Water-Colored

The James River

The James River

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Wetness upon wetness, and still it rains.  Beautiful clouds swirl through the skies, allowing glimpses of piercing September blue high above them.  Great mounds of heavy rain-filled cloud soon follow, and the staccato tapping of rain on the roof and porch heralds yet another tropical shower.

Water oozes with each step in the garden now.  Clear water trickles through the ditch under our drive.  Roadsides and parking lots mirror the sky.

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Our long drought has broken.  On this first day of autumn, the equinox, we celebrate each cool breeze over the wet garden.  The land is replenished, refreshed, revived, and reinvigorated.

We see new growth, the resurrection of what had grown dry and desiccated.  We move into the new season with fresh confidence, looking forward to those seasonal changes still to come.

We are fortunate, here in Williamsburg, that the land is riddled with creeks and ravines.  There is always somewhere else for the water to flow.  The land drains, and so flooding remains rare.

Neighbors to the south and east have not fared as well.  Flooding has stopped daily routines in many areas nearby.  This week became an unplanned holiday for many as streets became canals;  parking lots ponds.

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We saw a family of happy turkeys this afternoon, finding their dinners along the roadside.  My partner counted eight.  Dusk was gathering, but their movements let us see them through the gloom.

We found herons and eagles along the banks of the creeks, deer in the open fields, and fish jumping clear of the river.   What rich diversity of life shares this place!

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The reeds and grasses in the creeks have turned golden now, and have been beaten down in places from the rain and high tides.  Shorter days and cooler nights will soon reduce them to buff colored chaff , and then the mud will shine through, and before long push-ups will dot the marshes again; homes to small creatures through the winter.

The seasons come and go like the tides; more slowly, but just as constant.  This week we feel the season turning from dry heat to wet coolness; from expansion towards rest.

Eagle nests stand empty in the trees, the youngsters now out exploring the creeks.

Soon we’ll hear the cries of geese flying over the garden each morning.  Whether they stay or go elsewhere, they still gather into great Vs and fly, singing their ageless melodies at dawn and dusk.  They often stop at the pond below our garden, finding food in the shallows and safety on its calm waters.

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And the garden calls me back outside, now that the ground has grown soft and workable again.  I’ve a few shrubs waiting to stretch their pot-bound roots into the native soil.  There are potted ferns, and soon there will be bulbs to plant.  There are beds to weed, some Irises to divide, and perennials which need a bit of grooming.  All these tasks were made to wait until the drought was ended.

But as the garden sits refreshed, so also do I.  The cool breezes breathe fresh energy into us, too.  And Indian Summer is upon us, one of the most beautiful seasons of our year.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Finally, Rain

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The first fine mist of rain found us at sunset on Sunday evening.  I noticed the sweetness in the air first, that smell of wetness we’ve missed for so long.  The cool mist touched our skin as we came outside, and we saw the tiniest of water droplets on the car’s windows.

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Mexican Pegunia, Rueilla simplex

Mexican Petunia, Ruellia simplex

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Finally, rain.  After weeks of unrelenting, unnerving heat and drought, here in Williamsburg, the promise of rain felt real.

The sunset sky was filled with mounding tropical clouds.  Some heavy and grey, others white and touched with sunset pinks and golds; they were reaching for one another, but did not yet cover all the bright blue above.

We had watched their progress all day, swirling above us.  It was hot again, 90.  The forecast rain failed to appear, again.  Until sunset.

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Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana feeds songbirds for many months each fall.

Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana feeds songbirds for many months each fall.  Considered a weed, I still love the color of its berries.

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And that was the beginning of this luxurious, generous, welcome rain.  The streets were wet when we drove home Sunday night, and the rain has come in fits and starts, downpours and drizzles ever since.

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Our brick hard garden, baked by weeks of dry heat, drinks in every drop.  Burned leaves still fall.  Every gust of wind carries sheets of brown leaves  from desiccated branches down to the hard earth.  Dead leaves coat every bed and gather in every pot.

Squirrels have been shredding Dogwood berries as they form; there are no acorns in our garden to feed them through the winter coming.

 

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But every bird and squirrel welcomes this rain, as do we.  A cardinal chirped and preened in the top of the Crepe Myrtle near the window yesterday, as the rain fell.  Such happiness!

