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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Sunday Dinner: Courage

September 3, 2016 027

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“Life shrinks or expands

in proportion to one’s courage.”

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Anaïs Nin

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September 3, 2016 017

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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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September 3, 2016 024

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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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September 3, 2016 030

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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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September 2, 2016 York River 020

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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September 2, 2016 York River 019

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


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Amelia Earhart

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High Water and Hurricane Lilies

September 3, 2016 014

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The storm, Hermine, still spins off the coast making her way, slowly and majestically, towards the northeast.  Now off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and back over open water, she gathers strength even as she loses speed.

Her winds are up, her pressure down, and she generously keeps sending rain showers our way.

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The folks on-air at the Weather Channel obviously aren’t allowed to use the ‘H’ word anymore.  They call her a ‘Post-Tropical Cyclone.’  But we know the truth.  Her winds are back up to a sustained 70 mph and her pressure is down to 29.38 inches.  That sounds like a hurricane to me.

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The James River is well out of its banks here near Jamestown.

The James River is well out of its banks here near Jamestown.

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I’m thinking of loved ones on the ‘Eastern Shore’ of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.  They pretty much sit on a little peninsula out in the Atlantic Ocean, well out of site of the mainland.

It must feel very lonely out there when a hurricane is knocking at the door.  And this one brought an overnight bag; it may spin off their coast between now and Wednesday or Thursday!

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College Creek

College Creek

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We’re far enough inland to have benefited from the rain but not had problems caused by the winds.  Our streets, wet and covered with pine tags and fallen leaves, are blessedly clear.  The few branches we’ve cleared were all small enough to pick up and toss with one hand.

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But the creeks and rivers have spilled out of their banks.  All the marshes and ditches filled and overflowing from the storm surge, reflect our low grey sky.  Flocks of birds gather and fly in great arcs above the wetlands.

They feel the change in the air, as do we, and have gathered to prepare for their autumn journeys.

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Our rain came last night, soon after dusk.  Quiet and gentle at first, we had to listen carefully to know it had begun.  It rained all night, giving life back to our desiccated  garden; and we awoke to a newly greened and wonderfully  wet world.

Plants which I thought were dried and finished plumped up and revived themselves overnight.

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This slow, gentle rain has soaked in instead of running off.  The soil is soaking it in, channeling it down, down, to the reservoirs below.

There is nothing like a prolonged drought to remind us that water is the life’s blood of every living thing.  It is that magical, precious substance which animates and sustains us all.

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Alocasia 'Sarian' grows happily here in a pot filled with Coleus.

Alocasia ‘Sarian’ grows happily here in a pot filled with Coleus.

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The ‘Hurricane Lily,’ or ‘Spider Flower’ got its name when gardeners recognized that its bloom comes on only after a heavy late summer rain.  A long dry hot spell, followed by a heavy rain, such as a tropical storm might bring, triggers growth in this unusual bulb.

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Its flowers come first in late August or September.  Carried on tall bare stems, this flower is another of the lilies commonly knows as ‘Naked Ladies.’  Long, thin Liriope like leaves will emerge in several weeks, growing through autumn and into the winter.

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Even a damp and bedraggled Ginger Lily still smells sweetly.

Even a damp and bedraggled Ginger Lily still smells sweetly.

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My intense watering, these last few weeks, of the roses and Ginger Lilies growing near our bulbs triggered their early blooming.

They didn’t wait for the hurricane to pass before they bloomed.

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Now, if you want to order a few bulbs for yourself, please search for ‘Lycoris radiata,’ not ‘Naked Ladies,’ as a friend told me he recently did.  There are several lilies from bulbs which bloom either before or after their leaves appear, and so have earned this descriptive moniker.  My friend suggested that his returns on the search were more interesting than he expected.  And I promised to email a link to him for ordering some bulbs….

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We’ve now enjoyed 20 hours of nearly steady rain, with more to come.  The air smells fresh and the breeze is cool.

