Sunday Dinner: Relaxed

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“I want to put the ever-rushing world on pause
Slow it down, so that I can breathe.
These bones are aching to tell me something
But I cannot hear them.”

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Lucy H. Pearce

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“Just breathing can be such a luxury sometimes.”

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Walter Kirn

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“The secret of relaxation is in these three words:

‘Let it go”!”

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Dada J. P. Vaswani

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“The attitude of Tao is of cooperation, not conflict.

The attitude of Tao is not to be against nature

but to be with it, to allow nature,

to let it have its way, to cooperate with it,

to go with it.

The attitude of Tao is of great relaxation.”

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Osho

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“Your calm mind

is the ultimate weapon

against your challenges.

So relax.”

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Bryant McGill

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“Now this relaxation of the mind from work

consists on playful words or deeds.

Therefore it becomes a wise and virtuous man

to have recourse to such things at times.”

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Thomas Aquinas

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“Man is so made that

he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor

by taking up another. ”

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Anatole France

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“I wish you water.”

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Wallace J. Nichols 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

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“Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.”
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John Lennon

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Sunday Dinner: Gilded

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As each day grows shorter, the last gilded bits of daylight grow more precious.  Sunset, that magical time when every tree and blade of grass stands bathed in golden, rosy light, calls to me each evening.

I want to watch its progression until the light has drained out of the sky and the first stars grow bright.

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The sun’s last rays feel thick and soft reaching across the landscape.    The sun grows immensely brighter as it drops towards the horizon, blazing in defiance as it slips, all too quickly, out of sight.

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And for a few brief moments we bask in its magical light, admiring technicolor clouds, sensing warmth even when there is little left in the evening air.

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The sun’s touch transforms the ordinary into something beautiful.  It draws our attention to details we might otherwise miss.  Like a parent’s loving caress at bedtime, its rays reassure us even as night quickly closes in at its passing.

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Even as the sun pulls ever farther away, its daily circuit ever lower and swifter through the autumn sky, we take more joy in its presence.

A sunny day in winter proves a joyful gift; an autumn sunset a gilded treasure.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

photos from Jamestown Island, VA
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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Magic


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“Whatever you eye falls on –

for it will fall on what you love –

will lead you to the questions of your life,

the questions that are incumbent upon you

to answer, because that is how the mind works

in concert with the eye. The things of this world

draw us where we need to go.”

.

Mary Rose O’Reilley

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Wednesday Vignettes: The Path

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“All we have to decide is what to do

with the time that is given us.”


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Gandalf

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“Courage will now be your best defense

against the storm that is at hand-

—that and such hope as I bring.”


.

Gandalf

~

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“For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

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Gandalf

 

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Halfway Creek

Halfway Creek

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“This is your realm,

and the heart of the greater realm that shall be.

The Third Age of the world is ended,

and the new age is begun; and it is your task

to order its beginning and to preserve

what must be preserved.

For though much has been saved,

much must now pass away;…”

.

Gandalf

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Jamestown

Jamestown

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“However it may prove,

one must tread the path that need chooses!”

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Gandalf

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

 

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“He that breaks a thing to find out what it is

has left the path of wisdom.”

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all quotations from  J.R.R. Tolkien

 

 

 

What’s That Again?

September 5, 2016 Parkway 003

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Yes, we had some flooding this weekend.  But I didn’t think it was this bad!

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Slowly, the water is receding; but what a difference a weekend can make!

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“There is no perfection,
only beautiful versions of brokenness.”
  .
Shannon L. Alder
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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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!”
.
Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel
~

August 10, 2016 River at dusk 058

 

 

 

WPC: Landscape

March 31, 2016 spring 005

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“Love makes you see a place differently,

just as you hold differently an object

that belongs to someone you love.

If you know one landscape well,

you will look at all other landscapes differently.

And if you learn to love one place,

sometimes you can also learn to love another.”

.

