#ThursdayTreeLove | Beauty Remains

Beauty remains in nature, sun, freedom and yourself. If you just look for it, you discover yourself and God, you will stand out. –Anne Frank

My guys and I rediscovered the treasures above in the backyard a windy afternoon two weeks ago. The top photo features the remains of a log that once held a heart in its center.  The log in the bottom photo has been home to many tiny creatures over the years, and though it appears to be reaching its last days, it is still an incredible work of art.

If we “just look for it,” we will discover there is extraordinary beauty in the “remains” of trees.


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

The Brave Rabbit and the Hungry Wolf

“The Gray Wolf,” Endangered Species. Photo by Tom Brakefield for Impact Photographics. Dedicated to the preservation of nature.

I received the “gray wolf” postcard above for Love Notes 29.1. At first, I was so focused on the message that I did not see the rabbit the wolf is pursuing!

I know this is how things work in the animal kingdom, but this is a poor, defenseless bunny! 😩

The first prompt was, “Don’t be afraid to…,” so Kasey, my partner, shared three bits of advice:

Don’t be afraid to:

  • Step out of your comfort zone. Oh, the possibilities abound! How will you ever know if you don’t try?
  • Stop and smell the roses. Life is too short to not make the most out of it.
  • Take the road less traveled. Who knows? It could be the best one you’ve taken yet!

I’m not sure why Kasey chose this card for the prompt, but I’ve come up with an explanation that satisfies my need to have the bunny survive the ordeal.

Maybe, the little rabbit went out into the world to conquer his fears. He “stepped out of his comfort zone” and took “the road less traveled.” He knew there would be dangers and tests along the path, but he “stopped to smell the roses” anyway. That’s what creatures do when they live outside of fear.

You see? This isn’t the end of the rabbit’s story; this is just one part of the journey. The struggle heightens his awareness and pushes him to develop strategies and tools to avoid such pitfalls in the future.

The little rabbit will have a fuller, deeper life because he faced his fears!

As for the wolf…he found something else to snack on. 😉


From postcard back: The Gray Wolf (canis lupis) mates for life and lives in packs of family members and relatives. The strongest male is the leader of the pack and all the members help to care for the young. The pack will work together on a hunt by chasing down its victim or driving it to circle back to the waiting pack. They can gallop and bound over short distances at speeds of more than 30 mph, and if they cannot capture their prey, they will abandon the attempt.

#ThursdayTreeLove | A Study in Contrast

One of the trees I enjoy watching from season to season is the dogwood that sits in the middle of the tree-filled field in the center of “my part” of campus. Year after year, I gaze out my window and watch the tree transform–from summer to autumn, winter to spring.

The tree is gorgeous in all seasons. It has a predictable beauty that can become commonplace to some, but the shape of the tree and the lonely bench that rests beneath its branches always manage to draw my eye.

Many focus on the dogwood’s beauty in spring. They typically point to the the milky blossoms and the illustration of the Crucifixion of Christ the tree provides. For me, the dogwood is just as arresting in autumn. The red-orange blossoms with a hint of gold create a breathtaking scene.

Although I’m convinced these photographs fail to adequately capture the tree’s stunning beauty, I thought you might appreciate the contrast.

I’ll make a note to photograph the tree during the winter and summer for a more complete study of the changes.

The black and white versions of the photographs underscore the seasonal differences of the tree.

Obviously, we’re going to see changes in nature as the seasons transition. I’m [still] awed by those changes–not only for the visual appeal but for what they teach us about our Creator, about His consistency, constancy, and character.


I’m linking up with with Dawn of The Day After in the Festival of Leaves photo challenge. I’m also a week early for the Parul Thakur’s bi-monthly #ThursdayTreeLove because I have a different post planned for next Thursday. No matter. Every day is tree love in my world.

I’ve Got My Honey! Where’s My Tea?

My First Honey Bear with Lavender Honey

‘I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,’ said Pooh. ‘There there,’ said Piglet. ‘I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.’  –A.A. Milne

I think I need Piglet today. I don’t feel very much like myself and the remedy would be a hot cup of tea with honey and a feel-good book.

My blogging friend Laurie, must have known this day was coming, so a couple of weeks ago, she sent me a package with a cute jar of lavender honey from Lavender Hill Farm in Niles, Michigan.

