A Golden Opportunity

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It was late afternoon when I ran into a little road congestion.

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I slowed for the low rider.

IMG_9400A wagon load was rushing for the hidden drive.

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A youngster was looking at his new shoes.

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A family on a walk gawked as we got closer. Friendly folk.

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A horse was pushing a wagon down the road.

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Mary’s little lamb had to go: all four of them.

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A barefooted wagon gingerly made its way to where fence, road, and sky meet on the horizon.

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A family crossed the road on its way to their algae decorated home.

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And as I came around the corner I realized that I had a golden opportunity to take one more picture.

 

 

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Coming Up

After sitting three hours in close communion, everyone looks forward to catching up on the latest news. Cookie cutter hats grow up with the young and energetic generation. Soon they too will talk about crops and who bought the farm just over the hill.

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Grandfather Miller’s Fox Hunt

Grandfather loved to hunt in his earlier years and many were the stories that he could tell about his hunting ventures. One story that I remember him telling was the time he went fox hunting.

After trudging through the woods for some time his dog finally picked up scent. The baying of the hound was music to Grandpa’s ears. He stood quite still as he listened to the melody of the hound gleefully giving rise to the instinct of his kind. Unlike his ancestors, hunger had nothing to do with the chase, but rather the excitement of the chase itself.

Grandpa listened intently as the feverish pitch of the bawling hound slowly faded in the distance. The dog meticulously picked his way through the underbrush and disappeared over the distant hills. Grandpa smiled to himself as he heard the canine’s voice fade. “Got to be a fox the way he’s heading away.”

Judging approximately where the fox would choose to pass by on his circuitous route to evade his pursuer, and knowing that it would take a while Grandpa found a place to relax where he could clearly see the activity of the chase. For a long time he listened to the chipping of the chipmunks and an occasional blue jay scolding at something in the distance. The gentle breeze carried the sound of conversation from a couple of crows as they made their way over the distant horizon. Suddenly in the distance he heard the faint sound of a dog barking.

Eagerly he strained into the wind to hear the melodrama. Slowly, ever so slowly, the baying of the dog drew closer. Suddenly he saw motion off to his side. Hardly daring to breathe he cautiously turned his head and saw a fox ambling warily along stopping every few minutes to listen to the dog in the distance. Grandpa’s adrenalin pumped overtime as he watched the fox’s antics.

The fox walked over to a tree that had blown over and with a deliberate effort climbed on it and made his way to the far end which was quite a good distance from the ground. He lifted his nose into the wind and keenly surveyed the countryside from his elevated position. Suddenly with a flying leap he hurled his body out into space clearing the many branches and landed on the ground a good distance away from the tree. Not missing a beat he ran merrily, seemingly unconcerned about the villain that was chasing him.

Grandpa watched as the dog, hot on the tracks of the fox, ran up to the windblown tree and barked treed. Grandpa was quite amused as the dog ran all around that tree bawling his head off. He never ran out quite far enough to catch the scent of the now long gone fox. Grandpa felt quite fortunate to be able to witness such a spectacle.

Foggy Days

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Foggy days are friendly days. Fog forces you to look at things that are close. I like to think that everything else does not matter for the moment. Why are we always told that we need to see the big picture? The big picture can be confusing at times.

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The small picture is sometimes the best one. Don’t you agree?

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Maybe once in a while we should be satisfied to slow down and enjoy this moment rather than having to speed ahead at a vein bursting 130 PSI. Let’s let a little air out of our lives.

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Don’t fill your palette with yearning for things beyond your reach. Fill it with something original, something symmetrical and orderly. Fill it with something constant and functional. Sometimes you have to wait for it, and sometimes you have to go get it. Learn to enjoy what you meet. It is waiting for you to enjoy. Do you see it?

