We took a little family vacation this summer! This is amazing in so many ways. Not only because we haven’t ever been on a real vacation away in our 21 years of marriage but the sights we got to go see…were truly an unforgettable experience. If you haven’t recognized it yet this is Wizard Island in the midst of Crater Lake in southern Oregon. Though very popular to visit and photograph because of its unique beauty seeing it in person makes on step back and really appreciate all that comes with this view. It was a glorious moment to be a part of. We were reading the history on this volcano, known as Mount Mazama. It is known to have irrupted almost 8,000 years ago. To get to the Crater Lake we drove for several hours through many different kinds of forests and mountains, but once we got within a half hour of Mount Mazama the whole area took on a different kind of landscape. Flatlands with lush grasses, many lakes and waterways, fields full of cattle. I imagined the amount of devastation that happened to make such a dramatic change in the area was immense. After seeing first hand the destruction of Mount. St. Helens I can only imagine the aftermath of this large of an explosion that would dwarf Mount. St Helens irruption. It is said that ash and pumice debris made it all the way to Canada and the Pacific Ocean. Just think, when you are walking on the sandy beaches you may be walking on bits of Mt. Mazama even to this day. We were so thankful to be able to make an escape like this and for us to share it with our eight year old daughter. I think waiting like we did was a good idea, this way our girl is old enough to remember the details. Take time to go and explore, soak in the magnificent and subtle beauty around you.
This moment brought to you by a little tree by the road. Such a lovely sight. The Hawthorne flower in the sunlight.
There is this spot I walk by often. One year, soon after I discovered the unique beauty of the Coral Root orchid, I noticed a whole cluster of them in this spot. It was on the corner of bit of woods on a neighbors property by the road. I was so thrilled. I took pictures several times and reveled in the treasure I had found. Every time I walked by I felt that little spark of joy, so thankful for that reminder of God’s amazing creation and His love to share such a gift with me. After some time the flowers had faded to just stems. The season moved forward toward summer the people who owned the property had firewood they needed to store, that pile of firewood ended up right on top of the orchid patch. It hurt my heart. I don’t know why I get so attached to such things, but I do. Gifts given freely that I can do nothing to earn, why do I feel such a loss when things change and that gift is no longer at my fingertips just as I want them? I watched that spot every spring hoping, wondering. Several years passed and the pile of wood moved, I still watched but had given up hope of a return of the orchid there. I had since found many other amazing patches of orchids. That loss made it high on my priority list of things to find in the spring. When I do find them I photograph them religiously. But this year, this year… I walked by and saw what I thought was the start of those orchids in the exact spot they were in so many years ago! Sure enough, they came up and bloomed. It was a whole family of them. I took their picture in wonder and awe. Then as I looked at them, basking in the gift once again, I noticed another orchid in the same little woods. Not just one, or two but a practical forest of them! I wandered through those trees kneeling in the soft ground capturing as many orchids as I could. Who am I to plan out what needs to happen? To put limits on what God Almighty can do? These beautiful little gifts touch my heart and renew my faith in a deep way. In a way that changes how I live my daily life.
Resting in a place and appreciating the surroundings is a gift. Being able to be quiet within yourself enough to hear and see what is around you is a skill. Life and all its distractions, concerns and choices flood us constantly. Practicing the ability to stop and rest in a still moment takes time and patience. “Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10. Let that peace flood your souls instead of the pressures of life.
These are the best signs to follow. The ones that seem unkept and forgotten, or even better yet, has no sign at all. Leading down a path that fewer and fewer people wander down. Those are the ones I want to travel. To discover and see what others might have forgotten about.
“…I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost
I think dragons exist. They live in the conifer forests, where things grow just so. Where the ground is blanketed with fir needles and maples leaves from years past. They pop out in early spring when the sun just begins to warm the earth. They aren’t big and fire breathing though. They are so tiny they are often over looked. They must be hunted with a delicate hand and quick eye and always left alone when noticed by chance. They are the miraculous Fairy Slipper Orchid. Treasures of the the Pacific Northwest.
To the sweetest of tiny flowers, Forget Me Not. A friend gave me a clump of hers a couple years ago and I put them in a pot on the deck. I wanted to keep them safe from lawn mowers, chickens and weed eaters. This year I am finding them everywhere in our yard! All around the deck and even quite a ways away in our garden space. What a little miracle that I just bask in the tenderness of it.
The lily of the forest. They are so lovely and delicate, they smell amazing too. God reminding us He loves us just in the gracious beauty around us.
Fingerprints of God.
One of my favorite scenes that I often come back to is those green paths through the woods. Ground covered with soft moss and delicate grasses, the majestic evergreens swaying above. I always walk away feeling new inside. Life has a way of making me critical and pessimistic, it is a daily struggle. My years of wandering, documenting flora and fauna has taught me some amazing lessons. One of which is that there is always healing in time. One year the forest is cut down or plowed through, left desolate. Then years to come it is made new, even made better. Space was made for new growth, orchids, homes for wildlife, and remarkable beauty that never could have come otherwise. It restores my faith in the journey laid out before me. Life’s themes remind me over and over. There is purpose in the process.
Mourning Doves in the rain. They are a humble bunch of birds. They aren’t flashy or beautiful really, they build flimsy stick nests and their coo isn’t terribly impressive. They are just an average bird, until you look a bit closer. Look at those eyelids and bright pink feet! But aside from that, why are they sitting in the downpour of rain when all the other birds have flown off to shelter? I feel a kinship to these doves. Sometimes we all have to just withstand the storms of life when it rains down on us. We hunker down and hope for it to end soon. It helps to have a few others to stand with you in it all too. The simplicity of a dove is a beautiful thing. God sent a dove as a message and symbol when Jesus was baptized. A poor mans sacrifice for forgiveness. Maybe they are not so simple after all.