Michalskis in the Word

You can also visit us at michalskisintheword.wordpress.com, where we relate God’s Word to our daily surroundings, through scripture and photos.

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Another Sunday, Another Snowball Fight! (February 18)

Although bright sunshine lit up the skies during several days this week…

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…looking like summertime, and setting the evergreens aglow…

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…Sunday morning brought a new blanket of snow, with temperatures just-above-freezing, and we had another perfect packing-snow morning!

We set out for a snowball fight, parents v. boys, with Vivi as a neutral party, sometimes not playing, sometimes helping one side, and sometimes the other…

When Joe and I arrived, construction had already begun on some protective snow-stockades…

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But even the best snow stockade offers little protection against boulders like these!

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Attaaaaaaack!

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Conditions were treacherous, as the freeze-thaw week had developed wide expanses of smooth ice, lurking beneath the new snow, and it could easily send you heels-over-head as quick as you could say, “Ouch, that’s gonna hurt!”

But on the upside, it made for a great sliding hill!

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At the bottom of the slide, Genevieve said, “Mom! Mom! You gotta see this! It’s the most beautiful view ever! Come here, come here, come here! You have to lay down right here, like this!”

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“It’s just like a dream, only it’s not!”

And she was right! The view was lovely, and best yet, laying still and gazing upward, a steady but gentle sprinkle of the most delicate snowflakes came floating slowly down, filtering through all those snow-laden branches…

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A sticking snow like this coats the forest in the most wonderful way…

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…postcard perfect!

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And, as usual, still full of little surprises…What is this magical pathway that has appeared by our house?

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Are they fairy railroad tracks to a wonderland forest? The contrails of some winter-superhero-jetplane? A secret path beckoning you forward to snowy enlightenment?

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Nope, that’s just my laundry line! Coated, for the first time we’ve seen, completely around in sticky, fluffy snowflakes 🙂

Honestly, I am constantly amazed at how many “firsts” we continue to see, when it doesn’t seem possible that there could be such ongoing variation in such simple things! Honestly, how many different experiences of a snowy winter day can there really be? But that’s the Lord, an eternal source of endless variation even within the very simplest of circumstances!

And then it was into the forest, establishing stockpiles and strategizing sneak-attacks…

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Genevieve was always happy to help, but you had to watch her, because she also liked to eat the ammo!

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That’s a happy girl!

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Eventually, battle-weary and snow-satisfied, we made our final assault and used up all of our snowballs in one last campaign, and then headed inside.

And this is the aftermath of an epic-snow-battle! Soaked from head to toe, snow pants and snow jackets and snow gloves are stripped off, leaving belly-button brothers…

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…and a pajamaed little sister…

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…and a whole family gathered in front of a warm fire with dripping gear hung around a hot stovepipe, ready for a round of steaming hot chocolate with melty marshmallows! 

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Amazingly, by lunchtime, the snow had stopped and the temperature had risen, and the sun came out and all the beautiful snow was dropping in clumps from the trees, and we were all happy to have been out to enjoy the perfect winter fairyland that was quickly melting away!

Spencer’s Big Idea (February 17)

There came a day when the air was warm and the snow was wet, and it was Sunday. So we said, “What do you kids want to do?”

And they said, “Play in the snow!”, of course! Out they went in their winter gear, cookies in hand…

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…rolling up enormous snowballs in the sticky snow…

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…and then rolling them downhill to crash into each other below!

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A boulder-pile is a great place to enjoy a cookie!

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So then Spencer said, with his big grin, “You know what I reeeeaaaaally want to do? Can we go to the creek and roll up huge snowballs and roll them down the hill there?”

Yes, yes we can! So off we went, through the woods to the creek bank, where the kids rolled up enormous snowballs…

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…and rolled them down the hill!

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It was a bigger hill, and Spencer was right, it was even more fun!

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Daddy joined in, helping the kids roll their snowballs, and teaching them some new launch techniques…

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Finally, it was all-hands-on-deck for the biggest snowball yet, and the last hope of sending a snowball rolling and bouncing right into the stream!

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Not quite! None of the snow-boulders quite made it into the water, but Joe came down at the end and threw them in with great, thundering splashes anyway!

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Then there was seat-of-the-pants-sledding until we wore the path down and sticks started poking out!

