Tag Archives: Tree

Jack Frost: Terror, Trickster or Artist?

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.

Given hurricanes and fires across our nation, why the drama about Jack Frost’s arrival?

I understand why his ancestor, Jokul Frosti, a scary old giant, made northern Europeans want to flee to Florida. However, I don’t get Jack’s German great-great-grandma, “Mother Frost.” What mom in her right mind would initiate the never-ending rituals of zipping coats and searching for mittens and boots?

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay.

The Jack Frost I encountered during first grade seemed friendly. Our teacher read stories about Jack painting trees’ foliage with brilliant colors. He froze mud puddles into brittle layers we stomped when mothers weren’t looking. He carved icy designs on windows we licked to see if they tasted as sugary as they looked.

Still, Jack never rated the attention we gave other holidays. The obvious reason for his lack of popularity: Nobody received presents or candy in Jack’s honor.

As adults, we harbor mixed feelings about him. Many welcome Jack’s fall arrival far more than spring visits, when gardeners cover freshly planted seedlings. In spring, according to the Fruit Growers News, some farmers even hire hovering helicopters to warm trees and prevent Jack’s mischief.

Yet we fall fanatics celebrate russet, gold, melon and chocolate hues Jack paints on hardwoods’ leaves. James Whitcomb Riley would approve of the silvery sheen he spreads on pumpkins.

Allergy sufferers like my husband welcome Jack Frost with open arms. Hubby also celebrates mowing less often.

However, Jack gets carried away with fall decorating. Not content to paint individual leaves, he arranges thousands to beautify our lawn.

Jack also seems to enjoy watching plant lovers like myself scurry around our yards like squirrels. We haul flowerpots inside — though where we will park 43 ferns and geraniums, we have no idea.

Image by Valentin from Pixabay.

Also, Jack is super-thin. Can I trust someone that skinny?

His arrival portends ice that isn’t as pretty as his window designs. Sooner, not later, his Jokul Frosti side shows up.

At least, meteorologists — unlike their treatment of hurricanes and blizzards — don’t give Jack a new name each time he appears. Frankly, I couldn’t take Arnold Frost seriously.

Despite mixed feelings, this fall fanatic continues to admire Jack’s exquisite autumn colors and stomp through frozen puddles in his honor.

But lick icy windows?

Probably not.

Image by Aida Khubaeva from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you see Jack Frost?

Her-His Recall

Image by Tanseer Saji from Pixabay.
Image by Vachagan Malkhasyan from Pixabay.

In 1971, I scored higher than my academic-superstar boyfriend on our biology test. Now my husband, he remembers the questions were poorly designed.

Our brains record events differently. We should have realized that then.

Years later, during 2:00 a.m. phone calls, Dr. Hubby remembered how to calculate complicated medicine dosages and IV percentages.

When babies wailed at 2:00 a.m., however, he never gained consciousness. If he had, nocturnal amnesia would have occurred. “We have kids?”

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.

Yet, I appreciate Hubby, my medical consultant in mystery writing. Once, though, while eating out, I pumped him about undetectable, fatal drugs — and forgot to whisper.

“Keep your voice down!” Hubby hissed as big-eyed diners moved elsewhere. “I don’t do that!”

I should recall minutiae of mystery movies we’ve watched umpteen times. I remember what the main character wore. Or if she was pushed off a high bridge (I loathe heights). But Hubby, who never forgets a plot, reminds me whodunnit.

Helpful guy.

The I-see-it-my-way-you-see-it-yours list goes on. And on.

Hubby remembers campsite numbers and lake depths from every park we’ve visited. Which is north or south of what?

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

I remember trees. Lots of them. Water. Lots of it, too. And that the sun sets in the west. Please don’t ask me about the moon.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay.

Hubby always memorizes his parking spots. Unlike me, he’s never meandered for hours in a dark lot with ticked-off kids after a rock concert. Think of all the exercise he missed.

On the other hand, I still hear my late, penny-pinching father, urging me to turn off lights: “This house is lit up like Alcatraz!”

Hubby must have been raised in Alcatraz, because all-lights-on seems natural to him.

He does remember to schedule our cars for oil changes.

What, cars have oil?

Lately, though, both our memories are suspect. Name recall’s the worst.

I say, “Who did we have dinner with yesterday? You know, the flannel-shirt guy and the woman wearing cute boots.”

“That was yesterday?” He muses. “Weren’t we in their wedding party?”

“And they in ours. …”

Together, total recall?

Eventually, we nail it: Ned and Patricia. My brother and sister-in-law.

So what, if married life now consists of playing 20 Questions. With both his-and-her recall, we’ll get it right.

As long as we avoid biology tests.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What differences have you noticed in male-female recall?

Classic Post: Weird Things for Which I’m Thankful

This post first appeared on November 22, 2017.

No doubt, our Creator appreciates gratitude for freedom to worship Him, for family, friends, food and shelter. But my cornucopia also bursts with weird things for which I am thankful, including:

Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay.

