Boone’s Morning (conclusion)

Boone’s Morning Conclusion

Boone scanned the woods as he slowly made each step. He had learned the art of feeling the earth before he put his full weight on it. If a twig or branch was beneath, he moved his foot to the side. There was no sound of twigs or branches breaking when Boone walked. The leaves were something else. The carpeted the floor of the woods. He could not avoid them. He could pick up his feet and place them gently on the leafy mat which was part of the woods. He did not mind that walking took longer this way. Being quiet was his goal. He intended to see things.

He had walked 100 yards when he came to the small flow of water. Crossing a stream was a delight. This one had ice on the edges and Boone’s alert eyes noticed the movement of the water beneath the crystal-clear ice. Water moving under ice was a favorite sight of his. He paused. His eyes took in the liquid beauty flowing silently below him. He looked up and picked his crossing place. Deer had crossed here too.DSC_0025_1068sig

As he reached the top of the little stream bank he took a long look to the north through the woods. It was easy to see ahead. The trees in the woods were thick but with the leaves down the late fall view was uncluttered. Nothing moved. He was reminded then of the strength of the south wind as a fresh gust bent the tops of the trees. He could hear it growl as it tore through the limbs above his head. He knew his scent went before him. He resolved to be more careful, even more quiet. He began to look for a place to sit.

 He chose another landmark in one of the trees to the north. This time it was a large cluster of basswood, the only one like it. Quietly, with care he moved northward to the trunks bunched like only basswood can. He noticed the near perfect rings of holes drilled by a Sapsucker Woodpecker in the trunk. He liked the symmetry found in the woods too. Finding it many places was one of the other pleasures of being in the woods. Soundlessly he moved to the north side of the basswood. He saw the trunks made a perfect spot to sit. They would make a great backrest. But the ground was bare. He decided to pick up a handful of leaves to pad his seat and keep him dry. Even with the wind noise, the rustle they made disturbed the deep stillness. He did not pick up any more. DSC_0094_1081

Quietly he sat down, his back against one of the basswood trunks. He was on the south side of a bowl like dip in the forest floor. He could see everything to the north. He would sit here; and watch. Sitting outside always relaxed him. As the minutes passed Boone became drowsy. But he did not let himself sleep. He’d been quiet. He’d traveled slowly observing while he moved. Perhaps there was a deer standing nearby. Slowly, he swiveled his head from east to west, then back again. Nothing moved. The gusting rumble of the south wind continued. He waited eyes open, and alert. He felt alive. Adventures like this he could picture himself doing over and over. He watched and listened. Still nothing. He knew he needed to keep moving. He was not sure how much farther to the north the lake was.

Softly he rose from his leafy seat. He picked another clump of basswood trunks visible across the bowl before. His northward steps were silent with only a slight leaf rustle. Boone had learned much about travel in the woods. The lake was ahead. He was eager to see it.DSC_0040_1071sig

After reaching the basswood clump, a burl on a birch tree led him further north. Reaching the birch, he glanced north. He could see the blue-gray color of ice on the lake. He did not pick another north facing landmark. He silently made his way to the lake. Just before reaching the downslope towards the water he crossed two deer trails. He had not seen any on the way to the lake. Yet these two paralleled the lake shore and they were only a few yards apart. He did not dwell long on the deer trails. His eyes were pulled the vista of the lake before him. He was amazed at the small hump of land that formed an island in the lake. It was entirely tree covered. In the mid-morning sun it glowed. Movement on the north end of the island shifted his gaze. A bird of prey drifted southward against the wind. He watched as the wind lifted it westward and behind the island out of sight.

