’m comfortable in my own skin and satisfied with my place in the world. It takes a lot to shake my faith. I don’t have to be happy with everything that occurs each moment to be pleased with life overall.

Lynda_  Please give our readers some additional information for your book.

Maybe you can share a couple of internet Links?

Jo_ “The Bright Side of Darkness” Is my award-winning novel, Available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.

http://www.amazon.com/author/jepinto

Jo_ I want to invite your readers to please visit my author page on Facebook:

Just  click Here.

Lynda_ Where can we find your book for sale, jo?

Jo_ Yes.  Thanks for asking. Please  find the paperback edition of my novel at Barnes & Noble online here:  Read it here!

Lynda_ Could our readers find your book on GOODREADS?

Jo_ Anyone can  see my Goodreads blog, “Looking on the Bright Side,” here: Read it.

And the final one I can share is this one:

To read my guest posts about parenting in the dark, please click here:

https://blindmotherhood.com/?s=Jo+Pinto

To read my guest posts on a variety of topics, please click here:

https://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/

Lynda_ Thank you, Jo, for coming to visit us today. I am glad we had a nice break in the wintry weather so that your trip was enjoyable.  I know you have a number of other places you will be visiting on the East Coast on this book tour you are doing and we are so happy you fit in a bit of time with all of us.

Miss Opal_ Yes, Jo, we all say to you, “All’s Well!”

About the Book

   

 

  –  

Dear Reader: Would you like to be  one of our  GUEST AUTHORS?

If you are a published author, please look at our INVITATION to be our GUEST. Information is available:  Here’s the LINK to Information.

About Lynda McKinney Lambert

This Special Feature interview is courtesy of Pennsylvania author, Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright: February 23, 2019..   All rights reserved.

Lynda’s Author Page – Click Here!

Read this article about Lynda on Campbell’s World – Click here!

Saturday is for Sharing is a Special Feature Article, coordinated by Lynda and Miss Opal, her feline writing partner. Lynda and Miss Opal live in rural western Pennsylvania in The Village of Wurtemburg.

Lynda is the author of 4 books:

Her first book is: Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage, Kota Press, 2002.

Her second book is:  Walking by Inner vision: Stories & Poems, DLD Books, 2017.

Lynda’s 3rd book: Star Signs: New & Selected Poems – 60 poems.

Her FIRST CHAPBOOK  – first snow –  16 Poems with a Wintry Theme.

Both new books are now available for publication.

Thank you for visiting with us today. Miss Opal and Lynda McKinney Lambert  

Please SHARE:  We LOVE YOU FOR THAT!

Please include copyright information with article. Thanks so much.

 

Saturday is for Sharing – Alice Jane-Marie Massa

28 July 2018

Post #112

 

SCAN

Hosted by

Lynda McKinney Lambert & Miss Opal

If you are NEW to SCAN,

Continue reading

The Cryptic Calling: an author’s journey Along an Unmarked Path

Meet  October’s Guest Blogger 

 Donna W. Hill

The Cryptic Calling: an author’s journey

Along an Unmarked Path

 

Blog15_DHill_Redwoods_Donna-&-Hunter-on-path-Glowing-Mist_by_Rich_Hill

This photo of Donna W. Hill with her guide dog, Hunter in ” Glowing Mist in the Redwoods” is by Rich Hill

 

It was 1954. A four-year-old girl with blond banana curls was in the living room. The house was quiet. Her parents were at work; her brother and grandmother in the backyard. She felt relieved to be alone. She didn’t know, nor would she for 14 years, that she was already legally blind.

 

The voice startled her. She stopped breathing, her ears scanning the house. But, it wasn’t necessary. She had felt the message settle into her spirit.

 

“You are here to do something important involving music.”

 

What did it mean? She instinctively took it as an anointing from God, though one with a disquieting lack of detail.

 

The Calling

 

That four-year-old was yours truly, and at sixty-five, that message still puzzles, intrigues and guides me. Initially, I assumed it meant that I was to become famous for my music. I didn’t share the experience, but I begged my parents to get me an accordion.

 

“You’re too small.”

 

Always a literalist, I was amused in second grade when — instead of the “massively-huge” accordion” — they bought me a piano . I progressed quickly, my nose on the brightly lit book, developing my memorization skills.

A Rude Awakening

 

Later that fall, I was selected for the Christmas concert. I was sure my ship had arrived. I was, however, wildly mistaken. I soon realized that there would be major obstacles.

“Go up to the top row of the risers.”

I was in the auditorium for our first rehearsal. I didn’t know what risers were, but I was soon on a contraption that shook and rattled with no way to steady myself. I didn’t understand how tunnel vision impacted my balance, and neither did anyone else.

