Categories
Personal Posts

Squirrely Behavior

Years ago, the squirrel population around our home seems to be on the increase. One of their favorite pastimes was gathering nuts from my neighbor’s trees and relocating them to my yard. For years this has been happening with acorns, resulting in me pulling up tiny oak trees each spring.

Now they’ve added hickory nuts to their menu, as my bare feet frequently encounter empty half shells in my lawn. Though they try to bury their treasures, my sod is too thick for them to have much success.

These squirrels are increasingly comfortable around humans, too, no longer scurrying away as I approach. When I was moving a sprinkler, I saw one squirrel furiously pawing at my grass attempting to dig a hole at the base of a Maple tree—and having some success in doing so.

I approached him to scare him off. He was not deterred.

One squirrel furiously pawed at the grass attempting to dig a hole at the base of a tree. Click To Tweet

Forty feet away and he stopped digging to give me a long look, not fearful, but amused.

Thirty feet away and he paused to give a long and vigorous scratch to the back of his head; I think he was grinning at me.

Twenty feet away and he rolled over on this back, but not in a posture of submission as some animals do. He shimmied from side to side, rubbing his back on the hole he was boring, feet flailing in the air with unabashed jubilation. I’m sure he was laughing at me, daring me to come closer.

Ten feet away and he scampered around the tree trunk, poking his head out to watch my approach.

I circled the tree and he did the same, climbing up several feet so we could look at each other in the eye. I think he was enjoying this.

We played hide and seek for a while, and then I couldn’t find him. Eventually looking up, I spied him perched on a branch, looking down on me from a safe distance.

I instructed him sternly to stop digging holes in my lawn. I think we have an understanding.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

I’ve Got Water, How About You?

Although April began with the proverbial showers that are reputed to bring May flowers, it has been quite arid the past two weeks. So much so that I have had to resort to watering my lawn.

I feel a bit guilty doing so.

You see, as I dump hundreds of gallons of pure, clean water on my lawn, over a billion people on this planet have no clean water drink. I would gladly forgo my lawn watering ritual if it would somehow quench the thirst of those with parched throats.

But alas, any water sacrifice that I make in Michigan does nothing to satiate those who are thirsty in third-world countries.

Remember to do your part to “water” thirsty people in the process. Click To Tweet

Even so, there are ways to help. Countless organizations provide inexpensive and simple water filtration units to those with dirty, germ-laden, disease-infested water. Even a small donation can provide a safe source of water to those in need. 

Other organizations drill wells in areas lacking nearby surface water. Wells are more expensive, but can serve thousands for many years.

I just did a Google search for “provide clean drinking water” and was treated to 284 million matches—I’m sure one of those organizations will click with you.

So, go ahead and irrigate your lawn if you must, just remember to do your part to “water” thirsty people in the process.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

A Lesson About Compassion

I learned something disconcerting about myself.

Regular readers may recall my post about mourning three bird eggs that had been knocked to the ground when a severe storm destroyed their next. I had compassion for their death, but there was nothing I could do.

When I was out moving sprinklers in my yard I was horrified to see three too-young baby birds on the ground. They couldn’t fly and one couldn’t even hop; as I approached, they opened their mouths in hope of some needed sustenance.

Again, I had compassion but was frozen in a state of inaction. A myriad of thoughts rushed through my mind: 

Compassion without action is worthless. Click To Tweet
  • I don’t know what to do.
  • They’re going to die anyway.
  • I’m too busy.
  • What if they carry disease?
  • I should let nature take its course?

I would periodically check on them with each move of the sprinklers. I continued to feel compassion and tried to justify my inaction. A couple of times I saw an adult bird on the ground near them. I convinced myself that their parents were tending to them.

Yet each time I approached, they turned in my direction and opened their mouths.

By the next day, the weakest of the three wasn’t looking too good and he later died. Would I likewise be witness to his siblings’ demise?

On the third day, one of them was clinging to the side of a tree and later he was gone. I never saw him again and assume he was able to fly away.

On the fourth day, the remaining bird was hopping with a bit more vigor and for the first time was instinctively flapping his wings. An hour later, he too was gone.

I should be happy that two out of three made it, but I wonder if I should have tried to help their weaker brother.

What I do know is that compassion without action is worthless.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

Where Do Frogs Come From?

Last night while mowing my lawn, I saw three frogs in my yard. In 24 years of living here and mowing the grass, this was a first.

Where did the frogs come from? I know the biological answer and the evolutionary answer and the creation answer, but those are the wrong answers to my question. I want to know why this trio of amphibians suddenly showed up in my yard.

  • There is no water on my property or nearby,
  • We are not in a low spot,
  • My lawn is not even damp, and
  • Given the drought earlier this summer, the water table is surely lower than normal.

Where did my frogs come from?

I asked the ever-resourceful Google and was treated with 29,300 exact matches to my query, but the top four sites didn’t provide the answer I was seeking. With 29,296 still to check, I’ve already given up.

I turn the question over to you: Where did the frogs in my yard come from?

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

The Birds Are Singing

I’ve worked at home for over twenty years.

With a home office, it’s critical to have a professional, work-like environment. This is especially true when you are on a phone call (or video call). There can be no household noises, such as blaring TVs or radios, crying children, barking dogs, or talking spouses.

These sounds can all be picked up on the phone and heard by callers.

This has never been an issue for me—until now. Not that any of the preceding has become an issue, but I have introduced another decidedly non-business sound.

Last year I moved my office from a windowless room in the basement to an unused bedroom on the main floor. When the weather is nice, I open up the window for some fresh air.

