My dad and I played a game every winter.
Who would see the first robin?

Dad knew the robin was the harbinger of spring, the forerunner announcing that the bleak, cold days of winter would end.

Better days were coming.

In early years of playing this game, Dad always won.

As I grew, my competitive side kicked in, as Dad knew it would.
I’d start watching for robins right after Christmas.
I knew it was too early.
But I looked anyway. I wanted to be the first to see the red-breasted song bird.
And I kept looking as Michigan winters plodded on.

Michigan Winters are great!

Did I hear someone groan, out there?

Okay, okay.
Michigan Winters might elbow into Spring’s time slot.

Okay, sometimes Michigan can skip right over Spring

and slide through Summer

with us jamming both feet on the brakes before we
skid past Fall

and come crashing right back into Winter before we’re ready.

I know. I know.
Sometimes one might long for those boring weather forecasts of: sunny, high of 80, today, tomorrow, and every day this week, month….

I will admit that’s a tempting change from Michigan…

But Michigan weather and seasons do have their benefits:

  • You always have something to talk about, weather is always a great conversation starter
  • It keeps our brains sharp, having to plan what accessories we’ll need before leaving the house….
    Shorts or long johns? Coats or sunscreen? Boots or sandals? Hat, gloves, scarves, or swimsuits? Shovels, umbrellas, or ice skates?

Admittedly, winter is the most challenging season to get through in Michigan.
Dad knew this.

Like life, winter seasons aren’t always fun.
It’s tough and seemingly unending.

That’s why Dad and I eagerly watched the leaden skies and leafless trees for a glimpse of the red-breasted bird.
Once sighted, we knew it wasn’t long before the robin’s song would echo before the dawn through the tops of budding trees.
Their warbling voices cheering us into spring and a new cycle of life.

Through example, Dad taught me to keep a sharp lookout for these harbingers of hope.
Not only in nature’s seasons, but along life’s way.
Harbingers always come, subtle and quiet.
Waiting for someone to notice.

Dad taught me to keep looking for the good; in everyone, in every place, and in every season.
It’s there.
You just have to look.

As I grew, it didn’t really matter who saw the first robin.
Dad and I rejoiced together for the sighting.
Goodness would soon come flocking in.


Hey! Wait for me, 2023!

While I was still singing Auld Lang Syne, January 2023 started its journey toward December!

Hey, wait up, I call out to the New Year! I didn’t figure out my goals, plans, and dreams, yet, for the next 12 months. 

2023 isn’t listening.
2023 is almost stepping into February.
How did that happen? 

This 2023 is a tricky fellow, I mumble.
I snatch up my creative self, 

As my thoughts swivel to 2022’s unfinished “to do” list.

I reflect, 2022 had some rocky stretches. 

Last year’s paths weren’t always flourishing! 

I ran into some dead ends! 

And my creative babies weren’t always beautiful. 

2023 ignored my whining, deliberately advancing.

Finally, I shouted in frustration, “2023, you just keep going!”

Did I note a flicker of hesitation in the new year’s step? Was that a wink I detected in the twinkle of new year’s eye?

Aha! I get it!
I remember, now!
How many times must I relearn this lesson? It’s impossible to go forward if I’m always looking back! 

2023 offers me a daily invitation:

So, with toes to the line and setting eyes forward, 


Meet a DEAD END?

Don’t stop.
Don’t bother to despair.

Look for the DETOUR,

and keep moving forward.

Thanks, 2023, you’ve got the right idea.
Keep… moving… forward…

What exciting possibilities await, if I dare to accept 2023’s challenge?

So, Let’s Go!

Wishing you a delightfully adventurous journey through 2023!

Jingle All the Way!

I usually hear these bells only in December, but at their first jingle I am transported to
my childhood.

I “jingle all the way” back to the days of my Christmas caroling on horseback.

The annual Christmas party at Knack’s stable was always held on the Saturday before Christmas. It was a small gathering of “horse crazy” girls consisting of: two high school barn workers, two lucky teenagers that owned their own horses, and a couple of preteen, self-appointed apprentices.
(My friend Lucy and I fit the last category.)

Lucy and I were so “horse crazy” that frigid temperatures were nothing compared to the one-on-one time we had with a barn full of horses. We learned everything about horse care by spending every Saturday, dawn to dusk, working in the barn.

The winter months were the best!
We even got to exercise the horses!
For free!

On the Saturday of the Christmas party we arrived at daybreak and rushed through the morning chores: hay, grain, water, and clean the stalls.

We took a quick break at noon to warm our frozen toes and gulp down a sandwich before racing back to the barn to prepare our mounts for caroling.
(We apprentices were thrilled to be allowed to ride one of the stable mounts. For free!)

Rushing to our assigned horse, we threw the heavy horse blanket over the stall boards, brushed, and tacked our horse with lightning speed.
Then the decorating began.

Garland, bows, ribbons, and yes, lots of jingle bells were woven, draped, and braided into manes, tails, and bridles. Peals of laughter erupted from the stalls all over the barn as each rider shouted out their brilliant fashion ideas, trying to outdo one another.

Decorations completed, we bumped about in front of the barn until everyone was mounted. Our usually sedate horses demonstrated the high spirits of the occasion. They twisted and turned, tossed their heads, stomped their hooves, and clouded the air with streams of vapor from their nostrils. With each movement the jingling of bells grew louder until the tumult of sound and joy could wait no longer.

Off pranced the jubilant parade with hooves tapping out an energetic beat on the main street as the DIY pageant streamed forward.
We sang over our horses’ ears.
Bells jingled.

Voices strained.
Shouted, Becky, our Santa, complete in suit and beard. She brought up the rear on the docile gray mare whose flowing white mane and tail matched the bushy white beard Becky kept adjusting on her face.

Up and down the unpaved side streets we brought our Christmas caroling parade.
The jingle of our bells brought families out to share our joy and Christmas cheer, even when our voices grew faint.

The Wonderful Challenges of November

The eye records the trees waving and relinquishing the last of their brilliant fall foliage.

Squirrels scamper across lawns, vigorously tamping nuts into the earth.

Geese gather under apple trees gobbling up the sweet goodness of unclaimed fruit.

Flocks of red chested robins flit through treetops as they pass through the neighborhood chirping a final farewell on their flight to southern warmth. 

Dropping temperatures hint at advancing winter whiteness. 

From experience we remember. 
A season is closing, another arising.

The eye sees, but the heart must choose. 

I’m accepting two November challenges.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins November 1.

Along with writers all over the world, I accept the personal challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. 
Ridiculous? Yes!
Difficult? Yes!
But a challenge that holds many benefits with its struggles.

November is also National Gratitude Month.  

Thanksgiving Day is November’s most famous day for giving thanks. 
This year, I’m challenging myself to practice thankfulness every day in November.
An interruption before getting busy with “important” things?
A bother to recite the obvious?
Possibly.But choosing to see blessings, whatever size, will bring to profit my heart.

I hope you join with me in the “Thankful Challenge” for November.

It Happened To Me

There I was, sitting pretty at the top of July’s summertime sunshine.  
On top of the world, soaking in the blue skies, relaxing under the warm sunshine. 
Blissfully lost in those lazy summer days.  

With a jolt, down a wild slide I slid. 

Barely recognizing that days, months, seasons were flying by.
With a thump and a bump, I landed back in the present. 

The leaves are no longer green upon the trees? 

Somehow summer has flown right out from under me.

With a smile and sigh I surrender. 
Good-bye, sweet summer. 
Hello, adventurous fall!

It happened to me.
Did it happen to you?

National Day of Joy

When I heard June had a National Day of Joy, my thoughts sprang immediately to summertime fun of childhood.

Endless hours playing outside with friends. 

