The Elderberry, A Branch that Makes Music

This is a Native American-Style flute made from an Elderberry
branch that 
I found while on a hike in my area.

The Native Americans used to make flutes out of Elderberry stalks. (branches) They would hollow out the stems and remove the pith from the inside of the stalk. Setting aside the pith for later and used it as tinder to start fires. In the old days, everything that the Creator gave the native people was used

Once the branch was hollowed-out they could blow on one end to get a sound, kind of like blowing into an empty bottle. Next, they carefully bore evenly-spaced holes in the branch. By placing their fingers on the holes along the branch they could play a melody. Removing their fingers one at a time they learned to play different notes. It was said that whistles were made the same way, as well as ceremonial pipes. They also used the sticks to make a beat that was used to dance or sing by clapping them together.

Elderberry Stalks

The Elderberry was considered a sacred tree by the Cherokee and many of the native tribes. Every part of the elderberry was used: the stem, the pith, the bark, the leaves, the flowers, and the berries! A tea could be made by drying the flowers. Elderberry Syrup was made from the berries and is still used today by many to treat and shorten the duration of colds and the flu. Some people even make wine and jelly from the berries.


I’m always in awe of nature and find it amazing that I can go on a hike near my house and find a bush or tree with so many incredible uses. Making flutes and music from Elderberry branches is my new favorite way to create. The branches make a beautiful looking flute that also happens to have a gorgeous voice.

Elderberry Bush 

I also just this week read that Prince Harry and his fiance, Meghan Markle are planning on having a Lemon and Elderflower Wedding Cake!!!  YUM! 

If you are interested in purchasing an Elderberry Flute from me, click this direct link to my Shop page!

My Thoughts: And a Cherokee Prayer for Wisdom and Self-Control

Great Spirit,
Help me always to speak the truth quietly,
to listen with an open mind
when others speak,
and to remember the peace
that may be found in silence.
~Cherokee Prayer

When I am walking the trail, which I do almost daily, I know that Gods spirit is guiding me, and I realize that I am never alone. This gives me the strength to walk my life-path with confidence and the assurance that whatever decision I make in my life, God is leading me to a good place. I believe that each day, every step I make is part of my dance. I believe that I will always be known by the tracks I have made. If every day is a new dance, I am giving thanks daily for my new direction.

I know that others can never walk my path for me, and only I can walk in these shoes. Some may walk with me, but never walk it for me. For those who walk with me, I am grateful.

I Guess That I Shall Never See a Poem Lovely as a Tree

I discovered this unusual pine tree years ago while hiking in the wooded hills near my home, here in Eastern Washington.  It is one of my very favorite spots to hike to. I often take friends and family to see this very special tree. It has sparked many conversations and questions as to how it came to be bent in this loop. I love being in nature and discovering interesting and beautiful things, all made by the hand of God.

This unusual tree recently sparked a memory of the old, simple poem by Joyce Kilmer, titled, Trees.

By Joyce Kilmer

I guess that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree;

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
and lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear,
a nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain,
who intimately lives with rain;

Poems are made by fools like me,
but only God can make a tree.

Remembering My Dad and His Role in Developing the Liberty Lake Regional Park

“By the Stream” by Howard Ball (flute solo) and video footage, by Keith Harris is dedicated to my dad, Howard T. Ball for his role in preserving this beautiful treasure in Liberty Lake, Washington. 

In 1966 my father, Howard T. Ball was a  county commissioner in Spokane, Washington.The Miller family owned the land now known as The Liberty Lake Regional Park (a.k.a. Liberty Lake County Park) The family had owned the gorgeous, lush, forested land on the shores of Liberty Lake in Eastern Washington since 1930. When it came time for the Millers, in their aging years to consider selling the land, my dad, along with friend and fellow county commissioner, Jack Geraghty, went to work convincing the county to purchase the land and preserve it forever for future generations to enjoy. The Millers sold their 2,983 acres to Spokane County in 1966.

My good friend, Keith Harris has hiked over 500 miles in the park in the last 2 years. He shot and developed this video sharing the sounds of nature and the beauty of the stream and waterfall. He then, in his recording studio added my flute to the video. In this video I am playing a song that I have titled, “By the Stream.” I love how the sounds of nature (the birds, insects, and flowing water) perfectly accompany my flute music.