Recently, while on a phone call with the window open, the person I was talking to asked, “Do I hear birds?”

Indeed she did. A musical concord of songbirds was serenading me outside my window. Though melodic and soothing, they were also quite loud. But I would have never guessed their unrestrained happiness could have been heard on the other end of my phone call.

Singing birds may be unprofessional, but I’m okay with that.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

Could Spring be Right Around the Corner?

Technically, the first day of spring will not be for a couple more weeks (this year on March 20—unless you live south of the Equator, then you have a much longer wait).

However, the seasons seldom line up with the calendar.

For me, the best sign of spring is when I see a robin for the first time. That happened today.

Another typical sign of spring’s arrival is bulbs whose new growth begins to emerge from the ground. Unfortunately, for me, that indicator is flawed this year, as my tulips got confused with a warm fall and actually began showing their greenery last October.

Bravely these early arrivals, with their one-inch stalks, stood guard all winter long, despite repeatedly being covered with snow. Though they are no longer a vibrant green, they did nonetheless maintain their general color all winter long.

And now, with warmer temps, they seem to be growing again. It will be interesting to see if they have enough energy left to produce flowers later on, but nevertheless, they do assure me that spring is on its way.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

Weathering the Storm

When we lost power last weekend, there were high winds at the time. Very high. To my dismay, the next morning I spotted three birds’ nests that had been ripped from my trees by the gusty gale. 

Although saddened by the loss of home for my animal friends, I was encouraged that most of the nests were apparently empty, as I found only one poor creature who didn’t make it.

There was, however, one nest that smartly survived the bluster. It was snugly secured above a crook in my downspout, safely beneath the protective overhang of my home’s eave. 

A good thing too has it was home to three baby robins. I noticed them that morning during my inspection of the storm’s damage. By the time I took a picture later that day, one had already left the nest.

Upon checking later in the day, I spooked another. With instinct overcoming him, and a mighty squawk and sputter, he took to flight. I was witness to the first flattering, yet successful, flaps of his wings. His parents were aghast, making quite a fuss in the process. 

One flew near to where he landed and another served as an irritating distraction, with a cacophony of sound and sight.

By the next day, the youngest sibling had likewise “flown the coop.”

The nest is still there, empty, but ready. Robins often have two broods a year, so mom and dad may be back for a repeat performance later this summer.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

The Petals Have Fallen

Two years ago, I posted some photos of the spring colors in my yard. The first photo in that batch was my flowering crab apple tree. It is now a bit larger than a couple of years ago, meaning it has more blossoms. 

This year I was able to enjoy its color for a couple of weeks.  (Technically, white is an absence of color, but it seems wrong to say I enjoyed its absence of color).

Alas, that time is now past and the petals have dropped off. At a quick glance, it looks like a bit of snow has fallen!

Below is a close-up of the driveway and lawn. (There are even more petals in the lawn, but they are harder to see, as they have fallen into the lawn and are obscured bu the grass.)

When the flowers were at their peak, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of honey bees milling about it’s countless blossoms.  I don’t know where their hive is, but I think that they owe me some honey!

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

Springtime Color

I’ve not yet posted any photos of my lawn this year.  That’s because I’ve had nothing new or significant to share.

My flowering crab apple tree was as beautiful (and fragrant) as ever, but I could have posted last year’s picture and no one would have known the difference.  The same goes for the periwinkle, while, as expected, the phlox continues its decline.

I also had my usual springtime dropping of Maple leaves, though thankfully this year was less severe than last.

But here is a new picture (from this year!)  I don’t know its official name, but my family calls it “Snow on the Mountain,” which is most appropriate, given its white and green variegated leaves.  (My agriculture teacher apparently did not share my appreciation for its beauty, gruffly referring to it as “gout weed.”)

Regardless of its label, I really like it.  It looks like this through the spring and most of the summer, though inevitably towards the end of summer the leaves turn brown and it looks half dead—only to revive with water and extra attention. 

Each year I endeavor to bypass this “half dead” phase, but so far have not been able to come up with the right combination of moisture and care.

Even so, I am able to enjoy it for several months

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

Maple Syrup Au Naturel

In the northern clime of Michigan, the ideal time to trim deciduous trees (that is, non-evergreens) is in their dormant state. That means winter. 

Unfortunately, this winter was colder than most and the snow was deeper.  So whenever I considered trimming a few branches, it was either frigidly cold or there was more than a foot of snow to tramp through.

Last weekend, however, I saw a window of opportunity and took it. In retrospect, I had delayed a too long, for the sap was already flowing—not a good time to be removing branches.

Nevertheless, I spent about an hour trimming the most offending limbs before the damp coldness penetrated my body and common sense pervaded my mind.

A few days later, I was surprised to see an “icicle” on a Maple tree, hanging from my last cut. (I know, it was poorly done, but I was cold, remember?)

I investigated, first snapping a photo for you to see and then performing a taste-test of the frozen liquid. To my delight, it was as expected: slightly sweet.

To prove that I wasn’t deluding myself, I coaxed my wary bride into tasting it, but without explanation. After careful consideration, she announced, with a puzzled look, that it was a little sweet.

In case you are interested, to make Maple Syrup, the sap from Maple trees is collected and the water removed by heating it. What is left is Maple Syrup. Depending on the sweetness of the sap, I have heard that it takes anywhere from 10 to 100 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. 

That’s a lot of sap that a Maple tree needs to put out just to make our morning pancakes sweet.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.