Monday, July 28, 2014


Earlier today a tornado touched down in the Boston area. Our oldest son's apartment was in its path. Thankfully, Justin and Erika and our grandson--The Amazing Wyatt--were not at home! No one was injured! My wife, Sandy, was there just yesterday. Our other son, Josh, was with Justin, the two of them were taking a day-trip to Nantucket. Justin received a call from his landlord that the house was uninhabitable. Our sons made an about-face and a fast trip back to the scene. We have been in contact with everyone involved.

No deaths due to the tornado have been reported.

Josh told me that standing inside the house he could look up and see blue sky. Amazingly, nothing of great value in Justin' home was destroyed. Also, some really great friends are traveling and have provided their home as a refuge for our eldest son and his family.

Needless to say, we are grateful for God's Providential care. The area around the house is scattered with debris, limbs, and flying objects that finally fell out of the whirling grip of the tornado. Many automobiles received major damage. A lot could have gone wrong if our family had been in the immediate surroundings.

Thanks to our friends who are celebrating their safety with us…

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mt. Saint Helens...

It had been twenty years since the explosion. As I trekked along winding trails, much of the area surrounding Mount St. Helens looked as lifeless as the surface of the moon. Billions of board feet of never-to-be-sawed old growth took two postures as it lay rotting and bleaching: it was either neatly stacked in one direction--like it was felled by design, or it was criss-crossed like pick-up-sticks. The latter was caused when entire stands of trees were uprooted by the fire and brimstone of a blast greater than twenty-five atomic bombs, and then coming to rest in a heap when gravity resumed control. Washington State's revolving climate was slowly returning centuries old timber to dust

Ringing the shores of Spirit Lake hundreds of feet below me were thousands more logs. Some of them as thick as I am tall. I was told it would take one-hundred years before they would become water-logged and sink. All around me, multiple square-miles of topsoil had been blown away exposing Helens' gray skull of granite. An earthquake that registered 5.1 triggered the volcano's detonation, and Mt. Saint Helens' summit was reduced by 1,300 feet in an instant. In the aftermath she looked like a bowl of ice-cream with a big scoop gone.

It's hard to believe it has been nearly fourteen years since I was there. My hiking companion, Joe Martin, took a picture of me standing on the splintered, weathered end of a log that jutted out over the side of a ridge that falls away. I painted a watercolor of the picture and relived the adventure with each stroke of the brush. As you can see, I changed the color schemes and composition a bit. But all-in-all I was pleased with the way it turned out…


Sunday, July 20, 2014

After The Rain...

The Shire never fails to yield something beautiful if you have eyes to see.

After a long dry spell here in the southeast, we have been under three days of consistent precipitation.

Before the rain began descending, everything green and close to the ground looked stressed, dusty, and tired. Parched and dry, the soil was beginning to reveal ragged cracks, and sight-lines across the pastures shimmered as heatwaves reflected from the earth.

But then the blue heavens above began to lower and turn gray. From the southwest solar winds began to stir. Leafy arms of pines and oaks and sweet gum trees began clapping, and excitedly waving and begging the dark clouds to release their stores. They did, but not in the usual torrential downpour that comes and goes in minutes amid the rage and fury of booms and flashes. Instead, a slow and steady rain began to fall. Just what we needed.

Late this afternoon, the sun began peaking through the breaches in the gray canopy. Dimmed skies, that for days had drizzled much needed rain over The Shire, began to brighten. The jagged gashes in the soil healed. Thousands of water droplets now cling to the leaves of shrubs and flowers and capture today's final silver beams in their liquid capsules. I try to hold them, but they vanish at my touch.   

Friday, July 4, 2014

Little Buddy

"Dad, our little buddy didn't make it."

"Did a coyote get him?"

"No, he is curled up in the grass back by the edge of the pond."

For the last week, I have been writing about an orphaned fawn that has been hanging around The Shire. He has brought Josh and Sammy, and Sandy and me a lot of joy. His naiveté and loss of his mother took the cautious edge off his natural instincts of flight and allowed him to be a lot more trusting of humans; especially Josh. For reasons unknown, he would come clumsily running out from the edges of the woods bleating and to within a few feet of Josh, time-after-time.

We did everything we could to help and protect him, and we succeeded in keeping him safe from the coyotes. But nature can be as cruel as it is beautiful.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Our New Adoption

We have a little spotted fawn that we believe may be orphaned. For the last three days he/she is always running up to within a few feet of our son Josh and bleats at him. Today, Josh saw our little adopted one coming from behind the guest house and crept up on it and squatted down and watched it as it quenched its thirst at the edge of our pond. I stood on the balcony and snapped a bunch of pictures. At one point it noticed Josh and climbed over one of the tiers to get a closer look at its admirer. For several minutes they gazed eye-to-eye in a stare down contest. No more than five-feet of distance separated them. After a few minutes our little one bleated and scurried off to the woods and down over the bank.

Being that close to it, Josh could see that something is wrong with its bottom jaw; it doesn't align with it upper one. We hope it survives. Sandy has checked with deer rescue organizations and we are following their lead in how to best help it. I am keeping a dutiful eye out for coyotes that are very plentiful here around The Shire.