Monday, April 23, 2012


 There's been a lot of good buzz over the last few years around the concept of Re-Purposing.  Women's decorating magazines, homesteading websites and craft blogs have been showing us how to take one thing and turn it into something completely different...a colander becomes a hanging lamp...canning jars become chandeliers...thrown out pieces of whatever become collage art pieces.  You can find lots of ideas at this blog list if you are prone to reusing, recycling and re-purposing the things around you.

At Prairie Pond Woods, mostly out of logistical necessity, my husband and I started naming areas of the property right after we took possession of it. We have the "fallen oak" area, the "larkspur slope" and the "landing strip," to name a few.  The landing strip is a long, narrow patch of land that separates two wooded areas and, if you needed to, you could land a small plane there in a pinch. At the end of the strip sits an old aluminum-sided lean-to. I never thought much about it, in fact there was some talk about dismantling it, but lately I've been thinking about turning it into a place of meditation and prayer.  Yes, an old cow shed...becomes a place to connect with God. Hey, it's happened before, if you recall.
This week, I will be feverishly working on the shed (alongside a wise, young woman, who is bartering work at Prairie Pond Woods for a personal retreat), in hopes of finishing it before the Bird Watching as a Meditation retreat this coming weekend.  There is much to do for sure...poor girl has her work cut out for her!

Dead Sumac trees need cleared out and the wood cut small for the fire pit going inside

The Entrance obviously needs re-worked

The weeds on the floor have been killed and now a layer of mulch needs to go down.

The Honeysuckle and Crown Vetch have been eradicated on one side.  Now new native landscaping must be designed and planted so that it facilitates a feeling of peace, seclusion and joy upon arrival.  My hope is that as women spend time there, the simple act of being quiet and listening might bring about New Purposes in their lives.
So, here's the deal. By Thursday, April 26 at 12:00 AM, I would also like to have the shed named, so that we can make a barn siding sign to hang at its entrance.  So...calling all creative types to think of a great name for it (I started calling it the Med Shed...but it lacks a certain flair). If we pick your Name, I'll send you a copy of one of my favorite books by Ken Gire called, Windows of the Soul..Experiencing God in New Ways.

To submit a name, go to

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See you outside!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Adams County Excursion

On Saturday I was invited to go with a group of naturalist who usually get together this time each year to hunt for plants in the mustard family.  Due to the early spring...the mustards are up, bloomed and the group decided to set out and just go where their phenological noses took them.

It was nice to be among a group of people who love experiencing nature and learning as much as I do. Now, don't get me wrong, I have friends who would give me their kidneys, and with whom I can sit and talk for hours about Life, or nothing important at all. I have many Anam Caras...but few of them care to go birding or botanizing with me...go figure.  But I'm working on them.

So, it was nice to be with folks who randomly blurt out bird names or drop to their knees and start digging through leaf litter or stand motionless looking up or walk in circles staring at the ground, without thinking mental illness is involved.  

We were loosely led by Jim McCormac, who works for the Ohio Dept or Natural Resources and is a wealth of information and understanding.  He has a great blog where you can see way better photos of the day than mine. 
Gettin' the Shot!
I was definitely out-gunned with camera gear and therefore photography enthusiasm.  One of the photographers turned me on to a bino/camera strap combo, so next time I hope to bring the big, heavy Nikon, too. But until then, I hope you will enjoy these few decent photos of some of the things we saw along the way from my "camera lite."
Prairie Dock-A tall native plant of Ohio Prairies
Columbine growing on and hanging from Dolomite Rocks
 Crossvine on Rt. 52 along the Ohio river
There are larges patches of this growing up rock faces and trees on 52
Juniper Hairstreak Butterfly...gorgeous...and a very patient model. 
It soaked up its mud minerals for over a half-hour while we took photos
A male Fence Lizzard lulled into stasis by rubbing his turquoise tummy

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Wild Phlox greets me on the drive
Arrived at Prairie Pond Woods Monday in the late afternoon, just in time to unload (or schlep) my stuff from the car and walk the Refresher Course before it got dark.  First, I stopped at our morel hotspot but didn’t find a single one – at least not yet. Last year around April 15, this same nondescript patch yielded over 30 of the tasty mushrooms in varying sizes.  But this spring is like no other.

Columbine hangs from the dolomite rock
I can get easily discouraged, when strolling through the habitats, at the amount of invasive species encroaching on the lively patches of columbine or up the slender trees in the woods or in the prairie…indeed, a battle waits.  But today I just chose to notice only the delicate white, pink and purple wildflowers popping up between rough branches and dried brown leaves along the stream, hailing the beauty and joy of spring.


They reminded me of one reason I am here on retreat – to spend time cultivating joy and contentment. They say it takes three weeks to develop a new habit, to retrain your brain and create new neural pathways of thinking and behavior.  I have eight.  Eight weeks to do mornings differently.  Eight weeks to eat differently and choose to move more rapidly.  Eight weeks to even approach these goals differently than I have in the past…to change the “pressure to produce” (call it being super working mom or efficient stay-at-home mom, or successful single woman, or reaching out to the ‘name your group’ saintly woman)...into the rest that bears fruit (call it love, joy, peace, patience….) 

Bluets greet me at the entrance to woods
So I’ll be giving myself permission and time needed to think creatively. My grip is loosening on agendas and my heart muscle is exercising receptivness to the Spirit’s leading.  Recently I read an article written by a woman who said she knew “God wanted me to let go of goodness and find freedom.”  The moment I read it, I got it. It doesn’t mean she became bad, but for her it meant “beginning to see life lived from the list of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ would fall short of God’s ultimate desire for me.”

For my particular issues that means beginning to see life lived “careless in the care of God,” as someone very wise once said. I can find no better paraphrase for Jesus’ words in Matthew 6, where he suggests we learn a thing or two about freedom from the fat and happy birds or the flowers standing majestically in the fields.  It is a mindset that staunchly rejects self-judgment and humbly rejects status.  It is a mindset that allows the day to unfold however it does, as we do our best joyfully.

Sunset through the dogwoods
To be sure there is a lot to accomplish; all of us, everyday, feel this.  But the outcomes don’t need to sap our joy or our feeling of worth. The same job can get done whether our mindset is manic or whether it is calm. In fact, most of our stress is not what is happening outwardly but how we are dealing with it inwardly.  These days, when the over-whelming answer to the question, “How are you?” is “I’m over-whelmed,” wouldn’t it be nice to hear someone answer, “I’m free?”