Beautiful storms

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Storm clouds swallowing the sun


From my western facing deck I always have a great view of the incoming weather as it makes the way across the valley and to the hills where I live. On clear days, I can see blue sky stretching into the horizon and on stormy days, I can see the dark clouds slowly swallowing the blue in flashes of lightning and visible lines of rain as they approach.

Today was one of those stormy days and although it wasn’t raining when I put Jazzmin out this morning, the air was thick with humidity and the breeze promised additional moisture. The air was cool but not cold and I watched later as the storms approached, changing the sky from dark to darker.

When particularly turbulent storms approach, full of rumbling thunder and flashing lightning, I love to stand on my deck and watch them grow closer. Especially in summer when it’s been a hot day and I can just feel that the storm is going to bring relief. There’s something so raw and beautiful about the power of mother nature as she stirs up the wind and brings the rain that drenches the earth.

I can still feel that power even after the rain stops as I walk into the wet grass with bare feet. It’s as if the pulse of the ground received an energetic jolt from the storm and I can feel the heartbeat of the earth much more vividly. I often close my eyes when I’m standing in the grass to feel the breeze upon my face and listen to it whisper of more beautiful storms to come.

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Sweetness on Earth Day (recipe included)

A heart-shaped glimpse of blue sky this afternoon.

A heart-shaped glimpse of blue sky this afternoon.

Today was Earth Day and while it started out overcast and rainy, it was still beautiful. I added my own touch of sweetness to the day by baking a fresh batch of chocolate chip orange bread and that made the house smell amazing! I’ve included the recipe at the end of this post.

Chocolate chip orange bread, yum!

Chocolate chip orange bread, yum!

When I completed my freelance work for the day, I happily sat down at my craft desk and finished up the pair of earrings I started working on yesterday evening.

Pink and burgundy glass pearl earrings.

Pink and burgundy glass pearl earrings.

I then started working on a new earring design and as I did, the sun started to break through the clouds. I took that as Mama Nature’s approval of what I was doing and I smiled as I continued to fiddle with beads, findings and wires. Time flew rather quickly and it was soon time to head to the school to pick up my daughters. Jordan was staying late to practice for choral solo fest and was going to meet her sister Jaycie and I in the gym.

When I arrived at the school and snatched a nice close spot, I stepped out of my car and was overjoyed to see more breaks in the clouds and glimpses of blue sky. One of these blue sky breaks reminded me of a heart and I took it as Mama Nature’s way of saying that when you love Mother Earth, she loves you back. Along with the blue sky, I also saw see numerous signs of spring. The cherry trees were on the verge of opening blossoms and several clumps of daffodils by the front entrance of the school were budding or already blooming.

Daffodils soon to open.

Daffodils soon to open.

Blooming daffodils

Blooming daffodils

My daughters and I headed back home and the sky turned gray once more but that’s okay. Rain is necessary for reviving the earth and restoring life to grass, trees, flowers and all living things. We must pay attention to, honor, help, preserve and protect this planet every day, not just on Earth Day because it’s the only planet we have. I hope that my daughters and all future generations get to experience the amazing sweetness of nature and life.

*****

Orange Bread with Chocolate Chips

Modified from the recipe for Fresh Orange Muffins found on Food.com. I removed the butter and replaced it with yogurt and applesauce. I also reduced the sugar because the orange and orange juice are already quite sweet.

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange, unpeeled, quartered, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (I use Motts Natural applesauce or homemade)
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees, spray an 8×8 cake/brownie pan with non-stick spray, set aside
  • Put orange quarters in food processor with orange juice and process until pureed
  • Add egg, yogurt and applesauce into processor and blend until combined. Pour into large bowl.
  • In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients then add to orange mixture.
  • Stir to combine. Add chocolate chips if desired and mix them in.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until top is just turning brown. Let stand until cool enough to eat. (I always eat one piece warm from the oven)
  • Place orange bread in fridge and enjoy cold or heat for a few seconds in microwave. Enjoy!

 

Changing Winds

View across a field on today's walk

Despite the mostly overcast skies and gusty winds, it was a remarkably nice day today! The temperature reached almost 50 and there wasn’t a sign of snow in the air. It smelled like spring and while detergents that are “spring scented” are excessively sweet, to me spring smells like mud. As it warms up, spring will smell like mud, worms and flowers as they eventually bloom. You’re not going to find “worm and mud” scented detergent in the aisles anytime soon because that’s perhaps a bit too natural.

I took Jazz for a walk this afternoon and decided to venture off the road and up one of the hilly fields. I thought because it was a hill it wouldn’t be as muddy but it was still quite soggy. Jazz and I made it up the hill, our feet squishing all the way, and we were treated to a fleeting glimpse of blue sky amid the clouds. The wind was quite strong at the top of the hill but I wasn’t cold.

I walked Jazz over to the tree line by the nearby stream’s ravine and she immediately started sniffing around familiarizing herself with all the deer scents in the area. The water in this section of the stream was still under ice but the roar of the water up stream was almost as loud as the wind blowing through the trees.

dog backpack

 

I leaned against a nearby tree and took a moment to breathe in the wind and feel the change in it. March is nearly over and April promises a much-desired warm up but there’s still the lingering feel of winter in the air. The melting snow, the partially frozen ground, the bare trees and the woods devoid of animal sounds are all remnants of winter. It’s been a difficult winter and if we humans don’t make some serious changes, future winters will only get worse.

forest stream

 

We humans forget the cold and snow of winter amid the warmth of spring and summer and that forgetfulness leads many to believe that Mother Earth is just fine. But she’s not. We’re gradually destroying the only world we have because of the endless pursuit of material things. If more people would stop, listen, look and feel as I did today, they’d hear and feel the anger, fear and sadness in the wind. They’d hear it pleading for healing and reminding us that we don’t own the Earth, we’re part of it and when it dies, so shall we. The changing winds are a powerful force and it’s up to us to insure that those changes are positive ones.