Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No Fox Before Lunch

I was late getting a paddle on the lake because I had been asked to bless the opening hunt of the season for a local fox hunt club. It is lots of fun, like stepping into the pages of a British novel. The tall horses, the youngsters on sturdy ponies, the hounds milling around the hunt master’s horse, the red jackets, and in the middle of it all, Pastor Fran in alb and stole, there to pray before they loose the hounds and ride out. Then the alb got tossed in our car, and Chet and I climbed on the wagon behind the tractor to follow the hunt. We bounced across pastures and under the shadow of oaks, catching sight of one distant rider and seeing one lost hound that followed us back to the starting field. There was a hearty pot luck dinner laid out. No fox was seen, but a good ride was had by all. The fox, they explained to me, gets chased, but not killed. They ride for the fun of it and to keep alive an ancient tradition.

Monday, November 9, 2009


It was late Saturday afternoon when I got to the lake, so I paddled down to the dam and back. The weather was warm and I wore only the boots from my winter gear. On the way back, a flock of turkey vultures were floating in high, lazy circle. Their flight feathers, lighter on the underside, were flashing almost white in the long rays of a late fall sunset. So lovely way up there!

I remembered our oldest son David coming home from eighth grade upset. He’d written a poem for English class and used the flight of the vulture as an image of something lovely. His teacher had marked it “inappropriate”. Vultures weren’t suitable for use in poetry. “But mom”, he protested, “They are beautiful when they fly. They’re only ugly on the ground. Why can I write poetry about eagles and not about vultures? What’s the difference?”

And the classic line, “It’s not fair!”

So watch the vultures fly. God made them beautiful when they are soaring as He created them to soar. God doesn’t make junk.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Out in the Cold

It was three thirty Sunday afternoon. I’d had lunch, a cup of strong Darjeeling tea, a ten minute nap and read a bit. The fire in the wood stove glowed. The cats were curled on the heart rug. Go out or stay in? Outside, it was chilly, breezy and drizzly. The lake was open again and on Friday I’d only had time for a quick dash down to the dam and back.

So I got out my life jacket and paddle, loaded my boat and set out. I wrestled the skirt onto the boat. With rubber boots on my feet, the skirt keeping my legs warm and dry, my waterproof jacket, snug life vest and my wool felt hat, I was ready.

The lake was gray, the sky gray, the trees dark. A brisk wind rippled the water. Paddling up against the wind, I was suddenly filled with delight. The warmth from within was different from sitting by the fire, but wonderful in its own way. My glasses caught the rain and the world looked like I was looking through pebbled glass. My chilly nose and finger tips made the rest of me feel warmer. Up my favorite inlet, out of the wind, I munched a mountain apple while drifting gently on the current, then back out into the wind.

Now I’m home again, with the fire in the wood stove, the cats curled by the hearth. Sometimes life is hard, but sometimes it is very good. Thanks be to God!