Tag Archive | milkweed

God’s Garden – and Mine

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I think God laughed a little at my lazy approach to gardening on the deck this summer, but decided to bless it anyway. The lettuce did very well in its bed of Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix. We’ve had several salads, and the lettuce keeps coming back when I cut it. It’s not quite as sweet and tender as it was a month ago, but it still makes a good salad. We had a few little radishes, but I think I made the mistake of planting too many seeds too close together. I wanted to get as many radishes as possible out of my bag of Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix. A couple weeks ago I pulled out the remaining radish greens with their scrawny roots, and planted the rest of the radish seeds from the package. I spaced each seed more appropriately, and this crop is coming up nicely. We’ll see if July is too hot to grow radishes, or not. It’s all an experiment.

IMG_1268The three tomato plants are doing very well. I transplanted each plant from the Deerfield Greenhouse into a larger pot filled with Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix. We’ve been eating fresh-picked tomatoes almost every day for weeks. Wonderful! A few of the leaves on two plants are starting to turn yellow, so I don’t know how long our prolific tomato harvest will last, but we’re certainly enjoying it now.

Fortunately, God has blessed us most from the gardens of our friends who still live in the country and have really big gardens. They have brought us asparagus, beans, cucumbers, different varieties of tomatoes and radishes, and various kinds of summer squash. And black raspberries!

Can you believe that the same God who thought up the idea of asparagus, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, and tomatoes, also created black raspberries! And just think about all the produce that is yet to come as gardens continue to mature this summer and fall!

God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties of seed-bearing plants, every sort of fruit-bearing tree.” And there it was. Earth produced green seed-bearing plants, all varieties, and fruit-bearing trees of all sorts. God saw that it was good. It was evening, it was morning – Day Three. [Genesis 1:11-13 The Message]

I’m discovering that God thought about nourishment for all of creation, not just us. This morning I went for a short walk in our back yard, near the pond. Lots of wild milkweeds are in full bloom. I expect to see many happy butterflies fluttering around any day now.

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Five years ago I wrote about “An Abundance of Tomatoes and Thistles” in this blog. I just discovered (by trying to follow an inactive link) that my blog posts from 2011 are no longer available on the Internet. (I switched blogging applications in 2012.) Here’s a flashback to when Whispering Winds was an active retreat center, and I was learning to share “my” tomatoes with God’s chipmunks. (This blog post is also included in my first book, LISTENING FOR GOD: 52 Reflections on Everyday Life.)

August 22, 2011:
This is a good year for cherry tomatoes at Whispering Winds. In the spring I planted a couple plants of my favorite variety, “Sweet 100” and one new variety that was simply identified on the tag as “large red cherry tomato.” For the past few weeks Charlie Chipmunk and I have been sharing an early abundance of the “large red cherry tomatoes” and a few of the “Sweet 100’s.” Charlie has decided that every tomato he tastes is worth eating in its entirety – no more taking one bite out of the tomato and then moving on to the next one like he did last year. This way, there are plenty of tomatoes for both of us, and for our guests, too. Unfortunately, Charlie has figured out that the “Sweet 100 s” are the sweetest of all tomatoes, so he gets most of them. But the “large red cherry tomatoes” are good, too, so everyone is happy.

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Charlie Chipmunk keeping a close eye on the tomatoes in the raised bed at Whispering Winds.

This is also a good year for thistles. That might not seem like a good thing, unless you’re a goldfinch, or someone who loves to see goldfinches. They’re my favorite songbird. Seeing a goldfinch perched on top of a bright purple thistle blossom reminds me of taking walks with my mom and seeing goldfinches perched on thistles along the roadside. She called them “wild canaries.” I’ve seen more goldfinches this year than ever. Almost every time I take a walk I see one or two, and smile, remembering my walks with Mom.

Late summer is a time for enjoying the abundance in God’s creation – the abundance of cherry tomatoes if you’re a person or a chipmunk; the abundance of thistle seeds if you’re a goldfinch.

I love the sights, sounds, and tastes of summer. As I walked around the pond this morning snapping pictures of the milkweeds with my smartphone, I was startled by the splash of a frog leaping into the pond right next to me. I guess I startled him, too. Then I started listening more closely to all the birds singing.

Last Saturday was the perfect day to enjoy summer with all our senses. I grilled really long hotdogs from Jones Dairy Farm in nearby Fort Atkinson, Mim cut up a fresh cucumber into a vinegar and sugar water mixture, and all of us – Carolyn, Anna, Martha (the three 95-year-olds), Floey, Mim, and me – had a picnic on the deck, with sweet, juicy watermelon for dessert (plus a few Oreos).

God certainly knows how to delight our senses!

Happy Summertime!

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Floey served as Anna’s foot rest, and enjoyed a soothing back massage throughout lunch.

Enjoying God’s Many Gifts

Some of the colors of October

Remember how much fun it is to watch a three-year-old tear the wrapping paper off a birthday present, to watch the excitement and delight in her face. She completely trusts that whoever gave her the present has given her a wonderful thing that she will enjoy to the fullest. One of the verses from the Gospel reading yesterday was “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. [Mark 10:15 NIV]”

After church Mim and I took Anna, our assisted living resident, out for breakfast. The morning had begun as a cold, cloudy day, but by mid-morning, the sun was beginning to break through the clouds, and gradually the completely gray sky had turned into a bright blue October sky, with just a few little fluffy white clouds scattered here and there. The sun shone brightly on fall foliage as we drove through the countryside. Yesterday must have been the peak day for fall colors in southern Wisconsin. Anna kept exclaiming with delight at the color of this tree and that, all the way to the restaurant. Even though Anna is 91, she was sure that the “yellow, orange, apricot, and red leaves were the most beautiful autumn colors” she had ever seen. Talk about childlike enthusiasm! We had a leisurely drive, a conversation full of excited exclamations at the beauty of each tree we passed, and a tasty breakfast where we each enjoyed our personal favorites. Anna’s was corned beef hash topped with fried eggs, Mim’s was French toast, and mine was a Greek omelet with fresh fruit on the side. What a way to start a Sunday! Our souls as well as our bodies were feasting!

Mim and Abbey starting down the trail at CamRock 3, a mile down the road from Whispering Winds.

Last Tuesday, Mim and I took our dog Abbey on a five-mile hike down country roads and on trails in CamRock Park. We ambled along for more than two hours. Tuesday was a beautiful day with a bright blue October sky. We hiked through a woodland landscape of every fall color you can imagine – bright red, dark red, rust, orange, yellow, tan, brown, and even some colors not usually associated with fall, like pink and purple.

As we walked the trails, we stopped to take a few pictures whenever something seized our attention –like a patch of deep red sumac in front of some yellow maples, or an open milkweed with seeds just waiting to be lifted out by a gentle wind.

As if all the beauty we saw on Tuesday wasn’t enough, God pointed out even more beauty to me the next day. On Wednesday evening, just as I was ready to leave the farmhouse to go to the condo for dinner, God set a rainbow in the sky. It had been raining lightly, and then the sun came out. I first noticed the rainbow over the trees between the farmhouse and the condo. That was the left half of the arc. As I walked around the yard, I spied the right half of the bow over the farmhouse.

I think God has been talking to me over the last several days through all this beauty in the sky and across the landscape. The Psalms remind us that God often speaks to us like this, without words.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
[Psalm 19:1-4 NIV]  

How wonderful it is to be reminded that God wants us to notice all the beautiful things around us and to be delighted by them with the enthusiasm of a child.

Happy Autumn! Take time to enjoy it. God wants you to.