Spring by Kathryn White

Saturday, April 2, 2011

For Everything there is a Season

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven...

Ecclesiastes 3:1

The sun is shining on another beautiful Spring morning, the birds are chirping so cheerfully in affirmation of this glorious day, and green shoots are popping up out of the ground in the gardens.
It truly is exciting to welcome this next season of renewal and rejuvenation as new life stirs beneath the earth, eager to emerge.
It was with this enthusiasm and exuberance, that I began my blog, Seasonal Hearth, last Spring to marvel in, then document my observations and activities, giving glory to God for the beauty in each new season.
Today is indeed a beautiful Spring day as I end on a jubilant note, eagerly welcoming this lovely season. Even the long range forecast is rejoicing with us.
As my dear friend shared with me this week:
"My spirit of expectancy is on hyper alert" Don't you just love that? She is so gifted with words and has expressed so articulately the anticipation that we all have been feeling.
This journey has made me keenly aware of the changing of the seasons and the beauty in nature all around me. Through the lens of my camera and in my spirit,
I have become much more observant of the seemingly insignificant details of life, thus celebrating the 'sacredness of the ordinary'.
Although I will miss blogging about it and will possibly be observing everything around me in blog post format, I know that this is also the right time to conclude my blogging experience to focus on the next exciting season in my life. If I have inspired or encouraged you in some small way, then my blogging journey has truly been rewarded.
It has been wonderful to travel the world over through blogging, from the comfort of my home; an extension of armchair travel. It has been my joy and privilege to 'meet' many of you through your comments here. Thank you for your kindness and for sharing your beautiful blogs of inspiration with others!
This next season of my life will continue with work at the library which I am so thankful for as my job has been such a gift. I love assisting the patrons, and getting excited with them in their discovery of a good novel or new author. The library truly is a pleasant atmosphere to work in. I am also continuing to take the courses which have kept me very preoccupied.
This will be a milestone year for many reasons including a *sweet sixteen* birthday celebration for my youngest daughter, the big 5-0 (yours truly), college graduation for middle daughter, moving our university son to his new place of residence in the city, preparing for an eager reunion with our oldest daughter as she returns from India followed by an upcoming wedding celebration to plan for...so thankful for my family.
There will also be the gardening and home maintenance projects we have planned.
Once again, I have thoroughly enjoyed documenting scenes around me including the Mennonite flavour of this area, the beauty of the rural landscape/countryside, sharing my love of photography, art, poetry, music, quotes, books and movies, along with the resources of libraries, arm chair travel, my love for all things domestic including decorating, thrifty vintage goodies, new found love of knitting, recipes, tea parties, my simple joys, my faith, family and friends, of laughter and love.
It is my prayer that you may all take the time to see the little things in life, the seemingly insignificant, that bring pleasure and beauty to our days and know that they are gracious gifts of grace from our heavenly Father.
My prayer for each of you can be found here

Abundant peace to all of you,
along with Spring Cheer...
♥ Joanne

"Don't let yourself get so busy that you miss those
little but important extras in life - the beauty of a
day...the smile of a friend...the serenity of a quiet
moment alone. For it is often life's smallest
pleasures and gentlest joys that make the
biggest and most lasting difference."

(images found online)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Oh, to be in England, now that April is here

Walking down memory lane,
I can't help feeling nostalgic for the beautiful countryside of England.
Before I conclude my blog,
I just had to share some of these visually stunning images with you that I took while on my travels.
I have had the opportunity to travel twice to England, once with my dear friend Karen and this last time with my middle daughter. Both travels were highlights in my life that I shall never forget as I tuck away in my mind images of the british countryside, the sheep peacefully grazing in pastures and on rolling hills, of royal castles and quaint cottages, majestic cathedrals and humble country churches, small towns and villages, wisteria and foxgloves, roses and hydrangeas, narrow winding roads lined with bramble hedges, the book shops and tea rooms, tea and scones, and authors such as Jane Austen, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Beatrix Potter, and movies such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Ladies in Lavender, Becoming Jane, Miss Austen Regrets, Young Victoria, North and South, Wives and Daughters, Miss Potter, Bright Star, Cranford, Lark Rise to Candleford, Downton Abbey, Keeping Up Appearances, BBC, PBS, Masterpiece etc....
Check out this site "dedicated to those classic films that take us to another era, to a time of simplicity and serenity. Grab a cup of tea and make yourself at home..."
Can you see why I have become an Anglophile?

Journey with me as we enjoy a wee bit of Spring time in England....

Wisteria Covered Cottage, The Cotswolds, England
(image found online)

Gold Hill, Shaftsbury

Arlington Row in the Cotswolds

Sheep peacefully grazing

Beautiful countryside

Mornings shrouded in mist and fog

dew in webs

sheep grazing

Sally Lunn's Tea Room

British Post Box

Foot Bridges


Cottage Tea Room

Tea and Scones

Kissing Gates and Cottages

The Kissing Gate in Marshfield near near Bath

Tea and Welsh Cakes after a day in Hay-on-Wye,
on the Welsh/English border

Memories kept in Photo Albums

Some springtime movies filmed in England include:

~♥~ Bright Star~♥~

~♥~ Emma~♥~

~♥~ Miss Potter and Peter Rabbit~♥~
(click corner arrows to enlarge)

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now
by Robert Browning
Home Thoughts from Abroad.

Listen to stunning music by Ralph Vaughan Williams:
The Lark Ascending

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Cleaning and Gladys Taber

"Housework is tiresome in spring. Almost any woman gets that feeling of being simply overcome because she can never get through it...The light is brighter now, and lasts longer, and it shows up everything! You can't do it all at once, curtains, rugs, woodwork, attic and cellar.

The thing to do, I told myself yesterday, is to make a comprehensive list of all the spring jobs. I began very tidily with,,,clean attic, spray, weed out all books...discard any piece of clothing you can get along without. Give away all blankets and rugs not actually in use. Check bed linen and give away all except for beds used. Take magazines to hospital...
By the time I made my list, I was worn out. So, since it was a warm April day, we went off with bread and cheese, hard-cooked eggs, a vacuum of boiling coffee. Sat by the falls at Eight Mile. I felt marvelously restored. The wild white violets were in bloom and below the falls the skunk cabbage was like the third act of a play, so dramatic and final. It always reminds me of Van Gogh, for it is a violent plant and greener than any green could ever be. The unfurling leaves look tropical.
As we sat quietly eating the crusty bread and cheese, spring was tangible. The red-winged blackbirds made a good landing in the maple trees and talked their heads off about the journey up...
the water, still sharp with snow, poured over the rocks. It was free at last. A hawk went over, riding the air....
“Maybe it would be better to leave the attic and cellar until fall”, I said dreamily, “there isn't any special hurry”...

"This year, I vow, the attic will be weeded out, and all the possessions which cannot prove their usefulness shall be ruthlessly cast out on the dump. It shall be a bare and lovely place, where it might be pleasant to go and think sometimes. Of course we'll have to spare the little trundle bed that Ned slept in as a child, and my sewing machine, even though I don't often use it, since it is inimical to me, and then, I must keep the rag-bag. I am old-fashioned enough to like one; you never know when you may need a piece of this and that...Now perhaps you can see why the attic has never really been cleaned out." (in this case, it is our basement)

"This is the time of year when the house looks shabby and between mop-up jobs, we notice the wear and tear of winter. This year, we decided to get fresh pull-curtains for the family room, a soft apple green with an antique brown pattern over it.
“But that is all we will do,” said Jill, firmly. “We've got those insurance bills coming in. Just the curtains.
“You are absolutely right.” I say.
The curtains looked lovely. But after they were hung, the walls of the room looked worse. The open fires all winter long, plus the coal gas which our furnace affects had ruined them. So we repainted the walls to match the green in the curtains. It really looked beautiful but the woodwork was a sight. We had to do over the woodwork, which led inevitably, to new slip covers for the chairs and sofa.
“Certainly dangerous to put up new curtains,” said Jill.
“Well, it's done now,” I said, and added, “except we really have to paint the insides of the corner cupboards. That cherry red looks awful. We need a darker tone of green.”
“And wouldn't you like the floor sanded and redone too?”
"Well, not until the mud season is over,” I said meekly."

"A full pink moon-April's autograph in the sky-shines down over Stillmeadow. Remembering the white gold moon of January, the ball of pale copper at harvest time, June's daffodil eye of night, I ask myself:
Who can say which is the most beautiful? Each season has its own charm, each bestows its own blessing, and we welcome each in turn. The planet we in habit may be only one of countless planets, but it turns in its accustomed orbit and we accept this unquestioningly.
There is security in knowing that spring follows winter and summer comes after spring.
As I go back into my house, I wish all my friends, everywhere, the joy and sweetness of spring.

"I pray God's blessing may fall on us as softly as apple blossoms in fall in spring. And then I put the guttering candles on the trestle table and go to bed feeling like tomorrow will be another adventure in living!"

"I resolve to be more patient, less selfish, cherish my friends, and in my small way help whoever needs help. I cannot conceivably influence the world's destiny, but I can make my own life more worthwhile. I can give some help to some people; that is not vital to all the world's problems and yet, I think if everyone did just that, we might see quite a world in our time!"

"Seasons flow one into the other, today moves inexorably toward tomorrow and we cannot keep even the most enchanted hour. World events shape different unknown destinies for mankind. Nevertheless these abide: love, friendship, faith in God. These arm us against the transitory aspects of life on this planet.
And so as I look forward to (spring) summer, my heart is thankful. And may God bless my neighbours all over the world, I pray, as I open the picket gate..."

artwork by Sue Lynn Cotton

All excerpts above are written by my beloved Gladys Taber and are taken from Stillmeadow Sampler, Stillmeadow Calendar, and Stillmeadow and Sugarbush.
Can you see why I love her writings? I sense a kindred spirit and although she is no longer here for me to tell her this, I have really appreciated her wonderful thoughts, her witty and amusing anecdotes, her nuggets of wisdom and the pearls of life she shares with her readers.
Like her, I would much rather escape into a good book, visit over tea with friends, enjoy a hearty meal along with lively conversation, become introspective when I consider the state of the world we live in...
But I have taken time to write my list and it is growing, so unlike Gladys, who longs to put it off, I will be tackling the jobs over the course of the next few months.
I have papers to organize, sort and file, books and magazines to donate, clothes to sort, landscaping projects to complete ... oh, joy!
Spring Cleaning here we come! Maybe this new book I ordered will inspire me .......
What are your spring-cleaning goals?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Beauty in Art and Music

It has been a quiet afternoon here with glorious sunshine streaming through the windows as I have had the pleasure of catching up on my reading as well as having the luxury of a much-needed nap.
I thoroughly enjoyed both books that I recommended to you yesterday, feeling like I had truly travelled to both India as well as Italy.
Secret Daughter has also given me a better picture of India where my daughter is presently.
I really miss her but am so thankful that she is in good hands (thank-you N) and that we will reunite next month.
In the meantime, I am gearing up for a major Spring cleaning project which I will share about tomorrow. That also means that I will be winding down here at Seasonal Hearth, which I will also share about soon. I really should be completing my course as well as the online exam but am a royal procrastinator. Can anyone relate? Instead I am distracted by the beauty of art and music, which I am now passing along to you....
My middle daughter introduced this group to me this afternoon. I just had to share the beauty and gift of their music with you.

Art by Artist: Angela Staehling

Aston is group of young musicians from Sydney, Australia who wanted to challenge the traditional sound of both classical and pop music. Daniel (percussion), Hanna (cello), Eliza (violin), Michael (violin), Will (guitar) and Ella (piano) bonded over their passion for not wanting to follow the traditional classical path at the Conservatorium of Music...
Enjoy the beauty of their music......don't forget to pause the playlist at the bottom of the screen...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Armchair Travel Tuesday: India and Italy

