speaking of signs

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying,
This is my Son, my chosen: hear ye him.

Luke 9:35


(Bible tract found tucked in the handle of my car door / Julie Cook / 2019)

So yesterday I made mention of two little rural church signs I saw during my recent back and forth travels.
Two little signs that opened both my heart and mind…more or less, reawakening my senses.

Another little sign made its way to me again yesterday morning.

Having not been home for any length of time over the past three weeks, a most needed grocery run
was greatly in order and the first thing on the day’s docket.

Nearly 45 minutes later, the bagger gal, who insisted on pushing my overflowing cart out to my car,
emptied the cart into my car as I finally made my way to back to the driver’s door.
Nestled in between the handle and car was a small piece of folded paper.

Upon further inspection, the paper folded up under my car’s door handle was actually a Bible tract.

It’s always a mystery to me how these things materialize.
I leave the car, buy some groceries, then poof, God’s word winds up tucked into my
car’s door handle.

The title: This Is My Beloved Son In Whom I Am Well Pleased…
Hear Ye Him!

Hear Ye Him…

I pondered that line.

It sounded archaic…perhaps King James.

However, upon a further later investigation of the line, which is from the Book of Luke,
it turns out that the version is actually from the American Standard Bible.

And so I pondered deeper…

Most versions read “Listen to Him” versus this version of “Hear Ye Him”

Hear versus Listen…the ‘ye’ bit I get— meaning you there…
but it was the balance of hear vs listen that had me ruminating.

Aren’t they the same?
Don’t both words mean the same?

Words and their meanings have always intrigued me.

According to Merriam Webster,
Hear: transitive verb
to perceive or become aware of by the ear
to gain knowledge of by hearing
to listen to with attention
transitive verb
to have the capacity of perceiving sound
to gain information
to receive communication

Listen: transitive verb
to give ear to

intransitive verb
to pay attention to sound
to hear something with thoughtful attention: give consideration
to be alert to catch an expected sound

So yes, I see that there is a difference between the two words…to hear vs to listen.

Firstly, to hear seems active whereas to listen appears more passive.

God is wanting us to perceive, to become aware of, to gain.
He also wants us to pay attention, to give consideration to and to be alert…
as well as to passively receive.

He wants us to lend our ear…but the question we must ask ourselves is to lend it for what?

We must be open in order to actually hear.
We must be wanting and willing.

We can hear something but are we truly hearing it?
Is it like white noise in the background or is it received into the cognizant part of
our brain for the processing of what it really is?

Seems more signs just keep coming my way…

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
John 4:48

a time of signs

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him
to show them a sign from heaven.

Matthew 16:1

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death,
and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations,
and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:9-14

signposts

Today I found myself once again on the interstate, a place that I am more times then not…
As the sun was headed toward the west, I was finally heading home form Dad’s…
who by the way is hanging on and still in the game….but just barely….
Merging onto the interstate, it suddenly dawns on me that the ratio of big rigs to cars
was not in the favor of the cars.

Some days are like that as I suppose as there are certain days that are considered
more or less “travel days” for those transporters of all things commerce.

Those “travel days” tend to make me a bit more nervous as I don’t especially enjoy
barreling down the interstate sandwiched in-between 5 lanes of tractor trailer
trucks and little ol me….

Focusing on keeping up with the flow while my mind drifts back and forth over to Dad
and to the things I need to be taking care of for them, my eyes and mind begin to focus
on the truck in front of me…
“The World’s most award winning Tequila”

Hummmm…I think I’ve had it in a margarita once….

Changing lanes, as I was working my way over to merge onto the next interstate, I
found myself behind another truck boasting the “2013 Award Winning Whiskey Bourbon, Roses”

Hummmm…I’d never heard of it before…yet found myself wondering if it hails
from Kentucky or Tennessee as only Kentucky whiskeys may be labeled bourbon…

As I exit onto the entrance ramp to the next interstate, I’m precariously passed by
a massive Little Debbie’s truck….

Hummmmm…Now I begin wondering if someone isn’t trying to tell me something…
as in…am I suppose to be heading to the nearest bar or to grab some
not so healthy snack cakes….???

Signs were all over the place it seems…
vying for me to remember, to consider, to seek, to find…????

So as I was finally on the home stretch of highway, eventually taking me home,
the whole notion of signs and their meaning flooded my mind,
shadowed by the significant and current visit taking place in Washington of Israel’s
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu….

I ruminated over the importance of the renewed support offered by our
new administration to Israel…
and to what that now may means for a nation who returns her support to the chosen
of God….

