Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Annunciation waffles

Yes, I was wondering, too.

I've been praying with saying YES to God this morning. Mary must have been an amazing, courageous girl.  I'd like to be more like that.

I was not thinking about waffles; I'm not sure she was eating them when Gabriel showed up.  Visions of Mary in the kitchen making waffles with Gabriel talking to her through the window spring to mind... But never mind.

So what is this all about?  I just checked Twitter and was baffled by references to waffles on "Lady Day."  And here I thought I was somewhat well-versed in such things.  I guess not.

But the mystery is now solved:
"In Swedish, the word våffla is attested since 1642 and derives from the German Waffel but is possibly associated by ancestors with Vår Fru (The Virgin Mary).  Waffles are served, even today, in a large number of Swedish householdson Våffeldagen, that is to say, on Lady Day, which is observed the 25th of March. In modern times, March 25 has been designated as “International Waffle Day”."

The article above also includes a recipe for early 19th century raised waffles.

Before I get back to work, let me also share with you today's thanksgiving for our Sr. Carolyn, whose 25th profession anniversary is today.  I'm so glad she said YES - and that she continues to do so.

Blessed Feast, all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

signs of spring?

Is it spring yet?  Can I hope?  

Soon and very soon, as they sing...

Canada geese in formation

OK, so I've been seeing Canada geese flying around all winter.  But they were heading north.  Yes, it could have been a few hundred yards around the bend, but they *might* just be migrating.  

Somebody tell me. Are these buds on the top of those trees?  Can I hope?

We've had robins all winter, but all of a sudden there are many more than they were.  Maybe these have arrived from down south.

Now here's a bird I haven't seen all winter!  It may be one of the very few that wintered here elsewhere on the bay, but it may be an early sign of the many yet to come in the near future.  Our birding friend tells me it is almost certainly a Greater Yellowlegs, a bird which is here every spring and fall.  Now that I have this new camera with a good telephoto, you may be seeing more of these little ones in the months to come.

Ah, canine enthusiasm.  I would have thought it was too cold even for a dog to go in the water.  We do have a few piles of snow in dark spots here and there.  Yet this dog bounded in with gusto and had a wonderful time.  

Soon and very soon...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

a tree without blossom

Lent is a tree without blossom, without leaf,
Barer than blackthorn in its winter sleep,
All unadorned.  Unlike Christmas which decrees
The setting-up, the dressing-up of trees,
Lent is a taking down, a stripping bare,
A starkness after all has been withdrawn
Of surplus and superfluous,
Leaving no hiding place, only an emptiness
Between black branches, a most precious space
Before the leaf, before the time of flowers;
Lest we should see only the leaf, the flower,
Lest we should miss the stars.

Jean M. Watt

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Strange and Quickened Dust

ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Within this Strange and Quickened Dust

O God, within this strange and quickened dust
The beating heart controls the coursing blood
In discipline that holds in check the flood
But cannot stem corrosion and dark rust.
In flesh’s solitude I count it blest
That only you, my Lord, can see my heart
With passion’s darkness tearing it apart
With storms of self, and tempests of unrest.
But your love breaks through blackness, bursts with light;
We separate ourselves, but you rebind
In Dayspring all our fragments; body, mind
And spirit join, unite against the night.
Healed by your love, corruption and decay
Are turned, and whole, we greet the light of day.

- Madeleine L'Engle
found in Glimpses of Grace, the reading for March 22

You may also find it in The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L'Engle p. 66

Monday, March 3, 2014

I can die happy now.

This morning I went out with a neighbor, a friend of the community, who is a serious birder.  Best time I've had in eons.  I should have known it would be a good morning when we stopped by the French bakery for coffee, and they had one of my favorite kinds of pastry from my junior term in France. Happy already.

This picture (via Google) looks very similar... sigh. Yum... Good to have right before Ash Wednesday!

Coffee in hand, we went out on the Gurnet, a thin peninsula dividing Duxbury Bay from the ocean.

the road down the Gurnet

waves up today - the edge of the snowstorm that passed to the south of us, thanks be to God

Gurnet Light (also known as Plymouth Light)

There isn't a paved road there, so one is required to have a four-wheel drive vehicle and a special town permit.   We went to see the Snowy Owls, but we quickly started finding birds I'd never seen (and known about, anyhow).

First off, a tiny flock of Snow Buntings.  They look like mostly-white sparrows.  Apparently they don't usually stay put as they did today.  Beautiful little creatures; the photos don't remotely do them justice.  I was glad I had brought the binoculars for a good look.  Never having officially gone birding in my life, this is the first time I've used them.

snow buntings hunting for breakfast

so beautiful - more so in person

Then I was introduced to a number of ducklike creatures, many of which looked much alike. Bufflehead Ducks I know well - I enjoy watching them in our cove. The others? I am told that I saw a White-Winged Scoter, but on going back through my pictures, I can't seem to find it.  Ah, well. Next time. However, I did see (and find again) a Common Goldeneye, a Common Eider, and a Surf Scoter.

Common Goldeneye
no idea if the eyes are golden, but I can recognize the round white spot at least
Common Eider - not the clearest photo, but you get the whole family - two adult males in breeding plumage, 1 female (brown), and 1 male in his first winter 
Surf Scoter - not the best picture, either, but you can see the huge, wild bill - love it!

Then there was a Brant, which looks like a tiny Canadian goose without the white on its neck, and some Great Cormorants in flight.

Great Cormorants
which I gather are not the same cormorants I see in the summer

Horned larks flutter quickly and have yellow on them. I've been hearing the phrase "sing like a lark" all my life, but I'd never seen one.  Now I have.

Horned Larks

There were familiar birds, of course - Herring Gulls, Black-Backed Gulls, and, somewhat out of season, a couple of little sanderlings along the water's edge.

cranky-looking Herring Gull may not be finding any herring today

And on the way back, we saw a merlin having brunch - something that had been white.

I decided no one wanted to see the photo in which he is taking a bite of his brunch.  All of a sudden it's rather obvious that this is a type of falcon.

The bird we went to look for, however, remained elusive for some time.  We had almost begun to wonder if we would see one at all, though there have been more of them this year.  Our birder friend said that usually there will be two Snowy Owls spending the winter.  This year, he has seen up to eight in one trip. As a matter of fact, there was a New York Times article about the unusual influx:


Here are related links I just looked up:

Well, just as we were getting towards the end of the road, one showed its face among the lumps of snow that were making the search more difficult than usual.

Well, hello there!
Beautiful bird.  Saw us, too, and didn't seem much bothered.  Of course, we turned off the car and were quiet, but all the same, I'd not  have expected her to be so calm.

another snowy owl watching the geese
Apparently the females are browner than the males; I think the juveniles are, too. I'm sure I should have guessed that - it's logical - but I've not paid much attention up until recently.

Here we have a male owl.
I have more photos of them, but I think I'll have to make that a separate post.  

Anyway, it's been a beautiful day thanks to these lovely creatures of God.  And to a neighbor's generosity with time and teaching.  I am so grateful.