Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Things That Stop You Cold

by Cassondra Murray


Hurry.

Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry.


I work a part-time day job. And on the days I work, from the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning until I walk back into the house and head for the shower, I hurry. The job requires it.

Steve often asks, "What did you see while you were out on your route today?"

"The road," I say. "Mailboxes. Cars that crossed the center line and almost ran me over. Envelopes." There's just no time to focus on much of anything else.




Last week I'd had a lousy morning. I was driving down one of my favorite winding country roads, but with no time to enjoy the curves in the rolling green farm country of Southern Kentucky, all corn and soybean fields mixed with cattle and pasture and interspersed with fence rows and small stands of trees. Everything was a blur of the same stuff I see every day I work. Stuff like this picture on the right.


I'd forgotten my coffee. I was tired and cranky and hungry, and all I had with me was a cold tenderloin breakfast biscuit. I unwrapped the foil and picked at the ickiness of something that God commanded should be served hot.


"I need to get a life," I muttered. I tossed pieces of biscuit out the window and nibbled on the cold tenderloin. Blech. I was running late, and it was not a good day.


That's when I saw it. A flash of yellow in the sky. I looked again, and could not believe my eyes.

It was a crop duster. Maybe those are old hat to some of you, but they're new around here. I had never seen one. I stopped the car and stared as he crossed the road over me, turning hard to head back to the cornfield he was spraying. His plane was low-wing and blinding flame yellow. So bright you almost couldn't look at it in the late-morning sun. He approached the field from first one end, then the other, dropping each time like a winged avenger diving on a target, dipping over the tops of nearby trees, barely missing their branches, then down to the level of the corn. I watched him fly under telephone wires, the wheels of his aircraft actually brushing the corn tassles as he zipped across them. After each pass, he pulled out of the field to turn, and came directly over where I was. He was so low I could almost see his face. I stood there, awestruck, as he flipped the plane up onto its edge, the wings all the way vertical, so he was standing on end over the road in the tightest turn a plane can make, before he headed back to the field for another pass. It was an aerobatic show, performed right out there in the middle of nowhere. A show I think God sent, just for me.





I stayed there for probably ten more minutes, until he finished the field and headed off the other direction into the humid August sky, flying south. Then I started the car and went on my way. Screw it if I was late. Now, I was smiling. Every time I think about it, my heart still gives a happy little flutter, and I smile all over again.


If I'd been on time, I would have missed that.


I'm not fond of religion as a rule, but the thread of faith runs deep within me. I started thinking about that this week, and about the things that interrupt my hum-drum everydays and cause me to remember why I'm here, in this Garden built by God. I started thinking about how much I probably miss as I hurry, hurry, hurry along. I'm grateful that every now and then, God sends something along that stops me cold.


Night before last Steve stood at the front door (it's mostly glass) and said, "Cassondra, come look at this." Steve is always trying to get me to look at one thing or another.

"I'm busy," I said, and kept typing.

"Really, you should see this," he insisted.

*sigh*

I got up from the computer and walked to the front door and pressed my face up to the glass, hands cupped around my eyes so I could see out into the darkness. A line of thunderstorms snaked across the sky to the north. Giant purple thunderheads lined up all the way across the horizon, and lightning streaked between them. They were layers of purple, green, gray-white and yellow in the violet sky. It was other-worldly in its beauty. And I almost missed it.



I noticed, a bit later, that the computer was still there when I went back to it, and the words I was trying to cobble together--they waited for me to stop and stare for a while.





I often have my head in a book. Physically, yes, because I love to read, but even when I'm cleaning the van, or mowing the yard, or weeding the flower beds, my head tends to stay in the story I'm working on, or the story I just read. That's the thing about writing. There is no such thing as time off.


It was that way in the early summer this year as I was walking down the driveway after a noon storm. I was staring at the gravel, frowning at myself and my characters, trying to figure out what wasn't working in a manuscript, when a bee buzzed me and I jerked to my right. And there it was in the East. A rainbow. A rare, full bow, shimmering against the clouds. It took my breath away. Whatever I was doing fell away and for the moment, I was captivated. It was a miracle right there in front of me.



Thank God for that bee.

Those surprise miracles come in all shapes and sizes for me.



My neighbor raises peacocks. Is it even possible to see those birds, strutting with those feathers spread wide, without stopping to stare?



Or the bloom of a passion flower twining through a fence full of ragweed, without catching your breath?



Late January, when the world is frozen, dead and hopeless, and you notice one yellow crocus popping through the mud and the grimy-gray, end-of-winter snow beside the walk, does your heart flutter a little?



What happens when you come upon an unexpected nest of baby birds?

Now and then I'll walk through the yard to put the dogs in the kennel, and I'll walk through a whiff of honeysuckle. A scent so rich and lush that it nearly brings tears to my eyes. It stops me cold, in my tracks, and I forget, for a brief moment, all the troubles in my world.


What does it for you?

Has there ever been a time when things were going badly, but something unexpected and beautiful came into your world to brighten the moment?

Have you ever been griping or down-in the dumps, only to find a diamond glimmering in the mud?


Have you not wanted to do something, then afterward said, "I'm SO glad I did that?




What does it for you? Is it nature, raw, unexpected beauty, or perhaps unexpected kindness?



In the middle of the hurry, what makes you stop and stare?



Have you ever been rushing about your business, only to be brought up short by something extraordinary? Something startlingly beautiful?


The things that stop a person are individual. What stops me might not stop you.


Sometimes songwriters say it better than anybody else. Just click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VfoRyjWJl0 to listen.

Then tell me . What stops you cold?

