I Own Pine Creek

I pity the person who sees nothing more than lumber in a forest or power in a river. Wild places have infinite worth in their very existence. When I come upon a giant stump rotting in northern Minnesota, I feel cheated. Who killed almost all the pine, leaving only this black tombstone? Few stands of virgin pine remain.

Yes, America needed lumber to build its cities and lumberjacks needed jobs, but progress and money own no rightful priority over the heritage of unspoiled wilderness. I would rather teach kids the ways of woods than any game.  Game-playing soon passes, but memories imparted by wooded streams and mountain trails remain until memory’s eye dims.

I own not one inch of land, yet I possess lakes and streams and a beaver dam or two. Take Pine Creek in Wisconsin. I have owned it over 70 years. It flowed though ten farms but I owned it more than the farmers. They watered their cows in its pools. I caught trout. I still remember those trout.

I took and old man to his favorite woods one day for what he knew would be the last time. We drove a rutted trail to a low-roofed, weathered shack. His gnarled hand traced a bleached deer antler near the door. Retrieving his ancient shotgun, he placed two shells in its breach and led me along a trail carpeted with spruce needles. I prayed a partridge would thunder up but none did.  It didn’t seem to matter; he had hunted once more. Raising the gun he pulled the trigger and listened to the booming echo. He removed the spent shell and sniffed it.  We buried him a few weeks later.

We must determine that our wilderness heritage not be taken from us. Please don’t cut all the trees in my forests, or destroy all my beaver ponds. I beg you: leave a few bookies in Pine Creek.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



BioLogos: Common Sense in the Bible/Science Debate

If you aren’t plugged into BioLogos, check it out. I find it the most common-sense approach to the Bible/science debate out there. The current newsletter gave me the most stimulating afternoon I’ve enjoyed in a long time. BioLogos president Deborah Haarsma wrote:

“On June 18, 2018, leading geneticist and BioLogos founder Francis Collins gave a landmark lecture at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by The Trinity Forum, a group that brings Christian leaders to public square conversations, and was co-sponsored by BioLogos. Over 350 people attended, packing out the room and extending into the overflow space.

“I had the privilege of hearing the lecture in person and feeling the energy in the room. I encourage you to watch it for yourself. Dr. Collins began by sharing his own story, both his scientific journey from earning a PhD in quantum physics to leading the Human Genome Project and directing the National Institutes of Health, and his spiritual journey from atheism to coming to faith in Jesus Christ through the writings of C.S. Lewis. He argued for the underlying harmony between science and biblical faith, and pointed to BioLogos as a place to engage these questions thoughtfully.”

To watch the presentation, Check YouTube for Evening Forum: Conversation with Dr. Francis Collins and James K.A. Smith.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

My Living Room Museum

My living room at Woodland Garden is a museum: every item on the walls tells a story from my life. I especially love the memory shelves where you’ll find Deep River Jim’s Wilderness Trail Book and a vintage edition of my first Boy Scout manual, the books that shaped my life and career

My original Social Security card rests next to my ID card for Zenith Shipyard. The abalone shell holds small stones gathered from a beach on Alaska’s Lake Becharof. The large brown rock came from iron mine tailings. It bears a subtle winter scene etched by nature. The petrified wood came from a Wyoming mountain side and veteran Africa missionary Lorraine Green gave me the miniature log canoe.

I prize the story knife. It was crafted by Native Alaskan lad from caribou horn and a blade-shaped rock.  Friend Oden Alreck gave me the inscribed cement trowel.  The thin cross section of railroad track harks back to Father’s farm home in Kelsey. And Korean friend Young A from Sunshine Café made the colorful origami swan.

There you have it: my life from age 10 to soon 95. Wall décor fills in the blanks.

I’d love to tell you about the life-size pine cone grouse next to and the watercolor of a small white church. The girl from 313 painted it for me. I preached there the spring of ’47. Now there’s a story.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

My Wilderness, Far and Near

Yesterday I ventured off the sidewalk for the first time in over a year. I have no mobility apart from Matilda, my four-wheeled walker. Waltzing Matilda through wet grass and loose gravel is tough, but I gave I spent two hours in Woodland Garden’s backyard.

