Some days I don’t drive this part of this old road, but seeing glimpses like this makes me remember what a beautiful place this is. You can’t see the creek in this picture, but it is there, meandering through the landscape from pasture to pasture and field to field.
There are higher hills a few hours to the west, and larger bodies of water nearby as well. The colors change with the rhythms of the season, but for me these hills are timeless, always just beyond the tree-line from my back porch. Quiet, almost hidden, these Cane Creek Mountains are the very picture of perfect spring green on this April afternoon.
Sometimes, the birds in this back yard play peek-a-boo. Singing and chirping their greetings from the deep cover of the bushes, or just out of sight behind the branches of the trees. The resident cardinals are especially good at keeping hidden, despite their briliant red feathers.
This week, however, they seem happy and content to be seen, and I absolutely love seeing them.
My grandmother, Ava, was the one who began and encouraged my fascination with cardinals. She was a wise woman. If I can only remember half of the things she told me or I overheard her say during the short years I knew her, I should be fine.
A quick glimpse of a cardinal has always been special for me, but an afternoon of these beauties allowing me a few pictures is enough to make me smile for a long time. All but one of these pictures was taken through the screen as I tried to not disturb the birds too much. So (giggle) these are literal “Screen Shots” .
Birds aren’t known for staying still long, of course, and these are no different. Eventually they left to survey other areas. Perhaps looking for nesting sights, perhaps looking for food, perhaps just enjoying the afternoon sunshine, perhaps all of that and more.
So, having whispered my timeless wish upon first sight, and spending time enjoying their lovely company I settled back onto the porch with my afternoon coffee, and made myself a note to more often remember to focus on the beauty and peace in these little everyday moments.
Welcome, friends, to this last Monday of August 2017.
It’s different, you know, when Monday is your day off. The world seems to be in such a rush; everyone has so much to do as the new week begins.
Meanwhile, my focus is on a coffee cup and how few words I can speak.
Soon enough, I will be searching the news for the hopeful and reassuring actions in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and other situations happening throughout the world.
But not yet…..
Now it is time to sit quietly with ancient prayers and fresh coffee as the rays from the rising sun reach through these old oaks and bathe the back porch in soft morning light. And I will stay here, where the morning light dances, as long as it lasts. At least part of this morning’s ancient prayer comes from St. Augustine (354-430) “O Lord, my God, Light of the blind and Strength of the weak; yeah, also, Light of those that see, and Strength of the strong; hearken unto my soul, and hear it crying out of the depths. O Lord, help us to turn and seek Thee; for Thou hast not forsaken Thy creatures as we have forsaken Thee, our Creator. Let us turn and seek Thee, for we know Thou art here in our hearts…..”
The rest of this morning’s prayer is a whisper of overwhelming deep gratitude and thanks from the core of my heart and depths of my soul, sent forth on the morning breeze with true intentions and hopes that it may grow as the rest of this day unfolds.
Be safe out there, everyone. Look out for one another. Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Soon enough it will be time to leave the back porch, but not just yet…..
Sometimes, we find ourselves in just the right spot at just the right time to watch the sunlight reflect off the rippling river and dance back through the overreaching leaves and along the dark branches. The only purpose of this post is to share a short video of just that…..
I hadn’t gone out for photo therapy, I didn’t have a “big” camera with me, so I captured this on my Iphone 6. Y’all should know my motto about cameras: “The best camera is the one in your hand.” This video doesn’t do the scene justice, but I doubt any truly could, but I wanted to share the scene. I hope you are able to enjoy these few seconds of light dancing along the underside of the canopy, and the chorus of frogs and crickets that, perhaps, were there watching the light right along with me.
Today was one of those rare, cooler than normal summer days here. The late July breeze seemed determined to dance with the leaves, swaying the green ones that held firm to their branches, and sending gold and red ones spinning through the air giving us a welcomed and refreshing reminder of autumn. It was the perfect day to go take a stroll alongside the Haw River in Saxapahaw, NC.
A few steps down from the parking lot, and the trail awaits under a dense canopy of full trees.
There are parts of the trail where the sky isn’t clearly visible directly overhead but today that didn’t matter at all, the reflection on the water shows the clouds moving in.
Sometimes, the light shining through the clouds, then reflecting off the leaves and water makes the entire area, even the air, seem golden-green. If today were a color, It would be this shade of green:
A little further along the trail, the clouds have moved and a little more sunlight is reaching through. Early hints of the coming autumn, golden leaves are hiding within the summer green trees, falling, and drifting downstream.
When I was younger, this part of the river was heavily polluted with dyes from textile mills, both here on these banks and upstream. Environmental restoration began several years ago and continues still. Much more information and details can be found on the Haw River Trail website. It’s really quite interesting.
On the return walk, near the end of the trail the silver reflection of the building clouds caught my eye once again. There have been sporadic showers throughout the day, but despite their impressive appearance, the clouds haven’t delivered any severe weather yet.
The stroll was nearly over when I snapped this last photo. Of all the scenes today, I think this one was my favorite.
