Rainbows in Paradise for this Fantastic Friday

In drought, in flood, come rain or come shine, the promise of the rainbow remains.

We’ve had plenty of rain in central Iowa this summer, but the same was not true in Idaho during my visit a few weeks back. They are having the hottest, driest summer anyone out there can remember. So this Idaho post from July of 2011, when Family Camp began with a cold and rainy bang, caught my eye. As did the rainbow on the mountain. Lovely!

As was mentioned in yesterday’s entry, the weather introduced a chilly, wet number on the first official day of camp. Day 2 dawned sunny and cool, but by lunchtime the clouds moved in, turning things chilly again. The showers held off until supper, but we stayed happy, safe and dry beneath the pavilion.

After the meal was over, folks stayed put, talking while they waited for the rain to end and the hymn sing to begin. The sun, on the other hand, didn’t wait for anything. Not even for the rain to stop. It showed up for the hymn sing a little early, and pretty soon our side of the mountain echoed with shouts.

“A half-rainbow!”
“Everybody, look at the rainbow.”
“It’s getting bigger!”
“It’s all the way across the sky.”
“Come quick!”
“Look!”
“Look!”
“Look before it fades away!”

The cries of wonder faded with the passing of the fractured light. But a bit of magic, a touch of promise lingered all around, weaved in and out of the music, breathed hope into every heart. We sang with fervor, and our voices lingered over the words of the last song, unwilling to let go of the rainbow, determined to cling to the promises of our faith.

We lift our eyes up unto the mountains.
Where does our help come from?
Our help comes from you,
Maker of heaven, Creator of the earth.

Oh, how we need you, Lord.
You are our only hope.
You are our only prayer.
So we will wait for you to come and rescue us.
To come and give us life.

We lift our eyes up, unto the mountains.
Where does our help come from?

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Come!

Last Spring, This Spring

Geranium Roots

Last spring and this spring couldn’t be more different, as a mason jar full of rooted geranium slips shows.

Last spring, I started rooting geraniums in March, which turned out to be too late for an early spring.
This spring, I started rooting them in February, which turned out to be too early for a late spring.

Last spring, warm weather hit in mid-March.
This spring, we’re still waiting for warm weather in mid-April.

Last spring, the geranium slips didn’t have enough roots on them when the weather was warm enough for potting them.
This spring, the geranium slips have so many roots, they may be hard to pull apart…if it ever gets warm enough to pot them.

Last spring was dry.
This spring’s been rainy.

Last spring ended with a drought.
Let’s hope this spring ends the drought.

Top Ten Signs of an Early Fall

What comes after an early spring and a summer of drought? An early fall, of course. My morning walks have been full of signs that autumn is right around the corner, and here are the top ten in my book.

10.  The begonias on the north side of the garage are lush and full.

9.    The leaves of the burning bush outside the kitchen are tinged with red.

8.    Sunrise comes later each morning and sunset comes earlier.

7.    The sumac is starting to turn.

6.     We’re planning menus for the Labor Day Extraveganza.

5.    The goldenrod’s got the Man of Steel sneezing.

4.    Rain doesn’t make the pond scum disappear.

3.    The spots are fading on this summer’s fawns.

2.    The parks department drained the swimming pool.

1.    The trees,

the trees,

the trees.

What signs of fall are appearing where you live?

Three Cloudy Thoughts for Thursday

After a month and a half with nary a storm cloud in the sky, a few welcome rains have fallen on our little patch of earth. Not quite enough for the weather powers to declare an end to the drought of 2012. But enough for the resident man of steel to go a few rounds with the lawn mower and for me to think of these three rainy thoughts for Thursday.

  1. Apparently, Japanese beetles don’t like the rain. Though it’s more fun to imagine them huddling under the eaves because they can’t find itty-bitty umbrellas to match their itty-bitty kimonos.
  2. All it takes is one good rain and one swath around the lawn with the mower, and the kitchen floor is covered with grass clippings.
  3. Every rainy morning, my pathetic tan, acquired during early morning walks spent soaking up a year’s worth of Vitamin D, fades a little. So much for my dream of attaining the tan and toned body necessary to audition for the Jane Fonda role in a remake of one of my favorite movies, On Golden PondYouTube Preview Image

How about you? What movie do you want to see remade and what role would you play in it?

