Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Beauty you see


I am a hopeless romantic.  It's not my fault - I was born that way.  When the day wanes, nothing speaks to my soul like a cup of tea and a biscuit.  The first snow always elicits a flurry of cocoa making followed by snuggling in front of the wood stove reading books or playing games.  Candle light defines our winter evenings and linen curtains hallmark our summers.  I see beauty everywhere.  If I stumble upon an unlovely sight, my mind quickly puts things to rights, arranging things so their natural beauty shines forth.  The older I've become, the more I am able to find beauty in most anything, but it hasn't always been that way....

When I was a child, my family lived in one of the most spectacularly beautiful locations God created.  Forests, streams and grassy fields were my playground.  Mountains rose majestically against a backdrop of sub-irrigated alpine meadows.  Moose ate in crystal clear, glacier fed ponds and mountain lions drank from our swiftly running mountains streams.  Even the sunsets shone with the very fingerprints of God.  Unfortunately, the beauty that enveloped our lives was marred.  It was marred by people who chose to live differently than we did.

We moved when I was eight.  I was accustomed to mowed lawns, painted houses and tidy gardens.  People took care with their appearance - wearing dresses to church and skirts to town.  Cars were washed, hair was cut and purses matched shoes.  And then suddenly, in a whirl of boxes and packing tape, we were transported into another world.  My new world, while full of natural beauty, was rife with ugliness.  People piled garbage in their front yards, burning it in the spring and fall (whether they needed to or not).  The dress code, allowing for flannel shirts and Levi jeans only, was strictly enforced.  Shoes were considered quite wearable until the last of the duct tape wore off and hair-cuts were an unheard of luxury.  It wasn't the least bit unusual to see 20 cars lined up in a row at the edge of a property line, ensuring the owner the perfect part should the need arise.  Tarps (usually blue) regularly served as roofing material and more often than not discarded appliances provided the focal point for the garden.

My romantic sensibilities rebelled.  While being ensconced in beauty at home, I detested the lifestyle choices that surrounded our neighbors in squalor.  I equated country living with ignorance and poverty.  I longed for the day when I could escape my beautiful country home and could take my rightful place among the enlightened people of the city.  Finally, after years of pridefully living among humble country folk, I left to seek the refined, intelligent people of the city.  I drove away - knowing I was destined for much more than country life - watching the beauty of the mountains fade in the distance.

At first, I gloried in my new life.  The city was exciting - energizing.  The homes and yards were glorious and the people dressed with elegance and style.  New cars were everywhere and people cared how things looked.  The beauty that had alluded me in the country was around every corner in the city, bursting forth in manicured gardens and tailored suits.  I was home!

Then the strangest thing began to happen.  An odd longing developed.  I had the greatest desire to dip my toes in a creek.  Truth be told, what I really wanted to do was put bread in between my toes and feel the trout fingerlings nibble the bread, tickling my feet in the most indescribable way.  The longer I waited in traffic, or in line at the mall or sat behind my desk filing, the more intense the desire became.  Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer.  I had to run barefoot, splash through a creek, or wade through a meadow resplendent with flowers before I exploded.  I found a quiet little park not far from where I worked, with a sweet meadow and a bubbling creek and promptly thrust my bare feet into it's cold depths.  

From that moment, the cool mountain meadows and alpine peaks began to sing the siren's song to me.  The manicured lawns and tailored suits seemed to lose their luster.  The pretty houses and elegant clothes suddenly seems empty - soul less.  What once had seemed beguiling now seemed shallow and make-believe.  Years of scales began to fall from my eyes.  I began to see past the tarp roof's and garbage strewn yards.  I realized that although my childhood neighbor's were rough and unpolished, they were uncommonly gifted with loyalty, self-sufficiency and country wisdom.  They were the people you wanted covering your back when things got tough.  They lived life to the fullest, for themselves, not to impress other people and when push came to shove, they could be counted on irregardless of their own personal hardships.

After years of living in the city, searching for true friendship, only to encounter people too busy living their own lives, I came home to the country.  I came home to tarp roofs, junk cars and garbage strewn yards.  But this time, I came home with humility, not pride.  I came home with the realization that God gives us the ability to see His beauty everywhere.  I found I had to see past the outward appearance, into the heart of the matter.

I grew up in the country, but gained the wisdom of country life in the city.  In my pride an arrogance, I was blinded to the beauty of simple country living.  God, in His wisdom, brought me to the city so that He could gently strip my pride and open my eyes to true beauty.  He taught me that beauty is not defined by what you own, how you dress or how you keep your yard - true beauty is defined by how you see the world, and yourself and God.  True beauty is found when God opens your eyes to His creation and His children.


