#ThursdayTreeLove | When the Cherry Tree Blossoms

CherryBlossoms3

I recently took a walk to the building on campus furthest from my own academic home. As I walked, I wondered about the cherry blossom trees near my building. Since the weather is erratic this time of year, I worried that I would miss the short-lived season of blooms. To my right–a little off my path–stood an already-blooming tree, near an almost-completed building on campus.

Work trucks, building materials, and a fence–not the most glorious backdrop for this beauty.

It’s odd [to me] to find trees growing just outside a construction site, sites often prepared by unearthing their nearby friends.  But when the cherry blossom opens, it makes all the sense in the world that a little beauty was left behind. 


I usually join Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. I’m joining a week earlier for the final April post because next week is all about sunflowers and poetry.  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 | It’s the Clouds for Me…

Tree Clouds-12

I’m just dropping in to share some iPhone clicks of trees and clouds. Most of the trees are not decked out in spring yet, but there are signs all around that spring is definitely here.

These pics are more about the clouds than the trees, but shhh…we won’t tell the trees. [Click an image for a closer look].

Until next time…


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.

Expressive Pics | Heal

A few days ago, I read a chapter from Morgan Harper Nichols’ latest book Peace Is a Practice. I bought the book thinking it would be filled with her soulful words and art, but though the art is minimal in this book, her words still strike a chord. While absolutely out of my mind and having difficulty starting the day, I read through “Healing.” In the chapter, she shares her struggle with the word “heal” and [among other things] encourages readers to walk slowly and not rush through their healing.

I am worthy
of the time it takes
to do the things
that heal my heart. –Morgan Harper Nichols

When I encountered Nichols’ words, I had been thinking about how we are expected to rush through our grief. Although we might recognize our need to take time to process and study the contours of our grief, the demands of life don’t always allow time for it. Sometimes people acknowledge and express sympathy over the hard loss, but they don’t make room for the heavy weight of our grief. They expect us to be okay immediately because it benefits them for us to be so.

If you are grieving in any way, think about what benefits you. Not in a selfish way, but in a healing way. Draw boundaries and make room for your grief. Do all the things that help you heal and take all the time you need to heal.

#ThursdayTreeLove | When Great Trees Fall, or My Father’s Tree

The Last Time Tree

Yesterday, while I was considering using the tree above for today’s #ThursdayTreeLove, I received a text message from my Raven, asking if I were in my office. I had a moment of excitement thinking she was visiting from California and was on her way to see me. Sadly, that was not the case. However, she had her sister, who lives in the area, deliver a beautiful “forever bouquet” with an elegant note tucked inside that only an English major could write [Biased? Perhaps]. Her note included the last verse of Maya Angelou’s poem below.

When Great Trees Fall
Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance, fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of
dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

What made Raven’s gift so timely was that this tree is from my parents’ backyard, and I have always associated this tree with my father–maybe because he was usually sitting quietly in or working in the yard in the vicinity of the tree. This photo was shot six days before his passing, moments before I last saw him living, breathing, and still being Daddy.


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 | Simply Rest

Rest


About the Image: I designed this image for Day 23 of Sheila’s 30-Day Creative Art Gathering (September 23, 2021). January has been trying [understatement], so as we head into the weekend I am heeding the scriptural counsel to simply rest.

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 | In Winter…

SnowTrees3
In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees — Mary Oliver, “White Eyes”

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An urgent deadline made me miss #ThursdayTreeLove last week, but all the tree photos hiding out in my phone will not allow me to forgo participating in the first TTL of the year. So, here I am, a week late, with snow laden trees from my very first tree walk of the year. Oh, how I wish we could capture pure delight with our cameras!

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These photos were snapped January 4, two days after our first snow. We don’t get snow very often in the South, so when we do, we’re [Southerners] usually over-the-moon with excitement. I did not take the time to go out and play in the snow the evening/morning it fell. I planned to the next day when everything was all white and pretty, but the freezing temperatures kept me indoors.

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When I returned to campus two days later, I was pleasantly surprised to find the trees on campus still beautifully adorned with snow. I raced to my office, dropped my bags, grabbed my camera and spent the first moments of the workday with the snow trees.

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I shot with my phone and my camera. I am sharing the phone photos because choosing from among the far-too-many camera photos is a task for another time. [Click images 2-5 to view full-size versions of these photos in a Flickr album. Eventually, I’ll add the DSLR photos. Eventually…]

SnowTrees10

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The Lion King is running in Nashville, and Cats will be here in Huntsville soon. I will miss both. People are not always cautious, so I am still wary of large group events. Sometimes, it seems the coronavirus is robbing me of life and fun, but spending time with the trees on a gorgeous day more than makes up for it.
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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 | Tickled Pink

Pink Christmas Tree

I have been tickled pink this week!

Earlier this week, I went to the [indoor] mall for the first time in a long, long time. I had hoped to get caught up in the madness of last-minute Christmas shopping, but there was no frenzy. In fact, the line for photos with Santa was the shortest I have ever seen. I have never, ever seen a mall less “bustling” at Christmas!

I walked the mall twice and ended up spending a good bit of time in a store that specializes in Christmas ornaments. The ornaments were cute, but it was the pink Christmas tree [above] that captured my attention. I prefer traditional Christmas colors, but it would be nice to add a small pink tree in honor of my sisters.

Pink is definitely this week’s color.

The next day, I checked my post office box and found a gift from Wanéa, one of my students–a painting of a tree filled with pink blossoms! She loves pink and I love trees, so this is truly a precious gift. [Thanks, Wanéa!]

