Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

Things I do now

 

 

Tread carefully and carry a sharp hoe. That’s what I do now while traversing across the uneven terrain in my back yard where tree roots have created a rough surface above ground making it difficult to maintain or mow. Trying to keep up with the yard maintenance is not an easy task and one that requires a lot of work as I am now single and on my own. I spray, hoe and dig up all kinds of weeds, fight off swarms of flies, filled a dozen trash bags full of raked leaves from the huge trees in my front yard, cleaned out the wet, slimy gunk from my gutters, shoveled and scooped huge piles of snow off my deck, driveway and walk numerous times from record snow storms and cold harsh weather, freezing temperatures, lightning and thunder storms. But when the storms passed I planted and potted new plants in containers for the front and back yard, then enjoy them feeling rewarded from all my labor.

Lately, I have added snake killing to the current list of activities after seeing several garden snakes slithering about from open holes and crevices in an area where I had planned to plant a vegetable garden, but have since scratched that idea.

One day I saw a green metallic colored snake slithering around under my deck just a couple feet from my patio swing where I love sitting while watching and listening to the birds in my yard and trees. I am no Annie Oakley, but am beginning to think I should have come out here to Nebraska’s farmland with a whip, saber or machete.

Jokes aside, it isn’t always the forces of nature or the unexpected chaotic interruptions in life that bring about character building I see God using to make me more the person He wants me to be, but the things and ways each day and the growing process He takes me through that leaves the biggest impact.

The one thing I am sure to learn through this is perseverance, patience and determination.

James 1:2 & 3 & vs 12, New Testament, NIV says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Vs 12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

This brings me comfort and assures me that whatever new challenge or test that comes my way I have God to lean on and trust that He is there, directing my every step.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter (June, 2019)

 

 

Sometimes it’s the small things

 

 

Gone, the last of winter’s final blast

of cold bitter winds and snows now passed,

I look out my window and see the sun

and welcome the warmer days to come

 my heart is joyful for what is new,

 the air, fresh and sweet with fragrant blooms

the smallest pleasures are the most enjoyed;

a splash of color in a small bouquet,

and scented candle to brighten my day,

 a time to plan, and a time to plant,

to usher in a new season this way.

_________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter May, 2019

I have two of the most thoughtful, loving daughters anyone could wish for. They have cried and laughed with me, loved me through the worst of times, supported me, and helped me adjust and get settled in a new place after my move last year. When I recently had a birthday my youngest girl brought me this little bouquet. We went out to dinner as a family that night and I was so thankful and grateful for all the ways God has provided for me and blessed me with good kids and grandkids. They are not perfect and I was not a perfect mom. No one is. But to see how they have turned out I am confident I did a few things right.

As Mother’s Day approaches I hope and pray for all the mothers, young and old out there that God will pour out His blessings and riches on all, for there is no greater calling or responsibility than being a mother. I pray they have guidance, wisdom, courage and strength.

Wishing you all a happy spring and a happy Mother’s Day out there to all moms, grandmothers , young and old.

JEM

Let the fury of fierce winds blow

A view of Longs Peak and mountain range in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Dec. 2017

 

Let the fury of fierce winds blow

 across the frozen tundra plains

and winter’s bitter chill

turn to mist that hovers still. 

 How soon might I see

    tender shoots unfolding upon the dew?

   Hidden now they’re cloaked in nature’s own dark room

 waiting patiently to bloom,

and tender blades of grass

that peek from beneath the thawing earth,

and skies with a bright warm sun

promise spring is soon to come. 

 _______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018


A Time to Plant

I ask the Lord

What is it You want of me to do?

Is it the season in my life for new seed?

To break new soil and prepare to plant,

or the time just to nurture that which grows?

And to God, I’ll say, “I’ll do it later, just not today.”

But, if tomorrow doesn’t come

and all I have is remorse and regret

that I took not the time to plant those seeds

and nurture your garden, and it turn to weeds,

for the harvest is great, and cannot wait,

I gave it no attention; it cries out and pleads

for there were times when I just turned away

and said, “Let another plant that seed,”

and I turned not my heart to that one in need.

But God now I ask, “Give me this day,

this moment, this season, this time, and a way

that I might find in one new soil I pray,

to plant the seed of love in one

that becomes a part of the harvest to come

in a new time and season nurturing me.

______________________

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: vs. 2…a time to plant and a time to uproot…” NIV This is one of my favorite scriptures in the Old Testament and the inspiration for the poem above. There is always a season and time to plant good seeds and reap a harvest of good fruit sewn. I Cor. 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018

Christmas in the Rockies

Longs Peak, RMNP, 14, 259 foot elevation, second tallest peak in Colorado.

A view of RMNP peaks off Trail Ridge road.