There are still quiet, peaceful, lovely places in this wonderful world where one can simply watch the river roll and the sun set, and be thankful to be able to appreciate such moments.
It’s Tuesday here, and during this time of the year I take advantage of the option to work from my remote office, aka my back porch.
The morning and early afternoon was spent with calendars, books, and websites, listing topics and lessons for this coming season in youth ministry. It’s an uplifting exercise in planning. Serious topics with positive reinforcements to help some of the best middle school age youth I know, try to grow in their relationships with one another and Christ despite everything that will try to dissuade them as they encounter more and more of this world. I do this planning away from people, away from human chatter, away from news reports, I don’t even play the radio during this time. Even so, it is far from silent here on the porch.
Today the backdrop for this task is one of tall, old oak trees with full branches of deep summer green leaves, appearing a brilliant gold shade in the morning sunlight and nearly black in the afternoon cloud cover swaying in the soft and much appreciated summer breeze. It’s hot out on the porch, but it’s worth it. My “office mates” on the other side of the screen are a pair of cardinals chirping sweetly at the turning pages and scribbled notes, a few finches peek in from time to time and a humming-bird hovers at the bushes and seems to be interested on what’s going on as well.
These happy and graceful birds, singing to and with one another through the heat and humidity draw my attention upward. Away from the computer, away from the papers, they remind me to be still a few moments and experience the day. Soon enough the rush of a more structured schedule will return, and perhaps I will recall these moments through these words. To stand and get the camera would send them flying away, and any still photograph would not aptly capture this day of most beautiful sights and songs. So, I will stay in the heat a while longer, planning for cooler days and soaking up these most joyful noises.
Recently, I happened to be in the right place at the right time to receive an amazing invitation to Kiawah Island, South Carolina with some wonderful women for a few days. It’s good to travel to nice places, but it’s more important to travel with good people. This unexpected trip was both, and so much more.
This post is all about capturing the small moments, those “bookend” times of the day when one can carve out a few moments of solitude to simply be, and simply be aware of where we are and grateful for our time here.
Allow me to share a few of the beautiful sights and moments experienced within these 13 or so square miles along the edge of the Atlantic. First up: Arrival!
This beautiful place has miles and miles and miles of trails. Level, well-marked, well maintained trails. Where the trails end, there are more miles of well packed sand at the edge of the Atlantic, just perfect for strolling or cruising. Walking and bicycling were the preferred means of transportation throughout much of the stay on Kiawah.
With bags stowed in the condo and sunset approaching, one of the first activities was to find a spot for the best show in the area! A little side note here: Early in the drive, our theme song became Castle On The Hill by Ed Sheeran. Looking at this photo now, watching the pelicans fly over the nearby Sanctuary Hotel that could easily be mistaken for a castle in the sunset that first evening, that song fits so well.
Mornings are a favorite time for me, especially at the beach, any beach, but I had no idea the beauty and majesty awaiting me on my first morning walk at Kiawah. I happened upon a couple of bucks looking for breakfast!
He must have heard me behind him and turned around. For just a few seconds he walked towards me on the boardwalk. I backed up accordingly to give him his space.
After a couple of minutes, the buck turned around and joined a friend for breakfast in the dunes. A lovely cardinal flew into the frame just as I snapped the picture.
The condo where we stayed had a wonderful kitchen with ample beautiful and comfortable spaces to enjoy meals and conversation. But one night we ventured out to a restaurant at Bohicket Marina. Oh.My.Goodness! Yes, the food was delicious, yes the company was delightful, yes the conversation included A LOT of laughter; but upon exiting the building we were greeted by the twilight sky settling in for the night over the boats.
Heavy clouds gathered throughout the night. Summertime thunderstorms are a reality here, but the boats seem determined to shine with their reflections despite the imposing darkness.
The next morning the clouds seemed to want to linger a little longer and enjoy the sunrise as well. Who could blame them? Later this beach will be filled with people enjoying the sunshine and surf, but for now it’s nearly deserted.
I love those glowing moments, when even the air seems saturated between the actual light and the reflection from the water.
More morning scenes from Kiawah ~ lone shrimp boat heading out to sea.
More morning scenes from Kiawah ~ Sunrise reflections from the pond. There’s a sign warning of alligators, but they stayed out of sight on this trip.
As much as I adore the pictures of and on the beach, this picture is one of my favorites from this trip. This is the walkway to the beach following an overnight rainstorm. Fallen leaves, blown by the wind and rain, lay undisturbed as I approached on my morning walk. Perhaps in this picture there’s a hint of how spectacular autumn will be along this trail.
What you don’t see in these pictures are the in-between moments. Images of conversations over coffee, morning chats, laughter over wine, bonding between a mother and her recent high school graduate daughter, friendships growing, rest and renewal.
What I hope you see are images of a beautiful place where these and more wonderful things happened, all because one person chose to extend an amazing invitation.
While leaving, I stopped for one more sign. The Sanctuary Resort sign adorned with Old Glory in preparation for the Independence Day festivities.
Our sign upon arrival simply stated where we were, our sign on departure simply stated what we had experienced ~ Sanctuary.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”