But it seems every recent weather event touches the extremes.  As we watched the rain nourishing our garden, others watched it filling their streets and parking lots.

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Oxalis

Oxalis

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A nearby high school had a foot or more of water gathered in their parking lot by afternoon, with students sloshing through standing water to their buses and flooding cars.  And inches more rain are coming as what is left of Tropical Storm Julia meanders northward past the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay today.  Not that we’re complaining….

We talked, over dinner on Sunday, about how long we can manage to adapt to the changing climate here.  If each year comes on hotter than the last, what does that mean for us in another five years? Ten? If these trends continue on, how will our lives change?

That conversation is likely unfolding around a lot of dinner tables these days.  Heat and floods, drought and extreme winter storms have insinuated themselves into our lives in odd and expensive ways.

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Basil gone to seed, before the rains, delight our goldfinches and other small birds.

Basil gone to seed, before the rains, delights our goldfinches and other small birds.

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I walked in the rain this afternoon, taking stock of the garden’s response.  It’s good to see the plants plump and happy again as they fill themselves with this cool rain.

It’s even better to find myself indoors watching it, rather than outside with the hose, trying to give each area enough water to survive another day.

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Calaldium, 'Desert Sunset'

Calaldium, ‘Desert Sunset’ bathed in fresh rain

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I’ll admit we’re  worn a bit thin at the moment, after weeks of standing in the hot sun, watering the parched earth for hours every day.  And we wonder whether next summer will bring more of the same, or worse.

My partner asks with each new plant, “Is it drought tolerant?”  

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“Well…. in normal weather, or extreme?”  

That is the question all of us gardeners  eventually ask ourselves:  “What is ‘normal’ any more, and will we experience ‘normal’ again anytime soon?”

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It may be the one thing each of us can do to help our climate, our planet really, is to plant more trees.

We can make an effort towards restoring our ecosystem, trapping carbon, filtering the air, and re-balancing the water cycle with every tree and large woody shrub we plant.

But it takes all of us, each doing what we can on many fronts, to change this equation.

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Alocasia 'Stingray' thrive in heat and humidity. These tropical plants help filter the air and trap carbon with their huge leaves.

Alocasia ‘Stingray’ thrive in heat and humidity. These tropical plants help filter the air and trap carbon with their huge leaves.

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The long drought here is ended, but the challenge goes on and on.

I hope you are tuned in to this issue, and are doing what you can, where you can, to address the challenges this climate change brings to us all.

But mostly, I hope you are also finding pleasure and relief from the heat, when it finally rains.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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“The physical threat posed by climate change

represents a crisis that is not only material

but also profoundly spiritual at its core

because it challenges us to think seriously

about the future of the human race

and what it means to be a human being.”

.

Grace Lee Boggs

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“Knowledge empowers people

with our most powerful tool:

the ability to think and decide.

There is no power for change greater

than a child discovering what he or she cares about.”

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Seymour Simon

(Speech about Global Warmingread on the National Mall
for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, 2010)

 

 

 

 

WPC: Edge

Sandy Bay, which frames one end of Jamestown Island, provides a home for many species of birds in its shallow waters. Bald cypress trees grow along its banks.

Sandy Bay, which frames one end of Jamestown Island, provides a home for many species of birds in its shallow waters. Bald cypress trees grow along its banks.

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Edges and borders;

Boundaries or invitations

To enter elsewhere?

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Alight from the known,

Venture into

What is not.

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Borders frame,

But cannot contain

Curious awareness.

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Where is happiness?

What waits

Beyond the edges?

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Edge

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Sunday Dinner: Courage

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“Life shrinks or expands

in proportion to one’s courage.”

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Anaïs Nin

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“The simple step of a courageous individual

is not to take part in the lie.

One word of truth outweighs the world.”

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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers.

It happens when you are ready

to face the questions you have been avoiding

your whole life.”

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Shannon L. Alder

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“I have not always chosen the safest path.

I’ve made my mistakes, plenty of them.

I sometimes jump too soon

and fail to appreciate the consequences.

But I’ve learned something important along the way:

I’ve learned to heed the call of my heart.