79 comments:

Lynz Pickles said...

Mine?

Cassondra said...

Looks like it!

Congrats Lynz! You got him back from lime.

Whatcha gonna do with the chook?

Lynz Pickles said...

I'd have him walk the dogs, but they tend to view him as more of a snack than anything, and I'm hate to return him damaged... so I'm thinking I'll have him be my chef for a day so I can write the reviews I'm behind on. I guess I won't be eating any chicken, though...

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Lynz, congratulations on the chook! He'll stop you cold, but I'm not sure whether he's beautiful or not. Don't ask him - he's convinced he's gorgeous!

Cassondra, what a gorgeous post. I've told you before but I adore your blogs. I think you should blog here every day! What do you say?

Actually I've often had that experience where everything is driving me crazy and I'm just looking at the ground and not at the world, and then something lovely happens. Happened to me yesterday, actually. I was grouching about the fact that my computer had crashed. Now, seriously, that is worth grouching about, but there wasn't much I could do apart from wait for the repair man. I was cooking a barbecue for lunch and a beautiful sleek young wattle bird flew right in next to me and stood on the bricks above where I was cooking. "What are you doing, silly bird?" I said, thinking he would be frightened and he'd take off. Nuh. He stayed, we had a little chat and then when he was ready, he flew away. Now I hate to sound mystical, but that bird was sent to tell me to smell the daisies (or the wattle birds!) and count the good stuff! Actually I think there's something extra special about a visit from something wild!

Lynz Pickles said...

I hate to sound like an ignorant Canadian, but... what's a wattle bird?

Cassondra said...

Fo said:

Now I hate to sound mystical, but that bird was sent to tell me to smell the daisies (or the wattle birds!) and count the good stuff! Actually I think there's something extra special about a visit from something wild!


I agree. That's very cool, when something like that comes to visit you, and it's like it really did come just to visit YOU. You don't speak wattle bird, but hey...it might speak English and you just don't know it. I hope you didn't tell it anything scandalous.

Cassondra said...

Lynz said:

I hate to sound like an ignorant Canadian, but... what's a wattle bird?



Okay, I'll sound like an ignorant Kentuckian. What's a wattle bird?

You're not the only one who doesn't know.

Lynz Pickles said...

Okay, I'll sound like an ignorant Kentuckian.

Huzzah, I'm not the only ignorant North American! Well, I'm guessing that wattle birds don't live on our continent. Because if they do and I haven't heard of them, I'll feel kind of stupid, and I thought I was having a nicely non-blonde day thus far.

Anna Campbell said...

OK, guys, here's a wattle bird! http://images.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http://home.vicnet.net.au/~fbpw/lwattleb.jpg&imgrefurl=http://home.vicnet.net.au/~fbpw/lwattleb.htm&usg=__MTzoh0zwpDcESoVwiZB1SqBWKbw=&h=302&w=288&sz=17&hl=en&start=3&tbnid=gfbvKEP853XLVM:&tbnh=116&tbnw=111&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dwattle%2Bbird%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG

Anna Campbell said...

Actually they're really cool birds to watch. They perch on the palm tree branches and dive into the pool to have a bath. They've done that when I've been swimming before but yesterday at the barbecue was as close as one's ever come to me. Seriously, about a foot away! He came back today and perched on the screen door to my office. Computer guy was there and was quite shocked. He even tried to touch the bird. Bird stayed and again, went off when he was ready! It's lovely but I worry about him being so tame if someone moves a cat into the neighbourhood.

Lynz Pickles said...

Voice: a raucous "kraa-cook", "keek-kiweek", "quok" or "cookay-cook"
Thanks, Anna! A good picture and a good laugh. (What? It's funny to hear animal sounds written out!)

I see your problem there, Anna. It's so fun to have a tame animal around, but if it causes them to lose their natural instincts, that tameness could very well cost them their life.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Lynz.

Hi Cassondra,
I don't see many rainbows, but it would sure make me stop and stare. It's usually so busy and crowded here, but sometimes as I'm walking down the street I stop to notice all those tall buildings and amazing architecture. Other times I'm awed by some cute outfit in those department store windows.

Helen said...

Congrats Lynz I am sure you two are going to enjoy the day.

Cassondra
I agree with Anna your posts are amazing I really can't wait to read your books when they are published.

What beautiful thoughts and pictures those puppies got me animals get me all the time, I need to slow down sometimes and watch what goes on around me life is really too short not to enjoy the moment.

What gets me are my grandchildren they are always doing things that amaze me Jayden is growing into such a little boy now and has such an imagination the other day he told me he woke up looked out the window and there was a rhinosoros(I can't spell) in the back yard and he was so sure but he scared it away with his magic wand and Hayley is such a independent 2 year old and of course can do everything and Corey and Jake are 8months old now. Corey rolls from one end of the floor to the other while Jakes runs around the house in the walker. Yes I gotta say my grandchildren stop me cold with their individual ways and the love they give. They always make me smile.

Have Fun
Helen

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I am in Helen's camp, babies and little children (toddlers) amaze me. They are perfect little people, a miracle all in themselves. Their minds are clean slates ready to be filled with knowledge, yet they look at you with wisdom in their eyes. Here is a little poem that kind of says it all.

It was written by Carol
Lynn Pearson.
My Day Old Child

My day old child lay in my arms
With my lips pressed against her ear,
I whispered strongly, "How I wish---
I wish that you could hear;
I've a hundred wonderful things to say
(A tiny cough and a nod)
Hurry, hurry, hurry and grow
So I can tell you about God."
My day old baby's mouth was still
And my words only tickled her ear.
But a kind of light passed through her eyes,
And I saw this thought appear;
"How I wish I had a voice and words;
I've a hundred things to say.
Before I forget, I'd tell you about God---
I left him yesterday."

