Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year Begins - January 1, 2012

What lies ahead? Looks like that cute little cat is contemplating that same question.

Of course all of us may have set different goals that we would like to accomplish this year, perhaps things we were not able to do before, or started to do, and didn't finish.

For example, I have a goal to learn how to crochet, or knit. I've tried many times, but just didn't get the hang of it. Now with all the sisters we have in the congregation who are pros at knitting and crocheting, I am hoping to get a lesson or two and finally succeed. I'd love to make a quilt, or a hat, and scraf.

How about painting, or learning to play an instrument? Can't wait until we are in the new world when we will beable to accomplish many of these honorable and enjoyable hobbies, perhaps even learning them from the great masters when they are resurrected. Imagine getting lessons from Chopin, Mozart, and Beethoven. Then there is Monet, Van Gogh, and Michelangelo. Someone else I am looking forward to meet is Fred Astaire. What a dancer! We will have the time and the mind to do it.

My wish for you and me is that we will beable to reach some of our goals, even now.

Of course high on our list of goals are spiritual things, since they are the most important, and they are everlasting. What may they be?

Getting to know Jehovah better.
Reading the Bible everyday. Improved personal study, and meditation. Drawing closer to Jehovah in our prayers, not only in what we pray about, but how often we do. Keeping up to date on reading our precious magazines. We need to feed ourselves before we can feed others. Perhaps making a goal of spending more time in the ministry, or conducting a home Bible study. If not on the theocratic ministry school, why not make that a spiritual goal this year. This may seem overwhelming, so be careful that you don't try and do everything all at once, you don't want to lose your joy. We must pray to Jehovah for wisdom and for his help.

Something that we can do now and will bring immediate benefits is getting to know others better in the congregation. Perhaps working with someone in the ministry we haven't worked with before. Helping those in need, there are so many. Be more forgiving, and forgetting the things we ought to forget. Be more loving, and less complaining, more up-building and less critical. These important spiritual goals can be reached with Jehovah's help, and we will be happy and a joy to be with. If we could chose a theme for this year, and implement it in our lives, what would you like it to be? How about the year of "Love, Joy, and Peace". If we all make a special effort to exhibit these qualities even under difficult circumstances, we will receive in like measure, the blessings we give.

I am hoping to do something different to this blog. If I suceed you will see it. If I don't hopefully next time.

In the meantime I will leave you with this wonderful thought from a fellow blogger "The Dutchess", she says, and I quote: "The grand essential of happiness are: Something to do, Something to love, and Something to hope for". On that premise, Jehovah's people must be the happiest people in the world because we have all three. (1) We serve Jehovah and do his will, the preaching of the good news of God's Kingdom. (2) We love Jehovah, Jesus, our brothers and sisters and our neighbors as ourselves. (3) We have the hope that this wicked system will soon end, and for those who love God and do his will everlasting life on a paradise earth. We have something that others need and are looking for. Let's do our best to help them this year. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19.20)

Winter is upon us, and the beauty of this earth testifies to a loving, wise, and powerful creator who wants us to enjoy life forever. Take a look, and enjoy!

This is Raven - as the crow flies

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winter Welcome!

One of Raven's many delights is the winter season, and by way of reminder it is a gift from God that will never cease. (Genesis 8:22, Psalms 74:17)

There are many positve things about winter. No other season brings such gleeful delights at the sight of the first few snowflakes playfully fallling from the sky, and then as they multiply, unsurpassed beauty that blankets the earth and seems to bring about a clean, quiet peacefulness not only to our mind and hearts but also hides for but a moment this dark, troubled chaotic world.

What other benefit? When else can you go sleigh riding, skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating on a lake or pond, except in the wintertime. What about building a snowman with your children, grandchildren and friends; or, a fort with lots of snowballs ready to fly. These are some of the joys of wintertime.
And think about this, what would hot chocolate be without winter? Not as warming, exciting, or fun; or, the coziness of a crackling fire in the fireplace. Thanks to winter we can enjoy these simple pleasures in life.

We also have opportunity to wear a wide variety of scarfs, hats, and mittens, we sure would look silly wearing them in the summer. I'm looking forward to wearing my new, cute knitted red hat with a long tail on it that I could either let fly in the wind or wrap around my neck as a scarf.

Even the field ministry is so much fun in the winter. I find it very invigorating. And after getting nice and cold, wow, I enjoy that coffee or hot chocolate so much more. I look forward to being with all my pioneer partners. The wintertime draws us closer together spiritually and physically; it keeps us warmer! Yes winter with lots of snow is a dazzling, magical time of the year. We welcome you winter! And we praise the one who made it, not only for us to enjoy and beautify the earth, but in His infinate wisdom the snow benefits the earth. Not only does it gradually feed the ground, but it insulates the ground protecting the roots of trees and plants from dying.

There is so much more to say, but we will leave that for another time. In the mean time winter will officially begin Thursday morning 12:30 am EST December 22 2011. Get your shovels out.

This is Raven- as the crow flies!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Swinging From The Summer Into The Fall Season

Because of a few serious, sorrowful and unfortunate events in September and October, my heart and mind was divided from enjoying and noticing the start of the beautiful fall season, the most favorite time of the year for me.

What is it about the Fall season that captures my attention so?

The cool crisp air; the breathtaking colors of the leaves against a deep blue sky. Seeing the leaves silently twirling down from the trees to the ground, and then a gust of wind swriling them about in circles all around.
Only in the fall do we have the enjoyment of seeing the humble, yet prolific pumpkin. Just seeing its' beautiful orange color, and many different shapes and sizes, gives me a deep sense of joy and contentment.

However, the thing that is most attractive this time of year are all the wonderful seasonal foods and spices," comfort foods"as many of us call it. Things like pumpkin pie, with lots of ginger, cinnamon and cloves. All kinds of hot, creamy soups, like split pea, butternut squash soup, potatoe soup, lentil and many more, all which taste so good and comforting this time of year.

How about hot apple cider, or hot chocolate with plenty of whipped cream? They taste so much better in the fall and winter season, as well as bring smiles to our faces.

What are some of your favorite comfort foods in the autumn season?
How about making this delicious looking cranberry pumpkin bread. Recipe included.

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread Recipe
32 Servings
Prep: 20 min. Bake: 70 min. + cooling
20 70 90
3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
1 cup chopped walnuts
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.
Spoon into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 70-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

Enjoy this autumn, it is swiftly passing by. Hold on to it tight in memory, there will never be another like it. May the remainder of this fall season bring you comfort, joy and peace, and thanks to Jehovah we will beable to enjoy this time of year forever, as the seasons will never cease. Genesis 8:22

Autumn Leaves

I love to watch the autumn leaves
As they slowly tumble down;
I love to hear their crackling
As my feet trod o'er the ground

A lovely carpet neath my feet
Is now formed by autumn leaves,
With color scattered everywhere
In the choicest pattern weaves.