Guess what: I found the same elements of the God’s creation in our backyard I found in wild country from Maine to Alaska. I checked the pond for mama mallard and her fuzzy ducklings. She didn’t show so I worked my way to a sunny place and sat in the sun to just see, smell, hear, and feel spring. Wild flowers grow in the wooded fringe, along with wild strawberries and raspberries. A glorious swath of forget-me-nots brightens one spot. Cottontails chase one another; red wing blackbird trill for their mates. Many nights, coyotes yip nearby, and when the leaves are full, not a city light can be seen in the dark of the night.

I can no longer climb on a horse, or live for a week out of my pack on a mountain trail, but my backyard holds all the elements I so much enjoyed in far places. I’m grateful for the far places, and equally grateful for my nearby wilderness.

To read a few of my adventures in far places, go to www.lloydsstorytree.com.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Truth Will Prevail; Count on it

Once again, Susan Kline’s Fresh Start devotional channeled my thoughts and articulated them better. She citied Isaiah 55:8: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord.”

“Sometimes our perspectives can sway us into thinking that there is only one true viewpoint. For example, behind my house are many trees that extend approximately 150 yards down a hill. Having been a city girl most of my life, my perspective is that we now have a beautiful “forest” out back. Some neighbors prefer to call it “the woods,” and others who live on larger acreage might refer to it as simply “a tree line.” We all have different (none necessarily wrong) perspectives of this group of trees.

“The same can be true about our religious perspectives. Where some perceive the house of God to be a place of reverential knee-bowing and solemn acts steeped in tradition, others may perceive the church to be a place of boisterous expression or speaking in tongues. Still others may perceive it to be a casual place where all feel free to worship any way they feel most comfortable.

“Our perspectives typically derive from our experiences, upbringing or personal preferences. But perspective can also mean the ability to consider things in relation to one another accurately and fairly.  While we never want to compromise solid biblical truths, we may want to consider how God might be giving people differing perspectives in order to meet their needs and to ultimately fulfill His greater purpose.”

Thanks, Susan. We all reflect the views of our teachers, and teachers are many, with diverse viewpoints. Friendly discussion? Yes; rancorous debate? No.

Truth will prevail; count on it.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



Letters to Alice 20 Spring Burnings

Hi, Alice. When I was a kid the fields and woods behind my home were magic. We played softball and kick the can and chased golf balls for neighbor men. I picked wild flowers, hazel nuts, wild strawberries, raspberries, juneberries, chokecherries, and pin cherries. The woods were my hideout, a place to feed partridge in the winter. My small garden had really rich soil.  The space had once been a chicken yard.

Father’s scrap pile was just behind the garage. Each spring we burned it. When the big pile burn down to coals, we roasted marshmallows and potatoes. The potatoes turned charcoal black outside but tasty white inside.

Father did something at the pile burning I never saw before or since. He pinned together the corners of a double sheet of newspaper to make a hollow square and laid it on the coals. As soon as it began to burn, it rose into the sky and drifted off, like a hot air balloon.

Burning last summer’s tall dead grass from the field was always fun. Neighbors came with rakes and wet gunnysacks, burning small patches to make sure he fire didn’t get away. I don’t think city folks are allowed to do that anymore.

What do today’s kids do for fun in the spring? I see them sitting around twiddling gadgets with their thumbs. I wonder what they will remember when they get old like me.

Great-grandpa Lloyd

Letters to Alice 19 Barefoot Snowshoeing by Moonlight

I probably shouldn’t be telling you this story, Alice; it was sort of mean. But things happen when a new Scoutmaster wears a long nightshirt in cabin full of boys. Boys will be boys.

Our Scout troop owned the cabin with three other troops. It was built with vertical cedar poles chinked with concrete. Pieces of chinking had fallen out, allowing show to filter in on our bunks. One March our troop settled in for the weekend. We loved to tease our new Scoutmaster; he slept in a long nightshirt.

On Saturday night, we waited until he was ready for bed. Then three of us sneaked out barefoot to go snowshoeing by moonlight wearing only our underwear. Someone told the Scoutmaster and he dashed to the porch in his nightshirt. He yelled, “You boys get in here right now!”  Snowballs appeared by magic and began to fly. Boys inside slammed the door and locked it. Pelted by snowballs, the Scoutmaster pounded and pounded: “You boys let me in right now!”

