My World In Living Color

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.

Circumstances and situations do color life but you have been given the mind to choose what the color shall be.

John Homer Miller

Though I am a self-proclaimed purple lover, black-eyed Susans provide a comfort to my soul that no other flower can begin to compare. I find the color combination of the sunny yellow and earthy brown to ground me. It takes me back to the roots of childhood, yet soothes the uncertainty of days ahead.

I have always loved caterpillars. As a little girl I would let several at a time tickle my arms as all those tiny legs crawled all over my skin. I think they’re pretty just as they are, but they are even prettier as butterflies. I am mesmerized by their transformation from crawling to flying. As a person who does not welcome change, caterpillars remind me that change can be a wonderful thing. The colors and design of this one is fresh. It energizes me and makes me want to live fully.

I think all butterflies are beautiful and graceful. They are living proof of constant change and beauty. The red bees balm reminds me we all need a bit of passion in our lives.

I find the pinks and oranges of sunsets to be soothing against azure sky lined with puffy white clouds. And if there’s water flowing beneath, the beauty is ten fold for me. The reflection on the water makes me ponder my actions and consequences as I know my own colors reflect upon those in my life. This scene to me is nature’s colors in glory.

Though I am steadily stepping into the future, my world contains all the shades of times gone by. All the colors of my past have been layered to create the pallette of my life today.

Sometimes I feel I am the lone tree in a field of green earth as it stretches through clouds to blue skies, and yet I don’t feel alone because I am connected. I love living in color.

Occasionally, I am blessed to roam worlds other than my own. The pink hue and swirling thorns of the barrel cactus fascinate me. The rock formations and even the grass are different than the world I live in…however I have found as beautiful and colorful as my world is, others are just as extraordinary.

My life is not complete without fabulous purple…and no there is no such thing as too many candles! I might have purple flowers planted throughout my yard and own many purple items, but the significance of this shirt far ourweighs any shade of purple in my life.

Not my candles, but Dirt Mans! This is a confetti of colors, much like the rainbow of my life!

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

 

Pinnacle Rock

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir

The trail to Pinnacle Rock is one that Dirt Man and our sons have hiked several times. This was the first time for Wylie and me.

The hike starts at the meadows of Crabtree Falls. Wylie enjoyed the coolness and scent of the meadow grass. I think she would have been content to have rolled around in it for the remainer of the day.

There were uncountable fallen trees across the trail. We could climb over most of them, but a few were high enough that we walked under them. Others were so large that we had to crawl through or detour around them. The fallen trees were the most challenging obstacles of the hike as it was relatively simple.

The flora of the area is lovely and aromatic. There are many wildflowers, plants, mushrooms, fungi, and fruit trees.

This looks to me like something that should be thriving on the ocean floor rather than the forest floor.

This is a fascinating specimen growing on a log.

This is Pinnacle Rock. I am sitting on top of the mountain taking in the majestic view of the surrounding mountains.

Huckeberries (a wild form of blueberries) grow around the crags of the rock formations.

The air is fresh and the view is breathtaking.

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.  ~George Washington Carver

What else can one do but sit in awe and wonder of our mighty creator?

Assurance In The Now

Though we seldom acknowledge their importance, the creaks of daily living are the sustenance of our existence. When we speak out we wait for a reply to know we’ve been heard. It is the hand we reach for in the night that reassures us that we are safe and loved.

Assurances do not rest in things to be, but in what is here right now whether or not we are in need.

No matter how confident we are, most of us still welcome the touches that validate us. We like to feel connected and to know others care about us. Support might appear in subtle forms such as winks, nudges, or hugs. Of course there are always electronic touches as well such as phone calls, emails, texts, Facebook messages, and even blog comments.

The links of common interest feed us, but it is truly the union of hearts that make us feel alive. It is in loving and knowing we are loved in return. Assurance is the calm confidence in knowing who you can trust and relying on them to pick you up when you fall.

Most of us expect the sun to rise tomorrow though there is no guarantee. We makes plans that sometimes fall apart and promises we sometimes break. And through it all we depend on love to carry us through. Is the assurance of this moment right now enough to hold you?

I Don’t Like Spiders And Snakes!

While in the mountains on vacation, there were only a few times that we had cell phone connection. On our way to a hiking locale one day was one of those such times. Dirt Man and I both received this pic message from our oldest son telling us that we have a new pet. It seems that this garter snake has taken up residence in my front flower garden between two hostas.

