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Saturday, October 3, 2020

Fall Returns to the Mountain

Charles J Sharp / CC BY-SA 

I've recently spotted a couple of small cadres of enormous turkey vultures soaring over our mountain valley.  These sparse numbers are the early birds, signaling the arrival of fall on the mountain.  In the coming weeks, approximately 35,000 of them will make their way overhead to their autumnal destination.  They are thought of as ugly, but I think they are majestic as they glide low over our home and then ride the thermals impossibly high into the towering depths of the sky.  They are familiar, like decades-old friends.  Many of them, late evening arrivals, will spend nights in large groups in the trees throughout our small town, waking in the morning to continue on their way.  Their autumn migration south to Mexico signals cooling weather like clockwork every year.  Turkey vultures mean that it's time to think about planting the garlic.  And so, the cycle of the small markers of time continues on, unabated.

LoboStudio Hamburg lobostudiohamburg / CC0

My sweet granddaughter is toddling along, helping grandpa build a new vegetable planter box.  She is quite certain that the tiny block of wood she is carrying to the building spot is just as important as the long, heavy board that grandpa is wielding.  We all have an essential part to play.  As I look on, I wonder what her world be will be like, in the wake of such tumultuous times.  I pray she will hold on to faith, to help her meet the challenges her generation will face, and to keep her anchored in the important things.

Occasionally, she pauses to check the tomatoes.  She has learned the difference between green and red, and has become expert at determining when they are ready--- excitedly pulling at the ripe ones as she looks over her shoulder for approval.  She has no idea yet, in these early weeks past her first birthday, that we will be making tomato sauce with them soon.  She simply knows that red is red, and that red is an important marker in the world of tomatoes.

These days, as little one takes on the essential job of monitoring the tomatoes, I find myself stretching toward greater family self-reliance.  A brand new pressure canner gleams atop my counter, waiting for a permanent place to reside in our home.  I have no idea where I will store it. Nevertheless, I am suddenly less comfortable relying on the freezer to keep our winter stores fresh without fail.  I often find myself wishing I could call up my grandmother on the phone, and ask about the way things used to be done--when circumstances did not beguile us into believing that life is perpetually convenient and safe.  Why ever did we stop building root cellars?  I could use a few of my Mormon foremothers to sit down at my kitchen table and pass along some of the old pioneer skills --and wisdom-- that have been lost to the relentless passage of time.  Nevertheless, we find, as did they, our comfort and safety in God.  Still, I imagine that he expects us to chart the tides and then row the boat with the paddles that he gives us.

Such uncertain times press us forward to a new appraisal of what really matters, though, do they not?  When aspects of life and society that one has taken for granted for a lifetime, suddenly seem less certain to remain, one begins to prioritize more ardently.  And so, I take heart in the little patterns of wet, toddler-sized footprints stretching from garden to planter-box-in-the-making, and back.  God, family, and learning to love are what matters.  Let us never forget what matters.

User:Almonroth / CC BY-SA (

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. ~Deuteronomy 31:6

May our Lord bless you and keep you in these challenging times,

1 comment:

  1. I so appreciate your occasional updates and reminders (sometimes without your saying so) to appreciate God’s blessings.


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