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Sunday, May 27, 2007


Young Eagle feeding on deer carcass washed in from tide
(hard to see and not and not quite in focus)

“There is a time to live and a time to die, a time to plant a time to uproot.” Ecclesiastes 3:2

I have tried to adapt the blog around what happens in our little world each week but decided this is not the place to put all the pictures which included the R rated road killed mink outside our driveway, first fledglings juncos and pine siskins; insect life in the garden, tiger swallowtails and bees. I uprooted them and perhaps will plant them in a Picasa Web Album next week. Will let you know.
I have a hard time editing these blogs, need a better focus. I need to eliminate what detracts from the central point. What is the point? Focus, I think this is one of the major problems with my writing. I need some editors to help me stick to one focus, with one purpose in mind.

This week I edit berry cages, vegetable gardens, it is called weeding. The strawberry beds were covered in field grass, so I hoed the rows and weeded in between. It is easy to edit what is screening the sun, water and nutrients from the strawberries or vegetables. Anything that detracts from the central point, luscious strawberries next month, is uprooted. It is harder in the perennial border. The obvious like bindweed gets dealt a blow. Get it now before it is too late and takes over. The other obvious, not adding to beauty, weeds get uprooted as well. My husband feels this way about the self seeding bronze fennel in the garden. I let it go when I had no time to plan or plant the long border. It added beauty without a lot of care. Yet the roses, with minimal circulation, suffered from black spot damage. I guess my focus that year was not on the roses. So this year my husband has edited much of the feathery fennel bucketing it to the compost heap with his tractor. I know with more than one person tending a border, there has to be unanimity of focus. Sometimes a seed is planted and another uproots the seedling to make a clean slate. A weed to some is beauty to me such as Buttercups and Queen Anne’s lace. I love the look in the right place and I love the self seeding volunteers.

Maybe this is why it is so hard for me to focus my writing. I want a self seed of the Holy Spirit to come in and make it beautiful without a lot of work. I don’t want it to be something I have planned orchestrated alone but something for your glory, Lord. But it can’t happen unless you Lord edit the sin in my life that gets in the way of focus on You Lord. Help me with persistence to see it through as well.. “Purify my life so my ministry not hindered,” a quote from a missionary I know.
"Create in me a clean heart" (edit my heart Lord) Psalm 51:10-12 Help me die to myself as this deer. Renew a right spirit within me. Refine me, bring new life for myself so I can feed others growing in You. Help me to focus on You with one purpose in mind, to glorify You.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Barn Swallow lesson

Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) L 6 3/4” (17 cm)

Several weeks ago, to my delight, I noticed the barn swallows were back. Every year for almost 30 years, I anticipate their return, the long journey from South America. Upon hearing their excited chattering, I run outside to watch them fly the perimeter of the field, feasting on mosquitoes, veer toward the cottage, over the garden fence, and straight under the broad eves to the back porch light where they’ve nested for eight of those years. I’ve watched the animated chatter as the female turns around checking the nest’s fit, feeling it out, the male watching. This year I didn’t hear the chatter, just a single “chip” when three swooped under the eves. They did not stay long. Perhaps the pair was not pleased with the surroundings, pushing last year’s soggy mud mixed droppings to the aggregate below. While we were gone this last week, they built up the nest with fresh mud.

For some reason, I have been generally anxious for the last few weeks, culminating in a non gentle spirit. Perhaps it is the adjustment to retirement, perhaps it is our trouble making a lot of decisions or knowing what to let go and what to take on or build up, what is someone else’s or my problem. I think about the tasks and challenges tomorrow and next month and it keeps me from excitement and the present day peace. I have tried to organize, clean out the clutter not only of our house, gardens but my mind.

I read yesterday, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”1
I argue, “But I am human birds are not. They have no free will to be anxious.” Doesn’t anxiety depend on free will? “…be not anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”2 That’s easy to say. I guess I have a conscious choice. But I can’t drum up peace. Now, I get it. Forgive me Lord. You want me to ask you, Lord, for peace. I know I pray for others but have forgotten about myself. Give me peace and focus on this day’s task not tomorrow’s trouble.

To my delight today, peace is back. I hope it doesn’t leave tomorrow. See I forgot already. One day at a time with your help, O Lord. Yes, as you direct the birds in their long journeys and provide for their food and nest sites, help me to trust you to direct my path in this journey of life day by day.

1. Matthew 6:25-27

2. Matthew 6:33-34

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Immigrant roots

What’s brought in on an immigrant’s feet,
In their bags, a bushel of wheat?
A seed softly planted in this land,
So small and unnoticed like sand
And after years, hiding underground,
Setting down roots it is found
Pernicious and invasive,
Binding everything around
To be like them and defiling many.

