Fall Color in the Appalachians

The leaves were slow to change this year.  Where we live in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, October is usually the month to enjoy the fall foliage; but this year, color is peaking in November.  Well worth the wait, the mountains are now a colorful kaleidoscope.

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Pictures just don’t do the scenes justice, but I always try!

Other plants have taken on autumn hues as well.  The blush of the hydrangea blooms against the sunny yellow leaves is stunning.

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While on a hike, I spotted these ferns which have turned golden.

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As a family, we are blessed to enjoy this beautiful place while we work and while we play.

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Spreading wood chips over the vegetable gardens.  In the background are two maples trees: one red, one yellow.
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Hiking to an overlook on Pine Mountain.  
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Our view from the rock above.
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Bounty, Blossoms, and Butterflies

After traveling much of August, we returned to a bountiful harvest from the vegetable gardens: Roma beans, wax beans, spaghetti squash, greens, cucumbers, and yellow squash.

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Bountiful Harvest

While we were gone, the wildflowers burst into bloom: purple iron weed, pink queen of the meadow, yellow goldenrod, and a variety of asters.  The hydrangea bush also began to show its late summer hues.

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Hydrangea Blooms

One of our neighbors on the trail shared some of his chicken of the woods with us.  After dipping the fungi in a milk and egg mixture, followed by cornmeal, and frying in a bit of olive oil, they were so delicious that I ate until my belly was tight.

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Chicken of the Woods

The harvest has started to wind down.  The children dug the potatoes.  We pulled the corn stalks and bundled them to take to the farmer’s market.  The onions were harvested.  After a number of days of very hot weather, the bean plants were dried up and ready to be pulled.

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Farmer’s Market

What remains in the gardens is carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and several varieties of squash and pumpkins.

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Pumpkin Beginning to Ripen

School has begun for the children and me.  It is a new year, and I am excited to be trying some new methods and ideas.  Nature study is a once-a-week practice we are beginning.  For fifteen minutes, we observe something in nature and make an entry in our journals either by sketching or writing.  The discipline is a good one.  This past week’s journals included sketches of a cluster of grass, a golden rod blossom, a hosta leaf, and a sassafras leaf.  My observations this past week were of a butterfly (I think it may be a fritillary.) on a queen of the meadow bloom.  When I first spotted the butterfly, and as I walked closer, it began to flit around the area.  After I was settled in the grass, the creature lighted on the blossoms, and for nearly ten minutes, it stayed in one place and opened and closed its wings.  The photos were as close as I could get, because it flew off as soon as I approached.  Actually if you look closely, you will see two butterflies!

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Butterflies on a Bloom

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being”- Revelation 4:11 NIV

Summer Beauty

The beauty of God’s Creation shows up in various forms in the summer.

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Morning Sunbeams
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Summer Foliage
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Squash on the Vine, Corn on the Stalk

 

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Corn at Dusk

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Sunsets: No Two Alike

“This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas–
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!”

-Maltie D. Babcock

Consider the Lilies

The following post has been in my “drafts” folder for two years.  Somehow I missed publishing it at the time.  This lily hasn’t bloomed in the two summers following 2016, but it surely was beautiful.

Each time I pass this beautiful lily at camp, I am reminded of Jesus’s words in Luke 12:27.  “Consider how the lilies grow.  They do not labor and spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”

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And I am reminded how much more our Heavenly Father cares for me.

This summer, 2018, some other beautiful lilies were and are showing the glory of God.

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And then there are the wild azaleas that are harder to capture on camera and provide a subtle burst of color in the forest.

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Spring Delights

Every year, spring delights my senses.  The mountains are transformed from bare grey to lush green in a few short weeks.

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April 10
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Wave after wave of various types of both wild and domesticated flowers unfold their blooms in vibrant colors.  The sweet scent of nectar floats in the air.

Seeds are planted and then push their shoots up through the soil, unfolding their leaves, and promising tasty vegetables to come.

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May 2- planting beans with friends
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May 29- Vegetables plants are growing

Spring delights!

Full Days

In the last number of weeks, my days have become very full leaving little time or mental energy for blogging; but here are a few glimpses from the last month.

There have been late afternoon hikes at Kingdom Come State Park.

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Seeds have been planted, and the greens and radishes have poked their heads up through the soil.

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Beautiful bulbs have bloomed.

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We spread wonderful compost full of earthworms on a bit of the vegetable garden.  This was our first successful experience at generating compost.  It did not cover much of the space, but look how dark it it!

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We have seen warm, sunny days; brisk, snowy days; and a few showstopping sunsets.

