Cows and Coneflowers

After abusing my ankle yesterday, I was back to crutches and limited activity again today and honestly, I wasn’t too happy about that, even though it was my own fault. I had just started indulging in a pity-party when Mom came into the house. “Are the cows supposed to be out?” she asked. I looked outside, and of course the answer was “no.” The cows weren’t just “out.” They were out just about in our front yard! The pity-party didn’t last too much longer, and I hobbled outside with my camera to take pictures of the cattle, and to call my uncle to give him the head’s up.
IMG_7794The cows had found a hole in the fence, and the green grass and water in the dam were irresistible, I guess. They were pretty content, and I think we could have left them and they’d still be there tomorrow. Uncle Stuart was out fencing, and when he drove up in the beat-up ranch Toyota, he, Dad, and I moved them back into the pasture they’re supposed to be in.
IMG_7845Cows are beautiful creatures. They’re in a further pasture now, but I love when they are close enough to hear them lowing, and to smell their warm scent.
IMG_7847As I snapped pictures of the cows and the wildflowers, and tromped through the waist-high grass with my dad and my uncle, my frustration melted. Pity-parties really are a waste of time, and are so entirely uncalled-for.
IMG_7801Life is good. God is good. Cows and coneflowers reminded me of that.

Laura Elizabeth

Welcome Weather

I woke up to the gentle melody of rain on the tin roof, just inches above my face. What a welcome, refreshing sound! We’re behind some 6 inches of rainfall this summer already, and everything has been scorching. The garden has been almost impossible to keep watered, ranchers’ hay production is significantly reduced, and the landscape has started to turn a withered brown. For weeks, the grass has been too dry to walk barefoot on it, and even the weeds in the garden have wilted. The 1,600-acre Crow Peak Fire near Spearfish has been blazing for a week and is only about 15% contained. The last thing anyone wanted was a thunderstorm without rain. But we got rain! Boy, did we get rain.
IMG_7189The clouds were low and heavy, hanging in the trees, and already the landscape looks richer, greener. The rain pitter-pattered on the tin roof for most of the morning. At times it would nearly quiet, but then the sound of larger drops would lead into another downpour, though never torrential. It was the slow kind of rain that soaks in deep and doesn’t turn to runoff. We got 1 inch total. The frogs are singing again now. It was a good day for reading, writing, and hot tea.
IMG_7191Trixie wasn’t entirely sure what to make of the rain. Unlike our other dog, Baby, who would retreat into her dog house for the whole day when it rained, Trixie was soaked and muddy from digging in the yard, undeterred by the wet. She didn’t seem to care at first, but at one point jumped up and peeked in the window over the kitchen sink. I think she was a little bored. She had dried off a little by noon, so she went with me to take Dad his lunch in Hermosa. She is such a puppy! She hasn’t experienced many car rides and tried to cuddle up initially, then went back to trying to chew on whatever was close enough to get her mouth on, whether it was me, or her leash, or the blanket she was sitting on. She was pretty happy to see Sarah, who got off early from work today.
IMG_7196We’re hoping for more rain tonight. It doesn’t look like there is much chance of precipitation over the next week, but we’ll take whatever we get and be glad of it!

Laura Elizabeth

Back at it

The last few days have been long, I have to admit. Being house-bound isn’t exactly what I had in mind for my thirteen days off, especially since the weather cooled down into the 80s and the summer wildflowers are going crazy! But today was a huge improvement from the first two days where I couldn’t walk at all. I was actually able to hobble around the house without crutches today, and do some dishes and cook. I had my foot looked at today by the PA at the clinic where I work – She diagnosed it as a foot sprain, no fracture, and just told me to stay off it for a week or two. That’s a lot better than the six weeks I’d been dreading! Tonight, an ankle brace and hiking boots (the kind with the shank in the sole) actually provided great support for getting around. I know I need to be good, though – The temptation is to do too much too fast.
GimpyBut even being house-bound has had benefits – I was able to spend hours yesterday reading about C.H. Spurgeon, the great English preacher and theologian from the mid- to late-1800s. We are reading a Spurgeon biography for our church book reading club, and it is a delight. What a wonderful life of work he led for the Kingdom of God! He began pastoring a church at the age of 17, and his teaching sparked a revival in the surrounding town. By the age of 26, his work had revived a dying church in London and he was regularly preaching to thousands, regularly helping to plant church and send out new pastors and leading sinners to Christ! The reach of his work is truly astounding, from the circulation of his sermons to the books he published to the orphanage and school he ran and the Pastor’s College he founded, and my list could go on. I hadn’t even started the book before yesterday, and I am now about 120 pages into it. A productive day. I was even able to edit about thirty-five wedding photos from a wedding I shot a few weeks ago.
Cuddling with the CatAnd of course, cuddling with the Kashka-cat is very important. Nothing quite as sweet as her little purring self curled up on my lap, or stretched to her full length, fast asleep and dreaming so hard she’s twitching. She loves her people, that’s for sure.

But as productive as the last few days have been, I’m eager to get back at it! Enough of this lazing around.