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Despite all of our laughing and shouting good fun, it was really quite peaceful out! The stream was flowing between snowy banks, but it was flowing on top of the ice that had formed thick in the previous weeks, rippling and sparkling over smoothly-worn ice floes…

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Occasionally, the water flowing below the ice met up with the water flowing above the ice, and you could gaze down through the many-layered wonder that is a winter stream!

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After a rousing snowball fight, in which two young boys, full of enthusiasm and determination, teamed up against their patient and enduring father :), the kids set about building a snow bridge across a narrow spot in the stream. 

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Ultimately, we all crossed the stream on “dry land”, and made our snowy way back home, soaking wet and quite content after Spencer’s big idea!

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The Days Go By…(February 11)

It might seem that one winter day is much the same as the next…Cold and snow, snow and cold, cold and snow…Snow, snowflake, snowball, snowman, snow-covered hills, snow-covered fields, snow-covered trees…Lovely, yes, sparkly, sure, but maybe a little low on variety…

But, things are certainly not always what they would seem!

Winter has its own quiet variety, especially here…There are wild and snowy days with fluffy, floating flakes…There are crystal-bright, frozen days with temperatures dropping below zero and crisply sparkling landscapes…There are gentle, sunny days, where the snow is soft and the air is warm and the birds and squirrels are busy…There are melty days, with rising temperatures and rain, washing down all surfaces to reveal a surprising amount of green growth underneath…And oh-so-many combinations and variations of everything in between!

For example, a lovely snowstorm that blanketed the forest in fluffy mounds transitioned to sunshine and warming temperatures, beginning the melting process across rooflines and treetops…Only to be stopped mid-melt by a blast of icy air, settling across the landscape, and freezing everything in place, literally! It created the most amazing phenomena, and as I recognized the strangely-glistening ice-glazing across trees and rocks, I stepped outside to investigate (while Joe stayed inside and chuckled at me!)

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In the evergreens, melting snow was captured mid-drip, and the woodlands were adorned by God, like Christmas trees, with millions of sparkling crystal icicle decorations!

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Tree branches glistened in the bright sun, completely coated as they were with a smooth layer of ice, gleaming like burnished sculptures!

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But the rocks stole the show…By some interesting interaction of surfaces, some miraculous combination of the warming of rocks in the sun and the insulation of a snow layer, a delicate ice-crystal network crept across the rock wall, hollowing out snowy caverns…

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…leaving behind an arching canopy of lace, casting cloud-like shadows on the rocks below…

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…suspended far out to delicate edges…

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…and generally displaying a marvel of Godly architecture on this remarkable variation of a winter day!

One evening, we set out to practice a quiet walk in the woods…Fresh from our encounter with the sweet little snowshoe hare, the kids were anxious to see if we could spot any more wildlife creatures up-close by being patient and stealthy…

I always have to laugh (but not out loud, of course), as our family practices being “quiet” in the woods…

First, there is the persistent “swish-swish-swish” of 5 pairs of snow-pants quietly stalking through the forest…Then, there is the persistent “crunch-crunch-crunch” or 5 pairs of hiking boots quietly stalking across snow-covered ground…Then, there is the persistent “whisper-whisper-whisper” of a cute little girl who just can’t contain her excitement, followed by the persistent “shhhhh-shhhh-shhh-shhhh-shhhhh!” of conscientious bigger brothers, who fail to realize that they have just exceeded the noise level that they were anxiously trying to suppress! Oh, so funny! We’re not sneaking up on anything anytime soon!

But that’s okay, it’s lovely and enjoyable, and on this particular adventure, we set out in the late afternoon, during that dusky time when critters that have been laying low for the day might be beginning to move about again, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of deer or owls or small mammals…

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We followed a deer trail through the blue evening, and found a likely spot to settle down and keep an eye out…

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A comfy spot is important for being still and quiet…

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And we settled in and practiced our waiting and watching…All was quiet and still in the forest…There was the occasional crack of a branch, the occasional creak of a tree…The wind rustled the branches high overhead…You could hear it begin in the distance, and watch the waving and swaying branches approach and pass by overhead, disappearing again into the opposite distance…But down below, the air around us remained still and calm…and nothing moved…

We lasted a good 15 minutes or so, before the kids began to fidget because their seats were cold (snow pants can only do so much to insulate bum from snow!), and they were ready to head back!

