#ThursdayTreeLove | Fallen Beauty

The poetry of the earth is never dead.  –John Keats, “The Grasshopper and the Cricket”

The sight of this beautiful fallen tree in Brechtel Park in New Orleans used to sadden me. I saw it as another victim of Hurricane Katrina. Then, one day, I discovered that fallen trees offer many benefits to the forest and to creatures–seen and unseen. It’s heartening to know that there is still some usefulness in the fallen.


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

About the image: I shot the photo above at Brechtel Park in Algiers (Westbank New Orleans). According to the information available on the image, it was shot in 2011. For some reason, I thought it was earlier.

Gifts for Today

“Hummingbird and Sunflower,” photo by Larry Keller. Click image to view in Flickr.

There is a long narrow table that spans the large window in my home office, made by my hubby, of course. This is where I sit in the early morning, as the sun rises, to spend time with God.  As I study and meditate, I witness nature awakening, and I enjoy the brief encounters with birds, butterflies, and bumblebees that apparently love the zinnias growing just outside the window.

We see many different types of birds in our neighborhood, but I rarely see hummingbirds. I’ve seen them only twice in the six years we’ve lived here, and both times were at my window.

My second visit with a hummingbird was this morning, as I was meditating over Psalm 27. I had just read about the psalmist’s desire “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4) and was praying the same for myself when the bird dropped by. How apropos! This was no coincidence. It was a subtle affirmation of the beauty of the holiness of the Most High and affirmation of His presence. A gift for today.


Note about today’s image: The photo was captured by Larry Keller who has an amazing Flickr feed filled with birds, deer, and other aspects of nature. Since there were still two more posts to complete “Sunflower Week,” I wanted an image for today that spoke to sunflowers and my early morning visitor. Larry graciously allowed use of his photo for today’s post. There are so many beautiful messages in nature, and I’m grateful for the many photographers who expertly capture what we miss or can’t experience for ourselves. Thank you, Larry, for your art and for your heart. Your photo is another gift for today!

Kindness Week Day 4: Save the Planet

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Take care of Mother Earth.

The first job given to mankind–after populating the earth–was to take care of it. As we’ve advanced, we’ve found more ways to damage the earth than to maintain it. Let’s do our part to change that.

One of the things I absolutely loved about my son’s Montessori School is that the school focused on the development of the whole person as a citizen of the world. The children were taught how to care about all people and how to care for the earth. Ziploc bags, disposable utensils and containers were not allowed. Lunches, including yogurt, milk and juice, had to be placed in reusable containers. There was a no waste policy. The director and teachers taught the children to conserve water when washing their hands and brushing their teeth and many other tips for saving the environment. The children learned that the little things we do as individuals add up to a world of difference.

Through my son’s early education, I became more intentional about my role in taking care of the earth. The idea of single-handedly conquering the varied “earth” issues is absurd, but there are many little things we can do to preserve our planet for future generations.

Starting today, let’s be kind to the earth. If you don’t know where to begin, here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Use reusable containers, including water bottles and coffee cups
  • Unplug small appliances and phone chargers when they are not in use
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or lathering up
  • Use reusable grocery bags for shopping
  • Keep a trash bag in your car, so when you see litter you can pick it up. This also minimizes the temptation to toss the “beer can” out the window
  • Recycle and upcycle
  • Plant a tree, a shrub, flowers

If you already do these things, kudos! Now, it’s time to step up your game. There’s always more that can be done.

Note about today’s image: The gorgeous painting above was created by Lori-Anne C, one of my Love Notes pals. She created this for the latest Global heART Exchange. The theme was “Nature Quotes.” The back of the painting is just as beautiful as the front.

Just joining Kindness Week? Be sure to check out the previous posts:

Jusqu’à demain…

Quotes Challenge Day 2: Wild and Free

Today’s quote–All good things are wild and free–comes from “Walking,” an extensive essay written for The Atlantic by Henry David Thoreau, the American essayist, philosopher, and naturalist best known for Walden and “Civil Disobedience.” The essay, published after his death, was a combination of two lectures, “Walking” (1851) and “The Wild” (1852), which Thoreau combined, separated, and combined again for publication (1862).

The opening of the essay provides a clear snapshot of the content:

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil— to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.

When I shot the photo above (last year, late spring), my “real” camera was out of commission, but I was determined to still take advantage of photo opportunities. As a friend and I were leaving a bookstore late one morning, a mini-daisy field caught my eye. How odd it seemed in the middle of all the commerce! Neither the magazine purchased nor the hot beverage consumed could evoke the good feelings that a moment with the daisies yielded.

The one sentence from Thoreau’s essay captured my feelings–“all good things are wild and free.”

The full quote sums up preceding paragraphs in which he valorizes the “untamed” or natural over the “civilized” and cultivated.

In short, all good things are wild and free. There is something in a strain of music, whether produced by an instrument or by the human voice—take the sound of a bugle in a summer night, for instance-which by its wildness, to speak without satire, reminds me of the cries emitted by wild beasts in their native forests. It is so much of their wildness as I can understand.

