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December 18th, 2008 | Author:

Here’s a short clip of Christmas memories we’ve collected over the years. Frosty the Snowman stands guard at the front door, and serves to measure my granddaughter’s growth each year. (He jumped off a shelf and followed me home one day when my kids were little.) The carolers and the tree-top angel are ceramics painted by my mother in the 1960′s. The “Flaming Carousel” almost set the house on fire one year. The Nativity was given to me by my aunt when I was in my twenties. My husband and I made the star on the side of the house a few years ago, and he dutifully gets out the big ladder each year to put it up. And my husband also rescued the audio from our answering machine when my granddaughter was two years old.

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Category: Christmas, memories  | 2 Comments
June 28th, 2008 | Author:

The account of creation in Genesis is painted in very broad strokes. Day One God made the heavens and the earth and light, a good day’s work by anyone’s standards. Day Two separated the water above from the water below, creating heaven. On the third day, we get dry land covered with vegetation, plants yielding seeds and trees bearing fruit. Day Four God gave us the sun and the moon and the stars. The fifth day goes like this:

Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; (Genesis 1:20-21)

Ignoring all the other creatures, Wikipedia says there are over 10,000 species of birds, ranging from the tiny bee hummingbird at 2 inches long to the giant ostrich at 9 feet. They live in every climate from the Arctic to the Equator to the Antarctic. Some are funny, like the penguin. Others are majestic, like the eagle. Some have brilliant colors, like the parrot. Some are haunting, like the loon.

This morning I took the dog out just as it was starting to get light here in upstate New York, and I think I heard every one of those birds. Okay, I could only identify 8 or 9 different bird songs, but what a glorious symphony they performed. I was imagining God waving a conductor’s baton, bringing up the woodwinds, calming the strings, timing the percussions to bring it all together. Magnificent.

Last night I took the dog out just as it was getting dark. It was quiet, with only the distant sound of cars on the Thruway. A few stars were peeking through the clouds, and then I saw them – the lightning bugs were out!

This brought back cherished memories from a country childhood. Just as school was getting out each year, the warm weather had finally arrived, and the whole summer was waiting to be written, the lightning bugs would come out. We would race back into the house to get an empty jar, punch a couple holes in the lid, and toss in some blades of grass – and the hunt would begin. It might take a few days, but eventually we would catch one or two lightning bugs. We would watch them for a day or two, fascinated, and then set them free.

There’s something awe-inspiring about a bug that can make its own light. Wiki says the flashing light is used to attract mates or prey, but I know better. I think God created them simply to delight the child in all of us.

and God saw that it was good.

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Category: memories, nature  | One Comment
May 10th, 2008 | Author:

Sometimes I feel very old, and reading this article in the Albany Times Union makes this one of those times. The accompanying photo shows a bunch of college students cavorting in the campus fountain, with beach balls and bathing suits everywhere. In my day, we did it in jeans and after dark, so we wouldn’t get caught. Truly. The article says this is a 30-year tradition, but our tradition started about 36 years ago, when we would amuse ourselves by finding suitable fountains to play in.

You may not know this, but the fountain on State St. in Schenectady has (or had) 12 little fountains around the outside, and one taller fountain in the middle. One summer afternoon, we convinced 10 innocent people who just happened to be walking by, including one couple in their 70′s, to climb into the fountain with us and stop up all the little outside fountains so the water would all come out the big center fountain. “It’s shallow,” we said. “Just take off your shoes. You won’t get wet.” So in they came. Well, once we stopped all the little fountains, of course there was a lot more water to come out the big fountain, and we all got soaked. The older couple didn’t mind, but that couple in their 30′s were none too happy.

And the Albany campus caper was in mid-April, right after the fountains were turned on. It was cold. Bone-chilling cold, so we didn’t stay in too long. But what do you do with three teenager girls in sopping wet jeans and sweatshirts, who have to drive an hour to get home? Well, we all had long coats, so we borrowed a rest room at a gas station, and took our clothes off. We figured our coats would be good enough cover to get us home. A problem arose, however, when Carol was walking back to the car. It seems her coat had a slit up the back, that went all the way to her waist. Debbie and I, of course, thought this was hysterical. Carol was not so amused.

So to Carol and Debbie and the big, black guys in Schenectady who would throw the frisbee around with us … those were the days – when fun didn’t have to be offically sanctioned and organized.

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