Somebody needs to eat them….

“Nature alone is antique,
and the oldest art a mushroom.”

Thomas Carlyle

Toadstools and mushrooms…the prevalent fungus among us…
With all those fungi surely someone out there has to be a beneficiary…
as this squirrel is doing his best to make the most of a free meal…

One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak,
eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt
the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does,
for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?
To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand,
for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Romans 14:2-4

traipsing in the woods amongst the fungi

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Traipse:
intransitive verb
transitive verb
traipsed, traips′ing
to walk, wander, tramp, or gad

When out in the woods my husband, more often then not, walks with a sense
of focused purpose and direction..

Me on the other hand, well I tend to lag behind…
traipsing about, camera in tow….

(all pics taken in the mid west Georgia woods last Sunday–Julie Cook / 2017)

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens,
and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

Barking all up the wrong tree…

Don’t tell me of deception; a lie is a lie,
whether it be a lie to the eye or a lie to the ear.

Samuel Johnson


(a pine in the Agawa Canyon River Park, Ontario, Canada suffering with a massive burl
/ Julie Cook / 2017)

Have you ever seen a tree with a large growth similar to the poor pine in the picture above? The growth is known as a burl, bur, burr, knob or gall.
These burls or galls are actually an overgrowth usually stemming from some sort
of stress, fungus or infestation that the tree has experienced.

And often as in life, what is one man’s, or in this case tree’s, disease,
eyesore or infestation, is another’s treasure….
as in woodworkers, furniture makers and sculptors will seek out trees with burls
as the wood patterns inside and underneath the bark is often unique and quiet lovely.

As in actually prized.

For the fibers of the wood’s growth within a burl is very dense and
overlapping. This creates an extremely thick and hard sort of wood—
one that is prized for making bowls and other decorative pieces
as it is very difficult to split or crack and the patterns
make for a very visually appealing piece.

The notion of some sort of deformity, disease or growth being actually
considered to be of value or something quite lovely has made me think
long and hard about outward appearance verses what remains inside and underneath.

The other day when I wrote about Christianity needing her warriors, the good
pastor in Scotland, David Robertson posted on the very same day an observation
that seemed almost to be an exclamation point to my thoughts and feelings.

Now being raised in an American Episcopal Church, in a church that
was known as a high church,
it may strike some as odd that I enjoy reading and often quoting,
as I greatly appreciate the thinking of Pastor Robertson,
a man who represents the Free Church of Scotland—
And mind you his is mostly an evangelical group…
an evangelical group within the Scottish Presbyterian church that broke away
from the mainstream church body in the mid 1800’s…

There is something in his teachings that this more high church
traditionalist has found to be truthful…
truthful teachings firmly planted, grounded and rooted as there is a welcomed
dose of commonsense as well as common ground in the good pastor’s no
nonsense biblical approach…
an approach that does not try to mince or change God’s Word to suit or appease
today’s wash of secularism that is rapidly invading and seeping into
each and every church body.

For I do enjoy his teachings and points of view.
And granted I have read some things that I don’t necessarily agree with,
for the majority of what the good pastor shares,
I’m usually totally 100% on board.

And maybe this Christian faith of ours is a lot like a tree with a burl….

Our varying denominations be they Catholic, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Orthodox,
mainstream Denominational has each, at times, caused this tree of faith of ours,
to form an out of character growth.

Yet the fibers beneath the outward deformity are still rooted in the
basis of a single principle and property—
that being that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord and is God’s only begotten son…
A son who died on the cross and rose again three days afterwards…
in order to save each of us, those who so choose to accept and follow,
from eternal death and damnation…

It is our weaving of belief that has been woven taut, creating something
difficult to spilt or break no matter what over the decades
we’ve called our particular selves
nor how often we’ve foolishly tried to destroy that very weaving.

And maybe, just maybe, what is needed now in this world turned upside down…
is for those of the Christian faith to stand united in the face
of what is besieging this world of ours….

Yet the frenetic and liberal press, along with the wanton cultural demigods,
of which have been beset upon our Western Civilization, want
nothing more than to silence those who dare to challenge the unrelenting
din of cultural self promotion and death.

