Autumn Play

An autumn forest is such a place that once entered you never look for the exit. –Mehmet Murat ildan

I think Eileen V, one of my Love Notes pals, has a crystal ball that allows her to see what I’m going through at the moment. She sent me a bit of autumn cheer recently that arrived on a particularly difficult day.

Im Garten des Zen 2017. http://www.harenberg-kalender.de

Eileen playfully watercolored the postcard to capture the colors of the season–beyond the browns, reds, and yellows.

It’s not simply that she sent mail that celebrated my favorite season, but that her message–which included “sending loads of positive energy”–was perfect for the moment I was in.

The card also arrived when I was going through a brief spell with digital coloring, so while waiting for a meeting to begin one morning, I had a little fun with Eileen’s postcard and altered it in an app. [Click an image for a closer look]

 

These are pretty, but Eileen’s stole my heart.

Seven Ways to Beat the Summer Heat

Postcard from Love Noter Angela C.

I’ll admit it. I’m not a fan of summer as a season. You won’t find me outdoors much between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. It’s just too hot for me!

Do you–like me–avoid the higher temperatures?  This doesn’t mean you have to stay “cooped up” in your house or bored until the heat lessens. If you’re looking for some ways to enjoy summer and stay really cool, here are a some “tried and true” ways to get out of the house and beat the heat:

Head Out to the Air Conditioning

  • Read at the mall. Grab a book, toss it in your bag, and head out the house to a bench in the air-conditioned mall. When your eyes need a brief rest from reading, you can people-watch or window-shop. If the mall is too far away or not the kind of place you like to hang out, a coffee shop is a great alternative.
  • Hang out at the Public Library. My baby sister and I were just talking about all the wonderful opportunities for growth and entertainment libraries offer. Her local library offers free painting and crafting classes, piano lessons, and so much more. There is always something at the public library here in Huntsville–readings, lectures, crafting, film viewings, book clubs, author signings, discovery centers, special exhibits, and so much more. There is literally something for everyone. In fact, there’s so much to do it’s a wonder we don’t leech off the library’s AC every day.
  • Journal at the Pool. Kids love pools, so what better way to give your kid what he or she wants and get what you want without compromising. Public indoor pools offer the perfect opportunity for you to do a little art journaling or writing. The lifeguards make sure your kid is safe, so you can take “me-time” with your kid in view. Be sure to bring along your favorite pens, pencils, stickers, and washi tape. 😉

Just Outside Your Home, but Close Enough to Air Conditioning

  • Plan an Iced Tea Party. Host an iced tea party for two or three of your friends. You can do this outdoors under a large tree or on your patio. Serve a variety of cold teas and your favorite cold salads, chilled fruit, and raw veggies. I love tea, but I’m not likely to sip hot tea during the scorching days of summer.
  • Step Outdoors. Open your eyes to the “cool” things just outside your door. Spend some time watching from your patio or from your porch. You’ll observe birds, squirrels, bunnies, even foxes, deer and coyotes, depending on where you live. Even the cloud formations can keep you engaged for a really long time. There’s so much to see just outside our front (and back) doors.

Rainy Day (or Indoor Fun)

  • Create a Vision Journal. You’re familiar with vision boards. A vision journal is the same thing, but created in a notebook instead of on a board. Go through old magazines and cut out pictures that represent what you really want in life for your home, career, vacation, health, spiritual development, self-care, etc. Create collages on the journal pages. Refer to the book from time to time and imagine yourself with your dreams fulfilled. Now, of course, you want to do more than create colorful collages of a beautiful life; you also want to make plans for achieving the dream.
  • Private Concert. Your phone, tablet, and/or computer are filled with music, some you haven’t listened to in a long time, if at all. Create a list of your favorites from the past (or present). Turn down the lights, turn up the music, and host your own concert. If your family members want to join in, let them! The more the merrier. (Tip: If you don’t feel like searching through your extensive music archive, you can find a lot of your favorites on YouTube. Create a playlist there and it’s always available for you).

Summer will be over before we know it, so stay indoors and have some summer fun!

 

Snow Day!

I know some of my friends in colder climates are suffering a bit of cabin fever along with other inconveniences because of the brutal winter weather.  I am sure they would probably scoff at the mere eight inches of snow that fell on the Tennessee Valley a couple of nights ago, but, for me, the two “snow days” provided much needed respite.  I actually had time to do some fun things–besides play in the snow! 

Of course, I captured shots as the snow started falling, at various times during the daylight hours, and late into the night.

"First Snow," February 2015.

“First Snow,” February 2015.

It was a treat to watch this little guy riding his bike through the snow.

"Snow Ride...Take It Easy," February 2015.

“Snow Ride…Take It Easy,” February 2015.

I forced myself out of bed at 6:30 a.m. the next morning to catch a view of the neighborhood before people started stirring about.

"Early Morning: Snow Blanket," February 2015.

“Early Morning: Snow Blanket,” February 2015.

I love this scene.  The neighborhood was so soft and serene. The quiet was almost sacred.  

