Stepping outside before daylight a couple days ago an eerie feeling came over me. I couldn’t place it until later in the day. I stood beside the lake and it was completely froze over. Silence. All was quiet. The last two weeks the lake was full of very noisy swans, geese, ducks and some cranes getting ready to head south for the winter.
I would have liked to be there when the winds died down. I imagine the waters were super cooled but couldn’t freeze until a certain degree of calm suddenly came. The lake probably froze over in a matter of seconds when that happened(sometimes lake freeze this way). All the birds had to quickly take off and head south or someplace else suddenly. I may have even heard the commotion in the middle of the night as the lake is only a few hundred yards away. I had heard lots of commotions in the middle of the night lately so I thought nothing of it.
The parallels of our present age are downright scary. It’s winter, freezing cold and going to get colder in many ways. Life is in the stormy winter season for many people.
I would like to share some of the beauty that cold weather can bring, even when the sun has not made an appearance in the last 10 days. It’s been a build up of continuous light snow for several days. Even the grayest of days has it’s beauty. The sunsets were just before the storms.
My thoughts as I took all these pictures. Not one tree or plant, wild animal or bird escaped the storm. They all experienced the 40 mph winds with driving rain turning to ice and then several days of snow.
We all affect each other don’t we. I pray we help one another through the storms of life rather than being a storm in others lives. That’s God’s kind of love for us and should be in us for each other. Let this picture illustrate.
This tree was broken and badly bent over. It still grew and is living. It’s life source like other trees is a good root system holding fast but the real source is the sun. This tree is growing most of it’s branches straight up. Each branch is like it’s own tree growing straight up, reaching for the sun. In return the branches are keeping the tree alive and thriving. Nature preaching in tree form.
When I pray for others, I most often pray they will know and experience Jesus. The Son. The one who will not leave us in the storm. The one who makes beauty out of ugly times. The one who gives life from death. The one who didn’t stay dead and gives life. The one worth dying for and thus worth living for.“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”. 1 John 5:12
Header photo taken out the window of our fireplace room. A fun view of our back yard
Sunday thought: God combined fall and winter. I think He loves creative beauty and wants us to enjoy those moments. Even the micro fleeting beauty of a reflection in a raindrop can be enjoyed should we pause to do so. A pause to enjoy gives us pause to delve deeper into who our creator is and could be to us. Click to enlarge and enjoy clicking through the slide show.
The sun came out and all returned to fall by the end of the day. I hope you enjoyed this odd event if only a little through some picture sharing. I posted a devotional thought with the best fall colors on our place on “Gods Ways are Different” last night.
This was, in a way, a walk with God. Have a great Sunday. I hope it is well between you and the Lord our creator.
The moon picture (featured image) was taken by a Nebraska cornfield this past week on my travels as well as the one on this previous post.
We innocently start with “I wonder what it would be like to…?” A match, somewhere in the corner of the brain is lit, and sooner than later the fuse. A path mysteriously appears toward…, and whala.
About that “whala”. It’s harder and bigger than we thought. I’m saying “we” because I am hoping I’m not the only one who consistently underestimates all that goes into … (and I’m only giving us 3 dots).
I’m doing my dots and getting behind on regular stuff
Autumn is my busiest time of the year. Filling two freezers with garden, woods, raspberry, apple and lake harvest. Processing. Taking Grandkids on outings. More processing. I’m giving away the remaining 12 bags of apples and the fish are biting (I just know it). I’m also working on building a rustic guest cabin in the woods (one of my dots). I wanted to see an old friend and do some hunting with him in Nebraska 675 miles away (another dot). More processing. A fellow blogger lives along the route, I wonder if (another dot).
conversation. There is so much more to the person than what one could imagine if all we have done is read their writings. In the comment section on Matts blog I mentioned another what if…? Something about a bloggers convention, and I know many of you would be in. I’ve put together conventions (that’s like 4 dots worth of work) and I haven’t even lit the match on that one. I know someone out there might though….I dare ya.
Yes, I am 200 blog notifications behind. My phone died and is now resurrected with a warning that it will go again. I guess 3G doesn’t cut it anymore. I’m going to post another blog with some fall pictures on my devotional blog that go along with some thoughts about how God seems to change (I know in my head He doesn’t).
