Archive for the ‘Little Signs of Spring’ Category

(14) Thirty Days of Grateful Praise: Trillium

July 15, 2012

This is the Catesby’s Trillium that we saw on our hike at Whiteside Mountain.

The first time I ever saw trillium was on our mountain honeymoon just over twenty-five years ago.  It was late in the day when we got to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and one of the first things we laid eyes on was a whole forest filled with trilliums.  The slanted afternoon light illuminated the trilliums, and they shone a radiant white in the gloaming.  They were enchanting, and I was smitten.

I don’t know why I love them so much.  Maybe because of the magical honeymoon association.  Maybe because they’re one of the first flowers to bloom in spring.  Maybe because there are so many kinds—40 to 50 species, I think.

Or maybe because some of them look like little botanical pinwheels. 🙂

I love, too,  trillium’s alternate names–wakerobin, birthroot.  And Stinking Benjamin.  Actually it’s only the red trillium that called Stinking Benjamin.  We saw a lot of it on our spring hikes, and it was fun to tease Benjamin by hollering, “Stinking Benjamin!” every time we saw one.

It doesn’t matter, really, why I love trillium.  It only matters that I realize how blessed I am to live here in the Appalachians, where it blooms so profusely in hidden forest glades.  It only matters that I am grateful for the enchanting, charming, and altogether lovely little wakerobin.


(2) Thirty Days of Grateful Praise: The Fragrance of Lilacs

July 3, 2012

When we first moved to the Doublewide Ranch four years ago, we were just on the cusp of spring. It was only then that I noticed just how little landscaping our new place actually had. There were two undistinguished-looking shrubberies out front and a stunted, scraggly wild tangle of something out back, but otherwise it was just grass and weeds growing right up to the foundation of the doublewide.  I was quite dejected to realize that there would be none of my favorite daily spring ritual—checking the flower garden for new soft green shoots emerging from the winter-hard ground.

Of course, that would all change later in the spring and summer when I planted seeds and completely blew our grocery budget buying shrubs and flowers, but until then, I knew I’d keenly miss my cherished spring routine.  Seeing perennials resurrect themselves year after year still seems such a miracle to me.

Late in March, I decided to take a closer look at the scraggly small bush out back and was delighted to see some peculiar little flower buds that looked like miniature grape clusters.  (I was amazed, really, that anything could grow in the thick, almost gummy clay soil here.)  I’d never seen buds like that so was eager to see what kind of flower it produced.  It would be almost May before I found out.

It was lilacs, of course.  I’d seen (and smelled) lilac blossoms before, but never knew what the buds looked like.  But once they came into full flower, there was no mistaking what they were.  And the lilacs were right outside our kitchen window, so every time I stood at the sink washing vegetables or dishes, I breathed in their heady fragrance.

Later that summer, I transplanted some of the little offshoots that had popped up around the backyard lilac into the flower bed I’d made in the front.  It’s taken four years for that little twig of a thing to fill out enough to produce flowers, but it finally did this year.  So now I can breathe in the sweet fragrance on the front porch, too.  This year, my roses and lilacs bloomed at the same time, so every time we came home, we’d open our car doors to, first, the fragrance of roses, then up the walkway to lilacs.

It was almost too much to take in.  So intoxicating that I was always tempted to linger on the porch, even when duty called.  And most of the time, I did linger.  Sometimes, I even sat in the swing, closed my eyes, and breathed in bliss.

I lingered.  Yes, I did.  Even when I had a long list of Things That Must Be Done.  And I don’t regret it for a minute.

Spring Comes to the Doublewide Ranch

March 28, 2012

“So Spring must dawn again with warmth and bloom,

In this world, or in the world to come:    

Sing, voice of Spring,

Till I too blossom and rejoice and sing.”

From “The First Spring Day” by Christina Rossetti

Well, I was going to make this a sort of Wordless Wednesday post, but I think I really need to tell the story behind the photo above.  Benjamin and I were walking up the driveway when he started laughing.  He then said, “Thank you, Mommy.”

“For what?” I said, puzzled.

I noticed then that he was looking down.  Following his gaze, I saw it: a smiley-face anthill!

Now, I can well understand why he might have thought I did it, as I have certainly been a party in the past to a number of, shall we say…whimsical alterations.  I love nothing better than to make people laugh and will go to great lengths to amuse those I love, especially my children.  But I love my ant friends and would never stoop to defacing their lovely and careful construction for a laugh.

Benjamin and I were both amused and amazed, as neither of us has seen anything like it.  I, in fact, spent hours as a child watching ants—I have always been fascinated by them—-and I can say that a smiley-face anthill is a definite anomaly (or should I say ant-nomaly?). The funniest thing is that, to me, the little smiley face looks like he’s winking.

We’ll probably never know how it happened, but we like to think that it was Divine Humor at work again.  No one knows better than God how much we need a laugh these days and just how much we need to know HE is aware of our need.  Indeed, God does work in mysterious ways His wonders to perform, and He can certainly use anyone and anything to carry out those daily miracles—-even tiny and seemingly insignificant ants.

