On the Wings of the Wind
“Nature study should be approached with reverence. For the natural world is the expression of God’s personality in a form that is within reach of all of us to comprehend in some measure.” G. Downton (Parents’Review and A Charlotte Mason Companion page 255)
The Lady-of-the-house is always sad when the robins leave. They seemed to leave earlier this year. In their place, in early September, a garden of fluttering butterflies consoled her. She had let the caterpillars nibble to their hearts content on the parsley. The nibbling took place beside the kitchen door. When the Man-of-the-house spied the damage the Lady-of-the-house responded calmly with, “Never mind. I have a spare parsley growing on the other side of the patio. And that parsley is politely untouched.” Her fictional mind told her that it was the swallowtail’s show of courtesy to - in their infant stage - only devour down-to-the bone, one parsley plant.
It was in a picture book that she and her children had read what finicky eaters caterpillars are. They relish a few favorite plants. Nothing else will do.
One of the fattened caterpillars attached itself to the wall of the house to form a chrysalis. The Lady-of-the-house kept on eye on the chrysalis in her goings out and comings in. But it was when she wasn’t looking that the black swallowtail emerged. It didn’t have far to go. The patio is surrounded by pink verbena.
The Lady-of-the-house likes butterflies and she likes birds. When the song-happy robins took flight the neighborhood was suddenly quiet enough for a cardinal’s tweet and chickadee’s humming squeak to be discernable – proof that the branches of the trees were not empty.
Do you recognize the willow warblers on the platter in the kitchen? It is on the shelf over the kitchen stove hood. (Click any image to enlarge.)
This china pattern matches the dust cover of Edith Holden’s book, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. In this beautiful 1906 diary these birds are also on page 71.
Noritake makes a whole place setting of china featuring the artwork of Edith Holden. Two plates and a platter are what the Lady-of-the-house has. The red poppies are from page 112. On second glance of this photograph she sees her plate really should be turned to the right as the poppies in the book are horizontal, arching comfortably across two pages.
An Anecdote of Appreciation
At present butterflies are few. The birds are even quieter. Those that remain are appreciated. Recently the Man-of-the-house had another gall bladder attack. This time in ER he decided to be admitted upstairs to have it out. From his hospital bed he said to his wife, “Open the blinds some more please. More sunlight would be nice.” Still feeling a bit shaky she pulled the chain of the blinds and stood peering out the window. She gazed down on brick row houses and an ornate church built in yester-year. Lancaster has an unmistaken historic air. It is the oldest inland city in America – a sort of miniature Philadelphia – except that most buildings are no taller than three stories. The hospital is one of the tallest and it gave the Lady-of-the-house a nice view.
Is that a gold leaf I see drifting along just beyond the window glass? No, it’s a butterfly! She fixed her eyes upon it to follow its flight. The butterfly was a welcomed oasis of peace, an unexpected gift of nature. Immediately she was reminded: “God is everywhere.” In fact, she said it out loud - with her back still to the room – and continued thinking, although at times He may seem far away He is near – even to one who is standing on the eighth floor.
“What did you say?” asked her husband.
She turned from the window and said again, “God is everywhere,” this time with a smile.
“Yes,” affirmed the Man-of-the-house.
“. . . [He] walketh on the wings of the wind.” Psalm 104:3
“As his essence is immense, not to be confined in place; as it is eternal, not to be measured in time; so it is almighty, not to be limited in regard of action.” - Stephen Charnock
The Man-of-the-house is home safe and sound. Joy!
Birds in Your Backyard – A DVD
The Crowe family loves birds. (Imagine that.) Their curious and cute children (picture on the cover) were so taken by the birds that visit their backyard feeders that they created this DVD so you, too, can attract the same beautiful birds to your backyard. The film has a homespun feel, yet is of professional quality. The children are the narrators. They speak clearly and are courteous to each other and to adults . . . how refreshing.
Most of the film is dedicated to teaching you how to recognize birds by their markings and vocalizations. A brief history of ornithologist John James Audubon is presented by cartoon. I especially enjoyed the interview with the 95-year-old bird enthusiast, Mr. Bell, who lives on a farm nearby and has gained remarkable firsthand knowledge of birds over his many years of banding them.
Those who have read A Pocketful of Pinecones may wish to add Your Backyard to their nature study resources. Birds on the east coast of America such as the chickadee, mourning dove, song sparrow, blue jay, and cardinal are quite common but will reveal themselves only to those who look (and listen). The Crowe family reminds you that keeping your feeders filled helps, too.
With a click of your mouse, you and your students can take the quiz in the Bonus Feature. You can also learn how to construct inexpensive bird feeders or click to review a particular bird and its song as often as you like.
Click Your Backyard to shop at CBD.
Click Your Backyard to shop at CBD.
Here are two birds from the 1990 Nature Notebook of the Lady-of-the-house - in colored pencil.
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