Nothing is so beautiful as Spring—when weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring the ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing; The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush the descending blue; that blue is all in a rush with richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning in Eden garden.

—from “Spring” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today is my birthday. I’m thirty-six.

In some ways, this year was very much like the year that came before it, which is a blessing, as far as I’m concerned. While I have waxed philosophical on my birthday in previous years, I find that I don’t have so much to say this year. Things are good. My life is proceeding, largely, without interruption. I pray it will always be so.

In light of the above quote, I wish to offer birth-day thanks to family, friends, and kind strangers who have helped to shape this life for which I am so grateful. Far or near, you all enrich my life so much.

While I generally ignore Facebook ads (or at least try to ignore them), a promoted post from Billings Farm in Woodstock, VT about their Baby Farm Animal Celebration caught my eye. It seemed like a fun activity for Zane and I to try, and the weather looked like it would be perfect for an outdoor excursion. Never having been to Billings Farm before, I was expecting a smallish operation with a petting zoo atmosphere. I was surprised when we arrived and had to park in the third lot out from the main building—the place was huge and sprawling! My heart sank because I thought we would have to wrestle with crowds and that it wouldn’t be much fun, but I was definitely proven wrong.

Everything was beautifully organized and the flow of people moved smoothly and organically from place to place. Our first stop was the baby animal barn, where we saw some adorable baby bunnies, lambs, and chicks. We also perused the museum (in the same building) which has many displays about old farm equipment. I was surprised that Zane was actually interested in the displays and wanted to chat about them. Next we ordered a picnic-to-go from the dairy bar, which contained locally made crackers and the farm’s own cheese, plus some fruit, and Zane also had a chocolate ice cream. We set everything out on the grass and soaked up some warm, spring sun. Even though there were lots of folks wandering around, and many others having picnics, it didn’t seem at all crowded. At the end of the day we took a horse-drawn hay ride. It was about as perfect a day as one could hope for.

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Lillia 9 of 52 (2017)
Zane 9 of 52 (2017)
Lillia 10 of 52 (2017)
Zane 10 of 52 (2017)

Lillia: This month you have been very sad. In fact, you have been sad for a long time. I think these pictures tell the story better than I ever could with my words. Being thirteen is terrible—it is for everyone. Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to watch you go through this season of your life. The inner turmoil you feel is palpable, and there is nothing I want more than to find some way to relieve your pain. But, I can’t. It might seem like I don’t care how you feel, but I do—sometimes my only option is to be the parachute creating resistance as you fall. In the turbulence of the descent, I hope you can hear me telling you over and over again how wonderful and deeply loved you are.

Zane: This month you have really been enjoying Lego Club on Thursdays after school. You’ve been collaborating with other kids to make all kinds of interesting structures, including some sort of marble maze. You also had a terrible tummy bug this month, which went on for so long that I actually thought there was something seriously wrong with you. Of course, as soon as I made an appointment for you to see the doctor you perked right up. It’s nice to have you back to your normal self, but I guess I needed to be reminded that I should never take your health for granted.