I love to rake them in a heap
And to watch the children play;
For soon the color will be gone,
Replaced by snow someday.

-Ruth H. Underhill

This is Raven- as the crow flies

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August Where Did You Go?

Here we are again. Another summer month quickly fading away. I must keep in memory, and dear to my heart some fond recollections of a beautiful summer day in August. Perhaps that may slow down the race to summers end. But the reality is time marches on.
I did not accomplish a fraction of what my daydreaming mind embraced. And because life is so short we may feel everyday is a once in a life time day lost forever. But in the new world we will have forever! Won't that be grand?

I was able to accomplish painting the walls in my living room - thats it. The ceiling and woodwork didn't get done. Hopefully, I will have a sense of achievement before the summer ends.

August is "Beach Plum Jelly" month. Will I beable to fulfill this traditional culinary delight? I sure hope so. I will let you know. That along with toasted sourdough bread on a cool autumn night , or a cold winter day with a cup of tea, is assuredly a delicious, comforting delight. Here is a piece of sourdough bread designed to look like a cute little cat. Compliments of Sparrow. He's too cute to eat! And of course below is a jar of my delicious home made Beach Plum Jelly.

The greatest delight this month was to hear announced 3 more regular pioneers. Sue, Kyle, and Reiner. Congratulations! What great joy that brought us, and evidence of Jehovah's spirit and blessing upon the congregation. We look forward to a busy, but happy new service year with you.

I will close this blog with a touching poem that makes us want to hold on tight to summer, not to let it go so soon. Hope you enjoy it.

"Let me enjoy this late - summer day of my heart while the leaves are
still green and I won't look so close as to see that first tint of pale
yellow slowly creep in. I will cease endless running and then look to
the sky ask the sun to embrace me and then hope she won't tell of
tomorrows less long than today. Let me spend just this time in the
slow-cooling glow of warm afternoon light and I'd think I will still have
the strength for just one more last fling of my heart." - John Bohrn, Late August

William Shakespeare put it nicely when he said, "Summer's lease hath all too short a date."

This is Raven - as the crow flies!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good-Bye July!

July went by faster than the "crow flies". I couldn't let July go by without a blog, it just wouldn't be right. Small as this blog may be, I hope to get it done before August arrives.

So how has your summer been so far? We had some pretty hot and humid days. There were some days that were a perfect "10". Do you realize summer is more than half way through? There is so much to do and so little time to do it. One of my goals is to work on my return visit book. It is a disaster! We are growing a beautiful bunch of weeds this summer in our vegetable garden. Does anyone like to pull out weeds? Then there are many chores to do inside and outside the house. Scraping, painting, repairing. Cleaning out closets, and drawers in the dresser. The list could go on. But summer is here and I'll have plenty of time to do it--yeah right!!! It's hard to get things done in the summer. First of all it gets pretty hot at times as you can see on our out door thermometer. Also, the kids and grandchildren are home, we go on vacations to visit family and friends, and lets face it we just want to have fun, and somehow, "deep summer is when laziness finds respectability."
Of course summer is a time of busy spiritual activity. The District Assemby, our circuit overseers visit and with summer vacation many young ones as well as older ones are auxiliary pioneering, and that brings much joy. Infact, it is very exciting to know that some in our congregation are contemplating regular pioneer service. We are so happy for you and you have our whole hearted support, and more importantly, that of Jehovah's.

We are still in the summer season, and I hope you will be able to accomplish all your goals spiritual and othewise. And remember this, "It will not always be summer: build barns."

I will close this blog with a prudent and truthful poem.

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time." - John Lubbock. This is especially true when we meditate appreciatively on the one who made it all.

This is Raven- as the crow flies

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Lazy Days of Summer Are Here!

The Lazy Days of Summer
Greetings to all from sunny California. Summer is here! Can you believe it? Today will be the longest day, and the shortest night of the year.

Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations have for centuries celebrated the first day of summer otherwise known as the Summer Solstice.

The Celts & Slavs celebrated the first day of summer with dancing & bonfires to help increase the sun's energy.

Perhaps the most enduring modern ties with Summer Solstice were the Druids' celebration of the day as the "wedding of Heaven and Earth," resulting in the present day belief of a "lucky" wedding in June.

Summer Solstice Fun Facts

Pagans called the Midsummer moon the "Honey Moon" for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice.

Ancient Pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires, when couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump.

Midsummer was thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear. To thwart them, pagans often wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of them was a plant called 'chase-devil', which is known today as St. John's Wort and still used by modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer.

For us Summer is one of the many "good and perfect gifts" from our heavenly Father Jehovah that reflects is love, wisdom, and power. It is a perfect time to marvel and think deeply about his incredible creations, and express graditude and thanks to him as a sacrifice of praise, and tell others about all his ways. He takes note of that. (Psalms 50:23; Psalms 51:15)

What are your plans for this summer?

When we think of summer, we think of warm weather, and fun in the sun. Swimming, picnics, barbeques, relaxing vacations or pleasant visits with relatives and friends are just a few of the many activities that fill our time.
Although the summer season is viewed by many as the "long, hot, lazy days of summer", for true Christians there may be long, hot days, but certainly not lazy. We keep busy, especially in spritiual activities. When making our summer plans, we must always remember to keep Kingdom interests in first place.

Here are a few things we can do.

▪ If you haven't already attended, make definite plans to attend the district convention.

▪ If you go away for a vacation, plan to attend the meetings of the local congregation and share in the ministry. It really is the hightlight of any vacation to meet new brothers and sisters.

▪ A visit with relatives who are not in the truth may give you a chance to do some productive informal witnessing.

▪ Have you thought about helping a nearby congregation that needs assistance in covering its territory, or going to unassigned territory?

▪ School vacations provide an excellent opportunity for young people to expand their service activity. How about applying to be an auxilliary pioneer?

▪ With pleasant weather and longer daylight hours, you may find that you can get excellent results in the service by doing more evening witnessing, when many people are at home.

Remember that “the plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage.” (Prov. 21:5) Plan to make the most of your summertime theocratic opportunities.

May this summer season bring you many joys and blessings, spiritually and otherwise.

This is Raven-as the crow flies!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

June! The Month of Roses and Weddings

June is rose month, the flower's shining hour. The many different varieties, cabbage, moss, yellowbrier, damask, rambler, everblooming and more, do their best to fill your senses and yard with aromatic fragrence and beauty.

The early Romans were known to be particular rose lovers. Their banquet couches were strewn with the delicate petals-hence the expression, "bed of roses". The Roman Code of Law prohibited anything said under a garland of roses at dinner or meeting from being repeated in court-thus, "sub rosa."

As you may know, June takes it's name from the Roman goddess Juno, patroness of marriage and the special guardian of women and childbirth. For this reason, June has always been looked upon as the best month in which to get married.
"Married in the month of roses-June
Life will be one long honeymoon." So says June fokelore.