We are quite satisfied with Hermine’s brief visit.  And we wish her well and hope she moves on out to sea, sparing our neighbors to the north any ill effects from her passing.

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Mirror

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Woodland Gnome 2016

 

 

 

Sunday Dinner: Flow

August 19, 2016 birds 008

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“Have you also learned that secret from the river;

that there is no such thing as time?”

That the river is everywhere at the same time,

at the source and at the mouth,

at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current,

in the ocean and in the mountains,

everywhere and that the present only exists for it,

not the shadow of the past

nor the shadow of the future.”

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Hermann Hesse

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August 10, 2016 River at dusk 048

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“Water does not resist. Water flows.

When you plunge your hand into it,

all you feel is a caress.

Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you.

But water always goes where it wants to go,

and nothing in the end can stand against it.

Water is patient.

Dripping water wears away a stone.

Remember that, my child.

Remember you are half water.

If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it.

Water does.”

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Margaret Atwood

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January 19, 2016 Cold 022

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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November 28, 2015 fall color 012

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“Life in us is like the water in a river.”


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Henry David Thoreau

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Oregon's beautiful coast, just south of Depoe Bay.

Chasing Sunset

August 10, 2016 River at dusk 042

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We chased the sunset last night, along the long stretch of the Colonial Parkway from Williamsburg to Jamestown.  It was the best of summer, with frog song and balmy breezes, families wading along the river and herons perching along the shore.

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College Creek at Archer's Hope, where Captain Gabriel Archer wanted to settle the first colonists in 1607.

College Creek at Archer’s Hope, where Captain Gabriel Archer wanted to settle the first colonists in 1607.

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A deep, quiet green has settled on the landscape.  Abundant summer rain has kept it all alive and growing to lush proportions.

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The reeds stand thickly in every creek and marsh.  Red winged blackbirds dip and wheel, chasing armies of flying insects, and perhaps one another, across the creek as daylight fades.

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The setting sun gilds the sky and water, glinting from the reeds’ seed heads, filling the air itself with its golden glow.

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This is August in Virginia.  A time to slow down and savor summer just as it begins to slip away towards autumn.

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The days have grown noticeably shorter, subtly warning us of the waning year.  Boaters and fisherman brave our mosquitoes to drink in the river, the air, the moment.  And so did we.

Leaving our air conditioned cave behind for this heavy August evening, we drove through deep green forests and over acres of marshland; smelling the newly mown sweetgrass and briny marsh.

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The air remains hot and heavy on an evening like this, despite the gathering dusk.  Clouds pile up on the horizon, but no rain follows.  The river is high, swelling every creek and rivulet, moving swiftly in its course.

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What a lovely night to be alive.  We watched for deer and rabbits on the roadsides, eagles and herons by the river.  We saw a turtle beside the road and armies of Canada geese gathering together, somehow knowing the season soon will turn again.

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The bats had taken flight by the time we headed home.  Swooping and diving above the road, above the fields, above the trees, they filled the sky as darkness gathered.  We couldn’t hear them, but we saw their utter delight in the feast.

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We are surrounded by abundance.  We are surrounded by the ongoing mystery play of life.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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“When one tunes in into nature’s frequency,
life becomes change,
change becomes hope!”
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Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel
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August 10, 2016 River at dusk 058

 

 

 

WPC: Look Up! (An Evening on the River)

July 8, 2016 sky 021~

“In the sky

there are always answers and explanations

for everything: every pain, every suffering,

joy and confusion.”


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Ishmael Beah

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“For this week’s challenge, take a moment to look up. Whether it’s the fan above your head at work, your bedroom ceiling, or the night sky, what do you see?

Is it familiar? Or does it show you a new perspective on your surroundings?” 

The Daily Post

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Look Up!

