Summer is Past

This morning I awoke with fleeting memories of this past summer.  Where did it go . . . and WHEN!  Yesterday it was warm, beautiful, sunny, peaceful and full of exciting promises for joyful passing of days and weeks filled with pleasure!

Ah yes, that magical invisible boundary has been crossed.  Yesterday was summer – today is fall!  Trees and bushes are changing colors, flowers are going into hibernation, birds are stuffing themselves with seed for their winter pantry.  And me . . . well, I am mourning the passing of another beautiful season.  Oh, I look forward to the cooler weather, beautiful color changes, flocks of tweety birds and geese heading south for the winter – I just didn’t expect it TODAY!

Now comes the hustle and bustle of the holiday season – beginning with Halloween (which I don’t particularly look forward to but I know the children are excitedly planning their costumes for the end of the month and their booty of sugar-filled treats and scaring the H – – – out of the next person who comes into contact with them as they giggle and run and hide to attack the next unsuspecting passerby!  Then will come the “over-eating” day of the year – Thanksgiving – and we will all take a turn verbalizing exactly what we are thankful for this year.  THEN comes the gift-giving tradition which is always met with unsurpassed excitement for the little ones and unsurpassed stress for the adults.  And let’s not forget to include the “true meaning” of Christmas which we would be so irreverent to not at least mention.

And once again the cycle starts again with the New Year – the celebration of celebrations!  Passing away of the unachieved goals and the planning of new goals (we just know we will accomplish them this year)!

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Missing Henrietta

As I stood at the kitchen sink this morning, cleaning up breakfast dishes, I enjoyed the light breeze wafting through the window and the soft rays of sunshine warming my face.  Once again the day was bright and beautiful; bringing not only warmth and sunshine but an abundance of fragrances from the multitude of wildflowers blooming in the fields nearby.

The melodies of the songbirds and the chattering conversations of the barn swallows that are using our porch rafters as their haven floated through the air as God reminded me once again of His supernatural abilities by sharing His creation with me.  What a blessing to start my day.  It helps me stay focused on Him as I maneuver through the obstacles which confront me as the hours pass!  But this morning something was missing.

About a year ago on just such a morning, I discovered a different instrument among the morning chorus that I had become used to hearing.  It was just a subtle change in the harmonics and I couldn’t quite recognize it.  It was softly pleasant although slightly different.

When I later went to feed our chickens I discovered the new musician standing in the middle of our small barnyard.  She was elegant and proud and just a bit shy.  She scuttled to the hen house and nimbly hopped onto the roof as she surveyed my strange movements.  There she stood poised like a sophisticated aristocrat as I tried to ignore her while secretly keeping one eye on her just as she kept one eye on me.  As I went about giving everyone their breakfast, I managed to toss a small helping of grain her way but really only succeeded in spooking her from her perch on the roof.  She didn’t go far; just a safe distance until I left the enclosure and she tip-toed back to the grain offering, all the while keeping her “eagle eye” on me.

Actually, it was her “turkey eye” that watched every movement I made.  She was a beautiful, full-grown hen and that day she began her love affair with our rooster named Joseph.   He had been named Joseph because the variety of colors reflected in his feathers reminded me of the coat of many colors made for Joseph in the Bible.  My husband named our new family member “Henrietta” and we saw her every morning while feeding.

Sometimes she would spend hours trying to figure out how to get back to the chicken pen for our pastures all had field fence across them to keep our goats from straying too far from home.  She literally wore paths along the fence line and would traipse back and forth all day; then suddenly appear back in the barnyard near the chicken pen about an hour before we put our animals away for the night.  Often Henrietta would roost in a high tree next to the chicken pen, but windy nights would drive her into hiding somewhere in the low bushes nearby.  She was always at breakfast every morning!

The winter chill set in and we were sure she would disappear.  We never saw a tom turkey with her so we knew we were her only family.  Even as days grew colder and the snow and ice began to appear, Henrietta always had her meals at our barnyard table with her new flock of friends and her handsome love interest.  Although chickens and turkeys are not always compatible, Henrietta patiently spent her time in and around our barnyard and chicken pen.  On winter days when we did not see her, we always spotted the one lonely set of turkey tracks all around the pen and knew she had been visiting again.

