When Birds Don’t Sing


Spending more time outside in nature than I have ever done (since being a kid, that is), I have been discovering new things.  Strange new things.  Like how the birds have suddenly disappeared and gone silent.

Vinny knows.  I kept bugging him, saying over and over again, “There’s something wrong! Have you noticed?”

Since Spring I’ve been waking up early to the cheerful sound of singing birds.  Now I can sleep in late and not hear any.  Or very few.

Since Spring I have been delighted with visitations of comical Catbirds in the shrubs, Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder, (just kidding – not literally) and all sorts of other birds flying about doing their busy birdy things.

But suddenly the earth has gone quiet.  And not just the birds, but all the obnoxiously loud frogs in our pond have gone quiet too!  The only consistent sound is in the evening, from some sort of cricket mass making a steady unified hum, like a natural white noise.

Today I’m relieved, however.  I found out it’s just August being August.

Yes, it took a several weeks of being puzzled over this mystery, to finally do some research and find out that I’m not going mad.  And the birds haven’t all died.  They are in fact still all around us, but simply resting and doing as little as possible – and August is an important month for this!  In the Spring, (once they arrived here after a long migratory flight) birds sang their heart out to attract mates, and then spent many weeks nest building and child-rearing.  During this time they not only had to find enough food for themselves, but to feed several hungry mouths, too!  It’s all very exhausting.  And, it takes a toll on their feathers.

This is why the hot month of August (also July) is a month when most birds molt.  It’s sometimes not a pretty sight to shed these old, dead attachments, and it’s not easy to fly well during this time, either.  Some studies think birds get depressed during this time, or at least seem to be a bit grumpy.  But the fact is, they are going through a needful transition.  When the season is over, they will have grown new feathers and gained their strength back.  And when it comes time to migrate back south to a warmer place, they will be ready and raring to go!

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There is an obvious lesson in the seasons of nature, that there is a time for work, and a time for rest.  A time for being productive, and a time for being like a seed buried in the ground.   Do people go through seasons like this together, as the birds do?  I believe so.  At least with the people I have been most intimately connected to, my experience is that we are in the same boat going through similar ebbs and flows.  Plus there is another example of something we universally go through together – sleep.

Unlike birds, however, we often spend important times for restoration and growth doing exhausting and unnatural (anti-nature) things that don’t truly satisfy or rejuvenate us.  And then we wonder why we are still tired after a vacation, weekend, or a night’s sleep!  Instead of operating from an inward guidance that is in tune with our truest selves, and our Maker – we often resist the need for “pulling away” and truly resting.  Why?  I think sometimes that when our bodies and spirits suddenly call us to this deeper place, it feels like a “death” compared to the exciting and productive season we may have just come from.   And in death, it doesn’t feel so great, and we have to operate by faith, instead of sight.

Being more like the birds, however, we can accept the darker and more quiet “valleys” of our life with hopeful resolve.  Listen more.  Go inward more.  It might not feel like anything is happening, but if we trust in God’s love for us, and patiently submit to a walk of faith during this time – we will come through.  And not just come through, but come through with renewed strength.

P.S. After recently discovering this information about birds and molting, this verses from Isaiah 40:29-31 may be of new interest!…

He gives power to the faint; and to him that has no might, he increases strength.
Even boys grow tired and weary, and young men collapse and fall,
but those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength.
They will mount up with wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary; and they will walk and not faint.  

 

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Shhh! Do You Hear Wisdom Speaking?

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Yikes. It hit me just today that several weeks ago I said I would do a regular Friday post – or try to.   But ever since we moved our house, life seems to be busier, and even more difficult, to some degree. For example, we’ve been digging new water, propane, and drainage ditches, and trying to get them filled back in before any rain hardens the clay in the upturned soil.  I actually wish I had not said I would keep up with this blog.  Not that I don’t want to!  But every week on the same day?  *Sigh*  Really?

