Peter Rabbit

Every evening my son and children would be frantic looking for their escaped pet rabbit.

Last summer he was given a pet rabbit. His children named him Peter Rabbit. It was pre-owned but not pre-loved. When a bunny is young it is furry and cuddly, and is attractive as a live pet instead of a fluffy toy that doesn’t breathe. But a pet needs looked after, fed, watered and space to sleep and run. It may not take to being cuddled or it can mess up the kitchen if kept indoors. Soon the novelty of a pet rabbit wears off. Peter Rabbit had grown up, had a mind of his own and didn’t want to be cuddled any more. It wanted adventure.

At first Peter joined in with my son’s children when they were playing in their back garden. An elderly neighbour who lived on his own commented that he loved to hear the children play and listen to their squeals of delight when they played happily together. He would have heard a different cry when they would fall or fight but he didn’t mention that part.

The two older boys played together. The third child wasn’t always included in their play so he made friends with Peter Rabbit. He was chased round the garden or often got soaked when the boys were playing with the hose as their dad watered the garden. When bedtime came mum and dad were busy making dinner and getting their young family to bed. Toy tractors, diggers, buckets and spades were scattered where the children left them. Peter Rabbit was forgotten about. He made his own way into his bed in the shed for the night.

School term started, cold days came and the little children were not out playing in the garden as often. Peter Rabbit was alone. He began to find his way beyond the garden squeezing under the gate. He wanted to explore. He survived cars, dogs and cats in the neighbourhood. Of an evening when mum would return from a school run a neighbour would return Peter Rabbit. This happened a few times. Eventually the neighbours gave up. But Peter Rabbit always found his way home for the night.

Soon this young family were feeling hemmed in and needed for more space for their growing family.  Mum and dad busied themselves through the winter keeping up the routine of getting children to school, making meals and caring for their children. The young family and Peter Rabbit survived the winter.

My son began to look for a bigger house. They would ideally have loved to move to the country. But there was nothing suitable available. God cares for the little children. He cares for the parents. He understood our son and daughter in law’s pressure in rearing a young family.  He even cares for our pets.

A friend of their’s told them a house was available near where she lived in town. It wasn’t on the open market yet. Would they be interested in looking at it?  They went along to view it. It was a big old house with a walled in garden and a green house with two grape vines in it. When I heard about the grapes I said, “That is the house for them”.

They were a bit daunted at first. “How will they heat it?” “Can they afford it?” But look at the grapes. It is private, it is safe for the children, no one overlooking your garden. It has a sunny aspect! The estate agent suggested my son put in an application. The house would be freshly painted and carpets cleaned for the new owner.

I was totally confident that God would provide a bigger home for my son and his family.  I believed God for our growing family and he has always provided.  In Numbers 33 v 53 I read,

“Take possession of the land and settle in it, because I have given it to you to occupy. You must distribute the land in proportion to their size. A bigger tribe gets more land.”

I went to visit my son and his family a few days ago in their new home. The front door opened into a bright hallway, already family photos on the wall, a spacious living room, kitchen, play room full of toys and bedrooms. More than they could ask or think.  The back door opens onto the garden, a natural sun trap. They had their breakfast out on the lawn on their first morning. What freedom and beauty.  The Lord has given my son his promised land!

We sat down in the sun for a cup of coffee together. I marvelled at the goodness of God in the land of the living. A Robin flew past me and landed in the hedge behind. It then perched on a chair and pecked some crumbs from the table. Peter rabbit was munching happily nearby. The young children played together somewhere in the big garden. We heard their voices. Mum and dad could enjoy time relaxing in the sun having coffee secure knowing their children were safe. Peter Rabbit won’t want to escape again.

My son and children won’t be frantic looking for their pet rabbit again.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/frantic/

Whale And Bird Watching

On the whale watch off Boston, I saw a hump back whale flip it’s tail and descend into the depths of the sea to catch its prey.