In a late September blog post, Laurie listed bottling lavender honey among the tasks she completed that particular day.  My curiosity was piqued, so she told me about the eight bee hives by the fields. She explained, since the bees spend most of their time foraging in the fields, the lavender influences the flavor of the honey.

Then, she sent me a bottle!!! Surprise!

I have the perfect tea for this honey. I had planned to wait till Friday–the beginning of Thanksgiving Break–to enjoy them, but since my mood is “meh,” I think I’ll have that tea this evening, just before bedtime.

What is the perfect tea? Lavender chamomile with a bit of lavender honey!

Of course, Laurie didn’t just stick a bottle of honey in a box and send it on its way. She also included a note written on a notecard featuring art by her stepmom–a reproduction of an oil painting of the entrance to Niles Garden.

According to the note on the back of the card, the flower colors coordinate with the colors of the French, Spanish, British, and American flags, the countries that [once] rule[d] the territory.

When you get a moment, drop by Laurie’s blog and see what she’s up to. I’m especially enjoying her 52 photos challenge. Maybe, you will too!

Weather.

Sunflowers by rift vegan, 2019

weather
is the earth’s
emotions.
she is obviously
enraged.

–sentient | salt | nayyirah waheed

It’s the first day of autumn, but with a high temperature of 91°F here in Northern Alabama, one would think it’s midsummer. We have failed Mother Earth and I think she is angry.

Let’s pray our leaders do the right thing: UN Climate Summit


About today’s image: Today’s gorgeous image comes from one of my photographer pals, rift vegan. It was among several photos of flowers she shot between spring and summer. She had three different sunflowers growing in her garden plot–all volunteers! This one is her favorite, and the dark rusty color makes it a perfect sunflower to usher in autumn. I mused earlier today that I have more flower pics than fallen leaves to share for the first day of the season. I’ll share some later in the week. I’m speaking in flowers again as I sort out [and through] the other things in life.

Happy Autumn!

#ThursdayTreeLove | Knot So Beautiful

There is good in life every day.
Take a few minutes to distract yourself
from your concerns–
long enough to draw strength from a tree…
–Pamela Owens Renfro, “Reach for the Good”

August has been a strange month so far. I have felt “out of sorts” most days and have been so swamped with “things to do” that I’ve found far too little time for the things that add color to my days. This has made me even more grateful to be back on campus with the trees. The heat makes my time outdoors brief, but a [literal] moment with the trees every now and then does much to right my spirit.

The knotty tree above caught my eye as I walked past it with one of my colleagues. Naturally, I paused to take a snapshot with my phone camera. Although my colleague was grossed out by the knots, I was intrigued. I wondered about the tree’s story.

Trees develop knots in response to “stress”—weather, insects, injury, viruses. The knots are evidence of healing and repair. They give the trees character, and if we think about it for a second, it’s pretty amazing that trees are capable of creating beauty from something that can potentially destroy them.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were more like trees? Perhaps, we are more like them.

To some degree, how we respond to tension is a matter of choice. Instead of internalizing our stress and creating destructive knots that can lead to mental and physical illness, we can respond to it in productive ways–praying, meditating, journaling, creating, crafting, singing, speaking up for ourselves, setting healthy boundaries.

If left unchecked, stress can leave us damaged and unhealthy. We transform these undesirable effects when we work through our stressors in ways that create beauty in our hearts and lives.

As for my colleague—no worries about her. If she continues to hang around me, she’ll be looking at trees in a different way very soon. 😉


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Snapshots from an Early Evening Walk

As I mentioned in the previous post, my guys and I took an evening walk some days ago in a nearby nature preserve to see if we could spot the recently released rabbits that were under our care. We didn’t find the bunnies, but we found nature being her wild best.

We love walking in this park. We encounter beauty with each step, whether on the open trail which frames the pond, or the covered trails where we’re more likely to encounter the creatures that make the park their home.

Though much of the brilliance of summer has faded, there’s still so much to enjoy: Unloved flowers showcasing their beauty for those who have learned to see it.

Bugs that feast on the flowers. [Look closely]

Sun-kissed clouds floating above the trees, making way for night.

Random splashes of color.

Feasts for birds…

and the smallest animals.

Remains of fallen trees that continue to give life.

A surprise gift–a moth waiting patiently to be photographed.

A brightly colored flower captured as we exited a trail.

The final gift of the evening.

I hope you take some time this weekend to sit [or walk] quietly in nature, find strength, heal your soul, connect with the Divine.