The King shall rejoice. The words of the psalms written thousands of years ago by King David and others are frequently with me. I sit beside the still waters of Nannen pond. My soul is restored. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death each day. It’s a metaphor for life. Under his wings I find refuge. Next to still waters I am refreshed. I’ve been thinking a lot lately and sitting next to a lot of still water. God I love the smell of the crabapple blossoms behind me. Their sweet perfume, this lovely June evening, and the stillness invite me once again to listen to the silent voice of my creator. What is it that you are calling me too? Is it simply to “be still and know.”
I was thinking earlier that it was here in this community that Franciscan Friars first lived in Cattaraugus County. Ellicottville, New York is more often thought of as a winter resort but it is one of the jewels of Western New York and it glistens year round. I love the quiet here at Nannen Arboretum which is located just inside the village. I have found peace and quiet here on Wednesday evenings this spring. I am drawn to this contemplative setting and here I find solitude immersed in the sights and sounds of this quiet tract of land.
I’m really enjoying a new iPhone app called Instagram. Tonight when I was at Nannen Arboretum in nearby Ellicottville, New York I used Instagram to transform a lovely picture into one that appears a bit more surreal than it was. I love the qualities of the photo and it captured a dimension of the beauty of the pond. As I walking back to my car it occured to me how exhilarating the iPhone is.
Once again I’m sitting beside a pool of still water. Only the occasional croak of a frog breaks the silence. It’s almost dusk. It’s restful here and a great way to end a busy day that saw local temperatures in the low ’90’s. What a contrast from the cold snow of winter and the abundant rains that punctuated our spring.
Last night my wife left for an overnight with our daughter. The mission for them is Christmas shopping. Whenever I ask my wife what she’d like for Christmas, the answer is, “don’t buy me any clothes,” or “I don’t need anything.” Truth of the matter is neither of us really needs anything. We’ve got our health, a warm home, employment, our children and twenty-five years of wonderful memories. Nonetheless, Christmas won’t be complete without gifts. Each day of our lives is Christmas. Each day we give of ourselves and sometimes the gifts are only a kind word, but it is still a gift.
With Diane gone I was left to find my own meal and since it was Friday night and I had business in nearby Ellicottville, New York I decided to stop by my favorite eatery there, Tips Up Cafe. I know the owner and he makes the best strip steak I’ve ever tasted. Tips Up was packed last night even though the weather outside was wintry. I love coming to Ellicottville. It’s such a lovely village and as you can see from the picture it’s decorated with lots of lights for the holidays.
Ellicottville is home to Holiday Valley, one of the largest ski areas in New York State and even though the rest of the country is in a steep recession Ellicottville is doing well with all the snow we’ve received thus far. A couple of weeks ago the snow totals for Ellicottville had exceeded 71 inches. We’ve added to that in recent days and then too the resorts make snow. Last night after dinner I drove with a friend to an area just below the slopes. The skiing had finished for the evening and the trails looked surreal as lights shined through both man made and earth made snow. It was a chillingly beautiful sight. My ride home was exciting too as I made my way slowly along Route 242 which was snow covered and not plowed well. The dense snowfall made it difficult to see. My visibility was limited to just much less than a tenth of a mile in spots. Still there is something mystically beautiful about snowfalls.
Times like these always remind me of the words of Robert Frost.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep