Seasons.

We live our lives in seasons, moving gently from one to the next, so quiet it’s hardly worth a notice most days. And then something happens that catapults you into awareness—a job change, the death of a parent, your child going to college—and the change feels intense and immediate and shocking. It makes me think of that stunt that’s been the rage of late, the one where you get a bucket of ice water poured over your head. It’s the kind of thing that sure grabs your attention.

How lucky we are that most of our days don’t include buckets of ice water. Instead, God most often hands life out to us slowly, a little bit at a time.

~~~~

I sit here writing this on my back porch in August as the sun is setting and the world is cooling down. The cardinals have been by for dinner and most have gone on, except for the lone bird I hear chirping in the Crape Myrtle. It is quiet and peaceful and still, and I am grateful.

Still, for many of my friends, these are ice bucket days. Kindergarten for Brooke, first grade for the Barr twins, first day of high school for Julian and Macy, first day without her baby boy for my dear friend Lisa, who delivered 6’2″ Ayden to college this weekend. I know exactly how each of them feels; I have been there before. Oh, have I been there before.

 

eliza, first day of first grade

eliza, first day of first grade

 

But now I am in a different season, one in which the moments, by and large, have become my own. I fill them with things that bring my soul joy: I write (a lot). I read. I make things. I binge-watch television (Homeland). And if we’re being honest, I’ve seen way more episodes of Chopped than I care to mention.

I go to work, and I come home, and there is no carpool to coordinate, no paperwork to fill out, no cheerleading uniform to wash, no wrapping paper to sell, no homework to oversee.There’s just my own big life, ready to be filled.

~~~~

I think about God and what a grand plan it is to keep us all moving, season to season. Summer ends, yes, and we mourn. But then comes Fall, that glorious time of football and pumpkins and spiced tea and a chill in the air. And Winter, with wood fires and big pots of soup and the air alive with fresh cedar. And Spring. Oh Spring, all new buds and sunshine and garden shoots and possibility, endless and colorful.

How lovely it is to live in a world in which there is always something to look forward to.

~~~~~

My phone pings and it’s a message from my sweet Eliza, all moved in to a house and ready for her Senior year in college.

Guess what I’m making for dinner? she asks, a question that makes me smile. She’s on a quest to find things to cook that are healthy and easy, and she called me for a suggestion from the grocery store earlier today. Roasted onions, squash, zucchini and mushrooms she says.

My heart rejoices.

~~~~~

Yes, we move season to season to season according to a grand plan that makes it all work, a plan designed to keep us moving forward. It’s not always easy. (Water bucket moments.) But we adjust. We adapt. And we reinvent.

And then a miracle happens and we find so much to be grateful for in new blessings that come our way.

They always do, don’t they? Isn’t that the promise?

They always do.

 

our latest selfie, just before my baby left for Senior year

our latest selfie, just before she left for Senior year

 

 

 

 

Pure Cute!

Just when I need one more bit of sweet, fleeting summer, along comes this email from my friend and co-worker, Kelly. We were at Litchfield when Brooke saw this and said: We need to send this to Miss Cathy. How I love that she noticed the feathers. I I love that she thought of me!

photo 1

Litchfield Beauty 1

photo 3

Litchfield Beauty 2

How I love this adorable photo of my precious friend!

photo 2

My friend Brooke, the real beauty of Litchfield beach!

 

(Isn’t she just the cutest???)

 

One Big Happy Family

I’ve been a bit in mourning over the last bluebird nest, the one the Mama abandoned with four little unhatched eggs. And I’ve kept a steady watch for the parents—I want irrefutable proof they are both still around. Typically that means looking out the window just after supper; they most often show up just as I’m washing the dinner dishes. Most nights I see at least one, but since they tend to hang around down by the water, I can’t always get a good enough look to know for sure whether I’ve spotted a male or a female.

And then just before we left for Spain, I looked out to see some baby bird activity.

single

I grabbed the camera and ran for the porch. There were birds everywhere! As I opened the screen door, they scurried one yard over, to the Cope’s . We’d had a light rain and there were still some drops coming down. But I didn’t care as I realized just what was going on.

2

Papa goes first.

bathing

Now for the babies.

10-bluebirds

And then there were ten!

Ten—count ‘em, ten—bluebirds, and most of ‘em babies, having the finest time playing in the water collected in the kayak’s hull.

I thought I might faint! Which birds were these? My bluebirds could not have hatched a new nest in the time that had passed since I last saw the Mama sitting on the nest on our downstairs porch. And surely there were at least two broods collected here. Is this another family of bluebirds altogether? I could spot one Papa in many of my photos (you see him above in bright blue), but I still couldn’t identify the Mama.

Oh well. Whoever they are, I think it’s a miracle. Right there on Bickley’s Pond, one big happy bluebird family!

birdies!

bluebirdies!

 

 

Maine. Ahhh, yes.

There’s so much to love about this trip North, the joyful wedding of a dear friend, five days with the Wise Women, and—good heavens—Maine. I have a bit of an unexplained obsession with this state, a romantic notion that one day, in the way-out-there future, I will have a book jacket bio that states: Cathy lives in coastal Maine with her husband, Tim, and their three dogs.

(Where does all that come from? I swear I can’t say.)

Nevertheless, there it is. And here I am, in gorgeous Maine, in perfect August, loving every single minute.

East Promenade, Portland

East Promenade, Portland

One of many Lobster Rolls

One of many Lobster Rolls

from Joe's  Boathouse

from Joe’s
Boathouse

the Wise Women

the Wise Women

Ahhh, yes. I do love Maine. What a beautiful five days filled with light, love, laughter, and most of all—friends.

the smell of you

It was completely unexpected since we’d spent nearly two weeks together on the tail-end of her study abroad in Spain. And yet when we got home, Eliza presented a beautiful gift bag stuffed with bright tissue paper.

