Life, family, business

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It’s 90 degrees, on May 5th, in North Dakota.

This spring has been one of the weirdest weather years in my life. The winter was mild, it felt like spring in February and March, and then cooled down again. And here we are today, at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

12795257_10208695979944951_6450639887248248609_n (High tunnel picture with side rolled up.)

I’m a gardening fanatic. I took the Master Gardener classes at NDSU awhile back, and I just love growing plants. I have a little greenhouse, a high tunnel, and a basement full of grow lights. (Don’t worry, there’s nothing illegal being grown here ever!)  I have over 70 houseplants that live inside all winter.  I have a banana tree on my dryer, and a cactus that touches the ceiling, both in my laundry room.  Am I the crazy plant lady?  Maybe. But its an inherited disease.  My mom’s banana tree lives in her dining room.



The Song of Spring

As the sun gains strength and holds its head boldly in the sky,

The sheets of white slowly melt, dripping their nutrients into the soil beneath.

The skeletons of trees form new buds, and tiny fragile shoots sprout forth from the ground.

The beautiful melody of birdsong grows into a glorious choir.

Soft, gentle breezes blow into hurricane force winds,

Bringing the warmth, and blowing away the old,

The dead,

The paper thin husks of last year’s bounty, shriveled into nothing.

Rebirth, the earth renews her fresh bouquet,

Her glamorous green wardrobe that feeds her children.

Such is the entrance of spring-

God’s glorious garden.

We helpers rejoice, wanting nothing more

Than to feel the living soil in our hands.

The seeds that wait patiently under the ground for the sun to shine on them,

And tell them that it’s time,

It’s time to begin anew.

They also rejoice and grow heartily, singing praises to heaven.

The flowers will open, they will bear fruit, and it will be good,

Just as God intended.

For the Earth sings for her Creator, and we are invited

To sing harmony.

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Sunday started out as a beautiful day. The temperature rose into the 50’s, there was a very light breeze, and it was a beautiful spring day. (Don’t forget, I live in North Dakota.)  I started out by cleaning my chicken coop of the soiled straw.  I shoveled it up, and made numerous trips to the garden to dump it.  My husband started a bonfire to burn some old pallet boards.  The chickens ran around the yard, pecking and scratching at the dirt, and eating all the seeds they could find.

After the coop was cleaned out, I put in fresh straw for the ladies, and they pecked and scratched at that too.  I found my pair of loppers and started cutting and pruning the dead wood from my privet hedge, and cutting it down to a manageable 6 feet tall from the 9 or 10 it had grown to last fall. The dead wood went in the fire. I cut down my raspberry stalks and burned them up too.   My husband grilled some elk sausage and elk steaks over the fire for us and our son.  And it was good.


Then, the wind started to pick up in the afternoon.  The wind continued into the night, and we knew the storm was coming.  The air felt shifted.  It felt heavy.  The next morning I went to work in the heavy, hard wind, and then the rain started. I wasn’t just any rain, but freezing rain.  It stuck to the windows, and where it hit, it froze immediately.  I could see the tiny grains of ice in the drops.  And then it stopped.  I put ice melt in front of the door.  Within a couple hours it all melted.  Then the next round started. This time it was graupel.  ( http://www.fsavalanche.org/encyclopedia/graupel.htm)  It coated the roads and the parking lot.  The corn husks and dried up leaves whipped across the parking lot.  When I went outside, the frozen pellets stung my face and then I realized the temperature had dropped quite a bit.  The wind rattled the windows and shook the walls.  All sorts of things flew by the window, and it was foreboding.

Once home, I sat and read for awhile. My husband, home from work an hour early because the interstates had closed at 3:30, was working in the garage putting the new tires on the golf cart. (Yes, we are optimists.) He came in and exclaimed that he couldn’t see our neighbor’s house behind us.  I looked out the window, and sure enough, behind the chicken coop was a white sheet, hiding the next house about a block away.  The snow continues into the night, reducing visibilities and making the roads very hard to travel.  It was dangerous.

In just 28 hours my backyard turned from a happy spring day, into a blizzard. Luckily, it only dumped 4 inches of snow on us, far short of the earlier prediction of 12 to 18. For this I was grateful, but still, I had to wonder if Mother Nature was playing an April Fool’s trick on us.  We went from the green grass starting to peak through the brown dead grass from last fall, to white snow.  We went from bonfire to snow bank in a very short time.  And it was discouraging.

Sometimes life is a lot like the weather.  Everything is going great, then something changes and a blizzard shows up, right in the middle of your nice spring day.  Things are going great, and then, in the blink of an eye, it all goes downhill.  Its so easy to give up hope when we perceive that bad things are happening to us.  Its easy to give in to depression and sadness, and think that things will never get back to normal.  But in reality, they always seem to work out for the best as long as we expect it to.

And it will.

I know that this is a temporary set back for the weather turning to warm summer days.  It will happen. It always does.  And as much as I rolled my eyes about this storm, the snow brings nitrogen to the soil, and moisture, which the crops, and the flowers, and the grasses, and the vegetables all need in the spring.  It may be uncomfortable for a short time, but in the long run, this makes things better.  It was adventageous.

