In March

Spring in the creek


In March
the clouds break
for half an hour or so
spilling bright blue ink over pale snow

In March
the creeks begin to run
melt and mud and mess
down from old man winter’s tin shed roof

In March
the children rush
laughter echoing the sun’s
into water higher than their boots

Book List 2018

I’m a little tardy in posting this, but here is a list of the books I completed in 2018!

Fiction:

The Odyssey (Homer)
Wives and Daughters (Elizabeth Gaskell)
Right Ho, Jeeves (P. G. Wodehouse)
Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen) – reread
The Scarlet Pimpernel (Baroness Orczy)
Pilgrim’s Inn aka The Herb of Grace (Elizabeth Goudge) – reread
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Anne Shaffer & Annie Barrows)
Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc  (Mark Twain)
Rilla of Ingleside (Lucy Maud Montgomery) – reread
The Cricket on the Hearth (Charles Dickens)

 

Nonfiction:

The Pursuit of God (A. W. Tozer)
Teach Us to Want (Jen Pollock Michel)
Spiritual Direction (Henri Nouwen)
Different (Sally Clarkson)
Selections from The Rule of St. Benedict

 

Ongoing (slow and reference reading):

Home Education (Charlotte Mason)
Parents and Children (Charlotte Mason)
Know and Tell (Karen Glass)
The Major Works (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

 

Read-Alouds:

The Little Duke (Charlotte Yonge)
Viking Tales (Jennie Hall)
Understood Betsy (Dorothy Canfield Fisher)
On the Banks of Plum Creek (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
The House at Pooh Corner (A. A. Milne)
The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame)
Heidi (Johanna Spyri)
Red Sails to Capri (Ann Weil)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Barbara Robinson)

 

My fiction list is mainly our book club selections. Favourite novels from this year include Wives and Daughters and Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc. The Odyssey isn’t a novel, of course, but it was definitely high up there on the list of personally enriching! I loved my immersion into that world and its characters. I feel quite satisfied having completed Homer’s epics, and I’m sure I will dive into them again in the future. It also really helped to read these communally! I highly recommend it.

I usually have a few education or parenting books on the go that I dip in and out of as need be. These aren’t all represented here.

One category I’d like to read more of in 2019 is light to moderate non-fiction. I enjoy that kind of reading, but haven’t done much of it lately. I think it would be easy to squeeze in amongst the literature, so I’d love some recommendations for that category! I’d like to read a science/nature book, a math related book (!!!), and perhaps a history book, at least. Any suggestions?

Happy reading in 2019!

 

~lg

S.D.G.

Things found under the loveseat cushion: A list

A list of things I pulled out from under the loveseat cushion today:

2 harmonicas (64 Chronomica and Marine Band key of D)
1 yellow dinky car
1 Kinderegg plastic egg
1 random piece of Kinderegg toy
1 watermelon candy stick from Christmas (still in package)
2 pens
4 pencils
1 blue pencil crayon, 4 inches
1 black pencil crayon, 7 inches
2 crayons
2 pieces of ripped computer paper
1 purple hair elastic
a bit of black embroidery thread
1 luggage address tag (not filled in)
a small piece of a children’s book cover
1 red chocolate kiss foil wrapper
1 broken blue balloon
1 book light with dead batteries
1 magnetic “great fish” (the kind that swallowed Jonah)
1 lollipop handle
1 bookmark
1 Calico Critters toy pamphlet
1 hairpin
1 popsicle stick
1 plastic pretend telescope
1 raisin
1 folded church Christmas program (from 2017)
1 yellow index card (blank)
1 Valentine from Arden to Ivy
2 rubber bands
1 clothing tag
1 horse chestnut

 

Some days the sum total of life seems merely a collection of oddities and scraps. But if I look long enough at the list, there’s a lot of living there. Moments and memories tucked in the folds of a floral print, they form a picture of our very own full, messy, joyous existence.

This little mountain on the dining room table is a signal hill of all the things I cannot keep ordered or under control. It’s also the funniest thing I’ve seen this week. It’s a reminder not to take things too seriously.

And next time I lose something, I know where I’m going to look first!

 

~lg

S.D.G.

Created for Community

autumn leaves

Early one morning I brave the remnants of a wild windstorm to walk the Millboro Road. The winds are still strong, but they have blown the cloud cover away, and the sun sparkles just above the horizon. It’s uphill at first, and into the wind. I have to turn my face sideways just to breathe when the gusts come whooshing down the wind tunnel of a road.

I am alone, save for a crow in the bright blue above a cropped field. I cannot tell whether his flight pattern is one of frustrated aim, or whether he is leisurely giving himself to the dive and bluster overhead.

I know if I just keep my head down and my legs moving, I can make it to the top of the hill, and the way back will be smooth sailing. I needed to be out here this morning. I know there is a glory here for the taking, the wild glory of blue and eastern light.

My hands are getting cold. I put gloves on before I left, but they are not enough. My singular fingers cannot sustain their warmth in this wind. I should have worn mitts.