I’ve learned that the safest path

is not always the best path

and I’ve learned that the voice of fear

is not always to be trusted.”

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Steve Goodier

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“Courage isn’t absence of fear,

it is the awareness

that something else is important”

  .

Stephen R. Covey

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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“Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.”


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Amelia Earhart

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WPC: Mirror

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“It is when you lose sight of yourself, that you lose your way.
To keep your truth in sight
you must keep yourself in sight
and the world to you should be a mirror to reflect to you your image;
the world should be a mirror that you reflect upon.”
.
C. JoyBell C.

 

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Mirror

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

The Gathering

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Golden sun sinks below the treeline

As  shadows gather and gel into darkness.

The air smells green and damp.

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Silvery mist glides across the water;

Softly blurring land and lake,

Lake and sky,

Twilight and night.

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A heron waits,

Still and silent,

For the gathering.

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Grey on green, green on grey,

Sky on water, night on day;

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Boundaries blur and fade

As emerald August evening

Pauses, lingers, but still slowly

Melts  away.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Sunday Dinner: Consumption

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“Mindful consumption is the object of this precept.

We are what we consume.

If we look deeply into the items

that we consume every day,

we will come to know our own nature very well.

We have to eat, drink, consume,

but if we do it unmindfully, we may destroy

our bodies and our consciousness,

showing ingratitude toward our ancestors,

our parents, and future generations.”

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Thich Nhat Hanh

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“I vow to ingest only items that preserve well-being,

peace, and joy in my body and my consciousness…

Practicing a diet is the essence of this precept.

Wars and bombs are the products of our consciousness

individually and collectively. Our collective consciousness

has so much violence, fear, craving, and hatred in it,

it can manifest in wars and bombs.

The bombs are the product of our fear…

Removing the bombs is not enough.

Even if we could transport all the bombs

to a distant planet, we would still not be safe,

because the roots of the wars and the bombs

are still intact in our collective consciousness.

Transforming the toxins in our collective consciousness

is the true way to uproot war .”

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Thich Nhat Hanh

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“We convince ourselves that even our shameless waste,

our unchecked consumption and our appalling ignorance

of anyplace in the world except our own little corner

must continue–or they win!

No, when you become smarter and less gluttonous,

you win. We all win!”

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Bill Maher

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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“Drink your tea slowly and reverently,

as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves –

slowly, evenly,

without rushing toward the future.”

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Thich Nhat Hanh

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

Late May

Late May

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“I know I am but summer to your heart,

and not the full four seasons of the year.”

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Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Living here surrounded by forests and wetlands, tides and seasons are the metronomes of our live.  We watch the passage of time in every budding branch, ripening berry, brilliant crimson leaf, and ice clogged marsh.

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November

November

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But time is cyclic here, like the tides.  The creatures come and go in their comforting rhythm as one month melts into the next.  We’ve learned where to watch for them, and when.

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January

January

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No rhythm escapes notice.  There is nothing subtle about the changing of the seasons in coastal Virginia.  Each carries its distinct beauties and its mood.  They may meld slowly one to the next, but there is time to savor and appreciate each in its fullness.

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February

Late February

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And these things remain constant: water flows,  trees glisten in the sunlight, birds call to one another, wind ripples across the creeks, and all things change.  We watch the rising and falling of the tides and see the currents flowing through our lives. 

We watch seedlings sprout, and see rotted trees fallen from the last storm.  But even the fallen serve their purpose,  holding sunning turtles this day, and herons in their meditations another.  Life goes on; nothing ever lost or wasted.

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July

July

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Seasons:  the changing costumes of the one creation.  Whether they pass as swiftly as spring, or as slowly as a glacier encrusted ice age; they demonstrate the dynamic life animating everything on our planet.

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September

September

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

 

“Except. What is normal at any given time?

We change just as the seasons change,

and each spring brings new growth.

So nothing is ever quite the same.”

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Sherwood Smith

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Ice covers the marsh at Halfway Creek where Canada Geese gather in search of food.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2016

CYW: What Color is February?

Sunset over College Creek this evening

February 16 ‘Indigo’ clouds over College Creek this evening

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What colors do you associate with February? 