Laura Elizabeth

Lemons and Lemonade

It doesn’t always do to make plans. At 8:00am, my thoughts on a plan for this beautiful early-summer day were to go on a walk, water the garden, practice music for church tomorrow, read, and clean church this evening. But all of that sort of came to a screeching halt about ten minutes later when I had a clumsy moment and gave myself a nice ankle sprain. And I don’t even have an exciting story to accompany it, unfortunately. I blame it on the dog, even though she really didn’t have anything to do with it.
IMG_6858So judging by some reading I’ve done and the fact that I can’t bear weight on my right foot at all, I won’t be doing much of anything for the next…well, for the next couple of weeks, minimum, but more likely  longer than that. Trying to be optimistic here. Bummer. And yesterday was the first day of a 13-day vacation! Oh, and did I have plans! Devil’s Tower, the Badlands, photography and hiking, gardening, working on getting cards in some local gift shops…Not to mention the necessary things that require being able to drive a car or just get around in general.

What comically and ironically and appropriately came to mind was Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” While some might say this is just hard luck, I know I serve a God who is good and gracious and all my steps have been established for me for a purpose, even in something as frustrating and relatively minor as spraining my ankle. He must have something to teach me. Things like patience, optimism, graciousness in accepting circumstances I don’t appreciate, self-discipline…
IMG_6873The up side to being immobile that I should be able to be terribly productive, getting caught up on photography stuff, reading, and writing, and maybe even some sewing. When the weather is lovely, those things all tend to fall prey to my wanderlust, the desire to be out seeing God’s glorious Creation.

So I’ve been given a few lemons and I guess the best thing to do with them is make lemonade. Lemonade is better than lemons. And anyways, I could have been given lima beans.

Laura Elizabeth

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Weeds and Wildflowers

Just a short ways down the road from where I work is Canyon Lake, and Rapid Creek feeds into this. Along Rapid Creek, upstream of the lake, is a little wooded dirt path. With the creek running on one side, and trees towering above, I could almost forget the sounds of town as I poked along in the grasses over my lunch hour, hunting wildflowers and watching birds and listening to grasshoppers. So pleasant and refreshing.
DandelionDandelions were in abundance, and a clump or two of early dame’s rocket. There was a carpet of not-yet-blooming violets, with a couple of over-eager violets trying to bloom. Then there was the columbine! I missed good pictures of this gem last year, because of a sub-par camera, and I snapped away happily. And then I got to thinking – What is it about dandelions that makes us consider them weeds, while flowers like columbine and blue flax and shootingstar we consider wildflowers? Whether something is a weed or a wildflower depends very much on perspective. A limited perspective fails to see the beauty or even usefulness of the weed – It may be a nuisance, I suppose, and grow where it isn’t wanted, but isn’t the weed beautiful as well in its own way? Doesn’t it provide pollen for our pollinators, and color to our landscapes? Wild ColumbineSometimes I view life this way. Because I can’t see or refuse to see the meaning in something or because I am frustrated with a certain situation, I consider it bad or ugly or undesirable. But might my perspective just be wrong or limited? A broader perspective, a more whole perspective, might be able to see the lessons to be learned, the service to be done, the experience to be gained, and the very real joy to be experienced if I allow my perspective to be broadened. Sometimes God gifts us with difficult or trying situations or experiences or people in order to grow us in our walk of faith and to grow us in holiness. One step of that is learning to see God’s sovereignty in our lives, in both the rocky place and the pleasant places.

I want the perspective that lets me see weeds as wildflowers.

Laura Elizabeth

Daily mysteries

IMG_8486Sometimes it takes a country song and moonlight to rattle me out of my own self-centeredness and back into a state of gratitude before God. Last night, I was tired and grouchy and feeling a little sorry for myself when Montgomery Gentry’s song “Lucky Man” came on the radio. I felt rather sheepish. Then light from the almost-full moon peered over my shoulder and brushed my cheek. I looked back and there was the moon, rising above the rugged hills on the road a few miles from home. What in the world do I have to not be thankful for? Thankfulness in all circumstances should be the state of the Christian heart, but it took a country song and moonlight to remind me just how good my circumstances are, and how petty and pathetic and wrong my complaints are. And how good God really is – how incomprehensible!

This morning I restocked our wood supply for the Miner’s Cabin. Up the hill at Grandma’s house, there is a whole woodshed of old dry pine that probably hasn’t been touched in years. Squirrels have used the shed as home-base for probably a decade, so there is a decade’s worth of pine cones and pine cone pieces piled all over the woodshed, which make great fire starter. I brought down enough wood and “fire starter” to last awhile, and spent a good chunk of the afternoon sorting and organizing and straightening.

IMG_8796.1It is so pleasant to sit and listen to the crackle of the fire, to hear the metallic rush of sound as a log collapses, to feel the heat slowly warm the room. Wood heat is exquisite. It is simple and sweet and fierce. I love to watch the glow of the embers beneath the logs, in the place where the very air seems to burn and blaze. I love the dance of the heat along the edges of logs, the blossoming of flame, the crackle and release of sparks. I could sit before a fire for hours.

Moonlight and flame, and the God who created both – Three beautiful mysteries.

Laura Elizabeth