Duck Tales | #WordlessWednesday

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.  –Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”

On a recent visit to the park, I observed the little girl pictured above and her older brother chattering and interacting with the ducks. Based on their conversation, they visited the park frequently. They “knew” the birds personally, gave them names, and as you can see, fed them from their hands. I couldn’t resist photographing such a precious sight.

#ThursdayTreeLove | The Oak and a Lesson in Self-Healing

Oak Tree in City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana, January 2017

This was not a good week. I was ready to throw in the towel by Wednesday morning, but I got up, dressed, pushed through the rest of the week, and kept Philippians 4:13 on repeat.

I’m taking a mental health day tomorrow.

In the last couple of days, I was told twice–in so many words–that I was being negative. Me? The person who always finds the rainbow and gives [almost] everyone the benefit of the doubt? The individuals who commented were right. The heaviness of unexpressed grief, of holding it together, and of having to navigate all of life despite my feelings was seeping out in unpleasant ways.

Each time, I went back to my office and asked God for forgiveness and a little more of His grace. He didn’t give the scolding I deserved. Instead, He gave empathy, reminded me of my humanness, and affirmed my decision to take some time away from the usual maddening routine.

Normally, when I’m in an icky place internally, my camera and a slow walk with the trees work together to adjust my mood. Not so this week. I walked almost daily, spent time with the trees, looked for unique perspectives to photograph and…nothing. My mood was unchanged. I realized, sadly, considering the trees isn’t always an effective panacea.

Today is #ThursdayTreeLove and I was so sure I’d write a post about the lovely trees I’d considered all week. I’m not fond of the idea of sharing this week’s photos, so I decided to share some from a happier moment–photos from a walk through City Park in New Orleans with my mom, one of my older brothers, and my baby sister.

We captured loads of photos on that walk, but today, we’ll take a look at one of the gorgeous Oak Trees in the park:

My photos aren’t great, but I’m sharing them anyway because I love the structure of the tree, the network of branches, and the way the tree seems to reach across the park toward the other trees.

You can somewhat see the massive size of the tree if you note my “tiny” brother in the lower right corner of the photo.

Trees and buildings in the background are puny by comparison.

The 1300-acre City Park of New Orleans is home to 30,000 trees, and proudly boasts “the oldest grove of mature live oaks in the world, including the magnificent Anseman Oak and McDonogh Oak, which are between 750 and 900 years old” [See Trees in City Park].

My guys and I spent so much time in the Park when we lived in New Orleans that we captured hundreds of tree photos. We were (and still are) especially fond of the Oak Trees. The trees are simply breathtaking. One day, I’ll go through my collection and select a few to share on the blog. For now, enjoy a little extra #ThursdayTreeLove with a few more City Park Oak photos on my hubby’s blog. I think you’ll enjoy “The Root of It All.”

I read somewhere that trees are self-healing. I don’t remember all the details of the process, and I certainly don’t expect to do the healing work alone, but there’s wisdom in turning inward, taking care, and doing my part. I coped a bit better last week because I was intentional about spending some time daily, allowing myself to feel and write and think. I did none of that this week and it showed.

Moving forward, I’ll put into practice the lesson of the trees.


I am joining Parul Thakur every second and fourth Thursday for #ThursdayTreeLove. 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 | Fallen Beauty

The poetry of the earth is never dead.  –John Keats, “The Grasshopper and the Cricket”

The sight of this beautiful fallen tree in Brechtel Park in New Orleans used to sadden me. I saw it as another victim of Hurricane Katrina. Then, one day, I discovered that fallen trees offer many benefits to the forest and to creatures–seen and unseen. It’s heartening to know that there is still some usefulness in the fallen.


I am joining Parul Thakur every second and fourth Thursday for #ThursdayTreeLove. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to this post.

About the image: I shot the photo above at Brechtel Park in Algiers (Westbank New Orleans). According to the information available on the image, it was shot in 2011. For some reason, I thought it was earlier.

Bears, Legends, and Foxes! Oh My!

I have a lot of postcard blogging to get caught up on. I have a few moments while waiting in the pickup line for my little one to get out of school, so why not “kill a bird” while I’m at it.  😉

Few things tickle my soul more than finding cuddly bears in my mailbox. Fran and Christine, two of my Love Notes pals, manage to keep my mailbox beary happy.

To add to my vintage bear postcards collection, Fran B. sent a wonderful (8×10) “giant post card” featuring a mother bear and her cub.

“Mother Bear and Cub Hiking, Yellowstone National Park. The fascinating picture of a mother bear and cub was taken near Norris Geyser Basin where the little cub received his first lesson in the art of entertaining visitors in Yellowstone National Park.” Haynes Studio Inc, Bozeman, Montana.

Fran was curious about the condition of the oversized postcard upon arrival, and as you can see, it was in pristine condition.  (The slight bend near the top was unfortunately from my transporting it in my over-packed work tote).

Like the vintage bear postcards featured in a previous post, these bears were shot by Haynes Studio, Inc.

Speaking of mother bears and cubs, Christine sent a postcard featuring “The Legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes.”

Sleeping Bear Dunes, National Lakeshore Park. “The beauty, the lore, the legend, the lakes and rivers, the forest woodlands and the recreational opportunities create an unsurpassed stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline. This view from the top of the dunes shows lovely Glen Lake.”

In case you can’t read the legend:

[Native Americans] tell of a mother bear and her two cubs who long ago tried to swim across Lake Michigan. Nearing this shore, the exhausted cubs lagged behind. Mother bear climbed to the top of a bluff to watch and wait for her offspring. They never reached her and today she can still be seen as the “Sleeping Bear,” a solitary dune covered with dark trees sand shrubs. Her hapless cubs are the Manitou Islands that lie a short distance away.

So sad, but so beautiful.

I received the black bear below just yesterday. Christine was in Colorado, saw the postcard, and thought of me. How sweet!

Colorado Black Bear. “This Colorado native lives throughout the mountainous areas in the ‘Centennial State,’ but is seldom seen, due to its timid nature.”

When Eileen V, another Love Notes pal, posted an adorable fox postcard in the group, I swooned because …well foxes.  A few days later, I found the foxes in my own mailbox–courtesy of Christine B.

Foxes by Amy Hamilton

This is such a fun, educational postcard.  My favorite is the Fennec fox. Do you have a favorite fox?

I’ll get to more postcards soon–when I can squeeze in a moment or two for scanning.

Until next time…Have joy!

 

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!