ALYCE FAYE BRAGGSnowflakes dance and twirl through the air as the capricious wind blows them this way and that. The wind chimes tinkle madly, and the bare limbs on the trees bend to the whim of the wind. Winter has been showing his fierce teeth the past few days, with icy blasts, snow showers and freezing temperatures. Although February is with us still, the weather is more like March with its changeable moods. All at once the sun will pop through and blue skies are revealed before the snowflakes start flying again. The sun has little warmth, however and the bitter wind chills a person to the bone.

The chipmunk that scurried along the rock wall during those warm days a short time ago has disappeared; gone no doubt into the deep recesses of his warm burrow. We, too, seek the sanctuary of our homes, to curl up in an armchair near the blessed warmth of our stoves, venturing out as little as necessary.

We are content to watch the outdoors through our window, and enjoy the antics of the birds as they throng the bird feeder. There are at least six pairs of cardinals that lord it over the smaller birds, and the bright red males festoon the rose of Sharon bush, turning into some exotic blooming tree.

The black-capped chickadees dart in and out, along with the juncos and wrens. We get so much pleasure out of these tiny-feathered creatures that eat together in harmony, until the arrogant blue jays descend and scatter the flock. As I watch these little birds I realize, and not for the first time, the secret of contentment. It is to appreciate the small things; to find pleasure in the simple blessings.

I realize that most of my daydreams will never come true, many places that I once longed to visit I will never be able to, and I’m just a tadpole in a small puddle. However, I want to enjoy my life to the best of my capabilities. I am truly blessed. I have a family who surrounds me with loving care; a husband who anticipates my every need and takes good care of me. I have granddaughters and nieces who pet and pamper me. What else do I need?

The Apostle Paul in the book of Philippians states, “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” I have noticed that many people who possess much of this world’s goods are not content.They seem to be always striving for more and more and are not satisfied. I think that only God makes us truly content.

Sometimes I wonder that my readers may think, because I always try to look on the bright side of every situation, that I never have any troubles. That is far from the truth of course. We all go through trials and tribulations in this life, because we are human. But I have found the One who carries us through the heartaches and burdens of this life.

Someone sent this poem a long time ago, and it is very good.

Author Unknown
I learn as the years roll onward
And leave the past behind,
That much I have counted sorrow
But proves our God is kind;
That many a flower I longed for
Had a hidden thorn of pain,
And many a rugged by-path
Led to fields of ripened grain.

The clouds but cover the sunshine,
They cannot banish the sun,
And the earth shines out the brighter
When the weary rain is done,
We must stand in the deepest sorrow
To see the clearest light,
And often from wrong’s own darkness
Comes the very strength of right.

We must live through the weary winter
If we could but value the spring,
And the woods must be cold and silent
Before the robins sing,
The flowers must be buried in darkness
Before they could bud and bloom
And the sweetest and warmest sunshine
Comes after the storm and gloom.

So the heart from the hardest trial
Gains the purest joy of all,
And from the lips that have tasted sadness
The sweetest songs will fall.
For as peace comes after suffering,
And love is reward of pain,
So after earth comes heaven
And out of our loss the gain.

Spring is sending some subtle signals to us that she is on her way. Both Criss and Patty have heard spring peepers tuning up, but of course they have buried back in the mud at the bottom of the pond to await a warmer day. My friend Darren Porter, who lives in Kentucky, found frog eggs in some puddles. Crocuses are blooming, and the Easter flowers are putting out buds. It won’t be long now.
We have never found our little dog, Chloe. There is a possibility that she could have been snatched up by a coyote, although it grieves us that she could have met with such a fate. Each night I go to bed wondering if she is cold, or hungry. When we lost Millie, we received a card from Elk Valley Veterinary Hospital, which was a comfort.

Just this side of heaven lies the Rainbow Bridge. When a beloved pet dies, it goes to the Rainbow Bridge. It makes friends with other animals and frolics over rolling hills and peaceful, lush meadows of green.

Our pets do not thirst or hunger. The old and sick are made young once more; the maimed and the ill become healed and strong. They are as healthy and playful as we remember them in days gone by.

Though happy and content, they still miss someone very special, someone they had to leave behind.

Together, the animals chase and play, but the day comes when a pet will suddenly stop and look into the distance. . . bright eyes intent, eager body quivering. Suddenly recognizing you, your pet bounds quickly across the green fields and into your embrace. You celebrate in joyous reunion. You will never again separate.

Happy tears and kisses are warm and plenty; your hands caress the face you missed. You look once more into the loving eyes of your pet and know you never really parted. You realize that though out of sight, your love had been remembered.

And now, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together . . .

By M. A. Preston.

Our many thank to those who showed concern, and who prayed.

Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published.

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Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer