WPC: Landscape

March 31, 2016 spring 005

~

“Love makes you see a place differently,

just as you hold differently an object

that belongs to someone you love.

If you know one landscape well,

you will look at all other landscapes differently.

And if you learn to love one place,

sometimes you can also learn to love another.”

.

Anne Michaels

~

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“Where you come from is gone,

where you thought you were going to was never there,

and where you are is no good

unless you can get away from it.

Where is there a place for you to be?

No place… Nothing outside you can give you any place…

In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.”

.

Flannery O’Connor

~

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For the Daily Post’s

One Word Photo Challenge: Landscape

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

Sandy Bay, Jamestown Virginia

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“When the image is new, the world is new.”

.

Gaston Bachelard

 

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… To Preserve This Beautiful Planet …

Late February, 2015

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“I begin with nature today, which gives us so much, including the amazing opportunities for photography. Hence it must be our duty to preserve this beautiful  planet, in whatever small way we can in our own capacity.

This is the best gift we can give to our coming generations.”

Suyash Chopra

This morning, while looking at a series of photos Suyash recently published in black and white, I found this beautiful thought.  I resonate with Suyash’s understanding of photography as a sacred act, as a way to “preserve this beautiful planet, in whatever small way we can.”

~

April, 2014

April, 2014

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Gardening allows me a very immediate and hands on opportunity to preserve the tiny bit of our planet’s ecosystem within our garden.  Planting for wildlife habitat, protecting the soil, increasing diversity, and using sustainable, organic practices all help to make this tiny garden lush, beautiful, and life sustaining for many species- including ourselves.

~

Female Tiger Swallowtail on Lantana.  Lantana is the most visited plant in our garden by both butterflies and hummingbirds.

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But this is only a first effort.  Writing about it and sharing its beauty with others through photographs; nurturing friendships with other gardeners and building community, allows this harmonic to resonate around the planet. I am keenly interested in gardens from Portland Oregon and Conway Massachusetts to Queensland Australia; Greenville, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina to Brussells, England, Puerto Rico and New Zealand.  Through reading about other gardener’s efforts, and seeing photos of their gardens in progress, I absorb their ideas, their passion, and their ecology.

~

October, 2014

October, 2014

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Suyash invites us to enlarge the context of how we think about our own photography.  Reflecting on his words,  I’m reminded of photos, published nearly a century ago, documenting glaciers in our national parks.  Seeing those photos again, alongside current photos of the same topography, documents the profound changes to our planet in a tiny span of geologic time.

~

September, 2010

Oregon coast, September, 2010

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Comparing my own photos taken on west coast beaches in 2010 with those taken this past fall demonstrates, with sickening clarity, the terrible loss of life along our coast.  Tidal pools filled to overflowing with starfish, sea urchins, mollusks and small fish in 2010 sit nearly empty today.

~

September 2014

Oregon coast, September 2014

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While mussels and barnacles still thrive along these beaches, the starfish and sea urchins are nearly gone and the sea anemones reduced.  Our planet’s ocean harbors trash and toxic chemicals, petroleum, radioactivity, and acidity which turn great expanses of living ocean into watery desert.

~

September 2014

September 2014

~

Preserving the beauty of our quickly changing planet through our photographs, to share with later generations, somehow elevates photography from hobby to historic trust.  I had not really thought of my own photographs in quite this way until reading Suyash’s words today.

~

August 2014 Virginia

Virginia, August 2014

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These photographs I take each day, recording our own garden and the changing of seasons in our greater community, serve a larger purpose.  They not only entertain, they document.  They share not only beauty, but also an aesthetic of beauty and vibrant organic life so important to our own well being.

~

College Creek, Virginia, August 2014

College Creek, Virginia, August 2014

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As more of our planet sleeps under pavement and architecture, living soil buried beneath concrete and asphalt; those areas left to grow and support life shrink with each passing day.

Even in our own community we watch trees felled and marshes filled as developers try to turn a profit with new homes and commerce.  Where do animals go once their habitats are destroyed?  Who digs and moves the native plants?  The answers are all too clear, and too poignant to frame with words.

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And so the photos we take today, the photos our parents and grandparents took decades ago; serve to document the beauty of nature which remains.

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And perhaps they will inspire someone to value and nurture organic, life filled beauty in their own tiny bit of the planet.  Perhaps they will spark a memory of when mankind truly did inhabit ‘the garden.’

~

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“The more clearly we can focus our attention

on the wonders and realities of the universe about us,

the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
.

Rachel Carson

~

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“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”
.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Woodland Gnome 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

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January 21, 2015 storm brewing 008

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American Bald Eagle

American Bald Eagle

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The York River

The York River

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

Transition

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*

August is slowly, steadily, sliding into September.

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Summer sun still bakes the beach,

and the garden ,

at mid-day;

*

 

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But

Nights whisper in

Cool breezes.

*

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*

Frog and cricket song

Start a little earlier each evening;

*

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Birds greet the sunrise a little later each day.

*

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Dew gilded mornings feel fresh;

Clear blue skies deepening  to sapphire.

*

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Energy of beginnings :

Renewed interest –

*

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Reawakened purpose –

Opportunities taken-

Journeys begun.

*

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Berries swell and ripen.

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A season’s efforts almost complete.

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Greens soften into plum,

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crimson, gold, magenta,

nutty brown.

*

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Paring down.

*

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Discarding the extraneous,

The exhausted, the empty husks of yesterday.

*

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*

Transition.

*

August 27, 2014 Parkway 102

 

 

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

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River Beach, July Morning

Beach along the James River

Beach along the James River

We awoke to a morning cool and bright, with a steady breeze energizing the garden, and us.

Every leaf and vine sparkled with raindrops left from the storms which blew through all day yesterday, and late into the evening.

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With the garden already rain soaked, we felt free to take off this morning for a rare visit to the beach.

We wanted to enjoy the early morning quiet, bury our feet in the sand, and enjoy the cool winds  blowing in across the river.

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Most Virginia beaches are  river beaches. 

 

A Bald Cypress grows here along the beach.

A Bald Cypress grows here along the beach.

 

The Chesapeake Bay begins just north of Virginia Beach, and is fed with a succession of rivers which drain thousands of miles of land from the Allegheny mountains to the coast.

The Eastern Shore, as we call it in Virginia, forms a narrow, sandy buffer between the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the beautiful Chesapeake Bay.

 

Osprey eagles have claimed this hunting blind in the middle of the James River.

Osprey eagles have claimed this hunting blind in the middle of the James River.

Our James River begins far to our west across the mountains, at the confluence of the Jackson and Cowpasture rivers.

It meanders across the state, accepting water brought to it from many other small rivers along the way, through Richmond, until it empties into the Atlantic just to the south of the mouth of the Bay.

 

A Great Blue Heron lands on the opposite shore, at the mouth of College Creek.  The Spanish landed here in 1570, and traveled northwards towards the York River, where they attempted to plant a colony.  It was attacked by the Native American nation living here at the time.

A Great Blue Heron lands on the opposite shore, at the mouth of College Creek. The Spanish landed here in 1570, and traveled northwards towards the York River, where they attempted to plant a colony.  It was attacked by the Native American nation living here at the time, and the Spanish focused their energy elsewhere.

 

The York River, a few miles to our north, is the southernmost Virginia river to empty into the Chesapeake Bay.

Working northwards, there is the Piankatank River, the Rappahannock River,  the Wicomoco River, and finally the Potomac River; whose bank forms Virginia’s northern boundary near the coast.

If these names sound a bit strange to your tongue, it is because they reflect the language of the Native Americans who loved this land before the English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Polish, German, and Africans came to claim it from them.

Looking across the James towards Surry County..  New contruction will begin soon on the point of land to the left.

Looking across the James towards Surry County.   New residential  construction will begin soon on the point of land to the left.

Many of my friends, when I was growing up, spent weekends and summers “at The River.”

Only they spoke it, “At The Rivah.”

Since I grew up near the James and the Dan rivers, this was always a bit of a mystery to me.

The Marina of a large neighboring community

The Marina of a large neighboring community

 

Years later, living along the Rappahannock,  in that secretive and enchanted part of the state known to us as, “The Northern Neck;”  I finally understood them.

Miles and miles of sandy beaches line these narrow fingers of land outstretched into the salty Bay.

 

Beaches just like this one line miles and miles of Virginia's rivers as they near the Chesapeake Bay.

Beaches just like this one line miles and miles of Virginia’s rivers as they near the Chesapeake Bay.

 

This once was the land of oysters and Blue Crabs, fishing boats, thousands of wild shore birds, camp grounds, artists’ colonies, and tiny coastal towns.

It is a slow, clannish, rural way of life lived along country roads lined with wildflowers and farms.

