Can you shout to the clouds,
and make it rain?
It 4:00 A.M. Florida Panhandle time and 78 degrees on June 26, 2018. Enticed by the twinkling darkness that envelopes the soft ripples of the Choctawhatchee Bay, I slide open the door. Abruptly, the rude slap of hot wet air, thicker and stickier than a bloodhound’s drool, hits me and, in less than two seconds, makes my limbs heavy and stiff and licks my thin, straight hair limp. I close my door to escape the dense, syrupy reality that is the unofficial Deep South before it suffocates me.
Dog Days, The Illiad, and Associated Troubles
Older Southerners call sweltering, sultry, summertime days like this “dog days.” Really dog days have nothing to do with the humidity and everything to do with the doggy constellation Canis Major=Orion’s hunting dog and the migration of the brightest of stars=Sirius to his nose. But, if you live in the Deep South of the Northern Hemisphere, Sirius moves to the celestial canine nose about the same time terrestrial dogs are lying around under some shade tree, too hot to move.
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
or loose the cords of Orion?
The laziness associated with dog days seems innocent enough, but terrible things – disease, peril, crime – are known to rise with Sirius on these days. I would suggest that if you want to know more of the history of these horrors, just plop a beach chair down at the edge of our Gulf waters close enough for the warm waves to wash over your feet and suck the sand from beneath your chair. Reach into your beach bag for your high school copy of The Iliad. Sit back, tip your hat enough to shade your eyes, read, and be reminded of the blood-curdling events associated with Sirius’ movements in farthest away of ancient places during these hottest days of the year.
However, I will definitely not recommend that particular activity to you because, here in the Panhandle, on summer days, the sun bears the full strength of its heat down on your head and shoulders. When it does, despite the invisible, impenetrable protection of SPF 50 sunscreen, its rays will mysteriously beam horrifying thoughts of deep wrinkles and Melanoma into your brain.
What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
Slow Southern Speech
By the way, just in case you have ever wondered why, other than politeness, southern speech slows down even more than usual in the summer, you should know that humidly has a profound affect on the southern brain and any other brain that happens to get soaked in it. There is, however, no correlation, as science (at least today) will tell you, between our slow speech and intelligence – just saying.
Imagined Pleasantries of Happy Jack
It’s 57 degrees in Happy Jack, Arizona which sounds pr-eeet-y happy to me right now. The humidity is only 35%. That means that there, in Happy Jack, you won’t perspire when you open the door at 4:00 A.M Central Time. Everyday would be a great hair day in the continental climate of Happy Jack I think and imagine long, energetic, fast-talking, sweat-free, walks ‘neath stately Ponderosa Pines where, in filtered sunlight, Albert’s squirrels play, happy porcupines plop, and jackrabbits hop. Of course, in this dreamiest of daydreams, a cool dry breeze is always blowing through hair that never sticks to my head.
Mexican Gray Wolves
Take a look at Behemoth,
which I made, just as I made you …
See its powerful loins
and the muscles of its belly …
Its bones are tubes of bronze,
its limbs like bars of iron.
It is a prime example of God’s handiwork,
and only its Creator can threaten it.
In May of this year, two Mexican gray wolves, a female and a male were found dead in Arizona. Officials won’t say where exactly. Trackers say the male had been traveling somewhere in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest before entering the almost two-million acres of the Coconino National Forest. The Mongolian Rim Ranger Station of the Coconino Forest is located in Happy Jack. So is the Discovery Channel Telescope. As likely as not, hordes of ravenous wolf packs prowled over dark trails last night towards one or the other as rangers, who usually fix their eyes on the forest, and star-gazers, who usually scan the skies, all peer down from their safe abodes in the morning light at the gathering packs wishing they had thought to bring a hearty breakfast.
A Winter Storm, a Dismembered Elk, More Wolves, & the By-Gone Hope of Great Hair
Have you visited the storehouses of snow,
or seen the storehouses of hail?
(I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war.)
Who is the mother of ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens?
I remember the time my husband and I were running from a winter storm that chased us through strange places in the Gila Wilderness southwest of Albuquerque where we saw children’s school bus stops fortified like Fort Knox and large looming signs with pictures of half-eaten cows and words that warned:
Beware – Danger.
Free-Roaming Mexican Gray Wolves.
Protect Your Children & Your Pets.
We pulled into a forestry campground not too far from one of the signs. But, in those particular proud pines, there were elk strung up by their hind legs and camouflaged people with carving knives who didn’t seem overly welcoming to folks from Florida. So, we moved a little down the road where we spotted a trailhead.
Honestly, I would not have been courageous enough to do this alone, but together we decided to get out and stretch our legs. There was a dismembered elk carcass scattered about the trail’s entrance, and my brain synapses fired off a strong and direct association between this carcass and the wolf signs. Still, undeterred and determined to conquer both trail and fear, we walked on… about ten steps before ominous, tension-building music started playing. Who knew there was an orchestra in the Gila Wilderness? At the crescendo, we turned and ran back to our van as fast as we could. Dit-ta-dit-ta-dit-ta-dit-ta-dit-ta-door slam-whew!
If you draw a line connecting the northern boundaries of the Gila, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Coconino National Forests it will rise north and west towards Happy Jack. So you see that my Coconino ravenous wolf visualization is plausible. Good-byyyyyyye great hair!
