#ThursdayTreeLove | Autumn Fractal

Autumn Fractal

My favorite season has begun! Let’s celebrate with gumbo and [despite what some of my NOLA folk say] pumpkin spice everything!

It is Agape Day, an annual day of service at my University, so the campus was quiet and virtually empty this morning. Since my service activity was scheduled for the afternoon, I took advantage of the solitude and took a nice walk through campus. I knew there would be photo-worthy scenes, but I intentionally left my camera behind. I wanted to just be without fiddling with camera settings and composition. 

My soul exhaled.

It had been far too long since my last “unhurried” tree walk. I stood in awe as the wind gently shook the leaves from trees and giggled inwardly as the shadows danced at my feet.

I know what’s coming.

In the midst of the busy, the chaotic, the clamoring of all the things for time, attention, and energy, there is a subtle movement toward order, leisure, and rest. 

I’m looking forward to the kinder pace that autumn brings and to that space of time when the days are short and the nights are long. 

Time for my soul to exhale. 

Happy Autumn!


About the Image: This is my autumn fractal, entitled “Falling Leaves.” It represents all the things I felt today as I walked through the trees and watched the leaves dance and play all the way to the ground. 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.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Appreciating the Colors of Late Summer

Crepe Myrtle Duo

I couldn’t resist photographing the tree above as I walked to the science complex to meet with STEM leadership last Thursday. I also couldn’t resist transforming it to photo-art. 😀 I love how, as we are heading into the autumn season, the crepe myrtles are still holding on to color–not everywhere, of course, but certainly here in Northern Alabama. It was a little odd to see two earlier today sitting brightly next to a small oak which is already showing signs of autumn. Summer has been chaotic and far too busy. Though I am looking forward to the quieter, soul-settling days of autumn, I can appreciate the colors of the waning days of summer. 

In case you have been following along and wondering why I broke my posting streak (34 days!) leading to my blogiversary, Cy (the friend who challenged me) modified the challenge and decided I should reach a different milestone on my blogiversary. 🙂 More on that next week…Until then, be sure to make room in your heart for the 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.

National Photography Month | May Flowers | Petit Pink Roses

Petit Rose

It is now May . . . It is the month wherein Nature hath her fill of mirth, and the senses are filled with delights. I conclude, it is from the Heavens a grace, and to Earth a gladness. —Nicholas Breton

May is National Photography Month (NPM), so this month offers the perfect opportunity to unload the camera and share some of the shots that hide there. You’d be amazed how many photographs I manage to take in one week and how little of the beauty I encounter in my daily life makes it beyond the camera. 

Is there a magic tool that would allow the shot to go straight from camera to blog? No? Maybe, those of you who find the energy to post daily can show me your ways. For now, I’ll make life a easy for myself.

Since May is about the photograph, I’ll share a photo or two (or maybe, three) in wordless or nearly wordless posts. You’ll get a bit of eye candy, and I’ll get to focus all the wordy energy where I need to at the moment—in year-end reports, presentations, and scholarly writing. 

April showers certainly bring May flowers, so for the first few “blog days” of NPM, you’ll get some of the blooms that catch my eye this week. Today’s shot features “petit pink roses.” I snapped these yesterday in my friend Colleen’s garden, which explodes with color for more than half the year. I’ll be sure to posts more of her happy blooms soon!

Happy May!

Sunflowers and Poetry | Let April Be April

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Since I’ve been an academic all my adult life, I have no idea what the end of April feels like for people whose lives are not planned around two 15-week segments. For me, it brings stress and anxiety over the ever-increasing unfinished business of the semester and May “cleanup” work, not to mention all the end-of-the-school-year events and deadlines for my son. When my student France Régine sent me the poem below a few days ago–a day after I’d seen the post on Morgan Harper Nichols‘ Instagram feed–I decided to use the poem to close out the month. It is a beautiful reminder that it is okay to “just be” and not feel the need to solve the problems of the world in one go.

Morgan Harper Nichols
Let April be April,
and let May be May.
And let yourself
just be
even in
the uncertainty.
You don’t have to fix everything.
You don’t have to solve everything.
And you can still find peace
and grow
in the wild
of changing things.

About the Image: The Current card above came from Jamise L–another sunflower lover–I met through Jennifer Belthoff’s Write Together and Love Notes. Her encouraging note came just when I needed it. My friends have been awesome and have kept me well-supplied with sunflower goodies, so there are many more sunflowers to share. Even though this ends our (almost) week of Sunflowers and Poetry, stay tuned to Pics and Posts for more sunflower love!

Blooms, Love, and Revolution

“You Love Me a Thousand Summers Ago,” Frank Moth

In honor of World Poetry Day (yesterday), the first day of spring (two days ago), and Black Women’s Appreciation Day (March 1), I am sharing a surrealistic floral postcard and three short poems. I intended to write a post for each special day, but…life.

Here you are,
Black and Woman
and in love with yourself.

You are terrifying.
They are terrified
(as they should be).   Upile Chisala

***

I want to think that God smiles
when a black woman
is brave enough to love herself. Upile Chisala

***

“i love myself.”
the
quietest.
simplest.
most
powerful.
revolution.
ever.

