Nutrolls And Gatorade And Hunting



One of the ways I bonded with my dad growing up was through him teaching me how to hunt.

Hunting is something that has been tradition in my family for generations, and it started with necessity.  Hunting is an inexpensive way to put meat in our freezer.  My grandpa started hunting when he was a teenager for that very reason, and he and his brother taught their children how to hunt, and they taught theirs, and I guess that's where it became a tradition.  We still hunt today for mainly of the same reasons - to fill the freezer being high up on the list.

Another reason we value hunting so much, contradictory as it may seem to those who don't understand it, is because of a love for God's creation.  We love getting out in nature, seeing the sunrise, hearing which birds wake up first, finding tracks of animals we aren't even trying to find.  We do it because it's a great way to get out there, and we do it for the sake of conservation.  Many people don't realize how many animals would starve and die over the winter if their populations are too high at the start of it.  It's why there is a Division Of Wildlife - to study these things, and help keep ecosystems in proper balance.

It always irks me to see how hunters are sometimes portrayed by authors or producers who don't have a clue.  I've put books down because of a portrayal of hunters as careless idiots with guns who just want to kill something.  The ignorance is stunning to me.  The hunters I know, who I've grown up with, are some of the most careful and most respectful people you will meet with regards to firearms and nature.

When I was twelve my dad took me hunting for the first time.  I had a cow elk tag, and he woke me up early and we made the trek out into the woods.  Snow crunched under my feet, and my lungs burned with the cold morning air at the exertion.  I hung on to the straps on my dad's backpack so he could help haul me up the hill.

Every now and then he would spot a track, sometimes elk, but I remember specifically seeing mountain lion and bear tracks too.  He would whisper and point them out to me, and I'd whisper how cool it was and grin.



I got an elk on that first day of my first hunt.  It was a very exciting moment, and a particularly large elk, so it was great to contribute to the family's food like that.  But my favorite part was grinning at my dad after a successful hunt and seeing he was grinning back at me, and resting together on the snow as we split a Nutroll candy bar and drank a jug of Gatorade.

You just don't even know how good a Nutroll and Gatorade can taste until you've worked so hard for them.  I went hunting with my dad all through my growing up years, and a Nutroll and Gatorade was always our victory meal.

My dad taught Derek how to hunt, and now Derek provides for our family too through hunting, and he's planning to take our kids when they are big enough.  So the tradition continues.

I haven't been hunting since I've had kids.  It was too hard to go since we'd have to find a babysitter.  But as I watch the leaves turn and the frost returning this year, I'm feeling that itch to get out there again (not to mention the meat would help a lot in feeding five hungry kids).

Today, I don't buy Nutrolls or Gatorade.  I just can't imagine snacking on them in my living room or car.  They will forever be reserved for me as the fuel I'll pull out of my backpack, as I'm sitting on a rock in the brisk fall air after a hard morning of hunting.  That's how they taste best.




On Celebrating Small Things



This past Saturday I spent most of the day away from the house.  I had some writing to do, and took some photos for a friend who asked, but between those two things I had an hour to kill.  I went to browse a bit at Target - a dangerous endeavor, but I hardly go there anymore unless I'm by myself.

I skimmed the dollar spot, and put a few fall things into my basket.  Decorative signs, and a couple garlands, and fall stamps.  With our late vacation this year, I have had a harder time feeling fall-ish, and I think my kids have felt it too.

This morning Derek has the day off for a holiday that most people don't celebrate, and some people consider politically incorrect.  Columbus was a fallen human being for sure.  No human "hero" is going to be untarnished, because we are all sinners.  But still it remains that if he didn't bump into new lands all those centuries ago, most of us wouldn't be sitting here, would we?

All this got me thinking about the value in celebrating, and in celebrating things that might not always be deemed worthy of celebrating by everyone.  When I think of celebrating, I usually think of Christmas, or birthdays. But what about just celebrating the changing of the season with a little more fanfare and gratitude?  What about taking a rather obscure holiday to honor a controversial figure, and pull the good out of it, and make a memory over it?



