Quilt of Snow

Quilt of Snow

TODAY AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES, all things rest under a quilt of snow. It is a reminder that hardship is often accompanied by beauty. Squirrels bound along, leaving tracks in their wake. The Pileated Woodpecker flashes through the woods, a streak of red and black and white. The Pine Siskins have a one word, hymn, as always–“Sweeeeeet?” The

The Cheery Chickadees

The Cheery Chickadees

AS WE PLAN for summer trips and Road Scholar expeditions, we awaken here at the CHURCH O’ THE PINES to below zero temperatures. And news that at Lake Kabetogama—scene of our August National Park boat trip to Kettle Falls—the overnight low was 42 below zero! That’s 42 degrees less than nothing!! I have been at our little cabin on Fawn

Every day in a beautiful place is a beautiful day

HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES a soft quilt of cloud hangs over the forest. It is not an especially pretty morning—no spritely sparkles or brilliant beams of light. But it is a morning full of promise nonetheless. When the boys were little I made up a saying and repeated it often: Every day in a beautiful place is

Gitche Manito’s Owl

Gitche Manito's Owl

ON THIS SUNDAY AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES BY THE FROZEN MISSISSIPPI, the crows are hollering and squalling wildly from the woods. Perhaps they have found Brother Great Horned Owl (or Sister) and are feeling outraged. Again. Crows love to bedevil owls. It is the smiling story of the Ojibwa that when Gitche Manito was creating things, on the

Soft and Far Away

soft and far away

ON THIS SUNDAY AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES the grounds are wrapped in cotton batting. The sounds of the world all seem soft and far away. Even the brash laughter of the crimson-capped Pileated Woodpecker is muffled. The first real snowstorm of the season has left the forest changed. Some of the big pines here have seen 120 winters,

Caretaker and the Cardinals

Caretaker and the Cardinals

AT THE CHURCH OF THE PINES the Sabbath is often a day of rest. But not always. And this beautiful winter day has found the Caretaker out among the Cardinals and Chickadees, still clearing downed trees and opening up trails from bad windstorms of the last few years. It seems an endless project. Hard work. But I don’t mind it.

Promise of a Fair Day

Promise of a Fair Day

HERE AT THE CHURCH O THE PINES, on our Minnesota stretch of the great Mississippi, the day begins with a cold, gray dawn. But along the horizon line there is the slightest pink cast, the promise of a fair day. Under the ice, Minn of the Mississippi sleeps; while above, the downstream geese, gathered at a last patch of open

December 2nd Church O’ The Pines

It is a bleak December day at the Church O’The Pines. The wind rushes and moans in the pine-tops, and they creak and groan with it. The river is all iced over and snow blows and gathers across the ice. The sky is gray and there is a damp and cutting cold. But the humble members of our congregation are

Moon-Shadows Dark

Tonight at the old cabin in the piney woods, the air is cold, the moon-shadows dark. Our nocturnal neighbors have been out and about—the Great Horned Owl vocalizing from deep in the woods. Earlier in the evening a pair of Gray Foxes cavorted about in the yard. And our pink-tailed Opossum, none too happy with the early winter weather, came

November Church O’ The Pines

HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES, we have pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that this is-was-has-been the coldest, rainiest, windiest, cloudiest, crummiest Fall on record. Even Dr. Woodrow F. Stump, Woodland Psychologist, the oldest member of the congregation and resident curmudgeon, agrees. He is slightly cheered by the recent election, of which he opines that “You humans