Serenity

 

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“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm”

“Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time;

serenity, that nothing is.”

Thomas S. Szasz

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“And you would accept the seasons of your heart

just as you have always accepted that seasons pass over your fields

and you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief”

Khalil Gibran

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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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One Word Photo Challenge: Black

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Darkness came first: The Void.
All the old stories tell us this.
The blackness of space, of ocean depths,
Of the inside of Earth and stone.

The Beginning

The compressed creative energy of the entire cosmos,
Not yet aware of itself;
Not yet expressed in expansion,
Differentiation, diffusion, dissolution….

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It all came from darkness.
Without darkness, how does one see the light?

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We all began in darkness,
Deep within the maternal depths of our mothers.

Darkness nurtures and protects.
Darkness envelopes and comforts,
It soothes us to rest;

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Cloaks us,
When we wish to disappear in the crowd.

Ebony, obsidian, schorl, onyx:
Black crystalline beauty.

From coal comes diamond,
Like tiny quartz crystals growing
In the darkness of a geode.

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Like suns and worlds growing and spinning
In the darkness of space.

Like pinpricks of light
Dancing behind closed eyelids.

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As light radiates, so black absorbs.
The conversation of energy
bantering back and forth as light and heat.

Bringing balance.
Giving life.

The pigments of all things
mixing back into inky blackness.

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The return.

Spent life composted back
Into the soil of potentiality.

Without black, crumbly Earth,
How does one grow a garden?

Or a life?

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Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2014

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With Appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells

For hosting the Weekly One Word Photo Challenge

 

Purple

Blue

Red

Spring Equinox

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Such a bright, clear warm day, today, to greet official astronomical spring.

Today is the day of balance, where the hours of light equal the hours of darkness.  Except, not really. 

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The Clematis vine, which looked dead for months, has budded and begun a new season of growth.

The calendars list today as the Vernal Equinox, but actually, it was Monday. 

We’ll be forgiven for not noticing, because Monday was such a cold, wet and icy, overcast day.  It was a thoroughly wintery day, dark and gloomy here.

It was hard to imagine, back on Monday, that the first day of spring was only a few days away.  But sunrise on Monday was 7:05 AM, and sunset, high above the storm clouds came at 7:05 PM.  That would have been 6:05 AM and 6:05 PM had we not already adjusted for Daylight Savings Time.

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And so Monday was the day of balance:  twelve hours of sunlight, and twelve  hours of darkness.  We’ll have such a day again next September.

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But today the sun rose at 7:00 AM, and will set at 7:08.  Doing the math, it appears that our day today will be twelve hours and eight minutes long, and the night will be only eleven hours and 52 minutes.  That is definite improvement!

By the end of the month, the sun will rise at 6:42 AM, and sunset will come at 7:20 PM.

Miniature daffodils bloom beneath a budding rose cane.

Miniature daffodils bloom beneath a budding rose cane.

Our day, by March 31, will be twelve hours and 38 minutes long.  It will increase by a few minutes each day until we reach the summer solstice in June.

Traditionally, the solstice has come on either the 20 or 21 of June.  But this year, our longest days will come on June 21 through June 23, when the days are each  15 hours and 6 minutes long.  We’ll have three days of the solstice, before the days grow shorter again, day by day, through the summer months.  Take a look for yourself at this strangely long solstice predicted for this June.

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Forsythia just opening yesterday, really sparkles in the sunlight today.

But returning to today, it is a beautiful day to celebrate the beginning of spring.

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Daffodils dance in the sunlight on the roadsides all over town.  The first of the tulip blossoms near the post office are showing a hint of red.  Budding trees color the skyline with red and greenish gold as their buds open in today’s warm sunshine.

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I hope that spring has crept into your heart after this long and difficult winter.  I hope something is budding and blooming in your garden, and that the sun’s warmth has touched your skin.

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Coat and hat remained in the closet when we headed out this morning, and the hardware store had racks of bright annuals waiting to go home to someone’s garden.  But none came home to ours.  I expect more freezing weather in the week ahead.

Another snow may or may not fulfill the forecast by next Monday, but today at least, it is spring in Williamsburg.

Happy Spring at Last!

The Clematis vine, which has looked dead for months, has budded and begun a new season of growth.

Violas

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Finding Spring

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English primroses

This morning my friend and I went with my partner to the Homestead Garden Center in search of a breath of spring.  After all, we turned our calendars over today to March.  We wanted to celebrate the day, and the new month, with a visit to our friends, the Pattons, who so lovingly and generously encourage our mutual love of all things green and growing.

Homestead Garden Center this morning, before the plants were brought back out of the greenhouse.

Homestead Garden Center this morning, before the plants were brought back out of the greenhouse.

It had just nudged above the freezing mark when we set out this morning, and the sky was low and grey.  Bundled in our gloves and hats, wrapped in our coats, we pulled in mid-morning to a still and silent shop.

