Thursday, July 28, 2005

The barren land his dwelling

We struggled, gasping for breath. Each step was torture, each breath agony. The windswept slopes were gray and barren. Focusing on each single step, we climbed on.

Finally, victory. The Continental Divide. The wind roared as we panted and gazed. Snow-capped peaks, clear alpine lakes, forests, meadows, mountain streams -- beauty inconceivable.

Then, it came. A solitary swallow, struggling in the thin air. I didn’t see the species. Perhaps there was a flash of color; I really can’t say. It fluttered over the divide. And it was gone.

We turned our attention to the beauty around us, raising our voices in praise of our Creator. All too soon, we had to resume our five-day trek. My mind will forever hold an image, though -- the image of a lone struggling swallow fighting the fierce winds high above the world.

Monday, July 11, 2005

In the backyard

Summertime in Texas. All the world seems pale, hot, and hazy. The thermometer alone burns brilliantly. Defying the meteorologists’ warnings, I step out the back door.

Chickadees and titmice speed from the greenbelt to our backyard -- back and forth. They whirl around the feeder and occasionally pause on the Bradford Pear. Darting to the seeds, they fill their beaks and then rush to their homes in the woods. What busy little birds!

Now a cardinal rests on the feeder while his mate waits on a nearby branch. Mockingbirds perch along the fence, well aware of their backyard sovereignty. House Sparrows hop in the grass. Above the greenbelt, an egret propels through the thick air. A hot breeze stirs the sleeping trees. Dragonflies circle lazily over the yard, and the cicada’s rattle nearly drowns out a neighbor’s lawn mower.

And so life flourishes -- even on a heavy, still summer afternoon.

Friday, July 01, 2005

A summer storm

This month foreshadows a summer much hotter than last year’s. The humidity is already oppressive, and the drought that usually hits in July or August has stretched its fingers into June this year as well. Today’s thunderstorm, then, was a welcome relief.

The house grew dark, and we knew it was coming. My sister and brother and I went outside and watched. The trees lost their mellow summertime color and adopted an electric green hue. The wind was strong. It tangled up the greenbelt and threatened the lives of the smallest trees.

My sister and I stretched ourselves on the warm patio pavement and watched the battle raging in the sky. Light and dark warred against each other while flashes of lighting split the sky in two. The stormy gray overpowered the few spots of light, sweeping over them with intense power. Soon, only a small blot of white was left. The dark attacked it, surrounding it on all sides. And it was gone.

Several doves sped past, and a swift or two struggled high, high up amid the swirling mass of gray.

All was wild and untamed. The greenbelt churned, the clouds whorled, the wind bellowed, and, in the Northeast, the thunder crashed.

Then the rain came. Huge, frothing drops. Slowly at first, then faster, then in torrents. We stood and watched. Then we ran. We ran around the backyard, then through the gate and into the field. We circled the field, swinging around trees and leaping across ditches, joining the wild, untamed nature in reckless praise of our Father’s creation. A crash of thunder streaked across the sky, starting as a distant rumble in the North, growing to a roar, and culminating in an explosion above our heads. And we rejoiced.

The storm was short, but it cleared away the humidity and cleansed the stagnate air. Now the birds are back.