As some would flippantly quip that it means nothing,
while others would bemoan it just means more trouble,
while still others see great significance being found in this renewed support.

I have always believed in the importance of the United State and her relationship with
the Jewish state…

Yesterday we heard in his greeting to President Trump,
along with those gathered in the East Room,
Prime Minister Netanyahu offering an explanation as to why Jews are called Jews.

“Well, the Chinese are called Chinese because they come from China.
The Japanese are called Japanese because they come from Japan.
Well, Jews are called Jews because they come from Judea.
This is our ancestral homeland.
Jews are not foreign colonialists in Judea.”

The age long quest for the acknowledgement of existence.

Yet that acknowledgement continues being met with resistance…

The Middle East is a vast and formidable land..
It has always been shrouded in mystery, hostility, and suspicion.
With the seeming epicenter to be found in the obscure city of Jerusalem…

A city that is the knot in the bow tying and binding the three
greatest monotheistic religions together…
whether they like it or not…bound they are.
Yet it is a city that has been fractured and divided since its very formation…

The hostilities between Jews and Muslims is age old, dating back most notably to
the time of Abraham.
The Christians are really the upstarts in the mix, having entered the fray 2000
years ago.

So say what you will…
be it coincidence, myth, lore, legend, history, the Divine…or a combination of
each component…
The land of Judea is for the chosen of God…and peace will come…but…..

The prophet Zechariah reminds us with his words:
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples,
when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.
And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all
peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces,
though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3)

It seems that conflict will always be found in this epicenter…
only until such time comes that there is a final
collision between both Light and Darkness….

In Psalm 37 we hear David proclaiming that “the meek shall inherit the earth,
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace”
(Psalm 37:11).
And in Leviticus we are told, “I will give peace in the land, and you shall
lie down, and none will make you afraid”
(Leviticus 26:6)

We are reminded, told, and shown that there will indeed be a day of peace in
this land that has only known dispute, war, hatred and suspicion.

So until that day of peace and reconciliation is upon us…
It may behoove each of us to consider the signs we are offered as we
look, wonder and wait…..

With Christ—“the Prince of Peace”—ruling the earth,
“there will be no end” to the peace that will envelop our planet (Isaiah 9:6-7).
As Isaiah hopefully noted,
“LORD, You will establish peace for us” (Isaiah 26:12).
And as each individual obeys God, he or she will enjoy peace.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You” (verse 3).

(Life Hope & Truth)

real love

“Everything in this life passes away…
only God remains,
only He is worth struggling towards.
We have a choice:
to follow the way of this world, of the society that surrounds us,
and thereby find ourselves outside of God;
or
to choose the way of life, to choose God Who calls us and for Whom our heart is searching.”

Seraphim Rose

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(Mother’s 35 year old tea rose bush / Julie Cook 2016)

Driving over to Dad’s yesterday morning I spotted a sign outside of a church which read:

Real love has no ending…

I don’t think I’ve ever read a better sign.

By earthly standards we know all too well that there are endings…
For earthly love does indeed seem to end….

It may end sad, maybe even bad…
because there really is no such thing as a happy ending,
by earthly standards…

Because even that happy or enduring sort of love here on Earth,
dies away….

We call that life…
and death….
as in,
there’s a beginning…
and there’s…
the end….

But here’s the thing…love that reaches beyond the boundaries of this earth…
well, that is both happy and never ending…
We call that, perfect Love….

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts,
Stanzas 3 and 4 When I Survey The Wondrous Cross , 1707

Can love come in a box…along with the wisdom gleaned from the road

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
St. Augustine of Hippo

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(Meet Namar Nich, the latest member of the family / Julie Cook / 2016)

To quickly answer the question posed in today’s title…
…in a nutshell…
“no”
Love cannot come in a box….

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Yet what exactly might come in a box you ask…??

Well…

Comfort can come in a box.
A little excitement can come in a box.
Sustenance can come in a box.
A brief moment of happiness or even a little joy can come in a box.
A small respite can come in a box.
A dose of fun can come in a box.
A bit of a diversion can come in a box.
Something new, old, borrowed or blue can come in a box….

And in our case, a little needed levity can come in a box…

Meet Gloria the Dammit doll’s new friends….they came, in a box, from China via LA
(yeah I was a little bummed discovering this crew is not a “Made in America” friendly clan)

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However, sad as it may be, only one friend out of this foreign lot is going to be staying…
The others have places to go and people to see…
As in anxiously expectant homes already in need and waiting desperately for some comfort, joy, new, excitement, diversion, happiness, fun and levity to arrive…

Meet Namar Nich

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Handsome little devil isn’t he?
Puffed out chest, beautiful mop of hair…
and those eyes….absolutely dreamy….