In all the dot chasing I still hear my dad’s voice “Beware the barrenness of a busy life”. It’s true. Important relationships can suffer and that’s a match I don’t want to light, much less the fuse. Health can suffer and the list goes on. Everything is a progression and starts before we think it does. Someone said “How did that bridge collapse?” another answered “very slowly and then suddenly”.
Meanwhile, I have been meeting myself coming and going. I totally intend to slow down and catch up.
by the way, click pictures above to enlarge or go to slide show
It happens about once a week. A speed reading blogger reveals, by the time stamp in my email, they read 18 of my posts in 3 minutes or less. They “liked” a whole lot of my posts that took a couple hours or more to write.
So hold on Gary (me, not all the other gary’s that will read this). Have you ever skimmed a post thinking you digested the gist? maybe browsed for sizzle and missed the steak?
Take for example Peter Caligiuri’s Very short poem (click here) packed with truths deeper then a quick read can fathom, much less understand, the heart of it’s surface. I caught myself, put on the brakes, made sure I had a full cup of coffee and then brought in my own imagination and self references to take it in. This one was not going to get a cheap “like” from me.
I am building a personal retreat/writers/guest/fisherman’s/scare the grandkids with stories/ cabin in the woods (Ok, a little cabin for people to stay). Right now the walls, roof, sheeting, windows and door have made it mosquito proof. 6 windows allow nice light in but no electricity yet. I need light inside the cabin as the corners are very dark and hard to work on”. Herein lies an insight.
“And with your truth, light corners in my heart” (part of Pete’s poem). Like the cabin, the corners of my heart lack light when I do not allow a Love that can only come from God to shine from within me. I am not enough. Windows and other light sources are not good enough for the corners. There is a whole lot more in the poem. Thanks Pete.
My wife and I have gone through many medical emergencies with our daughter over 40 years. Our daughter has a brilliant mind in a body that doesn’t work very well. Many of her emergencies (I forget the numbers), she has had a small chance to live. We are just back from spending several days by her hospital bedside again. We are her caregivers. This time does not rank in the worst 10 times thankfully.
We came home. I hugged my wife for a long time as memories of 45 years worth of hugs, situations and emotions sped like a fast forward movie through my mind. I lingered. We don’t give cheap hugs to one another. Our hugs mean a lot. They are sacred and light the corners of each others hearts. The corners where grief, happiness, peace, disagreement, giving and forgiveness get along. Things which grow fangs in the dark but grace in such light. God’s light in us from years of walking with the Lord keeps us and grows in us even when we are totally depleted. Light and Love are inseparable. These were part of my thoughts.
Thanks for the use of your poem Pete. I hope not to give out “cheap likes”
We often know a person (we think) through their writing. Like many, I probably disclose myself in small measured doses through my writing as most of us reveal without even knowing it. I had forgot about this old post. Jack Flacco of https://lookingtogod.org/ pointed me back to a lot of memories from an old post and possibly some deficiencies which would need disclosure if you were ever thinking of, going with me into the wilderness.
I have this….um; weakness, bent, brash drive and pure happenstance existence to dive into the unknown. At least it’s unknown to me and usually those (un)lucky enough to be along. Consider these true and unembellished snippets.
A teenager and I rescued a drowning man about to hit a cascading rapids after seven inches of rain fell the night before. The very large man couldn’t swim, his canoe had rolled and we didn’t know if our canoe would sink in the roiling waters. (the teen screamed and yelled the whole time that we were crazy). We barely escaped with our lives. We had nightmares for a very long time. I was not afraid at the time.
Numerous times I have driven bear from our campsites in the BWCA including getting our food back from one in the middle of the night. The word crazy was the most spoken word the rest of the trip. I had nightmares for a long time. The “what if’s” haunted me. I was not afraid of this huge bear at the time.
I dove off rock cliffs 55′ high (swan dives only). I beat my record of a 9′ high dive into a pool. You guessed it. In my dreams I land on my back or break too soon underwater and break my back. We were 17 portages and 30 miles into the wilderness. I was not afraid to Jump over the lone tree below the cliff to get to the deep water at the time.