Although I nabbed several (dozen) shots “for the record”–memory keeping and such–none of my shots compare to the winter shots my penfriend Dee sent to me earlier this month.

Canada by dee

“Winter Sunset at the Beach,” Harrison Lake, British Columbia. Photo Card by Dee

These were captured January 2014 at Harrison Hotsprings Resort in British Columbia.  The two cards here show the beach where she and her husband go many times throughout the year.

Canada

“Winter Sunset at the Beach,” Harrison Lake, British Columbia. Photo Card by Dee.

The area usually doesn’t get snow, and when they arrived the day these photos were taken, they were shocked to see that snow had just begun.  In true photographer fashion, Dee took advantage and shot these a few hours later.  She wrote that this was the first time she had seen snow at Harrison Lake in all the decades her family had gone there.  Hundreds of photos of the same area, she exclaimed, that only show the sandy beach all year long.

How exciting it must have been to be there for this rare treat!

Stay warm!

Tree Therapy (Autumn Leaves)

Thanks to life and all the madness it’s tossed my way, I’ve been needing quite a bit of tree therapy lately. Thanks to all the amazing tree photographs shared on Flickr and Google+, my sanity is no longer threatened.

That reminds me…About a month ago, in a Monte Sano blog post, I promised a follow-up post that focused on the autumn leaves of Monte Sano. As I was looking through my photos I discovered a lot of other beautiful leaves that I captured over the last several weeks, and what better way to say “Happy Winter” than to take a look back at autumn. (No shame here. I am partial to autumn).

This beauty greeted a whole congregation of church folk as we exited service one November afternoon.

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I wasn’t the only one struck by this magnificence. Many paused to capture photos of the two trees. Take a closer look:

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This one (above) was shot while looking up and standing between the two trees. Just take a deep breath and enjoy those brilliant colors mingling.

Here’s an even closer look at the leaves of the tree on the left:

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I want to live in those leaves!

Here are some tree/leaf shots taken while sitting on a “float” with my son’s saddle club while riding through a Veteran’s Day parade. I’m loving the lens flare on the first image. [Click an image for a closer look].

And here are the leaves of Monte Sano–still green, yellowing, golden, bright orange, deep red, and bronze…

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May the gorgeous colors of autumn carry you through the browns, grays, and snowy whites of winter!

Monte Sano: Autumn Photo Walk

"My Guys" Chatting Through Monte Sano

My Guys Chatting Through Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

At the very beginning of the year, I posted photos from a Monte Sano State Park walk and wondered what this beautiful place would look like in the spring.  I completely missed spring and summer, but thankfully, we made it to Monte Sano before autumn fades into winter again.

I captured nearly 300 photos the afternoon we visited, but unlike our last visit, I had far too many “favorites” to choose from.  It’s taken me two weeks to choose, and since my focus was “trees” and “leaves,” I decided to share the leaves in a separate post. With some shots, I tried to “recreate” what I could remember of the winter shots. Remember this tree?  It looks no different in autumn.

My favorite Monte Sano tree.

“Winter’s Heart” in Autumn

And this one:

tree

“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” in Autumn

Our tree-lined path was even more glorious with leaves forming a canopy over our heads and providing the crunch-crunch-crunch beneath our feet.  Is “crunching leaves” your favorite part of the season?

The Worn Path in Autumn

“The Well-Worn Path” in Autumn

With other shots, I just appreciated the splendor of the trees:

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Sometimes, I simply enjoyed the breathtaking view from the “lookout” accented or consumed by the range of autumn colors. Untitled copy 8 Untitled copy 8 Untitled copy 11 Then, there were those trees that made me wonder about their story.  Notice how these two lean toward each other–one resting in the other’s supportive embrace.

“Duet”

This one a “relic” of a “time before,” when it stood against elements and seasons.  A fallen comrade in the midst of those still standing strong and tall:

“Remains”

When we left the park, I exhaled deeply, as if all the cares of the world drained from my body as I walked through the park. Monte Sano is always a wonderfully therapeutic place, no matter the season. It must be the trees.

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Another Perspective of “Winter’s Heart”

The Fall of Autumn

Remember my “Brilliant Hello” posted a couple of days ago?

“Brilliant Hello”

Look at it now.  About a week later–every single leaf blown to the ground, thanks to our cold, windy days.

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“Golden Path”

It’s not even December yet. Winter has usurped autumn.

Brilliant Hello: Golden Walkway, November 2014

Brilliant Hello: Golden Path, November 2014

Autumn is brilliant but brief.

Fire and Ice

 

As we move toward the even hotter days of summer, I thought I’d share a photo that’s equally hot and cold. This was one of the photo-poems I shared on my Facebook page in April for National Poetry Month. The photo was shot in March one year when winter and spring were dueling fiercely for control. Things were blooming.  Temperatures were unpredictable–warm one day, cool the next, and then a dusting of snow.  The contrast of powdery ice and fiery red reminded me of Frost’s poem, “Fire and Ice.”