My partner and I went out in search of color this afternoon, and found the world showing mostly shades of grey, brown, green, blue, and light.  I’m counting ‘light’ as a color as it was so wonderful to see the sun this afternoon!

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Yesterday was snow, sleet and freezing rain.  So we can add white and silver grey to our February color palette, too.  I wandered out in the late afternoon, when the storm had passed, thinking I might cut a stem of something, anything, for a vase.

I made a wet and sloppy circuit around the front garden, too disheartened by the thawing slush to even cut a tightly closed Daffodil bud.    I decided to wait for a better, warmer day when it felt ready to open on its own.  It was far too icy wet to explore further up the drive or down the hill in search of Hellebores.  That vase yesterday sadly went unfilled…..

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Our garden, yesetrday

Our garden, yesterday

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This is that time in February when we search for color. 

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Yes, one notices the thousand shades of green in pines, hollies, Magnolias and Ligustrum braving the cold.  One sees the first leaves of bulbs shouldering their way up through the frozen soil.

But where are the warm reds and oranges, yellow, pinks, lilac and blues of summer’s garden?  February feels so drab by comparison.

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February 15 'Inchworm' green and February 17 'Jazzyberry Jam' shine in this bit of turf beside the pond.

February 15 ‘Inchworm’ green and February 17 ‘Jazzyberry Jam’ shine in this bit of turf beside the pond.

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Jenny’s colors this week reflect a much more lively palette than this February day can provide.  We may find tints in the sunset sky, but the intensity of ‘Hot Magenta,’ ‘Laser Lemon’ and ‘Jazzberry Jam’ remain a distant memory in the depths of a Virginia winter.  Maybe we’ll take a rain check until May…..

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February 18 'Jungle Green' shadows surround this Great Blue Heron meditating on Halfway Creek.

February 18 ‘Jungle Green’ shadows surround this Great Blue Heron meditating on Halfway Creek.

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A neighbor’s wild Crocus patch along the road often blooms in February.  Perhaps those soft shades of lavender petals and bright orange stamens will break ground soon.  Our souls need color to see us through this next bit of cold and muck!

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February 20, Lavender Crocus which bloomed this day two years ago.

February 20, ‘Lavender’    Crocus which bloomed this day two years ago in the edge of a neighbor’s yard.

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But the sun shone brightly by this afternoon, and the clear sky reflected deep, brilliant shades of blue.   We drove out of the woods and spotted a pair of swans feeding along the edges of Jones Mill Pond.

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Our brilliant winter sun slid ever so slowly down the sky, playing hide and seek behind clouds heralding the next cold front slipping through here tonight.  We watched those purple tinged clouds grow fiery red, orange, pink and yellow as the sun sank towards the horizon.

Each day grows noticeably longer in February; one of this month’s few blessings.

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College Creek at Archer's Hope

College Creek at Archer’s Hope

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So Jenny, we weren’t entirely successful in our hunt for this week’s CYW color challenge colors.

But here is what we did find, and we find it lovely enough for this mid-February Virginia day.

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Wait, Could that be 'Laser Lemon' in this evening's sunset? February 19, scored.....

Wait, Could that be ‘Laser Lemon’ in this evening’s sunset? February 19, scored…..

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Thank you, Jenny, for sponsoring the Color Your World photo challenge this spring.  I’m happy to participate in Jennifer Nichole Wells’s new “Color My World: One Hundred Days of Crayola” photo challenge.

Jenny is working from the Crayola Crayon chart of colors, and offers a new color challenge each day for 120 days, beginning January 1.

I’ll aim for one post each week, sharing photos of as many of that week’s colors as I’m able.

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And finally, February 14, 'Hot Magenta' Hellebores give us that shot of color we crave so badly....

And finally, February 14, ‘Hot Magenta’ Hellebores give us that shot of color we crave so badly….  These, blooming in our garden before this latest snow…

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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February 16,2016 sunset 024

Wednesday Vignette: Stillness

January 27, 2016 Parkway 045

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“When you approach something to photograph it,

first be still with yourself

until the object of your attention affirms your presence.

Then don’t leave until you have captured its essence.”

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Minor White

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“Movement is the freedom of the body;

stillness, of the mind.”

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Marty Rubin

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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