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Don’t curse the fog. Maybe God gave us fog to force us to slow down. Think what we miss when we speed across time. I might not have noticed this tree and the sheep in the background if it had been a sunny day. This tree does not need leaves to be beautiful. Neither does it need sunshine. Learn to enjoy life without sunshine!

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No speed here. A leisurely walk down the road misses nothing. What a fun time to walk down the road with your family. look at nature, talk about God, have family time. Make happy memories.

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Dead leaves liven up the scenery as they seemingly float at eye level. Aren’t they beautiful? Maybe some leaves have to remain on the trees throughout winter to give us another perspective of beauty.

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As we go through the fog enjoying what is ahead, the light of our adventures show others where we have been. Consider being a pioneer, leading others through the dimness of the future. Have purpose. Go carefully and thoughtfully. Keep moving. Invite others to follow.

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You can never tell what is ahead. It might not be clear, but if you look intently you will always see something. About the only time you will miss anything important in life is when you look into a mirror. Forget the mirror. Look around. Look carefully. You will see it.

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Watch for the fog. When it comes rolling in look carefully. If you have to, do not hesitate to go higher. Look around. What a wonderful place. What a wonderful time. The fog teaches us to enjoy the closeness of life. Slow down. Look around. Be blessed!

 

 

 

 

 

Break In!

My mother was tired. She had been to the hospital every day that week to be at the bedside of my ill father. It was late and all she wanted was a good night’s sleep. She opened the window beside her bed to allow the warm summer breeze to refresh her.

Mother slowly relaxed that fateful evening as the night sounds engulfed her. Her boys were safely tucked in upstairs, all but the oldest who had left for the evening some hours earlier. The doors were locked. But, the window beside her bed was open.

Mother was sleeping deeply when somewhere in her subconscious mind she detected something out of the ordinary. Slowly, reluctantly, she awoke out of deep sleep, entering into some resemblance of consciousness. She listened intently. A faint noise like wood sliding against wood sounded in her ears.

She opened her eyes. Someone was standing outside the window! She pressed into the mattress, staring at the stranger. Through the darkness he looked like he had a long beard and straggly clothes. Mother stared as he removed the screen. The stranger peered inside for a moment and then pulled himself up to the window and squeezed through.

Mother was terrified. She trembled in horror. The stranger was in her bedroom, father was in the hospital, and her boys were upstairs. What did this fellow want!

The stranger tiptoed across the floor and disappeared out the bedroom door. Mother was glued to her bed, but she knew that somehow she must protect her sleeping boys.

Sometime before, my oldest brother was on the way home and thought about our father lying in a bed in some strange hospital with an unknown sickness. He thought about our mother at our father’s bedside most of the week. He knew she was tired.

My brother thought about how dear our parents were. They had cared for him as long as he could remember. They had fed him when he was hungry, changed his diapers when they were soiled. He could always count on his dad telling stories and his mother cuddling him. They provided answers when he asked questions, coached him when he was perplexed. They didn’t have much, but always enough. They weren’t dirt poor, just “scrambling poor.” If they scrambled, they could make it. If Dad’s lack of working when he was sick was the culprit then Mom’s contentment was the miracle that always made everything right.

Yes, my brother had been eager to get home. He hoped the door was unlocked. Like a cat, he walked silently to the door. It was locked. He did not have a key. He stood there at the door, waiting and thinking. He hated to wake his mother, knowing she needed her rest.

As the stranger crept upstairs to where the young boys lay, somehow my mother got the strength to get out of bed and drag her feet to the stairway. The stranger was almost at the top of the stairs before she could utter a sound. In a quivering voice, my mother screamed.

The footsteps stopped. My mother held on to the door jamb. A voice spoke out of the dark. “It’s just me, Mom. The door was locked so I climbed through the window.”

My mother discovered her legs and wobbled back to bed, waiting for her pounding heart to calm down so she could sleep.

The stranger climbed into the bed next to mine.

The house became quiet.

