“…for it was living itself that she enjoyed…” : Autumn and Elizabeth Goudge

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I’ve been contemplating seasonal literature flavors once again. Autumn is like a delicious seven-layer salad.  Or rather a hot, steaming, crusty potpie. A collage of flavors, colors, smokey smells, and damp bits, trees, the land returning to dirt. Just dig your spoon deep down into the squishy goodness, drawing up something tasty and different each time.  As I think on this passing favored season, I can’t help but begin to think of another of my personal beloved authors, Elizabeth Goudge. The autumn richness flutters, floating its way down through Goudge’s words, her flawed, hurting characters, and her sense of place. Nothing like the autumn season reminds us so much of the necessity of home and hearth. A place to gather round and draw in, the place you can return to often and walk away filled afresh and anew. Miss Goudge often wrote deeply of a central place, or thing that permeates and influences, that almost-out-of-reach-intangible something throughout her narratives. These often become like a beloved character in and of themselves. Her stories stray a bit, at times, leading you down strange, yet lovely mystical paths, and you may find a neatly stitched up ending occasionally, however I guarantee you will always walk away with something. A little wisp of beauty, a puff of smokey delight, a thought to dream on. Just like anticipating the first leaf to burst forth into it’s glorious splendor, you have to snuggle down with patience, soaking in each word, each line, and chapter. It’s a coming harvest that will surprise and fill the deep hunger of soul. Your breath sucks in, a beautiful, colorful surprise around the corner, inky scribbles on the page, an autumn gift of jewels for the taking. And of course, one of the secrets of autumn, is the deep, internal things happening underneath the surface. The hint, the promise of something green, some growth, and most importantly, hope. Wouldn’t you like to lick that spoon, taste a bit of this loveliness?

…He (John Adair) liked a constant supply of hot water, a refrigerator, an elevator, an electric toaster, a telephone beside his bed, central heating and electric fires, and anything whatever that reduced the time spent upon the practical side of living to a minimum and left him free to paint.
But Sally [his daughter] did not want to be set free for anything, for it was living itself that she enjoyed. She liked lighting a real fire of logs and fir cones, and toasting bread on an old-fashioned toaster. And she liked the lovely curve of an old staircase and the fun of running up and down it. And she vastly preferred writing a letter and walking with it to the post to using the telephone and hearing with horror her voice committing itself to things she would never have dreamed of doing if she’d had the time to think. “It’s my stupid brain,” she said to herself. “I like the leisurely things, and taking my time about them. That’s partly why I like children so much, I think. They’re never in a hurry to get on to something else.” 
― Elizabeth Goudge, Pilgrim’s Inn 

(emphasis mine)

 

P.S. – {I kindly suggest starting with The Dean’s Watch, A City of Bells, or Pilgrim’s Inn}

 

On the Eve {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #7-8

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{Gulf of St. Lawrence/Atlantic, summer 2017, from near the East Point Lighthouse, P.E.I, Canada. This photo has a special meaning to me and I love it so much.}

61. the joyfulness in my children, so refreshing

62. anticipation of my family’s happiness over the big dinner planned for tomorrow

63. overhearing the walkie talkie conversations between my children and husband as they hunt –

64. new Elsa Beskow calendar for the new year

65. good price on bulk red potatoes and onions

66. seeing my sister and BIL’s new apartment, the blessing of them cooking a great meal for me, and spending time just chatting

67. someone at church kindly filling in for me in Sunday School

68. an invitation to a lovely couple’s home after church last Sunday, delicious home-cooked meal, a cooking break for me. The gentleman was an accomplished carpenter and my little children were so delighted by the beautiful wooden toys and marble run he built.

69. a little copper tea kettle I found thrifting that has brought so much delight to us through it’s beautiful sparkle and hours of pretend play

70. my 11 yo’s languages and codes that he’s been creating. He is so inspired by Tolkien’s Elvish

71. new pen pals from Oregon for two of my children

72.  our dependable vehicles. My trusty Dodge Caravan gets me where I need to go and my husband’s Prius is wonderful for long commutes.

