Tag Archives: Emerson

What’s blowin’ in the wind.

Rain, rain, rain! My biggest dodonaea or hopbush was blown over in the last storm. Alejandro came Saturday and Sunday to re-stake three of these bushes, just before this current storm arrived. I was so thankful to get them shored up before the next gale.

I stayed home all day today and did housework. Isn’t it fun, the way housework incorporates everything from book-mending to picture-hanging, laundry to cooking? I did all those things today, and more.

When I wanted to read a certain fairy tale to the grandchildren last week, I opened the anthology I grew up with, and the cover fell off – again. A decade or two ago I had duct-taped it together, and today I put everything back again with clear tape. Afterward I had to browse a few pages, of course, and wonder about how much of my philosophy of life and my ideas about various things might have been shaped by the words and pictures on those pages.

I’ve already written about “The Little Match Girl,” (eight years ago this month, I see!) but other fairy stories, poems and nursery rhymes had a big effect on me. The words generally impressed more than the pictures, as I developed the habit of devouring them greedily, not wanting to take time for the images. “Hickety, Pickety, My Black Hen” was the sole reason I kept black chickens when I was a grown-up lady, but I always envisioned straight black, not laced, feathers. I evidently ignored this drawing.

But – when I think of “Hansel and Gretel,” which I also loved, this is how those forsaken children look in my mind.

Some rhymes were so much fun they seemed to insinuate themselves into my consciousness without any effort:goops IMG_3158


In our family we were not coddled. I had little sympathy for the princess who was so thin-skinned and tender, but whose story I liked to read again and again, and to stare at the illustration, so simple and absurd:

Ah, “Over in the Meadow” —  This one, I’m not sure if I loved it as a child or only after singing it with my own children over the years. All the mothers and children in that rhythmic counting song make me feel cozy.

When I was leafing through these pages this morning I didn’t gravitate to the poems about rain and wind that are more in keeping with the season. We haven’t seen the sun for a couple of days, and are predicted to get six inches of rain before this three-day storm has passed! Right now the wind is howling and the rain clattering; this month has been an average of ten degrees colder than usual, too. I made a big pot of vegetable soup, and roasted another of my butternut squashes, and was grateful.

That’s the theme of the last page I am posting here, which was the first one I saw. It’s not one of the more familiar ones to me, looking at it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it in the book, and it started me on my musings. Father in Heaven, we thank Thee!

Loving the Desert

What is it I love about the desert? Not the heat—I usually manage to avoid it during the summer months. But in the last 30 years our travels have taken us through the desert every other year or so, and the beauty is always overwhelming. Perhaps the reading I did with the children years ago created a fondness in me, preparing me for the real thing. Along Sandy Trails by Ann Nolan Clark, a library discard, was given to them by a neighbor long ago, and the loving descriptions of the plants and animals thriving in the arid soil of the Southwest make you feel friendly toward these hardy creatures and their home.

cholla cactus

“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes,” said Emerson. Montana may have the nickname to go with the phrase “big sky,” but the whole Southwest gives a feast for the eyes. Plenty of sky, plenty of space generally. In New Mexico the sky and the air were the aspects that demanded my constant attention and made the place so stunning.



As for the land, when you stand on a peak and look over the broad expanses, the first impression is often of brownness and barrenness. That’s where you are wrong. Get close to the ground, and you will see darling quail scurrying about, a graceful ocotillo, or the cholla cactus that seems always wrapped in a halo. The desert is always brimming with life, and sometimes blooming as well.


More spiritual lessons could be had from this large section of God’s creation than I will notice. (Even if, as some have said, there was not a desert in His original plan; Christ came into a world already changed and containing deserts, so even they are blessed.) We’ve been back home from our latest desert excursion for ten days, and after wrestling the whole time with possible connections to the heart’s topography, I feel stupider than before.

Perhaps the desert is compelling because there is something about it that draws me into the present. Certainly it doesn’t appear to be a crowded place, which makes it easier to focus on the details, the bits of Creation so exquisitely made. The next step is to glorify the Creator, and there you are in the moment of God’s presence.

red barrel cactus