Upon the conclusion of this past gardening season, I determined to resume frequent walks on my country roads come January, 2022. Primarily for the benefits of fresh air and exercise.

Which includes a wave to neighbors while they muck their barns, visit their mailboxes, or call for their dogs. And a chance meeting with a familiar face passing on foot or behind a steering wheel cheers me like a bright, blue sky on a winter day.

So, later I’ll layer my clothing and lace my boots for a muddy stroll in sunshine. Incidentally, my fondness for mud throws back to childhood when Mom praised my mud pies with a genuine smile.

Which explains my preference to saunter slushy, hilly, pot-holed roads rather than groomed trails. I’m most content walking along Stoney Creek that resembles Peter Creek, the stream that flows along my natal Kentucky home.

Now, I cannot attribute my desire for outdoor recreation to my mother. A fair-skinned Scot-German who avoided the blazing sun, Mom excelled in domestic skills such as cooking, baking, sewing, and creating wedding cakes.

Her second of five daughters, I did not inherit Mom’s steady eye and hand. I cannot embroider the smallest piece without puckering the fabric, or draw a straight line.

Long ago, my few pathetic knitted and crocheted efforts ended up in the trash can. My inventive mind sees serpentine lines.

For instance, it’s taken my dyslexic brain decades to befriend the lettered keyboard. The battle first emerged in my sophomore Beginning Typing class with Mr. Walling when my grade regressed from a B to a D.

This disqualified me from the J.V. cheerleading squad for a miserable month. Meanwhile, I practiced typing after school under Mr. Walling’s critical supervision.

Truly, I could’ve never accomplished a writer’s life in this modern world without the intervention of the word processor, cursor, and backspace keys.

However, when I turn into my second mile, I’ve forgotten my search for the notched F and J keys. With each step, the voice of sound reason returns–encouraging words that ease the stress of my limitations and lift me to higher places.

As the waters of Stoney Creek tumble over rocks and fallen logs, they speak sweet comfort, joy and guidance to my mind, soul and spirit.

Today, I’ll bundle up with a burdened heart for a steadfast and loving friend; a mother who held vigil with her husband in a hospital for several days, praying for God’s will for their elder son.

Dear Reader, amongst the numerous blessings of dodging icy patches is communion with my Lord, Jesus–to pause along open fields, forests, and Stoney Creek and appeal to Heaven for the sick and bereaved.

And to remember God’s mercy and grace found within my family’s losses, count them worthy to offer up in prayer on behalf of my heartbroken friend and her family.

I’ll walk along “Rivers of Living Waters” and pray for my friend and her grandchildren’s comfort.

For the healing of the nations.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.