We were glad to get in where it was warm. The leaders made hot chocolate and we ate cookies and laughed, our Scoutmaster laughing with us.  I loved he cabin.

Maybe someday you can join Girl Scouts, Alice.  Love you.

Great-grandpa Lloyd


Play it Again, Sam

I know the title is a misquote, but it serves my purpose. I hear myself saying the same things over and over; and for one reason. I rebel against pervasive tribal instinct. We all believe what we believe because someone told us it was true.

But what if that someone was wrong?  What if compelling evidence challenges his or her ideas? History is filled with damaged souls who dared to challenge established authority. Take Galileo.  Show of hands:  How many believe the sun revolves around Earth?  You would be surprised at who poo-pooed that notion in Galileo’s day.

One question lies behind the frequent kerfuffles over my simple theology: Who do you think you are to challenge the Fathers? And I ask, Which Father? The Fathers disagree among themselves and each one presses for tribal loyalty. I settled that issue long ago and gave myself to the one who said I am the way, the truth, and the life; all authority (power) in heaven and on earth has been given unto me. If Jesus was wrong, I am wrong. I’ll risk that.

I live by a simple creed: Mystery, Sovereign Grace, and Incarnation. I whip it out every chance I get. I gladly report what I believe and why I believe it, but don’t bug me over details.  I’m old and crabby.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Letters to Alice 18: A Moment of Terror

I was 13 or 14 when this story took place. I had just got my first skis with real bindings. I was anxious to try them, but it winter was slipping away. Then a March storm brought new snow and I called a buddy. We decided to ski the rustic Seven Bridges Road from my home and back—five or six miles.

With the mild breeze to our backs, skiing was easy. We reached we reached the turn-around and paused for a breather. The wind had picked up blowing new snow. It would be in our faces as we skied home. That’s when I had the dumbest idea of my life. Our homes were about a mile and a half south through the woods down the hill. If we skied through the woods to the spring trail, we’d cut our return trip in half. I knew the route well from many summer hikes.

We left the road and headed south, but it was tough going. Everything looked different in winter. By the time we reached the top of the hill top, the sky had darkened. March days are short. Worse than that, I couldn’t find the spring trail. And there was danger. There were small cliffs with jagged rocks at the bottom. I was lost; my buddy followed close behind.

Suddenly, a moment of terror: we were airborne. In the snowy darkness, we skied of a cliff. We missed the rocks, landing in thick brush, our skis buried beneath us. Getting untangled wore us out. All we could do was slog downhill carrying our skis, fighting brush. Finally we reached a street a half-mile from home, a couple tired kids. Home never looked so good and Mom and Dad didn’t even scold.

I hope you never make such a dumb decision, Alice.  I love you.

Great-grandpa Lloyd


Letters to Alice 17 The Deeps

Hi Alice.  Great-grandpa Lloyd here.

When I was a kid, we had a family rule: no swimming without big people present.  I thought about that as I found myself sliding headfirst down the waterfall into the Deeps. Would Mom believe my story?

The Deeps was a popular boys’ swimming hole in Amity Creek, about a mile from my home. It was surrounded by rocky cliffs. A log bridge spanned the creek just above the waterfall. The Deeps was forbidden territory for me.

Three friends and I set out to explore the Amity one morning. We took our revolvers in case we ran into rustlers. We had a great morning and no rustlers. We started home about noon following a trail that crossed the Amity just above the Deeps. But instead of using the bridge, we decided to cross the creek by jumping from rock to rock. Not smart: the current was swift. My friends made it fine, but my first jump landed me on slimy green stuff and down I went, face first.

The current swept me over the falls and into the Deeps. I lost my revolver. Unhurt, I swam to a ledge and climbed out with my friends laughing. But I had a problem: If I came home wet, what would I tell my mother? Jumping jump across was a dumb idea. The only thing to do was dry out.

We built a fire in thick woods and I hung my pants and shirt on sticks to dry, standing around in wet underwear. Two friends left for home. My clothes were still damp when I started home, and I smelled like smoked fish. Maybe I could change before Mother saw me. But no such luck. She was waiting. “So, you fell in the creek. Are you all right?” I think she smiled.

I never found out which friend squealed.

Next: A scary ski adventure.   Love you, Alice.

Great-grandpa Lloyd