Roxy and Dustin left the warmth of the office to greet us.  Only a few brave Violas and some shrubs filled the racks, normally packed tightly with an ever changing array of beautiful plants.

We had come to see the hellebores, and no hellebores were in sight.  It was so cold last night that nearly everything in bloom had been tucked back into the greenhouse before dusk, and so to the greenhouse we were led.

Hellebores

Hellebores

When Dustin opened the door, and led us inside, we found the spring we had come looking for today. 

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Warm and humid, condensation dripping on us from the roof, we smelled the warmth of potting mix and the aroma of all things green and growing.

Violas

Violas

And the color!  The carts were packed with bright blooming things waiting to go back outside once the sun shone and the air warmed.

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We were met with Ranunculus, just opening their first buds in screaming shade of scarlet, gold, and pink.

Ranunculus

Ranunculus

Pots of vivid English primroses, and planters packed with bright Violas waited to be wheeled back outside to greet whatever hardy customers turned up today.

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Row after row of Hyacinths, Muscari, parsley, Verbena, Heuchera, and dozens of other tiny plants waited their turn to grow large enough to leave the greenhouse for the world beyond.

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The sheer joy of it.  Dustin gave us our pick of the everything large enough to leave.

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A rare treat, as the greenhouse is rarely opened to shoppers. 

My friend gathered her Hyacinths for the celebration of Noruz, coming on the 21st; and we both selected parsley and hellebores.  I gathered more Violas.

Flats of parsley ready to pot up for spring sale.

Flats of parsley ready to pot up for spring sale.

We filled the back of our car with flowers and parsley. 

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We are also keen to try the mushroom compost, a new product at Homestead this season.  We’ll dig it in to our pots as we plant our starts, and use it as a topdressing on some of our beds.

The rich, composted manure used to grow mushrooms will  improve water retention in the soil, and will perk everything up for maximum spring growth.  Because some brands of mushroom compost have higher levels of salt than other soil amendments, it isn’t  recommended for starting seeds.  This organic product is wonderful on established plants, however.

The mushroom compost we purchased is the stack on the far right.  The Pattons sell only organic soil amendments, fertilizers, and growing aids.

The mushroom compost we purchased is the stack on the far right. The Pattons sell only organic soil amendments, fertilizers, and growing aids.

After a visit with Roxy in the shop, selecting seeds, looking at new pots, and stocking up on fertilizers; we finished visiting and pulled away.

The sun had broken through the low clouds a time or two while we shopped, and we could feel the morning warming- if only a little bit.  But we had a car load of spring time.  The aromas of the greenhouse still  filled the the air as we drove home.

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Brunnera, “Jack Frost”

With yet another winter storm barreling across the country, poised to hit us tomorrow night, our pots and flats fresh from the greenhouse were carefully tucked into sheltered spots once home.  But we have them.  They are ready to go out into the garden on the next thaw.

We found spring today in the Patton’s greenhouse, and we brought a bit home with us.  Happy March!

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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Photos taken at the Ulster American Homestead Garden Center

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Soil with a lot of manure in it produces abundant crops;

water that is too clear has no fish.

Therefore, enlightened people should maintain the capacity to accept impurities

and should not be solitary perfectionists.

Huanchu Daoren

The Robins’ Promise

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I stepped outside late this afternoon to check the mail, and found the front garden aflutter with a flock of robins;

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happily hopping around in search of food, their happy society was startled by my unexpected presence.

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They thought they had the garden to themselves on this uncomfortably cold day.  Thank goodness for day long golden sunshine.  This last day of February has been our coldest day for several weeks.  Bundled in hat and coat, I still shivered while walking briskly up the drive to collect the mail.  And the robins scattered, looking for cover as I passed.

Edgeworthia blossoms have begun to open.

Edgeworthia blossoms have begun to open.

Bright sun has been pouring in through the windows all day; the sky clear and deeply blue.  A lovely day, but seeing the wind, and knowing the temperature, had kept me indoors.  But out I went to the mailbox, enjoying the happy robins, and looking for any little change to show the progress of spring.

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The bulbs are still shivering, petals closed tightly against the cold.  It is as if the whole world is still waiting for warmth before daring to progress any further into the season.

Mahonia

Mahonia

But I wanted to show you these happy robins, their very presence evidence that the season is turning, despite the frigid air.

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So the mail came in, and I headed back out, camera in hand, to take portraits of the robins.  Crafty little ones, they are so fast!  Several flew off just before I clicked the photo.  The ones on the ground were a little more patient, perhaps distracted by listening for worms below their feet.

Where the robin was.... only a second before....

Where the robin was…. only a second before….

I wandered the garden in search of them, and in search of an opening daffodil, or some new sign of spring’s unfolding.  My fingers went from cold to numb, and the chill wind became more persistent in seeking its way in past my jacket.

A Columbine beginning to emerge from the frozen Earth.

A Columbine beginning to emerge from the frozen Earth.

