Monday, February 26, 2018

Round 3 with Winter

They are calling it Round 3 of winter here in North Idaho.  Winter showed up early this year, in November while fall was still abounding in all its magnificence.  Soon, most of the snow from that event melted away, and there was no snow on the ground, right up until the 19th of December when the second round of winter arrived.  It snowed for most of the last two weeks of December.  By the first of January, a warm front arrived in our area, melting most of the snow.  By the first of February we were wearing sneakers, jackets, and considering putting up winter clothes.  Winter seemed to have departed for the season.  But suddenly on Valentine's Day we received over a foot of snow, along with a blast of arctic air that arrived on the Sunday afterwards to where we have been in subzero temps since with more snow on the way this weekend.  This is the reason they are calling it round 3 of winter here... since this is the third time winter has showed up unexpectedly.  This time, it appears to be staying around longer.  We expect winter here, and actually need and want the snow.  However, all three big events of snow here have come somewhat unexpectedly, catching many people off guard.

Well, you know how much I love snow! I can't say I love the cold subzero temps as much, but I have been enjoying the snow.  I've been walking every day most of the winter, and it has been a bit of a challenge to get moving on the days when the temps are below zero.  But I've done it, and I've found that it does help the cold days pass much more quickly when you just get out and enjoy whatever weather winter has dished up for us.

I know I share many sunset photos on this blog... but I can tell you that they
never get old to see the beauty in the skies!

One evening as we walked, the skies were pink, just pink.  Amazing!

The mountains and trees lifted rosy-tipped cheeks to the pink skies above. 

Layers of color spread by the Master Artist in great strokes of delight.

A dear friend invited a group of ladies to tea in her home.  What an incredible spread of delicious
food and tea she shared with us!

Everything was decorated so lovingly, and our plates held a little teacup with our name on it, and
inside was a tea bag. 

Loving attention to detail, it was a sweet time of fellowship, and feeling so very blessed. 

She served us different courses of food that she had prepared, starting with tea, then savory delights, followed by the sweets.  Oh my! What a feast it was!  

This package arrived in the mail for me, and what a sweet blessing it was!  My dear friend Cheryl sent me an assortment of cards for which she had written the inside greeting for Blue Mountain Arts.  

Such beautifully written greetings from her heart, on these gorgeous cards, what a treasured gift from her! Such
beautiful cards with the most loving greetings inside.  So if you find a Blue Mountain Arts card with a greeting written by Cheryl E. Smith, you will know just who wrote it! Cheryl blogs at Homespun Devotions, if you haven't already met her, do stop by and say hello, she is a dear sweet blogging friend of mine!
It was a happy mail kind of day, because another package arrived in my mailbox as well! 

The newest edition of Rural: Winter Love had arrived!  Rural Magazine is a digital magazine that I have been a subscriber
to for some time.  For the very first time, it is being offered in a print edition! 

Even more exciting, is that I was asked by the editor, Jen who blogs at RuralMag to submit an article for this issue. 

If you'd like to read my article in its entirety you can visit Rural Magazine here to read this beautiful issue of Rural Magazine.  If you'd like to hold the print copy in your hands to read and keep, I'd highly recommend doing that, and you can purchase your copy of Rural: Winter Love here.  I am just in love with the quality of the magazine.  It is printed on thick heavy paper, coffee table worthy, and truly a beautifully done magazine that is more like a book than a magazine, with no ads!  

Winter is certainly not finished with us here.  Our snow had melted to the point that we were out and about in sneakers and shoes, and wearing light jackets.  But, on Valentine's Day all that changed. We awoke on Valentine's Day to schools cancelled, as almost a foot of snow had fallen overnight. 

 My car was buried underneath a heavy cold white blanket! 

But that night, oh my!  The sunset was beyond stunning! 

 I submitted the above photo to our local newspaper, and it was published on the front page of the newspaper.  You can see it here: 

My husband and I celebrated Valentine's together by going for a drive together, enjoying the gorgeous sunset, and then we returned home to a special meal of homemade lasagna.  Fighting the crowds on Valentine's Day is not our thing. We enjoy being in each other's company out in the great outdoors much better :) 

But wasn't the Lord more than generous to bless us with such a display in the skies on a day when we celebrate Love! 

The blue skies abounded after the Valentine's Day snow as very cold weather set in, but with bright beautiful skies.  I have cross country skied as much as I can back to the tree farm, enjoying the glorious views around me. 
Making your own trail is challenging work, but the views and the exercise are worth it! 

For the next 15 days out we have snow every day in our forecast.  I guess its a good thing I love winter, I love snow, and that I have the beautiful issue of Winter Love in my hands.... it will be a good reminder to enjoy the beauty of the snow, even as we are beginning to look forward to the next season coming soon, which I call springter.  I always call it that here because we never really just move from winter to spring, but it is more of a tease back and forth between spring and winter.  Even though the calendar tells us spring will be here soon, more than likely it will be the season of springter that will hang around for a while longer.  

