‘For everything there is a season and a season for every purpose under heaven’s canopy…’
For valiant undaunted courage, persistent love with a magnificent obsession for life in the face of heartbreaking uncertainty as Seasons Collide…
For enduring faithfulness, unfailing civility, uncommon graciousness and transcendent hopefulness in the radiant promise of Spring…
‘God has made all things beautiful in His Time… ‘
Love y’all, Camellia
These beautiful photographs, which I named ‘When Seasons Collide’ were shared with me by friend and amazing Alabama photographer, Sally Smith of www.CampCreekCreations.com The dazzling photographs were taken as winter fumbled with life’s thin veil and the seasons of life collide. The photographs belong to Sally and can only be used with permission. *The quotes are extracted from Eccelesiastes 3, with additional text added by Camellia’s Cottage.
When a streak of red passes my window in the gray days of winter, I know the Redbirds have returned. In the South, we call these stunning Cardinals-Redbirds. Their cheerful ways and bright feathers always make me happy and remind me of a beautiful poem called ‘At the Winter Feeder’ by John Leax. Winter Holidays can be difficult- may we never forget those who are broken. The Winter Season falls hard on some. These are the special ones- the ones whom God has sent to us as Messengers of Need. Look for them, offer them relief if you can- a kind word, a gentle embrace, a seed of hope at the Winter Feeder.
At the Winter Feeder
His feather flame doused dull by icy cold, the Cardinal hunched into the rough green feeder but ate no seed. Through binoculars I saw festered and useless his beak, broken at the root. Then two, one blazing, one gray, rode the swirling weather into my vision and lighted at his side. Unhurried, as if possessing the patience of God, they cracked sunflowers and fed him beak to wounded beak, choice meats. Each morning and afternoon the winter long, that odd triumvirate, that trinity of need, returned and ate their sacrament of broken seed.
An ‘odd triumvirate that trinity of need…a sacrament of broken seed…’ We would do well to watch for Messengers of Need throughout the Winter Season.
Love y’all, Camellia
These Amazing Photographs were taken by my friend Sally Smith of www.CampCreekCreations.com and are used with permission.
John Leax is a retired English Professor and Poet in Residence of Houghton College. His author page and wonderful books may be found on Amazon.com and other major book retailers. All material may be subject to copyright
The most profound wisdom often comes from children’s storybooks…One of my all time favorite lessons for adults is found in The Velveteen Rabbit, written in 1958, by Margery Williams. Read along with me and find the Storybook Wisdom from the Skin Horse to the Velveteen Rabbit, who wanted to know what it meant to be Real-
‘Real isn’t how you are made’ said the Skin Horse, ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’
Storybook Wisdom…on being Real. It doesn’t happen if you break easily, have sharp edges or have to be carefully kept. Hair loved off, eyes falling out, loose in the joints and very shabby, now that’s Real- Shabby Chic if you ask me. Can I get a witness? Have a blessed day!
Love y’all, Camellia
*Image of Margery Williams’ Velveteen Rabbit – hardback edition from Amazon.com, other images are from www.commons.wikimedia.org
*As a programming note:) – Cook and Enjoy Recipes honored Camellia’s Cottage allowing us a guest post on their site for ‘Bighearted Casseroles’Bighearted Casseroles – wow what an honor!
Southern women are traditional, eccentric or colorful creatures; sometimes we are just one or the other- a straight up Traditional, an Eccentric, or a Colorful Southern woman-though sometimes you will run across an adorable combinationof two out of three… If you’re blessed above all others- you will find that exotic Southern woman who is the delightful combination of all three!
Southern women take writing thank you notes, having impeccable manners, paying our respects and dressing appropriately seriously, with an emphasis on appropriate as in Behavior with a capital B. The traditions of Southern Hospitality are things we won’t budge on too often. A Southern woman would have to have a very untraditional excuse to get by with it.
However, if a Southern woman can pull off a certain flair, well we might call her colorful. She’s the one who can wear a caftan when everyone else has on a cocktail dress- the one who can go natural and still look good; or can insert very carefully an outrageous word or two. That’s Colorful.
My mother always said my grandmother had ‘radar’ or ESP- ‘You can’t pull anything over on Mimi, never could.’ was one way of putting it…Someone who had ESP or home cures or even weird dreams that could be interpreted and yes, could read minds- thatSouthern woman is Eccentric…She has her tonics, her potions, her keen mind, her Almanac and her ways. You don’t want to live your life without knowing all three types- or the combinations.
