We hope it

Crape myrtles in winter, bare but set to bloom beautifully,  January 2010.

Crape myrtles in winter, bare but getting ready to bloom beautifully, January 2010.

“Our destiny often looks like a fruit-tree in winter. Who would think from its pitiable aspect that those rigid boughs, those rough twigs could next spring again be green, bloom, and even bear fruit? Yet we hope it, we know it.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

After the difficulties of an especially harsh year, I am grateful for nature’s continual reminders of how things can be made new again.  It’s really remarkable, the transformation of a tree from a bare, seemingly moribund skeleton to a profusion of greenery and flowers. I see it each year in the crape myrtles in our neighborhood, pictured above in winter and here, photographed in the summer.

I’ve learned from experience not to give up on straggly plant remains that appear to have been frozen.  Sometimes flowering annuals spring back to life again as the weather warms (whether from roots or seeds, I’m never quite sure), or a neglected houseplant will gradually respond to more attention.

So it is with us, with our hopes and dreams.  We can survive quite a lot, and hopefully come back stronger.

One year ago today

Winter lives


  1. sarvjit

    Patience and self-control are a key for a harvest of true happiness. We can never know what the power of heart can do anytime.

    • Yes, those two virtues are difficult ones for me, but each time I allow them to surface, the rewards are a great motivation. Thanks for the reminder!

      • sarvjit

        Thank you for those words.

        • Thanks to you too! 🙂

  2. That is an apt simile. There will be many situations in our lives when we lose all hope. But we overcome the problems miraculously and soon we forget most of the details or even the whole story that once almost devastated us. Such past experiences are my strength, and I have the hope things are going to be bright again, sooner or later.

    • Bindu, when Jeff first got sick, I thought of all that we had been through with Matt and his health problems. I told Jeff “it is possible that all of our experiences with Matt have been training to prepare us for this great challenge, to help you get well.” I agree with you there is no better fortification than the realization that we can and do survive far more than we would have imagined we could. I pray that you will continue to have strength to outlast whatever difficulties you may face, until happier times arrive!

  3. That is the sweet blessing of the blessing received within our spirits, faith and hope always thrives from season to season, from famine to plenty…there is always so many things large and small to be thankful for…thanks for making the morning brighter with your words my sister! God bless!

    • Thank you so much, Wendell! I appreciate your shining the light of encouragement in cyberspace! God is good ALL THE TIME and sometimes we need reminders to open our eyes and see. Have a blessed week!

  4. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. I’m so happy that you’ve had family time in Atlanta recently. I’m sure every moment was special. We are awaiting a sleet and snowy mix today so our landscape may look much like your photo. 🙂 I’m always amazed at the mass of roots that can appear in my little rooter vase. But it still requires transferring to soil to really flourish. I identify this with our life and the difference it makes when we add God! Thinking of you so often and with a prayer.

    • Hi Sheila, WOW it’s a cold day indeed when the South Carolina seashore is getting sleet and snow! I can just hear Walter thinking “did they move us north without telling me? Or am I imagining this cold?” We did have a lovely time in Atlanta. Daddy was feeling fairly well during the time all four of us plus spouses and children were there, but I think we wore him out a bit! It was wonderful to have some time with Mama and Daddy again — and of course, seeing Grady was great too. I agree with you about being amazed at the intricate roots that can grow in water. Sometimes I will cut a piece off our scheffalera and stick it in an old gallon container to root, and then forget about it – sometimes the roots are so big I have to cut the container off before transplanting! But as you say, transplant we must. A nice analogy to remember! Thanks so much for your friendship and prayers.

  5. Michael

    I wonder if this pict could be of Atlanta today? My son is a fire-fighter there so keep all public service workers in prayer as they deal with inclement weather. I know they are cancelling flights there today.
    I got some Myrtle seeds from my son’s yard last visit and will try to germinate these.