Almost instantly, the director ordered me down, dismissing me from the group. She wouldn’t give me a few minutes to work it out or let me stand on the floor. The lesson wasn’t lost on me; although my voice was good enough, something more important about me wasn’t.

 

That spring, my teacher took my workbook away, despite my above average grades. She wasn’t comfortable watching me struggle to read. The other shoe dropped the following fall. I was placed in “Special Class,” where only first-grade large-print books awaited me. The thrust of my education was to fulfill the tiniest assignments, after which I was encouraged to play with pre-school toys.

 

My ophthalmologist was outraged. I was removed from “Special Class” and placed into a normal third grade class. The teacher, displeased with the placement, delighted in allowing open bullying of me and punished the girl who read me the questions from the board.

A Mission Slipping Away

 

By sixth grade, my vision was worsening, and piano music was far more complicated. My ability to memorize it was at a breaking point. I did what I thought any self-respecting twelve-year-old would do. I quit.

 

How was I supposed to interpret what I had heard in the living room? For the first (and far from the last) time, I considered the possibility that it could have merely been the ravings of a deranged mind.

In Search of a Miracle

 

Had God changed His mind? Or, perhaps, I needed to do something else first. If so, I knew what that was — get normal sight. It was obviously impossible to be successful without it.

 

Years before hearing televangelists discuss healing, I somehow knew I had to believe it would happen. Every morning for months, before I opened my eyes, I thanked God for restoring my sight, imagining the bright and detailed world that awaited me. My eyes, however, opened to dimness and confusion.

 

Progress and Compromise

 

At fourteen, I was devastated without music in my life. I asked for and received a guitar. Though I was too shy to share them, I started writing songs, beginning the inexorable link in my life between music and language.

 

In Junior High and High School, the bullying became more physical. The increase in work coupled with declining central vision necessitated a prioritizing of my work — literature and science were in; history and math out. Braille and recorded books were never discussed. I was legally blind in a world where it was more important to read and navigate with your eyes, regardless of how many mistakes you made, how much time it took, how sick you got or how many other things fell by the wayside, than to learn nonvisual skills.

 

The overt bullying stopped when I entered college. Nevertheless, I had lost the reading vision in my better eye that summer and was ill-equipped to take full advantage of the college experience. For the first time, however, I used recorded books and readers.

Reawakening the Dream

 

After graduation, I tried to make up the deficit. I trained with my first guide dog and learned Braille. I would pursue my dream of being a self-supporting musician — initially, as a street performer in Philadelphia’s Suburban Station.

 

I had my own apartment, kept an organic garden complete with a compost pile, baked whole grain bread and made everything from soup and tomato sauce to pesto and spanakopita. I started performing at schools, churches and other venues. I wanted my audiences to have a comfortable experience with a blind person and learn a bit about how we do things. I released two albums — “Rainbow Colors” and “Harvest.”

 

“If I had healed you back then,” said the same voice, “You would have never known that blindness didn’t have to limit you.”

 

Sidetracked

 

While recording my third album, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After treatment, Rich and I married, and I finished the project. Just as “The Last Straw” was coming out, I found another cancerous lump. The drain on our energy and finances prompted a change in plans.

 

What about my mission? Had I done what I was supposed to do? Perhaps it had something to do with the many small contacts I’d had over the years. Maybe it was the man who wore out his copy of “Rainbow Colors” while recovering from an auto accident. Maybe it was one of the thousands of kids who had seen my school programs. I was well aware by then that we are all here to do something important. putting forth our best efforts and walking in love is the greatest, most difficult and most rewarding mission.

 

I didn’t give up. Blind people still aren’t being welcomed with open arms. Education, digital accessibility and unemployment remain major problems. I learned to use a computer with text-to-speech software to pursue another dream. In an effort to promote acceptance among the general public, my novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill was designed to allow the reader an intimate look into the mind of a blind teenager, embroiled in an exciting adventure. And, the music angle? Abigail’s a shy songwriter.

 

Blog15_DHill_THAH-w-multiple-Amarilis-blooms-1-22-15-010

Donna’s novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill, an educator-recommended diversity and anti-bullying classroom resource for middle school and older readers, is available in print, eBook versions and accessible formats for readers with print disabilities. For more information and to follow Donna’s blog, visit:

http://DonnaWHill.com

 

 

Photo by Rich Hill. Photos used with permission of the photographer. Thanks so much!

 

 

 

Donna is a singer and songwriter.  Click on the LINK below to enjoy listening  to Donn as she sings, “Love of my Life.”