About a month ago, my neighbor found a garter snake (same size) in her back yard and wanted Dirt Man to kill it. He refused because it is a “good snake”. Previously, I’d been of the thought that the only good snake is a dead one. He offered to transport it to our yard, however I threatened him bodily harm if he did so. He therefore placed moth balls throughout her yard. We didn’t know if it would really chase her snake away or not. I’d hoped if it did that it would move to the neighbor on her other side. It looks like he chose us.

We haven’t named this snake, but it seems like a nice little guy. It comes out for a period of time each day and stretches itself across the flowerbed. Sometimes it just pokes it’s head out and waits for flies or whatever else it’s feeding on. It is not aggressive and doesn’t roam. It has become a daily habit for each of us to check on our snake friend. I can not believe I am tolerating a snake living at my front door. Yes, the flowerbed where it has made it’s home is at my front steps! Dirt Man offered to remove it and relocate it to the rear of the house, but I said no as I kind of enjoy keeping tabs on it…ok, I like to know I’m not going to step on it!

While we were getting ready to leave the campground, Dirt Man cleaned out the outdoor shower and spotted this huge wolf spider. Good thing we were leaving because I was not too fond of sharing the shower with it. However, he was considered a “good guy” as well.

I was told wolf spiders eat mosquitoes and other pesky insects. They do not spin webs to catch their prey as they are always on the prowl. They live under rocks and in dirt and leaf debris. Upon researching them I found that they are poisonous but not lethal and only bite when provoked.

I’m not quite sure what has happened to me. I’ve never cared for spiders or snakes. I’ve not actually taken a liking to them either. I do find them interesting and am sharing space with them. I guess that’s a start, huh?

****I actually wrote this post a few weeks ago. I’m sorta’ sad to report that we haven’t seen our snake all week. Dirt Man tried to help him out by throwing an earthworm to him…guess he wants to get his own food! Or maybe he felt he was assaulted or maybe he just didn’t have the taste for earthworms! Anyway, our neighbor two doors (opposite side of us from our neighbor we acquired snake from) reported finding him in their yard. They didn’t kill him, but helped him move on to another neighbor’s yard.  However, we have now spotted a baby garter snake in the back yard.

Obstructions In The Forest Of Life

Many of us trudge along through life while others charge full steam ahead. We can be mindless going about our way when suddenly we are faced with an obstacle. It can be of our own making or created by someone else. Sometimes the obstacles are physical and other times they are emotional. Regardless, we must choose how we deal with it. Do we remove it or find another way?

There might be times we can slide beneath it and continue. Or we might get stuck beneath its weight while trying. Sometimes, we might even clear it, but still carry a bit of the burden around with us.

There are times that jumping over might not be as difficult as we think. And then again, we might stumble in the process and have to find a way to mend the broken pieces. Sometimes maybe it is meant to be just that…a stop on the journey.

There are even times that we might feel so energetic and powerful that we can barge right through the obstacle with no repercussions. Sometimes we can push through but still have lingering effects.

Then there are times we must reroute, walk around it, or even pretend it doesn’t exist. Sometimes it’s simply a crossroad that forces us to make a choice. Sometimes those are the most painful steps of all.

There are times we are at a standstill, and we are unable to do anything. When that happens we are thankful to have those who hold us up. Sometimes obstacles make you face truths in life you’ve never had the courage to confront.

Segment of Sometimes Series

Eating The Time Away

Hair buzzed close to his scalp, the only curl left is in his lip. He quietly stares at the two egg yolks looking up at him. With his one working arm and the slow determination of a ditch digger, he shovels those eggs bit by bit into his mouth. I know he’s only eating because we are watching him.

The only place skin doesn’t seem to sag over bones are his fingers. Diligently they lift the peel from the Clementine and place it on the paper towel . Sweet citrus fills the air. I notice the coppery hue of his face and I wonder if it’s from the radiation or if it’s the sunlight reflecting from the orange. “Clementines are really good. Help yourself.” I decline, but I watch as he savors each section he pops into his mouth.

“You’re coming back in two weeks, right?”

“Yes. Would you like if we bring steaks to cook out.”

“If you want, sounds good.”

Later he calls me and says for us to meet at my mom and dad’s house. He tells me he’s invited several others. I have a feeling he thinks it will be his last visit to our parent’s house.