—ism, nayyirah waheed


About the Image: My literary twin, Gina B, sent the postcard for International Women’s Day. She included an Audre Lorde quote and a postage stamp that features a female German poet. I have decided each part of her woman-affirming gift deserves its own post. The art here is the work of digital collage artist, Frank Moth. I don’t know his reasons for creating this piece–or any of his “Bloom” pieces–but when I first saw this image I knew I had to pair it with these fierce Black woman-affirming poems! See Moth’s Instagram page for more of his “Bloom” artwork. See the links for more work by the poets.

#ThursdayTreeLove | In Winter…

SnowTrees3
In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees — Mary Oliver, “White Eyes”

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An urgent deadline made me miss #ThursdayTreeLove last week, but all the tree photos hiding out in my phone will not allow me to forgo participating in the first TTL of the year. So, here I am, a week late, with snow laden trees from my very first tree walk of the year. Oh, how I wish we could capture pure delight with our cameras!

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These photos were snapped January 4, two days after our first snow. We don’t get snow very often in the South, so when we do, we’re [Southerners] usually over-the-moon with excitement. I did not take the time to go out and play in the snow the evening/morning it fell. I planned to the next day when everything was all white and pretty, but the freezing temperatures kept me indoors.

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When I returned to campus two days later, I was pleasantly surprised to find the trees on campus still beautifully adorned with snow. I raced to my office, dropped my bags, grabbed my camera and spent the first moments of the workday with the snow trees.

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I shot with my phone and my camera. I am sharing the phone photos because choosing from among the far-too-many camera photos is a task for another time. [Click images 2-5 to view full-size versions of these photos in a Flickr album. Eventually, I’ll add the DSLR photos. Eventually…]

SnowTrees10

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The Lion King is running in Nashville, and Cats will be here in Huntsville soon. I will miss both. People are not always cautious, so I am still wary of large group events. Sometimes, it seems the coronavirus is robbing me of life and fun, but spending time with the trees on a gorgeous day more than makes up for it.
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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.

Welcome, Winter!

Paddington with Snowball

Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless.  —Terri Guillemets

Paddington, one of my favorite bears, and I are dropping in to wish you a “Happy Winter!” Stay warm and safe!


About the Image: “Paddington with Snowball,” the image above, is featured on a winter card my Love Notes friend Gina B sent last Christmas. Paddington is adapted from the original, illustrated by Peggy Fortnum. I have been looking forward to sharing him for a whole year! 😀

Gratitude and Grace | Start Here

Pumpkin Trio-1

I can’t help thinking no word will ever be as full of life as this world,   
I can’t help thinking of thanks. –Suji Kwock Kim, “Slant”

Since we are in the season of thanksgiving, my bestie enlisted a group of women in her circle to participate in a gratitude challenge this month. She shared a November calendar that offers daily prompts and invites participants to ponder on the things for which they are grateful. 

Indeed, it has been a challenge selecting just one thing daily, but that’s a good thing. It underscores a life overflowing with goodness, and I do not take that for granted.

What I really appreciate about the prompts is that they invite us to focus on experiences instead of material things. I am indeed grateful for the necessities and the creature comforts, but it is experiences, not things, that make a full life.

Thankfulness doesn’t have to begin or end in November, so if you’d like to start a gratitude practice, start with the simple prompts we used: Gratitude Journal Prompts.

Until next time…

#ThursdayTreeLove | Song for Autumn

BW Tree

Don’t you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for

the birds that will come–six, a dozen–to sleep
inside their bodies?

Mary Oliver, “Song for Autumn”

After this week’s rainy start, autumn graced us with sunny skies and cooler temperatures. Those of us who dwell in the Deep South appreciate the respite and the acknowledgment of the season, but we know in a matter of days—or even hours—we will be back to mid-summer heat and another season of storms.

I take three or four 5-15 minute walks throughout the workday. I walk to ruminate, to reset, and [especially] to move my body—which suffered much during the year and a half of Zoom. Lately, during my walks, I’ve been noting the subtle but sure transformation of the trees—the changing colors creeping into the dogwoods and maples, the thinning canopy of the black walnut and the oaks.

Today’s tree comes from one of my just-before-autumn walks. It’s not the most striking tree on campus, but there is something arresting in its stance against the cloud-filled sky.

We are some weeks away from the fullness of the season. We will blink one morning and find everything bursting in autumn glory and blink again and find only the bare structure of trees. This tree represents the in-between, a tree dreaming.  For once, I am appreciating the slow change, and not rushing toward the glory.


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.

Just Being.

Colleen Persimmon

Sometimes just being needs space to relax. It needs time to pause from the pressure of living up to the duties and expectations of a rigid framework, or rest from showing up in full armor every day to protect a tender internal truth.

Colleen Blueberries-2

Or sometimes just being needs to cry and feel into coarse emotions for a while.

Colleen Blackberries-2

Whatever it takes for all the layers of what has built up inside begin to unwrap the gift you truly are, deep within, just being. —Susan Frybort


About the Images: The photographs in this post were all shot a few days ago in a moment of “just being.” The ripening persimmon, blueberries, and blackberries are just a few of the treats growing in Colleen’s garden–recently renamed [by me] “Colleen’s Private Farm and Botanical Garden.” Her father spends time in this garden planting and cultivating and just being–a reminder of the beauty that can be produced when we create space to just be.