More Growth: Past, Present, Future

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“Patience is to wait for the ice to melt

instead of breaking it.”

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Munia Khan

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“…ice contains no future ,

just the past, sealed away.

As if they’re alive, everything in the world

is sealed up inside, clear and distinct.

Ice can preserve all kinds of things

that way- cleanly, clearly.

That’s the essence of ice,

the role it plays.”

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Haruki Murakami

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“Snowflakes are one of nature’s

most fragile things,

but just look what they can do

when they stick together.”

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Vesta M. Kelly

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“Thank goodness for the first snow,

it was a reminder-

-no matter how old you became

and how much you’d seen,

things could still be new

if you were willing to believe

they still mattered.”

.

Candace Bushnell

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

 

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Growth

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Knowing Winter

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“One can follow the sun, of course,
but I have always thought that it is best
to know some winter, too,
so that the summer, when it arrives,
is the more gratefully received.”
Beatriz Williams

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Much of North America lies frozen this week beneath a layer of icy whiteness.  Weather maps on TV are clothed in shades of blue, purple and white.  It is a respite from this year’s heat, perhaps, and a novelty for those who enjoy winter.

Here in Williamsburg, in coastal Virginia, we see temperatures drop below the mid-twenties only occasionally, and not every year.  But we are also in the midst of this Arctic cold snap at the moment.  There is a chance for snow tomorrow evening.

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The garden, and the larger world are frozen tight and hard this week.  Those winter faring plants I potted up so carefully last month sit brittle, a bit limp and desiccated in their pots today despite the brilliant sun shining on them.  I gave each pot a bit of tap water yesterday afternoon, hoping to thaw the soil long enough for roots to draw a bit of moisture in to the thirsty plants.

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We’ve wrapped our olive trees in clear plastic bags and set them in the warmest corner of our front patio, where they capture the mid-day sun.  They’ve grown too large now to bring indoors each winter.  We hope they make it through to warmer days ahead.

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But there is only so much anyone can do when such bitter cold blows in to one’s neighborhood.  The lowest temperature we’ve seen here since Christmas was 12F.  It feels a bit odd to cheer on the mercury to climb through the 20s, hoping it might actually make it up to 32F before the evening chill returns.

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But such is our life at the moment, and so we have decided to enjoy the novelty of it.  It is the season to trot out one’s heavy sweaters and gloves, and possibly even a jacket.  I had forgotten which drawer our gloves got put away in last spring, and needed a reminder.  A pair now live in my bag, ready to pull on whenever I step outside into this frosty world.

But clad in hat and gloves, wool and pashmina and jeans, I set off to capture photos of ice today.  My partner kept the car warm and idling while I scampered about on the banks of Mill Creek and the James River in search of ice sculptures.

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The wind was almost quiet, and the sun blazing bright and glinting off the frozen marshes.  It was nearly 24F as I captured these photos today.

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We were delighted to find eagles flying in lazy circles above us and large congregations of geese gathered along the roadsides.  I could hear waterfowl splashing into the creek in search of lunch as I picked my way down the frozen trail to the water’s edge.

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A heron clung to a branch along the bank, watching as gulls dove into the creek and ducks cavorted along its glassy surface.

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Halves of minnows, cut up by some intrepid fisher-person for bait, lay scattered about on the sandy beach.  Frozen hard, they held no appeal for the foraging birds around us.

I marvel at the sight of spray cloaked grasses and ice glazed stones.  The river and creeks here are tidal, and the rising and falling water and windblown spray make for ever-changing textures along their banks.

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Sheets of ice get pushed up in the marshes on the incoming tide, and slushy brackish water takes on odd hues in the wintery light.

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Our oddly frozen world dreams this week in weirdly grotesque forms.  Frozen soil pushes up in the garden, heaving fragile root balls not properly mulched and insulated against the cold.  Ice crystals sprout from stems and leaves in the first light of morning.

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Only the birds appear impervious to the cold.  Small flocks of blackbirds gather on the frozen grass.  Songbirds hop about in the trees as we pass.  I wonder at the mysteries of nature which allow them to survive such frigid weather.

Whether sitting on the ground, swimming in the frozen creeks or gliding on a current of air, they appear almost comfortable.  This is a great gift they enjoy, and that we do not.

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We are mostly watching through the window panes to see how the rest of this month unfolds.  Our cat spends long hours dozing, curled up in a blanket on the couch.  He shows no interest in exploration beyond his food bowl at the moment.

Surely the world will soon be slick and white if the forecast is to be believed, and our garden will slumber on under a bit more insulation as we dream of spring.

Yet, in this moment, we know winter; and see its beauties all around us.

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Woodland Gnome 2018

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“There is an instinctive withdrawal for the sake of preservation,
a closure that assumes the order of completion.
Winter is a season unto itself.”
.
Haruki Murakami

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Growth

january-8-2017-more-ice-009

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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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january-9-2017-snow-and-ice-035

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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.

.

Dr. Masaru Emoto

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january-9-2017-snow-and-ice-001

 

Sunday Dinner: Fire and Ice

january-8-2017-ice-and-snow-001

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Fire and Ice

 

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire,
I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate.

To say that for destruction ice,
Is also great

And would suffice.

.

Robert Frost

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january-8-2016-snow-beauty-001

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“Ice contains no future , just the past, sealed away.

