pink peony

pink peony
old-fashioned peony

Friday, February 14, 2014


A special memory...

A precious keepsake of mine is this valentine given by my grandfather to my grandmother in the early 1920s. They were in high school together in Gainesville.
After Grandmother died at a much-too-young age (three days before her 60th birthday), Grandad added this notation below the card’s printed message: “This was the first valentine given to my darling Fay.”
It folds down to become three-dimensional.
On the back of the card Grandad also wrote: “This card was handed to Fay one morning behind the old round heater in the old block high school – perhaps 1922 or 1923. I was too backward to give it to her in public.”

Grandad gave me a small wooden box of Grandmother’s things about the time I graduated from high school. I have their high school and college class rings, some diplomas, a couple of their picture albums and other meaningful items that tell me so much about the young couple they were.

 Grandad and Grandmother were school teachers and very career-minded people who loved teaching. I guess it is appropriate that their romance started in the basement of the old school where they also began their life’s work. Their genuine love for each other surely spilled over into their obvious love of life and love of their work, which influenced many young people through the years…including me. My grandmother gave me the gift of good books and a love of reading and encouraged my faith. My grandfather had a delightful sense of humor, loved sports and inspired my interest in genealogy, all wonderful gifts.

Even though Grandad eventually remarried (to a very dear lady), my grandmother was forever "his darling Fay." Lovebirds till the end, a true Valentine’s Day love story…

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I love winter. I love snow. I love cold weather.


I love winter clothes, wearing warm sweaters, warm socks and warm boots. I like bundling up in layers, turtlenecks and wool jackets, like my favorite old gray wool peacoat. These things never wear out; they just increase in character, as edges soften and fray.

I love to be cooped up in the house, and I love to knit warm, woolen scarves and to sew warm, cozy quilts. Colorful yarn and bright, printed fabric provide some just-right color on drab days.

My happy heart sings as the sewing machine purrs, stitching up a cozy topper that will warm my granddaughter’s bed.

I love to keep the tea kettle almost whistling on the back burner of the stove, and I love to hear my husband, bundled up like a bear,


come in the back door. I love to make him a cup of strong, hot tea and to see him warm up and relax.

I love to make a big pot of warming soup or stew and let it gently bubble on a low burner for a long time, making the house smell so good for hours. How pleasant for someone coming in from the cold, to enter a delicious-smelling kitchen and know that a wonderful treat is in store for them!

I love to put on lots of layers and head outside into a winter wonderland. I love to see the bare branches of trees silhouetted against a brilliant blue sky.

When those branches are tipped with crystalline ice, it’s just the best, the prettiest sight in the world!

I love to see the snow outlining the branches of bare hardwoods
and draped across the arms of evergreens. Cedars and pines are prettiest in this winter garb.
I love to come across a wild holly,

its red berries providing a lovely counterpoint to its pristine setting.

I love to drive down a dirt road in the snow, making the first tracks along its pure whiteness. When I stop the truck and get out, the quiet of winter penetrates and quiets my busy mind, the only sound that of the birds twittering and chirping in the thickets that line the way. They scold me for invading their bird-place, but they are also curious, asking each other, “Why is she here?” What human likes to be out in winter?” I hope they know I am a friend and that I’m only there to admire them.


I love to crunch through the snow down to the creek. I admire the rugged, beautiful bluffs above, dripping with icicles. I love to see the clear, cold water tumbling over the rocks in the creek, and I love to look for all sorts of tracks in the snow or the mud along its banks.


If the roads are too bad for me to navigate them alone, I love to be asked to go for a ride with my favorite farmer to deliver bales of hay to the cattle on the backside of beyond.

I love to see the baby calves in their thick, warm coats, frolicking as they follow their mamas eagerly rushing to the breakfast buffet. Their breath comes out in frosty puffs, and the winter seems to make them bolder and braver, as they curiously examine the truck, sniffing and snorting, then romp away when the camera clicks.


I love when he has time to explore a little more on this cold, winter’s day. My favorite thing is to come upon the remains of an old homestead, chimney leaning and doors askew on rusty hinges. I like to think about the pioneer woman who made this a home, who stitched quilt blocks by lamplight on a cold winter’s evening, as her husband read aloud to her or carved a toy for the baby in the cradle.


I love to tromp around and look into her cellar, now filled with debris but once her pride and joy. Come fall, its shelves lined with crocks and jars filled with good things to see her family through till spring. Baskets of apples and big heads of cabbage would have provided a taste of something fresh when snowflakes swirled.

I love an old barn in winter, its sturdy bones still strong, a reminder of when it sheltered precious livestock, milk cows, draft horses, squealing pigs and bleating sheep. It was the first structure built here that long-ago summer; the family camped out while this most-important part of their livelihood took shape. What an adventure they were living out!

I love to ask my farmer-husband about going to the one-room school when he was a little boy, on a day like this. He and his school-mates were the last generation to get to go to the old school. I love to hear him tell about all the children drawing their desks up close to the pot-bellied stove to keep warm, and the teacher who would play with them at recess as if he was just a big kid himself. I love to hear him tell of taking a big knife to school to cut down saplings during recess and build forts in the woods around the old schoolhouse. And I enjoy the stories of the “bus”, a parent’s old station wagon, getting stuck trying to navigate icy, snowy roads. The boys would get out and push the “bus” out of the ditch. A little snow didn’t shut school down in those days!

Today we tune in to a sophisticated weather forecast and know days ahead to prepare for a coming winter storm. We have snug, solid, well-built homes to shelter us when it comes, warmth at the touch of a button, resources to keep the power on in case of an outage, and four-wheel-drive vehicles to take us out and about when we really should stay in.

I, for one (and I know I’m in the minority), say, “Let’s enjoy it.” Every season has its beauty, and winter is no exception. We only need to look to see it.