Deb Marlowe said...

Lovely Cassondra!

It's often nature that wakes me up from the everyday grumps, too. That's why I like living out, away from the lights and noise and crowds. There's always something to marvel at.

My kids can do it too, when they come out with something profound. It does happen occasionally, in between bouts of teen speak and video game talk. :-)

Nancy said...

Lynz, congrats on the rooster! Annoying as he is, we probably don't want him damaged. Let us know how well he cooks.

Cassondra, that's a terrific song (on the link at the bottom of the blog) and fits well with your wonderful post. That is so cool about the crop duster.

What stops me cold? The boy used to, when he was little, but he's in that teenaged, self-sufficient world where his needs have mostly to do with transportation. And even those days are coming to an end.

The dog stops me at times, when she's insistent about having her tummy rubbed or needing comfort as a thunderstorm approaches. Goldens and labs have varying degrees of thunder phobia, and Herself likes company when the thunder starts to roll. Those breeds are big enough to bump my hand off the mouse or shove in the keyboard tray, and there's not a thing I can do to budge them if they don't want to move.

I think you're lucky to be outside every day. I'm mostly indoors. There's an old creek in our neighborhood, so our summers are mosquito-infested, making sitting outdoors, even before the day grows nasty-hot, an unpleasant thing involving OFF! And that smell does unfortunate things to my nose.

We do have rabbits in the back yard, and spotting one out the kitchen window stops me. I watch it hop around for a while before I go back to what I was doing, just because I'm always amazed to have rabbits in residence in the city.

There's a big raccoon in the neighborhood, too, and I watched it out the window one afternoon, stunned to see it during the day and dumbfounded by its size. That thing's bigger than some dog breeds.

When I was growing up, we used to put a blanket down in the front yard and stare up at the night sky in August, waiting for the Perseid meteor shower. But back then I lived in a small town without a lot of ambient light. Or a mosquito-generating creek nearby. Life in the city is different.

On campus, there are flocks of Canada geese, which sometimes parade majestically across campus roads with not a care, apparently, in the world and no need for haste. If they were in a hurry, they could just fly, right? They literally stop traffic, but every time I sit there and wait for them, it reminds me to stop and take a breath.

Nancy said...

Cassondra, speaking of birds, what's up with Thor these days? Do he and Steve still make coffee together in the morning, or has the thrill worn off for Thor?

When you blogged about his joining your lives, that image stuck in my head, of a guy making coffee and talking to a bird.

Karen Olson said...

The sound of my daughter singing or playing her violin definitely does it for me.

Joan said...

Cassondra, I mark the days of your posts on my calander. YOU stop me cold with the beauty of your posts.

Really.

I've had lots of moments like that though not watching a crop duster.

I was driving down the road home one beautiful spring morning when Air Force One took off above me. The President had stopped by for something and living fairly close to our airport, the plan had yet to gain a lot of altitude. The thing is HUGE but....bar none...the most beautiful plane I'd ever seen!

As to nature things, I have mourning doves land on my back deck now and again. While I don't speak "wattle" I'm fairly fluent in "dove" :-)

Oh, and was coming into my neighborhood late one night and a oppossum the size of a Volkswagon bug zoomed across the road in front of me.....

Headed for my house....

Eek!

A babies. There is nothing like hurrying through your errands, annoyed, a thousand things on your mind when a 1 year old is in the cart ahead of you. First comes eye contact then a little nose wrinkle and a 2 tooth smile.

Who can NOT be lifted by that?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

I'll second everyone else's awestruck comment about the deliciousness of your posts, Cassondra. You really know how to make us all stop and think. Thank you.

Lynz, watch out for that Chook in the kitchen. He's as like to whip up something while you're not looking and serve it to YOU! :>

What stops me cold? Hawks. Thunderstorms. Deer shyly hiding in the trees. Fawns. Foxes. Anything wild making it's way here in the 'burbs. One winter day, there was a 6 point buck in my neighbor's yard. There was a dusting of snow, and here stood this magnificent animal, in a pedestrian suburban yard, blowing rollers of warm breath on the cold air. My youngest and I were transfixed for at least ten minutes. Like you, we didn't have a care that we were late, after seeing that. :>

The mountains do this to me too, when I've been away from them too long. I'll come over the rise, just past Hickory on I-40, heading west, and voila, there they are. Or coming from DC over through the MD panhandle to WV, you come on this long slow, curving rise, and you get to the top, and...it takes your breath. There they are. Mountains. :>

Your picture of the pups made me smile as well. I used to say that there was nothign that either a pint of Ben and Jerry's Cookie Dough ice cream or a pile of Dalmatian puppies couldn't cure. Hard to worry when you've got a lap full of wiggling just-getting-their-spots puppies who think you are the best chew toy/climbing toy EVER.

terrio said...

I'm with everyone else, I adore your blogs, Cassondra. In fact, I've beem wanting to tell you that shortly after your lightning bug one, I was awakened from sleep by a bright light in my room. Turned out there was a lightning bug on my wall. In the dark it was like a runway light. LOL! I put him back outside, but I thought of you.

I always get excited when I see rainbows. And there are a couple of areas I've driven through on regular trips where I'd see crop dusters. Those are so neat to watch, but I can't help wonder what you were breathing in everytime he went over your head. :)

My daughter stops me cold quite often. She's growing much too fast, already looking 13 at the age of 10. She's affectionate and empathetic and it breaks my heart when her heart bleeds for others. Usually total strangers.

