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)

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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.

Reflecting on a Year Gone By (October 29)

Here I sit, on a Sunday afternoon, a day of rest, a day when I can usually sit down and do a little writing, do a little reflecting on the past week, or month, or in this case, even on the past year…

This month marks one year since we first closed on our little house, and settled down to working on the place that the Lord had sent us…

Since it’s now been one full year, this season is actually a little bit familiar to us! 

The chilly mornings prompted getting out the warm winter coats, and the fall rains have finally arrived! It’s been a very dry summer, just a few days of light, sprinkling rain here and there, and we’ve watched all of our little streams and ponds dry up and disappear. The deepest spot, on the corner of our property, where the seasonal stream passes under the road, harbored a little population of frogs that were squeezed into closer-and-closer quarters until finally drying up completely a couple of weeks ago. But now, three days of wind and rain have finally filled all the little waterways that were so delightful to discover as we were first getting to know this place last year.

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The nights are now early enough to have some fun outside before bedtime, looking at the moon and stars, admiring that amazing Milky Way band, or even playing with sparklers!

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And sunsets at the beach are just as beautiful as when we first began to admire them about this time last year 🙂

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It’s interesting, looking back…In October of last year, we were removing, sorting, and disposing of literally tons of garbage. I was working at Wreaths Across America while the family worked at home, and then we all worked together in the evenings until heading back to our hotel room for dinner and bed-time. We worked seven days a week, having felt led by the Lord that we had enjoyed plenty of rest in the previous months of travel, and now was a time to work diligently every day until we got moved into our house. After removing all the garbage from the house, we removed all of the wall-boards, all of the insulation, all of the wiring, all of the plumbing, every bit of everything that had been decayed and weather-damaged and pest-contaminated. I remember standing inside the house, staring through the framing at the exterior siding, and seeing cracks of daylight streaming in at every joint! Joe went around the entire house, nailing each piece in snug. And we scrubbed, disinfected and scrubbed-again every square inch, floors, walls, and ceilings. I remember what it felt like to be bundled up in coveralls, gloves, and full-face respirator, spraying and scrubbing until I was sweaty and worn-out! 🙂

I remember when we found the damaged old wood-stove, and Joe repaired it and installed it with a new flue, and how it felt to gather around a fire for the first time in the house. We insulated the entire house, and then covered it with plastic sheeting, and painted the floor, and it was clean! What a great feeling to stand in the house for the first time in stocking feet!

And oh my goodness, the day that we drug the pump out of the 80-foot-well by hand…and we examined it, and it seemed fine, and we put it back in. And, after all the days that it took to clear two feet on each side of power line from the house to the road, the day that they finally came out to hook up our electricity, …and then we turned on the well-pump, and it didn’t work…So then there was the other day that we drug the pump out of the 80-foot-well by hand, and installed a new one!

Days spent in Home Depot figuring out everything we needed to plumb and wire the house for a couple of basic necessities, like a toilet, a sink, and a shower with hot water…And the day we moved in, triumphantly, with a flushing toilet, and snuggled down to sleep in sleeping bags and cots with a nice, glowing wood stove to keep us warm…And the days that we spent cooking on the wood stove, and heating water on the wood stove for dishes and baths, for several weeks while we finished plumbing the bathroom. But we were warm and dry and well-fed, and it was home.

Life today has become so normal that it never really seems like anything is missing…Although we don’t have a washer or dryer, I no longer have any trouble keeping up with the laundry. Although we don’t have an oven, it seems like we can make anything we want on our propane stovetop, even cookies and crackers and flatbread and biscuits and pizza. Although we don’t have a fridge, I always have more than enough room in the Yeti, and all I have to do is swap out the ice pack in the morning. And so, with everything in working-order inside (however quirky and unfinished!), we turned our attention in the spring to the outside projects that the Lord put on our hearts…

We graded the property around our house for drainage, reinforced and insulated the foundation, removed an entire mobile home, and removed and re-installed and entire septic leach field. We finished disposing of all of the trash and recycling and appliances from inside the house, and then steadily worked our way around the outside of the house to unearth and remove all of the broken-down, buried-in, grown-over, long-forgotten debris and garbage from the entire homesite. We probably pulled out of the ground enough carpeting to cover upstairs and downstairs twice, and enough car parts to build a new truck. We planted and harvested crops, and even had some surprising foraging successes, including the most delicious apple cider I’ve ever tasted! We cleared about an acre of land and harvested and milled  into planks at least a dozen trees. And there’s so much more, it’s almost overwhelming to sit here and let my memory drift back over the days…

Today, we enjoy our Sabbath rest, as we now do every Sunday, after six days of working on whatever the Lord calls us to do each day. Today, I look back and am hard-pressed to believe all that He has led us to do in one year, all of this in addition to normal everyday cooking and cleaning and homeschooling and chores and laughing and playing and correcting and learning and researching and reading and errands and adventures and projects and fun…I am hard-pressed to believe that we are all still here, all together, all working as a family on this land that He has given us…I have enjoyed our season of outside work, I am enjoying our season of firewood gathering, and I am looking forward to a winter for inside projects…What will another year bring? Certainly, only the Lord knows, praise Him, for He is good!

Beautiful (October 20)

So many changes arrive with the fall season…The leaves, of course, are a brilliantly obvious signal, but there’s more than that! The nights become cool, and the first sporadic overnight frosts begin, though still interrupted by short bouts of warm weather for a few days at a time drifting up on some southern breeze.

