How oak trees lift the spirit

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I awoke this morning feeling sorry for myself – not a good way to wake up! I’d slept badly, and tatters of disjointed dream images still clouded the back of my mind. I opened the curtains, the sky was as overcast and grey as I felt. I went downstairs, let the dog out and made myself a cup of tea. Then I slipped back into the warmth of my bed to do my daily Bible reading – today it was Psalm 62, maybe this would cheer me up. It starts, ‘My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.’ “Well Lord,” I grumbled, still feeling sorry for myself. “I don’t feel very rested!” I sipped my tea, and stared out of the window; and the colours of next doors oak tree took my breath away. Oak trees are amongst the last to lose their leaves, and now the colours were finally changing and the leaves fluttering to the ground. The colours are simply glorious. With a quick glance from a distance, you might consider the leaves to be merely brown, but when you look more closely, the various intermingled shades of green, yellow and brown are amazing. My day has been lifted, not only by Psalm 62, but also by the unveiling of God’s beautiful creation.

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Little Owls

After seeing the Green woodpeckers a few days ago, my sister and I were treated to a fleeting glimpse of two Little owls. We were driving down a country lane near Bicker, Lincolnshire, on our way back home, when first one, then another swooped silently overhead, and off over the fields. They are just like other owls, but in miniature; typically about 22cm tall, with a wingspan of 56cm and weighing in at 180 grams. They are territorial, and usually nest in natural hollows in trees. Unlike most other owls, they can be seen during the day, and although we saw them in flight, you can sometimes spot them perched high up on posts and fences, ready to swoop down on any unsuspecting small creature or bug.

It all happened too fast to attempt a photo, but they looked something like this:

Little owl in flight

 

 

Green Woodpecker

A family of Green Woodpeckers frequent my sister’s garden in Bicker Gauntlet near Boston in Lincolnshire. They are often seen feeding on the ground, digging their long beaks into ant-runs – ants of course being their favourite food. Like the other British woodpeckers, of which they are the largest, they are striking birds, with green plumage above, light green below, and yellow on the base of a stumpy tail. They have a bright red cap, and black slash across their eyes.

 

Moulton Windmill, Lincolnshire

I’m staying with my sister in Lincolnshire again, and as we had a free morning we decided to visit Moulton Windmill, somewhere I had not been before. We started off with a very nice coffee and walnut cake in the cafe, and then had a very interesting guided tour of the mill. Tony took us through the mill, clearly explaining the history of the mill, and the stages of its restoration. The tour took about an hour, and was fascinating, and most enjoyable.

Moulton Mill

Moulton Windmill is a brick-built tower mill, and at 100ft high is considered to be the tallest windmill in the United Kingdom, and one of the tallest in the world. It was built in 1822 by Robert King, and like many Lincolnshire windmills it has white-painted ogee cap – shaped like two shallow ‘s’ curves rather like an onion, and topped with a tall pointed finial. After being damaged by a severe gale in December 1894, the sails were removed and a steam engine was installed in the adjoining granary to power the mill, with a roller milling plant for processing animal feed. There are nine storeys, and on the elevated ground floor there is a separate miller’s office. The tower at the base is 28ft 9in, which narrows to 12ft at the curb, where the cap sits on a hexagonal wooden frame built into the brickwork, with an iron track to enable the cap and sails to turn into the wind.

A local restoration campaign was begun in about 1997, and in 2003 the mill was featured on BBC’s first series of ‘Restoration’. There were many fund-raising events, and a large Heritage Lottery Fund grant was won, so there was enough money to restore and refurbish the mill’s structure, build a shop and cafe, and fit a new ogee cap. The external reefing gallery 40ft above the ground was restored, and in November 2011 four new sails were finally added. In full working order again, in April 2013 the first bag of flour for more than 100 years was produced using the power of the wind.

Moulton Windmill, is situated between Spalding and Holbeach, about 4 miles from Springfield Shopping Outlet Centre, just off A151. It is open most days from 10am to 4pm, and some days there are grinding demonstrations – do check their website for details:  www.moultonwindmill.co.uk

Wisteria at Night

The wisteria in my garden is in full flower. It climbs across the pergola, with long, pale-lilac racemes reaching down to gently touch my face with delicate, purse-like flowers. As the air around them moves, like dancers the racemes drift together in slow-motion, first one way and then another.
My wisteria is beautiful during the day, but at night, when I stand and behold the muted colours and drink in the faint perfume that hangs in the air, it is truly glorious.

Wisteria at night

Wisteria at night

The Masters Voice

My dog Charlie is a rescue dog, and after being a stray on the streets of Ireland, he can be quite fearful. When I enter the house after being out, Charlie is nowhere to be seen, although he must have heard the key in the lock and the front door opening. The house appears empty as if I have no dog at all, because poor little Charlie is hiding well out of sight in his bed under the stairs! I stand in the hall and call his name, and when he hears the sound of my voice he comes bounding out from the safety of his hiding place. He is so pleased to see me that not only his tail, but his whole body wags; he can’t contain his joy that I have returned to him.

Charlie under the stairs

While I was in church this morning, I got to thinking, and I wondered if we can sometimes be like that with God. In our worship we ask Him to be present, but do we then hide away, as if we’re frightened? Do we simply feel unworthy of His attention, or are we frightened of what He might do in our comfortable lives? Frightened of what He might say or ask of us? So I tell myself that I’m not important enough and He won’t miss me. I hide, retreat into myself and pretend I’m not there.

Then I hear Him call my name – He has noticed me, even me! Am I ready to throw caution to the wind, rush out and meet with Him? And like my dog Charlie, is my whole body so eager to greet Him that my joy over-spills?