Friday, September 30, 2011

On the Wings of the Wind

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!

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 Rainbow.
Karen Andreola's colored pencil sketch

Here are two birds from the 1990 Nature Notebook of the Lady-of-the-house - in colored pencil. 

Thanks for visiting,

Karen Andreola


  1. Lovely post! I adore the Country Diary book...beautiful illustrations she drew. You are also a talented artist!
    So happy that your husband is feeling better!


  2. Karen,

    How wonderful to hear that your husband is home safe and sound. My own husband often deals with kidney stones. Pain is agony on the sufferer and stressful for the one who loves the sufferer. May you both enjoy a peaceful recovery.

    Our chickadees returned a few weeks ago. They always seem to disappear in the heat of the summer. I wore a light jacket on our walk this morning. A calendar caption from the month of October reads, "In comes the most glorious time of the year." I couldn't agree more.


  3. How did you find plates with Elizabeth Holden's art work? Wow! That is one of my favorite browsing books, along with some beautiful garden books.
    Glad your man-of-the-house is doing well. That is extremely painful (and no baby to show for it).
    Thank you again for an insightful post with gorgeous photos. Your art work is very well done, too.

  4. So glad your husband is on the mend, I pray that he recovers completely. I love birds and butterflies too.

  5. I had no idea that Noritake did china with Edith Holden's artwork. I have her book open on the bookcase at the end of the hall. I change the pages a few times a month....I love this book.

    Sorry about Dean...glad he is recovering...gallbladder pain is horrible...


  6. The book from an English lady is just lovely to look at and read.

    Yes, the robins left a might early this year...but just the promise of their return keeps us hopeful :)


  7. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Glad to hear Dean is doing better.
    We love birds here at the Shaffer house too. I even have a little chikadee wistle that I use to call the children. I am inspired by your drawings from your nature journal, fall would be a great time for me to get back outside for some nature study, it's been so wet in Pa that we haven't been outside much. Thank you for sharing your joy in God's creation I am inspired.

  8. I'm glad to hear Dean is better now.

    The robins' departure always catches me by surprise. I was pleased last week to see a chickadee and a tufted titmouse enjoying thistle seed from a feeder outside the kitchen window--often they seem to appear together. I like to think the migrating birds remember our little yard as a good place to get a bite to eat on the journey.

    Did you use a photo to help flesh out your sketch? I've only managed to sketch a cat and a slow moving duck in person. Everything else won't hold still long enough for me.


  9. happy to hear that your husband is well.

    what lovely drawings!

    We had a friend over this past friday for a picture study. I loaned her my copy of lessons at Blackberry Inn. She and I were discussing what a wonderful story teller you are...

  10. I've had this "parked" on my rss feed until I had time to research the DVD.

    The family business is now "liked" on Facebook. It looks like a wonderful film for the grandchildren.

    I didn't know Noritake made that china, either. It was one of my few homeschool books that I kept when my daughter started homeschooling. I even gave her YOUR books (and gave her the most recent as a gift when it came out... but not until I read it first). ;)

    She found her own copy of Edith Holden's book at a library sale and just recently I found a paperback copy to put with the kids books.

    I took it to Williamsburg with me (along with two bags of books found while thrifting last year).

  11. Dear Ladies,
    Dean receives your well wishes. Thank-you. He made stuffed mushrooms (for the first time) today so I'm sure he is feeling better and having cravings for real food.

    I'm sitting at the kitchen table this evening with my lap top, reading your comments near the fireplace with what remains of this afternoon's dwindling fire. It certainly was damp and chilly enough for for a first fire.

    I humbly admit that my 1990's Nature Notebook has little in it. On the following page I drew a dozen different fungi directly into the Notebook and was not expecting to find such variety when I went out looking (in Tennessee) but the birds I spotted were referenced out of a "Golden Books" field guide. Insects and birds will not pose even if you ask them.

    It encourages me to know that my books are being loaned to friends as well as passed down to the next generation. I'm now hearing, "My mother read your Companion book" - and I am, again, soberly confronted with my age.

    You can imagine my surprise when I wandered into the Noretaki outlet store (Strasburg, Pa) and found that the dishes with bright orange "sale" signs on them were featuring Edith Holden's beloved artwork. It is a friendly feeling to read that you admire her "Country Diary," too.

    I appreciate your friendliness,
    Karen A.

  12. Karen,
    Praying for Dean's full recovery:-)
    Nothing worse than an Italian with gallbladder problems! All the best food is Italian...LOL! How sweet that china is indeed--what a serendiptious find for you! You are a talented sketcher, is that where Nigel gets the gift?

  13. Karen,

    Praise God for His mercies through your recent rollercoaster. So glad that Dean is mending. Karen, I thank you for your testimony. You model for your readers peace in the storm, and continue to teach through this blog. As another reader aptly stated, "I'm inspired." This is the only blog I read where I get to hear and see the treasures of years of homeschooling as completed chapters. It has changed the way I learn with my boys. I leave your blog wanting to linger longer over books and nature walks and drawings and talk. And I do. And my boys respond with sheer delight over my full attention and presence. This is far from my early days of only being satisfied when I could put checks next to each "to do" item. And your humility is what keeps me from being overwhelmed. Thank you!

    PS In CM Companion, you wrote of perhaps one day writing a volume 2 for high school. I would love to read that book, or even bits of it in articles or posts.

  14. Oh yes! I would also enjoy reading that book.


  15. I love reading your posts Karen! They are always so beautifully written and heart-warming.

    The Country Diary is one of my favourites. It is always on display. We never tire of it. That china is just beautiful. I must keep my eyes peeled for it. This year England went crazy over the Country Diary. There were cross-stich and card making projects using her paintings, and all manner of lovely stationary. *sigh* I love pretty stationary ;o)

    Im glad to hear that Dean is on the road to recovery. It is awful when our strong husbands are sick isn't it?

    Blessings in Christ
    Shirley Ann

  16. Karen,

    I love your bird drawings! I will have to look for some of that china! I love Edith Holden's work!

    Your birds are beautiful! I am glad that Dean is feeling better!!

  17. Oh my goodness, there is Edith Holden china?? I am having a hard time focusing on the rest of your post. There is Edith Holden china, wow!! I am off to check this out!! Clarice

  18. My wedding china is a Noritake pattern.
    I like your new header. Did your son do it?

    1. Pretty dishes are one of those lovely everyday luxuries that it is good to appreciate (I tell myself) when I am standing at the sink washing them. My son helps me with my blog banner changes. I don't know how I would cope without his help.