Also, during the middle ages, June has traditionaly been called "The Marriage Month", because (this is funny, but true) people were clean from their annual May baths.

The rose is a flower of love. The world has acclaimed it for centuries. "Pink roses are for love hopeful and expectant. White roses are for love dead or forsaken, but the red roses, ah the red roses are for love triumphant.”

Full moon on the fifteenth is called “Strawberry Moon” by Native Americans and New England and the Great Lakes because at this time of year the strawberry ripened.

On June 1st there was a partial Solar Eclipse of the sun that was visible in eastern Asia, northern America and Iceland. Sorry we missed it, oh well next time.

On June 15th there will be a total Lunar eclipse of the moon. This will be visible in South America,Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia. We still have time to book a flight and see it.

June is the month of long twilights. By the 21st, the first day of summer, when the sun has moved as far north of the equator as possible, the balmy evenings are a delightful invitation to dine out of doors. Too many of us overlook the potentialities of our yards and gardens, letting them serve only as settings for our homes instead of making them into backgrounds for living. A simple portable grill on the patio is all the foundation you need for cooking and entertaining in your own backyard, and it will give you an extra dimension in gracious living.

“It is the month of June,
The month of leaves and roses,
When pleasant sights salute the eyes,
And pleasant scents the noses.”

To keep a fragrant year-round reminder of this gentle month, why not make this old-fashioned rose petal potpourri:

Gather fragrant rose petals in the early morning, spread on paper and dry in a dark,cool place for a week. To each 4 cups of dried petals, add 1tsp. each of powdered orris root, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and the rinds of one lemon and orange, dried and crushed. Mix thoroughly. Store in a pretty jar, sprinkling coarse salt on each layer of spiced petals. Close tightly for 6 weeks. To release fragrance, open jar and stir. You could also put some of the potpourri in little hamdmade sachets to put in dresser drawers or closets giving your clothing a delightful scent.

June is a fantastic month: the official start of summer, schools get out, and it's a great time to be out in the ministry, weatherwise.

Believe it or not, June is also adopt a "Cat Month." More kittens are born in the spring and summer than at any other time. If you are looking to adopt a cat or kitten, now is a great time—and you don't even have to travel far from home. There are many animal shelters filled with cats and kittens just purring to find a good home and a lap to curl up on.Yes, June is here! Enjoy every moment of it. Drink in it's beauty, and meditate deeply on the one who made it all. Give praise and thanks to him for "All your works will laud you, O Jehovah, and all your loyal ones will bless you" Psalms 145:1-12

This is Raven-as the crow flies

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May Day, Maypole, May Queen. What Is It?

As promised in my previous blog I would share with you the meaning of these commom terms that we have heard all our lives, but perhaps not know the full meaning of.

Again, as with many of the holiday festivites, May Day, the Maypole, and May Queen all originate from pagan origin, and true christians should have no part in them.

Early Origins of May Day

In ancient Rome the first day of May fell during the festival of Floralia, named in honor of Flora, the goddess of springtime and flowers. It was a time of singing, dancing, and flower-decked parades, and also to hang flowers on a loved one's door. Roman prostitutes especially enjoyed the festival, for they considered Flora their patron goddess.

The New Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia says on page 8294:

“May Day festivals probably stem from the rites practiced in honor of a Roman goddess, Maia, who was worshiped as the source of human and natural fertility.” A conspicuous feature of this celebration has been (and still is, especially among school children) the dancing around the Maypole.

The same encyclopedia states: “This Maypole is believed by most scholars to be a survival of a phallic symbol formerly used in the spring rites for the goddess Maia.”

According to the polemic anti-Catholic pamphlet, The Two Babylons, the origin of the maypole dance began in ancient Babylon during sex worship and fertility rites. The church of St. Andrew Undershaft in the City of London is named after the maypole that was kept under its eaves and set up each spring until 1517 when student riots put an end to the custom. The maypole itself survived until 1547 when a Puritan mob seized and destroyed it as a "pagan idol".

The World Book Encyclopedia (1973 edition) notes: "The English and other peoples whom the Romans conquered developed their May Day festivals from the Floralia.” And whom did that festival honor? It was held in honor of Flora, the goddess of flowers.

When the Romans conquered other lands, they took their customs with them. However, in Celtic countries the Romans discovered that the first day of May was already celebrated as the festival of Beltane. The preceding evening, the start of the Celtic new day, all fires were extinguished, and when the sun rose, people lit bonfires on hilltops or under sacred trees to welcome summertime and the renewal of life. Cattle were put out to pasture, and the gods were invoked for their protection. Soon Floralia became entwined with Beltane and became the festival of May Day.

For German-speaking and Scandinavian peoples, Walpurgis was the equivalent of Beltane. Festivities began on Walpurgis Night( the eve of May Day) with the lighting of bonfires to drive away witches and evil spirits. Other Europeans developed their own variations of May Day customs, many of which still survive.

Christendom’s churches had little effect on such pagan festivities. “May Day—or Beltane—was the calendar’s most permissive day, the one festival the Christian church and other authorities could never quite control,” observes England’s Guardian newspaper.

May Day Customs

By the Middle Ages, new customs had been added to what had become England’s favorite holiday. Men and women spent the night in the local woods gathering flowers and blossoming boughs to ‘bring in the May’ at sunrise.

Immorality was widespread, according to Puritan Philip Stubbes’ tract The Anatomy of Abuses. Revelers set up a tree as a Maypole in the middle of a village, and it became a focus for day-long dancing and games. Stubbes referred to it as “this stinking Idol.”

The people chose a May queen and often a May king to preside over the festivities. Maypoles and May queens were common in other parts of Europe too.

In mythology, The May Queen is also known as The Maiden, the goddess of spring, flower bride, queen of the faeries, and the lady of the flowers. The May Queen is a symbol of the stillness of nature around which everything revolves. She stands for purity, strength and the potential for growth, as the plants grow in May. She is one of many personifications of the energy of the earth.

She was once also known as Maid Marian in the medieval plays of Robin Hood and of the May Games - she is the young village girl, crowned with blossom, attended by children with garlands and white dresses. Some folklorists have drawn parallels between her and Maia, the Roman Goddess of Springtime, of Growth and Increase whose very name may be the root of "May".

May King

May King is a figure in the mythology of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as a folk custom. Every year, or every seven years, a man from the village would be chosen to represent the King of the May. He would bring fertility to the village, and during the time that he was in power, he could impregnate any woman in the village. At the end of his "reign," he would be ritually sacrificed and a new King of the May would be chosen. According to J.G. Frazier's The Golden Bough, this type of custom was derived from earlier Indo-European tree worship fertility rituals.