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Wanéa is not only my student; she is also the daughter of my college roommate, Wanda. Now, I have a special tree painting from both mother and daughter in my art collection!

What color(s) has this week brought you?


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.

Gratitude and Grace | #ThursdayTreeLove | Thank You, Trees

11-16-21 Tree Walk-8

In our recent exchange about one thing in nature we’re grateful for, my bestie was surprised that I did not say sunflowers. We all know how much I love sunflowers [I am indeed grateful for them]. But trees? They save my life! In fact, none of us would be able to live without them…literally.

This fact was underscored in an exchange I had with Elaine V, one of my colleagues, a couple of weeks ago. I was feeling a little under the weather, so I mentioned that maybe some time outdoors in the sun would help. She responded that would be perfect because “trees give off natural negative ions that help boost immunity and kill pathogens.” [Did I mention Elaine is a biologist?] This made me love trees even more! Who knew that was even possible?

11-16-21 Tree Walk-9

I’m sure you learned about the benefits of trees in elementary school—how they pull the yucky stuff like carbon dioxide from the air and replace it with good stuff we need to survive, like oxygen. But there are many, many other things trees provide for human life and for our planet. You can read about the goodness of trees by clicking any (or all) of the links below.

11-16-21 Tree Walk-10

Thank you, trees.

Thank you for the air we breathe, the homes we live in, the fires that keep us warm.

Thank you for the endless creativity you offer in your diversity and thank you for the continuous inspiration.

Thank you for the homes you provide for the animals.

Thank you for teaching us how to reach for the stars while staying true to our roots.

Thank you for teaching us balance.

Thank you for teaching us how to climb, swing, and dangle; thank you for all the good times we’ve shared.  –Michael McMillan, “Giving Thanks to Trees”

It’s a special treat that #ThursdayTreeLove always falls on Thanksgiving. Thank God for trees!

Happy Thanksgiving!


About the Images: The iPhone photos in this post are from one of my mid-November “tree walks” on campus. I escaped my office for a quick break between meetings and to move my body. I was headed back when the bright yellow leaves tree beckoned. I walked past my office and spent about 10 minutes with the tree. Solid tree therapy.

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.

November Chaos | A Moment with the Willow

Anxiety to Joy

We are halfway through November, and I’m finally making my first post of the month! Gasp!

I had this month’s posts planned since September, but after I realized how chaotic this month would be, I “aborted” the mission–to daily share a piece of art I created in September for Sheila’s Creative Gathering. I will share those pieces as the “Spirit moves” and let November be what it will be. [Many prayers, hugs, and hearts for Sheila who is seriously ill and in the hospital].

Today, I am moved to share one of the 10 “abstract” photo art pieces I created for the Gathering. It captures my time with one of the weeping willows at the Unity Pond on campus. However, it is the Bible verse I paired with the photo that compels me to share–a verse of scripture I meditate on frequently and one I often repeat to others as they grapple with anxiety and stress these days.

When anxiety was great within me,
Your consolation brought me joy. —Psalm 94:19

We have been dealing with a bit “too much” over the last 19-20 months. In the early months, we realized and appreciated our need for the slowing down the pandemic required. Now, instead of seeing this time as an opportunity to do things differently and better, we are trying to force an old norm that no longer serves us. I’m convinced that besides the loss and trauma of this moment, much of our sense of overwhelm and anxiety comes from our rush to normal—exacerbated by our not taking time to sit with and process our grief.

It seems everyone I encounter these days is overwhelmed, exhausted, and anxious. I have this horrible sense that if we don’t pause or slow down, we’re headed for an even bigger crisis.

Perhaps, you’re feeling all those things too.

I hope a moment with the willow and these words remind you there is relief. Thankfully, in God’s presence we can find comfort, peace, and joy, even when life makes it difficult to pause or slow down.

May you carry that with you.

#ThursdayTreeLove | A Sunflower in an Orchard Full of Apples

Apples-6 Sunflowers

We interrupt “Sunflower Month” with apples!

I had one goal in mind when the guys and I headed to Scott’s Orchard earlier this month–to visit the sunflowers a little earlier this year. We went mid-October last year, so many of the sunflowers were seeing their last days. However, when we arrived [just about] two weeks ago, there were no sunflowers! Gasp! Was I disappointed? Of course not! Okay, maybe a little, but I adjusted because apples—though not as cool as sunflowers—are not only pretty but are also pretty tasty. Besides, they grow on trees, and I love trees as much as I love sunflowers!

Here are some of the shots* appropriately accompanied by Mary Oliver’s “The Orchard.” Oh–and I did find one sunflower (above) just before we left. A double win!

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I have dreamed
of accomplishment.
I have fed

Apples-7ambition.
I have traded
nights of sleep

Apples-5for a length of work.
Lo, and I have discovered
how soft bloom

Apples-8turns to green fruit,
which turns to sweet fruit.
Lo, and I have discovered
Apples-4all winds blow cold
at last,
and the leaves,

Apples-11so pretty, so many,
vanish
in the great, black

Apples-2packet of time,
in the great, black
packet of ambition,
Apples-1and the ripeness
of the apple
is its downfall.

Apples-3

It’s ironic that we went to the orchard last year to pick apples, but basked in sunflowers. This year, we went for the sunflowers but found only apples. Either way, the orchard offered, like last year, a bit of Autumn heaven.


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.

Note on Picture Quality: Please forgive the low quality of my photos. I am running out of WordPress space and I am not sure I want to give WP even more money to increase my space allowance. :-/ You can see higher quality versions of these pics by checking out my Flickr album, Scott’s Orchard: A Sunflower in an Orchard.