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.

Goodbye, Bunnies! | #WordlessWednesday [with words]

“And just like that, they’re gone.”

My guys and I said good-bye to the rescued rabbits early, early one morning last week. They explored the little patch of land we placed them on for a moment, watching us warily [thank God!].

Within moments, they gave their final good-bye and took off.

At first, they were headed in two different directions, but my hubby, the animal whisperer (not kidding!) got them to hop along together.

I didn’t think to capture the “together” shot, but my son captured video and shared a still of the more curious of the two just before we walked away. The other is just beyond him, well-camouflaged.

We released them into a nature preserve we frequent and where we regularly see rabbits, so we are sure they are surviving and thriving in their new world.

The guys and I took a walk on the trails a few nights ago to see if we could spot them. We didn’t, but I did capture shots that I’ll share in another post. Promise.

Shining with the Moon

North Pole Topography–from the HMOA advertising postcard

The moon, like a flower
In heaven’s high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.

William Blake, “Night,” Songs of Innocence

In honor of the 50th anniversary of man’s first step on the Moon–July 20, 1969–I am sharing more photos from a visit to the Huntsville Museum of Art, this time from the exhibit, A New Moon Rises: Views from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. The traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum “features amazing, large-scale high resolution photographs of the lunar surface.”

The images were captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) over the last decade. I snapped only a few photos because the lighting and reflection from the shiny displays made photographing a bit challenging, but here’s what I captured.

Global Views

The “Global Views” display shows the South Pole, Far Side Mosaic, Near Side Mosaic, and the North Pole views of the Moon. You can find more details on these views by clicking here: Global Views.

My photograph of “High Noon on the Moon” was so filled with “people reflections” that it’s distracting, so I borrowed the image below from the Smithsonian website. [Click image to download or for more details]

“High Noon on the Moon,” from the Smithsonian website.

The sunlight at noon minimizes shadows but enhances subtle differences in surface brightness. The dark material is mare basalt, a volcanic rock that formed when lava erupted and flooded large impact basins early in the Moon’s history. The brightest features are ejecta, deposits and bright rays of material thrown from relatively recent impact craters. Notice how dissimilar the near (upper left) and far (lower left) sides appear.  –from the exhibit label

A section of the Lunar Topographic Map

The lunar topographic map above “shows the highs and lows over nearly the entire Moon at a pixel scale of 300 meters (980 feet). The colors represent elevation, from lowest (purple to black) to highest (red to white). the map is centered on the Moon’s near side.”  For the elevation scale and more images and details: Lunar Topography.

Although the moon looks “black and white to the naked eye,” if you look closely at this [partial] image, you can see hints of color.

The subtle variations in color seen here result from the differences in the chemical composition of the rocks and soil of the bright highlands and the dark lowlands.

The craters were probably my favorite of the displays. The two images below are from the Copernican Craters. The “ejecta patterns” make the craters look like works of art. Actually, they are masterpieces of nature in “outer space.”

These two impact craters have large, spectacular ejecta patterns of bright material thrown across the Moon’s surface. […] Each is incredibly well preserved: crisp crater rims, steep crater walls, and delicate small-scale ejecta patterns. The overhead sunlight highlights the brightness variations. –from the exhibit label

I’m holding photographs of another crater for a future post, so stay tuned.

We have marvelous views of the Moon and stars each time we step outside our home at night, but these gorgeous LROC photos give us things to look for and think about when we’re looking through the telescope.

I have a special “relationship” with the moon. My name, from the Sanskrit, means “moon” or “to shine like the moon.” Some say I live up to the name. I hope so.  😉

Lanai Views | #WordlessWednesday

Lanai

“In the Mountains,” Li Bai (Chinese Poet, 701-762)

You ask me what my idea is, staying in the green mountains?
I smile but have no reply, my heart at peace in itself.

As the peach blossom on the flowing water goes into the unknown,
there is another heaven and earth, not among people.

Trans. William P. Coleman


About the images: Photos from a trip to Maui, Hawaii many moons ago. The photos were shot from a yacht early one evening.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Summer’s Crepe Myrtle

Crepe myrtles come in bloom
In the sunny summertime.
They beautify the landscape,
And we enjoy them so sublime.

from “Lovely Crepe Myrtles” by Margaret Cagle

One of the things I miss most about our home in New Orleans is the gorgeous trees that surrounded the property. Since our current neighborhood is fairly “young,” the trees have not grown to their full potential. There are no shady oaks or grand magnolias gracing lawns and gardens.

A tree that gave me a lot of pleasure was the crepe myrtle that grew near the curb leading to our driveway. I’ll have to do a deep dive into my photo files to see if I have any photos of that particular tree, but here are some snaps of crepe myrtles found in the [relatively] more recent files–shot since our move to Northern Alabama–including a tree I shot last weekend near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

One of the gorgeous sights I beheld when I looked through my office window [a few years ago] is a pair of crepe myrtles. They greeted me each time I left the building and headed out for a campus walk or an errand.

Imagine my chagrin when I exited the building one afternoon and met tree movers extracting  the trees. [Images above]. Initially, I was horrified, but since our campus is clearly a tree haven, I assumed–because I’ve never asked–there was a problem with the trees.

Even though I lost the couple, there are many other crepe myrtles all over campus for me to enjoy. They are a sight to behold during the mid-summer when all the other blooms are resting till spring.

Whenever I travel in the South (USA), I encounter the trees with blooms of various colors–white, pink, purple, and red. So far, I’ve managed to capture the tree in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and now, Tennessee.

The crepe myrtle is a pretty tree, but I find it difficult to adequately convey the prettiness through photos.


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.