Before my trip to Massachusetts I noticed a couple of Swallows nesting in the eves of our barn. The Brent Geese have left but the Swallow has arrived. The Swallow is a tiny bird in comparison but it has just completed a 3000 mile trip from Africa. They have arrived in Ireland to rear their young.

I have just made a 3000 mile trip from Dublin to Boston. I have come to Boston in the springtime! The area around Boston is called New England. I wonder why? I soon found out as I travel around this area. Many people left Eurpoe over the past four hundred years in search of a new life in Northern America. The Irish came to America fleeing famine, poverty and war. It is surprising how the territory looks like The British Isles, similar lands, trees and birds, and similar seasons. The gardens around have similar plants to the ones back home. Many villages around here are called, Glouster, Dover, Portsmouth, Antrim, Manchester, Belfast.etc.

People can now fly to the New Land where many, many years ago only the birds could reach. Our hostess loves birds. She is from England. She leaves out food for them. All sorts of birds and creatures arrive to partake of the feast. Two Red Squirrels, Grey Squirrels , tiny Chipmonks, ducks, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Sparrows, to mention only a few, feed outside. I watch this little zoo at breakfast time. I look up in the sky and there are swallows here too. They fly here from warmer climates in South America.

Brendan and I were priveged to go on a whale watch off the coast of Boston. Different whales come north to feeding grounds off the east coast of New England. There are Minke, Humpback and Blue whale. We were told to look out for water spouts. This was spray released when the whale comes up for air. I was very excited when I saw a geyser of water in the distance. We were in whale territory! The boat slowed down. A mother humpback whale and her calf were swimming nearby. What big creatures! I marveled at these beautiful mammals as I followed them gliding through the water. Then the mother dived underwater as she flipped her tail. Many whales are recognized by the pattern on the tail. The people who take us for the whale watch have given a name to each new whale and keep a record of sightings. I thought of a scripture verse referring to the whale from Psalm 104

“O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small.
See the ships sailing along, and the whale which you made to frolic in the sea.
They all depend on you to give them food as they need it.
When you supply it, they gather it.
You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied.
May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭104:24-28, 31‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On the whale watch on Thursday, a tiny bird landed on the boat. It wasn’t afraid to come close to people. It landed on a lady’s jumper. It was a Wilson’s Warbler, indigenous to North America. It is like our sparrow. It was on its way north to breeding grounds from the south. It had been blown off course. In the local Amsbury newspaper there was an article that said migration of birds was delayed this year to Massachusetts because of bad weather.
The Lord knows when a sparrow falls to the ground.

Outside the boat I could see one of the biggest creatures on earth and on the boat one of the smallest creatures. What a contrast and both are cared for by God.

The humpback whale dived, flipped its tail goodbye and began to descend again. Our boat turned for shore.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/descend/

Irish Summer Weather is Unpredictable

The Summer weather in Ireland is unpredictable.  The weather forecaster may tell us there will be showers with some sunshine.  This unpredictability causes the Irish people to talk much about the weather.  You can be sure the tourists that come to Ireland don’t come to get a suntan.

We Irish have learned to make the most of our unpredictable weather.  Ireland is famous for having forty shades of green throughout the land.  We grow vegetables and crops that like rain and mature without hot sunshine.  One such crop is the potato. Another is Oates. The Irish have survived on these staple crops.

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Our unpredictable weather causes weeds to flourish as well. One such weed is the nettle.  Nettles love to grow in good soil and flourish if there is no competition.  Nettles spring up everywhere, along roadsides, in gardens, in forests and wherever it’s seeds land.  One doesn’t have to sow nettle plants.  If there is soil and water they will grow.  The seeds are so tiny they can be carried by the wind.

I went for a walk this morning.  There were plenty of nettles growing along the road.  Many other grasses, thistles and weeds were flourishing, making the road narrow at some parts.  Maybe the road will dwindle to a pathway someday if the weeds are not cut back.

As I looked at the vegetation along the Boreen, I remembered a dream I had last night.  I saw a nettle plant open up before me and many of its seeds were released into the air, just like a fire cracker that is released at Halloween.  I have been thinking about Multiplication recently.  The nettle was releasing seeds for the multiplication of new nettle plants.  God created every plant to multiply, despite the weather.

“Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”
And it was so.
The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:11-12‬ ‭

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I am back from holiday.  My garden needs attention like the road.  If I don’t deal with the nettles and other weeds, the flowers and vegetables will be choked.  The decking is dotted with sycamore umbrella seeds.  The back yard paving has a sprinkling of leaves.  It is constant work subduing the land.  God created man to work the land and take care of it.  Weeds find a way to grow in the tiniest of crevices, on walls or between flag stones.  I need some men around here to clear up.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭NIV‬

The trees and weeds will continue to bear seeds and multiply.  God made them to produce their own kind.  It’s man’s job to manage all the produce of new life.
It all seems an never ending battle to deal with weeds.  But I take courage.  God said he would bless the work of our hands.

“You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land.
The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭28:3-4, 8, 12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There will be order again.  The weeds will not take over.  I will enjoy the fruit of the apple and pear trees, the tomatoes and other vegetables.  There will be trailing nasturtsums, daisies and roses.  The decking will get cleared and the lawn cut.  It is good all the weeds die back for the winter.  It gives me a chance to get ahead of the growth of nettles next spring and keep them at bay.

Plants and weeds flourish here despite our unpredictable weather.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/unpredictable/

I knitted My Children School Sweaters

I lived in the country and as I walked to school it was a familiar sight to see sheep grazing in the fields.  I looked out for the lambs playing in spring.  Their long tails would wriggle as they fed from their mothers.

Outside my home in Bright a number of sheep grazed.  They would be feeding just before dawn when it was cool and the dew was still on the grass.  They rested in the warm morning sun.  I thought to myself if I had any land I would keep sheep.  They did not need much attention.  Each sheep may have two lambs a year.
God promises to bless our herds if we obey him.
Our sheep will increimagease by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; (‭Psalm‬ ‭144‬:‭13‬ NIV)
You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭28‬:‭3-4‬ NIV)

My father kept some sheep.  In late spring the sheep’s woollen coat would be sheared.  I remember a man who was hired for the day would skilfully cut the wool off the animal.  The sheep would scurry away when the workman was finished, free from being held down but a little lighter from his coat of wool.

When I was at primary school, I learnt about the wool industry in Ireland.  The wool produced in Ireland supported the Irish cottage industry of knitting Aran sweaters and making tweed.  The women of the house would spend the winter evenings knitting. The woollen Aran sweaters were used by fishermen.  The sweater would keep them warm and dry in the cold Atlantic weather.  Each family made up their own pattern of chains and cable twists.  The picture of a mother sitting by her fire knitting a garment speaks to me of peace, love and serenity.  She was not wasting time.  Even in rest her hands were working.  Her mind was active to work out the complicated patterns. She would not let depression or idleness take hold.

These women reminded me of the words in proverbs 31

She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; they are clothed in scarlet. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭31‬:‭13, 21‬ NIV)
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭31‬:‭17, 27‬ NIV)

I love browsing in shops selling Irish woollen goods when I go on holiday to Donegal.  I remember my human geography lessons about the Irish wool industry.  The memory comes alive when I see the beautiful products, knitted scarfs, hats and jumpers for sale. I love to touch the garments that have been created by hand, rather than in some factory.

In Ireland it is the rules of the school that the children attending wear a uniform, a jumper, trousers or tunic in the colour decided by the school authorities.  I believe this is a good thing. The jumpers or cardigans that were sold in the store were made of acrylic yarn.  This material was easy to wash and dry but not to keep you warm.  I wanted my children to have woollen jumpers to keep them warm on cold winter days when they had to play outside in the playground.

I decided to knit each one a sweater for school.  I sourced pure wool in the colour of the school  and a knitting pattern that was easy to follow.  I put my knitting skills, that I had learnt at school, to use.   I was like the women in the cottages, knitting a garment in the long winter nights.   Each jumper was knitted with love.  I imagined my daughter or son wrapped in the warmth of the wool but also the warmth of my love as he played outside in the school play ground.  It also kept them protected from colds and flus.  Each child’s jumper lasted for a couple of years.