The following quote below is one from the good pastor’s column taken
from Monday’s posting as Pastor Robertson in turn quotes Brendan O’Neill,
an Australian journalist…
and a bit of caution mind you as Mr O’Neill does use some rather strong wording
toward the end of the quote when making reference to politicians.

Brendan O’Neill expresses it best:
“The footage coming out of Barcelona is deeply disturbing.
In terms of ideological hatred, violent misanthropy and utter contempt for
the freedom of everyday life,
America’s neo-Nazis don’t even come close to these Islamist sects.”

“They’re still talking about Charlottesville.

Still.

Even as the barbarism in Barcelona raises the number of European citizens
slaughtered by Islamists since 2014 to *461*.

Four-hundred-and-sixty-one people killed in Europe in three years.
Four-hundred-and-sixty-one.

Let that sink in for a minute.

By extremists who loathe liberty,
democracy and mankind far more seriously than those sad neo-Nazis in the US do.

But don’t look back in anger, eh?

We wouldn’t want to create community tensions.
“Don’t make a scene” — that’s always the response to Islamist terror.

The message is so clear now:
the political set will only give a shit about you if you’re killed by a white extremist.”

LED 5 – Barcelona, Charlottesville – Glasgow Pride – Love is Love – Sarah Champion – The Real Modern Slavery – Google’s Tolerance – Endeavour – Is the Church like an Empty Whisky Bottle? – Kris Kristofferson

With evil running rampant, no longer hidden within the shadows but rather
confidently out in the open and totally out of control…
the world’s leaders and politicians are trying their best to throw
diversions to what is actually the truth.

Now is the time that the faithful are being called to stand united as one,
in the name of righteousness, holiness, morality, values, family and yes,
even freedom and liberty…
while the culturally correct media and sea of blind political leaders
wish nothing more than to have us all barking up the wrong tree…

“Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us?
Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane
the covenant of our fathers?

Malachi 2:10

Beauty found in the lowly

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
― Confucius

“The lowly he sets on high and those who mourn are lifted to safety.”
Job 5:11

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A walk in the woods on a damp rainy day holds a wealth of often overlooked wonders. . .

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(all photos taken from a trip to the woods / Troup Co, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2015)

A necessary evil, of loss–or–my broken heart

“Herein lies the supreme wisdom, human and divine; and the task of philosophy consists in teaching men to submit joyously to Necessity which hears nothing and is indifferent to all.”
Lev Shestov

“Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as putting together the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was broken. Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?”

Leo Tolstoy

It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!
John Muir, July 1890

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(our son in 1999 standing beside the posted construction permit allowing us to begin construction on our home, with one of the oaks situated behind him)

In the grand scheme of life, on Life’s Richter scale, this crisis of mine is not up there with the usual calamities which are catastrophic to life and limb.
Yet to my heart, well, it feels as if someone has reached into my chest and just pulled it on out.

I’ve made mention in the past about the two oak trees out in front of our house. The two trees which were actually situated in a perfect setting for the construction of the house as we would be able to showcase the trees just as the trees showcased our house. Our house was nestled perfectly in-between and under their growing arms. These two trees are what offset our house and made it what it is in the vast realm of my concept of landscaping.

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Maybe it’s because I grew up in a city during the height of post war urban sprawl.
Maybe it’s because all we had were a couple of tall toothpick like pines dotting our yard.
Maybe it’s because I always wanted a tree house but as I just stated— all we had were tall toothpick pines— not suitable for the building of a fort or treehouse.
Maybe it’s because somehow God anointed my heart to have a deep seeded love of and for trees, woods, forests. . .

As we’ve now been in our house going on 14 years, that little oak in the first picture with our son has since grown into a mighty majestic oak. This tree sported 4 bird feeders and 4 wooden bird houses–until today. Planted at its base were azaleas and day lilies. I had several adirondack chairs sitting beneath the tree’s gracious canopy of shade as this was a favorite place for me to sit seeking relief from a relentless summer’s sun when I was out doing yard work or merely seeking solitude enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon reading.
Perhaps it was my grownup version of a perfect location for a “tree” house / fort.

A few years ago a tornado tore through our county, coming very close to our home. The winds were frightening as we sought shelter in our basement. Once the storm passed, we gave thanks to see that our home and yard had been spared. The only thing askew was one of the two oaks–the one at the far end of the house. It was obvious that the tree was “pushed” but not toppled by the destructive winds.