It’s as hot as “H-E-Double Hockey Sticks” this summer, and I just needed a little reminder that hell isn’t always hot, hot, hot.  Hatred and indifference are just as destructive as unrestrained passion.

Poetry on Postcards (or, Happy Warmer Days!)

I’m convinced most of the USA has been dreaming of this day–the first day of spring. Many of us have endured a brutal winter, so March 20 means the end of icy and snowy days (is near).

I’m working on a “Poetry on Postcards” swap and decided that I would introduce my partner to a poet she hasn’t read before–Tameka Cage Conley. I am proud to say I know this poet. She completed her undergraduate degree in English at the institution at which I grew up as a professor, scholar, leader, administrator.

Here is one of the postcards I designed for the swap:

"December Rose" and Excerpt from "The Cell Is the Song," by Tameka Cage Conley

“December Rose” and Excerpt from “The Cell Is the Song,” by Tameka Cage Conley

Conley is an extraordinary literary artist (poet, playwright, novelist) on the rise.  You can read the full poem and one other poem, “If Sula Had a Daughter Raised by Nel,” on the Driftless Review site.  Prepare for an experience with words, sound, texture, feeling.

Ironically, the photo was shot on a rainy December day in New Orleans, just outside my parents’ front door.  Is it springy enough to wish you a “Happy Spring?”

Monte Sano: Trees, Hobbits, and Sunsets

"Father and Son Chat," Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

“Father and Son Chat,” Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

I trust your year is off to a grand start.  2014 has had a bit of a strange beginning for me, but after cramming some reflecting and planning into the last few days, I’m feeling a little more centered.  I’m engaging in a bit of avoidance behavior at the moment after taking full advantage of a bonus winter vacation day, thanks to the Polar Vortex.  I am not complaining.  Otherwise, I would not have time for this post I’d intended to write a week ago.

One of our favorite things to do as a family is to jump in one of the cars and drive/ride around, cameras in hand and snap shots from the car or park and take photos of the interesting things, places and people we find.  On New Year’s Day, the hubby, the little one and I took our photo-drive/walk to Monte Sano State Park.   Monte Sano, Spanish for “Mountain of Health,” is a 2,140-acre “mountaintop retreat” located in Huntsville, Alabama.  It rises 1,600 feet above sea level and has been attracting visitors since the early 1800s.

We walked quite a distance and took in so much beauty that we could hardly contain ourselves.  We only left because it was nearing sunset, the time the park closes.  It would have been great to see the wildlife in action during the evening hours.

I took dozens of shots, but I am mildly pleased with only a handful.

"Winter's Heart"

“Winter’s Heart”

If you look closely, or maybe with a bit of imagination, you can see the shape of a heart in this tree.  I have a “thing” for photographing trees, particularly the same tree through its seasonal changes.  This tree reminds me of a heart-shaped tree I shot last September.  That tree had lots of leaves, and the heart was a bit more obvious, but I imagine this is what “heart tree” looks like minus leaves.

“A ‘River’ Runs Through It”

"Fallen"

“Fallen”

The network of naked branches and limbs of the tall, thin, and fallen trees is intriguing enough to keep me occupied all day.

Hidden Cave

“Cozy Home”

Then, from another angle and with rock formations, nature tells a different story.

Hidden Cave

“Who Lives Here?”

My son and hubby had a nice long conversation about the possible tenant(s) of this tiny cave.  Raccoons? Possums? A fox?  [What does the fox say? Sorry.  I cannot say the word “fox” without singing that song].

Who goes there?

“Who Goes There?”

Who Goes There (up close)

“Who Goes There?” (up close)

I am also fascinated with tree stumps or tree “remains.”  Fueled by childhood stories of Hobbits, elves and fairies, I enjoy imagining tiny beings akin to humans living their lives beyond stumps and such, tiny hollowed tree communities thriving, undetected, right in the midst of us.  What stories await us?

Such Interesting

“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

Note the twists and turns that must have occurred before this one (above) fell…as if it writhed and resisted the inevitable.

Pathway

“The Well-Worn Path”

Our tree-lined path.

"All Good Things Must Come to an End"

“All Good Things Must Come to an End”

Time to leave.

"Day Is Dying in the West"

“Happy New Year Sunset”

This sunset photo was actually taken outside the park, at a lookout a few miles away–the first sunset of 2014.

I’m looking forward to returning to Monte Sano soon and can hardly wait to capture its beauty in the full bloom of spring.

Happy New Year!

See Ya Later, Autumn…

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”–William Cullen Bryant

Autumn is my favorite season and when winter rushed in a week ago, I felt every bit of it.  The first day of winter here was dreary, rainy and cold–just plain yucky.  I captured lots of photos from October to November just as the leaves were changing colors and before the complete browning and/or falling of the leaves. They remind me that winter can be bitter and cold, but it is temporary.  While the earth slumbers beneath the cold, we are preparing for spring and renewal.  Seasons change and life requires death and rebirth.

While I await the arrival of spring, I’ll just enjoy my little tribute to autumn–