Bull Sharks and Some Associated Information
The afore mentioned Gulf of Mexico lives and has its being just a handful of miles south of my house.
Do not get over knee-deep in its warm, salty, emerald-green waters.
Fair warning! Its white sands, that sparkle like wet sugar crystals, and translucent, white-tipped waves will surely tempt you as it does bathers of all shapes, ages, and apparel (or apparently lack of it). On summer days, it is 100% guaranteed that you will eventually succumb to this temptation. However, the knee-deep rule, with the added stipulation that you must face the horizon and not the beach, may possibly save you from 7 X 50 rows = 350 blood-tipped bull shark teeth clamping and ripping your thigh as dark emotionless eyes stare at your belly.
Bull sharks do frequent our enticing waters, and sometimes they really do cross the sandbar.
Did you know that bull sharks are the most aggressive shark species, and that they can weigh over five hundred pounds? They can also survive in the fresh water. Least you think of kayaking the rivers that flow into the Choctawhatchee Bay across from my house, you should know that I have not even once seen a single bull shark in them. Who would?
I have seen alligators up close and personal in those rivers. Their eyes moved, slow and steady, towards me from the calm darkness between the muddy torrents and the palmetto fringed shores where I once stupidly beached and disembarked a Sea-Doo. Perhaps, ooh-wee-ooh-wee-ooh-wee, something even more mysterious and fearsome than alligators or more relentless than yellow flies lurks there too.
If you lay a hand on it,
you will certainly remember the battle that follows.
You won’t try that again! …
Nothing on earth is its equal,
No other creature so fearless.
It is 47 in Cour d’Alene, Idaho at 4:00 A.M. central time. The humidity there is 58 percent which is 23 percent more than Happy Jack but still much dryer than the 86 percent now fogging and dripping down my glass doors. Plus it is, 78-58=20 degrees cooler. There are mountains and lakes and long bike trails along old train rail beds there, near Cour d’Alene, that I could actually ride in the daytime without being smothered to death by southern summer weather. I have decided not to, under any circumstances, research northern Idaho’s grizzly bear or mountain lion population.
A Fiery Lake of Burning Sulfur & a Scientific Fact
But cowards, unbelievers…
–their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
This is the second death.”
A fiery lake of burning sulfur is pretty scary and, least you are tempted to mock its existence, very reasonable. In the volcano-themed movie, Dante’s Peek, two people are boiled to death while soaking in a hot spring, and, if that can happen in the movies, well… .
Some people say, we are dust and actually believe that God transformed dirt into a human being – snap – just like that. But, science teaches us all kinds of things more fantastic than fantasy or sci-fi, or even biblical writers, and brings to mind all kinds of bizarre possibilities.
Non-living material, through the magic of time and random chance (which some say is the true Sovereign), is alive and well and roams the earth.
Even this very day, you might be driving along some long, unpaved, tree-lined, moss-draped road and see a walking rock or a monkey-man. Slow the green and brown tree blur down and look.
Don’t be afraid; just have faith.
Surely it is not so farfetched to believe that there exists somewhere a fiery lake of burning sulfur and that there exists an ultimate and, yes, even good and loving powerful being who can toss sweet, wonderful you and me into it. Definitions are after all the prerogative of the Creator if he is indeed all-powerful. And it is not unreasonable that you can live your death till you never die in this lake of fire.
Can you make lightning appear
and cause it to strike as you direct?
In the Midst of a Lightening Storm
In a most fantastic vision, someone named John learned that this throwing of people into a fiery lake is exactly what will happen to unbelieving cowards, of which I fear, I am the greatest. I cannot redeem myself, but I did, however, once, on one of my “what could get worse days,” slowly stroll straight through the middle of a Florida lightening storm.
You do know that more people are killed by lightening in Florida than in any other state, so statistically speaking, my chances of death by lightening were better than most.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
I kid you not. Lightening bolts were hurling straight down towards the pavement all around me. I did not run, and my heartbeat did not increase. I remember calmly telling myself exactly this:
“God made this storm. He is in control of this lightening. He has numbered the days of my life, and each day is already written in his book. God does not write rough drafts. He does not edit. I will die on the day God has set for me to die, and I will not die before that day. And, if today is my day to die, I will be with God, and that will be better.”
Brave Hopes & Confidence
I wish I could be that calm, brave and believing in the face of danger all the time.
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
Of course the reason I, the great repentant coward and one who believes extremely outlandish things, am confident, even on days when fear makes me run and hide indoors, that, one day, I will be perfectly safe with this fearsome God is simply this:
- God the Son=Jesus the Christ, was never an unbelieving coward.
- God has said that he counts Christ’s never-failing believing bravery as mine the very moment I am joined to Christ through confidence, great or small, that he is very God – that it is he who has and will save me from his very own (more fearful than anything I have heretofore described) wrath.
- When I see God fully, face-to-face, he will not let me run. He will hold me fast.
And, my unproved theory is that, wherever God is, the weather will be perfect.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together…
In those days, no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain.
I, the LORD, have spoken!
Quotes are from Job 38, 40-41; Psalm 139:16; Isaiah 65:25; Mark 5:36; Romans 5:1; and Revelation 21:8 of the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.