He wants to make his special steak sauce. He says he needs rice vinegar and garlic. Mom only has apple cider vinegar and insists she has garlic which I find has petrified. He makes his wife take him to the store for the items. My guess is he needs a breather from the attention. I already know the little country store doesn’t carry the items, but he insists on going and comes back without them.

He demands fresh ground pepper. I grind about a tablespoon.

“That enough?’

“No, keep going. It takes a lot.”

I end up grinding about a quarter of a cup, and he only uses about a tablespoon. He makes do with the ingredients we have on hand but insists on preparing it himself. I want to mix it for him, but I know I must let him do this one thing. He then asks me to take peppers and onions and sauté them with a bit of his sauce. He says it’s good but doesn’t eat much.

I give him two bags of peppermint patties and the peppermint patty brownies I made for him. He asks me to put them in the trunk of the car for him.

“I’ll see you in two weeks right?”

“Yes.”

I call him later and ask if he’d like us to bring shrimp when we come for a visit.

“That would be good. Don’t get those little ones. Or the frozen kind. Get fresh ones. The good kind.” He proceeds to tell me the “wrong” kind that my sister picked up at the store. He tells me to never buy the frozen bags that come from Thailand or somewhere like that. I assure him we will make a trip to North Carolina to get them right off the boat.

He is sleeping hunched over in his recliner, and I don’t want to wake him. He has aged twenty years in a mere two weeks. His arms and legs have withered him to a stick figure. When he wakes, his wife calls me in to see him as she dresses him. I watch this scene and think he must have played this out as a small child with my mother. My heart is breaking. I hold my tears until I can walk out of the room. Later he shuffles with his cane in one hand and the assistance of his wife into the kitchen.

As we are cooking the shrimp, he decides he really wants cevichi. We know it takes a few days for the shrimp to cure , nor do they don’t have all of the ingredients. I give someone the money for the items and ask that they make it for him later. We put aside some shrimp for the ceviche.

He admires the beauty of the shrimp and talks about how good the ceviche is going to be. He says he’s too full to eat any shrimp but promises he will eat some later. I tell him I brought apple crisp cake.

“That’s my favorite.”

“I didn’t know that. It’s my favorite, too. And also Peggy’s.”

“I hope it’s as good as Mamas.”

“I don’t cook as well as her, but it is her recipe.”

“Ok. Then, it should be fine.” He proceeds to tell me that one of our sisters is a good cook and the other is a better one. I realize I’ve never cooked a full meal for my brother.

We sit outside and watch the clouds drift through the sky. We talk about food. We talk about God. I watch memory cloud his face from time to time as we talk about childhood and old times. Sometimes he lights up. I don’t know if it’s the sun or the memories that make his face shine. We never talk of the inevitable. Death. He tries to go there, but I always change the subject. Am I cheating him or myself by doing this?

So much is lost in two week intervals. He gets worse and worse each time. He asks if I’ll be back in two weeks. I know this is the last time I will see my brother alive, still I promise I will be back in two weeks. And I am, but for his funeral.

I honestly don’t know if it was my brother or myself who chose to revolve our last visits around food. Was it an undetermined comfort of times gone by or did we merely choose the only familiar way to cope?

Morsel by morsel, we chew our food all the while time eats us moment by moment.

Sprite’s Keeper: Food

Traces Of Childhood

We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it.  ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 1860

…creeks that invite you to take off your shoes and roll up your pant legs

…red clay dirt road runs uphill to the base of the mountain where family gathers

…power lines stretch for miles, eventually leading to “civilization”

…nature’s homegrown fence post

…grassy knolls that lead to sunshine and laughter

…fields of Black-eyed Susans and Queen Anne’s Lace inviting you to run wild and free

…clinging roots and mossy banks remind one of life’s delicate balance, the place in which we all hang

Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.  ~John Ed Pearce

Flying Into The Light Of Night

While Dirt Man and I were camping we were visited by a luna moth one night. I realized they were special because they are not often seen as they are nocturnal and only live for about a week. It was quite a surprise the next day and several miles away in the daylight, we were visited by another one. This one fluttered about around Dirt Man’s shoulders following him for a good distance of the trail and occasionally circled him. At the time, I wondered if there was some “significance” or “symbolic meaning” to this. In the far off recesses of my brain I vaguely remembered hearing the legend of the luna moth. I searched to no avail, but I did come upon some symbolic meanings.

Apparently luna moths are a symbol of spiritual transformation. We all know the definition of spiritual transformation not only varies from culture to culture but from person to person.

