Fabulous Friday: Signs of Spring

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Jack, or Jacqueline Frost, visited our garden last night.  The temperature dropped quickly after the sun went down, and there was no wind.

Long, intricate ice crystals formed on every moist surface.

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I went out early enough this morning to discover them.  The sun’s first rays were just stroking them, and releasing each ice crystal back into the sky as mist.

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“In the process of  falling to the earth,
seeping into the ground, and then emerging,
water obtains information from various minerals
and becomes wise.”
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Masaru Emoto
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As I wandered around, admiring the rim of frost on grass and leaves, buds and glass, I also noticed many signs of spring.

The ground in our garden may be frozen hard, but determined green shoots still emerge.

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Perennials still push up a few tentative leaves.  Woody buds swell.

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And the desiccated chaff remaining from summer’s growth blankets the ground.  It, too, prepares for spring as it decomposes and enriches the soil for all that will follow.

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Maybe it is in our nature to watch and wait for signs of events still beyond the horizon of our lives.   Perhaps it is a lack of discipline when we shift our focus from ‘what is’ to ‘what will come.’

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Even as we appreciate winter’s gifts of fiery sunsets, quiet snow, long evenings and intricate crystalline artworks shining in the morning sunshine;  spring already stirs in our hearts.

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Woodland Gnome 2018

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“What is the relationship between love and gratitude?
For an answer to this question, we can use water as a model.
A water molecule consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom,
represented by H2O.
If love and gratitude , like oxygen and hydrogen,
were linked together in a ratio of 1 to 2,
gratitude would be twice as large as love.”
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Masaru Emoto, Hidden Messages in Water

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Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious!  Let’s infect one another.

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Growth

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Bits of energy dissipate and coalesce, eternally, reshaping our world.

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Where does matter come from?  How does it organize itself into ever greater complexity?

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What guides the subtle patterns of its becoming?

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Gardeners ponder these mysteries as we watch seeds become plants become flowers and fruits.

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We ponder the wonder of it all as we eat the fruit and save its seeds for the coming seasons.

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In winter, we ponder these mysteries anew as the sky crumbles into snowflakes.

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We watch the formation of icy stalagmites and fragile ice crystals.

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Moisture, drawn from the air, materializes before us in the most intricate patterns.

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We watch reality crystallize around us. 

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Sometimes slowly, sometimes in a single breath; energy moves from form to form in its endless dance of life.

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Porcelain bowl by Denis Orton, filled with paperwhites stirring into growth and wild moss from the garden.

Porcelain bowl by Denis Orton, is filled with paperwhites stirring into growth and wild moss from the garden.

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Woodland Gnome 2017

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Water has a memory and carries within it

our thoughts and prayers.

As you yourself are water,

no matter where you are,

your prayers will be carried to the rest of the world.

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Dr. Masaru Emoto

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Crystalline Garden

Clouds gathered by early afternoon from the mist generated by our evaporating ice.

Clouds gathered by early afternoon from the mist generated by our evaporating ice.

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There is a tiny crystal hummingbird which hangs each year on our Christmas tree.

I’ve collected little spun glass and crystal ornaments through the years, and love how they look at night as the white twinkle lights animate them with that special glow against the dark green of the living evergreen tree.

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Although they are put away for another year, our garden was all encased in crystalline ice this morning and illuminated by the rising sun.

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Snow fell in the early hours, but by sunrise those clouds had blown away off of the coast.  A light dusting left behind lit up for a few moments by the rising sun shone like fairy dust.

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The sun’s rays brought with them the tiniest bit of warmth, and by mid-day our forest was filled with dripping water and the metallic sounds of cracking and falling ice from each twig and branch.

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Evaporating ice first gathered as mist, and then puffy clouds filled the sky, blocking out the sun.

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Everything here is wet and cold.  Our saturated ground squishes beneath our feet with every step in the lower garden.

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As Robin so beautifully observes in her post about the ice storm, we have a taste of true winter this January.

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Our normally mild, mid-Atlantic coast winter has transformed into  this frigid cold ice coated taste of  “real” winter.

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Friends from Massachusetts to Minnesota must be laughing into their thermal mittens by now.

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This is “business as usual” for them, only they enjoy ice storms on top of feet of already accumulated snow.

But this ice storm is a rare treat for us.  I haven’t seen ice like this for nearly 20 years, and may not see it again for a while.

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So I was the idiot going outside this morning with a raincoat and jeans thrown over my pajamas, camera at the ready to capture every bit of beauty we could find.  My partner and I walked together through the garden, sharing the wonder of it.

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Yes, he wandered off to cut more of the falling bamboo off of the lilac shrubs after a while.  We’ve taken a few “hits” with broken shrubs and lost branches. 