What was the significance of these May Day customs? The Encyclop√¶dia Britannica explains: “Originally such rites were intended to ensure fertility to the crops, and by extension to cattle and human beings, but in most cases this significance was gradually lost, and the practices survived merely as popular festivities.”

Ebb and Flow

The Protestant Reformers tried to stamp out what was viewed as a pagan celebration. Calvinist Scotland prohibited May Day in 1555. Then a Puritan-led English Parliament banned Maypoles in 1644. When England was without a king during the Commonwealth period, May Day’s “licentious practises” were discouraged. However, Maypoles were restored with the monarchy in 1660.

Maypole festivities gradually declined during the 18th and early 19th centuries but have been revived in more recent times with a more moral tone. Many of what are viewed as traditional May Day customs, such as children dancing round the Maypole plaiting gaily colored ribbons, date from this more recent time.

However, folklorists researching May Day’s more distant past are discovering many of its pagan roots. In fact, if people knew the real meaning behind the Maypole dance they may not want to participate, certainly true christians would stay far away from it. For example, according to Yasmine Galenorn, in the book "Dancing with the Sun", the pole represents the male principle, and the ribbons that wrap around it (and the wreath placed atop the pole) are symbolic of the female principle. The Maypole represents the phallus of the God. The wreath atop represents the vagina of the Goddess. As the Maypole is danced, the ribbons wind around the pole and the wreath lowers, symbolizing the Divine Marriage, the sexual union of God and Goddess.

The Dance

The May Day dance is rich in pagan symbolism. There are usually eight dancers, one for each sabbat of the year, paired into four couples. (Of course, many more may dance. This is only a suggestion.) The dance involves moving in circles and weaving over and under the other dancers. The women take the white ribbons with their right sides to the pole, and the men take the red ribbons with their left sides to the pole. The weaving of the symbolic birth canal begins with music or chanting as everyone moves forward from where they stand, moving alternately over and under each person coming toward them. (To start, the men begin weaving under the upheld ribbon of the first woman they encounter). Continue the dance until the maypole is wrapped. Tie off the ribbons and let the wreath drop to the ground.

European emigrants took their May Day customs with them to new lands, and some of their descendants still observe May Day in the traditional way. However, in many countries May Day, or the first Monday following May 1, is now simply a workers’ holiday.

May Day Becomes Labor Day

Modern May Day began in North America. Why there? The industrial revolution brought new machines that ran continuously, with the result that factory owners often expected their employees to work up to 16 hours every day except Sundays. (Now, some people work as long even on Sunday).

In an effort to improve the lives of workers, a federation of trade and labor unions in the United States and Canada called for an eight-hour workday beginning on May 1, 1886. For the most part, employers refused to grant this, so on the first of May, thousands of workers went on strike.

The Haymarket Riot in Chicago, Illinois, gave the labor movement in the United States its first martyrs, and workers in England, France, Holland, Italy, Russia, and Spain rallied in support. In 1889 a congress of world Socialist parties meeting in Paris declared that May 1, 1890, would be a day of international demonstrations in favor of an eight-hour workday. The date thereafter became an annual occasion on which to raise workers’ demands for better working conditions.

Today many countries observe a holiday called Labor Day or International Workers’ Day on the first of May. The United States and Canada, however, celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September.

Ancient and Modern Links

May Day has always been a people’s festival. Workers took the day off with or without their employers’ approval. Social roles were reversed. The king and queen of the day were chosen from the common people, and the ruling classes were often the butt of jokes. May Day, therefore, readily became identified with labor movements, and by the 20th century, it had become part of the Socialist calendar.

Like the old May Day, the International Workers’ Day has become a day for parades through the streets. Yet, violence has become common during May Day celebrations in recent years. May Day 2000, for example, was the occasion for worldwide rallies against global capitalism. Protests then were marred by fights, injuries, and damage to property. (Sounds a little like the mixing of iron and clay not sticking together in the dream image of Daniels prophecy).

Well I have come to the end of this blog. There is much more information that could be obtained on this subject, but I feel we have enough to make an educated decision on this holiday, that it is not just harmless fun, but flooded with unclean pagan symbolism, that does not honor Jehovah, but the god of this wicked system of things Satan.

The apostle Paul reminded fellow believers: “What fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever? And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? For we are a temple of a living God; just as God said: ‘I shall reside among them and walk among them, and I shall be their God, and they will be my people.’ '"Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,” says Jehovah, “and quit touching the unclean thing.'"”2 Cor. 6:14-17.

This is Raven-as the crow flies

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

April Bows To Glorious May

May, what a delightful picturesque month, when the earth clothes itself with a variety of beautiful fragrant and colorful flowers. The pink cherry blossoms, as well as the white, along with the brilliant yellow forsythia dazzle the eye and causes one's heart to sigh with deep appreciation to the one who made it. Many songs and poems have been written and sung because of the enchanting beauty May inspires. Can you think of some?

How appropriate that "Frabjous Photo" has chosen flowers as the theme for this month's May blog. I am sure it will be an especially delightful and inspiring one.

Don't leave all your May flowers outside. wouldn't it be fun to have bowls of bloom about the house, even in the bathroom? How about using a prized cup that has lost it's saucer, or a seldom used teapot or a squatty little antique sugar bowl?

Floating blossoms are pretty, too, especially in unusual containers, perhaps a bon bon dish or any kind of funny bowl or tray.

For conventional arrangements, putting cut flowers in a vase, you can cut them on a slant with a sharp knife at a cool time of day, and then put them in tepid water (100 degrees) for about an hour before arranging them in a vase of cold water, you will find that they keep much longer.

It is of interest to note, in sixteenth century England the young at heart would rise before dawn on the first day of May and flock to the woods to gather blossoms. At sunrise they would return to the village to decorate a loved one's door and windows and the "Maypole", which was set up in the square. The choicest blooms were fashioned into a crown for the local beauty who was proclaimed Queen of May. Both of these traditions still survive in some form in contempory American life. While younger girls make flower baskets to leave at friends doors, their college-age sisters preserve the traditional crowning of the May Queen ceremony.

What is the meaning of May Day, Queen of May and the Maypole? This will be addressed at a future blog.

No sweeter words can fall on the human ear, than that May is finally here! Let us take note of the different flowers, and blossoms that appear during May, even the humble and prolific dandelion which many dislike and define as a weed, and yet the vitamin rich leaves are used in salads and the flowers to make the most delicious wine. You may want to think twice about removing them from your lawn.

Which flowers actually start the spring season, and which flowers do you delight to see? Here is a cute poem along these lines.

"Some will tell you crocuses are heralds true of spring
Others say that tulips showing buds are just the thing
Point to peonies, say when magnolia blossoms show
I look forward to the sight of other flowers though
Cultivate your roses, grow your orchids in the dark
Plant your posies row on row and stink up the whole park
The flower that's my favourite kind is found throughout the land
A wilting, yellow dandelion, clutched in a grubby hand."
- Larry Tilander, Springtime of My Soul

Also, remember this:

"The brightest and most enduring flowers along the waysides of life are smiles, the sparkle of the eye, loving words, acts of kindness---they never wholly fade from memory. Often after years they are brighter than on the day we first beheld them".
--E. Linton

Let all your joys be as the month of May!