Luna moths also signify rebirth and new beginnings as they represent a continuing quest for truth and knowledge, gift of intuition, psychic perception and heightened awareness. I suppose these things are associated with “seeing the light” since the luna moth is nocturnal but will gravitate toward light in the night. Of course, these symbolisms are lore passed down through the years but is interesting to wonder what started these beliefs. And then again, who really knows? One can only wonder whether sighting of such things are merely coincidence or indeed something more.

Saint Mary’s Wilderness

One of Virginia’s most secret treasures is Saint Mary’s Wilderness. Much of the geology and terrain remind me of places we visited out West last Fall. This is by far the prettiest cascades and scenery of any place I’ve hiked. At one point it did become the hike from hell but that was only due to circumstances which I will explain. Even with the error of margin, it was a most enjoyable hike, and I hope to go back again and possibly camp out.

In all fairness to me, I was told by Dirt Man this was going to be a very simple one and a half mile hike and I did NOT need to wear my hiking boots. I opted to wear my Keen sandals which actually proved to wear well, no blisters, bruises, or cuts. I did pack my Keen water shoes as we were going to swim at the falls. I was not prepared for a rocky shale-sliding trail which at times veered along the cliff edges…I had to slide down a slope at one point and had no idea how I was going to get back up it upon our return. We also had to cross the creek three times. The good thing was the rocks were not the slippery river rocks that I am used to encountering. To me the river walking/rock climbing was the most enjoyable part.

We were surprised to find people there on a weekday…maybe it isn’t such a secret after all! We met up with a couple of hikers here and there and a fisherman. We even came upon a church youth group at one set of falls that had a natural sliding rock leading into a large swimming hole. I did not get pics of this area since we didn’t want to interrupt the group. We planned to take pics on the way back, but due to a need to reroute, we did not come back that way.

The shale walls, outcrops, and embankments are geologically intriguing and an absolute visual treat. I can only imagine how these were formed.

This is the most visually stunning cascades after the sliding rock. It is the largest in width and height. There is an undercut to the side with a deep emerald swimming pool. Nature has shaped the walls into hanging baskets of foliage. The rock itself seems to be a red or rose quartz…beneath the running water it appears pink…amazing view. There were three teenage girls and a man swimming here. They were jumping from the cliff into the pool. Note: I did NOT do this!

The height of the dam area above the falls is a good ten feet. We turned around and couldn’t find Wylie. We looked up and there she was on top of the falls. Now this is where things quickly fell apart. I figured if she got up there she could certainly find a way down. Dirt Man insisted that she’d never be able to come back down the ledge and there is no way we coould get her down without him or her getting hurt. He then said that there was another trail just shortly over…we’d only have to go upstream three tenths of a mile and cut over. This doesn’t seem like much of a big deal. Right? Right. That is if that had been the way things went down, but it wasn’t!

This is Dirt Man and Wylie posing after swimming, and while we were all still happy!

We continued upstream and chanced upon more beautiful falls.

We climbed falls, scaled boulders, waded through the water, and maneuvered around cliffs, not to mention we dodged a few water snakes as well. Still, all was good. Dirt Man was sporting a handheld GPS unit which directed us farther upstream before we could venture through the woods towards a trail near the mines. The area was once mined for maganese and iron ore.

The rock type varied throughout stretches of the creek. There would be areas of smaller looser rock and then you’d come upon boulders and then cliffs and shale. It was ever changing which I found interesting.

We searched for signs of the trail along the banks as we waded the creek to no avail.

This part of the creek is beautiful with the small cascades and the cliff embankments.

This set of falls has two caves in the stone embankment. Residue of campfire resides in each one. Looks like someone needed to seek shelter. However, not sure I would have chosen right on the creek as it is in a mountain gorge and prone to flash flooding.

This is the last set of decent size falls before the bear cave.

This is the bear cave, and right past this is where things turned ugly.

We had probably walked (and I use this term loosely!) a good mile and a half since the point where Dirt Man said the trail was only three quarters of a mile upstream when we thought we heard thunder. Suddenly everything turned dark. We looked up to see a black thunderhead directly above us. Thunder tore through the gorge. We scuffled upstream as quickly as we could. Dirt Man told me to keep walking upstream while he searched the woods for a trail. Not only was I ticked off but I was scared. I saw the fear in his eyes…I knew we were in a dangerous position. He was only out of sight for minutes, but it seemed like a really long time so I called out to him. He answered which calmed me a little but didn’t dissolve my fear or ease my anger. We ended up scrambling through the woods, literally thrashing our way through laurel thickets until we came upon a small run. Once we hit that we found the old mine trail which led back (via different route) to where we started.