I have led groups through harsh woods with no trail looking for the ultimate lake very few humans have ever seen, much less fished. Anyone wearing shorts will never do so again. I have a nephew who put on his rain pants for protection. He ended up shredding his pants so bad he looked like a giant bass lure with a rubber skirt.
I have led winter trips into the wilderness on snowshoes and skis. One time we tried to find a trout lake through the woods by moonlight. We weren’t lost, just a little off as our compasses read different directions from the large amount of iron ore in the rocks around us. We found the lake the next day. It was a wonderful stroll through waist deep snow below zero by moonlight until panic came over a couple guys. We tramped the snow with the snowshoes, made a fire, a meal and slept under the stars in the snow. It was really great! I do not ever remember being afraid.
The coldest time was with a group of teenagers at -38 (F). It warmed to zero before we came out with no lives lost. Good times! I have stories and dreams on this one also.
Funny story at -30 (f) below zero in the wilderness: Someone brought tin cups to drink out of. Our lips froze to the edge of the cup with steaming hot drink in it. above the liquid line was frost. Below was very hot steam. We had to tip up the cup gently to thaw out our lips off the cup to drink. It was a learning curve to live with half frozen burnt lips. OK, not so funny at the time. But, I was not afraid.
“Would you help me lead a group into the wilderness?” I asked my boss (this was after another harrowing incident). His answer took me back. “Do I look like I want to die? crazy things always happen wherever you go”. He was right.
What is it about adventure, risk taking or just being me? My oldest daughter takes after me. When she got married in college she joined a roofing crew while her husband waited tables at a nice restaurant. The other day she texts my wife “I broke my leg in a couple places” My wife messaged back what any normal mom would, “which one?” Daughter: “the other one”. Is it really a family thing? Is this genetic?
Yes, there have been accidents. Several emergency life threatening incidents. In 1999 my wife and I were with three other couples when the 100mph straight line winds hit. With huge trees snapping off 20-30 feet around us and the tops blowing fifty plus feet before hitting the ground, we were at the mercy of God. Literally. We were there on horseshoe lake eating lunch and in less than a minutes time hugging small cedars and wondering if we would survive. But I was not afraid. The stories on our lake alone are harrowing. See more here.
No one seems to mention that the lightning storm that night was probably more dangerous with strikes averaging one per second, sometimes several per second and short lulls in between. This was an all night storm and extremely dangerous. We laid on ground pads, life jackets and all our clothes to keep us from electricity traveling through the ground hunting us. I knew real fear for the first time.
Several trips passed and a buddy and I launched our canoe to tackle high waves. They were much higher than we thought. We made it around the bend in front of high rock cliffs and tipped into icy waters (Ice off a few days before). The waves washed us clinging to our packs and canoe against the rock face. They crashed us against the rock face up almost 10 feet and down again being battered by the canoe. We worked our way around the face shoving off with our feet and were helped by the rest of the group up to safety.
We lost expensive gear, glasses and much body heat. If we had made it further into the lake we would not have survived. Again I knew fear, but not so much from the waves or the cold. I did not know that a person could drown with their life jacket on and their head above water. Every breath we took was full of wind blown water droplets collecting in our lungs. It did not take us long to realize this would kill us in a short period of time given the conditions. Of all the dreams that haunt me, this is the big one. It’s bigger than the time my brother and I put a pickup through the winter ice on a river…(another story, another time).
Maybe fear is healthy, but it is also haunting. Fear stalks when there is a lull in the action. In my case I need fear. I now have it but didn’t like the way it came. It is ironic that I have the most fear at a time when I am most competent to lead wilderness trips.
I will not try to conquer fear but rather harness it for wisdom sake. I am way more careful, alert to potential danger, knowledgeable of dangerous situations and better at calculating risk and knowing what the worst possible outcome could be. I like to think I am older and wiser (no one has come forward to confirm or deny this yet). I do have some advice out of this. We have talked about this around the camp fire!
1) Don’t let fear stop an adventure. Let common sense do it.
2) Listen to advice from the group before jumping. You may not know your limitations.
3) become aware of your surroundings, animal signs, weather, food usage, anyone limping or complaining of something wrong (headache is possible dehydration or sunburnt eyes from water glare).