Also a few years ago, we began noticing an odd phenomenon with both oaks. Just as soon as April arrived each Spring, and the trees began sporting their new Springtime wardrobe of tender brightly colored green leaves, the leaves would begin falling. The leaves would turn a brownish yellowish greenish with brown spots. The leaves would proceed to drop falling off until Winter, leaving our yard looking as if we were stuck in some sort of perpetual Autumn-time mode. Which in turn keeps my husband nonplused by the constant barrage of dead leaves all over the lawn, the front walk, the shrubbery, etc, of which keeps our yard carpeted with dead leaves from April until the following April. . . when it begins all over again.

As our county does not currently have an Aborist, one to call upon when there are tree issues, I did my best to figure out what was afflicting our trees. Then on top of disease, both trees had now grown exponentially in size threatening both corners of the house should we be dealt a bad hand by Mother Nature.

I deduced both trees were suffering from Oak Blight or also known as Oak Wilt. Trees can live for several years until the disease run its course, killing the tree.
There is no cure.
In addition to the blight, the one tree that had taken the lick in the Tornado, over the past two years, has developed shelf fungus—which indicates that the heart of the tree is dying if not already dead.

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Here is an image of the house a couple of Summers ago when the trees were still healthy and full.

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There is a tremendous difference in the fullness and health of the tree as noted in this photo from last month.

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(the leaves have all fallen off the lower half of the tree well before Fall)

My heart was / is also dying alongside my trees.

I know some of you reading this do not understand my sorrow over the loss of two trees that sound as if it was just a matter of time before they would go anyway. I know those of you who have had trees to cause devastation in your lives and to your homes are telling me “good riddance”—-
yet something in my heart is now so very sad and empty.

Maybe the trees offered me a false sense of protection and safety as I ( and my home) was situated behind their massive bodies diverting and separating the barrage of the endless traffic up on the road from my little world.
Maybe I now feel exposed–no longer hidden and embraced.
Maybe I thought that they were like those majestic oaks of old, offsetting my piece of the deep South in grand splendor.
Maybe it’s because the trees offer(ed) me such an intimate view, allowing me to quietly and secretly observe the birds and squirrels who call my yard home.
Maybe it’s because I could mark the milestones and developments of our little family’s lives by these trees. . .like the time they were the back drop to a Prom dinner hosted here for our son’s junior year.. .or as in the very first picture to this post, it marked the new beginnings to a new home. . .

Maybe it’s because in some weird way I feel these trees, any trees, are inextricably connected to God and to all of His creation–in turn offering me a tangible link to Him as my Creator.

Sadly when Jose (of Rodriquez Tree Service) called last night, letting me know that he was coming this morning with his crew, I felt a sudden sickening sense of loss that I immediately realized was happening whether I liked it or not and that there was not one damn thing I could do to stop it. Helpless and sad all rolled into one.
Yes, all over a tree–well, actually two.

I confess I was (am) mad at my husband.
This due to his infinite wisdom of putting his foot down with his “enough is enough”—that the time to cut the trees is now. . .fussing that it must be done before they dislodge the front walk with their ever spreading roots, before they turn the entire house black and green from the mildew along with their continued damaging of gutters and roof— all from living in the dampness of their shade and sloughing off of their debris. . . “And remember Julie, the trees are sick, how much longer will they be able to stand before they die and fall on the house?!”

And yes, he is right.
. . . but that doesn’t mean I have to like it or even agree with him as living in the denial of the inevitable has seemed a much better option. But as my husband, I know he wouldn’t do something to hurt my heart, as much as this current crisis seems to be, unless he saw no other alternative or option. . . and as my husband, I know I must trust him. I live in that very old fashioned world (as so deemed by society) that as a married couple in the sight of God—God has set the standard that my husband is indeed head of this household and I, in turn, trust that my husband does what he believes to be just and right as he tries to listen to God—-whether or not he hears God as clearly as I think he should is an entirely different matter for an entirely different post, but as usual, I digress.

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I did however have one small thought. . .
I asked Jose to cut me some rounds from the trees that I would dry, eventually turning them into cutting boards, chargers and even a small little table or two. That is if they don’t crack all to pieces while drying out, which is more than likely to happen with my luck.
I even contacted Michael, our very own blogging wood craftsman over on http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com
seeking his advice as how best to preserve a small memento from my trees.