We felt so good to know that we had helped Henrietta through the winter months.  She came into spring looking healthy and strong and stayed close to our chickens.  Occasionally I would arrive in the barnyard unexpectedly during mid-day on a weekend.  There I would find her scrutinizing the hay barn or milk room.  Although she spent many hours with us, she was much more comfortable with the animals than us humans.  I had often seen her walk casually through the goat pen deftly dodging the curious kids without as much as a ruffled feather.  However, if I accidentally came upon her too quickly, she would gently spread her massive wings, give a little hop and be sailing over the fence, down to the creek and up the other side of the hill, a mere six to eight feet off the ground.   I would watch her settle in the pasture across the creek among the scraggly oak trees and call out my apology to her and ask her to come home.  She would – when she was ready!

As we went into mid-spring, Henrietta’s visits were weekly rather than daily and we hoped she had found a wild mate to start her own little brood.  Another family nearby had reported that she would visit them occasionally and feed was always available to her.  We relaxed in the assurance that if she was not with us she was at the neighbor’s house.

It has now been about six weeks since we have seen or heard from Henrietta.  We miss her presence and her cheerful, chirping voice.  The daily chorus seems incomplete yet still beautiful to my ears each morning.  I miss the chuckle I always got while watching her flirt with Joseph, yet my prayer is that she found her soul mate and has not become prey to coyote, cougar or man.

I will always miss her and will hope for her return.  The Bible tells us all things have their season and I am blessed to have shared a least one season with Henrietta.  Maybe someday soon she will return with a mate and a brood of little Henrys and Henriettas and they will all join the morning chorus I so love to hear!

You’ll Know They’re Coming!

“How will I know they’re coming?” I whispered to my hunting partner.

“Oh, you’ll know they’re coming” he chuckled with a sparkle in his eyes.  “They won’t be sneaking up on you; they will be trampling down anything in their path!”

“OK” I said as I carefully and quietly began to thread my way through the dense thicket.  I slowly approached a partial clearing just before ascending the small hill on which I would take a stand.  There I would patiently await my quarry.  The clearing was sparsely dotted with large Ponderosa pines and towering yellow tamaracks whose shade provided cool protection and camouflage as well as a softly carpeted floor of fragrant pine needles.  What a perfect haven from the hunters combing the surrounding area.

I tried to blend in along the fringe of pines, keeping the mild breeze in my face so I wouldn’t be scented by the crafty beasts who could manage to silently cruise the forest floor while I managed to step on just about every brittle branch I came upon, no matter how diligently I tried to avoid them.  They had earned the Indian name “Wapiti,” which translated into “ghost of the forest.”  It was certainly an appropriate name for the animal that had mastered the art of silent movement, considering an average elk weighs anywhere from 400 to 1400 pounds and could easily be crowned by a thorny rack of antlers measuring an average of 50 to 60 inches across the widest point.

My partner and I had often hunted deer together and we made a great team.  This was my first elk hunt and I was eager to locate the animals that had left their scent in passing through this peaceful, secluded little haven.  We had tags for an early cow hunt.  I had never seen an elk out in the wild and didn’t quite know what to expect.  But I was a good shot and knew I could do this.

I had developed a routine of harnessing my thoughts as I hunted.  My mind would replay dozens of scenes from the professional hunting programs I constantly watched, as well as the numerous tips and techniques I had gleaned from listening to others sharing the experiences they had while hunting these amazingly intelligent beasts.  I concentrated on controlling my breathing and limiting my movements.  I pictured the animal in various approaches so I would know where to place my shot.  I had trained myself to be calm and patient and it had always paid off for me with a wonderful harvest of wild meat for the winter.

Each animal I had gotten in the past had always been taken with one shot.  Only once had I missed my target.  I had been caught off guard when a doe sailed past me from behind.  I had missed twice but on my third shot I had managed to bring my concentration back under control and successfully brought her down.

Because of all the stories I had heard about large elk sneaking right past hunters while maneuvering their massive bodies and antlers through brush and trees, my senses were on high alert.  I scanned the tree line and thickets to detect the smallest disturbance as I moved closer to my destination where I would find a perfect spot to hide myself and wait for my hunting partner to flush them in my direction.  I had just crossed the small clearing and stepped back into the dense forest when I peered back one more time through the trees watching for any sign of ears, eyes or the twitch of a tail.  I strained to hear even the slightest sound – – nothing!