Now my kitten is the one who cheers me up when I'm feeling grouchy. Even when he's climbing where he shouldn't be, he turns that innocent face my way as if to say, "What?" He's darn lucky he's adorable, I'll tell ya that. LOL!

Donna MacMeans said...

Oh Cassondra - I dearly love your posts. I was think that you could blog every day and I'd be there to savour every one. The photos were lovely and the song brought tears to my eyes. I see his fingerprints everywhere - indeed.

So many things make me stop and thank God for the moment. The ocean does it to me everytime and mountains. Bright red maples and a rain of golden leaves in the fall. Babies - even when they're staring at you from across the restaurant - have that amazying ability to stop you and remember the joy.

Yesterday, while walking with the dh in the sweaty hot humidness of August, I saw this brilliant purple flower - like vivid raspberry color yellowrod - towering over a mass of uncut weeds. Just one flower, but it stopped me cold. Life is good.

Thanks for the gift of your post.

MsHellion said...

When I'm having a lousy day, I loved the drive home because about 10-15 miles of it was along a country road--and I'd be driving around sunset--and the trees would shimmer and the car felt wonderful beneath my hands and I just felt free and everything looked beautiful. Like a horse that knows its going home and it picks up its gait. *LOL* I love how horses do that--I think it's funny and I think it's funny how I do it too.

My friend Holler is a very STOP and LOOK person--and she kept doing it in Chicago and I was very: "We're going to be late" like some sort of Mad Hatter. We drove each other crazy. There was one thing she made me stop for that I enjoyed: the puppet bike. There's even a website: puppetbike.com. HILARIOUS. You have to see it live to enjoy the pure charm of it. It actually made you stop and grin--and feel a bit like a kid going, "How do they do that? How do they know I'm over here watching?"

MsHellion said...

Cassondra--I do love your posts--aren't the one who did the one about bull balls that hang off trucks? And also the one who drove into a ditch and got rescued by a couple hunky farmers? You have very memorable posts...and this is another brilliant example!

Cassondra said...

Hi all!

I'm up. I'm up! Out of the coffin. I promise. I do not, however, have coffee yet.

Lynz said:

Huzzah, I'm not the only ignorant North American! Well, I'm guessing that wattle birds don't live on our continent.

It DOES appear they are not on our continent. We are vindicated.

Cassondra said...

Anna said:

Actually they're really cool birds to watch. They perch on the palm tree branches and dive into the pool to have a bath. They've done that when I've been swimming before but yesterday at the barbecue was as close as one's ever come to me. Seriously, about a foot away!

Oh, I bet it's cool to see them dive into the water!

Interesting that he came back today. Have you tried feeding it anything? Or maybe you don't want to encourage it?

Cassondra said...

Jane said:

I don't see many rainbows, but it would sure make me stop and stare. It's usually so busy and crowded here, but sometimes as I'm walking down the street I stop to notice all those tall buildings and amazing architecture.

There are some amazing things to see everywhere. I remember when I was up there working the piles after 9-11 and everything looked so bleak. But the sun glinting off the tops of the mirrored buildings around the site would lift my spirit. I remember looking up and seeing it reflecting off the World Financial Center, with that huge American flag hanging up there and, even in the horrible reality, it was a little miracle to see it.

I'm actually awestruck every time I visit that city, by the beauty in the midst of the crowds.

Cassondra said...

Helen said:

Yes I gotta say my grandchildren stop me cold with their individual ways and the love they give. They always make me smile.


Oh, Helen, see there, that's what I meant. I knew some of you would say it was your babies or your kids. They're so full of magic, aren't they? THe world hasn't beaten it out of them yet. I think maybe that's one of the reasons for things "stopping me cold." It brings me back, just for a brief moment, to that childhood wonder and ability to just stop and be in the moment and enjoy something completely.

Cassondra said...

Dianna said:


I've a hundred things to say.
Before I forget, I'd tell you about God---
I left him yesterday."


Dianna, that's one of my favorite poems. And the amazing thing is that I know a woman with two children. The older girl was about three when the new baby was born. One night the three year old got up out of bed and mom heard and followed, quietly, to the bedroom where the newborn was already asleep. Mom was worried about what the sister was doing. The sister climbed onto mom's bed and looked into the bassinet and said, "Will you tell me about God? I'm starting to forget."

Cassondra said...

Deb Marlowe said:

It's often nature that wakes me up from the everyday grumps, too. That's why I like living out, away from the lights and noise and crowds. There's always something to marvel at.


Me too, Deb. I love it out in the country. That said, when I lived in a city, I was amazed at how many small moments of beauty I found there too. I think they're everywhere for a reason I guess.

I don't have kids, but I watch the change that comes over people when they do have them, how the child really changes the whole perspective. I think it's cool that you can hear some sparks of the profound in those aliens called teenagers!

Cassondra said...

Nancy said:

When I was growing up, we used to put a blanket down in the front yard and stare up at the night sky in August, waiting for the Perseid meteor shower.

Ah, Nancy. We would have done that last night, but it was clouded over here. Stargazing is one of those things that brings that feeling for me too.

On campus, there are flocks of Canada geese, which sometimes parade majestically across campus roads with not a care, apparently, in the world and no need for haste. If they were in a hurry, they could just fly, right? They literally stop traffic, but every time I sit there and wait for them, it reminds me to stop and take a breath

I LOVE It that everybody stops for those geese. ARen't they gorgeous? I know they can be aggravating in large numbers, but still....they bring a reminder into the city that things were not always covered in concrete.