So, let me just say, after you have passed along all of the social graces and insisted they must be followed at all costs or the dreaded label of ‘trashy’ will follow you all the days of your life…After you have done all you can do to train up a Southern daughter– then you can add this delightful rule:
‘Always have at least one friend who’s up for anything.’
Right? Y’all know I’m right. I can hear the applause…
Love y’all, Camellia
This photo was found on www.seniorsingapore.com- am not sure of it’s origins, but I think the Cotton Candy ladies are hysterical.
We all love champions. The Olympics brings out our love for champions. We love to see how honed skill, willpower and flesh meld together into a champion. And there is one quality that I particularly thrill to see in a champion- joy. No, not the joy of winning, the joy in the doing- the sheer joy of running the race. The- ‘I would do this if no one was watching’ kind of joy; now to me that is a real champion. I’ve been watching for that joy in the 2016 Olympics, some have won and others have lost but to me? When I’ve seen it- I’ve seen a champion. It’s a rare quality. Several years ago, we were in Louisville Kentucky, I remember it well- it was the week after the Kentucky Derby…Louisville was still decked out- we stayed at the famous Brown’s Hotel, we took a tour out to Churchill Downs…it was very impressive; it was the first time I had ever heard about the champion racehorses who were buried on the grounds- the guide said the head, the heart and the hooves of the horses were buried along with the cremated remains. The head for determination- the will to win; the heart for courage; the hooves for speed to run the race. Barbaros wins the 2006 Kentucky Derby!
Only one horse is actually buried at the racetrack- Barbaros. His story is one of great promise- after winning the 2006 Kentucky Derby, he was considered a shew in for the Triple Crown. He did not- at the Preakness, something terrible happened and he had to be pulled out of the race. I know nothing about veterinary medicine, but the bones in one of his hind legs had to be repaired in more than 20 places, then became infected- the condition he had was a death knell. His surgery is still groundbreaking and provides useful information for those who care for horses. Barbaros lived for 8 months afterwards- his head and his heart- his joy, courage and determination never flagged, until the last two days of his life. When that light went out, his owners and veterinarian knew he was suffering terribly and could not be saved. His grieving owners gained permission to bury Barbaros at Churchill Downs and commissioned Alexa King of Lexington, Kentucky to create a life-size bronze of Barbaros. Look at the above photograph of Barbaros winning the Kentucky Derby! All four of his hooves are off the ground! The bronze that Alexa King created is a gorgeous engineering marvel! Look at the opening photograph and you will see the 1500 pound lifesize horse has all four feet off the ground! The sculptor also managed to capture Barbaros in action, in spirit and as the guide pointed out- even the determination and joy!
‘When I mold clay in my hand I sense the movement of a horse!’ Alexa King
At the base of the statue is a quote-
‘God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His Pleasure’
Eric Liddell was a gold medal winner in the 1924 Paris Olympiad. He was dubbed the ‘Flying Scotsman’. He won the 400 meter, which he had not trained to run; against all odds- he won over the highly favored Americans. Like Barbaros, he could practically fly! Eric Liddel was of Scottish descent but was born in China to missionary parents.
While he was being educated in Great Britain, he developed a love of running. God had indeed made him fast. He also loved education and science- he became a teacher and a devout follower of the teachings of the Church of Scotland, with the intention of returning to China, to join his parents in their missionary work. Eric Liddell ran to honor God…
‘Seeing we are encompassed by so a great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sinwhich so easily besets us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…’ Hebrew 12:1-2
to be continued…
You won’t want to miss Part 2! Love y’all, Camellia
Grits. Simple. Unadorned. In the South, if you truly grew up here, there is a primal instinct to crave Grits. People don’t understand this outside of the region, in fact you may not even be able to find Grits on the grocery shelves in other regions of the country, much less the world. I have a friend whose daughter moved to Los Angeles a decade or so ago, who would whine so pitifully for grits that her mother bought and sent her a bag of grits from time to time. The same thing happened when a friend’s sister moved to New York around the same time frame- ‘Well, I guess she’s homesick, she wants me to send her a bag of grits.’ To be fair, some of the great chefs have taken a low class food like grits and have elevated them to a delicacy once known as breakfast grits for fishermen or laborers near the coastal areas of the south- to Shrimp and Grits, but if a poll were taken I would be willing to bet these same chefs in major cities outside of the South would never eat Grits for breakfast! In the South, field hands to fine gentlemen, get it- they want and expect Grits for breakfast! From nursery food, to sick beds, to hearty men’s breakfasts, and ladies brunches- you will always find Grits on the savory side of the menu,never the sweet. I can’t say it any better than Alabama girls, Deborah Ford and Edie Hand in their ‘GRITS Handbook’ *-
‘Grits are eaten with butter, gravy or cheese- never sugar.’
