Sunday, October 14, 2018

Closing up the house



As we hit the mid-October point there is a "closing up of the house" feel to the days now. Our central air is off and heat is on; cardigan sweaters are beginning to make their appearance--even some sweatshirts and long sleeved tops show up in chapel each morning; the feel of fresh air coming in from open windows is gone--replaced by that closed door feeling; the first sinus infections and stuffy noses can be heard; we are awash in apples in every conceivable manner our cooks can think of; the trick or treating hours for the city and surrounding townships were in the paper yesterday and more people seem to be taking soup at lunch! All of these come with the cool mornings, intermittent daily rain and the newspaper announcement that our trees will be at their peak autumn colors this week!

The number of visitors has not changed yet. The guest list that we post weekly was as long Friday as ever. Maybe they are getting in their last car trip before the roads turned "iffy" on any given winter weekend.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Pulitzer prize winning mushrooms

I knew that Mary Oliver had won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her book, American Primitive but I had never read it or even seen a copy. Lo and behold I now own one.

Also this week, down on the Glinodo side of our property, near the Eagle Scout built boardwalk, and under a grove of very tall pine trees we spotted a whole family of mushrooms. The damp, cool nights of fall are mushroom time for us and they are sprouting all through our woods and under trees such as these.

Here's a Pulitzer Prize piece, along with our own entries to fall's delights.





"Mushrooms" by Mary Oliver:

Rain, and then
the cool pursed
lips of the wind
draw them
out of the ground--
red and yellow skulls
pummeling upward
through leaves,
through grasses,
through sand; astonishing
in their suddenness,
their quietude,
their wetness, they appear
on fall mornings, some
balancing in the earth
on one hoof
packed with poison,
others billowing
chunkily and delicious--
those who know
walk out to gather, choosing
the benign from flocks
of glitterers, sorcerers,
russulas,
panther caps,
shark-white death angels
in their torn veils
looking innocent as sugar
but full of paralysis:
to eat
is to stagger down
fast as mushrooms themselves
when they are done being perfect
and overnight
slide back under the shining
fields of rain.


Sunday, October 7, 2018

October sights



This week I was standing under a large, old maple tree waiting for a ride to pick me up and I was just looking around. At one point I looked up and this is what I saw. Pretty nice, huh?

The days of cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon and a rain shower thrown in whenever it wants continue. We have lots of visitors still--some for overnight stays, others just passing through in the daytime. One man, who owns a small art gallery in a town down in Pennsylvania, came all the way up to Erie because he heard there was a collection of Brother Thomas's pottery here. He was delightful and quite complimentary about our collection--as well as being amazed. We get such a variety of visitors. One sister says, "It seems as if the whole world comes through Erie and the Mount at one time or other!" I agree.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wesleyville

Thank you, John Wesley. We are into Methodists these days. For a number of years we have had a group of 12-15 Methodist pastors/church personnel with us for 3-4 days for their annual "retreat"....I think it's more a planning gathering, but I'm sure that there is prayer involved, too. They are delightful, every year a little more at ease and we really look forward to having them, (about 2/3 male, 1/3 female). Now, what happened last week? we had a group of Methodist women here for retreat! They were even more at ease, friendly and even came to our prayer. Delightful again!

On the southeast side of Erie, when you reach Bird Dr. you leave the city limits to enter the little borough of Wesleyville--yes, originally a settlement of primarily Methodists--now totally heterogeneous, of course----even to the extent of holding their gatherings at a Catholic monastery. What is this world world coming to?!!!


On the same note of common Christianity, on our trip to New York State this weekend we passed this darling little "church," actually a Mennonite place. Very small, sort of like a wayside chapel. I knew we had Mennonite or Amish nearby, but I had never noticed this little place before: Still Waters.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Weekend wonders

This weekend a trip 20 miles east took us past all the small towns and fields that are into early autumn activities. One little township was having its annual Wine Festival and it was packed with tents of vendors and visitors galore. Every few miles we'd pass a roadside stand full of pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant. Very Norman Rockwell-ish.

The highlight, however, was the grape fields that were being harvested right as we passed by. If you've never seen a grape harvesting machine you should, it's really something. Kind of like a giant letter U, upside down, on wheels, with a cab on the top. The driver rides right over a long row of grape vines and the harvesting begins.





Finally, our presider at Sunday Mass gave a wonderful reflection on "entitlement," a contemporary topic for the readings of the day. He proposed four areas that should be part of our own entitlement awareness: a) it should force us to do some real soul-searching; b) prayer should be a part of our considerations; 3) we must adopt "speaking truth to power" as a personal commitment and 4) politically speaking, we must vote and exercise our responsibility as citizens. Serious subject, wonderful reflections.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Owl Power

This week we watched a wonderful hour-long show "Owl Power" on PBS. It was one of those stories where a dedicated couple, Brits by the way, are truly bird-whisperers who live among a number of falcons, eagles, hawks, etc. in the countryside and engage in lots of education and research.

This show focused on two barn owls they raised from the moment they hatched to the time they flew away to be independent. Along the way they helped researchers study and try to understand better the amazing "super powers" of owls: sight, hearing and flight to name the major ones.

We have owls in our woods occasionally and we can hear them in the early mornings, especially.

This month's magazine, Birds & Blooms has an owl on its cover and my own entry into the coming year's art show is this beauty...a snowy owl in cross stitch.




Sunday, September 23, 2018

The beauties of autumn are many

The opening days of fall find goldenrod all over our world..in gardens, along highways and in every field. Here's  Mary Oliver's reflection on a herald-of-autumn "weed."


This morning the goldenrod are all wearing
their golden shirts
fresh from heaven's soft wash in the
chill night.
So it must be a celebration.
And here comes the wind, so many swinging wings!
Has he been invited, or is he the intruder?
Invited, whisper the golden pebbles of the weeds,
as they begin to fall over the ground.

Well, you would think the little murmurs
of the broken blossoms would have said otherwise,
but no. So I sit down among them to think
about it while all around me the crumbling goes on.
The weeds let down their seedy faces cheerfully,
which is the part I like best, and certainly
it is as good as a book for learning from.

You would think they were just going for a 
small sleep. You would think they couldn't wait,
it was going to be that snug and even, as all their
lives were, full of excitation.

You would think it was a voyage just beginning,
and no darkness anywhere, but tinged with all
necessary instruction, and light,
and all were shriven, as all the round world is,
and so it wasn't anything but easy to fall,
to whisper Good Night.