63. Apple Blossoms, Lilacs, and Birdsong

This is part 3 of several posts discussing Richard Foster’s chapter on Simplicity in Celebration of Discipline.

Ahhh, spring!
The flowers, the colors, the smells, the birds, the sun… It’s just good for the soul.


We’ve been talking about Richard Foster’s practical ways to simplify your life. And today we are skipping to #6 because this is an easy one: “Sixth, develop a deeper appreciation for the creation…Walk whenever you can. Listen to the birds. Enjoy the texture of the grass and leaves. Smell the flowers. Marvel in the rich colors everywhere. Simplicity means to discover once again that ‘the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.’ (Psalm 24:1)”20130421-002630.jpg

And when better to start this part of your new simpicity regimen than spring?

The view from my back porch...

The view from my back porch…

My back porch workshop is open for business again, and I was painting out there on Saturday morning. Painting is a quiet, lovely, simple activity, and I was enjoying the birds. In the two hours that it took me to paint the shelf boards for the built-in spice rack, I saw a flicker, a dove, robins, a red-winged blackbird, a phoebe, a female cardinal, mockingbirds, wrens, a starling, goldfinches, and a turkey. What joyful songs they were singing… I had stepped off the porch just to turn my face to the sun, when I heard a bird sing “Look here, look here. Tuweet, Tuweet.  Over here, over here, Tuweet, Tuweet. Right here, right here. HaHaHaHaHaHa.” 

I laughed just for the gloriousness of it. I was sure that mockingbird was teasing me. But just a few minutes later, I was back painting on the porch when I heard him singing the same song for his girlfriend. She turned her back to him, totally ignored him and soon flew away. He stopped singing; he may not have won his lady love, but he certainly entertained me.

maple tree in spring against a blue sky

Somewhere in this fuzzy spring maple tree sits that singing mockingbird…

Mr. H.C. could hardly wait to get on his tractor for the first time. He was spending a lot of time mowing, but I was busy and not paying attention to how long it was taking him to mow the grass. He finally came and found me and said with a grin, “Want to go walk around the estate?” If you knew what the “estate” looked like, you would laugh. Apple Hill is not exactly an English country cottage on manicured grounds. In fact, where the moles don’t live, these do:Dandelions

But we have wanted to mow paths around the berry patch since last year, and Now Is The Time! So we walked around the newly mown paths, scoping out the possible berries, and discovered an apple tree that we couldn’t reach last fall because of the briers.Apple tree blossoming

Under the dappled light of the apple tree the air was sweet from blossoms, the bees were humming, and the grass was trampled low from deer sleeping there.

We walked home clutching handfuls of wild chives and sticks of apple blossoms to add to the vase of lilacs in the kitchen.apple blossoms and lilacs
How easy it is to be joyfully at peace on these glorious days of spring.

17. Meanderings at Apple Hill

The birds have flown, the kitty is skittish, and the lazy days of summer are almost gone. Work on the cottage will continue, I know, but probably not with the same freedom of coming here each weekend, working, dreaming, and sitting on the porch.

20120806-075740.jpgOne of our favorite things to do in the mornings and evenings is to sit on the porch watching and listening to the birds. Our identification skills have improved greatly, thanks to my well-thumbed bird book, Birds of North America . We have seen bluebirds, orioles, finches, wrens, woodpeckers, thrushes — we have watched a mockingbird do a song and dance routine on the nearest telephone pole — we watched baby robins get pushed out of their nest one morning and soon they were hopping around the yard looking for their own worms — and we’ve watched the barn swallows soar and dip, eating insects at dusk. Learning to identify their songs has been such a pleasure. This weekend the bird songs have been replaced by the constant hum of cicadas, and the birds are missing. Not a single robin in the grass; no flash of cardinal red; no wood thrush calling its haunting song from deep in the woods; not even any mournful dove songs. All weekend the only birds we saw were two fat crows walking on the grass, and three unidentifiable birds sitting on the wire. I hope they are all just enjoying a week at the beach…

Friend Beth came to visit on Saturday evening and brought another suggestion for a kitty name — Moe. We’ll have to see if this one sticks… He seems very skittish, especially in the dark. Last night we were looking at the stars, and the shadow of a fox ran across the yard beyond the apple trees. “Look, there’s the fox!” I said excitedly to Michael, and the very same second the kitty took off running for the safety of the porch. There was fear in his eyes. He stays very close to us when we are outside, and he won’t go out on the back porch after dark by himself. He sleeps on the bed all night and snores! All this is most unusual behavior for an independent (ex)tomcat! The wounds on his face have almost healed, but he doesn’t seem to have forgotten. Now we are feeling very responsible for him, and it no longer feels okay to just enjoy him when we’re here. We are thinking he will be our indoor house cat in Pittsburgh this winter…


A face only a mother could love…

We picked and ate our first apples this weekend:


The red ones are Red Delicious — which is disappointing as they are no one’s favorite! The green one is as yet unknown; it wasn’t quite ripe and was a bit sour, but definitely edible. We’re thinking a yellow cooking apple — maybe Grimes Golden.

We went out later today and picked a few more.


They don’t look or taste too bad for an old, unpruned tree.

We aren’t the only ones who think they aren’t too bad…These are two twin fawns we’ve been watching for a month or so; they’ve only recently started losing their spots. There is a groundhog who comes around also, but he’s too fast for my unskilled photography. As long as they don’t start climbing the trees…


Sorry for the blurry shot–I guess National Geographic won’t be calling me for a wildlife photo shoot anytime soon!

We also have about a dozen pears on the young trees we planted this spring. Yes, this is gratification!!!

There were just small projects done this weekend. (It was just too hot for Michael to work in the attic!) I sanded and painted the back porch steps:

I kept thinking of my grandfather’s phrase — like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Oh well…the entry to the back porch isn’t high on the priority list; I was just trying to keep the steps from decomposing over the winter. (Notice that I only showed you a picture of the nicely painted steps — the rest of the entry is just too horrible to photograph.)

And we now have numbers on our mailbox post — can’t have the pizza guy passing us by!


Michael sanded and hung the door we found at the ReStore for ten dollars. This is the door that goes down four steps into the pantry/laundry room. (Clara’s pantry sign will hang at the top of it–see 10. Clara’s Kitsch.) I primed it, and now it will have to wait for its color until we choose red or green. I’m seeing this door as Red Delicious red. Somehow, I just can’t picture this door in Lime Twist… Anyone have thoughts?

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer everyone. I hope the birds get back safely from their vacations, and everyone gets to enjoy a sunset like this one in these last precious days of August…