Where the Wild Things Are

2020 has been harsh. Can’t count the times that I’ve leaned back and thought, “Wow … what would I do without the wild things?”

When I can’t stand one more debate over face masks or listen to one more news headline that starts with the letters “C-O-” and ends with the number 19…

When my stomach is all knotted up over what how kids are being affected…

When I can hardly stand thinking about senior citizens battling a cocktail of fear and loneliness…

When all this craziness boils over in my brain …

I hunt down my walking shoes and head for where the wild things are.

Where the wild things are … nature.

Nature, resolute and unflinching.

Nature, luscious after drowning rain one week … busting with brilliance of color after scorching heat the next … growing peaked when the heat persists too long.

Nature has been a classroom. Early this Spring, My Guy and I spotted two geese flying with a small flock of ducks. Birds of different feathers joining forces. The news these days would have me believing that this can’t be true of animals or of people. Not true on either front.

Nature has been a reminder that powers much bigger than me are at play.

I’m not really a fan of sci-fi, but a high school teacher turned me onto Ray Bradbury, who in turn led me to Sara Teasdale.

I’ve thought of her words often of late …

There Will Come Soft Rains
Sara Teasdale, 1920

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild-plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

When I see wild flowers boastfully fanning themselves just before the sun drops them into darkness …

When birds hop carelessly free among untamed bushes, unworried about anything but the berries they’re about to pluck…

When owls wake up the darkness with the soft wooing…

When nature does what it knows to do …

I’m a little envious.

Envious of the simplicity …

Of the steadfast continuing on whether storm or calm …

Of the inability to seek revenge or hold onto grudges.

Our small town hasn’t escaped the blow of a pandemic or the shaking of racial strife … yet, I feel that it’s all a little gentler here. With the lessons of the wild things, there’s a strong sense of, “We’re all we’ve got … let’s make this work.”

People are not unlike the wildflowers. We strive to bloom. We bend with the winds.

We may be a bit battered by storms but not easily broken.

We may fade and wither under pressure, but even in fading, we can help others to shine … just like this field of wild flowers.

Nature is forgiving.

It seeks revival after storms.

It fights against drought.

It endures its seasons.

It refreshes a weary spirit.

Thank God for nature.

Because of later than normal rainfalls, wildflower season stretched further into summer months this year. Hope these photos gave you a break from the regularly scheduled mayhem, now known as 2020 and let you breathe a little deeper … where the wild things are.

How have you “de-toxed” from the craziness of this year?

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can read more on my “Thought Blog” at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

All photos on SmallStuffLiving are the personal property of Sausmus Photography and of this blog. Please do not use without permission. Thanks!

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Sheep and Stuff Like That

You could say I live in cattle country. Actually, it’s wheat country … farmers proudly boast of the highway signs that announce our county as one of the largest wheat producing regions in the nation. When it comes to livestock however, you are most likely to see cows and horses in pastures … and here and there, a few sheep are scattered about… usually for County Fair or 4-H projects … rarely more than a half dozen or so. Oh, and llamas and alpaca’s … we’re seeing them around more and more as well … but this is a blog about sheep.

Large flocks of sheep are not the norm, so My Guy and I were impressed when we rounded a curve and met with this view.

The sight compelled us to let up on the gas pedal, roll to a stop, and climb out of an air-conditioned car into more-than-warm heat to watch and … even more, to listen. Listening is the key here … these guys could ratchet up some noise … bleating … bawling … noisy children vying for attention between gulps of grass.

An odd thought occurred to me …

Sheep have been maligned.

Yup. It’s those darn “sheeple.

” Sheeple”. With political tempers flaring these days, just about everyone, it seems, is labeled a “sheeple” … the dig is meant to suggest that one doesn’t have a mind of their own. I think people really mean to call their opponents “lemmings” but instead it became sheep … you know, those mindless sheep.