And then my partner’s words came rushing to my mind:  “Oh, you’ll know they’re coming!”  How right he was – for ahead of me and off to my left came the thunderous sound of hooves and the trees sounded as though a bulldozer was crushing through them at top speed.

I quickly raised my 30-06, slipping the safety off as I took my stance.  In less than ten seconds four huge cow elk burst through the trees into the clearing at about 50 yards.  They seemed to be a blur as they came through and yet I could see their eyes wide with fear.

The lead cow shot past me and as I swung to follow her in my sights, she disappeared through the trees.  I took aim on the second cow and dropped her just as she went behind a large pine with a fallen log next to it.  I could see her legs still running through the air as she lay on her back on the forest floor.  She tried to rise up and I shot again, hitting her behind the front leg and then watched her relax back down into the pine needle bedding.

The third cow had swerved to the right and raced up the hill at the sound of my shot.  As I glanced to see her disappear, the fourth and final animal bolted past me and circled to my left.  I was standing next to a large Ponderosa as she skidded to a stop before me.  This old gal tried to double back and had come up right behind me before she realized it.  As I had turned, I expected to see her rump disappear through the trees but to my surprise I saw her wide eyes, flared nostrils breathing hot air right in my face and stiff-legged skid.  Before she whirled away to make her escape, I realized she was so close I could have touched her nose.  I actually thought she was going to “trample anything in her path” as I had often been told, and that would have been me!

As she disappeared through the trees, I had to chuckle at such an amazing confrontation with this beautiful wild animal.  I had hoped to see more than a couple of elk that day, but I certainly didn’t expect four of them to race right by where I stood, giving me the perfect opportunity to be successful on my first elk hunt.  Nor did I expect to feel the breath of one of those animals right in my face as I stared back at her with eyes that were as wide in fear as hers had been!  If I hadn’t been in such shock, I may have been nimble enough to touch her nose and what a story that would have been!

All these thoughts went through my mind in a flash.  I turned back to the clearing to locate the animal I had shot and found that my legs were trembling as well as my hands.  I shouted for my hunting partner and he stepped out of the trees only a mere 20 to 30 yards from where this incredible scene had taken place in the space of less than five minutes.  Together we found my elk and so ended my first elk hunt.  Not only had I bagged a beautiful animal, but I had gained an exciting story to share at the campfire for many years to come!

Evening Shades

As I sit here relaxed in the soft caress of evening, I watch the cascading hues and evening shades of pastels cross the skies.  That azure blue heaven with its streams of billowing white cotton balls slowly fades as the warmth of the sizzling sun softens its brightness in preparation for dimming the lights of another busy day.  Randomly spaced traces of pink, lavender, blue and white with an occasional streak of gun-metal gray float lazily by as evening wears on.

It brings with it a peaceful tranquility, blanketing the surrounding vegetation and the birds begin to nestle into their snug little hideaways as the night creatures begin their nightly routines.  Frogs and crickets start up the evening serenade and soon twinkling darkness envelopes everything like a rich coat of diamond-studded velvet.

All is mellow and coolly refreshing as the pace of the day coasts to a standstill, preparing for a fresh start once the sun announces a new day and the peacefulness rolls aside to make way for a renewed energetic schedule as life awakens once more.

 

What is Genius?

Genius is . . . by whose standards?

Public opinion often uses IQ to establish Genius Status!  Says who?????

Genius takes many different forms:

  • Intellectual Learning / PHD’s / Masters / Diplomas / Favored Colleges
  • Subject Matter
  • Creativity
  • Psycho Babble
  • Con Games
  • Street Smarts

. . . and I could go on but I won’t!

I personally believe there is a little bit of genius in each of us.  It may not be accepted by everyone on this planet and yet we all have our moments of “super clarity” and “precise execution”  on different levels.  But let’s put things in perspective. . .

I have worked with engineers and found that it is almost impossible for some of these individuals to carry on an everyday, mundane conversation regarding the weather, their weekend or an upcoming vacation.  That cracks me up – and then there are those who are considered “slow” who have moments of genius almost daily.

So let’s really not categorize “genius” by our own measuring stick.  I once heard an old saying:  “There is a little bit of the best in the worst of us and a little bit of the worst in the best of us!”  I don’t know which genius made that statement but I concur wholeheartedly and I am no genius!