A view from the lake of the marsh shoreline
and forest,
part of
The Liberty Lake Regional Park

Liberty Lake Regional Park, located on the shores of Liberty Lake, Washington in Spokane County is one of the largest county parks in the state of Washington, with over 3,000 acres of wetlands, lake shore, beautiful forest, including the most delicious smelling cedar forest, gorgeous stream and waterfall.

A view of the marshland and shoreline from the beach
in Liberty Lake Regional Park

The park has a designated swimming beach, shelters, and playground equipment, and is a favorite destination for families in the Spokane area. There is also a nice, well-maintained campground and many miles of trails. The long, board walk, reaching out into the middle of the marsh lands, with a view of the mountains and Liberty Lake is a favorite for photo taking and viewing the many varieties of water fowl.

My Grandson, Joey and his wife, Jessica with their two boys,
Zeke and Eli and my granddaughter, Sammy

The Liberty Lake Loop Trail has a beautiful cedar forest and waterfall as seen in my video. The hike through the cedars and to the waterfall is 8.5 miles.

On the trail with some of my family in the
Liberty Lake Regional Park

I personally have walked the park trails for almost 20 years, either by myself or with my friends or my kids and grand kids. I love this place and have always appreciated it for its beauty and serenity. As I walk or sit by this stream, I am always grateful to my dad, Howard T. Ball for his part in saving the land to be enjoyed by all. Since his passing, I feel he is watching me and my kids and grandkids as we come here often to enjoy it and create memories. Thank you, Dad.

Photos by my daughter, Debbie

Rainbow, A Sign of Hope and God’s Promises

We have had some amazing rainbows in our neck of the woods lately! I took this photo a couple of nights ago from my front deck. It was exactly what I needed to see on that very day, at that very time. I love it when that happens. God’s Glory, as shown in nature, always leaves me in awe. Thank you, Father.

I have set my rainbow in the clouds,
and it shall be a sign of the covenant
between me and the earth.
Genesis 9:13

I also love this Hopi Indian quote: The rainbow is a sign from Him who is in all things. ~Hopi

Bible Verse and Hopi Quote about Rainbows

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. ~Genesis 9:13

The rainbow is a sign
from Him who is in all things.

Native American Proverb

Listen to the wind, it talks.
Listen to the silence, it speaks.
Listen to your heart, it knows.
Native American Proverb

Nature Quote, By Joseph Campbell

The goal of life is to
make your heartbeat
match the beat
of the universe,
to match your nature with Nature.
~Joseph Campbell

Adopt the Pace of Nature

Adopt the pace of nature:
her secret is patience.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Thoughts: My Flute Song is a Prayer of Thanks

Wood is an awesome resource for which I am incredibly grateful. When I stop and look around, I realize so many of the things that we all enjoy and use every day of our lives come from wood. Trees supply so many of our basic needs. Our homes, furniture, and many of our household tools are created from wood. I love playing an instrument that is created from this gift from God.

When I play my flute the song that comes out of the flute is my prayer, giving thanks to God for the trees and all of the truly beautiful and amazing things in nature that he gives us.

My Thoughts: Listen to Nature

Take time to listen to what nature has to say –
the wind in the trees,
the thunder during the storm,
the sound of the rain,
the rush of a stream as the water runs over the rocks.
Listen to the voices of the animals –
the song of the birds,
and of those that crawl,
and of those that swim – they all have a voice.
All of creation can be heard in nature.
~Howard Ball

My Thoughts: Our Land is a Gift From the Creator

We belong to the land. We don’t own this land. It is a wonderful gift to all of us. If you listen, the earth will speak to you. This gift comes from the hand of our Creator and we must learn to love what he gives us. Maybe then we will remember that it is time to give thanks for what we have.


Every time I play my flute I remember that the wood that produces the sound comes from the earth. It is as if the tree that produced the wood has a way of talking back to me through the voice of the flute. In this way, when I play my flute I am thanking the Creator for everything in nature – everything that comes from the earth.

Take time to listen to what nature has to say – the wind in the trees, the thunder during the storm, the sound of the rain, the rush of a stream as the water runs over the rocks. Listen to the voices of the animals – the song of the birds, and of those that crawl, and of those that swim – they all have a voice. All of creation can be heard in nature.