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But that is the way of things in a garden.  Every season takes its toll,  just as every season brings its wonders.

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Our crystalline world delighted us with its delicate beauty, even as the heavy ice clinging to every surface caused concern for the damage it might do.

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But it is mostly melted now.  Tomorrow’s sun will erase any ice which lingers overnight.

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We’ll be back to our mild Virginia winter by Saturday morning.

But I’ll be thinking of friends to the north, whose wintery weather “stays a spell,” and wishing them safe passage through all of the icy days ahead.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

“Love is made up of three unconditional properties in equal measure:

1. Acceptance
2. Understanding
3. Appreciation

Remove any one of the three and the triangle falls apart.
Which, by the way, is something highly inadvisable. Think about it — do you really want to live in a world of only two dimensions?

So,  for the love of a triangle, please keep love whole.”

Vera Nazarian

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Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

 

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“In Silence there is eloquence.

Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.”

 

Jalāl ad-Dīn  Rumi

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Photo by Woodland Gnome 2014

Wordless Wednesday

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“How did it get so late so soon?

It’s night before it’s afternoon.

December is here before it’s June.

My goodness how the time has flewn.

How did it get so late so soon?”

 

Dr. Seuss

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2o14

 

 

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New Year’s Eve

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On New Year’s Eve I’m reminded that the new is always born out of all that has gone before.

The ghosts of our past both comfort and haunt us, traveling with us into the newness of each day, each new year.

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Our roots run deep into the soil of our life experiences, and our parents’ and grandparents’ experiences.  Our roots live in the  knowings and acts and loves of all of those who came before, and all those who journey with us now.

We draw the energy and motivation to move forwards from the richness of our past .

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As we reflect on our lives up to this moment, there are moments of sorrow as well as joy.  Disappointments mixed in with our accomplishments.

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There are those loved ones we’ve lost along the way, friends estranged, colleagues left behind.

And of course there are those friends and loved ones with us still, who have been our companions for much of our lives.

Each of these relationships, each of these experiences  has enriched us in countless ways.

They are all our mentors. 

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So let us bless it all.  Let us recollect all of those people who have been our companions along the way.  Because our history also shows us our path forwards.

Whether our memories are bitter or joyful, or mixed; let us bless them, forgive them, appreciate them, and acknowledge what we have learned from each one.

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Let us recollect the many experiences of our lives. Let us accept them, the painful as well as the positive ones, as part of our story.  Each one has played its part in bringing us to this moment, at the cusp of a new year.

Our lives are infinitely enriched with the people and experiences of each passing year.

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Let us move forwards in peace, accepting what has been, and forming a  clear vision of the life we intend to live moving forwards.

It is our inner vision, our power of imagination to create the life we desire, which moves us forward.

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On this New Year’s Eve, skip the resolutions and instead envision the life you intend to live from this moment on.  Determine what you want to hear, and see, smell and feel in your daily life.

Our dreams and intentions are the seeds which create what we desire. 

Planted in the rich soil of our life, nurtured with awareness and intent, our vision will grow into reality.

May you walk in beauty and happiness through all the days to come.

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Woodland Gnome 2014

Transformed

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“Light precedes every transition.

Whether at the end of a tunnel,

through a crack in the door

or the flash of an idea,

it is always there,

heralding a new beginning.”

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Teresa Tsalaky

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“Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters.

Awful proceeds from the same root word as awesome.

Terrify and terrific.

Every negative experience

holds the seed of transformation.”

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Alan Cohen

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“Our duty is wakefulness,

the fundamental condition of life itself.

The unseen, the unheard,

the untouchable

is what weaves the fabric

of our see-able universe together.”

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Robin Craig Clark

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“And if travel is like love,

it is, in the end,

mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness,

in which we are mindful, receptive,

undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed.

That is why the best trips,

like the best love affairs,

never really end.”

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Pico Iyer

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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“A Forest Garden 2015”  calendars are here

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Frosted

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Ice and snow, crystallized water, still cover the garden. 

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Ice has grown, during this period of extended cold, to also cover our ponds and nearby creeks.

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The ground is still white in most places, and what ice melts a little in the sun at mid day freezes over again by night.

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The world is still frosted with beautiful ice crystals.

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Elegant ice sculptures appear in surprising places.

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Areas overlooked through most of the year as too raw, broken, or unremarkable to be found beautiful, shine under their gloss of crystal clear ice and pure white snow.

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We see the commonplace with fresh eyes against a forgiving backdrop of whiteness.

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What was muddy appears clean.  We are teased with bits of things poking out of their fresh blanket of white.

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Light reflects and refracts in unexpected ways, an interplay of water and ice; sky and Earth; liquid and crystal.