So today, I'm putting out the fall decorations I bought, thankful to the Lord getting us through to another season.  Not just for getting us through but showering us with blessings along the way.   We might go fishing later, because my husband has the day off, and maybe on the way I'll break out an Adventures In Odyssey or another audio drama about Columbus.  As a reminder to my kids of the value of an adventurous spirit, and of part of the story of how we came to be living in this beautiful country.

There is value in celebrating small things, if only in making a memory together and pointing to the Lord for His blessings to us that aren't always glaringly obvious.  Small celebrations are a practice in gratitude, and I would like to get a little better at that.



Six Years Of Sparkle



My Sparkling Gwen,

Sweetheart, I am sitting down to write this and thinking over the last year with you.  You change so much from year to year, but in some ways you stay the same.  I love watching your personality shine more and more as you grow!

Your favorite thing in the world is to laugh and make other people laugh, and you are such a fun-loving little girl!  Your laugh is perfect and unique - it sounds like a creek gurgling, bells ringing, and birds tweeting all at once.  I can pick it out of a crowd, only because it is such an incredibly adorable little girl laugh!

You are really getting involved in picking your own outfits, and I love to see the combinations you come up with.  Your favorite is to wear your skirt with jeans, and I think this reflects your sweet personality.  You love playing outside, climbing on things, hanging upside down on the monkey bars, but you are not content to just wear pants.  You have to add a little sparkle and girly-ness to everything you do!

You are such a little helper - whenever I ask you kids to do something, you are the first to jump up.  You are always looking for ways to assist me, and to help anyone around you.  I love this about you so much.

I've also seen a lot of deep thinking going on in your little head this year.  You ask me such good questions about Jesus and the Bible, and how exactly everything works.  I try my best to answer all your questions, but it brings me such joy to see you thinking things through and trusting the Lord more and more as you grow.

Lately you've been expressing that you want to be just like me.  You want to grow up to be a mama, just like me.  You are dying to get your ears pierced, just like me (we are doing this for your birthday!).  The thought warms my heart, but in so many ways, I want to be more like you.

I want to have a tender heart like you do.  I want to laugh and enjoy life with the same zest as you.  I want to have a heart to serve others like you do.

I hope you grow up to take the good things you can from my example, but always know too that I think you are completely delightful just for being you.  I'll never stop loving you, my Precious Girl.  I love you more than I could ever say.

Happiest 6th Birthday, My Sweet Darling!

Love Always,

Mama




The Reason I Bought That Sweater



When I was a teenager, my mom gave me a white sweatshirt with blue stripes on it.  I learned the story later, of how she was wearing it when my dad proposed to her.  He had given her the sweatshirt and hidden her ring in the pocket.

I don't know what happened to that sweatshirt.  Eventually I must have outgrown it or ruined it, because I don't have it anymore, and I don't think it's one I would give away.  But in my memory, the light blue stripes on that sweatshirt wherever similar to another shirt.  One my mom was wearing in a faded snapshot from the 80's.

I like to think my dad or someone else in our family grabbed the camera to document how beautiful my mom looked, because she looked so young and glowing.  When I first found that photo in an old album, my mom told me she was actually pregnant with me when it was taken.





I found a sweater with very similar stripes to the ones on the shirts my mom wore when she was close to my age.  I didn't even think about it, I just bought it.

I like this sweater a lot, partly because it's cute, but majorly because it reminds me of her.

There will always be that part of me that dreams of growing up to be just like my mama.




Where I'm From


"I'm from the front pew of a wooden white church..."

I heard those words through the speaker on the way home and immediately turned up the radio, because that first line could have come straight out of my childhood.  I listened as Jason Michael Carroll sang "Where I'm From".  I resonated with almost every line.

