A Year in the Life of a Tree

When we drove down the Colonial Parkway after the December snowstorm, we discovered an incredible level of damage to many old, venerable trees along the way. Nothing saddened us more than finding two of our beloved white poplar trees toppled by the weather, and those still standing broken by the heavy snow.

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December 30, 2018

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This beautiful circle of five trees delighted us in every season.

All things pass.  We have seen this again and again as storms sweep across the country leaving changed landscapes in their path.

I walked up to the circle to see what had happened to the trees, and wasn’t very surprised to find the cavities where they had been anchored to the earth completely filled with water.  You’ll see the pool that has stood in the circle of these trees for years, in all but the driest times of the year.

We have had so much rain that our ground is saturated. Trees in our own garden have rotted at the base and fallen over in the wind. Too much wet makes most trees vulnerable to damage they might not experience otherwise, and there are trees leaning and broken all over our Williamsburg community.   We may need to look to replacement trees that will perform better in wetter soils.

And until then, we will be grateful for our photos of the majestic beauty that once lived and grew so enthusiastically.  Please join with me in happy memories of seasons passed.

-WG

Forest Garden

January 2016January 2016

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Along the Colonial Parkway, between Williamsburg and Jamestown, grow a stand of white poplar trees.  They sway gracefully in the wind, like a group of school girls holding hands and dancing.  They mark one of our favorite spots along that part of the Parkway, and we often stop to admire them. 

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February 2015February 2015

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Now in the depths of winter, with the world newly frozen and still, let’s watch the seasons come and go with these beautiful trees.

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March 2015March 2015

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March 2015March 2015

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April 2015April 2015  An ancient Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis, blooms in the foreground. 

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May 2014May 2014

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June 2014June 2014

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“In a forest of a hundred thousand trees,

no two leaves are alike.

And no two journeys along the same path are alike.”


.

Paulo Coelho

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August 2014August 2014

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October 2015October 2015

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November 2015November 2015

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November 2015November 2015

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January 2014January 2014

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American Holly

Now that the wheel of the year has brought us back into winter, our native holly trees sparkle in the surrounding forests once again.
I’ve found this 2013 post about our beautiful native Ilex opaca in the Forest Garden archives, and offer it again for your enjoyment.
WG

Forest Garden

American Holly on the Colonial Parkway near Jamestown.American Hollies on the Colonial Parkway near Jamestown.

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Once most of the leaves have fallen in late autumn the woods just light up with our beautiful native holly trees.  It is their time to sparkle in the wintery sunshine.  Their broad, evergreen leaves are waxy on top and reflect what light reaches them through the forest canopy, and their berries have turned bright scarlet.  Unobtrusive throughout the summer, they are among the few forest trees, along with our white pines, cedars, and Magnolias, which remain bright green and covered in leaves throughout the year.

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Red berries appear only on female holly trees growing near a male tree.Red berries appear only on female holly trees growing near a male tree.

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The American Holly, Ilex opaca, is native along the Eastern seaboard in zones 5-9 from southern Connecticut south to Florida, and west into Eastern Texas.  A sub variety, I. Opaca “Arenicola,”  also known as “scrub holly”, grows in the…

View original post 985 more words

Sunday Dinner: Honestly

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“Integrity is telling myself the truth.
And honesty is telling the truth to other people.”
.
Spencer Johnson

~

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“Patience is the calm acceptance
that things can happen in a different order
than the one you have in mind.”
.
David G. Allen

~

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“Nothing is at last sacred
but the integrity of your own mind.”
.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Listen with curiosity.
Speak with honesty. Act with integrity.
The greatest problem with communication
is we don’t listen to understand.
We listen to reply.
When we listen with curiosity,
we don’t listen with the intent to reply.
We listen for what’s behind the words.”
.
Roy T. Bennett

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“Every man must decide
whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism
or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“Each of us is an artist of our days;
the greater our integrity and awareness,
the more original and creative our time will become.”
.
John O’Donohue