Anne Michaels

~

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“Where you come from is gone,

where you thought you were going to was never there,

and where you are is no good

unless you can get away from it.

Where is there a place for you to be?

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

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

.

Flannery O’Connor

~

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For the Daily Post’s

One Word Photo Challenge: Landscape

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

Sandy Bay, Jamestown Virginia

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

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Gaston Bachelard

 

Green Grows Everything

July 27, 2015 Parkway 001

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We slipped out to the Parkway yesterday evening just a little more than an hour before sunset.  We knew a system of thunderstorms were marching towards us from the Northwest, and wanted to see their progress.

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We also wanted to enjoy the green beauty of the evening.  Something may also have been mentioned about ice cream…..

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And as we drove east towards Jamestown, we were struck by the peaceful quiet of the Parkway.  Red winged blackbirds and swallows were our company, and a few late evening bicyclists our only other traffic.

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What luxury to stop on the bridges long enough to take photos up the creeks!

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Sky on moving water, broken only with the concentric rings made by fish striking insects on the surface, held our gaze.  Marsh plants have grown tall over these months of summer, topped now with seedheads.  The push-ups of winter magically disappeared.

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Baby deer grazed along the roadsides and in the broad, mowed fields near the river.

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It was a hazy, grey green we found last night; but no less vibrant than the clear sun-kissed green of earlier hours.  And no less beautiful, especially as the moon rose bright in the evening sky between the gathering clouds.

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The storm missed us.  Although it seemed to be moving in, it stayed to our north and then headed out across the Eastern Shore.  We smelled the rain, but never felt it, and made it home just as darkness settled over the garden.

By then, the lightening bugs had risen from their resting places to fill the air with bright flashes of golden light.  Bats swooped across the road, gathering their dinner.  Lights shone in neighbors’ windows.  Frog song and insect chirping greeted us as we parked and made our way back inside; the living music of a summer evening.

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Halfway Creek

Halfway Creek

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 007

Winter’s Last Stand?

March 6, 2015 birds 008

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Is it too early to hope we’ve seen the last of frozen marshes and piles of freshly shoveled snow?  The optimist in my heart wants this breath of spring to last; the daffodils to open, fruit trees to bloom, and weather to settle into comfortably warm days and nights.  Long experience living in this region tells me it is too early to relax winter’s vigilance.  We’ve had snow here into April, and Easter often dawns wet and cold.

But Saturday eventually warmed up a little by late afternoon.  It was a sunny day, if windy; and I was convinced, after several promptings, to join my partner in a drive to see what we could see.

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We headed towards Jamestown on the Parkway.  There seemed nothing new to see.  No nesting eagles; no budding trees.  Only puddles, snow piles, bare trees, and icy marshes presented themselves to my winter jaded eyes.  I was having difficulty finding the beauty of the day.

But we persevered, and had gotten onto Jamestown Island when a pair of geese, standing near the shore, inspired me to leave the warmth of our car.

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As I scampered down the bank, avoiding mud and ice as much as I was able, they began paddling out into the creek.  There were no clear shots through the underbrush and trees.  And there was no dry path to the water’s edge.

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But as I was almost giving up, I spotted a Great Blue Heron wading in the shallows on the other side.

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After one photo he saw me, too; and I got off on more shot as he took wing.

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At least we had found where the birds were sheltering.  And we found bright swollen buds on a few trees here and there, even as their roots disappeared under a stubborn layer of briny ice.

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It hasn’t dropped below freezing here for nearly three days now.  Songbirds fill our garden, and we hear the hoots of owls and honks of geese and urgent calls of hawks circling overhead.

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More daffodils break through the soil each day to start their climb towards the sun.

Have you noticed that seasons never change with any real clarity?  Even though we turn the page on our calendar, and the Weather Channel actors declare “Meteorological Spring,” (a term I never heard until a few weeks ago); the actual melting of one season into the other remain a bit fuzzy.