Gloria can hardly contain herself…you can see it in her face….

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Notice that coy little smile of hers and see how her eyes just dance at the first sight of Namar…

What kind of name is Namar you ask…
Well if you must know…
My dad graduated from Emory University in Atlanta in the early 50’s, where he was a member of the
SAE fraternity. Upon completion of his degree from Emory, he then moseyed on over to GA Tech and earned another degree…this coming from a man who really didn’t like school…
but do you want to know what Dad did like?
He liked beer.
As I suppose most college boys, as well as most fraternity boys, do…they indeed like beer…
And in Dad’s case, it was an obscure Philadelphia brew of the day, Namar Beer.
And if I could guess, it was an inexpensive beer as we must remember dad is cheap a most frugal individual.
His college stein, that now sits proudly on a table at my son’s home, has the lovely seal of Emory University on the front and the name “Namar” elegantly printed on the back.

Years back, when I was much younger, I had taken dad’s mug out of his curio cabinet for further inspection.
I was really impressed with the whole college seal but as I flipped it around, reading the name on the back, I was greatly intrigued.
Assuming “Namar” was some deep dark secret ritual name from his time spent at college, I can remember asking him with stately reverence what it stood for.
With eyes sparkling wide, I anxiously readied myself for some marvelous tale as to the meaning of “Namar” when he causally replied…
“oh that was the name of my favorite beer…guess I drank a good bit of it as my friends nicknamed me Namar Nich…”

REALLY?

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(a can of Philly’s best, Namar Beer…looks more like a can of motor oil…)

Needless to say one more tiny bubble burst in a long line of bursting bubbles as one more notch to Dad’s pedestal was knocked out from under the once loftier height….He’s now somewhere below sea level…but I digress…

And now you must remember that Gloria the Dammit doll had told me several weeks ago that she was tired. She has been working her fingers to the bones as life at Dad’s has been harrowing at best.
Gloria, my stepmother,….oh yeah, isn’t that the craziest thing, she and Gloria the Dammit doll both have the same name…anywhooo…Gloria, the stepmother, has been…well…not good….and when Gloria isn’t good and Dad isn’t good, which is how life has been as of late, Gloria the Dammit Doll is busy.

So I had promised to find Gloria a friend.
A helpmate who would help share in the load of balancing both the lives of my dad and stepmother….

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So off to Atlanta the three of us went…

The journey was the typical harrowing adventure when traversing the Atlanta interstate system.
Pot holes litter the highway which provide drivers with the same sense of riding a roller coaster just at a speed of 75 mph or greater depending on one’s foot and the need to keep up with the traffic flow.
Bouncing up and down, thankful to be buckled in and praying not to pop a tire…

Yet there was a bit of enlightenment during today’s journey.

The first happened along by way of a homemade roadside placard that was situated on a power line just to the right side of the interstate.
A large painted wooden board announced to one and all:
“Jesus is coming…Be Patient”

I couldn’t help but chuckle out loud.

I mused to myself…that yes, He is indeed coming back…
and with the way things are going in this broken down world of ours,
I know that I for one have been more than a bit anxious as to His ETA…or estimated time of arrival!

There’s a lot of wisdom in that sign…
He’s coming…it isn’t a question of yea or nay…He’s definitely coming…
Rather the concern is all in the timing…as to when exactly He’s coming…
and I can assure you that it won’t be in my preferred time frame that’s for certain—

Timing is God’s and God’s alone…and I am behooved to be mindful of such.
God’s got this…I don’t…which is often far too obvious…
I just have to trust knowing it’s all in His hands.
Not an easy task, especially with my current life in Atlanta,
but it’s not in my hands…it’s all in His….

And as I continued driving over to my life in Atlanta that is totally out of control and certainly out of my control, I am sweetly reminded that God’s got this….suddenly a wonderful sense of comfort washed over me… as I continued racing toward my destination with both Gloria and Namar in tow.

The second little life lesson gleaned happened one interstate over while I was driving past a tanker truck.
Glaring for all to behold, printed in bold black letters on the back of the tanker was the sign “if you’re getting passed on the right, you’re probably in the wrong lane”
Luckily for me I was to this guy’s left.

And here we have life in a nutshell…life by way of the world’s standards…
“hurry up or get over because the world is ready to pass you by…”

Both moments dealt with time…
One being God’s time,..or better yet, God’s timing…
while the other focused on the time of this world.
Both of which play into the craziness I call this life of mine…
with the single important factor being….
which of these two times will I abide by…??