Secret Daughter by Shilipi Somaya Gowda

On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter's life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles. Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families—one Indian, one American—and the child that indelibly connects them.(taken from back cover)
"Asha finds it difficult to keep up with Meena as she maneuvers the sidewalk, darting through its assorted population: men who spit carelessly on the ground, scrawny dogs without owner, children begging for change. And as hazardous as it is on the sidewalk, the roads seem infinitely worse: cars weave in and out of lanes and pay little attention to traffic signals, double-decker buses careen dangerously close to oblivious cows and goats. "There are one billion people living in India," Meena says, "and nearly ninety percent of them live outside major cities, that means small towns and villages..."
You can visit Shilpi Somaya Gowda's website here

Halfway to Each Other by Susan Pohlman

" Sometimes humans beg for battles to be taken away from them, not realizing that only in struggling with shadows is the Light made manifest."
W. Michael Gear

Halfway to Each Other follows the life of Susan and Tim as they and their two teenage children spend a year in Italy. Not knowing anyone in the country and not speaking much Italian, the family rebuilds their lives. This time though, they have to depend upon each other.
Instead of seeing each other for fleeting moments in the mornings and evenings, the family starts to spend their days together rediscovering the simple joys that bring texture and meaning to all our lives. Travel with them as they stumble upon new customs, explore medieval alleyways, browse street markets, befriend neighbors, learn to cook, and try a new language.... Amidst the chaos of daily life, we often forget to make time for each other. How wonderful would it be to just slow down and find out what's really important? (amazon review)
"Suddenly I had the deep sense that God was somehow involved in this as it went against all I knew to be safe and logical. This was one of those paths He wanted us to wander. Somewhere up ahead we would happen upon the treasure He was waiting for us to discover. I had lived long enough to know that the "treasure" often comes in packages one isn't expecting, and that treasure isn't necessarily monetary. Sometimes it is in a person to be met or a tough life lesson to be learned....
Sometimes this new guide to life is about good old-fashioned faith. When an unexpected opportunity or challenge lands in my lap, I now do my best to look at it with new eyes. Eyes that see possibility rather than the ones that used to see roadblocks and hazard warnings."
You can read more about Susan and her family's experience living in Italy over at her blog here
The descriptions in both of these books are detailed and exquisite as we journey with each family through the trials and challenges of life as they overcome obstacles. Each country comes alive, making me feel like I have travelled to India as well as to Italy.

Namaste and Arrivederci!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring's Simple Joys

Last week I was careful to look for signs of Spring so that I could encourage those who were weary of this cold weather we have been experiencing.
God is so faithful to show us!
~♥~The birds have been singing their songs here every morning. I have spotted and heard the red cardinals,
the mourning doves,
the chickadees and sparrows,
the blue jays and robins,
and even the red- winged black birds,
one true sign of Spring which you can read about here. Although this article is from New England, the same evidence can be said of Ontario.
As I was driving to town for groceries and errands, I grabbed my camera to capture a few scenes for you.
I get so excited when I spot even the smallest indication of Spring, so bear with me as I tell you that I pulled over immediately when I spotted this first picture, but felt so embarrassed when the farmer stopped his tractor thinking I wanted to speak with him,
I quickly took the photo from the window as I drove away:)
The things I do to share Scenes of Spring with you...I tell ya:)
~♥~This was a joyful scene for me as I have not seen many farmers out spreading manure yet, and this truly reminded me of Spring.

~♥~Maple syrup buckets were hung in many sugar bush areas...

~♥~The new Spring collection at Bath and Body Works...
the packaging alone is so adorable, so fresh and Spring-like,
and the scent is wonderful:)
My favourite new collection is Country Chic,
although I prefer to say: Country Chick~
a blend of wildflowers, woods and citrus....love it!
You can visit their website here

~♥~The sweet and feminine dress my daughter ordered
for her college gala from Ruche
and the vintage collection of clothing,
including many lovely dresses found here.

Her English Muse Ivory Lace Dress:

~♥~The glorious Spring sunshine in the windowsills
as I observe this on my drive into town...

~♥~The sunlight streaming through our windows at home,
morning and evening...

