Flowers of Winter

“God is in every season generous, kind, good, and beautiful.”

c e hollis

When winter sets in and the cold and drear keeps us in, the flowers of summer cheer me. Through the wonder of photography and the beauty of memory I can enjoy my summer flowers again and again. When the wind wuthers the walls and tries to whisk with a whoosh in around doors and windows and work its way down the stove chimney, I look at my flowers.

I love the colors, the pinks and purples, the oranges, the whites, blues, yellows, and the reds. Every color we can imagine flowers bring to us. Peach and periwinkle blue, mauve and butter cream, flamingo pink, pale rose, primrose and cherry red.

Even the names are beautiful: hydrangea, rose, lily, iris, petunia, geranium, daffodils, crocus, hibiscus, and tulip. There are orchids, trilliums, day lilies, gardenias, marigolds, dahlias, anemones zinnias, amaryllis, primroses and poppies.

I once had a photography teacher who said I should change my photo choices. “Nobody likes flowers,” he stated. Well, he was young so I guess he hadn’t been around enough to know how much people  love flowers. Walk through a store and see if everything from clothes to dishes and tableware, towels, even food packaging is decorated with flowers and you will know that people do love  flowers.

People love the names, the colors, the shapes, the textures, the scents of flowers. They write poetry about flowers. They give flowers to their sweethearts and use them to comfort mourners. They use them to decorate festive events like weddings and to beautify their homes. Being the draw of pollinators by shape, color and scent, that is the precursor to all our fruit and nuts, flowers are entirely center-of-the-universey. They are essential. We need them to live on the earth. yet they are graceful, beautiful and fragrant.

So while cold wind rages, rain and snow fall, icicles drip, and darkness comes early I will retreat to my flowers and enjoy them. Till spring and summer come again to my home.

The Starry Night Sky

“There is nothing like the immensity of the sky to show us tiny humans our place in the universe or to show us our great worth in the heart of God.”

c e hollis
Photo by Noah Silliman
courtesy of nsplash.com

I rode with Ron tonight out to feed the cows (I hope to become more involved in the farm life and so build my knowledge and understanding of the goings on.) It was cold and clear . I wore my warmest black coat and a woolly pink head scarf that wrapped like a blanket around my neck.

We rode in the RTV, which fortunately can go right through huge muddy roadways, wallows, and puddles. The orchard is swamped with all the recent rains. We still have pecans to harvest but it is too wet for the equipment.

The cows being in the back forty pasture are harder to tend especially after dark but we had had company and so it was late. The cows have two hay rings, a water tank, mineral blocks, and feed troughs where we give them a daily meal of alfalfa. Bessie and Liza wait at the orchard gate and the others trail after when they hear the RTV motor. We have to shoo them away to be able to pass through. Then they get behind us and hustle along.

Two horses Whitey and Rooster run along beside. They love alfalfa too. The cows scare me even in daylight but in the dark become big hulking ghosts. They are so huge and strong and they push and shove. Good grief, I don’t know how Ron dares. He gets out and begins distributing the hay pads into the feeders. The cows push as he works––all greedy for the first and best bites.

The sky is glorious out back on a clear night. No city lights, street lights, or even farmhouse security lights interfere with the darkness. Amazingly bright and so clear the whole galaxy rolls and moves with a force not unlike the breakers on the ocean’s shore.

We pick out our favorite constellations like children lying on their backs stargazing and watching for shooting stars to wish on. The sky is enough to make you feel your smallness in the great universe and at the same time your bigness at being a part of such grandeur.

The cold wind across my shoulders, the stomping, munching, snorting cows, and Ron’s fatherly voice calming their tussling, the slosh of mud, the hoot of owls, the riffling of running water in the creek and the sight of the house lights as we cross the pasture, skirt the spooky dark woods, latch the gates, and move across the orchard and back to the house are welcoming.

The sleeping dogs get up and try to appear concerned. “We were guarding here! We were. Right! We were looking out while you were gone. We knew you were out back.” Uh-huh.

Inside we stoke the fire in the woodstove and bring in an armload of wood for the night. We heat mugs of eggnog and sprinkle nutmeg on the creamy surface––our evening treat.

Chores inside and outside on the farm give us purpose and meaning. We are a part of things––in league with God is His care for His cattle, tending rows of His trees, caring our little garden. We work with Him and there is no better co-worker.

Ancient and Almost Gone

“As the years pass and the old must make way for the new so the aged begin to wilt and with their passing make way for the future generations.”

c.e.hollis

I cannot pass a ruin. I cannot pass by an old abandoned farmhouse or church with unpainted steeple. I cannot see a listing barn––weathered and tottering without pulling off the road and climbing through weedy ditches over fallen fences and through briars to get close enough for a photo shoot.

I love seeing the old in ruin with a tree sprouting from the inside or vines hugging stone or brick walls. I love the way land reclaims itself when humans are through with it. How an old farmhouse becomes a storage unit for the rancher and then a hay barn, then is left to field mice, raccoons and opossums to explore and finally to lose windows and become haunt of owls, roof and siding fades and falls. and soon the land is all that’s left except in spring.

Then flowers spring up for years where the flowerbeds were once laid. An untended lot or field is bright again with yellow daffodils and purple iris swaying in the spring winds. Flowers planted with love by some housewife or her husband, bringing smiles long after the planters have gone on.

This old building I am certain I must have passed many times over the years and yet I had no knowledge that such a building had been there. Someone must have cleared a treeline grown up that had hid it. I climbed over bricks and through weeds and briars to a clear spot.

A spray of purple aster peeked up at me. There were several old tires, four gasoline cans, paint buckets, a crippled lawn chair, a half- inflated sports ball, some empty oil bottles, broken glass, and shard of what had been a plastic bucket, bits and pieces of litter, the ubiquitous plastic bags, and rubble of bricks.

What had this been––a house, a school, a business perhaps a bakery or dairy, an old hospital or grade school building. I can only guess. It certainly touches my curiosity and makes me think. Who had lived, studied, worked, played or worshipped here.? How had the building died––a fire, years of hard service and neglect, vandalism, demoliton or salvage? Why was part still standing and what would become of this piece of history?

I wonder. Yes, I wonder.