  1. just 2 words..... Well said.


  2. No matter how much I aspire to make beauty, God can trump my pitiful attempts in a wink.
    There is nothing to match beauty in it's orderly, natural process of the Seasons changing from one to the next. Fall being my favorite.
    I sit in absolute wonder as the turning palate of autumn colors all around me, flutter in the wind to the ground. Like a child, every year, I run through these rustling piles and pick up just one that catches my eye. I can sit and wonder at that specimen of particular beauty in awe and amazement that our God created that which I wonder over, still after all these years, and find so fascinating. He created all this beauty in just the blink of His eye.

    Any beauty I create, pales against His designs.


  3. Wow! Your story really mirrors mine! I too was an arrogant girl growing up in a beautiful rural area. It was my goal to live in the City of Cities- NYC. I never made it, but after spending my college years in another large city, I discovered like you that it really wasn't what I wanted. I now live in a smaller city, but I so long to escape to the country like you have! Sometimes we don't realize what we have till we can't have it. Your blog blesses me as I make plans to try to move my family "back to the country."

  4. I'm in the process of reversing a mistake I made-moving from rural to urban, strictly for convenience(I allowed myself to be convinced this was a good idea..my fault, none other). As has been said, you don't miss it until it's gone. Fall is my favorite time of year. I miss looking out at electrical storms from the back porch,the colors of fall,waves of lightning bugs(fireflies),and those ultraclear and crisp winter days.
    Cities are O.K. to visit, but I really don't want to live here-it's a giant Habitrail for people.
    Old appliances are infinite sources of sheet metal and motors,as well as timers and other useful parts-old cars are great storage gizmos,auxiliary generators(if the engine runs)-in addition to parts.Duct tape is your friend!Did you know duct tape comes in colors and patterns now? Hog rings hold shoes together better,tho'...
    Your blog is an inspiration-one of the things that keeps me on target-I'm moving out, but when I do, it'll be far better planned than in he past, with allowances for the law you can't plea bargain with-Murphy's.

  5. Just love your tea cozy. Wish you would make some to sell and include some matching napkins.

  6. What a wonderful, timely post. We live in Montana, also in the country. We received an anonymous letter in our mailbox the other day. We were informed that we were a disgrace to our neighborhood because we had not mowed the lawn that borders the county road that we live on. We had also committed the atrocious sin of allowing the early frost of last year to almost kill our beautiful fire bushes that are in front of our house. They had assumed it was from a lack of care, not an act of nature. I truly love natural beauty, created by God, not unnatural, created by man. Thank you so much for your timely post. What a great reminder that not having a perfectly manicured lawn can also be beautiful. The only ugliness I saw was the person's attitude of hate and condemnation for us not being like everyone else. Mind you, we live on 26 acres with most of it in pasture, so it is not the suburbs.

    Thank you again!

  7. so funny everytime I read your blog I am searching for the like button!!! So blessed to be able to enjoy God's beautiful world!!

  8. Beautiful....I love the way you write and the emotion you pour forth. You speak truth and I thank you for it.

    Regards and Thanks,

  9. This old song by Malvina Reynolds comes to mind:

    Little boxes on the hillside,
    Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
    Little boxes on the hillside,
    Little boxes all the same.
    There's a green one and a pink one
    And a blue one and a yellow one,
    And they're all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same.

    A decade ago when we were blessed with a mountain (albeit barely so) life, blue tarps got the name of "Boulder Creek Roof".

    As soon as the rains came, so the tarps arrived as well, on a sizable number of the homes. Some were replaced by new rooding materials at the next dry spell, others were a replacement for an older tarp and, in turn, were replaced a year or so later.

    I have seen "pristine" mountain homes - they are as sterile as the suburbs.

    Where people live and families play it is often somewhat of a mess. This is good. It means they are likely spending their time on things that make count, rather than making sure the lawn is cut at a precise height and that no leaf remains unraked for more than 4 hours...


  10. Well, not to be a contrarian, but I enjoy all four seasons. Each is beautiful in its own way. Summer is my favorite because my joints don't ache as much and I can wear a t-shirt, jeans, sunglasses, and drive around with the sun roof open in my 4x4 SUV. Ah, yes, I am a California girl at heart. LOL BTW, I don't have a lawn, they take too much water and work. I'm lazy by nature.

    As for Enola's beautiful story, another grand slam. (It's World Series time, so I have to use the jargon of the season, right?!)

    Enola, you write so beautifully and with such deep feelings. I really hope you compile all these stories of your childhood into a book that we can purchase. I am transported by your words to places I've never been but wish I had.

    More, please.

    NoCal Gal

  11. Gorgeous! I love the way you write and your tea cozy is really beautiful!