Landscape

Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again, and the title has become an often-quoted phrase about change and memory.

Sheep farm on Ruff Creek Hill

sheep farm on Ruff Creek Hill

Yet here I am. Back home in These High Green Hills. Living within two miles of my childhood home. Living on what used to be my grandfather’s orchard.

Sunrise from my bedroom

sunrise from my bedroom

Sometimes a bit like being A Stranger in a Strange Land, but more often it is like being a stranger in a familiar land. Older and wiser, I see the familiar with new eyes — The Return of the Native…

The road home...

journey home…

New eyes that appreciate the beauty of the hills, streams, and roads of rural Appalachia.

these high greene hills

these high greene hills

New eyes that appreciate the need for economic development, but worry that it will spoil the ecosystems, the water, the landscape.

the cows' field, disturbed

the cows’ field, disturbed

New eyes that see God’s mercy on my life and the blessings of coming home again.

 

 

Landscapes? Yep, I got ‘em! About 500 on my phone alone! The top three were taken today; the others are from a greener season …

Swarm

swarm in november?

the birds flew a week ago

before the record cold.

the ladybugs have disappeared

(except for the few who are still hanging around on my kitchen ceiling…)

the bees are safe

making honey in their hives,

even the stinkbugs have gone into hiding.

here at the cottage

there are no swarms of bicycles, umbrellas, cars, or children.

there are swarms of leaves,

but I took that photo last week…

there’s a swarm of paint cans in the basement

(but that does not inspire.)

i was just about to pass on this challenge.

after all, i’m plenty busy cooking and cleaning

this week before thanksgiving.

and then, standing by the kitchen sink,

i look out the window.

sycamore branches

this is my view all winter long.

i’ve taken pictures of it before.

it’s spare;

it’s subtle;

a swarm of sycamore achenes

hanging in the november sky.

 

and i’m grateful for the sameness of the seasons — the cycles of nature that come round each year. 

 

Moments

Today I worked for the food bank from 8:45 to 2:15.

5 1/2 hours. 330 minutes. 19,800 seconds.

Plenty of moments to get a photograph.

But I didn’t.

I didn’t get a picture of the little boys singing and riding the rocking horse in the nursery.

I didn’t get a picture of two truckloads of food being unloaded.

I didn’t get a picture of volunteers packing food in boxes.

I didn’t get a picture of people waiting for their turn to get food.

I didn’t get a picture of the lady who broke down crying because Thanksgiving was so hard for her.

I didn’t get a picture of me praying with a woman who had just lost her grandson.

I didn’t get a picture of the ladies who got belligerent when they didn’t get commodity boxes because they made too much money.

Instead I got a bleak picture of poverty.

People just like you and me who have been handed a rough deal. Some are grateful for what they have; some are angry; some are barely dealing with it. They are vets, diabetics, seniors, men out-of-work because they hurt their back, women who were making it okay until they took in their son who lost his job and his girlfriend and her three kids. It goes on and on…

Yeah, I was the intake person. The person who told them they made too much money to get a senior commodity box; the person with whom two people cried; the person who heard the political diatribe about the (*&^% in Washington who don’t know how to run the government. The person who filled out the forms, did the paperwork, read them the rules, and wrote down their income. $350 disability + $369 in food stamps for a family of 7…

I got home at 2:30. Not glad that I had helped, but burdened with the cycle of poverty that I saw only a small glimpse of today.

My moments.

I have three clocks that tell me the moments. A green clock that matches my kitchen; a bird clock that chirps the hours; an expensive bedroom clock that shines the time and temperature on the ceiling…

And yesterday? I went grocery shopping for Thanksgiving. I went to two grocery stores and the beer store and mildly complained at how much everything cost. But my pantry is full; there are a few little extra luxuries for Thanksgiving dinner; and I still have some money left. I’m going to donate some of it to the food bank, and I suggest you do the same. To make someone else’s moments a little better.

 

and I’m grateful to have a full pantry and some money left over…