However … trust me … sheep have minds of their own. These guys did. It took three sheep dogs and a hawk-eyed shepherd in a golf cart to keep these baaaadies in line. They had all kinds of ideas about where they wanted to wander and several were clever enough to find a way to that greener pasture along side the road … on the wrong

My brother raised a lamb for a high school FFA (Future Farmers of America) project, and I tell you, that little lamb was clever. He found a way to unlatch the gate of his pen and wander across the street to my grandmother’s back door. I don’t know why, but she fed him cookies (may be why he made weight for the showing), and that little guy remembered those cookies. Every chance he got, he escaped and made his way back to Grandma’s house. He butted the screen door with his head until she answered. Pretty smart, if you ask me.

Sheep are clever, useful (for wool), and cute. And tasty … for those who like lamb chops … but I won’t go any further down that road!

Did you also know that sheep are loyal and tend to have friends? I grew curious and found several interesting articles about sheep. Check out this one. Looks like I’m not the only one to feel that sheep have been given a baaaad rap. (Sorry … it’s hard to resist stupid puns!)

The individual personalities of sheep stood out to me that afternoon.

“Listen to all those voices,” I said to My Guy. “They’re talking to each other.”

Sure enough, it seemed like scores of conversations were transpiring amongst the flock; melodic voices, gruff voices, pleading bleats, sharp reprimands, complaints, humored tones, bossy ones. I was certain that a group near the road was gossiping about the ewe that had slipped through the fence and was happily chomping on grass untouched by any of her comrades.

“Greedy,” her friends seemed to say.

“Just wait! That shepherd dude is about to sic one of those hyper dogs on her,” another retorted.

Sure enough, the shepherd rolled up in his cart and with the help of one of the dogs, had her hopping over the fence pronto and back to the herd.

Listening to sheep chatter, I was reminded of the Bible’s word picture … a sheep know a shepherd’s voice, especially a good shepherd’s There’s another side to that … a shepherd knows the voices of his (or her) sheep too. They are as identifiable as a room full of kindergartners would be, similar, but certainly full of individual personalities.

Modern sheep are bred to not have horns, thus they are not as well suited to protecting themselves, but there was a day that could fend off just about any enemy/predator with sharp horns. They throw a pretty vicious kick so aren’t entirely without protective instincts. Still, sheep are vulnerable, particularly to predators like wolves. They need some protection; guidance is a good thing for sheep too. They’re stubborn enough to wander off until they are in over their heads and fat pickin’s for a starving wolf.

Maybe we disdain “sheeple” because we don’t like the idea that humans might be just as vulnerable as our little, wooly friends. Humans seem pretty convinced that we don’t need anyone to tell us what to do. Not sure it works like that though … something to ponder, for sure.

Share your sheep facts and stories in the comments. I bet there are some great ones out there.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can read more about my life experiences on my “Thought Blog” at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.
(All photos on SmallStuffLiving is the personal property of Sausmus Photography and of this blog. Please do not use without permission. Thanks!)

Can You Spare A Little … Time?

Our little town of 800 boasts a grocery store, restaurant, pharmacy, clinic, restored Theater, library (that’s where I work), coffee shop, hardware store, antique store, and gift shop/art gallery … all within two and a half blocks.

We live right behind the theater, so I guess that means we live in the theater district.

Everything is walking distance for us … love that about living here.

Yesterday, I walked to the store for a candy bar. (Yes … it is a problem that I live that close to the store and can run over there whenever an indulgence strikes … and to clarify … it was DARK chocolate … I’ve been on a modified Keto eating plan of late.)

On the way back one of my neighbor’s and her son were coming down the street.  She was letting her little guy try out his battery powered kid scooter that he was finally old enough to steer without running into her ankles.

After chatting a second, I dismissed myself as I was clearly walking much faster (and had in mind wanting to get home and dive into my chocolate). “I won’t keep you guys … see you later,” I said as a way of escape after a reasonable amount of customary, polite small talk.

“Wait,” called out Little Guy from his little scooter.   “I want you to watch me drive.”  No whining … just a sweet smile and a sincere invitation.

How could I turn that down.

I slowed my gait and backed up so that it took two minutes instead of one to walk down the street.  One extra minute in order to escort Little Guy and His Mom which also perked into a much more meaningful exchange with His Mom in that two minutes.

We crossed the street and came to the juncture where our paths split.

Completely unprompted, Little Guy looked up and beamed.

