Tag Archives: country life

Spring Is When the Meadowlark Sings and It’s Singing


Signs of spring are everywhere on the farm. February is like an erratic March. So was January. We’ve had little real winter. Almost no snow. Our weather blows mild then cold then warm again, even balmy before the wind cuts through us once more. The geese are in hyper fussy mating/nesting mode. Don’t even try to talk to them now. Fuzzy pussy willows will soon burst into full-blown catkins. Possibly today. I’m calling it. Spring is here. I’ve got pea seed and early greens ready to plant.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret Atwood

Early spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Meadowlark, Eastern MeadowlarkBack to the meadowlark, my goal is to ever actually see one of these elusive birds again. Theoretically, this shouldn’t be such a challenge, with our meadows and all. Once or twice, I’ve glimpsed a yellow flash and spotted the bird perched on a fence post before it flew. Mostly, they hide in the grass and skim away to another spot before I get a good look, calling all the while from various positions in the meadow.

Several years ago, daughter Elise and I were determined to track down the evasive songster and take its picture, like photographing fairies. We tenaciously followed its calls, even climbed over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture and picked our way along the little creek that flows from our pond, but never caught up with that bird, or birds. There may have been more than one taunting us. Unless I catch another rare glimpse, I must content myself with their beautiful trills. Birds like this need tall grasses and untidy hedge rows for nesting. Bear that in mind in your own yard and garden. Keeping everything trim and cultivated robs our feathered friends of habitat. It’s also a good excuse for a less than perfectly kept landscape. A little wilderness here and there is a good thing.

The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in spring“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

***Images of spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by my mom, Pat Churchman.

I bought the image of the meadowlark. Sigh.

Happy Boots, Happy Self


happy-garden-farm-bootsI’ve been thinking about my garden/farm boots a lot lately, partly because I haven’t ordered a new pair in two years, and daughter Alison is also debating this question. We’re fans of the colorful spirit-lifting kind. She’s torn about which pair to get. Initially, you can get away with one pair of oh, say yellow polka dot boots for everyday and town wear, if you hose them off after feeding the goats, chickens, etc. But it doesn’t take long before the gloss is gone.  Mud and manure take their toll, which leaves you really needing two pairs. I’ve actually accumulated three of the same happy print over the years. They’ve held up well, but one pair has formed a small hole in the sole–easily detected when wearing them in the wet–and all have lost their shine. No zip left. Question is, do I get another identical pair because they’re so swell, or risk a new pattern?

My son-in-law asked why not just wear plain black, which better endure and are what most men favor. My farmer husband and son do. Alison said her soul would be just as dark while wearing them. Where’s the fun in that?

What it gets down to is having the money to purchase alternate pairs of the same puddle splashing, mud slogging, critter feeding (and other stuff) boots. It can seem rather frivolous when watching your budget. However, when my last new pair were still fresh enough for town, I wore them to get allergy shots to the delight of nurses and patients, and cheered passersby at the grocery store. I brought joy and light with me wherever I went/skipped. There’s far more to boots than you may realize. Children know this.

Ask a kid if they want yellow/pink polka dots, bright flowers, happy animals, or back boots and see.

“Everyone chases happiness, not noticing that happiness is at their heels” – Bertolt Brecht (Literally, if you’re wearing the boots.)

One of my current glossless pairs pictured above. For those eager to know, these are called Sloggers and sold at Amazon. Isn’t everything?

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible. ~Christopher Reeve


Take hope. Each new day holds possibilities, and God is with us, even though sometimes it may not seem so. Below are some inspiring quotes to uplift our spirits as we go into 2017 with sunrise images from the farm.

sunrise-of-beauty-on-the-farm(Sunrise of glory on the farm taken by me)

Hope is the physician of each misery. ~Irish Proverb

God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us — in the dreariest and most dreaded moments — can see a possibility of hope. ~Maya Angelou

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all….
~Emily Dickinson, c.1861

What is Hope? a star that gleaming
O’er the future’s troubled sky,
Struggles, tremulously beaming,
To reveal what there may lie.
~R.A.P., “Hope,” in Southern Literary Messenger, December 1840

morning-has-broken-on-the-farm-jpg1(Morning has broken taken by hubby Dennis)

Where hope would otherwise become hopelessness, it becomes faith. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

All it takes is one bloom of hope to make a spiritual garden. ~Terri Guillemets

You’ve gotta have hope. Without hope life is meaningless. Without hope life is meaning less and less. ~Author Unknown

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. ~Anne Lamott

glorious-sunrise-on-the-farm(Fiery sunrise by me)

Hope is warmth against the cold winter of adversity. ~Terri Guillemets

Hope is the word which God has written on the brow of every man. ~Victor Hugo

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. ~George Iles

Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them. ~Vincent McNabb

When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
~Author Unknown

Thankfulness


Autumn leaves on maple tree near green rye field on our farm in the Shenandoah Valley

On this fine Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my precious husband, family, and friends, including the furry ones. I’d add ‘feathered’ friends but the geese don’t actually like me. I should get some ducks. I’m grateful to live on a farm in the beautiful, richly historic, Shenandoah Valley where my ancestors were among the earliest settlers. I’m surrounded by fields, meadows, wooded hills, mountains, and my slumbering gardens which will awake this spring and burst forth. Though I may need to toss more seed around and put in new plantings if the winter is too cold. Such is gardening. Still, I’m always delighted by what does survive–except for the weeds. For all its challenges, I love country life. (Image above taken by daughter Elise behind our farm)

farm-pond-and-wooded-hills-behind

(The farm pond with wooded hills behind taken by me earlier this fall)

Being a prolific author, I must include how grateful I am for a lively imagination, writing skills, an excellent editor, and publishing company. I am grateful for The Wild Rose Press. I recently finished a ghostly time travel romance entitled Somewhere My Lady, for my Somewhere in Time series, that will come out in the new year. As of yesterday, I am at work on a new paranormal/time travel for this series. With writing, and reading, you can travel all over the place and not leave your couch, chair, bed…Inspiration is all around me.

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” ~Meister Eckhart

What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving? ~Erma Bombeck, “No One Diets on Thanksgiving,” 26 November 1981

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron

Geese I know #Countrylife


Here's looking at you kid.JPG2(‘Here’s looking at you, kid.’)

With my new photography craze, I’ve taken to stalking the barnyard geese, aka Pilgrim geese (an old breed). They’re squawky, easily spooked, and difficult to capture on film. I creep around corners, freeze when they spot me, and attempt to hang out with the gaggle to win their trust. Not gonna happen. When I toss grain their way, they fear I’m throwing stuff at them and flee. Not overly bright, but fun to watch. I’ve gotten a few good pics and many of their retreating backs.

'I think we're alone now'             (‘I think we’re alone now. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around.’)

These geese have been on our farm for decades. They began as two pairs. The breed is so long-lived, I suspect we still have the originals. If they were better parents, we’d be overrun, but they’re absentminded and forget where they left the goslings. We’ve retrieved distressed peepers and restored them to the gaggle, but only a few reach adulthood out of those successfully hatched. A lot of them don’t even make it out of the egg. After four plus decades, we have about two dozen in the flock.

geese counting cows(Geese counting cows, only they don’t count very well.)

They roam all over the farm, frequent the pond, the meadow, the barnyard, shady grassy spots when the sun’s too hot, and of course, the barn itself. They keep company with the cows and dislike dogs. Cats are ignored. ***Note, these are not attack geese. They fuss and carry on, but will take off when threatened unless defending their nest. Don’t get too near nesting geese of any breed.

“Ego: The fallacy whereby a goose thinks he’s a swan.”

***Images taken by me in July.

The poetry of the earth is never dead. ~John Keats


We’ve had a lovely garden season this year with rains enough not to need the sprinkler. This may change, as higher temps are in the forecast and no imminent showers, but weather can turn around overnight, so we shall see. Meanwhile, we’ve been blessed and I’m sharing July pics of the farm and garden with you.