Life has changed, even there, as pollution washing into the Bay kills the sea life which once fueled the local economies.

 

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Still, it is a different world from the land of “Virginia Beach,” tucked into the southeastern most corner of Virginia.

Gateway to the Outer Banks  of North Carolina, and the miles of sandy Atlantic Ocean beaches to our south, the “resort strip” of hotel lined, manufactured beaches and beach cottage rental neighborhoods; the resort city is a place apart from the rest of the state.

It has taken on an urban feel.  Bulldozers rake the beaches each night, and dredges re-build them periodically with sand from the shipping channels.

Container ships and Naval vessels pass just offshore.

 

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While our Atlantic beaches are mostly dead now, with little sea life left for miles offshore; our river beaches teem with life.

Grasses and trees grow right down to the water, sinking their roots into sand, soil, and stone.

Fish jump and birds swim.

Bald eagles converse during their morning hunt.

Bald eagles converse during their morning hunt.

 

Eagles and herons converse during the morning hunt; while cardinals, goldfinches, and red winged blackbirds glide from tree to tree in the thickets.

Dragonflies form thick clouds over the grasslands and marshes.

Empty shells wash up on the beach, evidence that clams and other shellfish can still live here.

 

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The pollution washing into the James from every farm and town it touches along the way has not completely overwhelmed it yet.

This is one of the most “alive” areas along the Virginia coast now.

We never fail to find nesting eagles along the banks of the James.  They are a harbinger of the river’s health and vitality.

 

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While we can never restore a natural environment to its state at some arbitrary point in the past; we can preserve, and sometimes even improve, the environment as we find it.

This has happened here. 

The early colonists clear cut much of this area; overpopulated it;  polluted it;  and planted crops, such as tobacco, which depleted the soil.

 

Native Black Locust trees, full of seedpods, grow along the beach.

Native Black Locust trees, full of seedpods, grow along the beach.

 

Since this strip of land was converted to a National Park early in the 20th Century, and since Federal law limited the most harmful chemicals which destroy bird populations, there has been a resurgence of life along this stretch of the river.

Native species of trees have grown back, grasses have covered the fields, marshes have evolved into their current state of beauty.

 

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Deer populations are stronger now than they were in the 17th century, largely because they are unchallenged by predators and are rarely hunted.

Nature never finds itself completely in balance.  Things are always shifting.

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James City County recently approved construction of a new section of a  neighborhood which fronts this river.  It  will have its own devastating impact on the beaches and wildlife  for years to come.

But for this moment, this morning, the James River beach near us was mostly a place of beauty. 

We hope it will remain a cradle for wildlife, loved and protected, for all those generations yet to come.

Bald Eagle, resting along the river's bank this morning.

Osprey  Eagle, resting along the river’s bank this morning.

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Sleeping In

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It was still cool and wet when we first came out into the garden this morning.

It  had been raining again overnight, and drops of rain still clung to every surface.

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I came out with the camera to explore the new Hibiscus flowers which had opened.

And as we padded silently around the garden, my partner drew my attention to one tiny creature after another.

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It looked as though they were still asleep, resting peacefully in the spots they had chosen last night.

First a lizard, and then a butterfly slumbered on while we took their photos.

 

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The bees were not so peaceful.

 

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They were already busily gathering nectar and pollen from the thousands of Hibiscus blossoms open to their approach.

 

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In fact, we laughed to watch the bees fly into the very blossoms I was photographing while I framed and focused each shot.

 

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It was as if they were little camera hogs- like young teens who push into as many photos as possible with waggling fingers and wide grins.

 

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Some of the bumblies were already white powder covered scavengers, greedily gathering more and more of the largesse of the garden.

 

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Our garden was alive this morning with creatures large and small.

The only one missing was the cat.  He had chosen to stake out his position in a sunny spot on the deck, aloof from the activity below.

 

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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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After Arthur

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It was a long night with a Category II hurricane blowing up the coast.

From a tropical depression just a day or so ago, this storm quickly bulked up into a strong hurricane.

It came ashore across some of our favorite areas on the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the dark hours of early morning.

We watched the storm’s progress until nearly midnight, and then gave up and went to bed.

 

This great Blue Heron greeted us as we entered the Colonial Parkway after the storm had passed this morning.

This Great Blue Heron greeted us as we entered the Colonial Parkway, after the storm had passed this morning.