Still we were in deep woods with a few miles to go (and not far from a bear cave!) with a storm overhead. I prayed the whole way. Dirt Man tried to make polite conversation, but I don’t talk when I am mad. It was hot but we put on our rain jackets anyway just to protect our gear. Apparently, God heard me because the thunderhead bypassed us with only a couple of sprinkles. There was just as much beautiful scenery on the return trail, however I did not take a single picture…I was undone at that point!

Though my feet were killing me due to hot spots, I did not blister. And even though I was annoyed at Dirt Man and I complained quite a bit, I trusted Dirt Man with my life. So our one and a half mile simple hike ventured into a six mile hike that verged on the dangerous side (only because of the impending storm and possiblity of repercussions of being caught in it.). Again, the one thing I should count on when hiking with him is that the distance will most likely be at least twice as long as he says and it is usually more challenging as well.

The Mystifying And Symbolic Dragonfly

I took the photo of the black dragonfly during our vacation and Dirt Man took the others on a hike near a swamp. We were swarmed by mosquitos on a hike and came upon a mess of brambles that had dragonflies fluttering about it. When we came upon the dragonflies, we were no longer annoyed with the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes just happen to be the main course of a dragonflie’s diet! I am intrigued by dragonflies so I started reading about them. The most interesting information I found is reprinted here…I did not write this, it comes from http://www.dragonfly-site.com/.

Symbolisms of the Dragonfly

  • Maturity and a Depth of character
    The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.The traditional association of Dragonflies with water also gives rise to this meaning to this amazing insect. The Dragonfly’s scurrying flight across water represents an act of going beyond what’s on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life. credit: http://www.dragonfly-site.com/meaning-symbolize.html

  • Power and Poise
    The dragonfly’s agile flight and its ability to move in all six directions exude a sense of power and poise – something that comes only with age and maturity.
    The dragonfly can move at an amazing 45 miles an hour,  hover like a helicopter fly backwards like a hummingbird, fly straight up, down and on either side. What is mind blowing is the fact that it can do this while flapping its wings a mere 30 times a minute while mosquitoes and houseflies need to flap their wings 600 and 1000 times a minute respectively.The awe inspiring aspect is how the dragonfly accomplishes its objectives with utmost simplicity, effectiveness and well, if you look at proportions, with 20 times as much power in each of its wing strokes when compared to the other insects.  The best part is that the dragonfly does it with elegance and grace that can be compared to a veteran ballet dancer. If this is not a brazen, lazy, overkill in terms of display of raw power, what is? Credit: http://www.dragonfly-site.com/meaning-symbolize.html

  • Defeat of Self Created Illusions
    The dragonfly exhibits iridescence both on its wings as well as on its body. Iridescence is the property of an object to show itself in different colors depending on the angle and polarization of light falling on it.This property is seen and believed as the end of one’s self created illusions and a clear vision into the realities of life. The magical property of iridescence is also associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. This again indirectly means self discovery and removal of inhibitions. Credit: http://www.dragonfly-site.com/meaning-symbolize.html

  • Focus on living ‘IN’ the moment
    The dragonfly normally lives most of its life as a nymph or an immature. It flies only for a fraction of its life and usually not more than a few months. This adult dragonfly does it all in these few months and leaves nothing to be desired. This style of life symbolizes and exemplifies the virtue of living IN the moment and living life to the fullest. By living in the moment you are aware of who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what you want, what you don’t and make informed choices on a moment-to-moment basis.This ability lets you live your life without regrets like the great dragonfly. Credit: http://www.dragonfly-site.com/meaning-symbolize.html

  • The opening of one’s eyes
    The eyes of the dragonfly are one of the most amazing and awe inspiring sights. Given almost 80% of the insect’s brain power is dedicated to its sight and the fact that it can see in all 360 degrees around it, it symbolizes the uninhibited vision of the mind and the ability to see beyond the limitations of the human self. It also in a manner of speaking symbolizes a man/woman’s rising from materialism to be able to see beyond the mundane into the vastness that is really our Universe, and our own minds. Credit: http://www.dragonfly-site.com/meaning-symbolize.html