He lingered on the edge of the lake for a few moments. The hike had been worth the effort. His reward was not the sighting of a deer, mink or even the fisher he knew lived in the park. His reward was something he knew he would picture again over and over in his memory. The lake pristine, its shoreline undeveloped and the feeling of wildness were his rewards. He made plans to return, for a longer hike next time. It was time to meet his grandfather. He knew the way back and how long it would take him. He turned and faced into the wind. He still hoped to get a glimpse of a whitetail deer. Boone resolved he could come back. There was much more to learn about this place. It was a better than usual morning.DSC_0119_1092

Systems

Time to shift your mental thoughts to action. Turn on your reasoning and logic. No grousing, thinking is beneficial for us. Systems are our new topic. A system is a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole. Consider this definition with me. A system is a group. Things in this group interact. That means there is interrelationships, cooperation. Things in a system relate to one another. They intermingle and work together. There is independence and community in a system. The last statement to make about a system is this. A system is intense. It is complex. The things forming the system are multifaceted. There are many layers in a system. A system is intricate and complicated at the same time.

 

On this earth there are countless systems for us to consider and understand. All of them are complex, and interactive. All are intense.

One of my favorite systems is a hardwood forest. Deciduous forests perfectly fit our system definition. Complexity is everywhere in view and everywhere unseen. The whole of a hardwood forest is intensely complex. It is also intensely beautiful. Yes, we must not forget the beauty of thousands of trees interacting with thousands of other life forms. Beauty is a clue to the answer for this complexity.DSC_0040_1071sig

 We declared  the obvious life forms, the trees. Contemplate the trees found in a hardwood forest. First a list of them: Basswood, Ironwood, Maple, Aspen, Burr Oak, Birch, Red Oak, Ash, and Hackberry are found in the forest of my example. There are other species which grow in other hardwood forests. In the large system of forests found in North America there are 950 species of trees in 81 plant families!

 Complex? Think about the root systems of the trees interlinking in the forest soil. Different species are connected by uncountable roots. More complex is the activity each of these trees must undertake to live during the growing season. Photosynthesis takes the idea of system complexity to staggering. Trees in the forest now are linked to the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and the sun itself. While we have written documentation of each of these systems and their functions-but the complexity is overwhelming actually. Have you considered how complex the world we live in is?DSC_0053sig

 Trees? They are the big life forms. Our eyes are drawn to them. But, the point of discussion about systems has been made: a forest is a group of interrelated but independent life forms interacting to form a complex whole: a deciduous forest. There is another consideration in wrapping up this dialogue about systems, the OTHER living things found in the hardwood forest. Dwelling with the trees-in systems are birds, migratory and year-round, mammals, insects, other flowering plants much smaller than trees, lichen, fungi, and microbes in the soil. There are reptiles and amphibians too. Yes, my limited mind has missed many other life forms found in the complex system of a hardwood forest. I did mention beauty.DSC_0016_1066sig

The purpose of this flow of information is to cause your thinking to center on the term “system.” To lead you to grapple with the immense complexity of any system in nature. Then to ask the question, “How is such intricate complexity possible?” There is a one-word answer

God

Use your logic, use critical thinking, or do some research. It is possible for a forest system like the one in our example and photos, to organize itself? Is there enough time in eternity that trees could organize to use sunlight, water, minerals from the soil and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make their own food? No grousing now either…think this through. The benefits of a correct answer are eternal. Consider this closing question and answer from Isaiah. Here is the ultimate way to comprehend the complexity of earth systems

Isaiah 40:28

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

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Made for Communion

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Cedar Waxwing, bird of community.

It benefits from kinship.

A passerine whose identity is communal.

See one, the flock is near.

Frugivorous, palate for fruit.

Black mask shields the eye,

Cedar Waxwings, made to live,

in concert with others.DSC_0156_1049sig

Humans live in community

in cities, suburbs, and towns.

We benefit from kinship.

We bear one another’s burdens.

Humans, see one, more are near.

Humans-made by God.

Made in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27)

Like Cedar Waxwings,

Crafted by God for communion with God.

Everlasting God, Creator of the Universe,

wants you to walk with him,

talk with him.

He loves you.DSC_0142sig

Persist in This

 

Unnoticed, in silent existence.