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The birds change. The many warblers and vireos of summertime have departed. The owls are beginning to return, with their hauntingly lovely night calls. The robins are flocking up and moving on, and the woodpeckers are fueling up…

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The rains, and “mud season”, have not yet set in, and our days remain a mix of clearing land, stacking firewood, and a little bit of farm preparation, like ordering seeds, final harvesting, and preparing beds for next year with loose soil and mulch. It’s kind of slow and quiet work, where you do much the same thing day after day, cutting, stacking, raking, wheel-barrowing, repeating, making gradual progress, and knowing that it’s absolutely foundational to the winter ahead and the spring beyond!

On a surprise side-project that developed out of a visit to a friend, we ended up harvesting some cattails, to try our hand later at weaving some rush-seats and baskets and such…

We had a beautiful sunny afternoon at a shallow pond, and the kids enjoyed themselves so much, that they did absolutely all of the harvesting!

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Splashing out into the shallows, amidst the dragonflies and mallard feathers and hopping frogs…

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…slicing the cattails off at the base near the water…

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…and bundling them off to stuff into the back of our truck!

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It was great fun! We spread them out to dry, strung them up in bundles, and hung them under our eaves for a later day 🙂

One Sunday, we enjoyed a little exploration northwards, wandering up the Canadian border to Cobscook State Park…

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…for a misty morning at the shore! What I enjoy about a foggy day is the way that certain colors, like these sea grasses, stand out more brilliant than ever while other colors, like the water, are dim and subdued, shifting gently below the pale sky…

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It’s a great view, no matter the weather!

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And not far away, at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, we enjoyed a forest hike through the fall foliage!

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Though the day did brighten…

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It never exactly cleared up, but was no less enjoyable!

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It was very quiet out, no rustlings and scoldings of squirrels, no birdsong, no hints of little creatures moving about, and certainly no moose, though I was hopeful! But, there were some astonishingly beautiful insects to behold, like this shiny wasp, with its unique tail, curling and uncurling in a crisp pentagon…

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This little caterpillar, with his striking coloring, seems a standout…

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…until you see him on his preferred autumn maple leaves, where he’s practically inconspicuous!

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And as we reached our half-way point, and enjoyed some lunchtime snacks, a little rain began, and hastened our steps back to the truck!

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So this is what an autumn hike in the rain looks like…

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Not too bad! A little damp, but quite satisfied, we returned to our humble home, where the squirrels rustled and scolded, the birds chattered, and the fall colors also glowed…

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…where the violets sparkled after a fall shower…

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…and the fall ladybugs buzzed about…

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 …where some trees are already bare…

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…and the sunsets blaze…

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…where days outside lead to evenings nodding off while Daddy reads…

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…and where another week of clearing land and stacking firewood, of farm preparation and fall sowing, earned a scoop of ice cream, and life had never been sweeter!

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Autumn Days (September 30)

Autumn days are here, no mistake…The proof, of course, is in the trees!

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It’s also in the sun which, though still often sparkling and bright, has taken on that unmistakable shift away from summer…

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And, it’s in the breeze, which has the delightful crispness that mixes perfectly with warm sunshine, and carries on its currents the blue-fluff-flies that remind me that it was just this time last year that we first began to get to know this property!

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A delicious breeze always makes me think of my Father in Heaven…I can’t see the wind, but He knows exactly where it’s coming from, exactly where it’s going to, and there is both comfort and amazement in that!

For behold, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are his thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the Lord God of Hosts is His name. (Amos 4:13, NASB)

The asters are buzzing with fuzzy little bees, making their last preparations of the season, taking advantage of every warm day to build up their stores.

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They are mild-mannered types that the children love to pet…

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And sometimes even hold! (But watch out, because an accidental bump against the rear end will send you on a bee-line for an ice pack!)

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Our work has settled into a pretty steady rhythm of land-clearing, pulling and piling brush…

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…carting if off to the brush pile in the wheelbarrow, which may or may not serve as an impromptu nest for a little woodland mouse along the way…

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…trimming branches and deadwood and piling them up in the woodpile (unless they are being used for the tee-pee!). It’s great fun getting an area cleared out, open for next year’s planting and this year’s playing…

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There are still little bits of late crops developing, and so it actually looks like we might be eating at least one wee pickle from our own garden this year, lol!

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And there are always odds-and-ends of side projects to tinker with, like using last winter’s ashes to make lye for soap!

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Golden days in the garden, as the season’s winding down…

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…sunny Sunday mornings, barefoot in the trees…

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…and little woodland strolls, before the creatures sleep for winter… 

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…that’s what autumn days are made of!

Oh, Just the Usual! (September 22)

The days are turning to autumn, and life around the Michalski house looks something like…

Early mornings, hitting the books…

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…or the workshop!

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Sunshiny days, with late flowers in bloom…

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,,,while laundry goes out on the line!

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And days outside, at the front of our property, clearing the land of bushy undergrowth, limbing trees, stacking firewood, preparing for this winter and next spring in the same methodical effort that will march us slowly around the front section of our land until the firewood pile is full and the weather is too cold for clearing. It’s a long-term project, not quite like the full-tilt-foundation effort, and the get-it-done-and-covered-septic effort, more of a transition into a way of life that will simply become normal, tending and maintaining the land that will be providing more and more food for us over time. 

And, since we raked up all of the many-years’-accumulation of maple leaves, we had an opportunity to start early on the classic autumn tradition…

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…jumping into a pile of leaves!

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Doesn’t get much better than that!

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We took advantage of a rising storm system to go out and explore a “high-surf” day at the beach, and although the surf wasn’t actually all that high…

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…it’s never a bad place to go for a stroll!

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And we did find an unusual little something-or-other washed up by the surf…A green sponge, I think?

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“What do you guys think it is?”

Vivi: “I don’t know.”

Asher: “Can we keep it?”

Spencer: “Look! It squirts when you squish it!” 

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And so, the stranded sea sponge made its way home with us, for further investigation at a later date (after a long airing-out period outside!)

And, yep, that’s just the usual around the Michalski house 🙂