Although we didn’t see anything, I am happy to be entering this stage of transition from the excited running and jumping and shouting, which of course has its own quality of enjoyment in the enthusiasm over all things new and wonderful, to the more quiet enjoyment of observing and watching and seeking…It promises even more wonderful nature encounters in our future!

And, of course, it was wonderfully pleasant to return home in the blue twilight to our little cabin in the woods with a golden glow beckoning from a warm window!

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So, the winter days are not all the same, not by a long stretch! Their pace is certainly slower, in a sense; there is not a buzz of activity as there is in spring, in summer, in fall; there is not the continuous transition from one activity to the next, from sprouting to blossoming to fruiting; from mating to nesting to fledging to fueling; from bees buzzing to frogs croaking to warblers singing; from poppies to cosmos to asters and goldenrod; the transitions of what we see, what we hear, and what we do are a little bit slower, a little less conspicuous, but certainly no less enjoyable!

And, of course, a winter day inside often looks suspiciously like a summer day – hammocks and t-shirts and bare feet and bright sunshine!

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No matter the season, God’s wonders are always waiting to be discovered as His grace guides us ever onward through the seasons of our lives 🙂

Where Do the Days Go? (January 29)

One fades into the next, you get into a rhythm, you get into a routine, you get into one-thing-after-another, and they just fly by!

We’ve had some lovely snowy days…

…with Happy the Snowman…

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…and snowy forest walks…

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…and a flock of wild turkeys…

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…and a sweet little ruffed grouse…

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 …and these weird little alien-life-forms that I completely forgot about! We call them “snow fleas”, but they’re more properly called springtails, and they have a bizarre way of appearing in the snow when a little sunshine begins to warm and melt it! This is the kind of thing that convinced Aristotle that life could spring forward from nothingness, though we know today that God simply works on both a much larger and a much smaller scale than our eyes can see and our minds can conceive!

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Inside, it’s card games and board games and reading and drawing and pillow-and-blanket-forts…

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 We made maple rock candy, which grew on the windowsill for a week or two…

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…and out came a candy as beautiful as it was delicious!

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…yum!

And for a little while, the snow melted again, and our walk through the woodland was right on the forest floor…

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It’s fun to see what goes on underneath the blanket of snow…

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…seedlings and mosses and ferns are still growing, happy and lively and just waiting for spring…

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…beneath a crystal shell…

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…that sometimes gives you a new point of view! (photo courtesy of Spencer)

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…and we had the good fortune to happen upon this little bunny! Though he was quite still, we could still see him – he was at a bit of a disadvantage on this particular day 🙂

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It was a wonderful privilege to stand still and watch his little nose twitch, his furry ears swivel, his bright eyes watch, and finally, his smooth muscles turn and his powerful legs rocket him away! He bounded over to a patch of remaining snow, where he became a bit less conspicuous.

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…beautiful snow crystals…

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…and starry skies…

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…a snug cabin in the snowy forest…

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 …there’s no place like home!

Snow Day! Wait…Again? (January 7)

Now, you didn’t move to Down East Maine and think, for some reason, that a snow day was going to be an occasional occurrence, did you?

Nope, not at all! During days of sub-zero temperatures…

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…this is one of my favorite views! Hot coffee, hot fire, yay!

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When it’s below zero, funny things happen around the house…The air difference is so great that fog drifts in when you open the door…You can see the cold trying to invade the house in the form of small creeping frost that forms around the inside of the windowsills and doorframes, like little scouts advancing before a conquering horde…And the windows freeze into a variety of lovely crystal portraits each morning! Each window has a different pattern characteristic, and each day they melt with the sun and the heat of the woodstove, to re-form from a blank canvas overnight…

There are tall forests growing from snowy slopes…

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…crystal ferns by frozen waterfalls…

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…feathery plumes of fountain spray…

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…intricate, lacy bouquets…

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…and sparkle-speckles!

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Such variety, just from a smooth surface, a temperature differential, and a little water vapor!

And then, another snowstorm made its way into the area, bringing warmer temperatures and more lovely, big, fluffy, floaty flakes!

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Almost a foot fell in just a few hours, perfect for snow angels!

