Blooming With a Story

There were three guys. And three flowers. But no one told them which flower was for which guy.

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One white rose and two violet irises arrived that sunny June morning at the church on the hill with the tall white steeple. They had been boxed and delivered to the groom and his two groomsmen. For some reason, at least according to my husband’s memory, they just dealt out the flowers randomly, not giving much thought to who should wear the most unique flower.

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Encouraging a Passion for Photography

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She loves photography. And she has a natural bent for it, framing her subject in unique ways and using engrossing angles. I am truly in awe when I scroll through her photo folders on the computer. So I was excited to hear she was “all in” when I asked if she’d like to complete a mini photo challenge with me a few weeks ago. Continue reading

Lilac Syrup

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Their perfume is sweetness personified. And their purple blooms tumbling over each other on my window ledge? They’re beauty personified.

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Deep-Purple Promises

A 12-inch yellow ball brings one daughter joy six days out of every week. DSC_0056

Bare, muddy feet make another feel elated every afternoon.

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A flower awakens. A circle closes.

Our move to NH has officially come full circle.

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One year ago today marks the end of an almost 6-year process that led our family to our humble New England homestead. One year ago today we became NH residents. We’re still learning our way around the state. We’re even still learning our way around our rocky, forested 14 acres. And we’re still learning our way around the New England dialect. Just last week I couldn’t decipher where someone lived–“at the end of the t-ah road.” (A phrase that is extra confusing for this southerner who has always used the phrase “blacktop” to refer to roads that were made of tar.)

But I’m thankful for the simpler, quieter life… the life that, indeed, often takes a turn onto a dirt road.

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Last summer, down back roads and up winding trails, I met a joyful plethora of new wildflowers.

Having always been intrigued by botany, I felt like a giddy child introduced to new forms of sugar as I discovered unfamiliar wild flowers on every mountain hike. Although I grew up in the same time zone where we now life, I was 2 plant zones away. (If you’re curious what plant zone you live in, check out this great interactive gardening zone map.) So we added entries to Our Backyard Book often. You see, as my daughters have grown over the past 15 years of homeschooling, with my youngest now being 12, we still have a few staples that we love having randomly pop up in our days–taking school to the sand for impromptu beach days, baking instead of math once in a while, and adding to Our Backyard Book when the occasion rises.

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Many new botany pages have been added about New England wild flowers, but one flower never made it in last summer or fall, because we hadn’t yet seen the bloom.

We had been intrigued by the plant’s 3 large blankets of leaves that seemed to be one with the stem, providing a green, growing canopy for leaves and ladybugs.

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The canopy was topped with bright red berries. But somehow we were too busy unpacking boxes, painting, turning over and planting a garden, and refinishing our wide-planked pine floorboards to notice this intriguing plant before its flower’s ovaries swelled into berries and tossed its vibrant petals aside. I had not seen its green sepals symmetrically surrounding its vibrant burgundy bloom. Until today. The 365th day of living on this land and walking these woods.

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I still almost missed it.

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But once noticed, the sweet trillium–or “Wake-Robin”–can’t be ignored.

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And it can’t help but have its own Backyard Page. We used this helpful site to help us identify the wildflower then did a search for additional information.

We learned that a few rare Wake-Robins do grow in our native state, but since there are less than 20 known populations of them, we had never seen one before. Here in our woods, the beautiful flowers abound. The plant earns its name “Wake-Robin” by analogy with the Robin, with its red breast, because both act as heralds of spring. Unlike the Robin, the flower requires a scent to attract pollinators. Since the Wake-Robin is pollinated by flies, well, it’s safe to say it doesn’t smell like roses. In fact, it emits the smell of rotting meat. Thankfully, it’s not an odor one will notice, unless they have their nose to the ground.

To learn about some flowers in your backyard with your own children, feel free to print and use this blank ID page.

Now I’m going to spend the rest of today–the anniversary of the day this 215-year-old homestead became our own–reveling in God’s goodness, planting my family one year ago today where we are deeply rooted in signs of his love and discovering beautiful new ones every day.

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“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you!” Luke 12:27

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10 Reasons to Make Sure You Play in the Dirt this Summer

Months ago, when she asked, I didn’t wanna.

10 reasons to play in the dirt

She asked me to help her turn over some more of the garden bed. But I didn’t wanna.

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The beauty of a rejected weed

It rained steady all day.

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Morning till dark, and long into the sleeping hours. I longed to gather armfuls of the luscious lilac blooms that were bending their beauty outside my windows, under the weight of the rain.

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I did so during a brief break in the deluge. But I was awestruck with a different bloom as I traversed with soggy feet down to another lilac patch, by the weathered, cranberry-red stable. In truth, it wasn’t a bloom at all.

I’d never seen my grandmother’s favorite flower in such a light.

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I realize most despise the flower to begin with (and yes, George Washington Carver would assure me I can call it a flower, because “a weed is just a flower growing in the wrong place”). Surely not many would find the aftermath of the spent blooms very appealing. This composite flower had graciously, for many days, provided precious juice for the bees, who could dip their thirsty tongues in the hundreds of tiny, complete blooms encased on its simple head.

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But today the seeds were exhausted, and the usefulness of the dandelion was long since withered. Yet its beauty captivated me.

In its final stage, this flower that is often defined as a pest, not a blessing, brought beauty to my day and made me whisper a “thank you” to the creator.

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I am thankful that God can cause my heart to whisper gratitude for simple things I would overlook on my own accord and that he would choose to display his glory in a humble, rejected weed, not unlike myself. “For all the promises of God find their ‘yes’ in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our ‘Amen’ to God for his glory.” 2 Cor. 1:20

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If you have more dandelions around than you can be thankful for, consider these 7 things you’ve probably never thought of doing with your dandelions.

A Poor Woman’s Bouquet

Her favorite flower was hated by most.

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It grew prolifically in her yard and gardens, despite her son-in-law’s insistence that it deserved nothing more than discarding. But she enjoyed the poor-woman’s bouquets that the dandelions afforded her. Turns out my grandmother’s insistence that the seemingly worthless mustard blossoms be given full reign ensured the early spring food for the truly valuable bees on her farm.

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Still today I can’t witness a bee dining on a dandelion without thinking of grandmom. My new farm has more lion’s teeth (“dent de lion”) than I personally would like.

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But I can’t help rejoice when the parachuting seeds take flight and spread the promise of many more poor-woman’s bouquets.

I’m thankful for memories of my precious grandmother who saw value even where others saw none. Who had very little, but knew she was wealthy. “Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value…[but] the blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.” Proverbs 10:2 and 22

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Want some interesting reasons why you could learn to love YOUR dent de lions? Believe it or not, this person has come up with 27 clever ways to use dandelions! (http://foodstorageandsurvival.com/27-ways-use-dandelion/)