LeAnne Martin
Beauty and the Beholder

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Our area has struggled from the lack of rain these past few years. The drought has been severe. This year, however, we've had just enough rainfall to allow us to water our flowers every other day (and it could be much worse.) One day last week, I forgot about watering, and the petunias looked as thought they would never make it back to their former glory.

This week, Tropical Storm Fay has sent us quite a bit of rain. It has fallen steadily for two days. On Monday, my daughter and I made a quick trip to the grocery store. As we pulled into the parking lot, the clouds opened up. We dug around inside the car for umbrellas. So armed, we stepped out of the car and sloshed into the biggest puddle I've ever seen. The water washed over my flip flops, soaking my feet and making it difficult to walk without slipping. I was grateful for the rain but grumpy to be paddling in it.

Earlier in the summer, my softball team stepped onto the field with heavy gray clouds overhead. Soon, a few spatters became a steady fall. Three outs later, we huddled in the dugout and surprisingly, I felt cold. A hot summer evening mixed with enough rain for a good soaking and a gentle breeze on top of that made for one chilly third baseman. I was grateful for the rain but glad when the game finally ended.

Although rain can be dangerous and costly--as our neighbors to the south are experiencing with Fay--still I love the sound of it, whether a gentle shower or rushing downpour. And the smell, too--fresh and clean. But what I love most of all is what it leaves behind: grass greener than before, lush plants and colorful flowers. And water to sustain our lives too. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oranges are Orange

I dislike going to the grocery store. I do. I either put it off until we're out of everything but pickles and a three-year-old can of cream of chicken soup, or I zip in for 15 minutes, filling my cart with whatever I can grab in that amount of time. Sometimes I wait until after school so my daughter has to go with me. Having her company makes it more enjoyable (although she doesn't like it much either).

All that said, my favorite area at the grocery store is the produce department. All those fruits and vegetables--all those possibilities. But even more so, all those colors! Wow. It's a feast for the eyes when I allow myself to step back and take it all in--before rushing away to the breakfast or coffee aisle.

What if we lived in a world with no color? What if oranges were, well, not orange? What if lemons were gray, apples were white, green peppers were black? Yuck. Surely they would taste as bland as they looked.

I'm grateful that creation is filled with color. I'm grateful that my family loves color, too, and our home is filled with it. And I'm grateful that oranges are orange, after all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Beauty of the Cross

On a grassy hill approaching a nearby mountain town is a message of faith to all who pass by. Since springtime, the owner of the land has consistently cut the grass in the shape of a cross. Every time I visit this town, the grass inside the cross has grown taller and therefore more visible. It's a huge cross, but if you're in a hurry or not paying attention, you could still miss it.

When I drove by last week, I glanced up to look at it and almost drove off the road. Not only was the grassy cross there but it was filled with dwarf sunflowers--hundreds of them. The cheery yellow flowers and the deep green grass made the cross a stunning roadside show. It made me think of creativity (this time, with a lawn mower and some seeds), summer beauty, new life, resurrection, and a dear friend who loves sunflowers best of all.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pocketful of Petals

Though we don't have any, cherry trees are popular in our area. Several of them grace the grounds at my daughter's school. One breezy spring day, while I was walking down the sidewalk next to her building, I noticed piles of pink cherry blossom petals against the curb. The wind had collected and deposited them at my feet. They still looked fresh--pink and delicate and perfect. I had the urge to lean down, gather them up and stuff them in my pockets for later--maybe for some cold day in January when the winter landscape stretches as far as the eye can see. Or for some afternoon in late summer when it's so hot we can't stay outside for long and the days are racing toward the start of the school year. If only those petals could bring spring, my favorite season, back again with its abundant beauty.

But then I'd miss fall--the spectacular leaves, the blessedly cooler temperatures, the crisp fragrance of change. And winter, with its strange and spare beauty, cold air making freckled noses pink and your breath turn to steam. I'd miss winter's promise of spring, of new life inside the cold earth. The anticipation of renewal, resurrection.

As beautiful as those petals were, I couldn't hold onto them any more than I can hold onto time itself. And despite the imminent end of summer, I'm looking forward to seeing the leaves put on their show before floating to the earth and becoming part of what's to come.

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