This is Raven-as the crow flies

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Windmills - Beautiful Reminders Of An Earlier Time

I have always loved the scenic beauty of seeing a very tall windmill on a working farm. For some reason it brings to my soul a peaceful serenity, especially gazing at it's mighty stature in the early sunrise or sunset.

Unfortunately, that captivating scene is viewed by relatively few today. For centuries, windmills were at the cutting edge of technology, but after decades of neglect, believe it or not, the windmill concept is now enjoying a revival that is benefiting people everywhere.

Windmills used to be a familiar landmark in many parts of the world. Millions of windmills once dotted the plains of the central and western United States. They were used mostly to pump water from wells, but also as a source of electric power.

Of course, harnessing the power of the wind is not a new idea. Just think of all the ships driven by the wind that sailed the oceans during the ages before the advent of engines. Windmills have been used for centuries to pump water, to grind corn and spices, and to saw wood. In the 18th century, they also supplied power for sawmills, grindstones, and for thriving industrial centers. In the Netherlands there are about 900 of these graceful monuments left. Many of them are still faithfully pumping water; they are reliable even during power outages.

In the 20th century, windmills were largely replaced by gasoline engines. Sadly this has been a source of pollution and expense. Whereas the windmill an age-old way of drawing energy from the environment, can generate great power without pollution and less cost. Of course this also depends on the sun, because it creates the weather and the climatic differences that determine which way and how strong the wind blows.

But now, with petroleum losing its dominant position, wind power bids to reclaim its popularity. Giving impetus to the renewed interest is the realization that the potential of the wind is much greater than had been believed. A University of California scientist claims, in a recent report, that, on a worldwide basis, man’s total need for energy could be supplied 20 times over with power only from the wind. Even in the United States, if the wind resources were fully exploited, there would be enough to supply 75 percent of the power now used. In many locations, the energy in the wind averages almost as much as that in the sunlight.

Greater use is being made of windmills to pump water, saving electricity costs and fuel. Remember, at one time windmills were a standard means for pumping water from the ground in many lands, both for private use and for watering livestock. But electric pumps brought a decline in their use. Now, with the high cost of electricity and fuel, more people, particularly in rural areas, are installing water-pumping windmills. The initial cost is more than made up in time by not having to pay electricity costs, and maintenance is minimal. Sounds good doesn't it? With little difficulty a family can at least pump water and provide light for their home in this manner.

Modern Successors to the Ancient Windmills

The fuel crisis of the 1970’s led to the investigation of alternative energy not dependent on fossil fuels. At approximately the same time, a growing concern arose about emissions from fossil-based fuels polluting the atmosphere. The search began for “clean” energy. Suddenly, the windmill concept became an attractive option and wind turbines became a developing technology.

Modern “windmills” are much slimmer than their predecessors. This is because, unlike the traditional windmill, modern wind turbines do not normally drive a machine housed within the mill structure. Each turbine converts wind power into electrical energy, which often passes to the local electricity grid. By 1988 these new “windmills” were producing 1,500 megawatts of power in Europe, just as their predecessors had done a century earlier.

Looking like a line of huge, frost-covered trees on the crests of prominent hills, modern wind farms have begun to change the face of rural landscapes. Although these wind turbines may not look beautiful, most people feel that any negative visual impact is a small price to pay for the tens of thousands of megawatts of clean power that the wind turbines produce globally. These modern windmills make a significant contribution to the worldwide effort to reduce greenhouse gases, something that benefits everyone.

Personally, I prefer the traditional old fashion look of the windmill you may see on a working farm. However, neither the traditional windmill nor the modern wind turbine could function if it were not for that never-ending supply of “clean” energy—the wind. How grateful we can be to “the Creator of the wind”! Amos 4:13

I am looking forward to the time when I may be able to have one of these beautiful giants. Not only beautiful, but useful. How about you?

This is Raven-as the crow flies

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Has Sprung!

Yes, Spring will officially have arrived on March 20, 2011, at 7:21PM EDT (that's us), or 11:21PM Universal Time which is the mean solar time for the meridian at Greenwich, England, used as a basis for calculating time throughout most of the world. Also called Greenwich time, Greenwich Mean Time or UT.

So, say goodbye to winter and say hello to spring with temperatures slowly rising to greet the vernal (spring) equinox. Do you remember what equinox means?

The word “equinox” derives from the Latin words meaning “equal night” and refers to the time when the sun crosses the equator. At such times, day and night are of nearly equal length everywhere in the world.

It is important to note that while the March equinox marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, it is the start of autumn in many parts of the southern hemisphere.

Yes, it's Spring, when the earth awakens from winter sleep! What a beautiful season this is, with the spring flowers sprouting and the grass turning green, the earth comes alive, and I think we all feel a little more alive, just like that cute little kitten running through the grass.
It’s also a time of balance, when light and dark are equal for a short period of time until the blissful sunshine takes over the better part of our days.

Although we may still have some cold and gloomy days outside, there is sunshine in our hearts because we know today is the first day of Spring! I always love the changing of the seasons.

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
~Doug Larson

What can we expect weather wise in Spring and otherwise?
Tornado Season
This picture of a tornado in NYC was taken July 7, 1976

March is the traditional start of tornado season in the United States. Although tornadoes can occur at any time throughout the year, the peak activity period is March through early July, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

An average of 1,200 tornadoes touch down in the United States each year, and most of them form during this tornado season. Because these storms kill about 70 Americans annually and injure some 1,500 others, disaster experts urge families to be prepared — particularly those who live in Tornado Alley.

Tornado Alley is roughly defined as the area of the Central Plains from Texas to Nebraska. This is where most tornadoes form each season. Much of the damage that tornadoes inflict each year occurs in this region of the country. Texas has the highest number of tornadoes, with an average of 124 each year. You may want to stay away from those areas during tornado season.

The first day of Spring - Really?
We heard the forecast for tomorrow, rain possibly mixed with snow. That's March for you. Winter is not ready to leave yet. There have been major snow storms even in the spring
Also, remember too, not only does Spring bring to life the beautiful flowers, but also the weeds and allergies with it.
I found this cute poem that describes the reality of Spring. I think you will like it.
First Day of Spring
It is the first day of Spring today!
The birds are singing ecstatically
The grass seems to actually look greener
The warm air signals that winter is leaving…
though it may take its time packing
in some areas of the country.
Soon the trees will begin to break forth in buds
Seedlings will start their journey
through the earth …to meet the sky
While hibernating creatures all over the planet
will begin to wrestle out of their sleep
to rejoin the animal kingdom.
So will my life change as well
I will wake up with eyes that are itching
Nasal passages that will swell and begin to close
Lungs that will feel scratchy…then become congested
Requiring over the counter medicines to burst forth…

So goodbye winter you were good to me this year. See you again in 9 months from now? Wow, that's not that far away, can you believe it? Or I will see you eleven days before the Kalends of January according to the Roman calendar.