Take a moment to read the entire essay. If you want to know more about Thoreau, see the Walden Woods Project. There’s a series of links near the end of the Thoreau background information page that you will find useful.

“The Spirit of Sauntering,” a Brain Pickings article published a few years ago, offers an analysis of Thoreau’s “Walking.” You might want to check that out too–or instead, if Thoreau’s writing style does not appeal to you.

Today’s challenge nominees (see previous post for rules):

It’s almost the weekend! Be sure to tune in tomorrow for my final quote of the challenge.

How to Take a Photo Walk When You Can’t

“Chickadee.” Photograph by Gale D.

Can we say tired? I am so physically and mentally exhausted from grading, grading, grading, and grading. I want to take a photo walk, but (1) my camera battery isn’t charged. I learned this last night when I was about to record my son playing in the strings orchestra. And (2) I barely have enough energy to make it to the door let alone through it.

Therefore, I decided to take my photo walk indoors today. How? Thankfully, Diane W, Midteacher on swap-bot, created a series of swaps for the A Thousand Words group that’s right up my photo alley. The series, called Take a Walk, encourages photographers to take some time with their cameras regularly and share their photos with others in the group.

If you’ve been following Pics and Posts long enough, you know photo walks are my go-to for “getting through the crazies.” I take a walk–camera in hand–quite regularly during the work day to take a break from screens and students, to readjust or reset. Also, my hubby, son, and I take photo walks and drives on weekends when the weather’s nice (or tolerable).

Today, I need to follow a different path, so we’ll take a walk with Gale D, Grstamping on swap-bot.

Gale, from Ontario (Canada), spends a lot of time outdoors and loves shooting “in nature,” particularly in her favorite spot near Lake Ontario. She “can hand feed birds, watch squirrels at play, stalk deer, and be stalked by wild turkeys.” These ventures help her to feel close to nature and clear her mind. They also keep her sane.

She sent me a few of her memorable encounters–either because of their beauty or because of how the animals trusted her in their space–from her January photo walk.

Gale was allowed to get up close and personal with the chickadees. She even fed a few from her hand! They love sunflower seeds!

“Hand Feeding the Chickadees.” Photograph by Gale D.

A vibrant visit with a blue jay added a splash of color to the grays and browns of winter.

“Blue Jay: Vibrant in Winter.” Photograph by Gale D.

And finally, she had a brief tête-à-tête with a squirrel, her favorite subject because they’re not only beautiful but “they’re fun to watch!”

“Squirrel.” Photograph by Gale D.

I love these photos, but I’m kind of interested in seeing a photo captured while she was evading wild turkeys! 😀

You can take a photo walk too, even if you can’t get outdoors. Check out Glenrosa Journeys. Candace takes readers with her as she explores Arizona. Her photography and her blog are inspiring. For photos without the blog, check out the Nature Photography Group on Flickr. You can find more of Gale’s work at Photographic Touch.

Stay tuned. I’ll share more “take a walk” photos soon.

Walk on!

Advice from a Polar Bear

I’m having another insanely busy Monday, but I had to drop by with a little “Advice from Nature” Moominbrooke (on swap-bot) sent with some super-cute Winnie-the-Pooh mail [I’ll share the Pooh mail later this week].

Advice from Nature Products. From Your True Nature.

We can learn a lot from Polar Bears. The card reminds me of a couple of my son’s well-loved books that teach about various animals and the spiritual lessons we can learn from them.  If we take the time to observe, we’ll find there are indeed lessons for us in the animal kingdom and in nature in general.

Do you have any “advice from nature” you can share?

Have a super-cool week!

Photo Walk: First Day of Autumn Sightings

I’ve been craving time with my camera, so yesterday I arrived at work 30 minutes before conferences with students were scheduled to begin and took a brief walk–camera and iPhone in tow. As expected, there weren’t many signs of autumn, but the walk provided a refreshing start to my day and a clear mind as I headed into the weekend.

My campus walks always start with the trees. The oaks did not disappoint with their gnarly trunks and roots. The fungus attracted my attention here.

Notice the resting ent?

I wonder how he got here from Middle Earth. Or is he a tree troll?

The Dogwoods have so many interesting transformations throughout the year. I’ll have to make a point of charting the changes one year. They’re showing signs of autumn.

Of course, the evergreen deserves admiration all year long.

It wouldn’t be the first day of autumn in Alabama without butterflies and pink.

It’s about to take flight…

A morning walk requires a squirrel.

A couple of bonus photos shot earlier in the week: One provides proof of autumn.

And a tree I encounter (almost) every time I take a campus walk. There’s so much to love and study.

As I’m reviewing these photos, I’m thinking about my older brother, Dennis–a photographer–and feeling a strong connection to him through our mutual love for nature photography. I’m praying him through a medical crisis and sending hugs and deepest love from the Deep South to the West Coast. I love you, big brother!