Cassondra said...

Nancy said:

Cassondra, speaking of birds, what's up with Thor these days? Do he and Steve still make coffee together in the morning, or has the thrill worn off for Thor?



Thor is doing okay, Nancy, and thank you for remembering to ask. I usually make the coffee at night now, and program it to brew in the mornings, but sometimes steve still does it. Thor is generally interested in anything that's going on. Although I will tell you that he's become "Steve's" bird. Steve is part of his flock, and about 3 in the afternoon, Thor starts calling for STeve, and will call until Steve gets home after work. Nothing will shut him up until Steve comes in that door. I'm learning to tune it out actually. It's LOUD.

Anna Sugden said...

Today, Cassondra, your post stopped me! As always, you made me smile and think and reminisce ... and stop being grumpy, if only for a few moments!

Many beautiful things in nature stop me - rainbows, the first snowdrop of spring, a field of red poppies, even a spider's web with morning dew.

My cats never fail to make me smile, both with their crazy antics and their unconditional, uncomplicated love.

People's actions also stop me. That unexpected wonderful email from a friend, that surprise gift in the mail, that little bit of kindess or generosity from a stranger.

Interestingly, having our stuff around us (we lived in rental accomodation in the US so it was all packed away) stops me. Something I walk past brings back a memory of a place and event or a special person.

Fo - hugs on the computer woes.

Cassondra said...

Karen Olson said:

The sound of my daughter singing or playing her violin definitely does it for me.



Oh, AWESOME, Karen. That's magic I bet, to hear your child creating/making music. How old is your daughter?

Cassondra said...

Joanie said:

I was driving down the road home one beautiful spring morning when Air Force One took off above me.

It is a beautiful plane, isn't it? Planes in flight are one of those things that does it for me...not just the aerobatic kind, either. Of course the Thunderbirds are almost universally thrilling with their precision flying. But when I drive by runways and planes go overhead so close it seems they'll graze the top of your car, it gives me such a rush. There's something about seeing a GIGANTIC thing in the air like that, but low enough to recognize its size. It takes my breath.

Cassondra said...

Jeanne said:

The mountains do this to me too, when I've been away from them too long. I'll come over the rise, just past Hickory on I-40, heading west, and voila, there they are. Or coming from DC over through the MD panhandle to WV, you come on this long slow, curving rise, and you get to the top, and...it takes your breath. There they are. Mountains. :>


Oh, I'd FORGOTTEN that. It's been that long since I've been to mountains. But on every road that I've ever taken to get to the Appalachians, I know PRECISELY the moment I will get to see them. And there is no other feeling like that for me. I guess I was born with a mountain in my soul or something. The Rockies do it too, but it's different. That's awe-inspiring for certain. But the gentler, older Appalachians..they call to me in a way that nothing else does. When I see them I hear, "where have you been? Welcome home." And I feel it all the way to the center of my soul.

Okay, Jeanne, you just made me cry. :0)

Cassondra said...

Terrio said:

shortly after your lightning bug one, I was awakened from sleep by a bright light in my room. Turned out there was a lightning bug on my wall. In the dark it was like a runway light. LOL! I put him back outside, but I thought of you.


Aw! That made me smile. They ARE bright when they're the only light in a darkened room, aren't they? It's amazing how much light they give off.

My daughter stops me cold quite often. She's growing much too fast, already looking 13 at the age of 10. She's affectionate and empathetic and it breaks my heart when her heart bleeds for others. Usually total strangers.


Oh, man Terrio, what a perfect moment of "I saw God today." That's a really profound kind of love and caring.

Even when he's climbing where he shouldn't be, he turns that innocent face my way as if to say, "What?" He's darn lucky he's adorable, I'll tell ya that. LOL!


It's the only thing that keeps them alive. The cuteness. Obviously, that was planned ahead of time by the creator. Otherwise, we'd kill them all.

Cassondra said...

Donna said:

Babies - even when they're staring at you from across the restaurant - have that amazying ability to stop you

Oh, and how can you keep from flirting? I can't. I just want a smile. Just one. And I will do stupid, embarrassing stuff to get one.

Yesterday, while walking with the dh in the sweaty hot humidness of August, I saw this brilliant purple flower - like vivid raspberry color yellowrod - towering over a mass of uncut weeds. Just one flower, but it stopped me cold. Life is good.


Yeah. That's EXACTLY what I mean. For that moment, life is good.

Cassondra said...

Hellion said:

10-15 miles of it was along a country road--and I'd be driving around sunset--and the trees would shimmer and the car felt wonderful beneath my hands and I just felt free and everything looked beautiful. Like a horse that knows its going home and it picks up its gait. *LOL* I love how horses do that--I think it's funny and I think it's funny how I do it too.


Hellion this is a PERFECT description of it. Those moments that are so fleeting, but such miracles, when the sun hits the trees just right and they glow...Even telephone wires. Have you ever crested a hill and seen that sunlight on telephone lines stretching in front of you? I think it's a miracle how even something ugly like telephone lines can become beautiful in just the right moment.

Becke Davis said...

Boy, did I need this today. I've been reaching my stress limit, with all my different jobs converging with deadlines, etc. at once. That point where you can't read or sleep or focus on anything because you are so tense because there are so many things left on the to-do list.

This post made me think of the things that make me open my eyes to the world outside of work -- the whole "stop and smell the roses" thing. You'd think, being a garden writer, I'd have that down pat.

