I was fortunate to be raised in the Oklahoma Panhandle. While that country does not have the blessings of a lot of trees, it did instill in me the love of the wide open spaces. There isn’t a sunset or sunrise that can be so beautiful, especially with the right clouds in the sky. Being from an area that many would consider desolate, after all, there are very few streams and rivers there, I have developed the ability to see beauty in some of the worst of places.
In addition, my mother was a self-taught artist who did most of her work in oil paintings. There is so much that I learned from her, not the least is that ability to be observant of the country around me. From growing up looking at her paintings, I have learned the art of composure with photography, especially with landscapes.
As a young child, our family tended to spend some weekends fishing at area lakes and vacationing in mountainous areas. Most of those vacations were in Northern New Mexico and Colorado. Having family that lived in Hotchkiss, Colorado, we spent quite a bit of time there and on Grand Mesa in Colorado. Not only did my dad love fishing, but so many of his brothers and sisters as well.
From all of that, I long ago developed a love of the outdoors. The wide expanse of the Panhandle country led to the love of the wider expanse of a clear, starry sky at night. To lie in a sleeping bag at night and see the twinkling of God’s expansive network of heavenly bodies is an experience that so many people never get to enjoy.
To be in the mountains and hear the wind blowing through the Pine trees and “quaking” Aspens is music to my ears. So much so, that at every house we have ever owned, there have been pine trees in the yard. Even the wind rustling through the grasses of the prairie has its own unique sound, much as each musical instrument’s sounds are different from others.
And then, God’s creatures blend in their own sounds, both in the night and during the day. If one stops and listens, with face turned up, one can see and hear God’s special light and sound show. Stars at night and clouds during the day present a soothing, spectacle that stirs my very soul. Even the flashing of lightning and the crash of thunder is a sound and light show of a very special nature.
So, my thanks to my ancestors, now long gone but perhaps knowing of what I speak and write, for settling in the Panhandle and giving me the blessings of family that knew the beauty and the value of the outdoors and of the mountains. I have been blessed beyond measure by all the beauty, all the lessons of my family and the experiences of growing up with them, and with the love and encouragement so many of them have given me in the past and in the present.
Of course, there are also my friends. So many people that I have known have blessed me as well. While we all have different loves, we all share a love of one another. My sister and her husband love the experiences of cruising, but Jo and I prefer the spectacle of the mountains and the prairies. Beauty is different for many of us, but thankfully, those differences don’t diminish the love we all have for each other.
So, for the New Year, I offer our hope that all of your lives will be filled with beauty, splendor, and love. Don’t forget to share your blessings with others. Just as I share beauty that I have seen.
Evening sky at Eleven Mile State Park; Colorado Springs Area 2008