They never seemed to wear out.  It was money and time well spent.

A Bird Built His Nest

 

Recently I was thinking of the blackbirds in the garden of the our Saul St home. There were so many blackbirds that I wanted to call it “Blackbird Garden”.  Every spring they would be competing for the best territory to build a nest. The hedge rows, the ivy covering the walls, the holy bushes, the undergrowth of briars, all offered a safe place to build a nest. In the big garden the birds could forage for food to feed their hungry chicks.

The male blackbird has black feathers and a bight orange beak.  He was distinctive with his shiny coat as he sat on a branch surveying the area he was planning to build his nest and singing to attract his female.  She was close by, proud of her mate who was going to prepare a home for her and her young.

The birds began to build the nest.  They flew in through a hole in the hedge with beaks full of small twigs, moss or wool.  They built their nest with the twigs and used the moss or wool for the cosy lining to keep mother and chicks warm.  When the young were hatched father blackbird was even busier collecting food and feeding the young.  He was working all the hours of sunlight.

As I watched the early morning activity of the birds, my thoughts went to my husband.  He was like the blackbird.  He was busy being responsible for me and his family and property.  He made sure his home for his family was warm and there was enough food.  He had a house full of hungry young as well.  He kept the home fires burning in the cold months.  He paid the bills.

Our Heavenly Father has put it into the heart of the bird and the father to have young and care for them.  God cares for all he has created.

We have moved house recently.  It has plenty of space for our children and grandchildren to visit.
I see this aspect of a caring father in my husband at the moment, even though our chicks have all flown the nest.  He is like the blackbird going to and fro putting things in place, hanging pictures of the children, making up beds, preparing his workplace, carrying chairs and tables.  He will sit at the head of the table as we share food and family times again.  He will sit around a camp fire out on the veranda and tell stories to his grandchildren that he told to his own children.  Brendan is preparing a home for his own children to return to and bring their little ones.

We are not retiring as parents.  Our work will continue as God gives us strength.  No pensioners bungalow for us.  Our children still need us.

Gods word encourages us to look at the birds.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭26-27‬ NIV)

People have often asked us “How can you afford such a big family?”  We have faith in God like the birds he will care for us.  We are more important than them.  God promises to care for us.  He is worthy to be trusted.

In one of the psalms it says,
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! (‭Psalms‬ ‭84‬:‭3‬ NLT)

Brendan was working with the children in our garden once before.  A blackbird came and built a nest very close to where they were working.  It busied itself with its young while Brendan was busy with his young digging the garden.  The birds like to be around life.  As our spirits reach out to God the birds respond.  They sing for us on the branches.  We will always remember that family of blackbirds.

The first of our children and grandchildren came to visit at the weekend.  I turned on the heating to warm up all the rooms.  I reminded my husband that the blackbird lines the nest with wool to keep the young warm.  He swallowed hard.

It is the middle of an Irish winter.  Whoever thinks of a house move at this time!  Our new home is bigger.  Our last house was a modern bungalow with good insulation.  It was like a hot house.  I was using the same bed covering here that I used in the bungalow.  I was feeling the chill last night.  I gave in to changing the bed covering to a duvet Brendan bought two years ago.  I tried it out before but found it too warm.  It was just what was needed in our new nest.  The feathered filled duvet kept us cosy through the cold night.  My husband had already provided for the colder days!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/one-at-a-time/

The Swallow has Arrived to Rear her Young.

 

The swallow has arrived from South Africa.

Yesterday I noticed a pair of swallows swirling overhead.  They are harbingers of spring in the Northern countries of the world. They have arrived to rear their young.

Swallows spend most of their days flying through the air catching insects.  Wherever there are insects you will find swallows.  They are to be found all over the world except near the Artic and Antarctica.

