Life’s Sweet Delight — Making Maple Syrup

Had a special birthday celebration a few weeks ago when I got to spend the day in the north woods helping to make maple syrup with the good people from Maple Leaf Orchard, Spring Valley, Wisconsin. Mark and Sue Christopher guided us through the process and, at the end of the day, fed us and sent us off with some of the syrup we helped make. What a bonus.

Good Friday

Dogwood blooms
Dogwood blooms

Today is Good Friday. The dogwoods are in full bloom today. There’s a legend about the dogwood tree — that it was the tree used to make Jesus’ cross, but that his crucifixion transformed the tree to its current size, form, and blooms. It could never be used for that purpose again, its blooms a reminder of that event.

My mom loved dogwoods, but they weren’t native to Oklahoma. I remember that she tried to grow one in Mangum (just about as far as you can go in Southwest Oklahoma before you get to Texas). That little, spindly tree hung on as long is it could in that hot, flat land. I think it got run over by kids on bicycles a couple of times and then it died over a dry winter.

Thank you, God, for dogwood trees.

Forgiven

Bluebird box
Bluebird box

Last week I emptied a chickadee nest out of the bluebird box. And I’ve been feeling terrible about it ever since. Every spring, the cavity-nesting birds stake out potential homes and build nests in them. When I found the chickadee nest in the bluebird house, I did what a bluebird house landlord is supposed to do — empty the box so that a bluebird can build there. But who am I to say who should live there?  I’ve been debating this in my mind every since I dumped out that beautiful nest of grass, fur, and moss.

But today I looked in the box — and there’s a chickadee nest there again. Thank goodness … I feel as though I’ve been forgiven. Grace abounds.

Visit the website of the North American Bluebird Society.

Special Care

Tigger the Scottie
Tigger the Scottie

I have the privilege to live with a Scottish Terrier named Tigger. He’s 11 years old and just about the sweetest pup I’ve known. He’s precious — in that way that all companions are precious. I’ve been fortunate to live with him since 2000.

Tigger has one of the genetic disorders that Scotties sometime develop. It’s Canine Cerebellar Degeneration, commonly known as wobbly dog syndrome. The disease manifests itself in his inability to go down steps and his tendency to fall over. When he runs, his back end careens out of control like some cartoon.

The past couple of weeks, he’s be going through some tests — trying to figure out if he has some sort of cancer. I felt sad that this little creature may be nearing the end of his life. I often wonder why dogs and cats have shorter lifespans than humans. Perhaps it’s so we can be companioned by several of these wonderful animals throughout our lives.

While Tigger was at the vet’s yesterday, they took some blood samples to send to a research study at North Carolina State University’s veterinary teaching hospital. It felt great that he could contribute something to the effort to identify the gene mutation that causes his disease. Not that he could enrich the world any more than he has enriched my life …

I’m grateful for Tigger; for his presence in my life and for the many gifts he has given. Thanks, God, for Tigger.

Signs of Spring in Nashville

I get to work at home every so often — it’s a wonderful perk of my job. Today I spent the day writing, doing some finish-up work on the manuscript of my upcoming Advent book — The Uncluttered Heart (watch for it from Upper Room Books early this fall).

I heard the tree frogs this afternoon and the second daffodil was blooming in the front yard. I first noticed the tree frogs Saturday or Sunday night — it was about 25 degrees and just a few hardy frogs were peeping. The first daffodil was blooming on Saturday, when a cold front came through and  dropped a dusting of snow on it and the rest of Nashville.

I love to write while sitting at the kitchen table. The table looks out on the back deck — the feeding birds, the tops of the trees which line the hill below our house, the occasional squirrel getting a drink from the bird bath or hopeful cat hanging out under the deck railing. I’m grateful and mindful of God’s awesome creation.