4) Never lead a group alone. Have another competent person along who can lead.
5) Be aware of group dynamics and know how to influence them for the better. If you can’t do this you should not be the leader of a group.
6) Learn to be the servant of the group. You cook great food (they should cook as well), You set the bar on cleanliness and obeying the environmental rules. Respect, model respect and you are then qualified to teach respect for each other and the environment.
7) Don’t take life and death risks unless saving someone. Be willing to die trying or give out a disclaimer beforehand that you won’t.
8) Be ready to stand before God if you do die. Think of it as the ultimate preparation. It’s actually not a “just in case” deal as we will all die sometime. Just saying, be ready for anything…including fear for the first time.
Be careful out there. Don’t do what I did. Learn from me what not to do! Now I just have calm and safe trips…(“ya right”..I heard that!)
Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”.
It’s one thing to accomplish something and another to be accomplished at it.
I was eleven years old and it was the beginning of august.
What I remember most about the accident was being numb to reality. There seemed to be more blood than one could have shooting out my arms. I didn’t die. I really hurt even though I couldn’t feel below my elbows anymore. The median nerves in both arms were cut by a sawblade coming loose. 100 miles in an ambulance at top speed, a skilled neurosurgeon pieced me back together and I awoke to a new life; one with no feeling in my arms and hands. My arms lived and nothing was amputated. The doctor told my mother that her son would have clothes-pins for fingers unless I learned to type or play the piano, the only hope to gain some function in my fingers.
I was destined to be a piano player. I was not destined to be an accomplished piano player. Ironically, I achieved a level of playing piano way beyond what I would have if I had not had my nerves cut off simply because I was at the piano three to four hours a day for the first three years just trying to get my fingers to work. Today I am called “gifted” when I play the piano in public. That’s bittersweet to me.
I was forced to do three things that made me at least somewhat successful in many areas of life. Three ingredients of ones “journey toward awesome” are participation, practice and perseverance. There are other ingredients but the learning and growing curve to be one of the best requires constant learning by doing again, again, and again with the goal of being better every time.
I discovered that when you work at something you get better at it
I thought of these three ingredients as I was trying to figure out how many hours I have invested in trying to photograph hummingbirds. Those little birds make me look bad. I am in awe at Sandra’s photography (she is an accomplished photographer of even hummingbirds…click on link). But I’m persistent and getting better and better. I keep finding new ways to maximize my equipment just as I found new ways to catch a basketball with no feeling in my fingers.
Yesterday I picked a very small space in mid-air where hummingbirds tend to travel to the feeder. I was hoping to get a couple of crisp clear in-focus pictures. I put the camera in “burst” mode on a tripod with a 300mm lens. I focused on the camera on that spot with the feeder on one side of the picture hoping to catch mid-air pictures. I started shooting when I heard the hum of wings hoping for a good catch. 200 pictures later I evaluate and come to some hard conclusions. I’m going to have to up my game, stretch my equipment’s capability and grow my knowledge of setting up for better shots. My best shots are worth sharing but not awesome. Click for a scroll through the slide show.
I’m working at photography. My wife asked me what would make a great shot. My answer was better color with a flying hummingbird grasping a bee in one claw and facing off with another hummingbird trying to chase it away…both in perfect focus at 1/2000 of a second to freeze frame the wings. I want to see the wings.
By the way, participation, practice and perseverance have some side issues that show up in the journey toward awesome. Patience is one of them. Imagine sticking your hand in the freezer until you cannot feel your fingers anymore; then go play the piano (or play a guitar, dribble a basketball, knit, sew, shake someone’s hand…). I spent hours getting my fingers to find notes that people with feeling could find in seconds.
Everyone’s starting point is different. Natural talent only means one could be accomplished at something quicker than most people. Ironically, most people with natural talent settle for mediocrity while those who have to really work at getting mediocre keep going.
participation, practice and perseverance spill over into every aspect of life. I have a childhood friend who became a very accomplished engineer. No small feat for someone who could not get better than a D in math in high school. He would spend hours to others minutes trying to grasp concepts. When he grasped those concepts they were for life and not just for the test.
This is our “Journey toward awesome”. Be it photography, sports, work, living on what we make financially, relationships with God, spouse, family, neighbors and country. It all counts. It all spills into the others for good or bad. I had the best compliment yesterday “you are an awesome neighbor!”…to which I replied “thanks, but I do want my Sawzall back in one piece” as he drove away on his ATV.
I walk back to another project I’m working on. One which will take me much longer than an accomplished person. The end result will make me look “gifted” when really it’s just an accomplishment. May you be bittersweet “gifted” as I have been. I have had long talks with God about how life works…he just says “I know, I’ve been there. Your journey to awesome is, well, awesome. You’ll see”.
PS: Here is a link (moms song) to my piano playing. Some of you will recognize the old hymn. I made a special rendition of moms favorite song as she was bowing to cancer.
I freely admit that I don’t mind most interruptions. I plan for them. If I don’t get one I make one myself. Not on purpose mind you, it must be a subliminal signal from within when the light turns green and it’s time. Most of you do it too (I hope someone can relate!?) It starts with a to do list.
Follow my reasoning here. I needed to mail a letter. It’s a couple hundred yards to the mailbox. The shop door is open and the light is on. It’s sort of on the way. I step inside to turn the light off but I had the ATV battery charging and it’s all charged so I unhook the charger and put it away. My ATV is faster than walking (so much faster and frankly quite fun). I open both big doors for some fresh air for the shop and take the ATV to go to the mailbox.
We have two driveways. One is less used and has a view over a hill in the forest as well as a view of a nice ATV trail. I glanced down the trail and…I see a tree blew down across the trail. No problem as I have the chainsaw strapped to the ATV from my last ride through the woods to clear a couple of trees. I go down the trail and cut up the tree and stack the firewood beside the trail. I’m this far so I might as well see if there are any more trees down on the half mile of remaining trail. I make it passable and am out of gas with the chains saw. I sharpen the chain and put gas in it for the next outing. Sigh…where was I?
I know you are wondering where the letter went right?? I found it 4 days later on the seat of my truck. I grabbed it and ran to the mailbox and mailed it. Oh, and about my to do list; nothing was crossed off that day even though I WAS SUPER BUSY DOING THINGS THAT NEEDED TO BE DONE ALL DAY.
My next younger brother has a better system than me. His system allows him to cross out everything on his list. At the end of the day his crossed out list is quite impressive. Whenever he does something he writes it down and crosses it off. Problem solved.
A long time ago a little pamphlet came out called “Tyranny of the Urgent” One of the quotes “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.” ― Charles E. Hummel, Tyranny of the Urgent
I shall leave it right there. We are all in a different place between the urgent and the important. Let me suggest there is probably not enough time in life to do all of both. In my life relationships are more important than stuff. God, family, neighbors, fishing, photography, friends and blogger friends make the top 7. But, sometimes, an interruption beats everything out.
Case in point. I was walking back from the mailbox (after missing the mail-lady) and the robins were going crazy…again. I looked and looked and then spotted our visitor. Off I went for the camera. The little Barred owl posed. I put the camera on a tripod and took some “worthy to share” pictures. I also brought my camera fishing as I was walking by the boat, water ready, and decided to call the neighbor to go fishing. We caught good fish, enough for two meals each and had great conversation. I crossed these off my To-Do List. Hmmm…a productive day.
I fell. I lost my balance, stumbled and fell. Perhaps it was the 80 pound back pack I was carrying shifted as I stepped over a big rock onto a smaller round rock. Perhaps the stack of dry boulders beside the white water river was not a very safe place to walk, even though it was the only possible place to walk. Realistically, I was still too weak after being sick. After 67 trips during my life through this wilderness area, I miscalculated my actual abilities for our first days portages. I fell four times.
To put a pack or canoe or both on and portage overland requires balance. I had somehow lost my fine-tuned sense of balance without knowing it. A fall with 80 pounds on ones back and shoulders could wreck a canoe, break open food bags, crush the cooking equipment or just break ones bones. I have helped get people out of the wilderness for immediate emergency surgery from falling. I was fortunate, this time. The campsite food and equipment was fortunate as well. We made camp early. For me. In 67 trips, stopping to camp early for me, was a first.