As if they’re alive, everything in the world

is sealed up inside, clear and distinct.

Ice can preserve all kinds of things that way-

cleanly, clearly.

That’s the essence of ice, the role it plays.”


.

Haruki Murakami

~

january-8-2016-snow-beauty-013

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“Keep a little fire burning;

however small, however hidden.”

.

Cormac McCarthy

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january-8-2016-snow-beauty-004

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“The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time.

Time to think or not think, read or not read,

scribble or not scribble –

– to sleep and cook and walk in the woods,

to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills.

I produce nothing but words;

I consume nothing but food, a little propane,

a little firewood. By being utterly useless

in the calculations of the culture at large

I become useful, at last, to myself.”


.

Philip Connors

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january-8-2016-snow-beauty-019

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“Everybody has a little bit of the sun and moon in them.

Everybody has a little bit of man, woman,

and animal in them.  Darks and lights in them.

Everyone is part of a connected cosmic system.

Part earth and sea, wind and fire,

with some salt and dust swimming in them.

We have a universe within ourselves

that mimics the universe outside.

None of us are just black or white,

or never wrong and always right. No one.

No one exists without polarities.

Everybody has good and bad forces working with them,

against them, and within them.

.

Suzy Kassem

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january-8-2016-snow-beauty-016

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“Fire tests gold, suffering tests brave men.”

.

Seneca

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

 

 

 

 

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

February 21, 2015 ice 002

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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.”

.

Robin Craig Clark

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February 21, 2015 ice 011

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“So it is said, for him who understands Heavenly joy,

life is the working of Heaven;

death is the transformation of things.

In stillness, he and the yin share a single Virtue;

in motion, he and the yang share a single flow.”

.

  Zhuangzi

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February 21, 2015 ice 009

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

Flux

January 15, 2015 ice garden 127

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Flux, movement, transformation, evolution. 

Ice melts, buds awaken, and spring creeps ever closer with each passing day. 

Our first tiny snowdrops have opened.

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January 16, 2015 signs 042

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Green daffodil leaves push up through the muddy ground.

The sun rises noticeably earlier each morning and set a bit later each afternoon. 

Whether we’re moving forwards, backwards,

or just dancing around in spirals and circles,

movement is life.

~

January 15, 2015 ice garden 133

And we are all a part

of this magnificent, vibrating, harmonious

dance of life.

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January 11, 2015 terrarium 010

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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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January 15, 2015 ice garden 020

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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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January 15, 2015 ice garden 024

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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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January 15, 2015 ice garden 019

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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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January 15, 2015 ice garden 100

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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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January 15, 2015 ice garden 103

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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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January 15, 2015 ice garden 107

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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

~

January 15, 2015 ice garden 112

Wordless Wednesday

December 31, 2014 frost 004

*

“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

*

 

December 31, 2014 frost 005

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2o14

 

 

December 31, 2014 frost 007

The Old That Is Strong

January 9 2014 ice on Parkway 084

Song Of Aragorn

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,

January 9 2014 ice on Parkway 087
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;

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Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

J. R.R.  Tolkien

January 9 2014 ice on Parkway 059

(A favorite Tolkein poem, from The Fellowship of the Ring,  and photos taken this week on the rock reinforced banks of the James River near Jamestown Island .)

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Anti-Freeze Feet

January 9 2014 ice on Parkway 110

Great Blue Heron wading along College Creek

Have you ever wondered how the birds do it?

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Sea gulls on a sand bar in the James River

How they stay out in the cold,

day after day after night,

and don’t freeze?

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Canada Geese in Halfway Creek

How high must their metabolism burn?

What anti-freeze could possibly run through their wings and feet?

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I wonder as I watch them

wade through icy water;

Sea gulls in a marsh by Jamestown Island

Sea gulls in a marsh by Jamestown Island

As they stand unruffled and unmoved in the winter wind.

Redtailed Hawk

Redtailed Hawk

Their eyes ever watchful for the next bite of food;

floating, flying, crawling, swimming, dangling, buried in mud;

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

their patience unparalleled as they wait out winter,

finely tuned to survival.

January 4 ice 053

What titanium will to greet yet another frost rimmed sunrise;

Ducks in College Creek

Ducks in College Creek

What optimism to date and mate in this frozen wintery world,

trusting spring will come before chicks hatch with hungry cries.

Red Winged Black Birds

Red Winged Blackbirds

Gathering sociably on ice, wading through the frozen marsh,

January 7 ice on beach 030

clinging to the highest points of windswept trees,

their sharp taloned feet, covered in thick bird flesh scales,

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

immune to the cold.  Gripping, balancing, grabbing;

an act of pure will.

January 9 2014 ice on Parkway 041

Paddling, wading; webbed feet of

waterfowl immersed in frigid brine.

Sea gulls

Sea gulls

How is it possible that human flesh,

so prone to frostbite,

could not last an hour;  let alone a season?

Flock of Canada Geese flying in formation

Flock of Canada Geese flying in formation

A precious gift from Creator:

Anti-freeze feet.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Photos and Words by Woodland Gnome 2014

Bringing Birds to the Garden

What’s There to Eat?

Wild Ice

Why Do Ducks Not Get Frostbite?  (Arts and Crafts For Retirees)

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