    • Michael, I apparently got out of Atlanta in the nick of time yesterday evening. Eric sent me a photo of snow on the ground at Mama and Daddy’s home this morning. Jeff’s Daddy used to have to get out and clear the roads in snow and ice, and my father and brothers had to fly in it, so we always think of those whose work increases or gets harder in foul weather while the rest of us stay inside safe and warm. I’m sending up prayers for your son and all the public service workers who are having a very stressful winter this year. In California, we had a friend who was a firefighter and he was always getting called out to wildfires in various parts of the state. Being a first responder is a stressful job in any location or climate, because emergencies happen in all weather. Kudos to your son for filling a much-needed role. Good luck with your crape myrtle seeds. I’ve never grown one from seed although we get lots of “volunteers” springing up in our yard because there are so many in our neighborhood. We dig them up and they have always transplanted well. It would be an ideal plant for a spot where you want shade in the summer and sun in the winter.

  6. Michael

    Yesterday it was 60 degrees here- and clear. Kids were dancing in shorts at the Seattle center fountain. Thought winter is over. Then I remembered Chicago. Somehow the jet stream has bypassed us here in sunny Seattle.

    • Michael, when you wrote that about the fountain in Seattle, it reminded me of how much Drew loved the Westlake Park fountains when we visited there; he was about 9 or 10 years old at the time. I got some great photos of him standing between the waterfalls and loving every minute. 60 degrees sounds wonderful…something to look forward to, I guess. Enjoy your climate and think of us who are shivering all over the country! Time for some hot tea…

      • Last time I suited up in a tuxedo, I got completely assembled – all the way down to the studs for my ruffled shirt. Then, RATS! I suddenly realized I had misplaced my moribund.

        • Did you put it where your button ear was supposed to go?

  7. Carolyn

    First surgery went well. I’m not sure when the second one well be. I’ll keep in touch. Time to rest now, very little pain, just a black eye. Love to all.

    • Carolyn, I’m glad to hear the surgery went well. How long before you will be able to see out of that eye? Hope you get better soon! Thanks for taking the time to check in after such an ordeal. Love to you and Terry.

      • Carolyn

        I can see out of the eye, everything is double, it will be this way until I have the other surgery which will in about a month . I will be check on Monday and then we go from there. Not sure when I will see the doctor that is doing the next surgery. Not much fun right now. I will keep you up to date. Take care and how is Jeff doing now. Love to all.

        • Thank you Carolyn, I am sending up a prayer that you will heal quickly, and this waiting time will pass as smoothly as possible for you. It’s such a grind to have these medical things hanging over us, especially when we don’t know for sure when they will be OVER. Thanks for keeping us posted – we will be thinking of you!

  8. Our crape myrtles are bare too. But come summer they’ll be in full bloom. They’re so beautiful. 🙂

    • It really does amaze me how those trees get SO bare, they look as if they couldn’t possibly bud again. Every year the landscapers in our neighborhood prune those things down to nothing, but they come back so well. I used to be scared they killed the trees, but apparently they know what they are doing.

  9. So true, so true. Beautiful, Julia.

    • Thank you! 🙂

  10. raynard

    Julia I’m reminded of “some hobbies that I wanted to have. Then one day I realized” I had to put away childish things”. No I’m not a prude and I don’t eat prunes or suck on lemons..I sure do my my rose bushes I planted while I live in NJ. Let’s see it was potting soil, manure, miracle grow and “1 raw egg that helped them grow and stay healthy.( Man I just told my secret again i think lol.(I even rushed the process by buying the already half way grown bushes from Home Depot for a headstart..( maybe I’ll get another hummingbird feeder and another that is “squirel proof” Be blessed

    • Hey Raynard, thanks for the tip – I never thought about adding a raw egg. Sometimes when I come from the grocery and find one of my eggs is cracked and can’t be safely used, I HATE to throw it away – now I’ll put it in my plant and hope it doesn’t make them sick! 🙂 I do find that buying the larger plants does give a head start on growth that is usually worth the extra cost. Plus it give you a sneak preview whether the plant is likely to be a vigorous growing one – it seems like plants, like people, have differences in their ability to grow and thrive even in the same spot. Good luck with your gardening this year!

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