We pass it without a glance.

It’s beautiful.

An amazing organism team; fungus and algae.

Too lowly to consider.

Some fix nitrogen fertilizing soil.

All live in harsh habitat; surviving drought, cold, heat.

Miniature chemical factories…producing 500 bio-chemicals;

controlling light, repelling herbivores, driving off attacking microbes, for survival.

Lichen persists on the earth.

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Jesus, Creator of extraordinary lichen.

We pass him by without a glance.

He’s Savior.

He’s inexplicable-three in One.

Suffered a lowly death on a cross.

Only solution to our sins.

Persist in Him; survive a harsh sin filled world.

Receive eternal life…free.

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On the “Outskirts”

This word has been on my mind all day: outskirts. Either you are thinking, “get a life,” or you are wondering, “why?” For those who wonder, outskirts is synonymous with fringes, the outer edge of something.

I have found a bird that is definitely on the outskirts.  This is my explanation.

The bird referred to is the emblematic American Robin (Turdus migratorius, (turdidae are the thrush family). It holds an esteemed place for nature watchers. For some it is a herald of warmer days ahead. It has been the subject of songs and poetry. A robin’s song stirs the human heart. Found year around in the United States, Robins also nest in most of Canada. It is estimated that 310 million American Robins live on the North American continent. The estimated population of the United States for 2017 is 324 million. There are almost enough robins for every American to enjoy their own personal robin! The robin is likely at the outskirts of the places where North Americans live, whether it is Mexico, the United States or Canada-there is a robin near you.DSC_0038_843sig

Robins are more than symbols of good weather. They are prolific. A female robin may produce up to 3 broods each year. This is a necessity. The entire population of 310 million turns over within 6 years. Life is short for a robin. In fall, surviving robins gobble enormous amounts of fruit as they prepare for migration. Robins are frugivorous. They eat fruit. Of course, worms are in their diet, but only when in season. John James Audubon praised the robin for skillful nest-building and for nourishing their young “with anxious care” He described the robin pair as “tender parents.”  Such behavior enables the robin population to remain steady, even grow in some areas.

Robins are the birds we are most familiar with. Being an “outskirts” or at the edges, dweller, it is often the robin whose nest or eggs are found by children. The robin is likely the bird most children know because robins live in proximity to humans. Children and adults delight in the sight of two robins in a tug of war contest over a fat spring night crawler. It is equally delightful to watch robins gorge themselves on the fruit of fall. They especially enjoy the small ornamental apples produced by the thousands of flowering crab apple trees planted in many places of the country.DSC_0044_844sig

The robin magnificently represents another use for the word “outskirts”. Have you thought about the magnitude of 310 million robins dying every 6 years? Have you considered how many eggs female robins lay to produce 310 million juvenile robins in 6 years? How many worms and how much fruit do these 310 million eat? How many feathers are on 310 million robins? Yes, the robin is a perfect example of a model for the word “outskirts.”

Here’s what it means. Job is one of my favorite Bible people. While he was explaining to his friends used the word “outskirts” to describe the unfathomable majesty of God. He spoke of “hanging the earth on nothing,” and of “binding water in thick clouds and the clouds do not split open.” He said, “even the pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke.” (Job 26) In conclusion, Job reminds his friends that these things are “but the outskirts of his ways…” The robin is another outskirt example. This bird, a delight to many, is another example of the power and majesty of almighty God. There are many examples of things outside which demonstrate just the “outskirts” of God’s power. What delight there is in being a student of the “outskirts.” What a privilege it is to examine just the edges of the greatness of God!DSC_0051_845sig

No Ordinary Dove

It was a dove in a tree. But not just a dove. My first exposure to a dove of this species came nearly a decade earlier. It was on a barrier island in Florida. The calls of this bird brought a sense of being in an exotic place. The dove in the tree was the same species, close up. But it was not in Florida. This bird was in central North Dakota.

