Wednesday, May 28, 2014
My nature class is held at Great Plains Nature Center. Early yesterday we watched a doe graze near the center. This morning as we went out for a field walk, her fawn, hidden in the grass, suddenly went into a panic, leaped into the pond water and swam across the small area, calling for mom. She was nearby and met the baby quietly and stood nuzzling her for several minutes. I realize these pictures don't even begin to tell the story, but it truly touched me to have seen it.
The world is so full of wonder. How did that baby know the direction to go to find its mother? How did it know how to swim in its few days of life? How did that mother know she could safely nuzzle her baby for a number of minutes and we would do her no harm?
The world is full of wonder. And today I was right in the middle of it.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
The need for spring must be some form of anxiety Midwesterners have after the winter from the Great North, for we are indeed anxious for a change in temperatures a snow-free week and anything that is green.
I rushed inside and there the chicks were inside stock tanks and under heat lamps. There was also a fence around the tanks and signs that warned us to stay off the fence. To add still another insult – a store employee was watching the chick area. What was I gonna do, grab one and cuddle it? (Well, alright, so maybe I would have, but you know, we all need a little cuddle therapy once in a while.)
I grew up on a Kansas “homestead,” as we like to call them these days. My Dad farmed and worked a full-time job, but my mother stayed home, tending livestock, chickens and kids. There were three buildings dedicated to raising chickens. Each spring the chicks arrived by mail, cheeping and poking their little heads out the quarter-sized holes.
We were almost totally self-sufficient on the farm, so we slaughtered about a hundred of the young fries and froze them for winter. Another hundred were kept for egg sales, and it is within that realm that the bad chicken memories developed. First, I was too young for big responsibilities, and chickens scared me. They pecked at me. The roosters chased me. There were snakes in the egg boxes. The hens pecked me when I gathered eggs and I was scared of the dark and hated going out to lock them in. All these years later, I remember that I loved the chickens that just moseyed around making little clucking noises. But then, maybe those were the chickens over at my grandmother’s house and not ours.
The story of how my parents got into the chicken business was recalled by my mother. It seems that my parents were start-up farmers during the late depression and a few years after. The farm culture dictated that women would stay home, but like all their neighbors, they were hard up for money. There was an egg co-op in Wichita that called a meeting one winter and a spokesman convinced them and others like them that there were big bucks to be had by raising chickens. Of course, that was ideal, because the women could take care of them since they didn’t “work” anyway.
My dad was a bit of a penny-pincher, but he managed to salvage some lumber and put up a really nice chicken house for a few hundred birds. A luxury brooder house and some chicken pens came next. That spring and for many to follow, the baby chicks arrived and went through the life cycle from peep to egg production.
Over the years, the number of chickens decreased and finally the chicken house became implement storage. Seems there was no longer a market for farm eggs.
“So did you ever make any money at it?” I asked my mother. Her reply was “Shoot NO.”
“Then why did you stay in the chicken business?” I pursued with a little doubt.
“Oh,” she muttered, rubbing her cheek as if trying to recall. “I guess it just became a way of life. We made just enough money to pay for the chick starter, and we ate most of the eggs or traded them off to the neighbors or at the store. It was just the way young folks survived back then.”
“There is a lot to be said for survival,” I thought, and even though I don’t have good memories of chickens from back then, I can’t help but yearn to own a few. Of course, mine would be the kind that moseyed around, clucking quietly.
DEFINITION OF "mosey" as in, The chicken "moseyed" around. To walk around in a slow manner, seemingly without a destination in mind and with much enjoyable distraction present.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
At church we finished the many services of Advent and Christmas and last week held Vespers for Epiphany. The candle glow filled the church as we sang carols and the evening vespers. Incense added to the liturgy perfectly…..”Let my prayer rise before you as incense….”
I love the images, odors and sounds of the church, especially as we celebrate the days of Christmas and Epiphany. Even as a child the smells and sounds were an important association with church.
My childhood church was not Lutheran – just a simple rural church where farmers and small town folks gathered for worship. We didn’t always have a presiding minister, so perhaps the the theology was a bit thin at times, but our church was filled with the lives of the families who lived there. We had little formality in the services and few financial resources. We had what we brought to it.
In early spring I helped my mother cut the best of our lilacs for the altar. We were never allowed to cut them otherwise. My shoes were wet from the dew on the cold grass but I was pleased to sit in the back seat of the ’52 Chevy holding a huge vase of lilacs on my knees, my face buried in that heavenly smell. The church would be filled with the smell of lilac for a few weeks and other flowers as the seasons progressed.
There was no children’s church, so kids stayed in adult church during service. I was grateful for a warm sunbeam on the oak pew that brought out a mild smell of polish. The hymnal had an old musty smell to accompany our song. The spare and open sanctuary added emphasis to the few sensory images present.
I savor the sensory rich services we have at Gloria Dei. I love the sounds, especially the bells. The aromas from candles and flowers and occasional incense are welcome. Every sense speaks to us of our faith and the presence of Christ in us.
Our church smells - and I can only say, thank God it does.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
I had to laugh many times over the holidays at the arguments of couples in the grocery stores. The gender perspective continues to amuse me.
I ran into an older couple in the dairy department. She reached for the butter and as she placed it into the cart her husband said, “What are you gonna do with THAT much butter, Martha?” She signed with clear exasperation and responded, “I’m baking. I use a lot of butter when I’m baking. I need butter.” He then gives his own heaving sign of exasperation.
Too much money? The refrigerator at home is full of butter? He has a butter phobia?
Another couple in the produce isle was the classic example of people who should never shop together. Although just beginning their venture, evidenced by an empty cart, he asked her what she needed NEXT. (Sigh of fatigue followed). She says “tomatoes” and reaches for a bunch of vine grown fruit. “Not THOSE,” he says and picked up the Romas that were cheaper and placed them into the cart. “THESE are a LOT cheaper,” he says. She takes them out of the cart and puts them back on the shelf. “THESE are the ones we need for the salad, “ she states and puts those into the cart. They argue as they walk through the aisles.
They can’t afford an additional .25 cents? He doesn’t like tomatoes anyway? They argue over every item purchased? (Whew, that would make shopping an adventure, wouldn’t it?)
I really liked the tactic taken by a young fellow at the Sam’s store, our local big box store. As I pass through the cheese isle, I see the guy with one of those really nice phones taking pictures of the parmesan cheese in large pound containers – then the shredded mixed Italian, etc. The process went on several minutes and I couldn’t figure out what he was doing.
Was he a hired comparison shopper? Why take photos? So I peeked around the corner and was just ready to ask why he was taking photos when I saw him dial and speak into the phone. “So WHICH one do you want, Dear?” (Sigh)
Oh, gosh, aren’t phones convenient. I can’t help but sympathize with the guy as I remember too many trips to the hardware store to exchange plumbing parts that weren’t the right fit.
My own vision of a happy couple is one where the couple shares the kitchen. I imagine the roomy, modern space with plenty of area for his chopping (wine glass nearby) and her companionable salad flipping (with wine sips). They chat about the issues of the day and cheerfully put the ideal healthy meal on the table.
That probably isn’t going to happen, is it? Well, heck, happy holiday shopping to all my friends. May your carrots not be wilted.