I think I prefer the former of the two….

More to follow on life with the new couple, Namar and Gloria….
and of course the older couple…Mr Mole and Mrs. Loon

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:3

Signs of the times

Our heart oft times wakes when we sleep, and God can speak to that, either by words, by proverbs, by signs and similitudes, as well as if one was awake.
John Bunyan

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(deer crossing sign located on the road near Cong, County Gallway / Mayo Border / Julie Cook / 2015)

You’ve seen the signs, plain as day.
A visual word to the wise.
Slow down
Be careful
Be mindful
Keep a watch
Be vigilant
Caution

Yet you don’t pay much attention.
Maybe you take a quick check of your peripheral vision…
Sensing nothing out of the ordinary on either side…
All the while, you stare straight ahead with both hands fixed on the wheel–
Assuming you’re good to go…as you merrily zip down the road.

As far as slowing down and exercising the advised caution, well, that ain’t happening.
You’ve been down this road a million times, and you’ve got places to go…
You flippantly play the gambling odds in your head, figuring chances are on your side…
Deer?
No deer?
Hummmmm
You go with no deer…as you’ve never seen a deer on this stretch of road.
You continue scooting mindlessly down the road.

But ironically the odds are not in your favor.

That lone buck, chasing that lone doe, darts out from the woods and crosses your path.
You’re clocking 70 mph, if not more.
You see the deer running right in front of you, just out of your right eye, right before you slam on the brakes…
You and the deer meet as one…
There’s a sickening thud and a high pitched screeching that won’t stop.
It slams into the windshield, shattering the glass, sending shards everywhere…

Blood and fur now cover your vision.
Reflexes have you stomping, pushing as hard as you can, down on the brakes as the car slides to the right, spinning.
The tires hit the shoulder of the road, which is nothing but soft earth…
Your tire mares in the soft dirt sticking and flipping the car over, sending you, the deer and almost 5000 pounds of metal, glass, rubber and plastic on a merry-go-round of madness.
Will you survive?…the last thought before you black out as you head slams into the door window…as you flip and flip and flip…

You were given a sign for a reason…
Yet you chose to ignore it…
You egotistically chose to play the odds.
You were invincible, in a hurry with places to go remember…

Obviously those odds were not in your favor….

God has given us all the signs.
He continues offering…
Yet you, me, we just keep continuing playing the odds…

Maybe it’s just that we’re opting to ignore any and all signs for some stupid selfish reason, hoping the inevitable will just go away…
or better yet…
Won’t ever happen…
Cause really, we’re just all too busy zipping down Life’s myriad of roads to pay too much attention to any benign sort of sign….

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
John 4:48

What’s in a sign

So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.
Judges 6:17

“When you know that something’s going to happen, you’ll start trying to see signs of its approach in just about everything. Always try to remember that most of the things that happen in this world aren’t signs. They happen because they happen, and their only real significance lies in normal cause and effect. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you start trying to pry the meaning out of every gust of wind or rain squall. I’m not denying that there might actually be a few signs that you won’t want to miss. Knowing the difference is the tricky part.”
David Eddings

“Is not the gospel its own sign and wonder? Is not this a miracle of miracles, that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish’? Surely that precious word, ‘Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely’ and that solemn promise, ‘Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out,’ are better than signs and wonders! A truthful Saviour ought to be believed. He is truth itself. Why will you ask proof of the veracity of One who cannot lie?”
Charles H. Spurgeon

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(the sign in the clouds of perhaps a thunder cloud brewing / Julie Cook / 2015)

We are sign people.
We always have been and will most likely always be such.
We have looked to the skies, to the heavens, to the earth, to the depths, to the seas, to the wind, to the fire, to the mountains, to life and to death. . . you name it. . .
since the beginning of time we have looked for. . .
A sign. . .
A warning,
A signal,
A clue,
An indication,

Some sort of information. . .good or bad. . .

I’ve been living my life, as of late in my car, driving the backroads, the main streets, the highways and the interstates as I’ve been making my way to Dad’s.
2, 3, 4 times or more a week.
Back and forth from here to there.

I’m pretty certain I know every billboard, advertisement, road sign, speed marker, hiding spot for every State Patrol within a 70 mile shot.
And yet today, on my way home, on a lone and isolated stretch of interstate there was a small hand painted sign tacked to a tree which sat a ways back from the busy and perilous roadway, which was new to me and my sweeping driving vigilance.

“The End is coming soon,
be sure not to miss it”

Now we’ve been seeing signs stating information such as
“The End is Near”
“The Rapture is Coming”
“Jesus is coming”
“Are you ready?”
On and on and on with such predictions, omnitions and bold assumptions being posted for decades.