Three Etymological Thoughts for Thursday

This year’s lack of rain hasn’t had much effect on bugs as far as I can see. In fact, sharing our digs with them led to this week’s three etymological thoughts for Thursday.

  1. Every time someone mentions Japanese beetles, I imagine sweet little black beetles wearing itty-bitty kimonos. Unfortunately, real Japanese beetles aren’t nearly so cute.
  2. About a week ago, a teeny-tiny centipede greeted me when I opened the dishwasher one morning. When I opened it a few days later, a great big centipede did the same. If this pattern continues, I’m putting Ghostbusters on my speed dial.
  3. The drought has produced a bumper crop of grasshoppers. They remind me of the grasshoppers my little brother and I (see above picture) held during a childhood trip to Kansas with our aunt and uncle’s family. Our littlest cousin, Julie, called grasshoppers “hopgrassers.” Ever since, I have to remind myself. “They’re grasshoppers, not hopgrassers.” I also have to think twice to avoid confusing the words rubber band and Band Aids.

How about you? What words do you have to think twice about before speaking?

Top Ten Lessons Learned in a Drought Year

This summer’s drought has people talking about the weather. So today’s post enters the conversation with the top ten lessons learned during the drought of 2012.

10.  You know how people say dry heat isn’t as oppressive as humid heat? That’s a lie.

9.    If the person who mows your lawn (aka: The Man of Steel) needs back surgery, try to schedule it during a dry summer.

8.     Bugs do just fine during drought years.

7.     So do weeds.

6.     Outdoor weddings are much less stressful during a drought. Unless the dry heat gets to people. Or bugs get under the bride’s skirt. And no one minds decorating with weeds instead of flowers.

5.     People don’t complain nearly so much when a wedding’s rained out during a dry summer.

4.     Mom and I have plenty to talk about during my weekly visits. She talks about being pregnant during the drought of ’56. I talk about being pregnant in the drought of ’88. We both talk about my daughter-in-law being pregnant during this drought. Since Mom forgets our conversations between visits, we never run out of things to talk about. Until the drought ends. Or the grand baby arrives. Whichever comes first.

3.    Droughts are easier to weather when you’re not pregnant.

2.    Women who are pregnant during a drought should be nominated for sainthood.

1.    Droughts destroy our very human illusion of control and remind us of our dependence upon the grace of God.

Time for a Haircut

This summer has not been kind to the flower beds along our bit of gravel road.

Blame it on Hiram’s back injury preventing yard work.
Blame it on the heat trapping us indoors after he recovered.
Blame it on the drought eating up my time watering.
Blame it on the Japanese beetles gnawing leaves and blossoms to shreds.
Blame it on my tendency to use any excuse to avoid weeding.
Blame it on whatever you want, but like I said…

This summer has not been kind to the flower beds along our bit of gravel road.

So Hiram and I were surprised when a Sunday morning peek outside showed the sweet potato vines were taking over the patio. The vines’ fingers, which three days ago were hanging close to their container pot homes, were inching up the trumpet vine pole, snaking across the grass, and twining around the patio furniture.

I blame their wild abandon on Saturday’s rain.

The downpour and the cool down that followed had a similar effect on me. I snaked my way around the house, twining my fingers around windows long shut and impatiently tugging them open, though rain was still falling. I understood the sweet potato vine’s over-the-top response to the rain. But if such behavior continued unchecked, the patio would disappear forever. The the patio furniture. And finally the house.

So I grabbed the plant clippers, and gave the vines a haircut.

They required some persuasion to relax their grip on the patio furniture. And they dragged their snaky little feet in the crispy, brown grass while I hauled them across the lawn to the refuse pile. Once the job was done, I put the clippers away. Heading toward the house, I noticed the pesto had grown about 6 inches since the rain.

Maybe cosmetology school would be a wise investment.

