Foggy Morning

KikoLucy008

We woke up to a morning fog that reduced the spring colors
to black, white and shades of silver-gray.

KikoLucy010

A bit later, green and blue tones begin to emerge.
The street sign, appropriately, reads Misty Pond.

KikoLucy019

This oak is evidently in no hurry to welcome spring.

KikoLucy022

I can see the painter George Inness capturing this scene.

KikoLucy027

A locust tree beginning to flower.

KikoLucy026

The dampness seems to heighten all the attractive smells.
Kiko had much to attend to this morning.

KikoLucy034

The scrubby foliage by the pond was dotted with dew-covered spider webs.

KikoLucy031

A lone mallard on the pond.

April Flowers: Tree Peonies

Our tree peonies, which could more accurately be called shrub peonies, began to bloom several days ago. Unlike the herbaceous varieties, the foliage does not die back each year. They bloom earlier, and the blossoms are larger, sometimes up to seven or eight inches in diameter. For sheer fabulousness, the tree peony blossom can hardly be surpassed.  It is, I believe, my favorite flower.

 

Peonies like a good cold winter, so they are rarely seen in Georgia. I first became acquainted with them when I lived in New Jersey, which apparently offers the perfect climate for the flower. As a house-sitting grad student, I brought in armfuls of peonies from the back garden and was then surprised to see the dining room crawling with ants. I learned to check for ants hiding in the profusion of petals.

After my husband and I were first married, we lived in an apartment on the outskirts of Princeton. Once the snow melted, I often walked the pleasant country road that led into the tiny, picturesque town of Rocky Hill. In front of one old farmhouse along the way sat a big stoneware urn filled in spring and summer with cut flowers for sale on the honor system. There was a hand-lettered sign and a battered metal box for the cash. The peonies were especially beautiful and bountiful, and our apartment was well supplied with the dramatic flowers. I loved living in a place where such trust was still possible. The peonies we now grow around our house in Virginia will always remind me of my rambling walks in sweet old Rocky Hill.

Peonybuds005

Our first tree peony bud of the season.


Millie008

The same bud, now opening, two days later.


Morepeonies002

The full-blown blossom, lush and ornate.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

MoreEaster010

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing ye heavens and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

–Christ the Lord is Risen Today
words:  Charles Wesley, 1739
music: Lyra Davidica, 1708

Eastereggs013

Onion-Skin Eggs

These reddish-brown eggs dyed with onion skins seem appropriately colored for Good Friday.  Simply boil the eggs with lots of skins from ordinary yellow onions.  We cook the eggs at low heat for at least an hour.  The longer the boiling time, the richer and deeper the color.  The low heat helps to seal the yolk in a neat pocket.  If no cracks develop, the eggs may be kept for several years.   To create a print of leaves or flowers, using cheesecloth, wrap the plant tightly against the egg.  Tie the top and bottom ends with cooking twine and add the egg to the pot. 
Easterprep021
 

Easterprep025

Easterprep026

This egg shows the deep red color possible with a long cooking time.

Our Good Friday God

Easterprep017

On Good Friday, we give thanks to a loving, compassionate God who suffers with us.  Our God is not a remote, impassive being who rules from on high.  He came down to our level; he entered into the midst of our messy lives.  Jesus, our brother, gave his own life to save us, his unworthy siblings.  He died for us while we were yet sinners.  He knows our worst pain, because he has endured it first-hand: betrayal, sorrow, humiliation, physical agony, and death.  God the Father knows intimately the terrible reality of losing a child.  Our God continues to suffer as we suffer.   He grieves as we grieve, because we are his.  We are family.  Our God surrounds us with his Holy Spirit, as close as our own breath, to sustain and comfort us.

Good Friday is good because our God is good.  This day commemorates the completion of Jesus’s mission.  From the cross, he cried out, “It is finished.”  The perfect sacrifice has been made, salvation has been accomplished, and we are redeemed.

Easterprep008

Easy, Peaceful Marbleized Eggs

An easy, stress-free approach to egg decorating (much appreciated after our Ukrainian conflagration) is this technique for marbleizing eggs.  Having learned a valuable lesson, we began by boiling our eggs.  We used the dye tablets from a typical kids’ egg decorating kit, added a drop or two of olive oil, and immersed the eggs.  The results are pretty, if subtle.  No unusual tools, hot wax or flames required.   

Easterprep040

We wanted very pale colors for these eggs.
Darker hues, of course, are possible using longer dyeing times.

Easterprep041

A Dangerous Game: Ukrainian-Style Egg-Decorating

One year, Mama sent a kit for decorating eggs in the traditional Ukrainian style. A far more ambitious undertaking than our decoupage eggs, it required actual skill in addition to careful planning and immense reserves of patience.

We knew immediately that the intricate, perfect geometry of the typical Ukrainian patterns were beyond us, so we opted for simplified, free-form designs.  We diligently followed the detailed instructions, using the writing tool called the kistka to draw a design with hot beeswax.  We then immersed the egg in one of the dye colors.  This drawing and dyeing process was repeated several times.  Finally, we removed the wax by holding the egg near a candle flame.  We managed to create some attractive and unique eggs that bore no resemblance at all to those pictured in the kit.

We might have completed the project without incident had the eggs been less fragile.  As instructed, we used raw eggs.  And as we learned, one tends to grip an egg firmly while drawing on it with an unfamiliar, hot-wax dispensing tool.  Sometimes one grips too firmly, resulting in an egg being launched, missile-like, across the room.  The shattered egg stirred up the sudden and fiery wrath of my daughter.  Just as quickly, I was ignited by her anger.  Engulfed in a fit akin to spontaneous combustion, I hurled the egg I was holding onto the kitchen floor. I threw this egg (nearly-completed and painstakingly designed), with considerable force, making the inevitable clean-up all the more painful.  In a household of flammable tempers, holiday decorating has its perils.

MoreEaster004

The kit, showing some ideal Ukrainian designs.

Easterprep0291

 Only a few of our Ukrainian-inspired eggs survive.

Eastereggs007

Egg-Decorating Time

Egg decorating has always been a major concern at our house during the week before Easter.  My mother’s love of Easter crafts is almost as pronounced as her devotion to Christmas decorations.  In order to ensure the continuation of the family tradition, nearly every spring she sends new ideas for egg decorating or a specialty kit.  Several years ago, thanks to Mama, my daughter and I tried our hand at decoupage eggs.  This is a fun and relatively child-friendly approach to egg decorating.  It requires minimal skill, a bit of patience, and a tolerance for sticky fingers.  An appreciation for Mod Podge is a plus. The results can be very charming.   

Eastereggs003

Some of our favorite decoupage egg designs.


Eastereggs012

Easterprep046

The kit included several blown-out goose eggs, which offer more decorating space.  These eggs adorn our Easter tree each year.

Easterprep0482

A blog about motherhood, marriage and life: the joys and frustrations, beauty and absurdity, blessings and pain. It's about looking back, looking ahead, and walking the dog.