Learning to shut my mouth from broadcasting personal goals and wishes is something I have not perfected yet. Why I don’t know, because by now I should have a bad case of “foot-in-mouth disease.” 😮  Even with this property – every time I start to feel good about any progress here, and/or give a good report, it seems like something comes up that slows things down – or even more extreme – makes us change course.  Which happened recently.  One of the big goals this summer was to build a pole barn garage, and the site was partially prepared.  But an expert in the field of permaculture toured our property recently and shed new light on this “go big or go home” plan.  He encouraged slowing down on big ideas, learning to “abide” here first, and most important of all – spending more quality time listening to, and respectfully nurturing all the trees and plants all around us, so that we can be faithful stewards of what has already been given us.

This was good wisdom.  It reminds me of something Jesus said concerning the issue of faithfulness in “small” things:

Whoever can be trusted with very little, can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little, will also be dishonest with much.  Likewise if you are not trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true, eternal riches? And if you are not trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?  ~ Luke 16:10-12

And also, about how I can be more impeccable (i.e. without sin) in my words:

Do not swear oaths by heaven, by earth, or by any other object. Instead, let your “Yes” mean yes and your “No” mean no! Otherwise, you may fall under condemnation.  ~ James 5:12

Come on now, you who declare, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town, stay there a year, conduct business, and make profit.” You do not know what tomorrow will bring, or what your life will be like.  Is it not like a mist that is seen for a little while, and then quickly disappears?  Instead your attitude should be, “If Father pleases so, we will do this and that.”  But as it is, you boast in both your ignorance and arrogance, and all such boasting is evil.  ~ James 4:13-16

As I’ve been thinking about these things lately, it has been interesting that we have a couple of friends on the other side of the nation who are also doing a similar “Back to Eden” work on their property, and we enjoy comparing notes with them via email.  But suddenly a parent of theirs is in hospice, and they are finding many of their plans put on hold for the more important work of love – which also leads to wisdom.  Which sometimes even changes the courses of life itself!

In fact, love is the one thing that ought to guide, adjust, and motivate everything we do or don’t do. For the love of God, I may or may not work like a dog.  For the love of others, I may or may not bother – with the things that are of lesser importance, that is.  It is love – not some personal wish dream – that gives a meaningful purpose to our lives.

So trying to exercise more common sense – and walk more in love – I hope not to open my mouth too much or too often anymore about things that may, or may not be.  Instead, to talk and focus more on the things that come from abiding in the most reliable “dream” of all – the moment of right now.

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~ “Come meet Me in the cool of the day, my beloved, in quiet places we set apart, and we can share together the wonders of My creation, and discover even more depths to our delightful love.” ~

 


 

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A Great Moving Day

To say I was excited about today is a bit of an understatement.  It’s been about 8 months since our 350 sq. foot cabin on wheels has been stuck in our driveway, and yesterday the long-awaited day came. The day that things dried up enough, and the right person with the right equipment was located, to move our house to it’s permanent location!
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For more of the story of how this happened, and how it made me think about the concept of “home,” see this post.

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Now it didn’t take us too long to get the house packed up and ready to move.  While Vinny concentrated on outside disconnections, and taking off the insulating skirt, etc., I took everything off the walls, out of the cupboards, etc and put them in a some bins and/or laid stuff on the floor.  Most of the hard things we did the day before.  After that, it was time to just wait for the neighbor to come with his dozer.

We also have a friend staying with us for the week, in our guest camper, and she has been helpful, and fun to have around.  She also brought her kayaks.  It was a beautiful day to try them out in the pond!


We also stayed cool in the pond-side gazebo for a bit, and processed garlic scapes that someone gave us. The bottoms were straight and stiff, and made a perfect (garlic scented) pickup sticks game. 🙂



Finally we hear the sound of the equipment coming down the road! The neighbor’s caterpillar dozer moved the house with no problem.  We just have some big ruts to fix, but expected some of that to happen.

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That evening we didn’t have to cook dinner.  Another neighbor put on a picnic and invited all the neighbors.  We brought a salad from our garden.  It was a pleasant time, and I finally got to meet a couple of the wives of the Mennonites that Vinny has been getting to know. 🙂

The area here is very pretty.  Right around the corner on the way to the picnic, there are views like this:

 

It was a great day, and I have to say, it feels incredible to have our cabin finally moved.  It feels more permanent now.  And I’m very thankful that all went smoothly!
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The Quintessential Quiet Place

In returning and rest, you have deliverance, and with quietness and confidence you have strength. But you refuse. ~ Isaiah 30:15

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Skipping the Fast Tip Friday post last week, and probably this Friday too, I decided to share a bit about “quiet places” instead ~ something that’s been more of a focus for us lately.