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

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“Watch any plant or animal
and let it teach you acceptance of what is,
surrender to the Now.
Let it teach you Being.
Let it teach you integrity — which means to be one,
to be yourself, to be real.
Let it teach you how to live and how to die,
and how not to make living and dying into a problem.”
.
Eckhart Tolle
~

 

Sunday Dinner: Gardening

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“If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it,
and understand it in a very real sense.
‘Green fingers’ are a fact,
and a mystery only to the unpracticed.
But green fingers are the extensions
of a verdant heart.”
.
Russell Page

~

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“The green thumb is equable in the face of nature’s uncertainties;
he moves among her mysteries
without feeling the need for control or explanations
or once-and-for-all solutions.
To garden well is to be happy
amid the babble of the objective world,
untroubled by its refusal
to be reduced by our ideas of it,
its indomitable rankness.”
.
Michael Pollan

~

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“It is easier to tell a person what life is not,
rather than to tell them what it is.
A child understands weeds that grow
from lack of attention, in a garden.
However, it is hard to explain the wild flowers
that one gardener calls weeds,
and another considers beautiful ground cover.”
.
Shannon L. Alder

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth,
to feel at one’s fingertips
the possibilities of the new season.”
.
Kate Morton
*
With love, to the JCCWMGA Class of 2018
*

 

Wreathes of the Season

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“There is something about saying, ‘We always do this,’
which helps keep the years together.
Time is such an elusive thing
that if we keep on meaning to do something interesting,
but never do it,
year would follow year with no special thoughtfulness
being expressed in making gifts, surprises,
charming table settings, and familiar food.
Tradition is a good gift
intended to guard the best gifts.”
.
Edith Schaeffer

~~

“All you need to enjoy this world
is imagination, not money”
.
Vineet Raj Kapoor

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Christmas eve invites nostalgia from the most contemporary and practical among us.  Like our own birthday or wedding anniversary, Christmas eve is one of those still points on the wheel of the year where we pause and remember.

Christmas eve invites, and perhaps demands, that we observe the rituals learned from our parents, adopted from our friends; inherited from the literature of our evolving lives.  We light candles, make music, prepare our family recipes.  We share the evening with loved ones.  Anticipate giving and receiving gifts.  Re-tell familiar mystery stories.

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Christmas eve celebrates the great mysteries of our lives and loves.  As the year winds down towards its close, we hope our dearest wishes will be fulfilled in a sparkling starry magical way that gifts us with wonders we have not earned, and perhaps can never explain.  However practical, whimsical or existential our wishes may be, we dare to believe they will be granted on this magical night.

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Christmas, as we know it, is a relatively ‘new’ holiday built on ancient customs and symbols.  One of those ancient symbols is the evergreen wreath.

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Once again this year, Colonial Williamsburg is dressed in its Christmas finery, wreathes upon most doors.

Although Christmas was barely celebrated in the colonial era, and ran more to parties and church services than to elaborate decorations or shopping, visitors find beautiful della robia wreathes and other decorations made of evergreens, fruits, nuts, pods, berries, flowers and twigs throughout the Colonial part of town.

We enjoyed the wreathes as we walked through CW earlier this week, and I hope you enjoy these few photos I captured.

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On this Christmas eve, I wish you and yours the merriest of Yule celebrations tonight.

May you be with those you love, and may your greatest gift this year be a heart filled with happiness.

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“Take the time to celebrate stillness and silence
and see the joy that the world can bring, simply.”
.
Tony Curl

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“December is full of the beauty of Light
and love we can bring into our life.
You can chose to be stressed
or you can choose to let the small stuff go
and be peaceful this Holiday season.
It really is a choice you make.”
.
Eileen Anglin

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
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“We are travelers on a cosmic journey,
stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity.
Life is eternal.
We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other,
to meet, to love, to share.
This is a precious moment.
It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”
.
Paulo Coelho

~

*  *  *

Sunday Dinner: Finding Peace

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“My country is the world,
and my religion is to do good.”
.
Thomas Paine

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~

“Until he extends the circle of his compassion
to all living things,
man will not himself find peace.”