Avocados. As a missionary kid in Mexico, I picked them up like apples under big trees. I still am a guacamole junkie. How many other fattening foods are good for me?

Shots. Immunizations don’t rank as my preferred activity, and certainly not my grandchildren’s. But because of shots’ protection, holiday hugs and kisses induce only mild winter plagues.

Black, washable pants. They love sparkly holiday tops and simple ones. They’re immune to stains and grandbaby spit. Roomy in the rear, they don’t desert me after the holidays, as many of my clothes do.

My piano. I don’t own a grand or even a baby grand. But my little Baldwin comprised our first major purchase after Hubby finished medical school. I thought we should spend his first paychecks on practical items. He insisted, “You miss having a piano.” Whenever I play, it still sings a love song.

Our baby trees, whose lanky little branches and colorful fall foliage inspire me with lavish dreams for their future.

Image by lovini from Pixabay.

Our camper. The one Hubby purchased when I was too sick to fight it. Even sitting idle, it sets us free. Already, we picture days in the green woods and s’mores around campfires on starry nights.

Gummy worms. Incredibly lifelike, they possess magical powers. When decorating a grandson’s birthday cake, they enable me to resist eating it.

Our brown sofa. Thank God, Hubby talked me out of buying a red one. Otherwise, after eight years, it would present a less-than-artistic mosaic of peanut butter, jelly, pizza, mustard and gravy stains. Because of, um, the grandchildren. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

My neighbor’s yard. Raked and pristine, it gives me a goal to shoot for when I grow up.

Free chips and salsa. A highlight of dining in Mexican restaurants.

Image by Lilly Cantabile from Pixabay.

Laid-back drivers. People who drive sl-o-o-ow-ly on two-lane highways annoy me to the point I pray aloud to occupy mind and mouth. They even force me to notice the loveliness I miss when whipping by as usual.

Accelerators. Cars wouldn’t be much good without them, right?

Ditto for brakes. And headlights.

Paper towels. While living in Ecuador for two months, I missed them terribly. (Thank goodness, Ecuador did manufacture toilet paper.)

Our grandson at the beach.

Baby smiles. They always ruin a bad day.

A critic might protest, “Your list goes on forever!”

True. I never run out of weird things for which to be thankful, because my Creator never, ever stops giving.

He’s weird that way — and wonderful.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What odd reasons for gratitude pop up on your list?

Have You Hugged Your Tree Today?

Why do I love trees? Maybe because I was born where a tree flourishes on the town’s courthouse clock tower. No, I am not making that up. The town fathers of Greensburg, Indiana, keep the mulberry trimmed, but they can’t bring themselves to remove it.

I also come from a long line of tree huggers who celebrated them when “green” was only a color. Not that I loved my parents’ endless Tree Tours. We lived where poplars, maples and beeches zigzagged cornfields’ edges. So why take everlasting Sunday afternoon drives, incarcerated with siblings, just to look at trees? My parents oohed and aahed about spring dogwoods and redbuds as if at a fireworks display. Dad bought us icy cold bottles of Coca Cola — if we spilled a minimum of blood during back seat battles.

Photo by Kim Peterson.

A contractor, Dad avoided tree removal. Rather than chop down a dogwood, he constructed our house’s wooden deck around it. Friends chuckled, not realizing he was setting a major landscaping trend — a few decades early.

I didn’t realize I’d absorbed my parents’ tree fanaticism until we moved to the Oregon desert. Tawny hills surrounding our town looked indecent, bare except for scrubby little pines. Our Midwestern family wondered if we would die of tree starvation. My parents nurtured fast-growing pin oaks like newborns. But I left for college, so they couldn’t grow fast enough for me.

What a relief to return to Indiana University’s wooded campus that exploded into a thousand bouquets every spring! My husband and I later lived in married student housing on aptly named Redbud Hill (aka Roach Hill, but we tried to think positive).

Later, in our house’s backyard, a crabapple’s rosy blossom clouds celebrated our younger daughter’s birthday.

Every spring, I visited a gracious, aunt-like apple tree on our block who, dressed in her fragrant, flowery Sunday best, waved whenever she saw me.

One day, she vanished! I circled the area, hoping by some magic she would emerge among new house studs.

“You expected somebody to build his house around a tree?” Hubby tried to delete his thankfulness that I hadn’t known about Aunt Apple’s removal beforehand. He wouldn’t have relished dragging me away from bulldozers.

I can’t rescue every tree that takes a fall. But this tree hugger can’t help growing grouchy, because it takes even God decades to grow a tree.

Baby trees now flourishing outside my window are, as the biblical psalmist says, clapping their hands at my speech. Thank you, thank you.

Hey, I clap with them. Because the applause belongs to the God of green, without whom none of my forest friends would be possible.

He’s kind of a tree hugger, too.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite springtime tree?