Painted In

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Snow, like slathered paint on canvas, blends everything together as horses in winter coats eagerly sift through the tangled mess of cornstalks looking for bits of corn. Being engaged in the pursuit of survival they are oblivious to the beautiful picture they have become a part of.

The Grand Run Around

 

 

It was Saturday afternoon and mischievous Eli tore into his friend Andy’s lane at breakneck speed. When he was even with the yard gate, he yelled, “Whoa!” and pulled hard on the driving lines. By the time the horse skidded to a stop, Eli had already jumped off the buggy and was breezing through the gate.

About the time he entered the front door, his friends Andy and Roy came around the side of the house. When the two teenage boys saw Eli’s horse standing in the lane with Eli nowhere in sight, they realized that their friend had once again done the unconventional and left his horse unattended. An unwritten law among the Amish is that you always tie your horse. Nothing could put a slow horse into high gear faster than the opportunity to hit the road without a driver. It was simply the human in the horse.

Andy and Roy looked at each other, looked at the house, and looked at the buggy. Without hesitation Andy jumped into the buggy, grabbed the driving reins, and climbed behind the seat. Roy gave Andy some time to get away with the horse and buggy and then let out a desperate shriek, “Whoa, whoa! Eli, your horse is running away! Whoa! Eli!” Roy half-heartedly ran after the “runaway” horse while yelling at the top of his lungs.

Eli, taking advantage of Amish hospitality, was just opening the refrigerator door when he thought he heard someone calling his name and yelling something about a runaway horse. Oh, well, they could catch their own horse. He was hungry. Surely his friends had something to eat . . . He froze. A horse running away? His horse? Hunger pains left him faster than a piece of chocolate cake in a crowd of starving boys.

About the time Andy had steered the horse through the open gate and into a harvested hay field behind the barn, Eli came flying out of the house like a ball from Mickey Mantle’s bat. Without losing momentum in the race, he yelled at his horse to stop. He tore down the field toward the careening buggy, easily catching up with Roy who was still flailing the air and yelling.

“Faster, Roy!” said Eli as he puffed past Roy. “We’re not going to catch him at your pace.”

Roy picked up speed as Eli passed and then keeping his eyes on Eli, he slowed to a dull run. He hoped his loud screams of “Whoa!” would make up for his slow pace.

Crouched behind the buggy seat, Andy pulled on the reins to slow Eli’s horse just enough for Eli to catch up. When he heard Eli puffing directly behind the buggy, he eased up on the reins, allowing the horse to pick up speed and leave Eli behind. When Andy got to the end of the field, he pulled on the driving reins and made a wide turn back up the field.

“Head him off, Roy! Head him off!” Eli shouted as he picked up speed once again. “Can’t you run faster?” Roy ran clumsily toward the fence to “head off” the horse, but by now he was laughing so hard that he stopped to bend over, feigning stomach pain from all the running.

From somewhere deep inside of him, Eli found the will to drum up more speed. When he could almost touch the buggy, the concealed Andy eased up on the reins once again and the horse sped off. From one end of the field to the other they went.

Finally, the exhausted Eli dropped to the ground in frustration and watched as the horse stopped at the far end of the field.

Roy dropped beside him, holding his side as he laughed.

“What are you laughing at?” Eli sputtered.

“That must be the smartest horse I ever saw in my life,” Roy gasped. “Did you notice how he sped up every time you got close?”

Eli looked around, disgruntled. “Where in the world is Andy? Why didn’t he come to help?”

“Andy? Who’s Andy?” Roy asked innocently.

Suddenly a light came on in Eli’s brain. “Andy!” he screamed, jumping up. “I am going to get even with you!”

The distant horse and buggy slowly turned and came toward them.

Holding onto his hat, Eli ran for his horse. Andy, roaring with laughter, waved at Eli from the front seat of the buggy as he headed toward the hitching rail. He kept just far enough ahead of Eli that he could quickly tie the horse and run into the house for refuge.