Tag Archives: Beauty

Wawawai in winter

Winter in Eastern Washington is not always readily discernible without a calendar. Today was such a day, and I found the sunshine at Wawawai County Park notably brisk, having left my gloves in the car so they would not hinder my handling of my camera. My husband and I always enjoy walking at Wawawai; every season has its distinctives, and I find them all beautiful. The trove of the day was probably worth the frozen hands it took to shoot these photos.

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Filed under Action & Being, Nature, Photo Galleries, Photos, Places, Road Trips, Seasons

Night snow

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Falling snow should upend the beholder’s belief in calculability. . . .

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Filed under Creation, Nature, Photos, Seasons, Weather

Sunrise

The eastern sky was a rosy blaze this morning as Effie and I ventured into the garden, she celebrating with a couple of catnip leaves.

Columbus Day sunrise

Columbus Day sunrise

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Sky and earth, 5 AM and beyond

We were up at five this morning, largely because Effie wanted us to be, largely because she was. And this was quite considerate, considering she usually calls for full service at four. Cats have an inherent right to this; they are given pre-emptive jurisdiction over time, everyone’s time. How presumptuous of us anyway, ever to presume ourselves to have a proprietary interest in time as our own.

Cats are not presumptuous. They are like the robin in Charles Spurgeon’s object lesson: the robin doesn’t trouble itself wondering for whom the bread crumbs were placed on the window sill. The robin simply eats the crumbs. Effie wants to play. There are people in the house to play with. The people will simply rise to the occasion and engage her whimsy. Or she is hungry; they will feed her. Going outdoors is limited to dawn-to-dusk hours.

But this morning was so exceptionally rewarding. Effie was happily chewing on my and my husband’s fingers, purring and snuggling. She got up and used her litter box instead of trying to get one of us up to take her out in the dark.

Awake anyway, I bagged the litter ball and took it outside to the trash. The night sky was astoundingly brilliant: Orion shone in the south, the Big Dipper in the north, Jupiter huge in the east, and the luminous full moon, descending in the west. I would have missed this incredible night sky had I not run Effie’s brief nocturnal errand to the patio.

It seems to me, admittedly a cat person, that God both tries us and rewards us so often, and so significantly, by deploying “our” cats.

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Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Nature, Gardens, Cats, Effie, Photo Galleries

Frost portrait

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This portrait in frost appeared on our back door window this morning. I thought it was beautiful, reminiscent of a Japanese etching. The temperature was 8.8°.

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“When the evening is spread out against the sky. . .”

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This is not actually a visitation, but a flax blossom petal adhering to our window. It nevertheless struck me as unearthly delicate and uncommonly beautiful.

The post title is, of course, from T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” one of my favorite poems, despite its having nothing to do with flax.

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Filed under People, Places, & Things

Wonder and awe: a virus and a blood-red moon

Maybe it wasn’t the acyclovir; maybe I have the flu. Whatever it is, it got me up several times last night, so of course my sympathetic husband and I both lost most of a night’s sleep. The up-side was that we were up around midnight, and the sky was clear— which it rarely is when a spectacular cosmic event is to occur— and we saw the Blood Moon. It truly was spectacular; everything in the sky was so brilliant last night, especially high-beam Arcturus, glowing toward the “face” of the coppery moon. What a wonderful sight— one that will really become apprehensible only when we are transformed into higher versions of ourselves— but nonetheless a promise, to stir our yearning.

I am so thankful we were up to catch this sky of wonder and awe— wonder and awe that spoke a command to worship the Creator not only of all things, but of all things perfectly ordered. Had I not been thrashed by a virus, the lowest of life forms, I doubt I’d have pushed myself to get up to see “another eclipse.”

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evensong

Such a lot of rain we’ve had, and cold; I think the last day one would call “sunny” was nearly a week ago; this is unusual for the Lewis-Clark Valley. This evening, the sun put in its first post-semi-retirement appearance just in time to set. The fiery sky caused me to forget that all week I have had to bundle up and wear a hat and gloves to get the mail. I’ve read that the Desert Tortoise spends 95% of its possible 100-year life underground. I can see his point. I won’t clarify that.