Lower elevation at the foot of RMNP, a clearing where herds of elk are usually seen grazing. Towards this time of night at sunset hours they will hunker down for the night. The sun was just beginning to go down, and the skies lit up with soft hues of pink and orange. These clouds seemed to descend down upon this peak, and I thought it was an awesome sight to photograph.

Elkhorn Ave. and The ‘Old Church Shops’ in Estes Park lit up for Christmas.

A view of the southeast side of  Estes Park. Notice the large star lit up on the side of the mountain.

 

Sometimes the Christmas season gets hectic with the business of shopping, decorating, program events, parties, and family gatherings. There are times when things came too soon and hurried right after the Thanksgiving Day holiday and often just having a moment to sit and relax with a cup of hot chocolate and a favorite Christmas movie seems like a luxury I don’t have or take time for and regret it later.

But, through the years we have tried to keep a few favorite Christmas traditions and even started new ones as we tried to prioritize what meant the most to us. Things like going up to the mountains to cut and collect our own greenery and pine cone branches to make our own wreath was a favorite event. Browsing through Christmas shops and antique stores to find a new Christmas ornament or antique toy to place under our Christmas tree was another.

But, our favorite thing is to just drive up to the mountains during the holidays and spend the day exploring the territory. This year we went up to Estes Park that sits at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park, then drove up part way to Trail Ridge road. After the first snow storms of the season they close the first gate to the higher elevation areas when snow cannot be cleared and it becomes too dangerous to pass or drive through safely.

I took these shots above this last Friday (12-15) when we went up with our dog, Maggie, had a bison burger and fries at a favorite place and walked around town in Estes Park on our way down before returning home. Making a day of it makes it a special memorable outing. Colorado has not seen too much snow this season thus far, so it is pretty dry along the front range except for brief snowfalls in the higher elevation. Snow skiing is a very big sport industry here in Colorado so the ski slopes are waiting anxiously for some really good snows that keep them busy into spring. But, for those of us who are happy to find just enough to tramp through the white covered ground in brisk temperatures, and see Christmas lights glimmer off its white sheen it is enough to make our day.

I hope your Christmas will be merry and bright, memorable and special. Merry Christmas to all.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

Bare and beautiful

Clustered branches on trees still bare

of the season’s foliage stripped and spare

but for stick figures on a tangled mass of limbs

looking undressed where none can hide.

The morning light and heat from the sun

warms what was clothed under a wintry sky.

__________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2017

I took this shot early in the morning about a couple of weeks ago in my back yard when the sun was just coming up. Cropping and cutting out a part of the houses in the picture helped to give it more emphasis on only the trees and the sky. We now have new buds and small leaves forming on the same trees because of our much warmer weather.

Posted March 27, 2017 by Joyce in My Photos, My Writings, Photography, Poems, poetry, Seasons, Spring

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Emerging spring

 

 

A new day’s dawn wakes from its sleep,

pink and orange hued clouds streak across the sky.

A burst of color that slowly wanes

emerges into the sun, now brighter and more blue.

Tiny buds and blooms, and grass that now turns green

shows the promise of new life

where frolicking squirrels, and little birds

all busy with work and play

rebuild their nest and tend their young.

A new season, fresh and fragrant spring

has arrived and pushed away the winter blues.

______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

 

 

 

 

Posted March 21, 2017 by Joyce in My Photos, My Writings, Photography, Poems, poetry, Seasons, Spring

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Winter comes to the high country

I watch clouds turn dark and ominous

as the season changes in the high country here.

Our camp fire crackles in the crisp autumn air,

and a whistling sound like a distant water’s flow

builds with intensity across mountain slopes.

Trees shed their coverings as gusty winds blow

leaving dry beds of pinecones and needles on the ground.

The front moves in and wildlife hunker down.

Dusk falls, temperatures drop, ice crystals form.

A dusting of snow glistens on the peaks.

We wait the coming storm.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Posted November 28, 2016 by Joyce in My Photos, My Writings, Photography, Poems, poetry, Seasons

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Rocky Mountain’s High

A view of Long's Peak in the Rocky Mountains from Estes Park, Colorado

A view of Long’s Peak in the Rocky Mountains from Estes Park, Colorado, Photo credit; Joyce E. Johnson

ROCKY MOUNTAIN’S HIGH

Majestic, symbolic, touching near and far

in splendor each peak with

towering summits each speak

Of solid mass and might

commanding attention, they affect

park visitors that journey,

traveling through their portals high.

They stop to capture all its glory

focused through camera lens,

their eyes now scoping a huge black raptor,

his loud call proclaiming ownership to its prey.

It soars through void and space

shattering the solitude with ascent,

honoring the skies with its grace.

A climber grasps to reach

a pinnacle to the high

struggling through their efforts

with gasping and with sigh.