 

**

Special THANKS to Rich and  Donna W. Hill for allowing me feature this story on the blog today!

Copyright 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

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/

***

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.”

***

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.

***

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

“In Which I Find Color in Late Winter”

 

“In Which I Find Color in Late Winter”

It was late this  morning when  I opened the bedroom blind. My husband, Bob, was still in bed.  We were so happy to see that the entire winter landscape and sky appeared to have a bright blue hue washed all over it.  I thought of a watercolor painter who mixed up a Blog_Photo_FullSnowMoonOverWoodsvery thin wash of color and brushed it all over the blank canvas.    It looked like someone had painted this brilliant landscape and put the shades of blue everywhere! Turquoise, Cerulean, Azure, Caribbean, Sapphire, and Cobalt – every shade of blue was overlaid on the picture we viewed from our window.  The delicate colors of the morning gave us a feeling of celebration in the early morning light today!

Since we just completed the first week of February, I decided to write about it today!  I thought about what to call this time of year. I know so many people begin to complain and lament the weather and dread the daily forecasts of storms and low temperatures. We seem to be in a deep freeze some days, with winter snow storms and squalls moving over the land like waves on an angry, stormy ocean.  The official designation of February is labeled, “Late Winter.”  That’s because it will be awhile before spring is here.  Spring will arrive on March 21st – and right now, we often feel like that is a long way off. However, that is exactly why I want to speak of the glorious colors of winter and its beauty today.  Maybe you will join me in appreciation of February this year. We still have a lot of time to do that because spring is still quite a distance away for us.

Blog_Photo_FullSnowMoonSmiling

Another unusual aspect of February is that is can be cunning and tricky with the environment. In particular, February days often warm up so much in the afternoons that it seems like spring arrived. Often in the first week of February, flower bulbs that are sleeping in the cold soil are tricked into thinking it’s time to wake up, push up some leaves, and bloom!   The ancient Celts thought that the earth wakes up in early February.  They believed the earth goes into a deep winter sleep during Halloween time.

Have you noticed the beauty of the wide range of colors at the beginning of February yet?

Winter colors, sensitive and subtle, or stark and vivid, are all around us in the month of February. Sometimes, if we focus on the harshness of winter’s storms or the labor of shoveling snow from sidewalks and streets, we might overlook the full palette of winter colors that surround us every day.  February’s landscape can go unnoticed if we are focused only on the challenges of Late Winter.

There is far more magic to find in the white snow or crystal ice outside our windows these days.  I recently stopped, looked around slowly at the winter landscape. I wanted to see what more there was beyond the snow and ice.  During the first week of February, I was outside with my dogs in the early morning, before daylight.  When I looked up into the pre-dawn sky, I saw that the moon was full.

Blog_Photo_FullSnowMoonwithTree

This February moon is called the “Full Snow Moon.” That’s because February is the month when the heaviest snows fall on the earth.  Hunters are out trying to find wildlife to shoot but it is difficult to find animals in the deep snowfall.  Because of this, Native Americans called the moon, “Hunger Moon.”

As I watched the sky, light from the moon illuminated the night sky in every direction.  The stillness of the celestial scene mingled with the thrusting branches of the stark winter trees in the woods below.  I became aware that I had to observe this glorious scene through the many bare branches of an ancient maple tree. From my vantage point on the ground beside the maple tree, it seems like I viewed the sky through the loose warp and weft of a tapestry that was created by the tree as it reached upwards and spread its arms like an enormous fan between me and the “Full Snow Moon.”   The entire tree appeared to be made from the darkest, deepest shade of sapphire blue.   The softest shade of indigo appeared to be painted across the entire sky in every direction from the east to the west where the moon was descending.  Liquid sky color mingled through the negative spaces of the branches.  The color reminded me of my own grade school days, in the 1950s, when I wrote my alphabet letters on a lined paper.  I dipped my  pen,  in and out, of the  bluish ink in the  well cut into the wooden  desk  This  sky was the  hue  that would be created  if I  mixed  a drop of the India Ink into a small cup of water.

The full moon seemed to hover beyond the tree branches, above the woods, and seemed to quiver with anticipation because it was about to disappear forever

Look for the colors of February this month!  They signal that in the heart of deep, frigid Late Winter t there is glory and a sense of the divine.  Take a deeper look;   see the hand of the Master Artist.   There is a full range of values in the February palette Take your time, and see what you will find in your own little place on this earth, this month.

Whatever time of day it is when  you read this message, will be the perfect time to see the colors of February! The dazzling Late Winter show is a gift from God and it is  free for everyone to discover if you live in a place where you have a real old-fashioned winter time.  If you do, I say,  “Give February a chance!”