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In praise of birds and beasts and those who comfort them

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Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 12:00 am

Let's hear it for nandina! It's the shrub that can solve a lot of problems. It grows in sun or shade, and has red leaves, red berries and white blossoms, each at a different time of the year, so it's an attractive plant. Even when it's just green, its leaves are pointedly delicate and graceful. It can spread and grow bigger than it should for its space, but a shovel and clippers can take care of this when needed.

The Chinese fringe flower bushes in my back yard are showing off branches full of fringy (what else?) blossoms, and the bulbs are flirting in the wind: yellow and white daffodils, purple and pink hyacinths, and pale blue or white Stars of Bethlehem. There's another type of bulb showing: a stem of fluted purple blossoms; I forget its name. There are some white ones of these, too.

Not too many flowering bushes here yet, but there are some gorgeous ones around town — and trees, as well.

All this beauty, waiting though the winter and coming back in celebration — and we don't have a thing to do with the process, really, except be good caretakers.

***

Had a great experience the other day. A friend and I took a lunch and drove out Woodbridge Road to see if any cranes were still around. They weren't, but there was a white heron, some red-winged blackbirds, and a bunch of hawks "making lazy circles in the sky" ("Oklahoma!"). The land and the sky were quietly communing with each other via cloud signals, and all was peaceful.

It is always good to be reminded that there are large swathes of the earth that do not have human structures anywhere in sight. It's easier to realize here in the Central Valley where there is so much space, but it's also true when traveling through English countryside via canal boat, and England is a rather small island in comparison.

***

One to think about; "I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all. But whatever I placed in God's hands, that I still possess." — Martin Luther

***

I happened to look out of the back window yesterday and watched a blue jay taking a shower. The backyard sprinklers were on, and he was sitting on the rim of the bird bath and having a ball. Of course, he had to have a bath, too.

It made me think that most creatures are habitually clean, even pigs. They like a roll in the mud (don't some of us take mud baths, too?) but they don't like to live in a filthy sty. Take heed, pig farmers!

***

If you haven't yet been to Wags to Riches, the PALS thrift shop on East Pine and Main streets, give yourself a treat and go now while the Easter goodies still last. This shop has everything, thanks to generous donors: gift items, plates, bowls, books, clothing, baskets, stuffed animals and a lot more. Wandering in and around the shelves and tables is an experience in itself. Remember, all the profits from the shop go for care of animals at the Lodi Animal Shelter, for which People Assisting the Lodi Shelter is a very helpful adjunct.

Slowly, via fundraisers of all sorts, PALS is raising money to build its own shelter out on Sargent Road, with a lot more room for the animals to live. Lodi was badly needing a new shelter when I came to town in 1957, and it has needed one ever since. Too bad this project was never given a priority by the city.

PALS is not the only group helping Lodi's animals. There are also Animal Friends Connection and Cats of All Colors, to say nothing of the Delta Animal Shelter down toward Stockton. Bless them all, and the devoted volunteers who work there. All of them can use your help: food, spaying/neutering expenses, litter, towels, etc. don't come cheaply.

***

What a great thing it is to have a new pope in time for Easter. Given what is being written about him, he seems to set a good example not only for Catholics but for everybody else, especially those in positions of power or leadership. All of them should be paying their own hotel bills and other expenses. Taxpayers are tired of being a collective cash cow.

Yes, it is a troubled world right now, but the weather is warmer and brighter, the earth is colorful, squirrels and birds and other critters are out and about, and we can always look up at the sky and let clouds and stars and the sun and moon put us in our proper perspective. Even though there are lots of problems for each of us, we need to be grateful for what is good in our lives. This can be a lifeline even for those in despair. Rejoice! God is good.

I am privileged to be allowed to report the doings of our village, as well as some side remarks along the way, and I am grateful to all those who keep me informed. and those who thank me.

Gwin Paden of Lodi is a former English teacher. She has worked in advertising, public relations, and news reporting, also. She is a WAC vet and a member of the American Legion.

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