Your post made me remember a moment like your crop-duster epiphany. I was driving home from work -- this was when I worked for a landscaping company -- and I was startled when a flock of birds rose off a reed-lined pond. It was as if their movements were choreographed: they all rose together, tilting their wings with a soft rush of sound that I heard through my open windows. The sun caught their wings for a split second, turning them gold. It was magic, and it took my breath away.

I love those moments!

Cassondra said...

Hellion said:

Cassondra--I do love your posts--aren't the one who did the one about bull balls that hang off trucks? And also the one who drove into a ditch and got rescued by a couple hunky farmers? You have very memorable posts...and this is another brilliant example!



Thank you, Hellion, and yes, the Truck Nuts blog and the Tractor blogs were, indeed, mine.

Memorable? Snork. Okay I'll take that, actually. I think that's cool. Thank you.

Cassondra said...

Anna Sugden said:

Interestingly, having our stuff around us (we lived in rental accomodation in the US so it was all packed away) stops me. Something I walk past brings back a memory of a place and event or a special person.


Oh, what an interesting addition to the list! I can just imagine this. I can feel what that would be like--to be set up in your home and have the things you love around you, after not having them for a long while. It must be a little shot of joy each time you walk by a different thing. And I bet it's a peaceful feeling as well.

Cassondra said...

Becke said:

I was driving home from work -- this was when I worked for a landscaping company -- and I was startled when a flock of birds rose off a reed-lined pond. It was as if their movements were choreographed: they all rose together, tilting their wings with a soft rush of sound that I heard through my open windows. The sun caught their wings for a split second, turning them gold. It was magic, and it took my breath away.


Oh, yeah. That's it. Those things you could not plan or stage if you had to. Like a wave on the ocean, it's beyond the ability of man to create it, and all you can do is watch in awe. You just have to be there and appreciate it and let it feed your soul.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Cassondra said: I guess I was born with a mountain in my soul or something. The Rockies do it too, but it's different. That's awe-inspiring for certain. But the gentler, older Appalachians..they call to me in a way that nothing else does. When I see them I hear, "where have you been? Welcome home." And I feel it all the way to the center of my soul.

EXACTLY! That's it. :> I crave that "hello-welcome-home" moment on any route that takes me to or through the mountains. As usual, my Twin, we're on the same wavelength there. :> I'm also with you on the Appalachias vs. the Rockies. The Rockies come to me as a sort of alien landscape, Mars-on-Earth. I admire them, but I don't adore them. The greenclad mountains are what call, even in the winter when you can see the bones of the earth, with only the laurels or pines for color or coverage. Yep. Those are MY mountains. And yours, obviously!

Anna Campbell said...

Terrio, I saw lightning bugs when I went to Washington! Wow! I had dinner with a writing friend who had a whole stack of them in the trees in the bottom of her garden. They really are like Christmas lights. One of my coolest memories of my last visit to the States!

Cassondra said...

Jeanne said:

The greenclad mountains are what call, even in the winter when you can see the bones of the earth, with only the laurels or pines for color or coverage. Yep. Those are MY mountains. And yours, obviously!


Yup. Maybe that's why we're evil twins. ;0)

Cassondra said...

Anna said:

Terrio, I saw lightning bugs when I went to Washington! Wow! I had dinner with a writing friend who had a whole stack of them in the trees in the bottom of her garden. They really are like Christmas lights. One of my coolest memories of my last visit to the States!



Aren't they awesome?

I just can't believe there is no species of firefly in Australia.

Christine Wells said...

Cassondra, as usual, beautiful post! I had an experience like that just yesterday--I was bustling around, hanging out washing, trying to stop my boys from killing each other and then there it was--a double rainbow. One full, vivid rainbow and another softer one, running concentrically above it. My 6yo said he wanted to take it for show and tell. We couldn't get a photo that did it justice, so he said 'that's ok, I'll just do a tell'.

The beauty of my children stops me often. You get so caught up in all the chores, everything you have to make sure gets done, and then you really look at the perfection of a round cheek or the naughty gleam in a pair of blue eyes and you get that flutter.

Lovely post! Thanks, Cassondra.

Cassondra said...

Christine said:

I was bustling around, hanging out washing, trying to stop my boys from killing each other and then there it was--a double rainbow.

Oh, that's awesome, Christine! The double bows are even more rare around here. What with the trees and the clouds and humidity, we often just get a partial. A full is rare and a double--I may have only ever seen one.

And I can just imagine that naughty gleam that makes your heart flutter, since I've seen that gleam in YOUR eyes, chickipoo.

;0)

Nancy said...

Cassondra wrote: Steve is part of his flock, and about 3 in the afternoon, Thor starts calling for STeve, and will call until Steve gets home after work. Nothing will shut him up until Steve comes in that door. I'm learning to tune it out actually. It's LOUD.

Oh, my. I don't suppose Steve gets home at 3:10? I congratulate you on tuning that out. I don't know that I could.

I love seeing the geese. Not so crazy about dodging goose droppings on the brick sidewalk, but hey, that's the price of having the geese. Early last semester, I sometimes left campus near sunset, and I'd see them take off and fly in a giant V toward wherever they were spending the night, and if I was really lucky, leaving at just the right time, they'd be silhouetted against a pink and gold and fading blue sky and wash out the post-class fatigue and occasional irritation.

Stargazing is a definite benefit of country living. Plus you can probably play music outside and not worry about anyone hearing you. My first apartment out of school was across from a big, forested lot, and I used to stand out in the parking lot with Astronomy magazine's star chart and look for constellations.

You can add me to those who love the Appalachians. I used to spend a week every summer near Asheville, and my heart always lifted--and still does--as the road began its climb into the actual mountains. Last spring I drove home from W. Va. through snow and snow-covered mountains, and it was wonderful.

