The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Snow Cover Gone - New Lovejoy Books Arrive

My First Bird Book
I have been reading gardening and nature books since 1981, when we moved to Midland and had access to every possible book in this area - for adults and children  - at the Grace Dow Library. Lately I was miffed that the selection at the Barnes and Noble store was long on marijuana growing and short on anything worthwhile. The previous exception was Teaming with Microbes.

Gardening books are not classified well at that store. The selection seems random so I look over the spines for something new and different. I often take a book to the coffee area and page through it, inwardly groaning at the gardening cliches and obvious duplication of ridiculous ideas. "Give this rose extra fertilizer." By all means, try your best to kill the rose and keep it from blooming.

My favorite forehead-slapper is "Scratch Epsom Salts into the soil." Epsom Salts instantly melt into water, so that is like scratching coconut oil into one's skin. In other words, the expert had no clue - Martha Stewart in this case. She reminds me of the Stuart kings, who left an indelible bad impression on England. Besides that, Epsom Salts are great for the feet but seldom useful for soil or plants.

Sharon Lovejoy's A Blessing of Toads is a good starter for gardeners.


My second big find in the last year was Sharon Lovejoy's  A Blessing of Toads. The book gets its title from Lipton's classic Exaltation of Larks, a book listing the names we have for groups of animals: a pride of lions, a parliament of owls, a murder of crows. I was already aiming for more toads per acre when I saw the book and realized this could be good. However, I had no idea that someone could pack so much knowledge into one book.

Lovejoy matches the density of information (useful knowledge per page) with Teaming with Microbes while keeping the language simple and the work fun.

So the birdbook arrived, which I ordered in haste. For children, hmm? I paged through it and noticed Lovejoy covers all aspects, with beautiful illustrations. She explains everything about birds in great detail and has the advantage of many years of observation. Her story of chickadees ridding a section of cabbage worms (as I recall) is illuminating. She can dig up statistics, but she has great stories to tell from her own experiences  in gardening and observing nature. This is the best combination - anecdotes plus hard facts.

Besides that, the book includes an excellent bird identification guide.

We used to have those guides around the house, first when I was a child and later when I wanted to know what was flying around in the backyard. I never found those editions useful, because they featured a picture and a map of where the birds were found. Lovejoy's section is far more interesting and useful for anyone.


Sharon Lovejoy's Trowel and Error is an encyclopedia of tips for the gardener.

Snow Cover Gone - For Now
March 1 was going to be the tipping point, when the weather warmed up in Springdale. Instead, we had snow falling Friday night, Saturday snow and sleet, Sunday ice slicker than Church Growth promises.

Last night was above freezing, so the snow cover is gone, and all the plants and mulch are newly moistened. The starlings and doves are busy working over the soil around the Jackson Bird Spa, and the starlings are splashing in their newly melted baths. In cold weather they leave tracks on top of the snow and ice-filled dishes, as if to say, "Why didn't you invest in a birdbath warmer for us."

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: 
  • it shall not return unto me void, 
  • but it shall accomplish that which I please, 
  • and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. [bullets not in the original]

The snow is great for the South and especially needed in the West, where they count on snowmelt for agriculture reservoirs. If rain and snow have inevitable results. what about the Word? And yet people trust man's wisdom while marveling over the wonders of nature. They fail to see the connection between Creation, the Word, and the work of Christians.

For those who pay attention to the health of soil, plants, animals, and humans, snowmelt is an enormous boost to Creation in the spring, as designed by its Architect.

Below the surface of the soil, all the organic material above and within is feeding the bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. Just above the microbe level are the tiny springtails, that shred organic matter for decomposition by the microbes. The much larger slugs also shred, and the giant earthworms (by comparison) shred dead material while grazing on bacteria, sweetening the soil with calcium, and adding nitrogen for growth.

They all live on moisture, so they store moisture, locking it into the first 12 inches of soil. A quart of water will run through sand, but rich humus soil and clay will absorb the water. Even more will be absorbed by the billions of creatures in that root zone.

The bugs and earthworms peek out from snowmelt, and the birds pounce on them to feed their young. Spiders begin to spin their webs to trap the tiniest insects, and wasps use the larvae as warm, moist, moving nurseries for their eggs. The destructive larvae are also food for the wasp newborns as they hatch. Our helper said, "You have a wasp nest." I say, "Good." They make paper from the wood mulch and kill the pests. 
Ichneumon Wasps.
Admit it - you did not know they existed.

Ichneumons (“ ick-new-mons”) are mysterious and exotic wasps that are parasitic connoisseurs. Each specializes in one specific host (or a very few hosts). Ichneumons are delicately sculptured and patterned with almost infinite variety and subtlety. There are tens of thousands of species, and they are difficult to differentiate; males and females within a species often come in different shapes and sizes, dimensions of appendages, and colors (from yellow and brown to brilliant shiny metallic-blue with contrasting black and white patterns). The female possesses an ovipositor that projects out of her rear end. Depending on the species , the ovipositor can be so short as to be barely visible, or as long or longer than the wasp’s body itself. The ovipositor doubles as a stinger, but primarily it is a tool for injecting eggs into the body of her host.
Heinrich, Bernd (2008-12-24). The Snoring Bird (Kindle Locations 178-184). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.