Hello Spring, may we all spring into action especially in the Lord's work!

This is Raven-as the crow flies!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beware Of The Ides Of March!

That line "Beware of the Ides of March," is a pithy line and people remember it, even if they don't know why. Who said it? Why? And what does it mean? Hopefully this blog will answer those questions.

That line was made popular in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar by a soothsayer warning of impending danger to Julius Caesar.

The soothsayer tells Caesar who is already on his way to the Senate (and his death), "Beware the ides of March." Caesar replies, "He is a dreamer, let us leave him. Pass." The Roman ruler, Julius Caesar, was assassinated on the Ides of March - March 15, 44 B.C.E.

According to Plutarch's (a biographer and an historian) account of the story written in 75 A.D., the unidentified soothsayer was a Roman astrologer by the name of Spurinna. It was reportedly sometime prior to the fateful day of March 15 that Spurinna had first given Caesar the famous warning to "beware of the Ides of March." The astrologer, Spurinna, had previously warned Caesar that on the Ides of March, he would be in great danger. If, however, Julius Caesar took care on that one day - then all would be well.

According to Plutarch, Caesar had previously made the wise decision to stay within the safety of his bedroom chambers on the 15th of March. However, Caesar's "friend" Decimus (Albinus) Brutus (not Marcus Brutus) managed to convince him that the astrologer's warnings were nothing more than superstitious foolishness. So Julius Caesar decided to attend the Senate on the 15th of March. On his way to the Senate, Caesar "accidentally" met up with the astrologer, Spurinna. Caesar then told the astrologer "The Ides of March are come." Spurinna answered, "Yes, they are come, but they are not past." Later that day - on March 15, 44 B.C.E - Caesar's enemies assassinated him in the Pompey theater, at the foot of Pompey's statue, where the Roman Senate was meeting that day in the temple of Venus.

Et tu Brute
"Thou, too, Brutus!" Julius Caesar's exclamation when he saw that his old friend, Marcus Brutus (85-42 BC), was one of his assassins. "Does my old friend raise his hand against me?"

What Are the Ides?

In the ancient Roman calendar, each of the 12 months had an "ides." In March, May, July and October, the ides fell on the 15th day. In every other month, the ides fell on the 13th.

The word "ides" was derived from the Latin "to divide." Ides just means the middle of the month according to the Roman calendar.

Basic Roman Calendar

The Kalends
fell on the first of each month
The Nones were on the 5th or 7th (depending on the month) and
The Ides fell on the 13th or 15th, again depending on the month.

The Romans did not count days of the month from 1-30, but rather the day before the Nones of March or the Day before the Ides of April.

In the case of April, the day before the Ides would be what we call April 12, because the Ides of April (unlike March) fall on the 13th.

The date was never spoken in the past, as in the day after the Ides. It was always in relation to the upcoming of the 3 days. April Fool's Day was The Kalends of April.

The Roman Calendar is basically broken down as follows:

The Kalends:
March 1, April 1, May 1, June 1, July 1, August 1, September 1, October 1, November 1, December 1, January 1, February 1

The Nones:
March 7, April 5, May 7, June 5, July 7, August 5, September 5, October 7, November 5, December 5, January 5, February 5

The Ides:
March 15, April 13, May 15, June 13, July 15, August 13, September 13, October 15, November 13, December 13, January 13, February

So for example, if your birthday fell on November 21 in the Roman calendar it would be ten days before the Kalends of December.

And so, it was the Ides of March in 44 BC, that Julius Caesar was betrayed by friends and murdered in the streets of Rome.

Until that day Julius Caesar ruled Rome. The traditional Republican government had been supplanted by a temporary dictatorship, one that the famous leader very much wished to make permanent.

But Caesar's quest for power spawned a conspiracy to have him killed, and on March 15 a group of prominent Romans brought him to an untimely end in the Senate House. He was 55 years old.
Of all the lines in the play, "Beware of the Ides of March" seems to be the one most people remember, followed closely by (or perhaps surpassed by) "Et tu, Brute?"

I hope this blog has helped you as much as it has helped me to know the meaning of that popular phrase.

Until we meet again...

This is Raven- as the crow flies!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Crow Moon In March

What Is A Crow Moon? The Crow Moon is the last full moon before the arrival of Spring, when the snow and ground begin to thaw.

To keep tract of the seasons, the Native American tribes of the northern and eastern part of the United States (from New England to Lake Superior), would give each full moon a distinctive name. The full moon in March was known as a Crow Moon or Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of the crows signaled the end of winter.

This year the Crow Moon falls on March 19th, 2011.

It is of interest to note the Crow Moon was also called the Worm Moon because as the temperature in March begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins.

Another name the moon was given this time of year was Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night.

Then too, It was also know as Full Sap Moon, because it was marking the time of tapping maple trees.

However to the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, because this moon occurred during Lent and was considered to be the last full moon of winter.

And so my dear friends, The Crow Moon will soon be upon us, and what that means is winter is coming to an end and Spring is around the corner.

However, because March brings in spring and ends the winter, March can be both wintry and springlike. Blustery, windy days occur as frequently as mild, sunny days, so don't put away the winter clothes just yet.

Have you seen any signs of spring yet, like hibernating animals such as bears (depending on where you live), chipmunks, and woodchucks leaving their winter sleeping places ending their hibernation? Also, this is the time you will see sap flow in the trees, and green buds beginning to appear, and many plants coming to life again. The first pussy willows and wild flowers can be found in the woods and our back yards. Most frogs lay their eggs. Wild geese and ducks begin their northward flights.

So March, you fickle month, what can we expect? Let it be said in rhyme:

"The March wind roars
Like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver
As he passes by.
When winds are soft,
And the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb,
Then spring is here."
- Author Unknown

Spring Cleaning

"March bustles in on windy feet
And sweeps my doorstep and my street.
She washes and cleans with pounding rains,
Scrubbing the earth of winter stains.
She shakes the grime from carpet green
Till naught but fresh new blades are seen.
Then, house in order, all neat as a pin,
She ushers gentle springtime in."
- Susan Reiner

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."
- Charles Dickens

"March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice."
- Hal Borland

Remember to push the clocks ahead for Sunday March 13th, And oh yes, "Beware of The Ides of March."

This is Raven- as the crow flies!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Difference Between Crows and Ravens

I have been wanting to write about this topic for a long time, mostly because of my fondness for crows and ravens. Not only are they beautiful, but they are very intelligent as you will discover from this blog. What is the difference between Crows and Ravens?