20180312_15561020180315_193902Sometimes busy can feel overwhelming; but pausing to look back, there have been times of rich blessing and beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

Winter into Spring

Each year, after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I so very much enjoy the January pace of life.  This year was no exception.  There were enough weather-related cancellations to allow for some margins in our weeks.  During those margins, games were played, puzzles were put together, and long-neglected toys were brought out to use in new and creative ways.  Time was spent crafting, reading, cracking and picking out black walnuts, listening to Beethoven and Chopin, and collecting maple sap.  There were more consistent times of family Bible reading, singing, and playing piano.  I took a yoga class, planned the vegetable gardens, ordered seeds, and researched relaxed home school styles and methods.  On more than one occasion, we enjoyed a visit with friends.  For me, this January was a much-needed time of refreshment.  I deliberately wanted to press into the moments, to take in nourishment for the soul and spirit so that I might have energy to give of myself in the coming months of many interactions and busy moments.

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As February has commenced, our days have become fuller; but the anticipation of spring is upon us.  During this week of temperatures in the 70s, the children have played outside, trees have begun to push out buds, and daffodils and crocuses have burst into bloom.  After checking the long range weather forecast for March and April,  it appears that spring may be here to stay; so I tucked a few seeds in the ground including spinach, kale, chard, lettuce, parsley, and radishes.  If I can find a clear day with some time, the peas, carrots, and beets will be next.

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After the cold and hibernation of winter, spring sunshine and warmth enliven the spirit.  Each season has its value and joys.

Garden Bounty

I am grateful to report that our gardens produced well this year.  The green beans and tomatoes have been especially plentiful resulting in a level full deep freeze.  We were also able to enjoy lots of fresh lettuce and greens and some carrots.  There were enough peas to put some in the freezer and a decent crop of potatoes and onions.  Herbs included mint, parsley, oregano, cilantro, and dill.  A variety of squash and a few cucumbers were harvested.  Peppers are still waiting to be picked.  I am hoping they will turn from green to yellow before the first frost.  Lima beans are still flowering and filling out in the pods.

At one point in September, when I had run out of room in the freezer and felt we had enough for our purposes, I decided to join our farmer’s market for the day.  Farmer’s markets are something I enjoy visiting, but I really love setting up a table.  There is a joy in providing a product that other people desire and in sharing knowledge of produce and cooking ideas.  People seem to want to share their stories:  both customers and vendors talked of life’s sorrows, tough times, and joys.  Our daughter came with me, and we had a great day.  We had small amounts of beans, herbs, squash, tomatoes, and flowers.  We sold some of everything, but the real surprise was the hydrangeas I had cut on a whim.  They sold out quickly.  Next year, I hope to participate more often in the market.

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A few days ago, I noticed the beauty and variety on our cupboard counter.  The vegetables came from our gardens, most of the canned goods were a gift, and the nuts, we picked up on the trail.  Gracious provision from our Creator!

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A Beautiful Day on the Mountain

The weather has begun to feel like fall the last few days, and I love it!  I have always had a fondness for autumn.  I find the cooler temperatures invigorating.  There is a different kind of beauty to the season.

Driving up the mountain today, I noticed the great variety of wildflowers blooming: the intense purple of the iron weed, the brilliant yellow of the goldenrod, and the pale pink of the queen of the meadow.  There were other kinds I couldn’t identify: two different varieties of delicate violet blossoms, some tiny white ones, and one that looked like a miniature black-eyed Susan.

At camp, the hydrangea bush is blushing pink as its blossoms dry.

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While harvesting tomatoes, beans, and carrots, I noticed the sky has begun to look like autumn as well: baby blue with puffy white clouds lying low over the tops of the mountains.

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What a beautiful day on the mountain!

Vacation and Return

After full weeks of hosting summer volunteer groups, I was feeling spent; so having a time of relaxation and renewal was a blessing.  As a family, we experienced spiritual refreshment at Roxbury Holiness Camp, relaxed as we experienced Chincoteague and Assateague, and reconnected with family in a variety of settings.

At the ocean, the children frolicked in the waves both with and without boogie boards and created sandcastles on the beach.

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My husband and I enjoyed the water and sitting under an umbrella.  There is something quite soothing about the sound of the waves on the seashore.

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One morning, we climbed the winding stairs to the top of a lighthouse.  The view was amazing.  I felt dizzy as we peered over the railing.

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After a time away, it feels good to be home.  I was so glad to see that the gardens are still producing.  We picked green beans, corn, tomatoes, carrots, beets, squash, a cucumber, parsley, and various greens.  Fourteen quarts of beans were added to the freezer.

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Tonight we enjoyed a crock pot meal made of many ingredients from our garden including potatoes, onions, squash, tomatoes, parsley, and oregano.

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Praise the Lord for His gracious provision!