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And the kids spent the snowy day piling up a great mound for making a snow fort, later.

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The next day, the sun came out, and it was still up around 30 (heat wave!), and so the fun really began! While Joe and I shoveled the driveway and walkway, the kids finished their fort, beautiful and spacious, with room enough for three!  There’s one…

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…and two, and three!

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And after a long stretch of shoveling, it was a perfect spot for two grown-ups to take a breather as well! Not a bad view…

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…but my favorite view was just staring up at the ceiling! Isn’t it amazing how a thick layer of snow in the sunlight turns aqua blue?

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Lovely!

And then they slid down the hill into the forest, in perfect belly-whopper conditions, with slick ice underneath fluffy snow…

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 In winter weather like this, fashion-forward young adventurers are never without a pair of sunglasses!

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When the temperature is below zero, we are indoors most of the time, and though we have plenty to do, it’s always nice to have a little break to play outside!

For the forest creatures, who are never completely at rest even on the coldest of days, the warmer weather brought a flurry of activity! This adorable little squirrel was so intent on gobbling up some of his winter stash in the warm sunshine, that he completely ignored us while we sat down and admired him and took lots of pictures.

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It is wonderful fun watching him systematically dismantle pine cone after pine cone, from tip-top to very-bottom, leaving nothing but the slender core and a pile of discarded petals to mark his picnic spot!

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We could hear his happy munching noises, and watch his furry nose twitch!

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And with the trees bare, it’s a real treat to get a good look at the grouse! These are ruffed grouse, which they seem to call partridge around here. They are so well camouflaged that you can walk right past them in summer undergrowth, but now we have a bit of an advantage! We’ve seen their distinctive tracks in the snow, little chicken footprints with lines on each side where their wings drag, and one day, we had the privilege of seeing a male displaying, tail feathers and head ruff completely puffed out as he strutted about…

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But on this sunny winter day, a small flock of four or five took to the tops of the apple trees to keep an eye on us as we got out of the truck.

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They are very funny to see in the trees…They are fairly large, like plump chickens, but they waddle out onto the very smallest twigs, which bend and sway under their weight, ungainly and awkward, as though they think they are a much smaller bird, yet never falling or losing their perch…

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…and eventually flying off in a great thumping flutter when their distrust overcomes their reluctance to leave their ponderously-acquired perch! They are wonderful to watch!

And what, you may ask, is so special about this particular lunch of chicken salad and crackers? Well, nothing really, except that it’s served in a wooden bowl that Joe made with a wooden spoon that Joe made! How fun! I am the first recipient of a wooden bowl in our family, my Christmas present, and so the first one to begin eating all of my meals with homemade tableware 🙂

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Well, it never gets old, this beautiful snow…Each time I step out, even if the air freezes in my nostrils and my chin goes instantly-numb, I marvel at its brilliant whiteness, at its tiny crystalline majesty, at the blue shadows that stretch across it, at the million sparkling colors that ripple over it, in constant motion as the sun reflects individually off of countless facets to dazzle my passing eyes…

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…He sends His wonders in every season, each in its perfect timing, to astonish, to amaze, and to remind, that there is, indeed, a glorious Father in Heaven Who made all of this, and Who will make it even more perfect when His final season arrives!

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)

A White Christmas! (December 30)

Even though I’m a native of Texas, somehow our entire family has always been in agreement that there’s no Christmas like a white Christmas! And this year was the whitest Christmas we’ve seen in a while!

It really was a lovely time, Christmas morning!

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There were Christmas cookies and Christmas chocolates, as we sat by the fire and opened presents, most of which we had all spent the past month or two making…The kids did such a great job making pictures and bookmarks and drawings and ornaments and storybooks and carvings and sculptures for everyone in the family…

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…and it was such a delight to sit by the fire and listen to their excitement as we opened up the things that they had each spent the past month or so making!

And as a special treat from Daddy, Spencer had a knight’s sword and shield…

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…and Vivi had a princess wand and crown…

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…and, since Asher’s feet have been sticking out the end of his blanket, he got a brand new one from me! It should last him a couple of years – it’s eight feet long! 🙂

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Outside of the window, most of the day looked like this!

