For the love of birds, end of school, boat launch, UK Referendum . . .

Blackbird, where's your next?
Blackbird builds a nest, graces our deck, and plays the role of harbinger of God’s love and care for the world.
Redwing Blackbird, like the Wren, sings and sings, and sings some more.
Red-winged Blackbird pauses momentarily from its call of kong-ka-ree, perched across from Elkhart Central Fire Station.

Summer Stage #5, Saturday 25 June 2016–Endings, beginnings, interludes, uncertainties–no one word captures the drama of change we see all around. Something better lies just around the corner, we say, if only we’d find that corner. Thankfully we do have heartening precedents and prospects. It’s just the present that stumps us.

One “sure thing” precedent for me growing up on a farm in southwestern Ontario, Canada, was  summer holidays when school let out the last Friday in June. There’d be work on the farm, everything from hoeing thistles in the fence rows, helping with harvest, weeding the garden,  picking strawberries and tomatoes, and in late summer cutting wood on a circle saw. Each summer we’d spend a day at a beach on Lake Huron–and of course visit extended family for homemade ice cream and app-free conversation.

A major change of routine came at the end of Grade 8. Into what big pond would we jump? For me that jump meant going to high school, not yet a common thing back in the day. What helped me was that I had two uncles who had continued their education, my parents were supportive, and friends would later encourage me to continue on to college. I wasn’t cut out to be a farmer or drive a delivery truck for a wholesale grocer like I did for a year. Working life would take me in another direction, that of writer-editor for various not-for-profit church and other agencies. I value it all, from slinging bales of hay to dealing with dangling participles.

I have my maternal grandfather, Christian K. Bender, to thank for valuing educational pursuits. His Grade school teacher, Frank W. Case,  tutored him in high school subjects before he left primary school. My eldest brother, Sandy, said, “Grandad had the equivalent of Grade 10. He wanted to continue but life happened. Losing his father and two brothers to an early death meant he had extra responsibilities.” Thanks for the confirmation, Sandy.

Granddad dreamed of becoming a barrister or lawyer, one of his childhood friends told me years ago. However, in an Amish-Mennonite community, and needing to support his single-parent mother on the farm, Granddad’s  dream could not be realized. Chris, nevertheless, read widely, served as secretary-treasurer of the Cassel Cheese and Butter Company, taught Sunday school, was a progressive light in the Amish-Mennonite Conference of Ontario, and was the go-to person when people needed an important letter or brief written–or an advance on the milk cheque.

Frank W, Case, who was born in Woodstock, Ont., left Canada to teach at a business school in Duluth, Minnesota and in 1905 helped organize the Indiana Business College in Indianapolis, Indiana where he was vice president and manager.

I’d have half a million questions to ask Granddad Chris and Grandmother Katie, as I would my parents and aunts and uncles. Nevertheless, they’ve answered more questions than that through their strong, faithful, supportive lives, persevering even though severe hardships, adversity, and illness. God be praised!

The Elkhart River Queen floats again

After three years of being out of service, the refurbished Elkhart River Queen is back.  Its first voyage since major repair and restoration will be July 3.

Hoisting The Elkhart River Queen, gently, back into the stream.



Wildlife wonders

I don't know where the walnuts come from, but our deck and maple tree seem to be favorite haunts of this nut-loving creature.
I don’t know where this nut-loving creature finds the walnuts, but he sometimes claims our deck and maple tree as his table and playground.
The Killdeer has its work cut out for it in protecting its young as urban mowers move across the landscape.
Local Killdeer have their work cut out for them to protect their young as urban mowers cut across the landscape.
Fishing for lunch on the Elkhart River, near the Central Fire Station.
Aquatic animal life feeds this Great Blue Heron, perched along the Elkhart River across from the Central Fire Station.
Canada geese are a protected population sans passports or green cards.
Canada geese are a protected population, with nary a care about passports or green cards–or places to poop.
A small family getting the hang of big waters.
Mama Duck leads her ducklings over flotsam in the Elkhart River in getting the hang of big waters.

The sunrise, the UK referendum and an eagles flight

A dramatic sunrise preceded a fine rainy day.
A dramatic sunrise preceded a welcome rainy day.

I’m looking back at a sunrise over the St Joe this week, realizing I’ve said almost nothing about the UK’s 23 June referendum vote that narrowly supports (51.9% to 48.1%) an exit from the European Union. We’ve much more to see and hear on that matter, so I’ll just say we’ve much more to see and hear on that matter, though I wish the matter had gone the other way. There, I’ve said what I see and hear and there’s more to see and hear before the matter is settled, like who said a simple majority was the best way to settle such a critical matter?

One thing the world needs at the moment is a moratorium on the word, “great,” and, for good measure, let’s throw in the expression, “No problem.” Wouldn’t that be sweet? Two problems solved by silence. I’m reminded of Jesus’ reassuring words in Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life. . . . Look at the birds of the air. . . . Consider the lilies of the field. . . .But strive first for the kingdom of God. . . . Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

A healthy dose of certainty, along with the happy challenge of uncertainty for any trouble today, to you. –John

I think it's a bald eagle, home on Olin Lake in LaGrange County.
A photo this week from Olin Lake in LaGrange County. I think it’s a bald eagle. Certainty on that matter is somewhat elusive, though the flight pattern, presence in an area where an eagle has been spotted this year, and what looks like a white head makes me think it’s an eagle. The old nest blew down in a strong wind last year. I’ll go out on a limb and call it a bold eagle. Now there, I’ve not crashed down to earth. A big sky, a big pond, a big boat, and a medium root beer float cap your day.


One thought on “For the love of birds, end of school, boat launch, UK Referendum . . .

  1. I certainly see a resemblance between mom and granddad. I wish I knew what everyone was thinking in that picture and who the other people were. I enjoy seeing the pictures of the wildlife and little critters. We have lots of chipmunks scurrying around in our tiny backyard, finches, robins, wrens, cardinals and morning doves. The cardinals remind me of dad and the butterflies of mom. I’m sure there are lots of people on the river today in the restored boat.

    Sent from my iPad


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