Many times in our lives, its the hard things that define who we are.  Its the uncomfortable things that make us grow, and learn,  and live.  The next time you feel that you are in a downward spiral, stop fretting.  Open your parachute and rest easy, knowing that it will make you stronger.  Perhaps you will learn an important lesson that will benefit you in life. Perhaps you will meet someone who will become a best friend, or a significant other, or a beloved spouse. Perhaps you will gain life experiences that will help you write a book, start a business, or become a better person.

Life can only get you down if you let it. Because life is good.

Have you ever had an experience where you learned something good from a hurtful experience? I’d love to hear about it.


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The First Day of Spring

The first day of spring is something I look forward to all winter.

Spring is baby ducklings, chicks, kittens, sprouts and buds and the early flowers turning the gray dull sky of winter into the blue sky of summer.  Its the old crusty snow retreating into the ground to make way for new blades of grass. Its about the rebirth of creation, like the death and resurrection. The old goes away and the new is born of the earth, fresh and green.  Its about babies of every species being born.

cardoon seedlings

Its about potential.  Its like New Year’s Day, with no pressure for a resolution. Its just you and nature and the awakening in your heart.

Here in my neck of the woods we are expecting our first rain tonight, like waking up to a clean house after a winter of hibernation. The dust and mold and dirt from the snow will disappear and the new growth will appear, and take over.

The potential to grow; it is something granted to each of us regardless of our age, gender, income, or anything else really.  If you are alive, you have the potential to become more than you are now.  You have the potential to learn new things, new crafts, new emotions, new affirmations.  You have the potential to be anyone you want to make yourself into.  You have a heart and a brain and a body.  You get to choose what you do with them.

I pray that you will choose the positive, the good, the smiles and the hugs.

I hope that you will choose freedom, forgiveness, optimism and joy.

I want you to choose that voice inside you that sings at the top of your lungs every time a good song comes on the radio.

Choose you, choose love, but always choose wisely.

What will you choose for your life today?  Happy Spring!


On A Winter’s Day…

Headed east on the highway, the snow blows hard across the cracked asphalt.  In places it sticks, and other places it blows so hard it hides the path.  The morning sun shines bright, and creates glowing corn stalks in the fields, cut and frozen, sticking out of the ground like sticks and stumps.  The frozen grasses peak through the snow banks, and stand at attention, too cold to wave.  The skeletons of the trees shimmer in the sunlight, glimmering in the wind.  The snow flecks like glitter thrown into the wind, scatter through the air where the tree rows block the wind, then they roar like a white freight train where they fly freely.

I hold the steering wheel tightly, every shelter belt a place where the wind tries to push the travelers off the road.  The sheltered areas have the white road, and the open areas have the black.  But its business as usual as everyone is headed to work, or school, or to whatever destination is the normal hum-drum, day-in day-out trip.

The fox runs out across the ditch from a hiding spot tucked away from the cold and the howling winds. He hesitates at the highway edge; looking, sniffing.  He darts out, stops unsure, then runs again to the safety of the opposite ditch and a line of trees where he disappears quite quickly; his red coat somehow camouflaged into the dirt covered snow banks littered with tree limbs.

I press the scan button on the radio and listen to the chatter, the blips of songs I don’t recognize, and then settle on a song I know by heart.  I meet the cars, trucks, and semi’s, and notice the driver’s faces.  Some are on their phones, in animate conversation, smiling and laughing.  Others look like zombies, driving this road a zillion times; they could do it in their sleep, and probably have.  The sun reflects off their cars as they go by, shining in my eyes.

What do they see?

Do they see the sun shining in its winter glory?  Did they see the fox in his winter coat?

Do they see the grasses, dormant, waiting patiently for spring to arrive?  Do they see the beauty of the landscape?

The fields glow, littered with sparkling diamonds. As I turn off and change directions, the red glow still lingers in my sight when I blink, from the low winter sun shining into my field of vision.  The snow now rippling across the road from a different direction, creating the illusion that the vehicle is going much slower than it really is.  I check the speed, and adjust.

The days grow longer and the sun flies higher in the sky.  The air grows warmer and the plants and animals rejoice, the people rejoice.  In excited anticipation we plan our activities for the warmer months.  I plant the hard little seeds in flats of soil, placed on shelves in my basement.  I water them, give them light, and pray for them to grow.  The elusive ones I check with apprehension, nothing yet.  Will they sprout?  Will they grow?  Or will they lie dormant in the wet dirt and rot?

Some seeds are fragile, and require much care and pampering to grow. Other seeds are aggressive, growing out of control.  Nature is wild, unpredictable, like the fox, and the wind, and the snow.  People try to domesticate nature, and in some little ways we succeed; we plant the fields, cut trees, predict the weather.  But we are foolish if we believe we have any of it under control.

The fox curls up in his den, warm with his mate.  The wind howls in the branches over this little hole in the ground, and they sleep, oblivious.