Goodbye, Summer

Goodness gracious, where did the summer get to? How does it happen, when I have the most to write about, I have the least time/inclination to do so? It really is hard to sit inside on a computer when the sun is shining outside. But fall is a-comin’, and that means earlier evenings and a general turnaround of what my summer routine is like. I look forward to getting back into writing this blog, which has been such a delightful constant for the last 4 years!

To catch anyone up (briefly) who may be interested, this summer has been a blessedly full time, busy with work at the greenhouse, some shifts at the fire station as time allowed, time with friends (a priority in the summer), wonderful quantities of hiking, a visit from a former college classmate of mine, a trip to Bozeman for the Biblical Counseling Conference and some hiking and camping along the way. I can’t promise anything, but my goal is to play some catch up on this blog, at least as far as the hiking articles go. We discovered some gems this summer, and I’d hate to miss publishing them!

I didn’t think it was possible for so much to go by so fast and so pleasantly. And now it is quickly becoming fall. September 23 is only two weeks away!

So…goodbye, summer. Goodbye to the warm mornings, hot afternoons, and cool evenings. The satisfaction of sweat, the joy of cold water to quench work-won thirst. Goodbye to the feisty, mighty summer storms that kept us green all season. Goodbye to the sound and smell of cows on the pastures around the house, to the cacophony of insects and birds, and the rainbow of wildflower color. Goodbye to the resiny smell of the pines in the sunlight, a perfume which takes me back to my childhood and the joy of getting to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, walking up their then-dirt sidewalk, to the loving, smothering embrace of my Grandpa and his plaid shirt.

With the summer goes the long days, the sense that time is almost standing still, the late nights waiting for the sun to set and dragging the days activities into the late, late evening. With summer goes the delightful, tantalizing sense of freedom, which I love immensely but probably isn’t very good for me.
IMG_9756eBut each season has its joys. If the joy of summer is the warmth and the long days, the joy of autumn is the cool and the cozy evenings. If the joy of summer is the song of insects and the colors of wildflowers, the joy of autumn is the whispering leaves and their vibrant displays.

So, goodbye, summer. And welcome, autumn.

The Waking

Springtime stirs in the last of her sleep. Winter lingers awhile longer in the Black Hills, but the earth is warming, primed for life and growing and greenness. As much as I love the winter, I’m craving flowers and sunlight and bare feet and sun-warmed skin. I revel in lung-filling breaths that don’t hurt, and breezes that don’t sting, and light with more color. What a glorious time of year.IMG_7855
IMG_7923
IMG_7953Rivulets of melt glisten on the roads, trickling from rocks and roofs and hillsides with the sound of warmth. The memory of winter fades. There is mud everywhere and on everything, absolutely inescapable. The sky is ridiculously blue.

The silence of winter has been broken: by the calls of birds coming back after their winter vacation, that quality of the wind music that is somehow different than in the winter (though I can’t say how, exactly), the buzz of insects, the sound of moving water, the soft noise of wet earth underfoot. Fragrances that go dormant in the winter come alive in the first warming days of spring. The scent of the pine trees. The scent of the good earth.

Earth has slept the sleep of winter. At last it’s time to wake.

 

Keep Dreaming

For any aspiring author, there is just about nothing more thrilling than seeing your own words in print, your own byline, your own story. Someday, I would love to hold my own book in my hands, but for now, this is joy enough to keep me going. From the age of 12, I’ve had a love of writing and story crafting. Over the years, I’ve read a lot on the craft of writing, I’ve sat in on webinars, and I took a class on feature writing at the university (one of my favorite classes). One of the most consistent pieces of writing wisdom I come across is that writers write. So if you want to write, write. You can’t do anything until there are words on the page.

So this is a baby step. A year and a half ago, I had the delight of seeing another article published in MaryJane’s Farm, and a year or so before that I had a commentary published in our local paper. This article in Country Magazine was well timed encouragement. Encouragement to keep going. Encouragement to take one step at a time. Encouragement to keep dreaming.