Favorite sweet treats. 

Tranquil times, lost in nature and a good book.

Music of my own making.

Fancy feet flying to the rhythm of my heart.

Roasting marshmallows at night by the glimmer of fireflies over dimming campfire embers.

But the Comfort Keepers had something more in mind when they created this day in 2019. These dedicated caregivers for seniors encouraged all to experience the simple joys that are present, even in hard times, if we take the time to look. Like a ready smile,

that turns easily into contagious laughter.

The Comfort Keepers urge us to see and love the family that surrounds us every day.

On this National Day of Joy, let’s remember that a simple kindness may mean more than we will ever know.

Marvelous May

During my many years as a student, then continuing throughout my teaching career,
the end of May has always triggered an excitement within me.

Michigan cold is finally being shaken loose. 
Summertime warmth is taking its place.

Memorial Day, especially, marked the countdown to the anticipated freedom from school.

Freedom from routine, homework, tests, and all other mental gymnastics required to prove a year of academic success.

Memorial Day was the holiday that opened the door to glimpse the approach of a much needed vacation.

It was a celebration of the arrival of summer and another school year’s completion.

It was the springboard to dive into summer fun.

It promised time with family and friends in the lazy days of summer.

But Memorial Day is much more than these. 

Memorial Day is a time to remember those from the past, that made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms I enjoy today.

A day to remember and be thankful. 

Though I say it to ears that no longer hear.

Thank you.

April Slips Into May

Good bye, April, thanks for all the fun!  

Your raindrops made great puddles.
Perfect for cooling off, running through, and splashing in. 

Even though your rain made for a bad-feather day, I liked it just the same. 

Once you take the plunge, wet is best from head to toe.

Perhaps my swinging life was put on hold,

But inside a book I soared to places new to explore.

Truly, your April showers will bring many May flowers,

And soon I’ll trade my rain umbrella for one in the sun.

February Blew By!

I raced through February on my annual Picture Book Marathon. 
Ran past the groundhog’s forecast of spring. 
Jogged through tales of historic Black Americans.
Lingered long in expressions of love. 
Cheered and clapped as teams blocked and blazed their way to touchdowns.
Skated, skied, twisted and twirled, with U.S. Olympians in Beijing.
Shoveled snow, enjoyed unexpected puddles before they crystalized to ice.
Then with a nod to past presidents’ birthdays I skid to a halt.
Teetering on the edge of February 2022, I pause.

What wonders will March bring?

Batches of paczki?
Emerging crocuses defying the snow?
Shall I trade snowflakes for shamrocks; drifts of snow for bundles of green?
Will lion-like winds lift kites wildly on high?
New life emerges all around.
New possibilities to explore.
Clutching my newest story in hand I wonder…

Good-bye, Fantastic February. 
It’s time to meet Marvelous March!

Welcome 2022

Welcome 2022
Celebrating the holidays mid-January with my family was so delightful but now
January is bowling into February with a striking crash!

Before we plow into the cascading snows or Valentine hearts of the coming month I’d like to recognize, one more time, the season of gift-giving.

It never is the brilliantly wrapped packages, the size or expense, that cheers my heart to trumpeting heights. Like many, it isn’t even the gifts that make the season so special. For as the years march on, it becomes more evident that things in packages are not the items at the top of my wish list.

So as the months of 2022 unfold, I resolve to continue the season of gift giving. Focusing on the most valuable and intangible gifts:

Time, available, unmeasured, unhurried.
A listening ear.
A helping hand.
An understanding smile.
A kind word.
Eyes that seek for good.
A heart eager to forget offenses.
Love, selfless and unrestrained.
Hugs in times of joy or through sorrow’s shadows.
Cheers for attempts.
Thanksgiving for success.
Songs of beauty for the minute and mammoth.

Family, friends, the many we pass each day on streets, in stores, in travels, or neighborhood.

So, may gift-giving abound, to all and in each day of the year!