Despite this latest crisis of mine, in my small corner of this world–the one thing I’ve always clung to in life, especially when things look most dire, dismal and gloomy, is. . . Hope. . .

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You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor.
Job 11:18-19

A season of texture and tones

The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself, but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.”
Albert Schweitzer

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(Pinecones from Dad’s yard, along with a fungus covered dead branch, Julie Cook 2013)

With the rapidly approaching official arrival of winter we are, no doubt, beginning to feel as if we are spiraling into a type of color withdrawal. Gone are the beautiful scarlets, golds and burnt oranges of Autumn; gone are the golden swaying wheat fields and the intoxicatingly beautiful jasmine and honeysuckle of Summer; gone are the vibrant explosives reds, blues, greens and lavenders, of Spring. For in this deep slumbering shadow of the calendar, we are left with an empty void of nothingness, or for some, a giant blanket of white encasing every living and non-living thing as far as the eye can see.

Yet in this perceived void of lacking and emptiness, there remains a very important component to our field of vision, for suddenly open for the entire world to view, the earth lies naked before both creature and man— exposed, unprotected and vulnerable. Gone are the colorful coverings of flowers and leaves which act as accessorizing baubles and wrappings. Gone are the tall grasses and heavy ladened branches bearing fruit and flower. What remains is an intricately woven skeletal system, the undercarriage of our natural world.

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Cautiously, and a bit weary, we peer out upon this barren landscape, sad and forlorn, fearing that we are doomed to grey gloomy skies, long dark nights and a lack of visual stimulation. But thankfully a slow hesitant joy begins to claim our mood, for upon closer inspection we realize that we are not the helpless victims of Loss and Void, but rather we discover that we have been granted a tiny treasured lagniappe, a treat for all of our senses, for spread out majestically before us is a different type of visual splendor—one which appears more delicate and almost fragile than what had departed–for here, in what we now find at our grasp, is beauty in its most basic simplicity.

Branches, limbs, sticks, stones, straw, bark, cones and moss—these are the bare essentials which Nature generously offers to our visually weary senses. Wonderfully we rejoice for we now know that we have not been flung out helplessly to fester in a world of monotones and dull eyed death. Here in this seemingly cold and barren world– beauty is to be had, to be seen and to be touched. The visual wonders still abound.

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These visual treasures are not the garish over the top harlots of those previous seasons, but rather these beauties remain understated, subtle and quiet. They speak of structure, shape, texture and tone offering us a tactile reminder that our visual needs have not been forgotten. Old man Winter may be hard and harsh, but he is not unkind. As you fight the deep calling to venture outside to a world of cold wind, freezing rain and gloomy grays, do not be discouraged—Nature knows your need and she has provided.

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You see a dead tree, I see something beautiful

Nature is the art of God.
Dante Alghieri

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We were out and about over the weekend wandering through some woods when a decaying tree, which had obviously fallen quite some time ago, caught my eye. There was something about this single tree mass that drew my attention. I think it was the “alienesque” feathery white appearance…”what is that” I mused. Daring to leave the relative safety of the worn and rocky path, I ventured into the overgrowth with its wealth of ticks, spiders and poisonous snakes. Taking my chances… I tiptoed oh so carefully over to the tree.

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The creamy white fungus, known as a shelf fungus, covered the tree like a sheath. It was a visual wonder of texture, shape and pattern. It made me want to reach out to run my hand over it, but I restrained myself as I was not so inclined to be bitten or stung by anything around, in or on the tree. This fungus looked almost like crashing waves washing over the body of the tree.

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I realize that this “living” fungus (aka of the mushroom clan) is now enjoying its home on this dead tree, as the dead tree has provided a temporary respite for another “living”… and I use the term loosely… thing. It was all rather otherworldly, creating a light airy feel for something that once was heavily grounded. So odd how nature works and yet how perfect.

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On this new day to a new week, remember to be on the look out for the wonders of nature. Make time this week to wander out of doors if at all possible. Do not be afraid to venture off that trusty worn path going boldly, but carefully, into the overgrowth seeking the beautiful nuances of God’s most talented hand. Who knows what blessing abound that are most often passed by without any notice. Dante is right you know…nature is indeed the work of a Masterful Artist.