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].

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!

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!

“Fall” in Love: The Poetry of Autumn

Emily Dickinson

“Autumn Poets Sing,” Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Fall 2012

I’m pretty sure my next two or three blog posts will focus on autumn.  I can’t help it.  I’m obsessed with the beauty of the season.  This obsession is not peculiar to me alone, of course.  A simple Google search for autumn poems yields pages and pages of links of fall-themed classic and contemporary poetry.  And social network feeds proudly showcase an abundance of autumn photos from around the world.

My own obsession led me to host a “‘Fall’ in Love” swap in “A Thousand Words,” a new photography group on swap-bot.   The swap called for sharing autumn photos and a complementary autumn poem.  Swappers had the choice of sending poem and photo separately or poem and photo integrated. Ladybegood sent this serene autumn scene crafted as a notecard for my use:

"The Woods in Autumn" by Linda, known as "Ladybegood" on swap-bot

“The Woods in Autumn” by Linda, known as “Ladybegood” on swap-bot

And the perfect poem, handwritten on card stock: Autumn Scenes-1

AUTUMN WOODS
by James S. Tippett

I like the woods
In autumn
When dry leaves hide the ground,
When the trees are bare
And the wind sweeps by
With a lonesome rushing sound.

I can rustle the leaves
In autumn
And I can make a bed
In the thick dry leaves
That have fallen
From the bare trees
Overhead.

If you have children, this poem is perfect for getting them to understand imagery.

By the way, Ladybegood included a note telling me a little bit about the photo, but it’s missing in desk clutter (see previous post).

In a different swap, “I Like Light (& Color)” for the Color and Light Photo Swappers Group, swap-bot, Midteacher sent me two autumn photos:

"Vibrant Maple," by Diane, known as "midteacher" on swap-bot

“Vibrant Maple,” by Diane, known as “Midteacher” on swap-bot

Midteacher writes that she passed this tree several times on the way home from work before she made herself stop to take the shot one day. I witness a similar brilliance from my office window every day.  The tree beckoned me till one day I was compelled to step onto the balcony to snap a shot.

“Brilliant Hello,” by Me, Fall 2014

This autumn beauty greets residents and guests at one of the women’s residential halls. My office is quite a distance from the tree, so I plan to take a walk to capture a bit more of the interesting details.  I hope there are still leaves on it by the time the temperatures are mild enough for me to take a campus walk. :-/

Like Ladybegood, Midteacher also sent a photo notecard:

Autumn Scene by Diane, "Midteacher" on swap-bot

Autumn Scene by Diane, “Midteacher” on swap-bot

She was so drawn to this breath-taking scene that after they drove passed it, she had her husband go back so she could snap a shot. Midteacher and I are in three photo groups together and I enjoy having her as a swap partner. Her packages are always well-crafted.  In fact, I have a couple more sets of her photos to share with my blog audience.  Until then, you can check out her work on an earlier post OR check out her blog, A Focused Journey.

For the “‘Fall’ in Love” swap, I sent my partner, Patty aka Cakers, an envelope full of “red leaves” and a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem that so clearly illustrates my giddiness about autumn that I had to send it to her [click image for a closer look]. fall poem 2014 3 Patty loved her envelope full of autumn. In return, with her permission, of course, I “swiped” a photo from her Facebook wall–of leaves she collected during an afternoon walk.

"Patty's Fallen Leaves" by Patty aka Cakers

“All the Colors of Fall” by Patty aka Cakers

Enjoy!

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–