Then perched atop

what stretches far and wide

gazing over to the sights

of the Continental Divide.

Lodge Pole Pines grow thick beside

a mass of Douglass Fir and Spruce,

trees that cover the mountain’s side

stops where the tundra’s

soft moss bed lies,

rich with colors, green and blue.

Cold winds blow, the air is chilled

Aspen leaves turn a golden hue.

dropping quickly to the ground.

Layers of snow and ice soon cling

to the mountain slopes’ thick white fields.

Layers that repeat through winter months

with each snowfall, the skiers come,

leaving their tracks upon the slopes

until it warms and the sun melts all,

and the runoff begins, and the rivers flow.

All who come seeking their own experience here

will take away their memories of these

awe-inspiring peaks.

___________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016

 


Profusion in pink

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Profusion in pink,

and trees, their limbs full and green 

shelter birds that sing.

 ~~~

The sun is shining.

May comes, and with it new life,

expectancy, hope.

~~~

Is it the season,

or the newness of things fresh?

Spring; I savor all. 

_________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016

Securing my own ‘nest’

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Spring brings everyone outdoors once warm weather hits like a brilliant sun on a clear blue sky. Everything seems new again; blooms with delicate petals opening like arms raised to the sky in praise. Grass and trees with new buds so small it is hard to see with the naked eye, but slowly we begin to see new growth and even the birds and small game come out to celebrate the new season.

This squirrel nest is in our neighbor’s tree which hangs its low branches over the fence and into our yard, so from our back yard swing I am able to see the trees as they turn green in the spring, or yellow gold in autumn.

I have watched and wondered about whether the nest might get knocked out by a strong chinook wind, or blowing snow storm. When I saw no activity near it I even wondered if it was abandoned. But, one recent morning I noticed a squirrel climbing out of it as it hopped down onto the branches below.

Our dog, Maggie loves to go after the squirrels in our yard who are plentiful anymore, often hurrying along on the top of the fence racing to the end before she can lunge at them, but they know she is not fast enough or large enough to gain advantage over them so they tease her, screeching, twitching and snapping their tails as if slapping at her. They seem carefree, unafraid of anything happening around them. I watch them, and think, what if we could have that same feeling of unconcern in our world and take each day without anxiety, or stress.

Life can be unpredictable, never certain. We face the realities of our times, and the circumstances in which we find ourselves in, and our world can seem in jeopardy of falling apart. It can be our home, our comfort zone, or our very life that can hang in the balance because there is no monopoly on our tomorrows, only a down payment on our todays. What we put into our ‘todays’ can affect what we leave behind. A legacy that defines us, like a footprint left in this world where we’ve walked can make a difference. Recent events, terrorist attacks, political upheaval, the election woes with its unpredictable outcome, whatever it is, catastrophic storms or events can bring down our nest, our world. A strong wind can shake us, upset our nest, but a storm we have no control over can destroy us.

There is much said about securing our borders, our transportation systems, our investments, economy.” but, it is my own ‘nest,’ my own foundation that I am more focused on building and securing. Sure, I will make my mark, vote my choice, express my voice, but all else I leave in God’s hands where I can trust His judgement, His control, not that of a campaigning candidate, or world leader.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2016) 

 

 

Welcome April

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After all the snow

The sun shines; it’s warming up

And that is no joke 🙂

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016 

One wintry night


Branches that hang heavy with fresh fallen snow

on my blue Spruce trees; such a beautiful sight,

lit only by ice crystals under a glowing white sky,

they are but a few of my favorite things.

Cups of hot cocoa, and hearth fire, warm and bright,

a good book, and soft blanket as I curl up for the night.

I think on such things that are often too short;

they are there for a brief and passing moment,

like each day and time given to us,

gifts that our Heavenly Father bestows.

For all of His children with

loving kindness, He gives us His best,

and in all, it shows;

I shall not waste a single one,

for too quick they come, and then are gone.

But another season, another in time

is soon upon us, and I anticipate

all that is granted, for all is mine.

___________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016


A quiet retreat

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This photo was taken of the Cache la Poudre River near the Bighorn cabins where we stayed. Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson

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The cabin we stayed in beside the river. Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson

 

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I took this photo from the top of the Elkhorn Creek trail we hiked. The Mummy Range can be seen from where we stood at about 8,000 – 9,000 ft. elevation. Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson

The beginning point of the Elkhorn Creeks trail where we started our climb up the mountain.

The beginning point of the Elkhorn Creek trail where we started our climb up the mountain. Photo credit: Joyce E. Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's me while on the Elkhorn Creek trail. My husband took this photo.

That’s me while on the Elkhorn Creek trail. My husband took this photo.