The bird is an Eurasian Dove or Streptopelia decaocto . The spread of these doves across the North American continent is astonishing. Yet, almost beyond belief is the fact that this bird’s place of origin is the Middle East. In 1974 ancestors of the dove in the photo were accidentally introduced to the Bahamas through a burglary of a pet shop. By the 1980’s this dove’s ancestors where in Florida. 47 years later collared doves live in North Dakota. It is an astounding testimony of the resilient power of a species, and something more, but that comes later.

If the essential habitat is present wildlife flourishes. In the circumstance of the collared dove, it is people who have provided the collared dove the platform to expand its range so swiftly. Bird feeders and trees people have planted in urban and suburban areas have created the perfect habitat storm for collared doves to flourish. They are now found in every state from Florida to Washington, all states west of the Mississippi have collared dove populations. Collared doves prosper where there are people.

Remember the collared dove’s place of origin? My imagination prompts me to think of another dove thriving under the care of people. This one was in a boat, a very large boat. All the land species of animals found in the world were on this boat. The boat floated through an earth flooding storm lasting 150 days. 10 months and 40 days later, almost a year after the flood began, the man on the boat released a dove “to see if the water had receded from the ground.” It came back to his hand. 7 days later it returned to him with a ‘freshly plucked olive leaf” in its beak. When he “sent it out” a third time a week later, “it did not return to him”. There is a respectable probability the dove Noah released three times was the Eurasian collared dove.

God also used the dove to teach us about Himself. When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit of God came “down from heaven as a dove and remained on Jesus.”

Watch a gentle dove, be reminded of the tender, enduring love of God the Father Creator. God used a dove for his purpose in the flood, at the baptism of Jesus, and he is spreading his doves to remind us today his love is unchanged. The world is not spinning out of control. God oversees all, nothing escapes his notice, nothing occurs without his allowing, even the spread of doves. What should be our response to One who commands birds, even the wind and the waves…and they obey?

This Morning in Aurdal Township

This Morning in Aurdal Township

I saw wonder in blue. It perched to view the world safely from a high wire. Not alone, it was with a group of Bluebirds gathering to migrate. This one may winter in southern Texas. What will those bluebird eyes see?DSC_0091_750sig

I saw gold beauty this morning in Aurdal Township. Aspen leaves shimmered golden in the before noon light. These were small, large aspen trees may reach 80 feet tall and be larger than two feet in diameter. Their leaves quiver in a slight breeze because the stem is at a right angle to the leaf. Fall “aspen gold” draws my eyes again and again.DSC_0080_747sig

 

“Sumac Scarlet” was visible this morning in Aurdal Township. The beautiful, gorgeous, striking red of fall sumac leaves are always eye pleasing. Sumac isn’t just for pleasing humans, 300 species of songbirds include sumac fruit in their diets.DSC_0082_748sig

Wild turkeys were in view, feeding peacefully this morning in Aurdal Township. They walk on the ground to feed. It may have been an entire “family”. The hen lays between 10-15 eggs in spring. My eyes counted 13. They were very aware of me.DSC_0111_754sig

The moon traveled silently above Aurdal Township this morning as it made its regular orbit from east to west. It was 60 % illuminated moving steadily above a wisp of high thin cirrus clouds. Ash yellow leaves reminded me once more, fall has come…to Aurdal township. All of this, and there was much more. Life in abundance on a midweek morning in an area of 35 square miles where 1,450 live. Did anyone else see the wonder and beauty? Some did, most were busy with living life this morning in this small township.DSC_0123_755sig

Could beautiful things such as these be seen in any other place? Certainly, but it is too much for my mind to comprehend. Think of it! The earth is full of both beauty and wonder. The author of Psalm 65 confirmed it,

“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.” (Psalm 65:8) Imagine the whole earth-filled with awe and wonders! With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”) Imagine, we live in a world filled with wonder and awe, all made for us. Why would God create such a world? Love.