 

One Year Anniversary

DSCN0006.1I just realized today that Homestead Diaries just celebrated its 1 year anniversary! What a great year it has been. In light of that, I just wanted to thank all of you who stop by, for subscribing, reading, giving feedback, and for passing the articles on. As a writer and photographer, I enjoy the process and the product of both the writing and the photography, and would enjoy them regardless. Honestly, I think that is how it starts: by enjoying the process in solitude, and then having the courage to share. But what a richness there is when I know that other people are sharing that enjoyment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo thank you, thank you, thank you – for your time, your interest, for reveling with me in the beauty of Creation, for words of encouragement. Thanks to my friends and family for sharing hikes with me, tolerating the shutter-snapping, and giving me material to write about. Thanks for giving me the motivation to share 150 posts (and counting), some hundreds of pictures, and a growing love of writing. Thanks for taking the time to let me know when a picture or an article touched you. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to share what I love to share: the joy of the written word, a love of the beauty of Creation and (for many of you, I know) a love for its Creator.

Thanks again, and God bless!

Laura Elizabeth

Writing in the Hills

The incredulous question, “What’s in South Dakota…?”, which I heard regularly before I moved here, was always a difficult question to answer. You don’t just say: “My heart is there! What more reason do I need to move there?”

People just don’t talk like that.

But now I’m here, and I love it more than ever. And each day, week, month that goes by, I find new reasons to never want to leave. I find new reasons to be enthralled by this corner of the country, this state with a population one third the size of the largest city in the state I moved away from. The state I moved away from has a population of nearly 13 million. The state I moved to has a population of under 1 million.

It would be reasonable to assume that a state this small would have proportionately fewer opportunities – Creatively, artistically, socially. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I attended the inaugural Hill City Writers’ Workshop today, and am already hoping there will be another one next year. The fellowship hall of the Little White Church was full of eager writers, from ambitious amateur to seasoned professional, all excited to be around other people who all shared a passion for the written word. It was comforting to realize that I was one of three youngest people there – I don’t have to be in a hurry to write my life’s great work. I can wait and let my ideas ripen and grow bolder, better with age.

Although I opted out of the mentor sessions and missed out on the keynote because I only had one headlight and needed to get home before dark, I came away with inspiration and a fresh reminder that those of us in the writing world, no matter how big or small of scale we are working on, those of us in the writing world are all still learning. What a delightful realization!

This is a craft that is less dependent on native talent than it is on perseverance. This is a craft that is less dependent on native ability than it is on heart, passion, and sheer will power. The art and craft of writing requires really just a handful of simple, learnable things: observation, curiosity, and the will the follow through.

All I can say, this is a great corner of the world.

Laura Elizabeth

Keeping focused

DSCN1198.1 Started work officially as a scribe at a family practice clinic in Rapid City today. What a learning experience this will be! In spite of only four hours of sleep last night, the day went well and I think I’m learning. A lot.

For those of my readers who don’t know, I have absolutely no medical background. I am an artist, of various sorts. But I have a love of learning and a desire for knowledge. As a writer, any new experience, however challenging, can only add to the depth and breadth of my writing! This will be an opportunity to grow as a writer, but more importantly to cultivate a Christlike love for people, to grow in compassion, empathy, and in my desire to serve.

DSCN1206.1Of course I was exhausted by the end of the day (actually, by 10 a.m.), but tiredness doesn’t extinguish the joy of the art of photography. I found a few pictures just waiting to be taken on the way home this evening…These pictures caught my eye as I was almost home, in an open valley on Hwy. 40. We’ve had a lot of smoke in the Hills from fires further west, and a little fog this evening, too. The haze was illuminated by the evening sun, just as it was disappearing into a bank of cloud on the horizon. The sunlight streamed golden onto neat rows of hay bales, onto the western slopes of the foothills, onto a herd of cattle grazing in the last light of today.

Photography is a way of reminding myself of what a gift life is. Life can be bleak, daunting, or even just tiring. Days are long. I’m realizing September is going to be a very long month (working six days a week). But keeping myself focused on the beauty of life, on God’s goodness as I can express it through photography and writing, is a way of keeping centered on what is really important, lasting, and blessed.

Laura Elizabeth