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Well, it actually looked much better than this, but snowy days are one of those times when camera lenses fall short of in-person experience! The snow was falling fast and thick, so that you could barely see the trees, but you could stare up infinitely into more-and-more falling flakes, and swirling and gusting in the most delightful way, so that you could just sit and stare and be mesmerized! It made a lovely backdrop for playing with new presents and watching Christmas movies and enjoying hot chocolate and cookies and candy and eating a Christmas dinner of ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce…

And then in the afternoon, it actually cleared up! 

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And so, we bundled up… 

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…and went for a walk in the winter wonderland!

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We walked all the way out to the ATV trail, where we were the first to put tracks in the new snow, and where a gentle snowfall began again…

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…and then wound our way back by way of the stream, which was slowly succumbing to winter’s cold.

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Inside, furniture making continues, with a quick bench for Asher (who is just too big to sit on anything make-shift like a bin or step-stool anymore)…

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And his-and-hers chairs for Joe and I, since we have finally exceeded the life expectancy of our camping chairs!

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I really like this kind of staked furniture, for a couple of reasons…It goes together pretty quickly, has clean lines, and really maintains the character of the wood that it was made from! These are a combination of spruce, apple, and maple, and it’s been so pleasant to sit on a real grown-up chair again, lol!

It is quite cold outside, though. We’ve been caught up in the Arctic cold front that’s sweeping the northeast, and the temperatures have been between about -10° and 10° ever since Christmas Day!

It’s excellent weather for bird-watching (through the window from a nice warm house)…

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…and for admiring the sparkling beauty of snow so dry and fine that it squeaks underfoot (for five minutes on the way to the mailbox and back)…

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…and for a quick sled-run (and I do mean quick)…

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But on days like these, the best part about going outside is coming back in and warming up by the fire!

Thank you, Lord, for a snug house and a warm fire and lots to stay busy with on cold winter days!

Frozen (December 17)

And with the first snow of the year comes….the first snow shoveling of the year!

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Happily, this first outing was just a little bit of work, just clearing out the mailbox…A good warm-up for some bigger efforts that I know will be upon us soon!

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And a small frozen pond in our front yard has provided daily entertainment, skating and sliding and spinning…

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…for just the small price of a cold seat!

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It’s a winter wonderland!

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A light dusting of snow on top of a frozen base is great for showing the activities of the little forest creatures, too, like the bounding antics of the squirrels…

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…undeterred, though sometimes losing their traction and spinning out on the ice before bouncing away again!

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The cheerful little nuthatches have remained regular visitors to the bird feeder…

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…and the whole world is an ice sculpture garden, with new artwork on display daily!

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Inside, Joe’s been turning out furniture, beginning with this bench, made from two staked stools…

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…attached to a tabletop with wooden screws, and fitted with handles for easy disassembly. 

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With a cushion on top, it’s our first sofa, and a perfect spot for Christmas caroling!

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And after watching Baryshnikov’s Nutcracker, I was inspired to teach an “Intro to Classical Music”. Armed with a Smithsonian encyclopedia of music, and a selection from our iTunes library, we learned about classical music composers including Tchaikovsky, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi. 

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And, while the boys took notes and we chatted about the lives of the composers, our kindergarten class performed a ballet!

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Fill in the spaces with some Christmas-time activities, like hanging decorations, making Christmas cards, cutting paper snowflakes, and crafting Christmas presents, and these winter days are going fast!

Snow Day! (December 10)

This week, the weather was mostly calm and fairly warm, leading to some enjoyable woodland wanderings…

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…you know, turning over leaves…

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…and seeing what the squirrels have been up to…

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…and also a lot of progress on our outside work, clearing a section of land, and turning all the downed and dead wood into lumber, or firewood, or mulch! 

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It’s neat to watch an area that begins like this…

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…full of dead branches and thick undergrowth, become this…

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…an open space sheltered beneath the spreading boughs of a long-ago-established apple orchard!

And then, just as the work wrapped up for the week, the first day of snow for the season was upon us! It began on Saturday evening, prompting us to enjoy a little nighttime walk to see the winter wonderland by flashlight 🙂

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 (I know it looks like it’s about midnight in the pictures, but it’s actually only 6 pm!)

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The snow was falling fast…

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…and piling up in the trees…

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…and settling into the pond!

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And the next day, there was more of the same! Snow day!