In a Dry and Thirsty Land

O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly;
My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1

The drought of 2012 is a doozy, no doubt about it. The hot, dry weather has our family reminiscing about other droughts we’ve endured. Mom remembers how hot their old farmhouse near Pipestone, Minnesota was during the summer of 1936. “The upstairs was so hot,” she says, “we dragged our blankets and pillows outside to sleep in the yard.” Then she adds, “The next drought came in 1956. The summer I was pregnant with you.” She nods in my direction. “I was miserable until you put in an appearance in July.”

I pretty much know how miserable Mom was because our daughter Anne was also born in late July during the drought of 1988. Anne, of course, doesn’t remember that toasty, dry summer but our son Allen, who was six that year, does. “The grass was brown and crispy,” he says, “and the yellow jackets built hives in the cracks in the ground.”

And now Allen’s wife knows how miserable Mom and I were during the droughts of ’56 and ’88. Only more so because she’s pregnant during the worst drought since ’36 and isn’t due until September. Please, keep her in your prayers!

Our family tradition of anticipating new life during drought years has warped my perception of them. When reading biblical accounts of droughts, or when listening to current weather reports I see circumstances, both past and present, as pregnant with opportunity. God used ancient droughts to bring his wandering people back to him. Men and women who trusted him in times of need became part of the Christ’s lineage. Over and over, God blessed bone-dry believers with the promise of a future Messiah, and the faithful clung to that hope.

This rain-starved summer, as every other drought year in my lifetime and yours, is an opportunity for us to cling to faith as our spiritual forefathers did. We can pray for people to turn to God as their illusion of human control evaporates in a cloudless sky. We can trust God to prove himself faithful in the midst of spiritual and physical want. We can share Christ’s living water with lost and parched wanderers and expect God to bring forth new life in many.

When we trust God in lean times, we are like the psalmist David, who sought God earnestly in the desert. Like David, we look beyond the burned fields and wilting trees and see God in his sanctuary, watering our souls with his completed promises and grace. We learn to be satisfied in him as we’ve never been satisfied before. When we gaze upon the God who waters our lives through the saving grace of a baby in a manger, our Father assures us that his fountain of life never runs dry.

Three Horticulture Thoughts for Thursday

Despite the drought of 2012, some green stuff is growing like crazy around here. The abundance of certain garden produce led to these three horticulture thoughts for Thursday:

  1. Attention all mulberry lovers: based on the deposit left on my shirt by a vindictive and highly accurate bird yesterday, the mulberries in Central Iowa are ripe for the picking. Have at it!
  2. The veggie stir fry medley Hiram and I enjoyed during supper Monday night led to the following horti-mathematical observation. In recipes, zucchini and eggplant perform a function similar to that of zero in mathematics. They have no value or flavor in and of themselves, but serve as a placeholder to enhance the tasty veggies around them.
  3. Sweet potato vines look hearty, but when when the weather gets hot they are wimps. Mine go all limp and wilty unless they’re watered every other day. How about yours?

Cantaloupe Smoothie

A cantaloupe smoothie is not something I would have tried in a normal summer. But this summer’s far-from-normal heat and drought is playing havoc with our community supported agriculture (CSA) shares. This week, the heat caused all the melon fields to ripen at once, so our friendly, local farmer sent us home with three large melons…and a couple recipes for cantaloupe smoothies.

Hiram, my husband who eats almost anything, doesn’t like smoothies much. Or cantaloupe for that matter, so this recipe will never get his coveted seal of approval. I was a bit skeptical, too, but with three melons staring me in the face, what was there to lose? My first sip of the concoction was disappointing. But gradually, the flavor grew on me, and the drink was extremely refreshing on a hot, hot day. The recipe below is non-dairy, with the dairy equivalents in parentheses.

Cantaloupe Fruit Smoothie

2 large slices cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed
1/2 cup crushed ice
1/2 cup almond milk (skim milk)
1/3 cup raspberry or orange sherbet (3 ounces yogurt)
1 tablespoon honey (if using yogurt)

Put all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately. Makes two small or one large smoothie.