They build their nests near where humans live.  Their nests are found in barns of farmers.  They return each year to the same nesting place.  I remember when I lived at home on my father’s farm each year swallows would arrive.  They flitted in and out of their nests bringing food for their young.

I have been encouraged from the scriptures when I have prayed in the past about a house for my family.

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. (Psalm 84:3 NIV)

It is amazing that this small bird travels from Africa, thousands of miles, to nest and rear offspring.  I watched a nature programme about the swallows.  They arrive at certain places on their journey north where swarms of insects have just hatched.  A feast is prepared for the migrating birds.  It was wonderful to watch.  God even cares for the birds of the air.

Scriptures encourage us to not worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? (Matthew 6:25-27 NIV)

So this small bird flying overhead has reminded me of Gods care and provision of a home for me.

 

A Little Tender Loving Care

I needed to visit my hairdresser badly.  I had my left arm in a cast and could not drive so I was dependant on my son or husband taking me into town.  I had put off going but there comes a time when a girl knows she needs to visit the hairdresser.

I made the appointment and my son left me off. This was the first time I was in town since I broke my wrist. I looked at my left hand.  It had been pulled and bruised in order to set my bone in my wrist.  My thumb and four fingers were protruding just a few inches out of the cast.  I decided they needed a little tender loving care.  I made an appointment in a beauty saloon nearby to have a manicure.

When I visit Rosaleen, my hairdresser, I catch up on how her children are doing and how she is coping as a single mum with four teenage boys.  Very often she talks away, the scissors keep snipping and before we know I have a shorter haircut than I had planned. Does that happen to you?

I think hairdressers have an important job.  They are counsellors and comforters.  Very often they are the only people some pensioners meet in the week.  Getting one’s hair washed is soothing.  They know all the news in the community.  They tell you how well you look.  It is a lot cheaper going to Rosaleen than going to a therapist.

Rosaleen was one of the first people I told I had cancer.  She kept me looking beautiful through the weeks of my treatment and was always caring.  The saloon would be all abuzz when I came in and told them I was healed of cancer.  Rosaleen has read my book and passes it onto her customers.  I enjoyed my beauty treatment at the hairdressers, so on to my next stop the manicurist.

I had not told my husband I was going to have a manicure.  I thought everyone is okay at home and will get on with whatever they are doing while mum is down town,  the first in a long while.  I thought I would treat myself and get a little pampered after the trauma of suffering a broken wrist.

I was not taken immediately for my appointment.  My mobile phone kept making noises telling me it was out of battery, so I turned it off.

Eventually Michelle invited me to get my nails done.  She was soft spoken. She massaged my hands.  She applied the nail polish and chatted.  One hand had to dry under the heated box, while she finished the other hand.  I was put at ease and was very relaxed. I did not notice the time passing.  I thought Michele would be finished soon.  No, she started the whole process all over again.

Another assistant came in and offered to paint my toenails.  I had not time to refuse.  In my mind I thought time is going on.  Maybe this is taking too long.

Bronagh knelt down at my feet and proceeded to wipe them.  Whooa.  This has not happened to me before.  I continued to enjoy all this attention.  I could not get a quick get away now.

I had lost all tract of time.  Perhaps Brendan will be wondering where I am.  I checked my mobile phone when I was finished at the nail parlour.  Sure enough Brendan had been trying to get in touch.  I called him.  I had completely forgotten that we had to have our passport photos signed by an official in order to get them sent off in the post that day.  Brendan had tried to contact a few people who could have signed them but they were not available.  He could not get in touch with me either!  It was now five o’clock and the post went at five thirty.  The pressure was on.  Those passport applications had to be in the post that evening.  I said a quick prayer. Help Lord.

I suggested Brendan and I meet at the police station and an officer there could sign them.  We met there, got the photos signed and rushed to the post office before closing.  We made it.  I am so glad we did.  I did not let on to anyone I was in another world for an hour when all my cares had blown away.  I got a quick wakeup call back to reality.   I did not care if the nail varnish was all smudged.  I smiled to myself. Thank you Lord for getting to the post on time.

Angela