Pines and Clover, Dad and the Lord

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Pines and Clover, Dad and the Lord

Post  Dan Ellsworth on Thu May 07 2009, 20:47

by John V. Ellsworth (poems) and Daniel J. Ellsworth (comments and prose)

As Father’s Day and camping time approach, I remember Dad, rugged outdoorsman and kind, sensitive person. With his guidance, I came to appreciate beauty in nature, especially farms and state parks. Using two of Dad’s poems, I’d like to review his wise, appreciative view of nature.

A farewell to a pastor is not a strong point in my writing, but somehow, this seems like the best thing I could say: Pastor Bobby Dale, I wish you and John Vernon could have met each other in this life – two truly warm-hearted Christian men.

Dad had a lot of time as a single man, being married at age 32. I wonder whether “Under the Pines” was based on this period, maybe around Glennie, Michigan; or maybe a composite of his best and hoped-for experiences. Either way, he had a lot of time alone in nature (whether farm or camp), and I believe that helped him become the good and creative man I knew.

Oh, one more thing: One of the most important things a father does is to choose his children’s mother. Dad did brilliantly at that; and I believe I did.

Under the Pines

There’s a place up in the Northland where I like to go and stay
And sit around the campfire at the closing of the day.
– Watch reflections on the water as the moon begins to shine
And listen to the night winds whispering through the pines.

Pitch my tent, and throw my blankets underneath the old pine tree
– On a quiet summers’s evening it’s as pleasant as can be
Ere I close my eyes in slumber I just lie there for a time
And listen to the music of the night winds through the open door
And hear the waves of water, splashing, splashing on the shore.
I arise to cook my breakfast, rested from my toil of care,
Where the fragrance of the pine trees lingers on the morning air.
Where the chipmunks seem to scamper to and fro among the pines
And the squirrel stops to chatter as if handing me a line.
Where the deer may roam so freely, miles through his vast domain.
I may see him in the forest, I may see him on the plain.

It’s a place of quiet beauty, where the pines grow thick and tall,
Underneath’s a padded carpet like a great cathedral hall.
So I’ll wander through the forest where the wild beast has trod.
Makes me feel a kind of reverence – close to nature, close to God.


A farmer who harvests only hay from a field like this leaves a major crop untouched. Maybe you can’t tie beauty up in bales, but this is a good try. After reading this, whenever you go out to garden, field or woods, don’t neglect the one crop that is not diminished by the harvest.
Dan


When the Clover Starts in Spring

When the winter snows have vanished and the birds begin to sing
Then I love to see the meadows, when the clover starts in spring.
See the tiny little petals that have lain beneath the snow,
Just waiting for the sunshine and the rain to make them grow.
By and by the meadow’s covered with a blanket soft and green
And the stubble of the wheat field no longer can be seen.
Taller, taller grows the clover, till it stands up to my knees.
Then I love to wander through it as it’s swaying in the breeze.
Later on will come the blossoms; what a picture – what a scene –
As the big red clover blossoms wave above a field of green.
I would count it but a treasure, if in my living room
I could have a rug as pretty as a clover field in bloom.
Later on the blossoms wither and begin to turn to brown.
Then the farmer with his mower will go in and mow it down.
If it should be your good fortune to be passing by the way,
Stop and marvel at the fragrance of a field of clover hay.


1. Nature isn’t God. An online source says that “In Pantheism, the Universe (Nature) and God are equivalent.” Dad would have none of it; several of his poems are eloquent about Jesus Christ.

2. Nature tells something about God. The lessons of nature about God can’t always be packed up into tidy statements. Dad got the “feel” of nature, and I think it helped him understand God in ways that couldn’t always be put into words. I think he understood the Creator as awesome, complex, sustaining but untamed, generous, beyond understanding, and wonderful, because he saw all that in Creation.

3. Respect nature. Dad didn’t expect the natural order to just hand him wealth. Behind any good farm (or camp) is attention to detail, and an awareness of the possibility that things could get rough, or sloppy work could mean trouble. Dad rotated crops, and did hundreds of other prudent things, but I remember a time we hurried with a load of fresh-baled hay to the barn in a windy start of a rainstorm. Neither rain nor sun came dependably when wanted, but between them, with a lot of attention and work, Dad grew a lot of crops for the use of many.

4. Enjoy the beauty. As hard and long as Dad worked, it is a matter of wonder to me that he didn’t become mean-spirited, but he was one of the easiest people to be with I ever knew. I think his two poems shown here are a clue. Much in his world was beautiful, and he had the wisdom to see it, and draw on it to nourish his spirit.

5. God and people can collaborate in nature. Dad didn’t have the opportunities to be a nature purist – to scorn all nature even slightly touched my mankind. He made a living and a life in the human-influenced nature of farms and parks. Even with all the work done to maintain these spaces, they still have much of the untamed beauty and risk of purely-natural places, while being more approachable to most of us. Yes, I mow our lawn and drive to our campsites, but it is God’s creation that makes them worth maintaining and finding.

6. Have fun working. This principle works indoors, but I include it because Dad taught it to me under the summer sky, especially as we were baling hay or straw together, one of us on the wagon, one on the tractor. Chokecherries, sight gags, and short shouted comments (Those tractors were noisy!) gave us quality time before we even knew what that was.

7. Look! I do not have a habit of noticing, but my life has been enriched by those who have, including my father. As I so often do, I write this to remind myself.

8. Reflect. Good things happen to my mind and spirit as I look at trees, stars, flowers, dunes, campfires, cornfields, and blue sky. Find your own list. Thank God, and be renewed.

Dan Ellsworth
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