Convolvulus arvensis – Field Bindweed I’m talking about. The morning glory like weed, the worst weed ever, brought by immigrants from Europe and Asia, first noticed in Virginia in 1730. Now it is everywhere! One of my ancestors planted his feet in Jamestown in 1610 only to turn back to England a few years later, perhaps the damage was done.

I noticed it in our island garden in 2002, after returning from England during 9/11. We created a long border on our homesteaded land. The vine was first ignored by a hired gardener thinking it a rare plant, little did they know. It looks so small, spreading laterally over the newly cultivated long border and then tendrils reaching out to any plant beside it to twine it into a bunch. No individuality near the bindweed in the border, or freedom of movement, suffocating control instead. The song “Bind us together Lord,” comes to mind. Last Sunday our barely practiced worship team prayed for unity of the Spirit in our song since initially we weren’t working together well. God’s Spirit caused us to have diversity yet sing together for His glory. Only You, Lord, can move our spirits to work in unity without sacrificing the individuality of each of us in song. So much different then the binding of this weed.

But the worst bindweed work is underground. I read in "Common Weeds of the United States," that the roots are called “Man-underground.” The root storage stem, way out of proportion to its spindly tendrils, buried at the depth at which we store corpses, even 9 feet, grow as long and as thick as a man’s leg and can weigh up to 30 pounds! From this main root come lateral roots spreading over 4 feet on either side about 2-4 feet below the surface. This is much worse than I thought. Pulling the weeds only encourages the root to spread and chopping the root multiplies it like the brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, “gladly suffering the hoe, gaily chopped to bits, it clones a new bindweed from each severed fragment.” The only way to eradicate it is to fork out the whole garden and cover it with plastic for 5 years and even then the 9 foot buried storage system root sends up shoots even after 50 years! What possible use is this weed? I read that Navahos drank an infusion of bindweed root if they swallowed a spider. Now that is stretching it. How often have you swallowed a spider?

I have been researching its demise for years. So this week, on a sunny day when the tulips and narcissus and grape hyacinth were dropping their petals, beginning to croak and the perennials starting to bud, before the bindvines started to choke, I took out my watercolor brush and a glass jar and started to paint convolvulus leaves…. with Roundup, Glyphosate herbicide, poison to the bindweed. So as not to kill surrounding plants, I painted each elongated heart shaped bindweed leaf separately. It’s the only way to possibly eradicate it, with diligence and patience. The poison gets literally to the root of the problem I hope.

But you Lord made this plant. Perhaps it is to point out the huge problem we all fight in our lives, bigger than bindweed. The roots go deep. “See that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15
Does a bitter root of long forgotten unforgiveness or past hurts or generational strongholds thrive in me causing trouble and defiling others? I ask Christ to come into my life to help me to deal with or remove the above ground controlling and enslaving sprout vine troubles. But it is the hidden roots, either generational or forgotten unforgiveness for hurts past that keep the sprouts of pain and trouble coming. I bring to your cross these patterns of pain that stem from these roots that can only be eradicated by you and ask your forgiveness for my unforgiving spirit and ask your demise of generational strongholds perhaps even brought by our immigrant ancestors. Only you can get rid of this root of mine. And thank you Lord for the reminder through the hated bindweed.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Back Home Again

The Tree Swallows are back
Tachycineta bicolor L 5 ¾” (15 cm)

The day I posted my last blog, I walked out the cottage door to the patio and looked across the field toward the water. As if upon command, the sky opened up and in the distance I saw dots heading this way at great speed. I gazed amazed at the blue angel precision flying through the carved out of the woods opening at the water, a right turn glide to sweep the length of the homesteaded field and back. Quick turns and excited chatter announce the arrival of the swallow’s fresh arrival from South America or perhaps the West Indies and a focused feeding, a feast of mosquitoes waiting. I am overjoyed that they survived one more year to follow God’s command on their life to be fruitful and multiply. Although only six this year, I hear them chattering and then one heads right to the nest box on the post and my heart welcomes the tree swallow family back. We put up the nest box about ten years ago, after seeing what we thought were violet green swallows to entice the cavity nesters to stay. Since then we’ve been privileged to see 10 years of successful tree swallow broods.

I guess the excitement of the swallows reminds me of summers returning to Nova Scotia, my parent’s birthplace, traveling the 800 miles north by car. As we crossed the Nova Scotia border and heard the piper playing my mother and I would start crying that we were going home, and then landed at our grandparent’s home which never seemed to change. We would get together with relatives, cousins and sing, feast and have fun and have the freedom in the fields to roam.

and the House Wrens
Troglodytes aedon L 4 ¾ (12cm)

I have been trying to figure out what bird this was that claimed the old tree swallow nest box this week and concluded it was a house wren, tail not raised, returning from S. California or Mexico. The female busied herself all week gathering twigs and grass for the nest while the male sang and stood fast, protecting the territory.

A few days later, perhaps the same pair of House Wrens moved here when the flicker started drumming at 8 a.m. on the top of their box!

“In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10