Acadia purrs on my lap, Milo snores softly at my feet, steam drifts from the spout of my teapot, and birdsong fills the house (thanks to Stephen installing microphones by the feeders). I sit in my rocking chair wrapped in warm wool, watching as dawn slowly yields to day. It’s my weekly Quiet Day, when Stephen goes to the office and I have an unscheduled day of silence and solitude. Not complete silence, as I hear a woodpecker drumming his morning beat over and over, a Crow cawing as he sweeps across the clouds, and myriad other birds raising their voices in their spring chorus, but the silence that comes with no speech and more or less inner quiet.

I sit. I sip my tea, stroke my sweet cat, still my soul. In a while I’ll open my Bible to read and ponder this morning’s passage. I’ll spend time in prayer for family, friends, and others. I’ll prepare and eat breakfast. I’ll walk with Petra and Milo. But for now, for these quiet early morning moments, I sit and watch. There is no need to hurry on my Quiet Day, no to-do list governing my time, no schedule to fit myself into.

This is my day to be and to be refreshed. A day to connect with my own soul,and, in the process, renew my connection with the One who is always here, waiting for me to sit quietly with Him over a cup of tea or a page in my sketchbook or to walk with Him as I enjoy His creatures and His creation.

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
 I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
Psalm 130:5-6

“This is the day the Lord has made,
let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,
the world and all who live in it…”
Psalm 24:1

Today’s sketching

Of Yellow Jackets and Skunks…

I woke early yesterday, looking forward to my weekly Quiet Day, when Stephen goes to work and I have a day of solitude and silence. Always a day I look forward to and relish from start to finish. I try to have everything cleaned up the day before and no unwelcome chores to do on my Quiet Day. (I often do laundry on nice days like yesterday, because I love hanging laundry on the line, but I definitely don’t vacuum on Quiet Days!) I minimize my time online until later in the day, and I avoid talking on the phone or texting. I read, walk, pray, sit with Petra, Milo, or Acadia on my lap, snuggle with Rowan, lie in the grass, sketch, paint, hang laundry and then bring it in all clean and fresh, and so on.

I like to wake up extra early on my Quiet Day, since early mornings seem wonderfully magical when I have nothing scheduled. So yesterday when I woke up I thought of the day ahead and took a deep breath of the fresh, cool 51 degrees flowing through my window. Then I let Petra and Milo out. Rowan often opts to sleep in when I get up early, and thankfully that was his preference yesterday morning.

A moment after the dogs went out into the dim predawn light, Milo bayed loudly (is there any other way a Beagle bays?). Uh oh! I ran outside to be greeted by no-longer-pleasant 51 degree air and two very smelly dogs… two dogs skunked at 5AM! My first thought was how very thankful I was that my very furry Rowan was still in bed. My next thought was that this was a bit of a drag of a way to start my Quiet Day.

Stephen came out and we watched the skunk from the deck. She (of course I didn’t get close enough to see if it was a he or she, but it was so pretty I’m calling it a she) was small– maybe two thirds the size of an adult- and she clearly wasn’t in a hurry to leave. As we watched, she pranced along the fence, tail high and waving, then stopped and spent a long time nosing in the grass in one spot, before she finally wandered off and out of sight.

I rummaged through a cabinet and found a couple of bottles of Skunk Odor Remover and an old sponge. I changed from my nice pajamas into some rags, and thoroughly sponged off the dogs. Poor Milo was starting to shiver in the chilly morning air– funny that the skunk waited till the first chilly morning to spray the dogs. I gave the dogs some marrow bones to occupy them while the enzymatic odor remover worked, and while I mixed up a home remedy of peroxide, baking soda, and dawn dish detergent, then I brought the dogs in and bathed them thoroughly.

A little later I went out to hang laundry and went to look at the spot where the skunk had been nosing around, right by my clothesline. Two large sections of yellow jacket hive had been dug out of the ground and the yellow jackets eaten. I may not have liked my dogs getting sprayed, but I am very thankful that this young skunk so ably dealt with the yellow jackets. No yellow jackets to sting me while hanging laundry, with the bonus of a being able to watch a beautiful nocturnal resident of our land doing the wonderful work she was designed to do. I’ll take it!

Young skunk in the yard

After I got the dogs bathed, my day did actually quiet down, and I had a wonderfully refreshing day. I did have much on my mind, with my heart heavy for my friend who lost her husband the day before, and she has been in my prayers often since then. I sat before God yesterday morning asking him repeatedly to sustain Cindy through this time, to hold her close, to send her close friends to comfort her, to give her his peace that passes understanding. I know that he will, that she will be in his loving care through the very hard times ahead. She will be very much in my prayers in the coming weeks.

As the day went on, I read a book about Sabbath rest (24/6 by Matthew Sleeth– definitely worth reading), walked barefoot in dewy grass, watched hummingbirds, sketched, painted, walked, read psalms, and lay in the sun-warmed grass smelling the rich earth. Overall, a very refreshing day, even though touched with sadness.


Hummingbirds watercolor

Quiet Day Musings

Today I am enjoying my weekly Quiet Day, a day when I savor the gifts of silence and solitude, with unhurried time to read, reflect, pray, ponder, walk, and write.

This morning I took a leisurely walk with Petra.

I relaxed in my rocking chair with hot green tea in a pretty mug (I always choose a pretty mug on my Quiet Day) and Acadia purring on my lap.

I sat on the floor beside Rowan, running my fingers through his soft, luxurious coat, feeling his warmth and the gentle tickle of his whiskers as he sniffed my face, thankful for all the time I have with my aging boy.

I laughed as Milo played gleefully, his tail and ears going in all directions with his irrepressible joy.

I watched and sketched squirrels and birds, always lively on our deck, not trying to do great sketches, but just capturing the moment.

Often, when I am feeling wound up with too long a to-do list or with concerns that weigh on my mind or with the busyness of this time of year, my animals help me slow down and return to the present, where I regain perspective and where worries take their place behind gratitude. I am thankful for a full life, for quiet moments that help me appreciate that fullness, and for the peace God gives as he reminds me of his presence through his creation.

Quiet Day

Today has been my weekly Quiet Day, a day each week when Stephen goes to the office instead of working from home, so that I can have time home alone. I cherish the silence and solitude to read, pray, putter, sketch, muse, and just be. It’s actually not silent today– the birds are singing their spring songs of love, the stream is gurgling as it courses by the yard, and a light breeze has been whispering through the slightly greening shrubs all day. Those sounds have enriched my day from the very start, when I awoke at 5:30 to the sound of a Phoebe vociferously calling forth the dawn, with the faint burbling of the stream in the background. I listened briefly, then dozed a while, the birdsong a peaceful lullaby until I awoke again, ready to rise and rejoice in the gift of a new day.

I’ve spent most of today outside walking the dogs, reading,  sketching, and sometimes just enjoying the peace of an unscheduled day. To cap the day off, Stephen and I are going out on a date after he gets home from work. A perfect day that will leave me refreshed for another week of dog training and other work.

Bridge over our stream (Wolff’s carbon pencil)
Locust Tree (Pen & Ink)
Robin’s nest on a ladder