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Our tired and muddy December garden has transformed into something fresh and new.  We are nearly ready to begin again, the canvass cleared and scoured by ice.

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We are reminded of the miraculous nature of water when it crystallizes and coats our world.

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The same water we drink, the water which fills our creeks and pours from our taps, will also shape itself into exquisite hexagonal crystals and fall from the clouds, or creep spontaneously out of their liquid state as the temperature drops.

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“The act of living is the act of flowing.” Masaru Emoto

Each beautiful crystal of ice is unique, a creature shaped by the circumstance in which it forms.

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These same crystals will melt back into a drop of water when heated by the sun; or perhaps evaporate back into their mist-like gaseous state, and rise into the sky as water vapor, rejoining the clouds from which they came.

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Water, Earth’s life blood, moves continually from one form to the next.  In and out of bodies; up into the roots of trees, and back out through their leaves into the sky; it is in constant motion.

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“As I continue my conversation with water, the crystals continue to teach me many lessons:  the importance of living in tune with the rhythm of life and the flow of nature, leaving the Earth beautiful for future generations; love; and prayer.”  Masaru Emoto

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Seeping into the Earth, passing into streams above or below the ground; flowing into rivers, lapping against beaches in waves large and small, water is what unites us through its continual transformation.

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Its eternal journey is only delayed a bit by frost.

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Whether locked into a glacier or a snowflake, whether crystallized as hoar frost or icicle, water pauses in its constant motion only so long as it is frozen; as liquid or gas become solid, crystallized, frosted.

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Water’s strange crystalline beauty is manifest for us now, before it transforms yet again.

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Words and photos by Woodland Gnome, 2014

 

“Water carries within it your thoughts and your prayers.  And as you yourself are water, no matter where you are, your prayers will be carried to the rest of the world… Fill your soul with love and gratitude. Pray for the world.  Share the message of love.  And let us flow as long as we live.”  Masaru Emoto

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Quotations from The Secret Life of Water by Masaru Emoto

Frozen

Winter Sunset

Snow Washed

Hoar Frost

Wild Ice

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

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

The incoming and outgoing tides sound a constant, slow rhythm; shaping the contours of life along our many creeks, marshes, and rivers.  We are close enough to the coast that the James, York, Black, Mattaponi,  Piankatank, Rappahannock, and  Chickahominy rivers all respond to the tides flowing in and out of the Chesapeake Bay from the ocean.

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Powhatan Creek, near Jamestown Island

In our area, we all live surrounded by water; often brackish water, as salty water from the sea mixes with fresh water flowing off of the land.

This was the slow realization of the first English colonists trying to survive in a hostile new land.  Jamestown Island is surrounded by water, but it is all too salty and filled with life for drinking.  There is no fresh water spring on Jamestown Island, as there are just a few miles inland where the settlers eventually moved.

The James River at Jamestown Beach, near the ferry dock.

The James River at Jamestown Beach, near the ferry dock.

Drought that first summer made the James even lower and saltier than usual.  Living on the banks of a mighty river, whose origins lie far to the west in the Appalachian mountains; the settlers grew ill and died from the river’s water, the only water they could reach without confronting the native people defending their land.

Jamestown Beach on Tuesday afternoon.  At 21 degrees, with a wind, wild ice gathers at the high tide line.

Jamestown Beach on Tuesday afternoon. At 21 degrees, with a wind, wild ice gathers at the high tide line.

I’ve stood on the banks of the beautiful James, called The Powhatan in honor of the native chief before the colonists renamed it for their English king,  just outside of the archeological dig and reconstruction of that original Jamestown settlement.

There is a statue there of John Smith, looking out across the water, always seeing the possibilities for a rich and good life in this wild, new land.  Smith was the one who learned to communicate and build relationships with the leadership of the Powhatan nation, a confederation of 30 tribes living here in Tsenacommacah, the densely populated lands east of the fall line at Richmond.

Salt spray frozen on the rock jetty at Jamestown Beach.

Salt spray frozen on the rock jetty at Jamestown Beach.

Our coastal rivers in Virginia are named for these original people who drew their life and living from them.  And, our rivers still respond to the rise and fall of the Chesapeake Bay.  Our Bay is the meeting place of fresh rain water and water from natural springs carried by our rivers towards the sea, and tidal water surging in twice daily from the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

Green algae and other jetsam frozen at the high tide mark on the beach.

Above:  Green algae and other jetsam frozen at the high tide mark on the beach.                              Below: Ice also collects at the base of the fence on the beach.

With the briny water comes all the life of the ocean:  oysters, crabs, scallops, shrimp, black sea bass, flounder, menhaden, shad, and even the occasional dolphin.  The colonists who stayed at the mouth of the river, where it meets the Bay, learned of these abundant sea foods and lived in plenty even as the colonists holding the fort at Jamestown starved.