“Thank you for watching me.”

You would have thought I’d just handed him my chocolate bar (a thought that didn’t even cross my mind in that moment) from the glee.

Two minutes.

Two minutes and I completely made a three-year-old’s day.  I may have made his whole week.

We moved here to slow down.  To relish family … each other … and life … in a more sane and reasonable manner.

Thank you, Little Guy, that this means taking time to watch a kid do something that to him is remarkable. I’ve written about the gift of time before, but the lesson never seems to get fully learned … and unfortunately that is even more true when a chocolate bar is at stake.

I love the small stuff that makes a big difference.

Tekoa Empire Theater
My neighborhood. (This photo was taken in 2014)


Small Beginnings and Endings

My life is starting to resemble a Big Stuff Oreo Cookie™.

My life is starting to resemble a Big Stuff Oreo Cookie™.

My beginnings were in a small town, and I’m talking small … the population topped out around 100 people before I left home. At 18, I transplanted to a sprawling metropolitan area in order to attend college. From 100 to 3.5 million people (50 thousand on the campus alone!), I lived the urban life. I finished college … worked in the heart of the city … married a fellow college student … did stints in various suburban neighborhoods where we raised our family … enjoyed the luxury of being minutes from shopping malls and numerous restaurants … fought traffic … listened to constant barrages of sirens and gunshots (seriously) … attended theater and concerts and festivals and other big city offerings .

But now I’m back to small town life … just 12 miles from where I started.

And I. LOVE. IT.

For awhile, city life made me feel like Big Stuff … somehow important .. . somehow in a position to change the world … somehow a big deal because I was close to where everything “important” happened. Like that gooey sweet stuff in the middle of the OREO … that stuff for which people yank off the ordinary old outsides and cast them off in order to inhale the sweet cream of the middle.

For me, however, the big stuff has grown stale. I don’t think as much about changing the world … or know that I even want to. All the sweet, enticing stuff in the middle of my life has faded in its glamor.

These days, I just want ordinary, and I’m kinda enamored with it. My big, hairy, audacious life goals have morphed into wanting to leave what’s right in front of me a little better than I found it. AND … I want to do so at an easy, kind-hearted pace.

So here I am (well just not me … My Guy and me) … city folk for nearly four decades, now sporting country duds in a town of about 800 people … this after maneuvering live in a metropolitan area of 3.5 MILLION people.

There are many, many things to appreciate about the last four decades of city and suburban living … but …

But … every day here in small town America feels like a celebration to me.

That’s what this blog is for … to celebrate small town life … small stuff. It’s not meant to rail against or even a be a comparison to city life … well … except maybe when it comes to traffic.

Loved the recent visit with our daughter in the Seattle area, but DID NOT miss this part of city life.

And to be clear … small town life isn’t an escape from human problems … from suffering … or sadness … or disagreeing … or disappointments … or hardships … or anything that comes from living life on  a broken planet.

Small town life is simply a season for me to take on all the hard stuff at a slower pace with a bit more realistic view of who I am and who I am not. 

Today I celebrate simple walks and beautiful drives with My Guy and end with a few shots of a drive just south of us into the Idaho panhandle.

Freeze Church near Potlatch, WA
The Freeze church near Potlatch, ID. This simple little church still has an active congregation and is the perfect example of what I love about small stuff.

These pictures are for real … this is the bathroom situation at the Freeze Church.  Now, I guess we know the reason for its name.  HaHa.  (By the way, it’s pronounced Freez – y … rhymes with Breezy.)

Seriously, though, I know people who have left churches because the music was too loud or the parking lot wasn’t big enough or the children’s department didn’t provide enough entertainment for the kids. 

And then I see something like this church along with the sermon notes and song list inside the building.  Simple … small … and maybe a little outdated (whatever that really means) … but earnest and alluring in a way that only small stuff can be. Give me more of that!

Sunset at end of highway

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is my second blog.  You can read more about my life experiences and the faithfulness of God towards a simple country girl on rashellbud.wordpress.com. 

Please note that all photos, unless noted, are mine and permission must be sought to use them.

Wishing you a beautiful day full of the small stuff that makes life wonderful and a big deal.