Snow in the sky…

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…snow in the trees…

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…snow on the ground…

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…snow in the air…

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…snow in my face…

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…and snow on my kids!

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Snow piles…

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…snow breakouts…

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…ahhh, refreshing snow…

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…snow-sledding on snow-shovels…

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(Oh, that’s what snow shovels are for!)

…snow smiles…

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…and snow snacks!

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Snow, glorious, snow!

And don’t forget the other frozen-water-wonder, the icicle! Icicles, icicles, and more icicles, clinging to the roofline, and calling me closer with every sparkle!

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And now, snow-dazzled and snow-delighted and snow-tired, with snow-clothes hanging by a warm-after-the-snow fire, three little munchkins are ready to snuggle up in soft-as-freshly-fallen-snow-blankets, with happy-snow-memories, and drift off to snow-dream, after the first snow-day of this snow-season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving…and other Stuff! (November 27)

It was fun to see Thanksgiving come around a second time to our little house…Last year, we were still working on the inside of the house, and not moved in yet, but we were able to cook a little Thanksgiving turkey stew on top of the wood stove, and I was thankful!

This year, Thanksgiving Day was still a work-day, and Joe continued to work on household projects (installing wall-boards, this particular day)…But the rest of us took the day off from school, and the kids helped with all the preparations for Thanksgiving Dinner, instead!

We began the day with a new fall tradition (thanks to a stick blender, which makes all this whipping possible!)…

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…homemade, frothy egg nog!

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Yum!

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It was a great way to start off a Thanksgiving morning…And after cold eggnog by a warm fire, it was time to get into the kitchen and get to work on a turkey dinner!

We began with the most important part of the meal – the bread! Mixing…

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…and kneading…

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…and rolling…

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…until we had stacks of fresh little flatbreads, ready to take their place on the table, or be chopped up and turned into dressing! This was, of course, followed by lots of vegetable-chopping, sorting everything into respective baking dishes and pots and pans, simmering and sautéing and stirring and mixing…

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It was a very special little Thanksgiving feast, with a centerpiece of turkey legs and roasted vegetables prepared in a bed of coals in the wood stove, along with all the fixings – dressing, mashed potatoes, fresh cranberry sauce, and warm bread and butter, all spread out on the table, and every little hand having helped prepare it! It really is a treat to share a meal in this way!

And a sunny and warm winter day soon sent us out to stretch our legs. This little trail near the town of Steuben looped through the forest and out to the shore, as so many trails do in this area, for a wonderful blend of enjoyment from the trees to the seas, and back again!

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As usual, we scoured the sand for anything delightful or treasure-ish or unusual…What’s this?

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A strange little sponge, covered in coralline algae, fantastic!

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When it was time for lunch, we found a little bench on the trail, sheltered from the wind, and overlooking the rocky shore, so that as we snacked, the kids could still explore…

…a perfect hiding spot…

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…a seat with a view…

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…or maybe a seat with a view from another angle…

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It’s not a bad way to go out for lunch!

And on the way back, a little girl who fell down and banged her knee became an occasion for a few tears and a wonderful lot of trailside snuggles!

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Back at home, it wouldn’t be long until a certain someone was turning 9! And this called for breakfast at Helens, followed by a “birthday party” at the pool! Such splashing, jumping, swimming, diving, good fun…And since there are 5 of us, we are always a party!

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What heart-warming smiles from a birthday boy…

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…awww, just look at him!

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…growing up so fast and so sweet, and so delighted with his special day!

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It’s a beautiful season, and thank You, Lord, for so many blessings each and every day!

Slow Days…That Go By Fast! (November 19)

These days are not like summer days, where every moment is abounding with life, where the sun is shining and things are growing and life is buzzing and humming and moving and shaking!

These are the days of cold nights that bring frost-heave, the moisture crackling up out of the ground in the most amazing ice-castles!

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These are the days to get bundled up in winter jackets for morning cookie walks…

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These are the days when the bird feeder brings hairy woodpeckers, and blue jays, and gray jays to visit for a little extra fuel…

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These are the magical days when the wood stove fires up, and a forgotten cup of coffee gets hotter, instead of colder!