Losing one’s balance is more than humbling. It puts everyone else at risk.
I share this fail of mine for more than one reason. Balance is an important ingredient of every area of life; be it mental, physical social or spiritual. I’m quite sure in our honest moments we know where we fall short. I wish I had been more honest with myself before tackling this series of very hard portages.
I suppose there are many conclusions one could draw from my experience. I have many. Reality is sometimes quite different than perception. My physical strength, stamina, balance and ability to overcome all obstacles had taken a fork in the road from reality. This makes me wonder about my perception in other areas of life.
When the water is calm, I am invincible. When the trail is smooth and flat, I can carry a heavy pack and canoe over a short portage. When my perceptions line up with circumstance, I’m really okay in my little corner.
I used this old picture to show a portage consisting of stepping on the rocks. With a heavy pack or canoe one needs balance which requires strength from the feet up. I have seen people in the wilderness trying to portage with flip flops on their feet (“I’ll be fine”). It’s possible. That’s like trying to navigate life and eternity without God. I don’t know of many careers where flip flops are acceptable; beach bums and politicians comes to mind (did I just say that?)
I’m just thankful. The portage trail. Life. The good, bad, hard rocks, falls, fails and good times have been much like life for me. I have lost some strength and balance here and there. Recharging is longer and less. But, I have stories and friendships that touch eternity. You are a part dear reader. I wish everyone could experience a wilderness trip within your balance ability.
I also wish everyone could experience balance for every portage in life including the last final one into eternity.
I have been gone. A small group of us canoed and portaged lakes and rivers away from knowing what time it is, internet wrangling, home, warm showers, soft beds, cars and most forms of communication to the rest of the world. Do smoke signals from the camp fire count? The wilderness is it’s own entity and one would be wise to learn an awareness of it’s ways.
I’ll write about it in a few days and catch up on 300+ emails and mow the lawn. meanwhile I’ll leave you with a couple pictures of God’s very rugged creation in this area of northern Minnesota known as the Boundary Waters canoe Area Wilderness. Header picture is a slice of our first evening in camp. In realistic context this feel good picture was tempered a bit by hundreds of mosquitoes and black flies yelling “goal…goal…goal”
Just a taste of an extremely rugged, harsh, beautiful, survival of the fittest-just try to bloom where planted-area. I am reminded of that the wilderness is much like the character of God; totally untamed.
If you haven’t missed me, that’s ok….Life goes on.
Expectations and reality. A good example of what it isn’t was sent to me by a friend who is getting a bit off kilter. “Day 12 without chocolate; lost hearing in left eye”. I passed it on to another friend who said “That’s it exactly!” I sent them both a number to call for a nice facility and the website for a virtual tour. They both surprised me and said “I have that number and website already, would you like to come with us for an interview?” Strangest interview ever, I had to answer all the questions for them. I got a cool bracelet when a friend said I was probably a “runner.”
Anyway, I’m side tracked a little bit by the masquerade called Spring. See for yourself. I even strung some words together, kind of like popcorn off the bottom of the bowl on a couple pieces of fishing line. If I seem a bit daffy, it’s that several inches of rain melting a foot of snow yelling “coming through” on it’s way to the gulf of Mexico from our small patch of land here in the north woods and lakes area. Then it snowed, got cold, froze, now it’s raining again and will snow again. I have been secretly meeting with summer after everyone falls asleep.
winter spring summer
Meet in woods summit
While gurgling waters rise.
Winter jewelry dangles
Spring runs down
Summer suns patient
A birthing room frown
Morning crackle sighs
Wears frosted icy gown
Trick a tree freeze frame
A beauty upside down
Yes, it’s spring dragging winter with one leg sensing summers invisible presence
Click to enlarge and short slide show
Somewhere under the flood is a three foot wide by two foot deep gently flowing river. I think of myself as more the gently flowing stream; not too wide or deep and fairly predictable. Well, maybe we should change the word “predictable” to “well meaning”.
I’m Okay. Really. Life is good here in the woods. I had a strange adventure getting back home from being ditched by my friends (another time story). Any advice on getting one of these strange ankle bracelets off?