“A Perpetual Astonishment”

April 15, 2010

“Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment. “

 ~Ellis Peters

As I was looking over the pictures I’ve taken this week of the natural world coming to life around us here at the Doublewide Ranch, I was thinking about how they look very much like the pictures I took last spring and the spring before that.  Yep—happens  every year.  But every year, I am amazed anew at the sweet miracle of spring.  Sometimes, all I can do is walk around with my mouth open in astonished wonder and whisper  Thank You.

 I also wanted to give you a break from the somber heaviness of my two previous posts.  No doubt, you are breathing a big sigh of relief. 🙂

Here’s what’s new at our place:

“Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life…There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.”

~Rachel Carson

Psalm Upon Hearing the First Lawnmower of the Season

June 1, 2009

Our bedroom window blog

(Our open bedroom window this morning)

After we mowed on Saturday, for some reason, the sweet fragrance of the cut grass was particularly intense, so that smelling the combined essence of freshly-cut grass and honeysuckle blossoms coming through the bedroom window was very nearly a spiritual experience.

I’ve always loved the smell of new-cut grass.  In fact, when I was nineteen or twenty (the age of my children now), I wrote a poem about it:  Psalm Upon Hearing the First Lawnmower of the Season.  It actually got published in a literary magazine, and the editors were kind enough to write a little note to me. I can’t remember all the words of their note exactly, but I do recall the last line : 

“Wonderful descriptive images with lively metaphors…but the pun was intrusive.”

Hee, hee…that makes me laugh every time I remember it because it wasn’t the first (or the last) time I heard that criticism.  And of course they were probably right.  I’m pretty sure that none of the poets we now consider great included “intrusive” puns in their poems. But I find it so very difficult to resist wanton wordplay.  After all, for me, writing poetry is about the sheer delight of playing with language, and there’s nothing I find more amusing than a good (or bad) pun.  

So, even though we’re a bit past the first lawn mowing of the season, I thought I’d share the poem I wrote about it over thirty years ago, complete with flagrant pun.  Can you find it?  Maybe those editors didn’t appreciate my wordplay, but I hope that you do.  And, of course, I hope you like my poem, too.  🙂

Psalm Upon Hearing the First Lawnmower of the Season

Winter-sealed windows muffle morning
And the sunshine serenade
Of silver blades on green.
Lone droning melody—long over dew.

Rasping open, the window inhales, gasping
As life and light rush through.
Draperies flutter like pale cobwebs
Swept aside in spring cleaning.
Green air filters through the screen
Almost strained of winter’s ghosts.

Air greening! Bare greening!
Sun and rain in warm light showers
Combine—a pure and golden wine.
Pale embryos too long confined
Beneath the earth begin to stir. 

Something in me moves
Forgotten seeds
Planted in heart grooves
In springs before cold dormant seasons.
They stir once more and feed
On pulsing blood.
New rivers running in a flood
Through a singing heart.


May 28, 2009

I thank you God for most this amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue true dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. 

~~e. e. cummings

Just a few of the things right outside my door that I thank God for:

chipper sings blog

The way the chipping sparrow throws its head back when it sings,

swallowtail amongst the lilacs blog

The swallowtail alight on the lilacs,

pussywillows blog


exuberant mockingbird blog

The exuberance of the mockingbird who sings in the dead of night,

great crested flycatcher blog

The Great Crested Flycatcher who’s nested again in our ramshackle birdhouse,wildflower meadow blog

Our neighbor’s wildflower meadow,

Mister Toad blog

Mr. Toad blog

And toads.   I especially thank you, God, for toads.

(A belated Happy Birthday to my beloved son Benjamin, whom I also especially thank God for.  He’s not a teenager any more!)

The Previously Unrecognized Mating Dance of the Eastern Bluebird

May 5, 2009

Ornithologists worldwide were alerted this week to a previously unobserved and most curious mating dance performed by a male Eastern Bluebird at a bluebird house at the Blue Ridge home of Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl.   Reportedly, the female bluebird was not impressed by the male’s lively performance, though she did eye with interest the juicy caterpillar in his mouth.






(Note to Tom: Happy 22nd Anniversary to my Anam Cara.)

Little Signs of Spring #17

April 29, 2009

How I know that Spring is really here at the Doublewide Ranch…


The Chipping Sparrow sings in the morning.


The honeybees sip hummingbird nectar.


Apple blossoms…umm…blossom.


Tulips glisten after a sweet spring rain.


And swallowtails swarm on lilacs.

(Note to my daughter Ariel:  Happy Birthday,  babygirl.  Wish you were here.)

Blogging Blithe Bluebird Bliss

April 17, 2009

Though it’s a bit blurry,  I could not resist blogging this blithe bit of bluebird bliss in our backyard birdbath:

(Can you say that sentence ten times very fast?) 🙂






April 10, 2009



(Honeybee finds our peach tree blossom)

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time. 

                                                               ~Martin Luther

A Blessed and Happy Easter to all.