A parade of poppies by Elise(A parade of poppies by daughter Elise)

_MG_0679_copyright (1)I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir (1838–1914)

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright. ~Henry David Thoreau

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~e.e. cummings  (Cone flowers by Elise)

Good heavens, of what uncostly material is our earthly happiness composed… if we only knew it. What incomes have we not had from a flower, and how unfailing are the dividends of the seasons. ~James Russell Lowell

poppies and alyssum by EliseI know the thrill of the grasses when the rain pours over them.
I know the trembling of the leaves when the winds sweep through them.
I know what the white clover felt as it held a drop of dew pressed close in its beauteousness.
I know the quivering of the fragrant petals at the touch of the pollen-legged bees.
I know what the stream said to the dipping willows, and what the moon said to the sweet lavender.
I know what the stars said when they came stealthily down and crept fondly into the tops of the trees. ~Muriel Strode, “Creation Songs”

(Poppies, sweet alyssum, and bachelor’s buttons by Elise)

July 5th evening light in between rain storms

(Grazing cows in the meadow taken by Beth)

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. ~Rachel Carson

Happiness flutters in the air whilst we rest among the breaths of nature. ~Kelly Sheaffer

barn in sunset                                              (Barn against sunset by Beth)

If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere. ~Vincent Van Gogh

All I want is to stand in a field
and to smell green,
to taste air,
to feel the earth want me,
Without all this concrete
hating me.
~Phillip Pulfrey, from Love, Abstraction and other Speculations, http://www.originals.net

I can still smell the green of the grass crushed beneath me. Feel the damp of the dew on my elbows. Hear the birdsong. ~Kristina Turner, The Self-Healing Cookbook, 2002, originally published 1987

Garden shot by Elise in July

(our garden by Elise)

God’s handiwork is all about me,
As I sit on the porch and gaze
At the far-off peaks of the mountains
That are touched with the sun’s bright rays.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “In the Mountains” (1940s)

farm pond with cow(Our meadow with pond and hills beyond by Beth)

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~John Burroughs

A setting sun still whispers a promise for tomorrow. ~Jeb Dickerson, jebdickerson.com

Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
~William Wordsworth

Brilliant coreopsis and Queen Ann's Lace by Elise(Coreopsis Tinctoria and Queen Anne’s Lace by Elise)

There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough to pay attention to the story. ~Linda Hogan

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. ~Henry David Thoreau

morning garden along the road(Bee Balm, white Phlox and other flowers in front garden by Beth)

All Things Bright and Beautiful


The Shenandoah Valley is one of the loveliest places in the world. I call it ‘the Shire’, for good reason. Given the darkness spreading in America, my aim is to share the simple goodness and beauty that still exists in my green valley.

“God made the country, and man made the town.”  ~William Cowper, The Task

Farm Pond with Geese(Image of our farm pond by daughter Elise)

“To a brain wearied by the din of the city, the clatter of wheels, the jingle of street cars, the discord of bells, the cries of venders, the ear-splitting whistles of factory and shop, how refreshing is the heavenly stillness of the country!” ~Olive Thorne Miller, 1895

“I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand.” ~Leonardo da Vinci

Cosmos, sunflowers, and barn.jpg1(image by Beth of old red barn that’s now white with cosmos and sunflowers)

Daylily wet with rain(Daylily and larkspur wet with rain by Beth)

“Anybody can be good in the country.”  ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

“It is not easy to walk alone in the country without musing upon something.” ~Charles Dickens

butterfly in evening garden by Elise(Silver Checkerspot Butterfly in Garden by Elise)

“The sunrise and sunset of each Summer’s day,
The song of the birds and the flowers, so fair,
And all the beauties of Nature everywhere.” ~~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “A Leaf from Memories’ Book” (1940s)

“As much as I converse with sages and heroes, they have very little of my love and admiration.  I long for rural and domestic scene, for the warbling of birds and the prattling of my children.”  ~John Adams

Elise herding geese(Elise herding geese–image by Beth)

Geese in front yard.jpg1(Geese in my front yard–image by Beth out the second story window)

“Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid nature.”
~William Cowper

“The city, no matter how small, is corrupt and unrepentant, while the sun shines brighter in the country, making people more wholesome.”
Lori Lansens, The Girls

Another bright corner(Bright garden nook by Beth)

Ferny asparagas covered with dew(Ferney asparagus and flowers covered with rain in the early morning by Beth)

“Let yourself fall in love with something that simply makes you happy. If there’s a place for it in your heart, there’s a place for it in your home.” ~Mary Randolf Carter

“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.” ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

garden, yard, and old barn.jpg1(Garden, yard, and old barn)