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There is always the in-between time of see-sawing back and forth from warm to cold to hot to chill before we settle back into the new routines.

Yet every small step towards spring brings joy. 

The pond behind our house has nearly thawed.  The piles of snow beside our drive are nearly melted.  We saw a robin pluck a living, wiggling worm out of the front lawn this morning.  Sunshine pours in through the windows, and I found freshly grown sprouts and leaves on the catmint when I cut it back this morning.

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We hope this melt is the last of the season, and that we can get on with the business of welcoming spring.

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“Real” astronomical spring won’t arrive until March 20, late next week.  Friends in Oregon post that they are a full month ahead and enjoying unusually warm, strangely dry weather for March.

We are watching the sky, the birds, the trees and The Weather Channel, hoping we have already survived winter’s last blast for this year.  I’m still a little skeptical….

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March 6, 2015 birds 020

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

Lovely Lady Holly

November 4, 2014 parkway 008

 

This venerable holly stands in a median on the Colonial Parkway where one turns to visit the Jamestown Settlement exhibits.  Not the archeological site, this is near the museum where Jamestown history is interpreted and where school groups eat their picnic lunches.

This gorgeous tree grabbed my attention during a drive down the  Colonial Parkway earlier this week, because it is one of the first we’ve seen covered in bright red berries.

 

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Here is the first sentinel of nature showing us that the winter holidays are on their way.

Holly and ivy remain iconic native plants for the winter holidays, partly because they remain green all winter long.

 

November 30 Parkway 008

The red berries produced by the female holly tree reminded our ancestors of the sun, fire, warmth, and renewal.  They still shine brightly  on grey wintery days, even  from underneath a blanket of snow;  reminding us that the sun, and summer, will return.

 

These berries growing on a holly right beside our home are still in the process of turning from green to red.

These berries growing on a holly right beside our home are still in the process of turning from green to red.

 

Our Virginia woods hold many native holly trees.  The birds help spread their seeds each year as they eat their berries, excreting the seeds far and wide.

We rarely notice the holly trees until late November when most of our deciduous trees stand bare.  Then, we can see through the forest to the small army of holly  shining in winter’s sunshine.

 

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Many of these trees remain stunted.  Growing at the base of oaks, maples, poplars, and pines, they rarely have a chance to fully develop.

Holly prefers full sun, which rarely reaches those growing in the forest.

Holly trees grow along the Colonial Parkway near Jamestown Island.

Holly trees grow along the Colonial Parkway near Jamestown Island.

 

We see these beautiful trees’ full potential when they grow on the edge of the woods, or remain, growing alone, like the venerable  lady in the median.

Holly, one of the trees counted as “holy” by the Celtic druids, grows as either a male or a female throughout its life.

 

November 30 Parkway 012

Only the female holly trees cover themselves in berries each year.  And  even the female trees don’t produce berries until several years into their lives.

 

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We protect a small grove of seedling holly trees in our woods.   They were only a few inches high when we came to this forest garden.

 

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We watch them add height each year, looking forward to when the females among them bear their first berries.

A small holly also grew at the corner of our house, peaking out from behind a Hydrangea when we first arrived.  It has grown now to a small tree, and we are happy to find it is a female covered in bright berries this year.

 

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This is its first year to cover itself in bright fruit; a tremendous source of pleasure as we come and go each day.

The “grand dames” of holly trees may be found along the Colonial Parkway, mostly near Jamestown Island.

Protected at least since the road was completed as a part of the National Park in the late 1950’s, these holly trees look to be much older even than that.

Those growing near the road enjoy full sun year round, and remain one of the first of nature’s messengers  that the winter holidays are close at hand.

 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013- 2014

 

 

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  Holiday Wreath Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

 Weekly Photo Challenge:  Signs

In case you’re wondering where you might be:

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Signs are there to point the way.

 

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But here is the reality:

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Which means more to you?

 

October 3, 2014 mushrooms 172

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Signs

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