Thanks to John Updike

This poem spoke to me today about how moving into winter does represent a certain sense of loss. He also referred to the beauty of the bones of the garden. Yes, the year is old, but yet we have a reason to say thanks.

by John Updike

The striped and shapely
Maple grieves
The loss of her
Departed leaves

The ground is hard
As hard as stone.
The year is old.
The birds are flown.

And yet the world,
Displays a certain loveliness--

The beauty of
The bone. Tall God
Must see our souls
This way, and nod.

Give thanks: we do,
Each in his place
Around the table
During grace.

Moving Into Winter

Our seasons have a natural rhythm that is determined more by temperature, length of days, and precipitation than the dates on a traditional calendar. When the days grow shorter I feel like winter is quickly approaching.

Moving into winter means not seeing the gardens during the week. It is dark when I leave and dark when I arrive home. Even if many plants are done blooming and the trees have lost their leaves, I like the stark beauty of the bones of the garden. It gives me something to look forward to on the week-ends. There are always images to capture on a cold winter day.

Moving into winter also means beginning a natural hibernation. I wrap up in warm blankets as the day moves into night. I take more naps.  Winter is the time to rest the gardens and rest the body and soul. We need winter like other animals for our own hibernation. We need our own sabbath.

Moving into winter also means sipping hot soups, craving comfort food like meatloaf and macaroni and cheese, and enjoying a warm drink at the day's end. Winter is pumpkins, squash, and apples saved from the tree mixed up into a homey crisp while sitting by the fire.

Moving into winter means tackling that pile of books that have been waiting to be read. It is time to find those writing inspirations in a journal lost during the fall, time to organize photos, and get things in order. Winter is wool socks, warm sweaters, flannel pajamas. Winter is cats each finding a spot to curl up and sleep and the dogs quietly snore in front of a fire.

Each season draws me in for different reasons. This year as winter is approaching, I am reminded to slow down, rest, reflect, revive myself, and be warm. 

Leaves and More Leaves

After our short visit with snow the leaves reemerged with their mix of autumn colors. I even discovered a rose still blooming. We may move leaves off the sidewalk, but we have started letting the rest work into the ground all winter and I think that has helped our soil.

No matter which plant or tree a leaf comes from, it always holds unique beauty. This one is from a oak leaf hydrangea.

The flowering crab apple tree has a distinctive orange color the her leaves.

The front walk is a mix of many trees created a mosaic of colors.

One single leaf from the cherry tree ((I think!). Today I am thankful for the beauty of autumn once again.


I love poetry and often return to those poems that have stayed with me for a long time. "Kindness' is one of those poems. I had a very upsetting experience today, but when I returned to this poem it helped me make sense of my situation.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~
(Words From Under the Words: Selected Poems)

Beauty of North Central Washington

 I think where I live is one of the most beautiful corners of the state. We just returned from the Methow Valley in north central Washington state. It has it's own beauty. Higher mountains, stark landscapes, river, and lovely trees. Above is a view in early morning on the highway. 
Here is a view toward the Okanagan Highlands.

The bare trees bunch together in the morning light.
Here is a view looking toward the Cascade Mountains. 
It is a beautiful part of the state and well worth a visit.

Simplicity of Nature

Even though the walk took me a longer time this morning, I decided to really concentrate on the small things of beauty as I walked with my husband and dogs on a river trail near where we were spending the week-end.I am sure I could have found even more simple images of nature if we had walked further. Enjoy.

Time to Retreat

We work at trying to build some time away from home throughout the year to give us time to relax, refresh, and retreat. We try to go somewhere close. We like places where it is quiet and the dogs are welcome. Tomorrow we will head to the Methow Valley in north central  Washington state. We like this area for many reasons. Everett grew up here and loves to revisit places he remembers. There are two bakeries to die for. Two coffee roasters and a good winery. The scenery is spectacular the times we have been there in spring and summer. We now look forward to enjoying autumn close to Winthrop and Mazama.

It is expected to be really cold. We are packing our wool sweaters and heavy socks. Books are going in the bag. The cameras are a must. I can't wait to drink morning coffee on the deck overlooking a nice river. Time to retreat.

A Nation's Strength

Such a powerful poem for today.

A Nation's Strength

What makes a nation's pillars high
And it's foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

A House Divided

When  I met my husband I was smitten. He fixed my gate. He brought me roses and iris plants from a  construction site to replant in my garden. He liked my cooking. We were both Christians. His dog liked my house better than his ( Everett and I were neighbors). My dogs liked his dog. He loved taking drives in the country. He also loved going out to eat for breakfast with me.

We have one difference. We are a house divided politically. We knew that when we married. I suppose we always "cancel" out our votes when we mail them in. It doesn't matter.  The political process is important to both of us. We both vote. We both follow our parties. We agree to disagree on issues that make him conservative and me more liberal. I think it is one of the things that adds strength to our marriage.

How strong are we? We can sit side by side and watch the blue and red states appear this evening and know that we will love and support our country no matter what. We are thankful for the freedoms our country has given us. The American flag flies by our gate  for both of us at 11 Crestview Dr.

Part of the Fun is the Planning

I always enjoy planning Thanksgiving. Sometimes family has come to my house and as a group we have put together a fantastic feast. A few years mostly due to weather we have stayed home and done Thanksgiving by ourselves. One year we just went away for a night and had dinner out and stayed in a hotel. It was a quick rest during a busy time.

This year we are returning to my mother's house for Thanksgiving. That hasn't happened in a few years. It will just be three of us, but the planning has already been fun. How many ways can you do a turkey. Lots! One recipe I wanted to try made my mom wrinkle up her nose. "I don't like sweet things on turkey." The maple glaze idea went away. After discussing many turkey ideas, I think Mom will just do it her way, which is the all-time best. 

I can't wait to try some new side dishes to serve up with traditional potatoes and gravy. Soon I will can pear mincemeat for one of the pies. All the planning and conversations is what makes planning for the holiday meaningful. It is weeks away. I am sure Mom and I will have a few more conversations about the menu. I am sure I will check out more ideas for the dinner. Along with the big dinner, I also look forward to some quiet time during Thanksgiving break.

I am thankful for Thanksgiving.

A Gift Outright

Today I am thankful that I live in a place that is free. I am provided with opportunities to explore the vast land any time I want. That is a gift outright.

The Gift Outright

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

-Robert Frost

Remembering With My Camera

Today I am thankful for my digital camera. I am on my third one and these cameras have helped me create a visual timeline of my life the last few years. If we ever need to remember when something happened or where we were, we just go to the photo files. Here are a few of my favorites from the last few months.

Thankful for Friday

It has been a hectic, crazy, busy month. I am thankful to have a job that I love, but today I am thankful for Friday with a short day at school and plans for a relaxing week-end. Photo above taken a recent morning on Lake Roosevelt by Barnaby Island.


Today I am thankful for the beautiful corner of Washington state where I live. Today sunshine, mist, and a rainbow.