Many people use the terms 'raven' and 'crow' interchangeably, but they are actually quite different. Technically, since ravens belong to the crow (corvus) family of birds, they can be called crows - but not all crows are ravens. The two differ in a variety of ways.

Size First. Most noticeably, ravens are larger than crows. They are (on average) about the size of a hawk, where crows are approximately the size of a pigeon. A raven can be up to 64 cm in height, a crow’s height ranges up to 46 cm.

Call. If you're familiar with the call which crows make, you'd probably recognize the raven's call as being different. Crows have a more nasal, higher pitched call, where a raven's call is lower, and hoarser... almost a croaking sound. And if you have listened to the cries of both the birds, you will know that a crow’s sound is more irritating than that of ravens. A raven has the capability to imitate certain sounds as well.  If you want to hear the difference for yourself, click here for a raven's call and crow's call.

Tail feathers

Crows have a very fan-shaped tail, where raven's tails have more of a wedge-shape to them. This isn't very easy to tell if the bird is sitting on the ground, but when flying overhead, you can often get a good look at the shape of the tail.

Feather shape

Ravens' feathers are also a slightly different shape than crows' feathers. Crow feathers tend to be more rounded at the tip, while ravens have feathers which are slightly pointed. This is most noticeable on the breast feathers, especially when the bird fluffs itself up. The feathers on the crow's breast lie comfortably against each other and provide a nice, even, rounded covering. The feathers on a raven lie a little more jaggedly, and when a raven fluffs up, its breast tends to look ragged. In fact, when a raven really fluffs up and all its feathers look like they're standing on end, the raven appears to have a short fluffy mane (called a 'ruff'). Raven’s feathers are shiny and have a tint of purple when the sun rays fall on it. But crows have plain black feathers which can also have lighter markings on them.


Ravens and crows can often be found living side by side in the same areas, but where there's a choice, Ravens prefer wilder areas while crows will live quite close to cities. The bigger the city, the less likely ravens will make it their home -- and when they do, they tend to live in or near parks and natural spaces. You can find crows in your garden, neighboring places, electric lines, and even in highly bustling places. But ravens cannot be found like that. They like solitude and privacy and hence are found in the woods and hills where human population is less or nil. Crows, on the other hand, are more likely to live near buildings, and will venture farther into human developments to compete for food.

There are more differences between crows and ravens, including their social habits and life span While a crow lives up to 8 years, a raven can live up to 30 years.

Food Habits

The food habits of ravens and crows also are different. When crows scavenge for fruits, vegetables, and other foods in groups, ravens hunt solitarily. So crows are never the friends of a farmer as it destroys the crops. That's why many farmers and gardeners put up the well known 'scarecrow' in there fields.Though both birds are omnivorous and scavenge on carrion, ravens feed more on the carrions, especially sheep.


Though parrots are very smart, they aren’t the only birds with brains. Members of the corvid family – jays, crows and ravens – are extremely smart too.

Corvids can remember, analyze, innovate and problem solve. They even use tools. In every case, ravens shine. They are one of the most intelligent birds on earth, persistent and innovative in solving problems and known to outwit other critters, a feat which earned them human tributes as tricksters and gods. Ravens even play.

The Common Raven is an acrobatic flier, often doing rolls and somersaults in the air. One bird was seen flying upside down for more than a half-mile. Young birds are fond of playing games with sticks, repeatedly dropping them, then diving to catch them in midair.

There are more differences between crows and ravens, but these are the key points. They should help you determine whether the bird you're looking at is a raven or just a very large crow.

In Summary

1. Crows and ravens differ in the size and ravens are bigger.

2. Ravens have a purple shiny tint on the feathers when sunrays fall on them, while crows have plain dark feathers.

3. The life spans of crows are very less compared to that of ravens.

4. Crows scavenge in groups while ravens hunt in solitude.

5. Crows can be found among the dwellings of humans, but ravens prefer to stay away in the hills and woods.

I want to do another blog at some future time, to share with you more information on how smart Crows and Ravens really are. It is truly amazing. Until then......

This is Raven-as the crow flies!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February - An Anniversary Month!

February 2, 2011 will mark the first year anniversary when Raven's Delights began.

You may recall the first blog gave helpful information on how to identify healthful fruits and vegetables by their number code. Hopefully that has been a benefit to you.

The birth of this blog has been an interesting adventure which much of the credit, if not all, goes to Sparrow and Swallow, who encouraged me to "get out of the box", and try my hand at blogging. It had an appeal to me and of course the rest is history.

One of my quests with the creation of this blog, was to find out how each month of the year got it's name.

When I searched my past blogs for the month of February, to my surprise, I neglected to accomplish this task for the month of February, 2010. So to honor this goal, on the month I started this blog, February, a year ago, I will meet my objective this anniversary month by telling all how February got it's name.

February Facts

February is the second month of the year according to the Gregorian calendar, which is used in almost all the world today. It is also the shortest month.

According to legend, the first calendar of the ancient Romans had only 10 months. But in about 700 B.C., the ruler Numa Pompilius added January and February. February became the last month of the Roman year.

The month takes its name from the Latin word februare, meaning to purify. The Romans purified themselves in February to prepare for festivals at the start of the new year. Later, the Romans moved the beginning of the year from March to January, making February the second month.

February usually had 28 days until the time of the Roman statesman Julius Caesar. Caesar gave it 29 days in standard years and 30 every four years. According to tradition, the Roman emperor Augustus took one day off February to add to August, the month named after him. Today, February has 28 days in standard years and 29 in leap years.

A Leap year has 366 days, or one more day than an ordinary year. Leap year day occurs once every 4 years. The next leap year will be in 2012.

Why is it called a Leap Year?

Hundreds of years ago the leap year day had no recognition in English law. The day was 'leapt over' and ignored, hence the term leap year.

Leap years were added to the calendar to make the calendar year nearly the same as the solar year, which is the time it takes for the sun to pass the vernal equinox twice. The extra day added every four years brings a solar year of 365 1/4 days into line with the calendar year of 365 days.

February Second is Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day in the U.S. is a popular tradition, the day (February 2) that the groundhog, or woodchuck, comes out of his hole after winter hibernation to look for his shadow; If he sees his shadow, it foretells six more weeks of bad weather; If he cannot see his shadow because of clouds, Spring is coming. Supposedly he goes back into his hole if more bad weather is coming and stays above ground if spring is near; statistical evidence does not support this tradition.~Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia~
"Away in a meadow all covered with snow
The little old groundhog looks for his shadow
The clouds in the sky determine our fate
If winter will leave us all early or late."- Don Halley

Weather-lore for February

It is said that if the weather is fine and frosty at the close of January and the beginning of February, there is more winter ahead than behind.

When the cat lies in the sun in February
She will creep behind the stove in March

Of all the months of the year, curse a fair February

If it thunders in February, it will frost in April

If February gives much snow, A fine summer it does foreshow.