The dh's parents live in Colorado's Front Range. Subdivisions have sprung up all around them in the past six or seven years, but when we were first married, we could stand out in his folks' yard and see the Milky Way--it was that dark around them. I loved that.

PJ said...

What a beautiful post, Cassondra. It was a very timely reminder to slow down and appreciate all the blessings around me.

I know exactly what you and Jeanne mean about the mountains. I feel the same way. There are areas in town where you can't see them then the road rises up and the trees open up and suddenly there they are there, right in front of you, in all their glory. I especially love those views on the clear, crisp mornings of autumn when the mountains are the deep, deep blue that gave them their name with a shawl of morning mist laid gently over their peaks. It simply takes my breath away.

Cassondra said...

PJ said:

I especially love those views on the clear, crisp mornings of autumn when the mountains are the deep, deep blue that gave them their name with a shawl of morning mist laid gently over their peaks. It simply takes my breath away.

Even the LIGHT looks different in autumn, doesn't it?

I used to be an autumn girl. I loved everything about it. Now, because I have come to dread winter so intensely, I look forward more to spring. Getting older, I guess.

Still, that little lift of the heart when the sense of approaching autumn is in the air...nothing like that. Nothing.

Cassondra said...

Nancy said:

The dh's parents live in Colorado's Front Range. Subdivisions have sprung up all around them in the past six or seven years, but when we were first married, we could stand out in his folks' yard and see the Milky Way--it was that dark around them. I loved that.

Oh, I have sworn that if subdivisions surround us, I will pick up my house--yes, the WHOLE house--and move somewhere without security lights. There are three in the neighborhood, and that's three too many. If it would not be outright vandalism, I'd take a .22 to those security lights some nights. Grrrrr.

PJ said...

Still, that little lift of the heart when the sense of approaching autumn is in the air...nothing like that. Nothing.


I smelled it early yesterday morning when Cassy and I went for our walk - that first hint of autumn in the air. Immediately, my thoughts were filled with images of colorful leaves, Canadian geese returning to our cove, the smell of fireplaces firing up around the neighborhood, high school football on Friday nights and the roar of 100,000 rabid college football fans every Saturday. I adore autumn!

Cassondra said...

PJ, what a vivid picture!

I want to come visit now! ;0)

Christine Wells said...

Cassondra wrote: And I can just imagine that naughty gleam that makes your heart flutter, since I've seen that gleam in YOUR eyes, chickipoo.

You must be confusing me with someone else, C. I'm all innocence and light. Ha! But thanks for the compliment:)

Karen Olson said...

Cassandra, my daughter is 12. She sings with a group called the Elm City Girls Choir in New Haven, CT, and maybe it's the menopause, but whenever they start singing, I get all misty. She's been playing violin now since she was 7. She doesn't play sports but we have so much music!

Beth said...

Great post, Cassondra! I'm also one of those who are amazed by babies and children. Heck, I'll even stop to watch a group of preteens or teens just because they're so fascinating *g*

I'm often stopped in my tracks by my kids especially when they're singing (my daughters) or playing guitar (son).

I don't stop so much when the boy is playing drums though :-)

Cassondra said...

Karen Olson said:

Cassandra, my daughter is 12. She sings with a group called the Elm City Girls Choir in New Haven, CT, and maybe it's the menopause, but whenever they start singing, I get all misty. She's been playing violin now since she was 7. She doesn't play sports but we have so much music!



Aw, that's awesome! I bet that Choir is something else. I'd love to hear that.

Cassondra said...

Beth said:

I'm often stopped in my tracks by my kids especially when they're singing (my daughters) or playing guitar (son).


Ah, another mom getting to see her kids make music. I have no idea how that feels, but it must be amazing.

PJ said...

Cassy and I just returned from our evening walk. It's hot and miserably humid out and I really didn't want to go but didn't want to be stuck with an under-exercised two-year old dog either so off I went...grudgingly. About halfway through our walk, Cassy started wiggling and whimpering excitedly. Up ahead, my neighbor was pushing her 11 month old son in his stroller and headed in our direction. I could hear him cooing and see him waving his arms. The closer we got the more excited Justin and Cassy got. By the time they were actually within touching distance I don't think there was an inch of either of their bodies that wasn't moving and they both had huge grins. You would have sworn they hadn't seen either other in weeks instead of just under 24 hours...when they both had the very same reaction. lol! Cassy licked his bare toes and Justin squealed and laughed and patted Cassy's head while they basked in each others adoration. My "grumpies" left me in an instant and my heart smiled at the sight. Life is good.

Louisa Cornell said...

Sorry I haven't been by in a few days. I have spent every spare minute working on my WIP. If my CP catches me here I'm toast. SHHH! Don't tell her. Had to stop and say Cassondra this was an amazing post. I have become so focused on finishing this book and knowing I have revisions on the previous book that I PROMISED my agent would be done ASAP that I haven't spent a lot of time stopping cold.

The other morning I had just locked the door and told the outside dogs I loved them and I was "off to make dog food money." (I tell them that every morning.) when I heard an odd noise above me. I looked up and the local flock of Canadian did a fly over just for me. They hang out at the neighbor's pond just up the road and I love it when they fly over and honk like mad. Stops my dogs cold too. They all look up and wag their tails like crazy.

Books stop me cold too. I won an eBay auction for a first edition of England in the Nineteenth Century by Osman. It arrived yesterday and once I sat on the couch and opened it I spent more then a few minutes pondering a book that was almost 100 years old. It came from a library and I touched the cover and wondered how many other people had done so. Things like that just make me stop and think. I love taking care of old books, reading them and knowing someone who has probably gone on enjoyed the book as much as I did.