.
Albert Schweitzer

~

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“Leave behind the passive dreaming
of a rose-tinted future.
The energy of happiness
exists in living today
with roots sunk firmly in reality’s soil.”
.
Daisaku Ikeda

~

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“Can you look
without the voice in your head commenting,
drawing conclusions, comparing,
or trying to figure something out?”
.
Eckhart Tolle

~

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“Peace is present right here and now,
in ourselves and in everything we do and see.
Every breath we take,
every step we take,
can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity.
The question is whether or not
we are in touch with it.
We need only to be awake,
alive in the present moment.”
.
Thich Nhat Hanh

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“World peace must develop from inner peace.
Peace is not just mere absence of violence.
Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.”
.
Dali Lama

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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“Let the peace of this day
be here tomorrow when I wake up.”
.
Thomas Pynchon

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Photos from Colonial Williamsburg and the Bruton Parish churchyard

Sunday Dinner: Joyful

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“She knew there were only small joys in life-
-the big ones were too complicated to be joys
when you got all through-
-and once you realized that,
it took a lot of the pressure off.”
.
Lorrie Moore

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“The brave who focus on all things good
and all things beautiful and all things true,
even in the small,
who give thanks for it
and discover joy even in the here and now,
they are the change agents
who bring fullest Light to all the world.”
.
Ann Voskamp

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“Don’t put off till tomorrow
what can be enjoyed today.”
.
Josh Billings

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“Joy is a marvelous increasing of what exists,
a pure addition out of nothingness.”
.
Rainer Maria Rilk

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“Expectation has brought me disappointment.
Disappointment has brought me wisdom.
Acceptance, gratitude and appreciation
have brought me joy and fulfillment.”
.
Rasheed Ogunlaru

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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“It is only when the mind is free from the old
that it meets everything anew,
and in that there is joy.”
.
Krishnamurti

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“Now may every living thing, young or old,
weak or strong, living near or far, known or
unknown, living or departed or yet unborn,
may every living thing be full of bliss.”
.
The Dhammapada

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Sunday Dinner: Ever Turning

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“There’s magic, positive magic,
in such phrases as: “I may be wrong.
I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.”
.
Dale Carnegie

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“Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself.”
.
Leo Tolstoy

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“Once time is lost, it can never be earned by any means”
“Time never stops for anybody
and never shows kindness to anyone”
.
Sunday Adelaja

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“You couldn’t erase the past.
You couldn’t even change it.
But sometimes life offered you
the opportunity to put it right.”
.
Ann Brashares
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“There are times when the world is rearranging itself,
and at times like that,
the right words can change the world.”
.
Orson Scott Card
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“The strangeness of Time.
Not in its passing, which can seem infinite,
like a tunnel whose end you can’t see,
whose beginning you’ve forgotten,
but in the sudden realization that something finite,
has passed, and is irretrievable.”
.
Joyce Carol Oates

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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“I change the world,
the world changes me.”
.
Libba Bray
*

 

 

Sunday Dinner: What Do You Expect?

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“A wonderful gift
may not be wrapped as you expect.”
.
Jonathan Lockwood Huie
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“Would you like to know your future?

If your answer is yes, think again.

Not knowing is the greatest life motivator.

So enjoy, endure, survive each moment as it comes to you

in its proper sequence — a surprise.”
.
Vera Nazarian
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“You are one of the rare people
who can separate your observation from your preconception.
You see what is,
where most people see what they expect.”
.
John Steinbeck

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“Excellence is the Result of Caring
more than others think is Wise,
Risking more than others think is Safe,
Dreaming more than others think is Practical,
and Expecting more
than others think is Possible.”
.
Ronnie Oldham

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“We’re wired to expect
the world to be brighter and more meaningful
and more obviously interesting
than it actually is.
And when we realize that it isn’t,
we start looking around
for the real world.”
.
Lev Grossman

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“Live your life, sing your song.
Not full of expectations.
Not for the ovations.
But for the joy of it.”
.
Rasheed Ogunlaru

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~

“Peace begins
When expectation ends.”
.
Sri Chinmoy

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

A Day for Contentment

The first blossom of Camellia ‘Yuletide’ opened Tuesday, right on schedule.

