Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Nurturing our Summer Souls

 Thanks to Carol Varsalona for hosting today, and for providing this lovely theme and image for our gathering.

Summer frazzles me. I don't do well in the heat... or the sun. Recently, I had to leave a lovely garden party abruptly because I began to feel the effects of the sun. I know the signs, and I know I have to get into a darkened room before I begin to see spots. People laugh when I say I hate being carried out, but I'm only half joking. Many years have passed since I have been "carried out"  but I remember the feeling. No fun...

What do I need to nurture my summer soul? A day at the beach is not it. A day at Six Flags would be disaster. Even a day in the garden must be chosen very carefully. But an early morning or cool evening in the garden works. I'm happy with my garden this year, I have some new additions that please me. 

"The kiss of sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth."

- Dorothy Frances Gurney

A welcoming splash of color

My little garden feeds my soul. It reminds me to get down on my knees and pay attention to the soil, to pull hard at stubborn weeds, to loosen and enrich as I go. It gives me the opportunity to watch leaves and blooms come into their fullness, brilliant in color and lustrous in petal. A garden is a place to internalize the circle of life, a place to plan and hope and learn, to realize that my plans may not be God's plan. 

Gardening has its aggravations, and I saw one yesterday. As I stood watering, a groundhog came from behind my neighbor's shed. We looked at each other and I said hello! It retreated.  I rather enjoyed this visit, although I wish I had snapped a photo. I won't be so happy if it decides to feast on my flowers.

I planted bee balm this year, a lovely wine color. It grew taller than I hoped, and the flowers are more capricious than I expected. Bee balm is a member of the mint family, so I'll have to work to keep it confined or it will take over the garden. Another year and I will know more, but for now I like the color it adds, and I hope it will entice some bees and hummingbirds to my yard.

bee balm's spiky blooms

Predictions are for 90+ degrees today and tomorrow. I won't spend much time in the garden today, but I will water. My plants need water.

For me, water is a spiritual as well as physical need in the summer. Not the relentless water of crashing waves, but the quiet waters of a lake or stream. I love to sit by a lake and be calmed by it's lapping waters. And one year we found a cabin next to a little stream. How relaxing to listen to it trickling along below.  

"He leads me beside the still waters..."  Psalm 23

Here is a poem I wrote about an unforgettable water moment...

Blue Homage


Give me back those few seconds

Just at dusk

In our battered old canoe

My hand dipping into the cool water

The paddle rough in my palm

You in the stern

Setting the rhythm


The very last beam of daylight

Hovered over the dark water

Sprinkling it with needles of

Brilliant neon blue

Until millions of gentle ripples

Glimmered in perfect alignment


A stunning blessing

A fleeting homage to the day

A splendor I cannot forget

If only you had seen it...

© Karen Eastlund

The story behind this poem is that my husband indulged me by going out once more in the canoe before we left the lake. It was late and he was tired, and we were far from our cabin when I saw this splendor. Just as we turned toward home and were getting into a good rhythm, I saw these lights. Unfortunately, he did not see them.  I didn't break rhythm since it was getting dark and we were not familiar with the lake, and by the time I thought to say something, the light was gone. I am still sad that he missed this beautiful phenomenon, and I remain grateful to him for taking me out that one last time. 


No wonder we love to live near water. It renews, refreshes, cools and cleanses. It is essential to life. It reminds us of our limits and welcomes us. I am thankful for gardens and water and the deep blessings they bring to my summer. 

 Remember to find Carol at Beyond Literacy Link to join in the spiritual journeys of the group.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Poetry with Grandkids

 Hi All...  It's 

And... it's a week with grandkids!  We love it... the only drawback is our waning energy.  Still, what memories we will have!  Crafts, which this week included slime and some undefinable goop, paper plate frisbee, bowls made from paper plates and yarn, and many origami projects... and then there were card games which occasioned silly, ridiculous and hilarious interchanges, an afternoon bowling, and all that food! We ate well. 

I challenged my two visiting grandkids, Paul is 12 (almost 13) and Claire is 11, to write me some poetry for my blog. Here are their wonderful submissions...

Paul's Poem 

We love spending time with our grandparents

But my opinion, you’ll have to take

That of our visit cake was the best part

Thus this ode is to marvelous cake

Oh, the light, sweet, fluffy interior

The part which is hard to bake

I think you would find superior

To anything but more cake

Sure, the grandparents took us bowling

And will bring us to play in the lake

But really, how does that compare

To the marvelous, fabulous cake?

© Paul Duncan Eastlund

A beautiful ode to such a simple cake, right?  This is that last of the Sand Cake, from an old Danish Recipe, very much like a pound cake. The only rising agent is the egg whites, which are beaten to a peak. It is made simply from butter, sugar, flour, eggs and a little vanilla. No need for sugary frosting. This particular cake is made with cassava flour due to wheat intolerance, and is rich in eggs, so it even makes a good breakfast.

Getting a recent photo of these kids is tricky. They play shy to the camera. So... we sort of cornered them for this one. I think it's rather cute. (See the red case behind Claire?  That's her lizard, Spike.)
Here's Claire's poem:

A Girl's Demise
By Claire Eastlund

I like ooey, gooey slime

But I can’t think of a rhyme

This poem is wasting my precious time

And it doesn’t even pay a dime

If I had a choice I would be asleep

Knocked out and snoring in dreams so deep

If a tank rolled by I wouldn't make a peep

My notes ‘bout this poem piled in a heap

I would dream about slime jumping from the page

Red as an apple and frothing with rage

It chastised me for putting it in a cage

And made it so I would never see old age


Slime made with white glue, shaving cream & borax

Today's round-up is at Carol's Corner. Click the link to find more poetry...

Be happy, be well, and always be hungry for a poem.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Good Gifts and Curveballs

Mid-year update: Life offers some amazing good gifts along with a few curveballs.

Two deer jumped over a neighbor's fence and walked between my house and Peter's house. In his front yard they stopped to look around, and I imagined them thinking, "We must have taken a wrong turn somewhere."  I'm aware that deer have been in my yard, but this was the first time I'd seen them... graceful and effortless in their movements... poised... calm...

I've been reading Mary Oliver. Her poetry is amazingly honest and straightforward, and her thirst for God is a inspiration to me. Here are two quotes I've marked from More Beautiful Than the Honey Locust Tree Are the Words of the Lord:

It's close to hopeless
for what I want to say the red-bird
has said already, and better, in a thousand trees.
Part 6

Instead I prayed, oh Lord, let me be something useful and unpretentious.
Even the chimney swift sings.
Part 7
                                - Mary Oliver in Thirst

Time, energy and a pain in my back radiating down my arm have challenged me lately. Curveballs. I will see my doctor tomorrow, hoping for some relief.

Two beautiful grandkids are coming to spend the week. Here's a photo of them a few years back.  We will read and paint and play games and sew and cook together. I'm praying for a grand week.

Halloween 2015

A big event is coming up for us. This year will be our 50th wedding anniversary, and our two sons are treating us to a week with everyone together. We are so blessed. Plans are laid to go to a dude ranch and spa in Wyoming. No cooking or clean-up for a week! A beautiful lake to canoe on and enjoy, horses for the kids, lovely scenery. Good gifts. irises have bloomed profusely this year! 

Every good and perfect gift is from above.  James 1:17

My best wishes and prayers for you and yours. Thanks to Ruth who is hosting today's group at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken town. This week as thrown her some curveballs also, yet she flourishes.