A Poem upon Finding Myself Yearning for Snow

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Come, Winter!

Come, Winter!
The world tires of its verdant hue.

Come, Clouds!
Come blot out the heat of the sun.

Come, Darkness!
Come tell daylight its time is done.

Come, Wind!
Come rip the dying leaves away.

Come, Rot!
Come hasten the last year’s decay.

Come, Snow!
Come bury the garden in white.

Come, Ice!
Come visit my windows tonight.

Come, Winter!
My heart has been waiting for you.

Wildflower Wednesday: Spring Beauty

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Common Name: Spring Beauty

Scientific Name: Claytonia virginica

Habitat & Range: wet, shady, deciduous woods

Bloom Time: spring

About: Yes, we’re hurtling toward winter up here in Michigan, but that doesn’t mean we can’t think about spring. A delicate woodland flower that blooms in April or May, the Spring Beauty is found in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. Its tubers are eaten like potatoes, but please don’t dig these up as their numbers are being reduced by over-gathering. Foraging is a fun thing to do (if you know what you’re doing and don’t eat anything poisonous) but people who foraged for these plants in the past (because they actually needed to) usually did so with knowledge of how to keep their sources producing. A lot of foraging hobbyists may go into the woods these days with only knowledge of what can be eaten rather than knowledge of how it should be eaten and preserved for the future. That said, if you’re lost in the woods for days on end next spring and you find some of these, I’m sure it’s okay to eat the tubers to keep from starving to death.

Reference: Wildflowers of Michigan by Stan Tekiela; Adventure Publications, 2000

The Fate of Wildflower Wednesday Is in Your Hands

Tomorrow is the last Wildflower Wednesday post I have scheduled. I had originally intended to just finish out the summer with them, but got carried away. If there is enough interest, I’ll continue this weekly feature. So let me know in the comments if you want me to keep posting pictures and facts about Michigan wildflowers once a week. If there isn’t much interest, we’ll just let it wither and die like this year’s wildflowers succumbing to the frost.

Good Christian Men Smoke

It is a warm and windy first day of November. The sky is gray and my burning bush has finally turned red, but my maple trees in the back yard are still green. Autumn has been slow this year so that I’m not sure any of us are really mentally prepared for November. Shouldn’t we be waking to cars needing to be scraped and frost on the windows? Instead, my marigolds still look incredible.

But it is the first of November, and therefore it is time for this:

Capture

Tonight is a book launch party at Timothy’s Fine Cigars in Bay City, Michigan, for The Christian Gentleman’s Smoking Companion, a hybrid illustrated/reference/humor/cultural commentary written by my husband Zach Bartels and our friend and fellow writer Ted Kluck.

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Some of you may be thinking, “Christians smoking? Isn’t that a sin?” The short answer is, no, it is not. And I won’t go into the long answer here, but there is a chapter in the book that addresses this very question.

In fact, a large portion of this book is devoted to profiling famous and influential people of faith who smoke(d) cigars and/or pipes, such as Charles Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C. S. Lewis, Pope Pius X, J. R. R. Tolkien, Karl Barth, G. K. Chesterton, J. Gresham Machen, Johann Sebastian Bach, and more. The book not only includes original illustrations of all of these men, it also includes many quotes from them (and even a fairly lengthy poem from Bach!) on how one can smoke to the glory of God.

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There are interviews with a few smoking enthusiasts (including Tim Socier, owner and proprietor of Timothy’s Fine Cigars in Bay City, and Jody Davis of Newboys fame, who creates one-of-a-kind pipes as a side business), and chapters explaining cigar types and terminology, smoking lounge etiquette, what cigar brands say about the person smoking them, and more handy advice that keeps the smoker from looking like an amateur out there.

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And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg (or perhaps a more fitting metaphor would be just the ash at the end of the cigar). The bottom line is, if you smoke cigars or pipes, this book’s for you. If you think this whole enterprise sounds a little suspicious because you’ve been taught that smoking is sinful, this book’s for you. If you love satire and sarcasm, this book’s for you. If you can laugh at yourself (and others) this book’s for you. It’s just a fun, enjoyable experience (as long as you’re not too uptight).

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If you’re in the Bay City area tonight, join us at Tim’s on the corner of Center and Saginaw (across from the planetarium) from 6-8pm. There will be amazing gourmet snacks, including chipotle brownies, made by Ted’s wife and personal chef Kristin Kluck, a.k.a. The Saucy Broad. If you can’t come by but the book sounds like something you or someone you know would like (perhaps as a Christmas gift?) you can buy it here!