So whether spring is upon you, or if you are still in the throes of winter, with the time change on the horizon, and the days growing longer every day... it can still be a beautiful day to get outside, and enjoy the beauty of the Lord's creation.  :) 

"I love to think of nature 
as an unlimited broadcasting station 
through which God speaks to us every hour, 
if only we will tune in."  ~ George Washington Carver ~

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Passing the Winter Days

Winter certainly can seem to drag on, and last endlessly.  I've found that to combat the endless weariness of gray days that I need to get outside regardless of the weather.  Rain, snow or shine, I've been getting out every day to enjoy the overlooked beauties of winter.  We've had a few days of sunshine, but mostly clouds and rain.  However, that hasn't stopped us from getting outside.  I really think that is the key to beating the winter doldrums, is just getting outside whether the weather is friendly or not.

One Friday afternoon, a friend and I decided to ski up a local mountain road.  The road had been groomed and while it was pretty much uphill, the grade wasn't too difficult for us, and we stopped plenty of times to laugh and catch our breath. 

We came to this lookout and enjoyed the view of the mountains on our skies. 

I didn't bring Riley because my friend brought her dog, and we didn't want to have to keep up with two dogs on an unfamiliar trail.  Copper was a great companion and stayed close with us as we skied.  

A view through the trees of distant mountains.

The scariest part of all was skiing down the road. Our cross country skies were like greased lightening going down the hill.  Doing the "pizza" all the way down was more of a workout than going up!  But we both made it in one piece, and we had some great laughs along the way! 

Riley has learned to get very excited when she seems me getting on my skies.  That means more adventure for her! But at the end of a ski, she gets tired too, and we both stopped to rest in this picture, lol! 
As we skied on the tree farm, I noted that the slash pile that had burned dangerously out of control this past fall was still smoking, and this after all the rain and snow we've had!  I hope the loggers bulldoze this pile once spring arrives, as it is still smoking in the dead of winter. 

There have been a few days of sunshine in January, and when they do come, you get outside to enjoy and soak up that precious sunshine!

I know there are some of  you who dislike winter immensely, but there is just something
about these snow-laden trees, with the freshly fallen snow in the thick of the forest that
if I could take you with me, I think you'd change your mind :) 

These three love getting out in the woods with us.  My husband comes along when he can to snowshoe with me. 

We decided to try a little outdoor cooking too!  My husband got the dutch oven set up, and I added the chicken, potatoes and carrots to the pot.  He took care of cooking it, and did a fine job! 

Here you can see the chicken cooking happily away, out in the snow! 

It was quite fun to cook outside in the snow.  

The chicken was cooked perfectly with a hint of smokiness, crispy and tender.  

Served up on our tin pie plates, there was delight in every bite!

We've had a fair amount of fog this winter, but none more so than on this day when it hung quite low to the ground,
giving the world a rather mysterious appearance. 

And then there have been days with bright sunshine too, and when those days come,
I just want to spend the entire day outside!
I've cross-country skied as often as I could, because our snow is melting fast. 
It has become a ritual that I walk in the morning, and ski in the afternoon, weather permitting. 

Loving those bright warm rays of sunshine and the blue shadows. 
On our walks, often our neighbors' horses come to the fence to greet us as we walk by. 

Such sweet girls they are!
Eye see you... 

This is a panorama shot of the afternoon skies one evening as I walked. 

The heavens declaring the glory of the Lord!

Down at the river, the lonely park bench beckoned to me as the evening
shadows lengthened and darkness settled in softly. 
Such wonder in the skies!  I never, ever tire of the color palette offered up with winter sunsets!
To behold such glory in the skies, sometimes it makes my heart ache with the immense beauty of it all. 

And so the winter days are passing by us, slipping away like pearls on a strand... and spring is beckoning in the shadows with whispering anticipation as the days lengthen.  Our snow is melting, and I am sad, because I love the delights of winter so. 

I feel sadness at the end of every season 
for missing what was, 
but then I feel joy, 
for what will come in the next season.  

And so, that is just as life is for us too. 

There are seasons of our life, 
they never last forever, 
and there are joys and sorrows with each one, 
but none last forever... 
the clock keeps ticking away.  

The day is done
The sun has set
Yet light still tints the sky
My heart stands still
in reverance
For God is passing by.
~ Ruth Alla Wager ~

Psalms 36:5-10

 Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; 
and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; 
thy judgments are a great deep: 

O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.
 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! 
therefore the children of men 
put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; 
and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

 O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; 
and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

Even as clouds often obscure the sunlight for a short time, and seasons come and seasons go... we realize that nothing lasts forever, or is eternal, except for our souls and the One who created us.  How grateful I am to know that the eternal destination of my soul is with the One who created this world in all its majesty.  It is a comfort and a joy to walk through the seasons of life with that hope! 

Look up, up into the skies, and see the mercy of the Lord that is in the heavens, 
and his faithfulness that reaches unto the clouds.

And so... to live life to its fullest, look up to the skies... there is your answer, the heavenlies declare the glory of the Lord, and with each sunrise and sunset full of the majestic array of colors, we can keep our eyes focused on the light, and there can be joy in each moment, for each season of our life.  :)