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“It isn’t what you have or who you are
or where you are or what you are doing
that makes you happy or unhappy.
It is what you think about it.”
.
Dale Carnegie

We are entering the season where everyone we know wishes us happiness, merriment, and good fortune.  Greetings fly as freely as golden leaves showering down from the Ginko trees on DoG Street in Colonial Williamsburg.

We send our own flurry of “Happy Thanksgiving” wishes to everyone we encounter.  It is the catch phrase of the week to the checker at the grocery store, the clerk who sells us coffee, and every neighbor we meet out walking.

But do those wishes for happiness actually penetrate into our heart?  Do we feel that glow of happiness from the inside out?

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The first year in several that this Camellia has bloomed for us, I was startled by its beauty yesterday afternoon. For once, its buds survived to open. This shrub is a favorite for browsing once a deer gets into our lower garden.

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“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.
If you concentrate on what you don’t have,
you will never, ever have enough”
.
Oprah Winfrey

I know many who are feeling anxious this holiday season, and too many struggling with grief.

We are inundated with images from the California fires.  We are still haunted by the enormous losses neighbors across the country have suffered in recent years from storms, fires, floods and shootings.  We pray for those immigrants caught on our Southern border without shelter this Thanksgiving season right along with those camping in Southern California after losing their homes in the fires.

Five minutes spent scanning headlines or watching the news is enough to drain the happiness right out of anyone.  Our national narrative is like a J.K. Rowling dementor that sucks the warmth and happiness away.

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~
“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough”
.
Walt Whitman

We believe that we are living in unusual times; the troubles we face unique in history.  That is not the case.  We are swept up in the currents and eddies of a long river of human history, much of it far worse for everyday folks like us than anything we might experience, now.

Despite the bleak news around us, we are also surrounded by stories of kindness, hope, good fortune and great joy.  President Lincoln was deep in the weeds of his own Civil War between the states, struggling with the great purpose of keeping our states together as one nation, when he declared a day of Thanksgiving in 1863He asked all Americans to come together on one day in gratitude for teh many blessings and resources our country shares.  He asked his neighbors to shift their focus to a higher power, and a higher purpose for our country.

Abraham Lincoln understood the simple truth about mental focus.  We can change our lives by changing the focus of our thoughts, our mental energy.

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~
“A quiet secluded life in the country,
with the possibility of being useful to people
to whom it is easy to do good,
and who are not accustomed to have it done to them;
then work which one hopes may be of some use;
then rest, nature, books, music,
love for one’s neighbor —
such is my idea of happiness.”
.
Leo Tolstoy
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Oakleaf Hydrangea glows in scarlet, as the flower buds appear on our Edgeworthia behind it.

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Maybe that is why Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  It is a celebration of abundance in all its forms.   It is a day for reflection.  It is the quintessential ‘low stress’ holiday.

It is enough to have a quiet day to enjoy with loved ones.  There is a special meal.  One may see friends or relations one hasn’t seen for a while.  There are stories, there is laughter, there is expectation of the holiday season that debuts on this day.

The first holiday lights appear cities, in neighborhoods and along country roads.

There is a feeling of contentment and abundance and connection.  For a few golden hours, we can be content with ourselves, wherever we may find ourselves.

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~
“I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches;
and he to whom that is given need ask no more.”
.
Henry Fielding

And so I wish you, too, a happy Thanksgiving.  I hope your thoughts linger on the many things that make you happy and enrich your life.

If you are grieving, I hope you remember the good times with your loved ones and feel deep gratitude for those times you shared.  If you are away from loved ones, I hope you can touch with them today.  If your life circumstances have shifted, I hope you find the beauty around you, wherever you might be.

Our happiness comes from within, not from without.  This is the life lesson we discover as the decades roll past.

And this is what we rediscover each autumn, as the leaves fall and the world grows cold.  The most abiding warmth emanates from a loving and grateful heart.

~
~
“We are not rich by what we possess
but by what we can do without.”
.
Immanuel
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