Y’all, trust me on this- true Southerners crave Grits from their bassinets to their deathbeds. Grits are the ultimate comfort food, considered a healing aid, a cure for the sick. I once heard my grandmother say, ‘I knew he was real sick, when he turned his nose up at a bowl of grits.’ Grits are like kinfolks, we sometimes take them for granted, they are the unsung companion to many a fine meal. Grits are the big-hearted, open-to-embellishment relative at the Southern table, it accepts additions graciously- butter, cheese, shrimp, crumbled sausage and bacon, even eggs have been poached in Grits’ Casseroles. Just remember, never sugar. There is a limit to even the most generous among us! You will never find Grits on a dessert table so why would you even think of adding sugar? We southerners love our food, we talk about it- we pass recipes down and around; what we may have lacked in fortunes, was more than made up for on food laden tables, generously shared, eaten heartily without shame or daintily with lively conversation. Even when we’re eating out, someone will say ‘Here, try this’ – to say ‘No’ –is out of the equation you will just hear- ‘Really, you have to try this.’- as we put at least one bite over on the loved one’s plate. We can get downright biblical about food– someone once asked, ‘How many people will that pot of grits feed?’ The answer? ‘Oh honey, multitudes.’ Grits have served multitudes, down through Southern history- using the basic elements of fire, water, salt and that most ancient food- Corn.
In my southern childhood innocence, there was no doubt Goldilocks interrupted the Three Bears’ breakfast of Grits, not porridge! Southern women have a distinct, almost unnatural fascination with ancestral food, like Grits. We rely on family recipes, our grandmothers’ ancient potions and mysterious cures. When prescriptions or modern medicine fail us- we offer Grits as part of a curative white diet, along with chicken broth, weak tea, ginger ale, soda crackers, rice, dry toast,mashed potatoes and scrapedapple.
When we cook Grits, we are communing with our ancestors; even when I am alone in my kitchen- the mothers, aunts and grandmothers are with me- informing me. Like taking care of a family- Grits have to be watched, tended to, kept moving- stirred gently with alanguid patience, especially when they are absorbing the hot water of life. You learn to swirl the Grits into water that is at a rolling boil, then bring them down to a soft bubble- never stepping away from the simmer, taking the time to get it right, gently adding a bit of cool water if they start to thicken too soon- bring them to just the right consistency, turning off the flame, adding a bit of butter for richness; then covering with a lid almost like tucking them under a quilt. You learn this when you’re the cook, when you’re the nourishing caretaker of a husband, of a family or a community. You learn how much effort it takes to get it right, just from making a pot of Grits. The humble bowl of Grits-is proof that whether in a rundown shack, a double wide trailer, a lake house, a high rise beach condo or a country club- in the South we are all linked by a simple warm bowl of Grits.
You either like them or you don’t- but you can’t deny the allure of Grits- the generous big hearted food of the South is what culinary dreams are made of- in fact, I’m dreaming of having a BuildYour OwnShrimp and Grits Party! We’ll top it with spicy shrimp, cheese, crumbled bacon, ham or Andouille sausage- maybe some red eye gravy, fried okra, bell peppers, finely diced purple onion and red tomatoes …what else? Well, my grits are getting cold…
Love y’all, Camellia
*quote from The Grits (Girls Raised in the South) Guide to Life by Deborah Ford with Edie Hand
O Holy Spirit of God, come into my heart and fill me. I open the windows of my soul to let Thee in, I surrender my whole life to Thee; Come and possess me, fill me with Light and Truth. I offer to Thee, the one thing I truly possess, my capacity for being filled by Thee. Of myself I am an empty vessel.
Fill me so that I may live the life of the Spirit. The life of Truth and Goodness. The life of Beauty and Love. The life of Wisdom and Strength. And guide me today in all things; Guide me to the people I should meet or help. To the circumstances in which I can best serve Thee; whether by my actions or by my sufferings.
But above all, make Christ be formed in me. That I may dethrone self in my heart and make Him King; so that He is in me, and I in Him. Today and Forever. Amen.
* Madame Chiang Kai-Shek’s adaptation of a prayer by Bishop of Bloomfontein of South Africa. She was said to have used this as a morning meditation while she was walking in her garden- the meditation should be said slowly, deeply felt, even brooded over in contemplation. This meditation is the epitome of the Hebrew psaltery command- ‘Selah’…a musical instruction to ‘pause and think calmly of that.’ Search the Psalms- you will find many which use the word ‘Selah‘. Here is one of my favorites….’May God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause His Face to shine upon us. Selah…Ps. 67:1
I hope you have had a blessed Lord’s Day- and will begin your week with this beautiful morning meditation.
Love y’all, Camellia
*photograph – St. Malachy’s –St. Malachy’s near Times Square, NYC
*I have had a copy of this meditation for many years- with a notation that it was found among Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s writings- no current reference has been found.
‘Friends are like the pillars on your Front Porch…Sometimes they hold you up, Sometimes they lean on you; Sometimes, it’s just enough to know they’re standing by for you…’
Yes, welcome to the Porches of Alabama… ‘How do you do’, ‘Y’all come up and set a while’ or ‘Tell me all about it, we’ll figure out what to do’…
We’ll sip a glass of sweet iced tea, sit and watch the sunset, blink with the lightin’ bugs and hear the crickets sing. Softly sing a song or two, a stolen kiss, a sweet embrace, a gentle breeze to chase the blues away…
‘We’re glad you came’- Are you sure y’all can’t stay awhile?’ with gentle hugs, a tear or two-‘Now don’t be a stranger’ or ‘Please don’t go we’ll miss you so!’ We’ll watch until you’re out of sight-from the Front Porches in Alabama.
‘Friends are like Front Porch Pillars, Sometimes they hold you up, Sometimes they lean on you; Sometimes it’s just enough to know they’re standing by for you.’
Love y’all, Camellia
A Heartfelt Thanks to Jeremy Miniard for almost all of these wonderful ‘Front Porches of Alabama’ – what would we do without him?? We have some more of them in the vault waiting! They do belong to him, and cannot be reproduced without permission.
I’d like to claim it as my own, but the Front Porch Quote is Anonymous.
This is Eleanor. She has graced a secluded place beneath a clump of dogwood trees in our garden for over ten years. The angel was given to us during a dark season of grief. I never called my husband’s mother by her given name- Eleanor. From the moment the statuaryangel was put in place, she has been Eleanor to me. I look at her everyday from my kitchen window- from the street she is unseen- if you go to the side yard, down a long curved path, there is a round circle of purple irises with a large urn in the center- beyond a pair of fruit trees, your eyeis drawn to Eleanor. My mother in law died in early spring right before the dogwoods begin to bloom. Tiny daffodils bloom at her feet. Statuary in the home or gardenshould have meaning, Eleanor does; she is a sweet reminder of my gentle mother in law every day. She was an angel.
The great cities of the world have iconic statuary. New York-
Santa Fe’s Canyon Road has incredible sculpture and statuary-
Great statuary, no matter where it is, should have significance, purpose and a sense of place. What would the Statue of Liberty look like surrounded by gnomes, pigs, baskets, urns and rabbits?
There is a place for whimsy in our world, yet even whimsical statuary should have significance, purpose and a sense of place. The statuary planter on the back porch is an example of whimsy. Whenever I have acquired statuary, the piece has found me, not the other way around. If you are shopping, don’t overlook local plantnurseries or shops, they will often have a good selection at reasonable prices.
I happen to love statuary in great cities, in shopping areas, in public gardens, in cemeteries, on battlegrounds or playgrounds- in public buildings, homes and in cathedrals…
Let me show you how we have used some statuary in Camellia’s Cottage…
Each piece follows the design principles I believe in…significance, beauty, whimsy, mystery, scale, focal point, texture, purpose, emotion and a sense of place. To find a few small birds beneath a big basket of homegrown hydrangeas, to have a muse looking over my shoulder as I read a book, to perch a facepot on a pedestal as a whimsical reminder to save for a rainy day, to discover a bird in hand or a tiny bird poised in flight beneath a map of our home county, to bring the outside in with a heavy urn and a wise old man- those things have a place of significance without saying one word. Thestatuary, large or small, are gentle memories and peaceful inspiration for our sweet home in Alabama.
