#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.

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.  😉

#ThursdayTreeLove | The Legend of the Dogwood

The tree blossoms have pretty much come and gone in these parts, so it’s nice that #ThursdayTreeLove gives us an opportunity to revisit the blossoms of early spring. Since we celebrated the Resurrection of Christ (Easter) a few days ago, I’m sharing my bunch of dogwood photos along with the “Legend of the Dogwood.”

There is a legend that at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood had reached the size of the mighty oak tree and other forest trees.

So strong and firm was the wood that it was chosen as the timber for Jesus’ cross.

To be used for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the dogwood.

While nailed upon it, Jesus sensed this, and in his compassion said: “Because of your regret and pity for my suffering, never again shall the the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used for a cross.

Henceforth, it shall be slender, bent, and twisted, and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross–two long and two short petals.

In the center of the outer edge of each petal will be the print of nails.

In the center of the flower, stained with blood, will be a crown of thorns so that all who see it will remember.”

Even though this is a cute story, keep in mind that there is no truth to this legend. Dogwoods do not grow naturally in Israel and would not have been used for the execution stake.

I shot the dogwood photos with my iPhone one cloudy day and with my “real” camera another  [brighter] day. The first three shots in the posts are iPhone photos; the others are Canon photos. Although I’m impressed with the flexibility of the upgraded iPhone camera, it’s still no match for my Canon.  🙂

Be sure to tune in to the next #ThursdayTreeLove. I have more tree blossoms to share!


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 | Exhale…

Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish. –Munia Khan

This week–this year, really–has been screamingly exhausting. Trees help me breathe and make it through maddening days. I shot the photo above [with full hands] as I was running errands on campus a couple of days ago. The tree to the right greeted me as I neared my favorite building on campus [the white stone building]–Moran Hall, my academic home.  The tree also offered a final moment to “exhale” between tasks.


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.