73. the Amish old-fashioned corn-shocks dotting the landscape

74. new book of Christmas stories to enjoy in December with some hot apple cinnamon tea

75. a sale on some shoes that I love! They are like a burnt orange (not my usual color choice), but they came and they fit perfectly and I love them

76. Pioneer Woman’s Pie Crust recipe. It’s my favorite and gets well used doing holidays and birthday seasons.

77. My SIL’s cranberry sauce recipe. She just blends up cranberries, a little sugar or honey, and an orange. Seriously, addicting stuff

78. My littlest son, who plays with pieces of cardboard, the broom, and an old bouquet of artificial flowers for hours. This kid is so unique, funny, and amazing.

79. sharing Thanksgiving poetry from anthologies with the family

80. the fast and furious snowflake shower today. Just so beautiful. The most beautiful part was seeing my 9yo out in it, just enjoying it, walking through it, and bending to look. She told me she was having a hard time seeing the snowflake patterns. I’m so grateful she wants to see them. Sigh

 

~

First Snow {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #4

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We awoke to a thick, delicious, white frosting spread across the land. We are delighted and are celebrating by baking something to go with our hot drinks and books today.

31. my daughter’s little whispy bits of hair blowing in the warm, wood-pellet stove air

32. banana and walnut go together so very well, do they not?

33. a lovely time with four mothers, a passel of children, books, beauty, and delightful conversations

34. impromptu date with my middle two, listening to their dreams, ideas, and having lots of laughs together

35. first holiday party of the season tomorrow, a chance to listen and encourage, and wash a few dishes 😉

36. little hands peeling mandarins, fresh, sweet citrus-y smell

37. wood smoke curling out of all the Amish schools, yards full of little carts, recesses of little, black-clad children running around. Crowds of them walking along the roadside, brightly colored lunch coolers banging against their legs

38. anticipating the 200 bulbs the little children and I planted last month. Spring will be glorious thanks to those little gems tucked away

39. tea with honey. I’m a coffee person, but in autumn and winter, “lashings of tea” is the way to go!

40. The only Christmas-y thing I’ve began early is Bing Crosby. Swoon, so cheerful and comforting

~

Saturday ~ {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #2

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WHO is the honest man?

He that doth still and strongly good pursue, –

To GOD, his Neighbour, and himself most true;

Whom neither force nor fawning can

Unpin, or wrench from giving all their Due…

Who rides his sure and even trot,

While the world now rides by, now lags behind;..

A being brought into a sum,

What Place or Person calls for,-he doth pay…

Who, when he is to treat

With sick folks, women, those whom passions sway,-

Allows for that, and keeps his constant way:

Whom others’ faults do no defeat;

But though men fail him, yet his part doth play!

Whom nothing can procure,

When the wide world runs bias from his will,

To wreathe his limbs, and share, not mend the ill.

This is the marksman, safe and sure,

Who still is right, and prays to be so still.

~Herbert

The Cloud of Witness, p. 454

 

I thinking on that poem this morning and here are some things I’m thankful for right now!

11. little board bridge children made across trench husband is working on. Then offering to hold my hand across.

12. light swaying of clothing on the clothesline.

13. new-to-us table lamps adding so much warm glow to our living room.

14.  a whole day ahead, no major responsibilities, ripe in possibilities.

15. my son’s little overalls.

16. Scripture that promises that God will be strong in my weaknesses.

17. creamy chocolate milk.

18. Voxer, a walkie talkie type app, so I can chat away with my friends.

19. a couple of Christmas surprises I have on the way. I always feel better if I don’t wait till the last minute.

20. first lines in a new book, the anticipation of what is to come.

 

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Welcome, November ~ {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #1

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Hello, welcome to my second annual gratitude list here at Hearth Ridge Reflections. I hope to make a list, culminating at the American celebration of Thanksgiving, of things that I am noticing and grateful about in my life. Please join me on your own blog or jot it down in your journal, I find it such an amazing practice of reordering ones focus. I find this time of year, no matter how hard I try, becomes a haze of busyness and materialism. This little project helps me to take a moment away from all of that.  I miss it around here, yet I’ve been given a lovely, wild bunch of children whom I’ve chosen to home educate and that takes precedence. How are you all, dear friends? I hope this post finds you well. Yes, I do call you friends, even though most of us have never met. I appreciate you reading here, sharing your thoughts, and I pray that you walk away with a bit more hope and delight in your back pocket then when you arrived. Here is what I’m thankful for today:

  1. Searching the shelves for our Thanksgiving books and refilling our book basket.
  2. The delight on my daughter’s face when she realized she got a letter in the post.
  3. The smell of peppermint tea.
  4. Stepping out onto our deck, escaping a boiling hot kitchen, into a cool, dark, and star-drenched sky. I grabbed our constellation chart and spent a few lovely moments.
  5. Planning a pineapple-glazed ham for our first holiday gathering coming up, anticipating family enjoying it.
  6. The rotation of children and myself in rocker set near wood pellet stove. Little toes and fingers warmed. Conversation around the warmth. Books read, snuggles.
  7. Little heads stuffed into warm, colorful hats.
  8. That autumn smell. A soupy mixture of wood smoke, earth, rotting, wet leaves, and a closing down of the year.
  9. Unexpected inspiration in a magazine about how important the intangible moments are during the holidays, beautiful, wise, and a blessing.
  10. Precious sleep, when I’ve been not sleeping well.

~

Monday Ponderings {October 15th}

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Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting, He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5-6, NASB

 

{Happy Monday! Just keep sowing, sowing, sowing. Your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Our hard life of laboring here on earth may not seem to have a tangible harvest, but we can trust by faith, that it will sprout beauty untold.  We had the first dusting of snow last night here at Hearth Ridge Farm and it’s beautiful!}

Retreat

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The pine smell enveloped me, breathing deep, I soaked in the flickering sunlight. It dappled on green, falling and shifting down. My face lifted, eyes closed for just a moment. I was home in this place away from home. The trees shifting and waving, welcoming ripples, the wind weaving me into this tapestry of green, with a hint of autumn color beginning. My husband kindly covering the home front, so that I could take time to retreat. I was struck by the quiet solitude, yet not a loneliness. The crunch of leaves, the occasional bird, and that glorious wind were the background music for my visit. I slowly strolled through the stone work, little bridges, and other work of the Franciscan monks that had lived here beginning almost a century earlier.  The Stations of the Cross intrigued me. I didn’t have the prayers with me, yet I stepped up to each one, and something was hovering at the edges of my mind. I studied the rough, yet careful stone structures with their wooden crosses on top. Inside were the images of Jesus being condemned by Pilate, Jesus accepting his cross, and seeing Mary. I was interested in the three falls of Jesus, wondering. The people mentioned. Simon, Veronica, and the women of Jerusalem. Jesus dying and buried. This Via Crucis was complete and as I looked back,  my vague impressions struck me. First, I wondered and felt a longing for the depiction of the Resurrection and the hope I find in that part of my faith. I found myself shocked at the violence played out in the midst of this wooded sanctuary. The blood, pain, and rejection He encountered stood out harshly against the very calm creation surrounding me. He more than anyone understands. Understands me as a human, is with me through life, and whatever sorrows I’m treading through, He will lead be beside still waters, He will restore my soul. Violence and pain are real, but I rest in His beauty and love. I thought of this retreat weekend and all the beautiful women that I’d been visiting with, our hopes, dreams, and yes, pain, some with deeply intense pain of things they are carrying. A rustle of wind shifted the leaves and light. All of us here were coming to grow and rest a bit, taking a break from the daily cares of cooking, answering questions, and being “on” for others. Yet, I found myself seeing how much of those things echo Jesus’ very posture towards me. The very “job” if you will, that I find myself in, one of mothering and caring, one of practicing compassion, was what I was seeing dimly reflected in these ancient walls, in these unique women, and whispering through the trees and words from our discussions. One last glimpse back, as I exit these woods, gratitude for the green, the light, and for a little bit more understanding than before. The small things of life are truly the biggest.