But first, and related to the subject, a flower and hammock garden is just about finished here (it just needs the sign inscribed over the entrance).  It used to be a scrubby corner lot, but with some items we had on hand, labor, and help from a couple of neighboring young men, it was transformed into something beautiful and peaceful that can be enjoyed as a “quiet place.”

If interested, here is a quick walk-through video on YouTube (which will open in a separate window)….  https://youtu.be/17uLqpjoE9w 

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Quiet places aren’t necessarily pretty places, however, or that require a lot of work.  Vinny made a little spot in the woods to retreat to that is much less elaborate.  He says he likes it that way, and that’s fine!  What makes a quiet place isn’t beauty or comfort – it’s more about simplicity and stillness.  It’s a place, but mostly an attitude, where it’s time to listen, and time to adjust, to a divine dance leading to a more abundant life.
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When you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door to the ears and eyes of others who can praise you, and pray to your Father who is in there in this secret place When you come forth from this kind of prayer – you will bear a great reward.  ~Matthew 6:6

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I’ve noticed that sometimes quiet places open to us without any planning.  Like being confined to a bed because of an illness. Or an abundance of time because of a job loss. It’s not easy of course, but difficult places that come from unexpected pain or loss can be incredible seasons of growth and enlightenment, if embraced with a yielding and inquiring heart.

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But most of the time a quiet place must be sought after, or intentionally created.  Especially when everything around us seems to be so against it.

  • By answering the call to pull away from the constant noise of social media and entertainment. Too much information, particularly when we didn’t ask for it or need it, weakens the mind and is wholly disquieting to our ability to clearly hear God.
  • By resisting the desire to do something – in exchange for the very difficult task of doing nothing.
  • By going somewhere that you physically set apart.  This might be as simple as a porch swing where you have your morning coffee or tea, and leave the phone inside.  Or a desk that you clear of all clutter in order to read and journal your thoughts.  Sometimes even, it may be a location you have to travel to and stay awhile.

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The point is – to seek out places where your heart can go heavenward, and go there often.  For there is an inner voice in all of us that calls us to, ‘come away before we come apart.’  

It’s nothing less than the voice of wisdom that calls us to a more abundant life.  

A voice that we can refuse ~ or embrace.

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FAST TIP FRIDAY ~ How We Now Use Pet Food Cans

Last week’s “Fast Tip Friday” was a little more serious, but this week it is something fun and crafty – about how to use pet food cans!

Admittedly, at first we thought it was “CAT-astrophic” to suddenly have a cat, and still do (seriously, “Micky Mouth” is an almost non-stop chatterbox), but now every time he gets fed, I, (at least) feel a little bit better.  There are actually some cool things to do with the cans! 🙂

Plant Markers (from the lid tops)

Now I don’t know how long these will last in the weather yet, but they are so easy.  Just use a permanent marker to write the plant name, bend back the tab (assuming you are using pull-tab cans), and put a stick through it. (even a branch works) Or you can stick it directly in the dirt if it’s not the pull-tab type.

Slug Pools

Well, not exactly for swimming, but for uh… you know; helping slugs go to sleepy-by.  Insert cans flush with the dirt around your garden plants, and fill 3/4 with beer.  Do you think they go happy?  (True, there’s no picture to show here. Drunk slugs are not a pretty sight!)

Tree Faces

Meet “Asher the Ash Tree.”  Asher in Jewish history is the 8th son of patriarch Jacob and means, “Happy & Blessed.”  He is also one of several tree personalities you may meet here someday if you visit! 🙂

For Asher’s face I simply pinched the cat food cans together into shapes, and attached with small nails.  For the eyes: permanent marker on cracked egg shells.

That’s it for today.  I hope you enjoyed today’s “Friday Fast Tip.”  🙂

Until next time…

 

P.S. I wonder what Asher will see in the days ahead.  If it’s anything like what this tree sees… Wow:

[click arrow, or here, to play video]

 


 

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