Signs that are hand painted to those professionally printed. . .
Signs posted on stakes in the ground at the end of road junctions, signs hung on telephone poles, signs held by the “faithful” . . .
This as I recall the famous song of the early 70’s. . .
“Signs, Signs everywhere a sign
blocking the scenery, breaking my mind. . .”

So this particular little white sign with red painted letters should have just been another blip
on the radar on my road-sign weary mind. . .
But yet it wasn’t.
There was something that made me want to do a double take, to actually stop, being able to read its red words while digesting them more slowly rather than swallowing them hard and fast within the 1/10th of a second exposure I had while racing along at my near 80 mph clip.

It wasn’t the first half of the sign that struck me, “The End is coming”, but rather it was the latter half, the “be sure not to miss it” half which made more of an impression.

“Now that’s an odd thought” I mused as I merged right toward my exit.

When THE end does come, which I’m thinking means Jesus appearing. . .
That’s to be something, I would think, which will be really, really, really BIG.
Something brilliant and spectacular. . .frightening to some, while overwhelming to others.
As in loud, triumphant, mind blowing, earth shattering, boat rocking, out of this world EPIC!
“How could anyone who has eyes and or ears miss such a display?! Miss it, really???
I practically snorted aloud with my smug and incredulous rhetorically silent questioning.

And then it hit me. . .

What if it is actually subtle, quiet, unassuming?
Wonder if one could really miss it?
The End that is. . .
Maybe, just maybe. . .instead of playing the role of the faithful who are all too assuming and therefore a bit jaded in our “waiting”. . .
maybe we should be more active, more vigilant, more attuned. . .watching, listening and waiting. . .
Not like the Henny Pennys among us who dash about frantically wailing that the sky is falling, but rather more subdued perhaps even a bit somber as we listen more closely, chatter less while putting down our clanging gongs and beating drums. . .silently,reverently. . .
stopping, pausing, waiting, watching and listening. . .

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:11-13

Signs

“When you know that something’s going to happen, you’ll start trying to see signs of its approach in just about everything. Always try to remember that most of the things that happen in this world aren’t signs. They happen because they happen, and their only real significance lies in normal cause and effect. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you start trying to pry the meaning out of every gust of wind or rain squall. I’m not denying that there might actually be a few signs that you won’t want to miss. Knowing the difference is the tricky part.”
― David Eddings

“Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.”
George Bernard Shaw

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(the signs of things to come in this black oak tree, a myriad of forming acorns / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sitting out on the back deck yesterday evening, something up in the nearby oak tree caught my eye.
“What in the world?!” I hear myself asking out loud to the cat.
Ok, so my asking the cat ‘what’s up in the tree’ is for an entirely different sort of post–let’s just stick to the current question at hand—and that happens to be what’s up in the oak tree.

Thinking I know the answer to my own question, I dash inside searching for the camera—remember, it’s never where one needs it, when one wants it.
Finally locating and immediately grabbing said camera, I zoom back out to the deck in order to zoom in on the tops of the tree.

Yep, I knew it—the tree is loaded with acorns.

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“And that means what?” you’re wondering. . .
It’s a sign silly.
“A sign?”
Yes, as in a sign, a prognostication, perhaps even a harbinger.
“A harbinwho?
Harbinger—as in an ominous foreshadowing of things to come.
Of course I suppose it doesn’t have to be all that dark and sinister—it can be a heralder or announcement of something maybe positive to come—

“Such as?”

A hard winter or not a hard winter.

“Hummmm. . . ”

I have noticed a couple of wooly bears.
“Wooly who’s?”
Wooly bear caterpillars–those prickly black and reddish caterpillars which make their presence known this time of year.
They’re harbingers too you know.
As in harbingers of a bad winter.

However I suppose it is only the middle of July. . . Who wants to think about let alone chatter about harbingers and winter when it seems most of us are still trying to forget this past winter ?!
And anyway, in case anyone was paying attention, St Swithin’s day was Tuesday, July 15th.
As in:

St Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

All of which means that it was hot and sunny here on Tuesday. According to St Swithin— it’s going to be hot and dry for the next 40 days!
Do you have any idea what that’s going to mean for my plants and my water bill?!?!?

As a former girl scout, I do think it is always best to be prepared. . .
One certainly never knows when the weather is going to change.
Keeping watch for the harbingers and signs of impending change is most important. . .

And now if you will please excuse me—I need to go out and check on those bulls across the street. . .if they’re laying down, you can count on that needed rain!! St Swithin or not!