For two days one recent weekend we enjoyed fresh air, rest and solitude in the mountains of northwestern Colorado, fifty miles from where we live in the city (Loveland). We booked a wonderful, quiet little cabin at the Bighorn Cabins in Bellvue. It is close to a little village like community town called Rustic, along the winding, climbing county highway 14, at an altitude of 7-10,000 ft.

We had two days to explore and hike on the trails nearby and the weather was perfect with the warm sunshine to our backs, and the cooler autumn breezes blowing through the canyon and down along the Cache la Poudre River towards late afternoon and evening. The trees had already peaked in their autumn colors, and the golden Aspens were beginning to dry up with leaves falling, piling up along the road, river or trail paths.

Northwestern Colorado is a favorite vacation spot even during the autumn months after the summer tourism season ends because of the autumn colors seen in the changing trees. There are hunters who come up to hunt elk, deer or moose, and the fishermen trying their luck at catching that one good trout or bass before the cold season sets in for the winter. And of course, one cannot forget the bears who roam about getting their fill during the fall feeding frenzy before hibernation. Although we did not spot a bear while on our hikes we kept our eyes open and alert to any wildlife that shared the open space with us. The deer and elk are plentiful in these parts and beautiful to watch. The bears? Well, we know they’re somewhere, maybe not far, so we’ll keep our distance, and allow them plenty of space.

For more information on the Bighorn Cabins and rental rates, or for reservations, you can find it here. For information on the Cache La Poudre River you can find it here. It is a wonderful vacation place to visit.

______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

 

Autumn’s crowning gold

 

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This photo was taken while on a walking trail at River’s Edge, Loveland, Colorado. The interesting thing about this photo is that when it was taken it was already growing dark, just past sunset. My husband took this photo and used the flash so we thought it interesting it could get this much light, so there was maybe more distortion than if taken in brighter light.    Photo credit: TW Johnson

 

 

  I watch the changing

of the trees dressed in golden

coats of leaves, and wish

it not a season passing,

but unending, reigning crown.

________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2015


Colorado’s gold

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These are some of our captured images while on a day trip Saturday (Sept. 26th). We had beautiful blue skies of over 100 miles in a day taking in the color, sights and sounds of the rising majestic Colorado Rockies northwest of Fort Collins, Co., in the Roosevelt National Forest, along the Cache la Poudre River, west across Cameron Pass Summit (10,000 + ft. elevation) and down into a valley where marshland and wetlands is the habitat of moose, elk, bear and other wildlife. All of this lies in a serene setting surrounded in a bowl of mountain ridges that rise into the skies like the jagged backbone of a dragon with the quaint little town of Walden nestled below and mountain folks reside. Every year the many hunters, fishermen, photographers, tourists, climbers and hikers come through this way to view the changing colors from summer to autumn. We make it an annual trip to view the aspens’ green leaves of summer turn golden-yellow with shades of orange and rust to merge together in a kaleidoscope of color. This is only one of the many popular routes or scenic highway drives seen crowded with cars going up into the high country for the views, but the state is awash with images, videos and stories of everyone’s adventure to capture Colorado ‘gold’. I am just an amateur at best with my little digital Nikon Coolpix or Sony video cam, so this is just a sampling of shots taken this year. But, the memories made and the scenes captured make it an unforgettable day trip.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

Still a flower in bloom

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The sun smiles upon

a flower and it opens;

God smiles upon us,

and it shows how great His love

For a flower still to bloom

______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)


Life found where we least expect it

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Nature won’t give up

on what it breathes life into;

but comes back, stronger

___________

One and a half years after the disastrous flood of September 2013 in our town in northern Colorado we have amazing sights that surprise us like this old cracked tree stump that was surrounded by destroyed trees and washed out trails, roads and demolished buildings. But, last summer while on the walking trail we spotted this old tree stump cut down where others had been trimmed or uprooted from the flood, many that literally floated down the raging river during the flood. Thinking the tender green shoots were growing up from the ground near it, I decided to get a closer look at it and found that they were actually growing from out of the cracks or crevices in the stump. I was glad I had my camera along.

I was immediately reminded of a favorite scripture in Job 14: 7 of the Old Testament that says, “At least there is hope for a tree; if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.” (NIV) And I thought about how often I had given up on dreams or things in my life because I felt as if they were ‘dead in the water’, like the trees that washed away in the flood, or having been cut down of ever producing any life or fruit again. But, God’s word is true. It is the same promise for today as it was in the days of Job, and there is the faith and hope that new life, new growth can begin again and we will bear new fruit.

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

Eye to eye

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Like me, this lone dove

on our roof waits patiently

for spring to arrive

__________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)


Trees in transition

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Trees in transition,

leaves turning; autumn jewels

gold, red and amber

a profusion of color

bursts forth in rich foliage hues

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)


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