A friend asked me last week what the best part was about living where I live, and I thought about that song, and tried to think of how I'd describe where I'm from...

I'm from a wooden white church too, nestled in plains surrounded by mountains, filled with people more like a family than a church.

I'm from a place where the aspens in the autumn take your breath away and fill the air with spice, and people drive hours just to look at them from the highway.

I'm from riding our horses across clear mountain water, the coldest water you ever tasted, because it hasn't traveled that far from the peak of a mountain.

I'm from sweater weather, and wood stoves, and hot chocolate, and golden leaves sharing space with white snowflakes on evergreen branches.

I'm from a place where you can lay in bed at night with the window open and hear owls hooting from the lodgepole pines, and elk bugling from the meadow down the hill.

I'm from a place where fall means the sweet smell of fresh cut hay, tractors hauling bales on the highway and occasionally dropping one, trucks carrying neon orange-clad men and women to the back roads, country music on the radio, and people asking where your dad goes hunting.

I'm from a place where you have your perfectly vague response perfectly rehearsed, because around here we guard our hunting spots like the Mint.

I'm from a place where my grandpa worked as a foreman for the water board, and raised his family in a tiny log house that they heated with a wood stove.

I'm from a boy who got payed a penny a log to chop wood for winter, and decided not to play football because it interfered with hunting season.

I'm from a girl who came here, fell in love with that boy in high school, and never left because she fell in love with the mountains too.

I'm from a mom who taught us how to weave wreaths out of willow branches and baskets out of pine needles, who kept the house smelling like cookies or stew, and feeling like love.

I'm from a dad who came home with cuts on his hands from hard work, whose flannel coat brought the autumn chill in with him, but somehow his hugs were still warm.

I'm from a place where people ask my maiden name and immediately know my people.

I'm from a place that pulls together after tragedy, and the speed limit signs are wrapped in ribbons for miles in remembrance.

I'm from a place where you know the names of the state troopers and which cars they drive, because they taught you driver's ed.  But you didn't have to learn to parallel park to pass, because no one does that here.

I'm from a place where the high schools feud by seeing who can paint the rock in their respective parking lots the coolest color.

I'm from tree forts, and hikes on an old railroad grade, and sleeping bags on the trampoline next to the best little brother and sister in the world, while bats flit across the stars.

I'm from a place where the wilderness is just a couple roads over.

I'm from a place that some people leave, but some people never will because they never would want to.

It's a place that gets in your blood if you stay here for any length of time.  And if you have the right kind of something inside to react to it, then it gets in your blood and stays forever, and you can never quite leave it behind again.  Maybe for a little while, but eventually you return one way or another.  Because there is no other place that feels as much like home.

I'm from a place that got in my husband's blood too, and we built a home and a family and a life up here where wild things grow.





That's where I'm from.  And like any place, some things change, things are always changing.  Some of what I've written is from my childhood and some is from now, and they are all mixed up and inseparable in my mind.  Some things don't change, and those are the pieces that have held me here.  I feel blessed that I get to raise my kids in the same place where our roots have grown so long.

So this can be where they're from too.

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 2



A Quote

"Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here.  It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there...Nevertheless, let it never be said of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present, let the future sanctify the present to it's highest uses...The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigor, for the joy of the Lord is his strength...He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come." -Charles Spurgeon


This is from Morning And Evening by Charles Spurgeon, which I've been loving as an addition to my Bible reading lately.  A little bonus book pick for you!


A Book

Dracula by Bram Stoker.  This book is really not my style at all, but so far I'm kind of enjoying it?  I never read horror, but I am in a classics book club with some friends from my college days, and Dracula is what we picked for this season.  It is a classic, so I figure it's worthwhile to read just for the cultural references, but I'm halfway through and now I'm rather curious to see how it's going to turn out!  The ending in the book is supposed to be good...