~♥~An action-packed Sunday as our dear friends met us at church, their excited reunion with many friends they hadn't seen in years, a beautiful service concluding with this song by Lincoln Brewster; a powerful reminder taken from Isaiah 40:

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
Wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
Wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our strong Deliverer

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint, You won't grow weary
You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

(pause playlist to listen;
you can click on the four arrows for full screen viewing.
The song gets loud but the ending is worth it
...so precious)

~♥~And the Spring Party that followed our church service as we had three families over to our home for the day. There was so much laughter and chatter as we caught up...secretly I think that at least three of the women had a serious case of Spring Fever...but don't tell them I said that.
The meal consisted of caesar salad, spinach lasagne, garlic bread followed by desserts.
Don't you just love the cinderella glass slipper in the form of that precious little glass tea pot, a thoughtful gift from friends, who also included Lady Earl Grey tea which is wonderful. You can visit the Teaopia website here. The pretty spring collection of tea cups (for my oldest daughter) was purchased for $3.00 at my favourite thrift shop, the MCC which you can check out here

~♥~The decadent desserts included:
cherry cheesecake,
chocolate fudge cake,
(both brought by my friends)
and the carrot cake,
which I shared before in this post here

~♥~The little spring gifts for my friends because:
Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"
~Robin Williams

~♥~Cheerful Gerberas bringing Spring indoors...

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world!
~Robert Browning

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hope is the thing with feathers...

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
~Emily Dickinson

A favourite nature artist of mine is dutch artist, Marjolein Bastin, who shares this:

"When you open your eyes and your heart for nature's beauty around you, there is so much joy and love. I see each day as a gift with a possibility to discover something new. Discoveries I want to share with you through my paintings."

"Parents can hardly know or guess what's happening then, or what can happen, when they put their children in the garden or in the grass or in the park," says Dutch artist Marjolein Bastin.

Marjolein's earliest memory is when, as just a toddler, she would lie in the grass outside her family's home near Utrecht, The Netherlands, breathing in the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural world around her. Little did her mother know that when she lifted little Marjolein from her baby carriage and placed her into the hands of nature, she was placing nature into the hands of Marjolein.

As a little girl, Marjolein collected and treasured simple items from nature – pine cones, seeds, and flowers. As soon as she was able to hold a pencil and paintbrush, she began to lovingly capture the beauty of nature in her sketches and paintings.

"It was my way of holding forever the impression I loved so much in nature," she says."
You can read her story and see her paintings here For more of her beautiful artwork you can visit this art gallery here

It is a glorious morning here with an early morning sunrise set in a pinkish sky; tree branches adorned with hoar frost. I am baking for my family as well as putting together a gift basket for another family that I hope to deliver later this morning. It will be a grocery shopping day today as I didn't get far in my errands on Wednesday due to the snow storm which caused driving to be treacherous.
Many of my dear friends have been commenting on this snowy weather, feeling like we will never see indications of Spring as it has been so cold here. I empathize with you and wanted to dedicate this blog post to all of you. I am so confident of the fact that Spring weather is just around the corner as the sun is shining warmer in the sky, the birds continue to sing cheerfully, the days are getting longer, and I have spotted green shoots coming up out of the dormant earth.
A dear friend of mine shared her thoughts in a recent comment left here. I just loved this and wanted to share her perspective with all of you:

"It is almost effortless to cherish the fresh hope and new life of spring - the ample warmth and lavish fragrance of summer - the vivid colours and clear air of autumn - but what about winter? It is a cold and tempermental season, to be sure, but while all around us is covered in the slumber of snow, we are allowed a time of quiet reflection and rest. Winter makes room for dreams to be explored and spirits renewed. A time to feel sad and amazed... lonely and grateful. Strangely enough, winter is necessary... for it is the very thing that sets the stage for our souls to be uplifted the other three seasons through."

Take heart and hope, my friends, your patience will be rewarded with glorious Spring in all her splendour! We'll have to celebrate with a Spring Tea Party:)

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"
~Robin Williams

As I was cleaning on Wednesday, I was drawn to the windows many times to watch the sparrows and the chickadees, as well as the chubby robins as they moved from branch to branch in the trees, carrying on as if they had no cares in this world.
I was reminded of this scripture verse:

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?

Matthew 6:26

And in my heart I was singing this song
as a reminder that God is faithful
and He will bring it to pass...

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.


Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.