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And these are the days when a lot of activities move inside…Sure, we still clear land and stack firewood once the temperature rises above 20 degrees…And sure, we are happy to be able to mulch up brush piles with our new chipper shredder, and cover our farm beds and pathways…And sure, I still hang the laundry out to freeze-dry on sunny days…And sure, we were still able to install a new mailbox before the ground freezes solid…

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(A mailbox project is a little different when you start in the forest! Joe picked out two trees for the 4 x 4 posts, cut them, de-limbed them, de-barked them, and squared them up. He joined all the segments together with mortise-and-tenon joints, practicing timber framing techniques. Then he blackened it with a torch, wire-brushed the surface, and rubbed it down with boiled linseed oil. It’s no weekend project when you do it like this, but now we have a shiny new weather-proof mailbox and a lot of practice on useful skills!)

But, we spend a lot more time indoors…We get through more of our school lessons, and Joe spends more time in the workshop, and there’s more reading, and there are more family games, and toys like Perplexus and Hess Trucks come out of bins that have been long-forgotten all summer…

And blanket forts and cardboard-box-forts make a great come-back, in all shapes and sizes, as cars and buses and libraries and castles and movie theaters…

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…and the days go by so quickly, even though all the things that fill them seem so little, that I am quite surprised at how the weeks fly away!

I was reflecting on the fact that starting on a new type of life like we are doing right now seems an easier thing to do when you are a young couple than when you are a family with children…But, is anything too hard for God?

It would seem to have been easier to have raised our children in Overland Park, KS, in our suburban home with its suburban neighborhood and its suburban schools and all the “normal” niceties of the suburbs. I’m glad that I’m reading the book of Genesis right now, as well as the Genesis Record by Dr. Henry Moore. It’s quite a timely reminder. Abraham was a godly man, arguably one of very few (if not the only) godly man in the post-flood world at his time. His father Terah had also been a godly man, and the two of them were directly called by God to leave their homes and properties in Ur, where they had apparently been quite well-established and wealthy, and to travel to a new (unspecified) land which the Lord would show them. Lot also accompanied them, setting out on a godly path as well. Before they entered the land the Lord had called them to, they stopped in another city along the way, and Terah never left. The Lord ultimately called Abraham on alone. It would seem that the comforts of city life were just too enticing for Terah to give them up completely, and he ceased following the Lord. Lot accompanied Abraham, and they entered the land that the Lord promised to Abraham and his descendants. In this land, as they waited and prospered, Lot ultimately grew restless as well, and left the land to settle in the plains in the city of Sodom. Again, the attractions of city life were too great for Lot to continue in pursuit of a godly life. And so I am grateful to have left behind the city of Overland Park, to have left behind the city of Bellingham, to have been drawn out by the Lord to a place distant from the comforts and entertainments and conveniences and distractions of a city life, from a place that seemed easier, into a place according to His way…

It would seem to have been easier to have raised our children here in Maine if we had started as a young married couple, and established our house, and established our farm, and established an income, and then raised and taught our kids in that environment. But it is God’s timing that is perfect, not mine. After the departure of Lot, Abraham alone continued walking with his Lord for many years, waiting year after year for the fulfillment of the promise of a land and descendants. He was not always patient, but it was God’s timing that remained perfect. He would ultimately live to experience the miracle of the birth of his promised son, Isaac, at 100 years of age from a wife at 90 years of age. It would have seemed easier to have raised Isaac up in the ways of the Lord as a younger married couple, but Isaac’s faith was strong and he never wavered from the Lord, even to being a willing sacrifice as a young man at the hands of his father. What greater faith could be demonstrated, both in father and son, and what a testament that nothing was lacking in the timing of Isaac’s birth or the time and circumstances of his raising and teaching? And Abraham continued to be called a friend of God and to walk in His ways in the land to which he had been sent, though he never, himself, possessed the land that God promised to him or saw his numerous descendants spread out to cover the earth like dust…And so I am grateful to have been brought to this place at this time, not for the things that I think would give my children the proper upbringing, but for the things that God knows will give my children His perfect upbringing and activate His promises not only for my life but for the generations that I will not see with my own eyes…

We say that history repeats itself…What a comfort to think that, because God is great, His history can repeat itself in each of us, the very best of His history of faithfulness and love and blessing upon each of us throughout history who will listen to His call, cling to His promises, and rest on His name.