Category Archives: Seasons

Spiritual Thermometers & Coffee


December 14, 2014

There is a basic thermometer hanging outside the kitchen window. I like its simplicity, though I have to put on my glasses to know the temperature closer than a plus or minus five degrees. The location allows me to grind coffee and imagine what the temperature might mean for a days work outside.

The thermometer has had a workout this autumn. Cool weather dropped into our valley mid-October. Temperatures have bounced from six degrees (I had my glasses on) to the thirties ever since. It being mid-October, the cold felt as if it were catching up with autumnal colors. We had an exceptional fall with trees taking on colors early. They held on to color for a long time, giving each morning a bit of brightness that called one to morning chores.

Morning chores include walking and checking on the animals. The regularity of chores lends themselves to spiritual practice. Hot coffee in hand on a cold autumn morning enhances morning practice. I choose heavy clay mugs on such mornings. The heft helps hold heat, but coffee cools quickly. It matters little. As light coffee bitterness gives way to cutting cold, crisp air sharpens ridge to sky like a second graders paper silhouette. Cattle move about eating grass and the bright cold raises the light crunch of hoof to grass. Crunch harmonizes with scratch as chickens look for bugs below leafs or cow pies. Purr chimes in as Lucy, the farm cat, rubs against a steer’s leg. Continue reading

Fall’s Fence

October 22, 2012

As we worked putting up temporary fence around the hay fields, it is apparent fall now owns the valley landscape.  First snow has fallen on the foothills to the west.  Wind blows steady from the west.  Sun glitters leaf edge—alfalfa, grass, and neighbors dry corn stalk.

Pulling wire and driving posts this time of year is a gift.  The fall wind hasn’t blown so long and hard that it tiring and obnoxious.  Instead, it heightens awareness allowing for considerations easily walked by otherwise.  Mixed with sun and fall smells, the wind whispers the fence from chore of metal upon metal to plate rim.

In the next day or so, most of the fall fencing will be done and the field transforms from hay to a large vegetarian supper plate.  A time of rejoicing.  Animals have an abundance of feed and we have the freedom of not feeding every morning and evening throughout most of the winter.  Such rejoicing lived time and again when wind and cold push temperatures into the single digits—or worse—and animals feed while we watch from the warmth of house.

Fall joy.

Sunflower Snow

January 23, 2012
JustLiving Farm

I walk by them every day.  Each spring we plant more sunflowers than we will ever harvest.  This isn’t so hard, a sunflower or two will produce all the seeds we’re going to eat for a year.  We plant the rest for birds to partake during late spring and early winter.  By now, they have figured out how to get the last seed out of the flower head.  So, I walk by those stems and flower heads that were so green and yellow last summer, each day, without thinking much about them.  Then the sun came out.  With sunlight touching the snow buildup on each head the sunflowers presented a beauty that comes after life has slipped away.

© David B. Bell 2012

Chile Relleno Mornings

April 29, 2011

Early spring tastes like a mild Chile Relleno with a dollop on vanilla ice cream on top.  The day is sure to be sunny, warm, and mild.  Before warmth, though, you have to wade through the cold.  Spring mornings give wonderful flavor; you feel the sharpness of the last vestiges of winter in a heavy jacket, raising memories of icicle days.  As morning moves to spring afternoon, hawks fly warm updrafts, the jacket is shed, and mild warmth engages the senses pulling up seasonal memories of squash and tomatoes that are sure to come again.  Sometimes, there is little difference between dessert and meal.

© David B. Bell 2011

The Art Of Easter Eggs

April 17, 2011

There is much to think of during this next week.  For those of us who call ourselves Christian, the week holds a few additional reflections in store.  Then for the youngest of us, who are not overly concerned with the theological implications of the week, there is but one thing to look forward to at the end of this week.  Easter!  Easter Eggs!  Laughter!  Family!  And most importantly, the Easter Egg Hunt!

In honor of that hunt for multicolored eggs laid up against a fence post, nestled into a tuft of grass, or hanging out in the crook of flower branches, here is a way to keep those happy eggs healthy and colorful.  Instead of going to the store this week and picking up a dye set, here are some other unique ways of coloring an egg for the Easter morning search.

Before boiling the eggs, search around with your children or grandchildren and gather the following list of items for coloring.  Then, when boiling the eggs, place them (only one color item at a time) into the pot.  When the eggs are hard-boiled, they have been colored as well!  Of course, if you have come by the farm and picked up eggs, the hen colored some for you.

Enjoy the week ahead, honor your reflections, and have a wonderful egg hunt next Sunday!

A few natural food dyes:

Purple Grape Juice, Red Zinger Tea, Red Onion Skins, Red Wine, Canned Blueberries
Red Cabbage Leaves, Spinach Leaves, Orange/Lemon Peels, Carrot Tops, Ground Cumin
Ground Turmeric, Chamomile Tea, Green Tea, Coffee, Black Walnut Shells, Black Tea
Yellow Onion Skins, Chili Powder, Paprika, Beets, Cranberries or Juice, Raspberries
Canned Cherries, Pomegranate Juice

Mornings silence speaks Blessing

December 18, 2010

Quite nestles in during early morning hours before landscape awakens.  The cold air and falling snow softens sound.  This morning is one of those mornings when you feel alone and special walking to the barn in crisp hushed light.  Even the sound of boots moving through snow is swallowed by the morning air.  The animals have little notion of doing much with snow just outside the barn, so entering the barn is silent.  In silence, snow blesses landscape.

© David B. Bell 2010

Wearing a Hood on a Cold Morning

December 3, 2010

A slight change in weather brought fog to the farm and surrounding landscape.  Little change in temperature though.  Introducing fog to freezing air changes the face of the landscape.  Not so much a new face, but more like your grandfather going a few days without shaving.  Vegetation is as it was a few days ago but now ice particle upon ice particle have highlighted contours bringing out character unnoticed before.  An ever so slight breeze keeps the windward face open while ice encases the remainder like a hood with strings tightened around the face.  Ice accumulates and flows to the leeward, giving the one rooted in place the appearance of movement.  Frigid, closed in, fog filled mornings brings about a certain gracefulness.
© David B. Bell 2010


Winter’s Com’in

November 22, 2010

With everyone talking about a clear change of weather patterns ahead, it seems like a change from fall to winter is sure to occur—even though the calendar says winter is on down the road a ways—it appeared time to get one or two last minute chores done.  First, was to do one last cleaning of stalls so the animals could enter into the cold days of winter with clean stalls and clean bedding.

© David B. Bell 2010

Autumnal Memories of Northern Sun

October 20, 2010

moving being through ancient cosmos holding life, giving life,
nudging, stretching, pushing darkness, beginnings and endings not known
not knowing this walk
not knowing this journey
first light, imagined,
imagination speaks the never known
and known is unimaginable
light, light, light, light
ground of being held warmth,
light warmth fully engulfs being
rising up, growing up, running ahead, there is no time
moving, jostling, shouldering neighbor, reaching after light,
light, light light, light
pushing, reaching, grabbing, stretching
full life grasps for light
opening to full light, engulfing warmth, presence, energy
birthing seeds
seeds of self birth
one, two, three, four
again and again
leaning towards cool southern light
resting head, then neck,
shoulders hunch towards beginning
warm afternoons are memories
yesterdays run toward light
cool evenings speak change
cool mornings reach deeply
holy unstructured thought
imagined unimaginable
© David B. Bell 2010