~

Autumn Equinox on Saturday and other ramblings…

Rain is falling, concentric splatters on the puddles in my driveway. My mind is all-a-swirl as we are finishing up our second week of home education here at Hearth Ridge Farm. Yesterday afternoon, I snuggled down and read the book The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, and was thoroughly delighted. Just what I needed at the moment. An escape to England, mysterious wolves, big, beautiful houses with hidden passageways, and endearing children to cheer along the way. The beauty of story. It made me think about the piles of scribbles I have laying all about my house, the discarded ideas, the dusty laptop. The brilliant purple morning glories are dripping wet, a fog and wetness hanging around these last few days. I can’t resist admiring the way their beauty and green tendrils sneak in and out, through and under, a lovely vein of happiness through the outside of my deck. How story and beauty keep us moving forward, their beauty splashing against the gray of dishes, discouragement, and ugly despair of our world. The poem, The Chairs That No One Sits In, a gentle, almost silent-sort-of plea for that elusive something that we often forget, that we drown by the incessant Sirens of our day. The cooling down the past couple of days, the the red tinges peeping out, my daughter exclaiming with delight over the leaves “following” our vehicle, the tinkling, crunching noise and movement swirling up around us, so very beautiful. Autumn is our guest arriving Saturday, and I’m warming up to its cool promise of sweaters and more afternoon teas. I was delighted as I drove through the changing countryside on Tuesday, listening to two kindred-spirit creatives talk on mystery, writing, and just general lovely bookishness. I notice another flower friend, my poor geranium is still hanging on, by the way, a mystery and delight to me, because it is long overdue for a re-potting and often gets neglected. Again, that splash of something that cuts through the piles and dust and smells of life. Reality doesn’t change, but I can make one step forward, parting the waters, one more song to carry me on my way, one more beautiful image, word, and thought that brings me and those around me hope.

~

Late Summer Sentiments, served with-a-side-of-Lucy

 

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{Glorious sunset in our back meadow}

The beautiful dew-drenched mornings are a bit chilly now – my coffee steam rising warm, wiggling into the cool air.  The stillness in the air and the hint of wood smoke drifting from our Amish neighbors whispers autumn. However, today reached the 80’s so I’m still holding onto summer. Summer is the L.M. Montgomery part of the year for me. Do you do that? Explain and figure out life through the books you’ve read and characters your favorite, dear authors have given you? I do. The robust, deeply rich, fragrant smells and luscious greens and deep blues are frankly, JUST like Montgomery and her lovely phrases, characters, and richness. This is the stuff of summer loveliness, which I’ve grown to enjoy. Summer hasn’t always been my favorite, the knife-thick humidity, blazing sun, and the flies and endless running-around-schedule. However, I’ve come to appreciate what it gives me for later, the fortifying memories, color, and deep, earthy fragrances to carry me through our gray, frigid months. There is something about taking the calendar and dividing into into literature seasons, huh? How absolutely juicy and delicious that sounds! There is something about our dusty, gravel roads that just begs for a little girl with red braids skipping down them.  I’m enjoying these last moments, sitting still in their deepness, filling up, and spilling up and over with this warm wind, brilliant sun, and sky. What a gift for the taking!

~

 

On the Eve…

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September ~

Here we are. On the cusp of a beginning again. My footsteps rang out into the void. A void filled with the music of wind, grasshoppers humming, and silent yet spoken sunshine flickering through the trees. My glorious walk this afternoon, cool air, hot, crisp sun, the temperature dropping drastically as I went under and into the tree cover. My heartbeat matching my strides, leaves rattling and skittering across the road, a bird swooping low, scolding me a bit. I consciously willed to set aside the summer projects that are left unfinished, the unresolved arguments of the morning, upcoming autumn commitments, and close my mind’s eyes to the laundry piles. This moment, this now, is what I have to dwell upon. I think on the beauty at my finger tips and the promise of a fresh, new day and term beginning on the morn. Tomorrow we are back to the beauty feast, of books, art, and gathering together to learn anew.

I listen to the soothing tinkle, and then rushing overflow of water in the gullies and washouts, remnants from the overabundance of water during past week and a half of flooding. The sunshine hits the water, diamonds for the taking, a deep breath and one more step forward. Am I ready? Are we ready? That’s part of the beauty of it all. We don’t have to be or do anything special. Of course, I’ve made my lists, I’ve pulled my books of the shelves, and ordered fresh supplies. We’ve sharpened the proverbial pencils. The truth is this: we are all invited to this table, we show up, the parent and child, students one and all, filling our plates, humbly stepping up to the banquet laid before us. Then we feast on love and grace, we breathe in the comforting disciplines of rhythm and routine, and we snuggle down in all comfortable-like, listening to that beat. That hum, cadence, roll to our days that flows through. It’s called Love. A Love so amazing that it binds, knits, and sews up together in this tapestry of life. Yes, I still have to figure out what happens to those unfinished things, yes, I need to ask forgiveness and mend my relationship, and yep, I need to throw another load into the wash. But I come at it with a bounce in my step, a full belly of gratitude and thanksgiving, and a heart surrendered to Love’s work in our hearts this term.

Happy Beauty Feast Eve.

~