The honeysuckle and gardenias and hyacinths and roses that grow on my five acres always stop me cold. The sight and smell of them is just too amazing not to.

The bats come out at night and dance and twist and turn in the moonlight. The thought of them doing all of that in the dark, more in the dark than we can ever know and they never miss. I love to see them because I know the mosquitoes won't be bothering me that night.

Cassondra said...

PJ said:

Cassy licked his bare toes and Justin squealed and laughed and patted Cassy's head while they basked in each others adoration. My "grumpies" left me in an instant and my heart smiled at the sight. Life is good.


AWWWWWW. Okay that just gave me the warm fuzzies like you would not believe. That's so cool. What kind of dog is Cassy?

Cassondra said...

Louisa said:



I spent more then a few minutes pondering a book that was almost 100 years old. It came from a library and I touched the cover and wondered how many other people had done so.


OMG! THAT would stop me cold as well. Just think of the stories that book could tell...no pun intended here...the story that's within its cover, certainly, but the stories of all who have held it as well. Wow. Just. Wow.

The bats come out at night and dance and twist and turn in the moonlight. The thought of them doing all of that in the dark, more in the dark than we can ever know and they never miss.

Oh, I forgot about the bats! I love those too. We've been wanting to build bat houses for years and have never gotten to it. I sit by the fire and watch them catching mosquitos nearby and skimming water from the pond out back. That IS a wow moment. And you know, they see better than we do in many ways. And maybe they don't see the ugliness in the world because their sight is different. That's silly, isn't it.

Cassondra said...

PJ, is Cassy the dog in the avatar?

flchen1 said...

Cassondra, that was beautiful, as always! Your posts never fail to move me.

As for what stops me cold, when I stop to appreciate my family and friends, to laugh with my kids and enjoy knowing that I can call my sister up later and just chat and appreciate what a thoughtful guy my husband is... it's great to remember that we've got roses to smell!

Joan said...

know the mosquitoes won't be bothering me that night.

Hmmmm, bats huh?...I might have to consider getting one for the mosquitoes here.... but nah....

"They land in your hair and lay eggs and you go crazy" quote...Barney Fife, episode 122

:-)

PJ said...

AWWWWWW. Okay that just gave me the warm fuzzies like you would not believe. That's so cool. What kind of dog is Cassy?


Cassondra, Cassy is the dog in the avatar. She's a Lab/German Shepherd mix but was the runt of her litter so not as big as you'd expect. She's 47 pounds of love and joy.

Cassondra said...

Aw, thanks flchen.

And you're absolutely right. It is a powerful thing to stop and consider all that we've been given in friends, lovers, and family, isn't it?

Cassondra said...

Joan said:

Hmmmm, bats huh?...I might have to consider getting one for the mosquitoes here.... but nah....

"They land in your hair and lay eggs and you go crazy" quote...Barney Fife, episode 122


Aw, Joanie, don't take the word of a guy who was only allowed to carry one bullet--in his POCKET for cryin out loud.

Bats are cool! ;0)

Cassondra said...

PJ said:

Cassondra, Cassy is the dog in the avatar. She's a Lab/German Shepherd mix but was the runt of her litter so not as big as you'd expect. She's 47 pounds of love and joy.


Aw, she's GORGEOUS. Mutts are the best kind of dog IMO. Smarter, more loving, less high-maintenance. Hey, I love a GSD as much as the next person, but mutts...they're winners. They just are. Heinz 57 dogs FTW!

Louisa Cornell said...

Cassondra, I have bat houses on my property that's why "my" bats hang around. They really are great pest control. That's what I tell anyone who is sitting on my porch late at night when they happen to fly over.

"What's that?"

"Pest control."

People tend to scream and run into the house less if you say that rather than "bats!"

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

PJ, Cassy is beautiful!

Louisa, I love the bats too. I also love the nighthawks. You only seem to see them when it's really hot and they fly high, high up in the darkening sky. Gorgeous.

Joanie, I'm getting bat boxes to put up in my high oaks. We have mosquitos the size of c-130's around here. Hate those darn things.

Cassondra, both the post adn all the responses have been so delicious. Reminders that there are so many things, large and small, to be thankful for.

Joan said...

Reminders that there are so many things, large and small, to be thankful for.

I'M thankful for Cassondra!!!

Cassondra said...

Louisa said:

"What's that?"

"Pest control."

People tend to scream and run into the house less if you say that rather than "bats!"


Snork! okay. SNORK!

Okay I am so LOL at this. Most of our friends would just have to suck it up and recognize that they are bats. (grin)

Cassondra said...

Jeanne said:

Louisa, I love the bats too. I also love the nighthawks. You only seem to see them when it's really hot and they fly high, high up in the darkening sky. Gorgeous.


Oh, we get the nighthawks too! I LOVE those birds. Watching them in the evenings is as good as an airshow.

Cassondra said...

Joanie said:

I'M thankful for Cassondra!!!


Aw, thanks Joanie. *sniff*

No, really. *sniff* Now I'm crying.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Cassondra said...The sister climbed onto mom's bed and looked into the bassinet and said, "Will you tell me about God? I'm starting to forget."
oh wow! Doesn't that give you the shivers?

Pat Cochran said...

This is an easy one for me: hugs
and kisses from any or all of my
sweet grandchildren! Big hugs &
kisses and an "I love you,
Grandma" really make my day!

Pat Cochran