It’s for you Mom, from me. To thank you for Barcelona.

I was deeply touched. And also, most excited.

Pink tissue, out. Blue tissue out. And there lay the prettiest little bag, one stitched with happy fabric and a closing zipper.

I love this! I said. So perfect for makeup or iPhone cords or a special collection of journal writing pens and pencils.

Open it she said.

And so I did. And there inside was a collection of 10-15 feathers, brown, black, downy white.

It’s all the feathers I found while I was in Spain she said. I kept them all, for you.

I thought I might cry.

And then I reached to the bottom of the bag to find a gorgeous scarf, one with feathers floating so effortlessly they seemed to be dropping from the sky. I hugged it to my chest.

I knew you would love it she said.

~~~~~~~

We faced her going away to school for the fourth time this weekend, this sweet baby girl who just yesterday sucked her thumb and twirled my hair like it was a lifeline to the divine. Rational thought cannot develop sound enough reason for it to actually be her Senior Year in College. And yet it is. We made the trek to Clemson on Saturday, her in the driver’s seat with Tim following us in our loaded down SUV. It was a journey I made with less trepidation than her Freshman year, but let me tell you, it was still very emotional.

There are differences, I must say. This time she moved into a house rather than a minuscule room in a freshman dorm. There was no Mama worry over will she fit in? will she make friends? will she be happy? Instead, there was a steady stream of besties stopping by to check it out, to offer opinions, to run errands. And still when the day ended and it was time for us to drive away, my heart emptied and felt so flattened I wondered—for the thousandth time—if it would ever feel full again.

 

she's so happy to be back with her friends

she’s so happy to be back with her friends

 

~~~~~~~

Today I spent the afternoon cleaning up and clearing out, activities that desperately needed tending to in my pile-filled life. Eventually, I made my way to the bag that still held the pretty feather scarf. I pulled it free and walked toward my bedroom, intent on properly putting it away. That’s when I caught a whiff of its scent and scrunched it to my nose.

That smells just like Eliza I thought.

I wrapped the scarf around my neck and continued with my chores.

~~~~~~~

I have never been a perfume wearer. I can’t even say why, but I can tell you my daughter is, just as my mother was. It was something I never understood, something over-the-top, something that, to me, seemed frivolous.

I feel that way no longer. One tiny whiff and my daughter has moved through this kitchen, a teenager out the door and on her way to cheerleading or a sleepover or something extra exciting. One tiny whiff and I am a little girl, back in my mother’s bedroom as she dresses for a party. I remember it exactly, the site of her, the smell of her as I followed her down the hall and into the kitchen, me believing she would always be there, and so would I, in our house on that hill above the Courthouse in Wise.

~~~~~~

I think I shall join the leagues of the perfume-wearers. I do. And maybe down the line somebody somewhere will catch a tiny whif and think I remember.

It’s a lovely way to be called to mind, don’t you think?

Yes, I shall become a perfume-wearer.

Yes.

This Post Connects God and Prayer to Beer. Hmmm.

This is what’s been on my mind, of late:  How often God answers my prayers, and how directly.

I’m not talking about big gigantic World Peace // Cure Cancer kinds of prayers (although He’s done some rather remarkable big things in my life). I’m talking about tiny little ones I lob up with hardly a conscious thought.

Wouldn’t it be great if Eliza stayed with us when we’re in Barcelona?
(Her dorm air conditioning goes out.)

I wish Madrid weren’t so hot in July. What on earth will I wear?
(I wore a sweatshirt. Check it out–we were there on the 19th.)

Too bad we won’t have time to grab a beer at the Atlanta airport. I sure loved that yummy Chicago IPA we discovered on the way over.
(Flight delayed, missed connection, opening up just enough time to clear Customs and get a beer.)

Silly examples, yes. But the point is the Universe rearranged just a bit each time to bring me just what I said I wanted.

weary travelers, happy beer drinkers

weary travelers, happy beer drinkers

Tiny little developments that altered what I had planned—ARRGGHHHHHHH  THE FLIGHT IS DELAYED!—but then, when I looked all the way through them, turned out to be the thing it took to bring about what I asked for. 

Crazy? Maybe.

But here’s where this is going.

The next few times a little unexpected bump occurs in my world, I’m going to acknowledge it. And then I’m going to look deep into it and through it and around it to see just what that shift allowed in my life. (Or didn’t.)

I’ll bet what happens is extraordinary.

Join me? I hope so. And I hope you’ll let me know just what you discover.

 

We may be on to something here. Don’t you think?

 

 

 

Jet Lag, for real

Even after two days at home, I still can’t seem to find my place in this time zone. Jet lag has worn me out. So please allow me to simply share three photos from our travels that make me smile each time I see them.

Barcelona

View from the old city wall, Barcelona

(What it must have been like to stand there, centuries ago.)

guarding, gargoyle-style

guarding, gargoyle-style

Eliza, Tim and Katie

Eliza, Tim and Katie

How I loved exploring Barcelona with this crowd!

7.21.14 History, all around

image

walking through the charming city of Valencia

I never thought I’d find myself in the coastal city of Valencia, Spain–I didn’t even know of Valencia if you want to know the truth of it–and yet here I am, loving every minute. We’ve walked and walked and walked, climbed ancient church bell towers, been on tours where we heard such comments as built by the Moors in 700 (which I cannot get my head around), looked out from the towers that formed the entrance to this walled city in the 11th century.

Wow. Just wow.