“Beautiful River” and “Good Oak”

I’m experiencing my second spring this year. I enjoyed an Arizona spring, and after flying to Ohio almost two weeks ago, I am now enjoying a lovely Ohio spring. Spring here is about a month behind our high desert spring. (Down in the Phoenix area, spring is earlier yet and of a different sort.) In very broad strokes, I  see the beauty of Ohio as the beauty of a coy lady and the beauty of Arizona as the beauty of a scruffy faced man. Of course, every state has a variety of beauties, but these stand out to me.

I remember my mother showing me how to love these mid west  flat lands that so many overlook. She grew up on a farm west of Findlay, Ohio.  The land is very flat in this region, although rolling hills are more common in the eastern and southern parts of the state. Yet, to my mother, the flat fields were beautiful — the rich soil, the growing and changing crops, the farm houses, barns, and outbuildings nestled off the country roads, and the outskirting woods behind the plowed fields. In Ohio the beauty is near — right before you, low to the ground, easily overlooked, coy. Observant eyes see. Grateful eyes enjoy.

Arizona is bold. Rough. Big. Audacious. The first time I drove from Phoenix to Prescott Valley six years ago, the mountains greeted me with deep bellied shouts. The craggy, saguaro cactus lifted arms high pointing to the broadness of the bright sky against the rugged shapes of the hills and mountains. Up we climbed, winding, winding.  At over 3, ooo feet elevation, near Bubble Bee, we abruptly left the saguaro behind us. They do not grow at a higher elevation.  The range of the Bradshaw Mountains on our left led us over 2000 feet higher to the wide open Prescott Valley where we now live in a planned community, Quailwood. The open meadows of amber grasses surround us where cows and horses meander — bordered by mountain ranges on the north and south. Rugged like a cowboy. This is cowboy country.

The contrasts bring me pleasure. I’m so thankful for the variety. I love variety. I enjoy it so much that I rearrange my furniture often seasonally in order to make my house feel new and fresh. I take pleasure in words too; don’t you?  What beauty is in the names — the words — Ohio, Arizona.

Ohio and Arizona.  My memory from fourth grade Ohio History tells me that Ohio is an Indian word (we would now say Native American)  meaning beautiful.  My Google search tells me that it is an Iroquois word meaning “good or beautiful river,” of course,  referencing the Ohio river. Ohio, the Beautiful.

The etymology of the word Arizona is not clear. I’ve read that it could be derived from a Spanish phrase, “arida zona,” meaning dry region, but that’s not how the Spanish would say it. Another idea is that it could be an Aztec word meaning “silver-bearing,” or maybe a Basque phrase, “aritz ona” meaning “good oak.” I like that one. Another possibility is a phrase from the O’odham people, “ali sonak,” meaning “small spring.” That sounds good too.   “Good oak” seems to get the most votes, but no matter, Arizona is a beautiful word to say.

The words, Ohio and Arizona, both begin and end with vowels of the same letter and both have a pleasant visual balance. My daddy asked me when I was little, “What is round on both ends and high in the middle?” The answer, as most of you know, is “Ohio!”  What question can we create bout Arizona? What ends where it begins? Lots of possible answers, but certainly Arizona (and most precious to me, my daughter, Amanda!).

I’m just lightly reflecting this morning in my purposeful pursuit of inner balance and health in the Lord. I lost my balance when the intense pace I was taking last week took a sudden end, claiming all my energy and stamina. I was so depleted by 6:00 p.m. this past Saturday evening, that I struggled to speak clearly to my husband on the phone and went to bed at 6:30. I slept until 6:30 the next morning! I haven’t slept that hard in a long time. Actually, since I had arrived in Ohio more than a week previously, I had not had a single good night’s sleep. I was carried on Invisible Wings.

On Saturday I participated in a lovely ladies’ retreat at a country estate surrounded with beautiful gardens that is now a spiritual retreat area. The ladies of Piqua Baptist Church had been preparing for this for months. A dear friend of mine and I were invited to be the main speakers, so we’d been communicating long distance for months. I really enjoyed working together, and now it’s over! I am so thankful for my long night’s sleep, which recharged me so that I was able to go to church both morning and evening on Sunday, resting in the afternoon.  Life is all about pacing! I think I’ll write a few extra posts just to process some themes with you.

I’m in beautiful Ohio for another week and a half. I have some beautiful thoughts to share from my heart about heart lessons, garden lessons, and about beautiful interactions with a chattering four year old grandson. Be back soon!

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on ““Beautiful River” and “Good Oak”

  1. Karen,

    Ruth Ann and i were just in Ohio two weeks ago on April 21 in Paulding.. We were wondering if spring was going to come this year, it was cold, wet, and overcast. Glad to hear that it has come. Enjoyed your musings and trust that the remainder of your stay will be less stressful and provide you with even more time to enjoy the beauties of Ohio.


    • kltolsen

      The first several days here were cold and damp. Made my bones and muscles ache even more than normal. (Yes, Arizona helps me a bit in the physical realm.) But then it warmed up here in Ohio. Last week was gorgeous, and the retreat day was perfect. Today is another overcast, drizzly day, but tomorrow should be nice again. The grass, trees, and flowers are enjoying it all. Hope you had a profitable time in beautiful Ohio!

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