Love y’all, Camellia
*This post is written in loving memory of my mother in law, Eleanor McKinney Wyatt.
A Collage of Verses which Guide me for your Sunday Inspiration
‘You are His Masterpiece…’ Ephesians 2:10
There is only one you- you are an incredible work of art- a Masterpiece! You have gifts to offer us that no one else has; things only you can do for mankind. Please remember this, we need you. Bless our world with what only you can bring to us.
‘Do not neglect the gift which is in you…practice, cultivate and meditate upon yourgift…throw yourself wholly into them…look well to yourself, your own unique personality…persevere in these things…hold to them as if your very life depends on it..’ 1 Timothy 4:14-16
Your best life depends on the gifts that are within you! What we do with our lives is not even half as important as what we become. Live wholeheartedly using your own unique personality, for in truth? Your very life depends on how you choose to live it each day.
‘I am calling up memories of your sincere faith, passed down to youfrom your grandmother andyour mother- reminding you to stir up your gifts, re-kindle the embers, fan the flames…keep the inner fire burning of the gracious gifts of God that are in you… 2 Timothy 1:6
If you don’t know where to start? Get historical– remember that which was done well with passion from the most creative places within you- when your inner fire was burning and what came out of the forge was useful and beautiful. Don’t allow the gracious gifts of God within you to simmer on thebackburner. The world needs every gracious gift only you can bring.
For God hasnot given you a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a calm and well-balanced mind, of discipline and self control.’ 2 Timothy 1:6-7
God has not given you a spirit of fear! Anyone or anything who provokes fear in your heart- is not from God. Those who would stir up fear render us helpless and unsettled. Selfcontrolled, loving, calm and well balanced minds are powerful forces for good. What will you choose? Fear? or Calm and Well Balanced Minds? Use those qualities as a yardstick to measure character.
‘Let no foul or polluting language, unwholesome or worthless talk come out of your mouth; but only beneficial to the progress of others, as is fitting to the need and of the occasion, that it may be a blessing to those who hear it.’ Ephesians 4:29
‘Let all bitterness and indignation, wrath, rage, bad temper, resentment, anger and quarreling, contention, slander and abusive language be banished from you, with all malice, spite, ill will of any kind- And become useful, helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted, compassionate, understanding, and forgiving with loving kindness as God in Christ forgave you’. Ephesians 4:31-32
Words are powerful– spoken or written- either cause bruises or heal them- your choice. Folks that get others ‘riled up and angry’ or folks that help us ‘settle down and be hopeful’; these are two more measures of mankind for me- Learn along with me to reject angryvoices- Heated, mean spirited quarrels have never built a better mankind.
‘Whatever your task, work at it heartily- from the soul, as something done for God…making the very most of your time…’ Colossians 3:23 and 4:5
No matter what-make the very most of your time. Live wholeheartedly, life is too short for halfheartedly living, accepting the mediocre is unacceptable. Make the very most of your time.
‘Love one another, as I have loved you…By this shall all men know that you are My Disciples, if you have love one toward another.’ John 13: 34-35
I hope you have stayed with me- this is the most important of all of the verses! Read it again- ‘by this shall all men know you are Mine’… There it is! The Distinquishing Mark! This is: how you willknow what is authentic and what is a poor imitation of almost anyone. How we view others, how well we treat other human beings says everything abouttrue character.All of us are human beings- far too many are broken, beaten down by life and shattered dreams. The true test of our humanity is how well we show love to one another. This old world is heavy handed- hardened and sore in too many places… How much better would the world be if we chose to walk softly and leave that big stick behind? Look for the distinquishing mark, theengravings…resolve to live your best life, make the most of your time, use your words carefully, keep the measuring tape with you and don’t forget what a masterpiece you are!
Love y’all, Camellia
*The beautiful beginning and ending scenes- were photographed at the lovely Hotel St. Francis in the historic district of Santa Fe, New Mexico- a very inspiring place to be.
*Verses originate from the KJV-Amplified Version of the Bible.