So far, the beginning of this month looks like the groundhog will be seeing his shadow, so keep those winter hat's, scarves, gloves, boots, and coats on for at least another six weeks.

I want to take this opportunity to also congratulate Sparrow and Swallow on their 1st year anniversary of their blog "Birds of a Feather." Kudos to you both. I know that "Frabjous Photo's" will be just as successful.

Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement you have given me.

What will I be blogging about, hopefully, for another year? Time will tell. One thing for sure, where ever the crow flies, Raven will be there.

This is Raven-as the crow flies!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Wonder of Snowflakes!

Snowflakes, are one of God's finest masterpieces. “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.” Psalm 104:24; 148:1-5.
This of course includes SNOW.

So far we have had 34.8 inches of snow this month of January. The previous January record was 26 inches in 1947, the first year statistics were kept at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

This January's snow is also the most for any single month. The previous high was 32.5 inches in February 1967. By the way, February is typically the snowiest month on Long Island, according to the National Weather Service.

With 19.8 inches that fell in last month's blizzard, this season's total so far is 54.6 inches. The record was set in 1995-96 with 90.75 inches, followed by 2004-05's 78.5 inches. Right now we are in 11th place, but almost two months of winter are still ahead. The average Long Island winter brings 32 inches, according to Newsday's January 28, 2011 paper.

So, as you can see, it has been a great winter, and it isn't over yet!

Some who live in a fast-paced society and who must travel may view snow merely as an obstacle. Yet, countless others view snow as a delight, producing a winter wonderland that opens up opportunities for special activities.

What do you know about snow? In effect, that was a question Jehovah asked Job:“Have you entered into the storehouses of the snow, or do you see even the storehouses of the hail, which I have kept back for the time of distress, for the day of fight and war?”

Oh, we know what a lot of it looks like, perhaps from photos of snowbanks or because we have actually seen plenty of snow, especially this year. But what of individual snowflakes? Do you know what they look like, maybe having examined them at their source?

Some men have spent decades studying and photographing snowflakes. A snowflake may be composed of a hundred delicate ice crystals in a variety of beautiful designs. The book Atmosphere says: “The endless variety of snowflakes is legendary, and although scientists insist that no law of nature forbids their duplication, two identical flakes have never been found. One search of epic proportions was conducted by . . . Wilson A. Bentley, who spent more than 40 years examining and photographing snowflakes through a microscope without ever finding two that were exactly alike.” And even if, in a rare case, two appeared to be twins, would that really alter the wonder of the staggering variety of snowflakes?

Each snowflake becomes a masterpiece of construction. Amazingly, no two have been discovered that are exactly alike, and there are enough possible combinations of patterns to suggest that there will never be such a discovery. Yet, all are six-sided in shape!

Snow—its origin, flake growth, and design—staggers the mind of scientists.

What is snow? Snow is a clustering of ice crystals crafted from the water vapor in the air. Temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure help sculpture the beautifully symmetrical shapes of ice crystals. When the temperature near the ground is above 32° F. (0° C.) snow may reach us as rain. But if the temperature is below 32° F., the tiny crystals will clump together to form a snowflake.

But there must be something that the moisture can be formed around, something that acts as a “seed.” What can be used? Any microscopic particles floating in the air will do—dust, salt, or even pollution. Around these nuclei, ice crystals will grow into flat six-pointed stars, hexagonal pillars, or sparkling needles. As snow tumbles slowly earthward from as high as six miles (10 km), it may collide with other crystals and stick to them, or it may shatter, forming more “seeds” for more crystals.

Here are two statistics that may surprise you: A cubic foot (.028 cu m) of snow may contain 10 million snowflakes. And it has been estimated that up to one half of the earth’s land surface and 10 percent of the sea, about 48 million square miles (124 million sq km), may at times be under this wintry blanket. With all that snow, is it possible that no two snowflakes are alike? Yes!

To try to understand why, let us consider just one more set of facts. Millions of water molecules, which can be arranged in many different ways, may form a single ice crystal. And it takes from one to more than a hundred of these ice crystals to make one snowflake. According to Charles Knight, physicist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, if you put all these numbers in a computer, you would find that there are still more possible combinations of molecules in each snowflake than there have been snowflakes in all earth’s history.

In addition, the air around a flake shapes its growth. As mentioned earlier, moisture, temperature, and barometric pressure sculpture snow. However, wind molds its shape too. All four factors may vary from moment to moment. Falling snow may pass through air masses of varying temperature. The wind may blow it through any number of temperature and humidity ranges in its downward journey. And since no two flakes are likely to follow the same path to earth, each one should indeed be unique.

Besides snow being beautiful to look at, there are vital benefits for us and the earth.

Just as many enjoy a soft, warm blanket on a cold winter night, the earth has its own winter blanket. Thanks to snow, the fluctuations in temperature of the soil are moderated. The soil holds in the heat it had absorbed before it was covered. Thus seeds are protected and crops will grow for the next harvesttime.

The earth is not just insulated by the snow blanket, however; it is also fertilized. How so? Because of the vital nitrates that are deposited by the snow. In the 1970’s it was estimated that an average snowfall on prairie farms would deposit about $20 worth of nitrates per acre.

And did you know that snow is referred to as the most effective “dam” of any kind? The water is held back or stored in the form of snow. In this form it will wait until it is released by melting in the spring. Hence, snow holds back water as a dam does. Even then, thanks to its ability to reflect the sun’s rays, the snow will melt away slowly, and in this way much of the water will filter its way down into the soil instead of just flowing off.

The Bible outlined these benefits of rain and snow by stating: “The pouring rain descends, and the snow . . . [and] actually saturates the earth and makes it produce and sprout, and seed is actually given to the sower and bread to the eater.” (Isaiah 55:10)

Yes, for many of earth’s inhabitants, the water they drink and the food they eat, and even the electricity they use, may be directly or indirectly a result of tapping “the storehouse of the snow.”

Indeed, the more scientists study snowflakes, the more they appreciate, as The New York Times reported January 6, 1987: “Snowflakes obey mathematical laws of surprising subtlety.” Do you not agree that snowflakes are a tribute to the power and wisdom of their Maker? “For to the snow he says, ‘Fall earthward.’”—Job 37:6.

By growing snow crystals in the lab under controlled conditions, scientists have discovered that their shapes are determined largely by temperature and humidity. This picture summarises the crystal shapes formed under different conditions.

12-sided snowflake

This is actually two snowflakes joined together - one rotated at 30 degrees relative to the other. Such snowflakes are quite rare.

May this blog about snowflakes help us better appreciate our Creator and his magnificent qualities of love, wisdom, justice, and power.

And, may we, like snowflakes, work together, to accomplish a lot!

Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragil things. But just look at what they can do when they stick together."

This is Raven-as the crow flies!