I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Stories Nature Writes - 2

Delores E. Topliff - The Grand Canyon of the Colorado

Last Dec. 23rd, my older son and his two youngest kids arranged their school vacation to show me the Grand Canyon. I’ve visited interesting places in other lands, but I had missed this American treasure, and my family wanted me to see it. They were right. It was awe-inspiring, and I agree with a friend who says everyone should see the Grand Canyon.

Native Americans have always known it was there. They called it “mountains lying down.” In September, 1540, thirteen Spanish soldiers from Coronado’s army were the first Europeans to see it while searching for seven rumored Cities of Gold. Six million visitors a year from all over the world suggest that the canyon is better than gold.

Considered one of the greatest natural wonders on earth, it is visible from outer space. Geologists say that ancient seas accumulated layers of sand as they eroded surrounding material. They believe the canyon formed as the Colorado River carved a path through the Colorado Plateau as it flowed down and out from the Rocky Mountains after their uplift. The canyon is 277 miles long at its greatest point, 18 miles wide, and over a mile deep.

Seeing such beauty and immense proportions impressed us. The sum total was greater than its individual parts of colorful rocks and cliffs with steep slopes and a rushing river at the bottom. We kept repeating terms like massive, spectacular, breathtaking, and divine design with awe in our voices. We spent less than one full day there, but we’ll never forget it.

Along with my photos of multi-colored canyon walls and cliffs, I remember the expressions on my grandchildren’s faces as they first saw each thing. Our new shared experience tied us more closely together and we still talk about it in phone calls since then.

Where have you traveled and what have you seen that has impacted you and/or your family greatly?

What favorite place do you visit that always makes you want to come back?

For more blog posts and news updates, check my website, delorestopliff.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Stories Nature Writes - 1

Delores E. Topliff - Treasured Rocks
For Christmas 2018, my older son and his two youngest added an item to my bucket list AND helped me accomplish it. I’ve traveled to several continents, not all, but had not seen America’s Grand Canyon. My family wasn’t having it. Instead of coming to NE Mississippi where I now winter as they did last Christmas, they bought air tickets from Minneapolis to Phoenix and insisted I do the same from Memphis. We happily rendezvoused there and spent 36 hours in Scottsdale in a friend’s home before heading north to gain altitude. During our quiet day in Scottsdale, I asked if we could hike somewhere before the sun went down.

There were hiking trails nearby, some leading to mining activity. In one hour, we didn't cover much distance, but the many varied rocks we examined made this a special memory.

Nature’s rocks tell a story all their own. I’ve loved rocks since I was a four-year-old following my rock hound grandfather as he let me tag along while he sorted, washed, and sliced agates, thunder eggs, petrified wood, or other samples, and taught me to read the stories of rocks. In university, I took two college-level geology courses that were simply a continuation of the foundations my grandfather laid.

On the hiking trail, I was ecstatic to read many stories in the stacks of rocks we passed and sometimes stumbled over. They came in all colors, mostly fire-born igneous, and some with signs and colors that might indicate trace elements of copper, silver, or gold.

I got excited. My grandkids got excited. I hardly ever take trips anywhere without bringing a few rocks home to display fondly like photos of friends and family. I can usually tell guests where I got the samples and how they were formed.

During that one hour walk, we saw various samples (photo above). I also saw my love for rocks and their stories get transferred to my 13-year-old six-foot tall grandson. We didn’t carry collection bags but he had pockets in his Bermuda shorts. The further we walked, the fuller his pockets got and the more his shorts drooped. He nearly lost them twice, but that didn’t stop him from adding still more samples and holding up his sagging shorts by a firm hand on his waistband.

One single large colorful rock is my favorite. My grandson says he found it (I thought I did) but he allowed me to bring to Mississippi to remember our time. 

That rock is a survivor. It has endured much but its experiences produced beauty. Its white quartz bands are a hardness of 7 out of 10 on the mineral hardness scale, showing it may include small deposits of silver, gold, or other precious metals. It has suffered great pressure and fire, even intrusion, but been made stronger by each of them.
If TSA searched my suitcase as I flew back across country, they may have scratched their heads to see this in my luggage, but they let me bring it bring home.

We saw the Grand Canyon, too, and read its story, as well as other marvels. Those may be future stories. But it is this character-filled well-formed rock that became my favorite and sits on my bookcase now.

What items do you carry home from trips?

What are your favorite stories that nature writes?

For more blog posts and news updates, check my website, delorestopliff.com

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Goals for a New Year

Delores E. Topliff
As quoted in Forever, Erma, a collection of American humorist, Erma Bombeck’s best-known writings, she closed her March 10, 1987, column with these words that to me are a perfect guideline for anyone’s coming year:

“I always had a dream that when I am asked to give accounting of my life to a higher court, it will go like this: “So, empty your pockets. What have you got left of your life? Any dreams that were unfulfilled? Any unused talent that we gave you when you were born that you still have left? Any unsaid compliments or bits of love that you haven’t spread around?

And I will answer, “I’ve nothing to return. I spent everything you gave me.  I’m as naked as the day I was born.”

I don’t think life's goals can be expressed any better than that. May we live and enjoy 2019 to the best of our ability by living it to the fullest and then emptying our pockets to give everything we have.