 

It grazed my beloved Topsail Island, and was headed to our special spots on Ocracoke and Hatteras as we watched the cast of the Weather Channel struggle against the strong wind and rain describing its progress in painful detail.

This “Arthur” was touching friends and family all across the Carolinas.  We hoped its touch would be as gentle as possible.

The Jamestown ferry navigated a very choppy James River on it route across to Surry County this morning.

The Jamestown ferry navigated a very choppy James River on it route across from Surry County this morning.

We knew that Route 12, where we’ve spent many happy hours driving through the wildlife refuge and photographing the shore birds, would be wrecked by morning.

 

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We love the coast of North Carolina and Virgina. 

A hurricane on this special holiday weekend is the last thing we wanted to watch; and yet we watched the unfolding, hoping it would weaken and turn away from the coast.

 

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I awakened a little before three AM to the sound of wind in the garden and rain on the roof.

I had to know the progress of the storm and the updated forecast.  So as quietly as possible, I headed back to the TV, pillow in hand.

Our local meteorologists were broadcasting the story all night long.

Their reporters stood in the weather giving updates, alongside crews from The Weather Channel and other networks.

 

The path to the beach was wet this morning.

The path to the beach was wet this morning.

At three I heard of a possible tornado on the Lynnhaven Inlet at Virginia Beach. 

The warnings were extending northwards.  I watched and worked my counted cross stitch for the next hour, until it was clear the storm had begun to move out to sea.

Then to the couch for a little sleep.

 

Though the sky is mostly clear, the wind has been with us all day.

Though the sky is mostly clear, the wind has been with us all day.  The sky was full of Eagles over the Colonial Parkway this morning.

I checked in again at five, and saw that somehow Jim Cantore was still standing in Buxton.

We had assumed that his producers were planning a Coast Guard rescue by helicopter, once that part of the island completely over-washed in the waves.

That would make really good TV, and could be re-played by the Weather Channel cast for years to come.

But, alas, he had found a steel and concrete structure and was braced against it, barely able to stand, ankle deep in sea water; but still giving live commentary as the storm rolled past.

An Osprey Eagle greeting the morning, after the storm had passed.

An Osprey Eagle greeting the morning, after the storm had passed.

By a quarter to six, the forecast track clearly showed the storm turning out to sea.

We were getting our much needed rain, and I still could  hear the wind blowing through the trees.  But the tornado warnings were gone.

I decided to get some more sleep.

The Canada geese had come together in large flocks along the banks of the river to ride out the storm.

The Canada geese had come together in large flocks along the banks of the river to ride out the storm.

By the time I awoke again a little after seven, it was light outside. A gorgeous morning here with light rain and cool, moist breezes greeted us.

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We decided to head out to the Parkway to see what the morning held, and what the storm had left behind.

This beautiful Eastern Box Turtle was bravng the quiet morning on Jamestown Island.

This beautiful Eastern Box Turtle was braving the quiet morning on Jamestown Island.

A few branches had blown down, but we were so very fortunate to have no  real damage.

Our power was on, there was no flooding near us, and the trees in our community stood through the night.

And this snake was sunning himself along the road on the island.

And this snake was sunning himself along the road on the island.

We saw the outermost curved band of “Arthur” in the sky as we left our driveway.

The duck blind, in the shelter of Cypress trees, withstood the winds overnight.

The duck blind, in the shelter of Cypress trees, withstood the winds overnight.

It was a thin skim of clouds against the clearing morning sky.

Crabs live in our brackish marshes.  They didn't mind the storm at all.

Crabs live in our brackish marshes. They didn’t mind the storm at all.

The wind is still with us this afternoon. 

The storm continues moving north and east, towards another landfall in New England.

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I hope all touched by the storm can pick up the pieces, clean up the mess, and move on from this.

 

This golden dragonfly lives in our garden.

This golden dragonfly lives in our garden.  We are glad to see he found shelter from the wind, and was out enjoying the sunshine by the time we returned home.

It is only the first  named storm of the tropical season. 

We’ll be watching our coastal waters from now until the end of November, hoping that all of the systems which form stay well out to sea, and far away from our beautiful coasts and our loved ones.

 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Independence Day

A Bald Eagle nest near Jamestown Island, Virginia.

A Bald Eagle nest near Jamestown Island, Virginia.

Have you noticed that “Independence Day” has devolved into displays of shiny red, white, and blue Mylar decorations across much of our suburban landscape?

It is a time for car sales, summer vacations, huge picnics, and fireworks.