I ventured out on Monday to go see my doctor. Another day, another rash, but this one looked very different from the one I resolved with an OTC product last month. It was more like micro-measles or something. He asked whether I’d had any unusual pain recently. I suddenly recalled something that occurred a couple of weeks ago–I couldn’t remember exactly when because it seemed like no big deal at the time. I was driving, and suddenly I felt as if I had nettles up my sleeve and down my side. It didn’t interfere with my driving, and it lasted maybe 20-30 minutes. I wouldn’t call it pain so much as an annoyance.

My doctor looked closely at my rash and said he hated to tell me something. The pain can precede a rash, even by a few weeks, he said. The pain and rash of what? I said. This was uncommonly stupid, as we are both bluntish, intelligent people. Of shingles, he said. He was quite certain everything lined up pointing to shingles. I don’t deserve this, I said. I deserve hell. I don’t deserve shingles. The only person I know who has shingles is an ex-Marine who is leveled by an attack of shingles a few times a year. But the sense of having a hornet up my sleeve just really was not that bad.

He went over the various protocols and scenarios in case of a less moderate attack in the future. One of me wanted to cry; the other me wanted to affect cool indignation at such an affront coming from a stupid case of chicken pox I had when I was seven.

Something ugly: another day, another diagnosis–what a bore, this gratuitous insult from my own nerve ganglia that had waited in ambush more than 50 years! Then I remembered Jonah. God took back Jonah’s consolation, the gourd plant that had shaded him from the sun’s intensity and a scorching wind God appointed to discomfit him. And God gave Jonah to know that God’s own incomprehensible plan of salvation was more important than the mundane consolation that had contented Jonah, even as Nineveh was perishing.

God’s grace and the gratuity of all the beauty he gives us–hummingbirds, roses, and tulips came to mind as I fingered tiny representations of these things on my charm bracelet–the gratuity of beauty will not be overshadowed by the possibility of pain from a virus that lodges for decades in everyone who has had chicken pox. The cytological mechanism itself is miraculous, even beautiful in a way, if sinister; and most people will never present any symptoms at all of shingles.

And sadly, many people will fail to apprehend the gratuity of beauty, just as Jonah failed to reckon the value to God of all the souls he would save in Nineveh.

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The gratuity of beauty

The lilac tree I pruned a few weeks ago repaid my exertions manifold today by attracting an extravagantly beautiful visitor, a Bullock’s oriole. He alighted and turned to display all of his brilliant orange-gold and black markings and striking white wing patches. When he flew off, I could see the fan of dazzling yellow-gold feathers beneath his tail. Nothing has to be that beautiful. If the oriole’s inspiring visit were not enough, he touched down on my tree when I happened to be looking out the window, once while I was eating breakfast, and again while I was eating lunch. What an incredibly happy reward for nothing I did it all.

My astonishment at the gratuity of beauty is frequently triggered by birds. Their diversity, their flamboyance, their unique abilities, and the sheer charm of their movement, song, and attractiveness declare the glory of God as surely as the night sky. God did not have to make anything beautiful, and yet He did. Not only did He make things beautiful, but He gave us the capacity to perceive their beauty. Not only did He make the world very good, but He made it very beautiful as well. He made things for His glory, and to reveal that glory to us mere creatures who could not make anything at all from nothing, much less anything beautiful.

Not only do birds, to select a particular representative of creation, declare the glory of God, but they declare the goodness of God. They put the lie to the notion of an indifferent creator who zaps a world into existence and abandons it. And they put the lie to the notion of no creator at all. Creation unequivocally affirms a loving Creator. No one with any and all possible benefits of education and imagination can account for Bullock’s orioles and Black-chinned hummingbirds any other way.

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