The wind was blowing the trash cans around in the street when I pulled up to our house after dropping William off at school. There was a bite to the wind when I went to get the cans into the garage. It’s only 39 degrees out (F), but it feels colder with the rain and wind.
There was a wind storm last night that did some damage to counties closer to Lake Michigan. We had gusts up around 50mph here. The wind took trees and limbs down all over Milwaukee County. It’s a good day to be inside. The warmth of the house felt good when we stepped inside.
It’s that time of year when the days are getting short and the fireplace regains its charm. I’ve been eyeing a particular row of books on my shelf that I would like to get through. Deep reading is difficult to do with a toddler, but now that Emily is beginning to occupy herself for longer periods with her toys, it’s getting a little better. I love reading lighter things like Reminisce magazine (my favorite) or Farm and Ranch Living (because I admire the rural life from afar), but in this age of digital noise, sometimes you have to determine to get back to deeper reading.
The Oxford Book of English Verse and its American counterpart are on my list. These poems show that regardless of the era in which we live, the human experience really differs little throughout time. I like this poem by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, 1516-47.
MARTIAL, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:—
The richesse left, not got with pain;
The fruitful ground, the quiet mind;
The equal friend; no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule, nor governance;
Without disease, the healthful life;
The household of continuance;
The mean diet, no delicate fare;
True wisdom join’d with simpleness;
The night dischargèd of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress.
The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night:
Contented with thine own estate
Ne wish for death, ne fear his might.
That description of a contented life could have come out of the Book of Proverbs in the Bible: a faithful spouse, simplicity of lifestyle (he mentions simple, or “mean”, food), peace with your neighbors, no grudge-holding and the quiet mind that results, prosperity from your own hard work–all the things that give a person a good night sleep. I reacquainted myself with these poems the other night and have many to plow through.
Another series of books deserving attention on my shelf are The Treasury of David commentaries by C.H. Spurgeon. This writing is so deep that a few paragraphs or even one paragraph can be chewed on for a long time. Here is what he writes on verse 2 of Psalm 1.
Here the gracious man is described both negatively (verse 1) and positively (verse 2). He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions.
Note next, he standeth not in the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood-washed sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd with the multitude that do evil.
Again it is said, “nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” He finds no rest in the atheist’s scoffings. Let others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God; this man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too much sense of God’s presence to endure to hear His name blasphemed. The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits therein.
The nip in the air reminds me of the fast approaching holidays. I am looking forward to the winter village going up on my table in the dining room. It was a gift last year that we enjoyed all during the Christmas season. This year, however, it isn’t just for Christmas. Tom starts a long-running music job from the first week in November through nearly Christmas, so he’s going to put my village up early while he still has time in the evenings. Otherwise, it might not get up at all. Emmy will enjoy it more this year than last, and she’s old enough to know what “no” means, so hopefully the little figures will be safe from her curious fingers. Note that I said, “hopefully.”
Before we know it, Thanksgiving Day will be here and snow will fly here in the north. This isn’t grand poetry, but my children learned it from a nursery rhyme book when they were little. It makes me think of fast approaching November.
The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.