Please don’t misunderstand-  it is a great holiday!  I especially love watching fireworks on a summer sultry summer evening.

I’m just suggesting that it would be wise for us to contemplate the deeper meaning of “independence,” and what it means for us in 2014.

 

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What does “Independence” mean to us today? 

Just something to think about,  this weekend, as we put up our red, white, and blue bunting, hang our flags,  and prepare our picnic dinners.

 

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Here are a few thoughts from Americans who devoted their lives to building our nation.

They are words worth remembering, and perhaps offer an insight into where we go from here in our national journey towards our destiny as a free people.

 

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.

For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry is own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.

Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

John F. Kennedy

 

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“America was established not to create wealth but to realize a vision,

to realize an ideal – to discover and maintain liberty among men.”

Woodrow Wilson

 

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“The U. S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it.

You have to catch up with it yourself.”

Benjamin Franklin

 

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“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired,

signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,

those who are cold and are not clothed.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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“I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature

and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping,

and like the grave, cries, ‘Give, give.’ ”

Abigail Adams

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“You are not here merely to make a living.

You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply,

with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.

You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

Woodrow Wilson

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“I hope we shall crush in its birth

the aristocracy of our monied corporations

which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength,

and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

Thomas Jefferson

I hope that you will have that picnic with loved ones, and that you’ll enjoy the fireworks display on Saturday evening if not Friday.  
It is good to remember exactly what it is we celebrate each July. 

***

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***
Our nation was founded on ideals and principles.  We keep them alive as we contemplate them, and share them with those who share our journey.
***
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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

WPC: Between II

Ants crawl between the buds of this Trumpet Vine.

Ants crawl between the buds of this Trumpet Vine.

 

“Betwixt and Between” is one of our favorite expressions.

To us, it means being  “in process” and not quite finished with something.  As in, “Betwixt and between re-working the deer fence, I chatted with our neighbor.”

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Were you in my English class, I’d patiently explain that “Between” is a preposition, and must never fall as the last word of a sentence.

It is an expression of position, and only has meaning in reference to other ideas.

See the Bald Eagle visible between the trees?

See the Bald Eagle visible between the trees?  It was chattering to its family this afternoon as they flew over the marsh.

 

As in, “Between a rock and a hard place.” or perhaps, “Between you, me, and the cat….”

So “Between” expresses relationships.

The sun setting, between its zenith and the western horizon.

The sun setting, between its zenith and the western horizon.  In case you’re wondering, this is a very healthy crop of poison ivy growing between the trees.

 

Come to think of it, don’t we live in a state of, “Between?”

What are you “Between?”  What processes are unfolding in your life?

 

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Gardeners live in a constant state of “Between.”  For us, process is continuous. 

The Silver Lyre fig, which died back to the ground over the winter, has begun to grow.  This will grow to a 20' tree... eventually.

The Silver Lyre fig, which died back to the ground over the winter, has begun to grow. This will grow to a 20′ tree… eventually.

We are “Between” seasons, or “Between” harvests.

Sometimes we are “Between” planting and blooming; or “Between” blooming and dieing back.

These vines grow in the spaces between the Earth and Sky, on a tree growing between others in this bit of woods.

These vines grow in the spaces between the Earth and Sky, on a tree growing between others in this bit of woods, between the Colonial Parkway and the river.

 

“Between” is a bridge, a connection, and a journey.  It separates, even as it connects.

 

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And sometimes, it delights.

 

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Between can be the “long and winding road” which takes us along in life to unanticipated pleasures and unplanned achievements.

 

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After a long stretch of “Between,” sometimes we look around and realize we have arrived at a new place- a place of beauty where we can catch our breath for a moment, before starting out on the next leg of the journey.

 

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May you walk in beauty

between here and there;

now and then;

between this breath and the next;

this you, and who you are becoming.

***

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2014

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Between

 

WPC:  Between

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The Beauties of the Earth

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                “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth

                 are never alone or weary of life.”

                       Rachel Carson

 

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              “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth

                find resources of strength

               that will endure as long as life lasts”

                      Rachel Carson

 

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            “One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself,

              ‘What if I had never seen this before?

               What if I knew I would never see it again?’ “

                    Rachel Carson

 

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“It is a wholesome and necessary thing

for us to turn again to the earth

and in the contemplation of her beauties

to know the sense of wonder and humility. ”

Rachel Carson

 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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