Sidenote:  I am reading my leather-bound copy from Barnes And Noble, because it's the prettiest and least creepy cover I could find...also, I know I'm pale.  I promise I'm not a vampire.

A Bit Of Nature


The aspen trees peaked this last week!  But there are still a few areas where they have yet to change color.  I should really record peak week each year so I can plan our fall hikes to coincide.

A Recommendation

I have attended a few of these homeschool summits in the past - this is basically a free online conference with encouragement for Christian homeschool parents!  This year there will be sessions with Ken Ham and Voddie Baucham, so you should obviously sign up just for that.  But there also other speakers I have appreciated in the past, like Hal and Melanie Young, and Todd Wilson.  I expect good things!  It's happening next week, if you are interested.

A Moment Of Happiness

I took Clarice on a "mom day" last weekend.  We went grocery shopping, and I loved the feel of her dainty little hand in mine.  She insisted on riding in the cart until she was practically covered in groceries, and I remember doing the same when I was a kid.  I bought her a toy, a set of cleaning supplies.  "Mama, I can help you clean the house!" she declared excitedly.

We finished at the store, and I got her a happy meal as a special treat for dinner, since we never get happy meals when I have all the kids together.  She sat across the table, deconstructing her hamburger before she ate it, and every now and then she looked at me and gave me one of her dazzling grins.  Then she'd make a face at me to make me laugh.

She bounced along beside me as we left, like a little Tigger.  ON the way home she spotted the moon out the window.  "Mama, the moon is following us home!  He must be hungry!"  Then she laughed at her own joke, and I laughed too.

And I just kind of wish she could stay four years old forever.

Candy Corn And Hay Bales




In my memory, the air has a slight brisk feel to it.  It's late summer, but fall is just starting to whisper in the leaves, a rustling that sounds different than leaves do in the spring.  

My mom, siblings, and I are walking along rows of hay bales, wearing leather work gloves.  I stop at one and swing my arm to bring a hook down into a bale, and then I drag it across a mown field to the truck waiting at the end of the row.  Some bales are heavier than others, depending on how tightly packed they are or whether they hold wet hay.  If we think the hay might be wet, we cut the bale open and let it dry out more before my dad runs the rake and bailer over it again.

My sister and I work together on the heavy bales, double-teaming it with our hooks or rolling them over to my dad's white truck.  He is in the back, swinging his own bale hook and hauling each one up into the bed to stack.

Once the truck bed is filled with bales higher than the cab, my siblings and I climb up to the top.  We hang on to the hay bales as the truck rattles across the uneven field to the barn.  Even though the bales are fairly secure, it still feels a little like riding on jello, the bales swaying a bit with each bump.



We take them to the barn and start the stacking process all over again, this time going clear up to the barn roof.  My sister and I work together most of the time on the top of the stack.  My dad and brother launch the bales up a temporary staircase that we built in the hay stack, and we girls hook them and roll bales into their spots, 20 feet off the ground.  Later, my dad will get a ramp that works as a bale escalator, so we don't have to work so hard to get them to the top.

My favorite part is sitting in the gaps in the stack.  I always wish we could leave a little stair-step ladder of bales and a nook like this all winter, so I could come out to the barn sometimes and nestle into the warm hay with a book.  My own little secret place.

But there are always too many bales to leave any gaps, and we work all weekend to get the hay in before it gets rained on.  At the end of each long day we are bone tired, and we go inside to a hot pot of chili on the stove, candy corn, and apple cider in the crockpot.

My dad doesn't store the hay in bales anymore.  After we all moved out, he invested in a round baler. Instead of small rectangular bales to be stacked individually like Jenga pieces, the barn is filled now with round bales taller than I am.

But every time I taste candy corn, even now, this is what I think of first.  Long days in the late summer sun, trimmed fields next to a rushing mountain river, rustling leaves hinting at fall, diesel exhaust along with the sweet smell of fresh-cut hay filling the air, and learning how to work hard with my hands.





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