I think of this small thing – that fingers stay warmed when they are together – and the words of my morning reading come to mind:

“Expressed in the act of creation is a will for community.”
(Clark Pinnock, Flame of Love)

Yes, even the cold of a November storm shows this to be true.

Creation is not only beauty to be enjoyed in solitary walks, or raw material employed for individual gain. Creation can scare us to death when it rips the the shingles from our roofs and topples the landmark trees.

Rare is the man or woman on this spinning globe who survives alone.

The wildness of weather, the danger of mountain and ocean, the fear of what prowls in the night, the epic struggle of man vs. nature – all this drives us to community. For shelter, for safety, for survival.

God created a world that would not suffer singularity gladly.

The same glory that calls and draws us up the golden hillside sends us running for mutual cover. Creation necessitates community. A handful of people may gather, gather and thrive.

By the handful we are warmed. By the handful we must learn to love.

This is the Creator’s desire; He who created out of an overflow of interpersonal love wills us to know His way of being. And so His masterpiece is crafted naked and lonely, surprisingly fragile in its image bearing.

This fragility, these howling fiends . . . Not a sign of neglect or nefarious dealing. No, this need was woven in from the “in the beginning.” This need nudges (hurtles!) us in the direction of community, where need that is spoken and shared and jointly borne opens a space for love.

Together we see our Creator’s grandest design. Together we learn what this power of love is, who God Himself is. We learn who we were meant to be.

I see it, here on the harvested hillside. I feel it, in my chilly fingers, in the wind now at my back, pushing me down into the valley. There the smoke from our chimney is caught and lifted to the northeast. Within that humble outpost against the elements are the other four members that make up my own pocketful of family. Just one hand, needing another, and another, needing to join in the circle around the fire.

The fire dances and warms, lighting our faces with divine recognition, linking hearts with one another and the powerful mystery that brought us all into being – the Creator’s will for love.

 

~lg

S.D.G.

When all the world seems brown

As the earth turns toward winter, there is a hushed darkness in the early morning hours. Come November, I stop resisting the retreat of the sun. In this perfectly timed universe, the wisdom of God ordains the season. 

In the natural world, there is a shift – the sky is a panorama of scrolling geese – and a slowing. The bright colours of autumn lay down their glory, a final bow as October’s curtain closes. The woods pull up a blanket of brown. 

Brown. As a child, I hated those weeks between the disappearance of the leaves and the coming of the snow. Brown was barren. Brown was sad. Brown was nothingness, an empty world waiting for the white whirl of festive fun. 

Growing up in the north, with its early fall, October was the dreariest of all months for me as a child. Here on the east coast, the branches don’t empty quite as early, and November is the ugly in-between month. Even as an adult, I just want it to be over. I don’t want to wait it out. 

Just about now, it’s easy to get sucked into retail time, an artificial invention designed for maximum economic benefit. All the flyers and catalogues are so sparkly this first week of November! Let’s just fast forward to Christmas, shall we?

But the clock of economy can do us a grave disservice, if it disconnects us from the natural rhythms of life. On retail time, there’s no such thing as waiting, no such thing as slow, no such thing as bare. No such thing as brown. 

Brown doesn’t sell. 

But while the powers that be hurl us from Halloweenland to Christmasville in the twinkling of a night, there is an “other” world outside that keeps its own pace. Evening and morning. A little darker each day. A little browner. 

Before the day is out, I throw my boots on and step outside, sneaking away for just a few minutes of fresh air. It’s a typical day – cloudy, a little damp, not too windy. Ordinary. Our Manitoba Maple is naked after the last bout of high winds. The garden remains lie limp, save for a few gangly weeds poking straight up that have gone to seed. The lawn is still mercifully green, but not much else is. 

I look down the old lane toward the woods and give a little sigh. Ah, November. 

Taken as a whole, the picture is dull. Layers of grey and brown, with no contrast. No focal point, no eye catcher. 

Is there beauty here? 

The camera isn’t satisfied, and neither am I. But the more I look, the more I begin to see. 

“Come closer,” the woods seem to whisper. 

Before I know it, this backyard walk has turned into a treasure hunt of tiny surprises. Textures, shapes, and subtleties of colour, all these come into focus as I bend toward the earth. 

The beauty comes with the beholding. Brown does not blush upon first glances, but opens her heart to those with searching gaze. If fear is the beginning of wisdom, then wonder is the beginning of love. 

Can I learn to love this season, not for what it promises beyond, but for what it is right now?

Drawn deeper into the forest, time seems to change. I am neither waiting nor rushing, only being, only discovering, only receiving. 

Brown might not sell. But it has something to offer the willing eye, the patient soul. There is both wisdom and love here. This too, is ordained.

And here is the secret of all Novembers . . . 

Brown isn’t all there is. 

These signs emerge like flashes of joy, like some inside joke I’ve finally been let in on. The deadfall isn’t the whole picture. Gifts abound. This too, is a season of grace..

~lg

S.D.G.