January 7 ice on beach 007The saltiness of our rivers and creeks makes them slow to freeze.  It is the rare extended stretch of freezing days and nights which allows ice to form any real distance from the shoreline.

The constant rising and falling of the tides disrupts the ice even as it forms, breaking it again and again along the high tide mark as the water recedes.  Wind swept spray may freeze on our rock jetties for a time until the sun melts it away.

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Rock and sand hold the suns’s heat, making it even harder for the salt spray to freeze along our  beaches.

Canada Geese feeding along the marshes on Halfway Creek.

Canada Geese feeding along the marshes on Halfway Creek.

And it was this wild, briny ice we found along the James river yesterday, on a broad sandy beach near where the ferry docks.  It encased bits of jetsam washed up at high tide, and clung to the fence protecting the jetty.   It was 21 degrees, colder with the brisk wind, despite the bright afternoon sun.

Ducks swim in the open channel of Halfway Creek Tuesday afternoon, as the temperatures hover around 20 degrees.

Geese swim in the open channel of Halfway Creek Tuesday afternoon, as the temperatures hover around 20 degrees.

And in the more protected marshes, ice still clung to the thick mud, left behind by the retreating tide.

Kingsmill backs onto Halfway Creek and the Colonial Parkway.

Kingsmill backs onto Halfway Creek and the Colonial Parkway.

The deeper channels through the marsh were not yet frozen, allowing Canada Geese, ducks, and other sea birds open patches of water to congregate and search for food.

The geese searched for bits of grass, seed, algae or other vegetative material left in the silt of the marsh.  They will eat an insect or small fish if it happens by, but prefer to eat plants.

Large flocks gather together in our area.  Some have migrated south, and others live here year round; able to find a constant supply of food.  With few predators, the  numbers of shore birds continue to increase.

College Creek at noon today, temperatures approaching 33 degrees.

College Creek at noon today, temperatures approaching 33 degrees.

Our College Creek was frozen well away from its banks this morning, it shallow draft finally succumbing to several days of relentless cold.  Only the deeper channels in the middle of the creek remained open and flowing at midday, allowing the tides to come and go.

Our marshes were hardened with ice, high tide having come and gone in the deep cold last night.  It gets harder and harder for the wild things who rely on the Creek for food to find any.  They will move further inland; move to the cow  pastures and horse pastures; the edges of woods; the neighborhoods even in search of the next meal, until the Creek melts back to its usual muddy softness once again.

College Creek at noon today, flowing freely in the deeper channel, but frozen in the marshy shallows near the shore.

College Creek at noon today, flowing freely in the deeper channel, but frozen in the marshy shallows near the shore.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Winter Rainbow

Beauty Where You Find It

Nature has many scenes to exhibit, and constantly draws a curtain over this part or that. She is constantly repainting the landscape and all surfaces, dressing up some scene for our entertainment. Lately we had a leafy wilderness; now bare twigs begin to prevail, and soon she will surprise us with a mantle of snow. Some green she thinks so good for our eyes that, like blue, she never banishes it entirely from our eyes, but has created evergreens.

Henry David Thoreau, Nov. 8, 1858

Beauty Where You Find It

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A friend and I were talking about art recently.

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She and I both love art works in all of their forms.  We love fabric, needlework, sculpture, glass, music, poetry, paintings, mosaics…

The list goes on and on.

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We happened to be looking at some old Norman Rockwell paintings, depicting life many decades ago.  The pictures brought back happy memories of our childhood homes, parents and grandparents.  January 4 ice 005

We were noticing the many small ways that life has changed, including taste in “art.”  These old, realistic paintings went out of fashion, yet we still enjoy them.  They show a more graceful age, a way of life that seems to have passed out of this world-

There is something good and comforting about living with beautiful things around you.  We both have artists in our families and among our friends.  Our homes are full of beautiful things given to us by loved ones and beautiful things we’ve made ourselves.

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And yet, beauty is where you find it. 

At best, we only attempt to capture the grace and beauty of nature when we put brush to paper, hand to clay, thread to cloth.  January 4 ice 028

We went looking for beauty yesterday morning in places one might least expect to find it on a wintery morning.  I searched in a ditch by the road, along the edges of marshes and creeks, among the dried remains of marsh grasses.

And here is what we  found:  beautifully formed ice crystals, perfectly configured where freezing air and Earth met water.

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Like Tibetan sand paintings, these ice  mosaics last only a moment.  They melted back into the water from which they came by afternoon.

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Priceless, fleeting works of art.

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Like all of nature. 

We are invited to participate in its beauty, wherever we can find it.

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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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“When someone seeks,” said Siddhartha, “then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.”

― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

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