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016
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These photos commemorate the spot where Edwin Alexander Tejada Delgado drowned on July 7, just before sunset, while swimming in the James River with his friends at this popular beach along the Colonial Parway near Jamestown Island. We didn’t know him, but we watch young people swimming, wading, fishing and boating from this beach nearly year round. 

We look up, to the sky here, exactly a day after his body was found.

May he rest in peace.

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July 8, 2016 sky 009

 

James River, After the Rain

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We had a golden hour after the rain, as the sun set, illuminating the world with its long gilding rays.

We’d left home in the pouring rain with thunder rumbling in the distance.  But by the time errands were accomplished and dinner had, the sun shone again on a much cooler and softer evening.

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Mist rose from ground and pavement to rejoin the mighty storm clouds still scuttling across the evening sky.

When we turned onto the Parkway at last, a rainbow greeted us, rising up from the dark pines into the iridescent clouds above.

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We saw a thick column of color rising nearly straight up.  And then we played tag, watching for it to reappear as we drove through the forest along this winding riverside road.  I hopped out of the car to capture it time and again from different angles and with different backdrops.

The clouds over the river, rising in tall shimmering, gilded mounds, competed in this celestial pageant.

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It is all a play of angles, this sunset beauty, unfolding against the cadence of the sun’s dropping towards the horizon.

The evening grows dimmer and cooler by the minute, rainbow light fading back into darkening clouds.  More rain creeps ever closer.  By the time I reach the beach, our rainbow is gone.

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The James is high.  Days of rain upriver have filled its banks to their brim and beyond.  Familiar logs and branches are lost below its gentle windblown waves lapping at the sandy shore.

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We hear frog song and birds calling out as evening closes around us.   Dark clouds hug the horizon now, and we head home in the wetness of this summer evening.

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But the rainbow lives on, in these photos and in our hearts.

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Woodland Gnome 2016
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Sunday Dinner: Fresh Perspective

April 6, 2016 Parkway 023

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“If you look the right way,

you can see that the whole world is a garden.”

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Frances Hodgson Burnett

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April 6, 2016 Parkway 059

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“No perspective, no perception.
New perspective, new perception.”

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Toba Beta

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“The struggle of today, is not altogether for today –

it is for a vast future also.”

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Abraham Lincoln

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“If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe,

then I’d have to say the universe

aimed rather low

and settled for very little.”

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George Carlin

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April 6, 2016 Parkway 063

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016 

Early spring along the James River, and its creeks, near Jamestown Island, Virginia,  brings greening to the marshes and the surrounding forests.  Osprey and Bald Eagles build their nests for the season, along with many pairs of ducks, geese, herons and egrets.  Migrating birds stop to rest and feed.  The landscape awakens for its new season of growth.

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“The landscape looks different

from every blade of grass.”


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Marty Rubin

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April 6, 2016 Parkway 033

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For The Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Future

“The Ancient Law of Life”

November 11, 2015 Parkway 015

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“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers.

I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.

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“In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.

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“Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.

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“When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

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“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

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“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life.

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“The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

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“A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me.

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“I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else.

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“I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy.

Out of this trust I live.”

Hermann Hesse

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November 11, 2015 Parkway 033~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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Sunday Dinner: Community

November 6, 2015 Parkway 101

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“Everybody is a story.

When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables

and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore.

Sitting around the table telling stories

is not just a way of passing time.

It is the way the wisdom gets passed along.

The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.”


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Rachel Naomi Remen

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 061

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“I alone cannot change the world,

but I can cast a stone across the waters

to create many ripples.”


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Mother Teresa

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 088

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“One of the marvelous things about community

is that it enables us to welcome and help people

in a way we couldn’t as individuals.

When we pool our strength

and share the work and responsibility,

we can welcome many people,

even those in deep distress,

and perhaps help them find

self-confidence and inner healing.”


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Jean Vanier

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 096

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“The world is so empty if one thinks only

of mountains, rivers & cities;

but to know someone who thinks & feels with us,

and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit,

this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”


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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 100

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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