Suddenly…Spring

I dream’d that as I wander’d by the way
Bare Winter suddenly was changed to Spring,
And gentle odours led my steps astray,
Mix’d with a sound of waters murmuring
Along a shelving bank of turf, which lay
Under a copse, and hardly dared to fling
Its green arms round the bosom of the stream,
But kiss’d it and then fled, as Thou mightest in dream.

–Lines 1-8, “A Dream of the Unknown,” Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Thrive…

Life has evolved to thrive in environments that are extreme only by our limited human standards: in the boiling battery acid of Yellowstone hot springs, in the cracks of permanent ice sheets, in the cooling waters of nuclear reactors, miles beneath the Earth’s crust, in pure salt crystals, and inside the rocks of the dry valleys of Antarctica. –Jill Tarter

My hubby and I visited a cute garden shop today and while waiting for him to complete his transaction, I explored the grounds–checked out the various fountains, marveled at the ice patterns formed in what was once flowing water. I was drawn to a fountain pouring water into a heart-shaped basin and was so pleased to find goldfish surviving and thriving in the frigid water.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Ice Story: Too Cold! Too Cold!

Too Cold, Too Cold!

I grew up and spent more than half my life in the Deep, Deep South–in New Orleans–where the west bank of the Mississippi River meets rock. So when the temperature gauge reads 8 degrees, there’s no question about it. I plan to stay indoors until Sir Sun shows Jack Frost who’s boss. But life isn’t always convenient, and sometimes we have to do what we have to do.

I braved the coldest temperatures I’ve had to deal with in my life–minus 5°F (with wind chill factor) when dropping my son off at school yesterday. Gasp!

“What? There is school?!”

That was my reaction when I woke up yesterday and found no notification of cancellation–or at least a delayed start to the school day. I guess it says a lot about my relationship with “extremely cold” weather that I seriously expected schools to be closed because of the single digit temperatures. I was tempted to let my son stay home–warm and cozy by the fireplace–but, like responsible parents, we sent him to school.

After drop-off, with multiple layers and thick, bulky coats on all, a trip to Walmart for thermals gave me this gift of ice. [Click an image for a closer look]

My first shots of the year. iPhone pics. Meh.

Unfortunately, I ignored the inner prompting to grab my camera when we were heading out the door. Of course, the “real” camera would have required more fidgeting with settings and more time in the ice cold temps, so I’ll accept these–my only evidence that I went outdoors and survived way below freezing temperatures.

Kudos [and thanks] to the Walmart team member for leaving the sprinklers on! 😉

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: The Gifts of Winter

Visitor by Irina Garmashova

Brrrr…It’s cold outside.

The postcards from a couple of my love notes pals–received a couple of weeks ago–seem to predict the weather we’ve been having in Northern Alabama lately. I’m convinced this winter’s frigid temperatures (so far) are payback for last winter’s warmth.

It’s no secret. I’m not crazy about cold weather. But there are good things about winter, so I won’t complain too loudly. Interestingly, I just read the quote included with the holiday postcard from Suzette R., another Love Notes pal, that reminds us that winter has its gifts.

May you grow still enough to hear the small noises earth makes in preparing for the long sleep of winter, so that you yourself may grow calm and grounded deep within. May you grow still enough to hear the trickling of water seeping into the ground, so that your soul may be softened and healed, and guided in its flow. May you grow still enough to hear the splintering of starlight in the winter sky and the roar at earth’s fiery core. May you grow still enough to hear the stir of a single snowflake in the air, so that your inner silence may turn into hushed expectation.  –Br. David Steindl-Rast

Stillness. Silence. Hushed expectation. These are the gifts that winter offers as we await awakening in the spring.

Photo by Lisa C., Chasing the Sun 

[Notes on Postcards: From Eileen V., “The Visitor,”Artwork by Irina Garmashova-Cawton Fine Arts. From Lisa C., “Winter Bird,” Photography by Lisa Comperry].

A Last Nearby Song: Ending Autumn with Haiku

“Native Awareness.” Photo by Gale D. (grstamping on swap-bot)

I just completed the novel The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault. It’s the kind of read one can finish in one sitting, but it took me a couple of days because I read slowly while waiting in the carpool line or just before falling asleep. The book is based on the Zen concept of ensō. It feels a lot like Kafka, whose absurdist works I love, but it also feels like haiku, which is a prominent feature of the novel.

And that might be the reason I returned to my favorite book of haiku and have been reading haiku all week. However, [Kobayashi] Issa’s poem, which I didn’t see in the collection, is worthy of the last day of autumn:

evening cicada–
a last nearby song
to autumn

Gale D’s photos are brilliant reminders of the best of the season and an appropriate end to the autumn posts for the week. The photos were sent for an “A Thousand Words” group swap. The top photo was shot in Mattawa, Canada. The photo below in Orillia.

“Drive by in Orillia.” Photo by Gale D. (grstamping on swap-bot)

Somehow, the novel set in Canada, the Japanese haiku, and photos captured in Canada come together and make perfect sense for the last day of autumn–in my mind at least. 😉

Mid-Autumn Hijinks

I took several walks this autumn, some to capture the scenes and some to escape my office and enjoy the sun, crisp air, and brilliant colors. I usually walk late morning or early afternoon when my office begins to close in on me and the needs of students (and others) begin to take a toll, but early one November morning I noticed an unusual sight as I glanced out the window on my way to make copies. An early morning lightning storm took down a huge limb from a favorite tree. I grabbed my camera, raced outdoors, and explored the area before the grounds team came and removed the limb which blocked an entire sidewalk.

[Click an image for a closer look]

I’m not sure if you can tell from the pics, but the limb was pretty large. It blocked a wide, well-traveled path and even almost consumed another tree (see last pic in the collage).

Once outside, it was difficult to simply go back to my office with papers, students, and last minute class prep, so my camera and I took a short walk to capture more of the season on that post-rainy morning.

There was so much beauty in the trees as the summer green slowly gave in to the autumn glow. [Click an image for a closer look]

Of course, the leaves deserved a bit of “close up” attention.

[Click an image for a closer look]

I took many photo walks alone during the last few months. My friend Cy, who often enjoyed campus photo walks with me, was rarely available to walk this past semester because our schedules conflicted. This turned out to be practice for my future campus walks because Cy moved “far, far away” today to explore “new territory” with her camera. 😦 The good news, though, is that she finally started a blog to share her unique images and experiences, so be sure to welcome her to the blogosphere and show her some blog love: Pink Nabi.

Until tomorrow…

Autumn Bliss: Bursting With Its Last Beauty

Autumn Leaves: Image by Martha S.

Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”  –Lauren DeStefano, Wither

As I was out and about yesterday, I noticed that autumn is hanging on fiercely in some places. The colorful display in mid-December compensated for the too cold weather we’ve been having lately. But the trees I glimpsed on campus when I made a quick stop at my office this afternoon proved that we are certainly facing the last days of autumn.

Of course, I cannot let the season end without sharing a bit (more) of it with you, so I’ve decided to dedicate (some of) my posts this week to my autumn bliss. I’ll try to contain myself and limit the season’s posts to three, but I’m not promising.

The mixed media postcard featured above was made by my penfriend Martha S. Life has kept her busy, so it was a too pleasant surprise to find this bit of autumn love in my mailbox. This beauty has found a home in my notes and quotes journal.

Thank you, Martha, for this lovely rendering of autumn bliss!