But looking to the trees, glowing in the afternoon sunlight, I saw the sign I sought. 

Look closely at the tips of the branches… the reddening tips.

Buds on our trees are swelling, finally; and preparing to open with their early flowers and leaves.  That misty red glow around the trees’ crown is as much a promise of spring as the flock of robins gathering in the garden this afternoon.

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The robins seem impervious to the cold.  This stoicism in the face of wind, rain, sleet, snow and ice commands my respect for these fragile beings. 

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They carry on, chattering to one another, from early until late.  They know, even when I doubt, that spring will follow, and provide perfectly for their every need.

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Their chirping and hopping, shy flights from shrub to shrub, and determined hunting for food warms my heart; even as my fingers stiffen in the cold afternoon wind.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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The First Blossom of Spring

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First snowdrop of spring

Emerging from frozen Earth

More will follow soon

As we watch this storm full of ice and snow sweep across the United States, drawing ever closer to home, we remember all of those who are under this wave of severe cold and extreme weather, here and around the world.

May all be safe and warm.  May all have food and shelter,  and have help when they need it. And, may all be surrounded with a loving community, working together, to minimize the impacts on every family.   We’ve seen the flooding in the British Isles, and crippling ice storms in Europe.  We have seen the terrible drought and heat plaguing Australia.  We know of the intense cold and historic snow in northern regions of the United States, and the ice storms rolling across Georgia, North and South Carolina this afternoon.  May we all weather these storms, and emerge stronger and wiser for the experience.

Please remember to keep your beautiful pets indoors, check on loved ones, and reach out to neighbors in need.

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Spring is already stirring, and this winter of 2014 is nearly past.

Woodland Gnome 2014

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Five Lovely Trees

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This group of trees stands along the Colonial Parkway, and always draws my attention when we pass. 

I don’t know their name.  They are old- probably pre-dating this section of the Parkway, which was completed in the 1950s.

They appear to be intentionally planted, because their trunks are planted in such a way that they mark the 5 points of a star.  I love how they grow in community, but each of the trees remains a unique individual.  I’ve photographed these trees a number of times now, and will continue to stop and photograph them over the months ahead as their buds swell and open.

If you know these trees, and can identify their species or offer any insight into their history, please share in the comments.

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”

  Kahlil Gibran

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013- 2014

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

Winter Sunset

Woody web of branches, Stark in winter bareness, Allows the last rays of winter sun to penetrate the forest canopy. Crimson and purple, Golden  light washed along the horizon; Colors reflecting on gathering clouds. Every twig, branch and bud frozen, Ground frozen and gilded with snow, Reflecting sunset”s last fading light. Long January night creeps … Continue reading

Nature’s Wisdom and Tuesday Snapshots

A secluded marsh on Jamestown Island.  Do you see the orbs?

A secluded marsh on Jamestown Island. Do you see the orbs?

We took a ride on the Colonial Parkway again yesterday since it was such a gorgeous day.  A federal holiday in the United States, we had spring like weather, clear skies,  and a brief respite from winter.

Sunny and 63 degrees, it felt like spring, though we are still deep in January.

Sunny and 63 degrees, it felt like spring, though we are still deep in January.

With schools, banks, post offices, and government offices closed,  many could travel to enjoy the three day weekend.  The Colonial Parkway had a busy, vacation time feel, with more visitors than we’ve seen in a very long time.  The best fishing spots were occupied with happy anglers.

We were out, again, looking for birds to photograph.  We had seen so many on Sunday, we were sure that we’d find many more in the far warmer weather on Monday.  But that was not the case.  Where have the birds gone?

The eagles' favorite trees were empty, as were their nests.

The eagles’ favorite trees were empty, as were their nests.

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This heron wading on Sunday was no where to be seen by Monday.

All the favorite eagle perching trees were empty, and we didn’t see them in the sky.  The nests looked abandoned.  No Great Blue Herons waded in the shallows, and no Black Vultures gathered around the deer carcass still lying beside the road.  We did spot two perched companionably together in the top of a nearby tree, but the great gathering had dissipated.

Only a few brave Canada geese grazed near the river on Monday afternoon.

Only a few brave Canada geese grazed near the river on Monday afternoon.

All we found was a small flock or red winged black birds, a handful of geese, and a few white gulls.  Everyone else had disappeared on this clear, bright, warm  winter day.  We think they sense the storm coming out of the north, and have moved further inland.  At the least, they have already taken shelter from the wind and snow already on its way.

The Colonial Parkway on a spring like January day saw heavy traffic from visitors.

The Colonial Parkway on a spring like January day saw heavy traffic from visitors.

This morning dawned clear and mild, but the weather front has crept ever closer as the day has worn on.  Our 60 degree temperatures yesterday afternoon will soon transform into frigid teens later tonight.   The forecasters still don’t agree on how much snow will accumulate here in Williamsburg, but snow is on the way.

Monday was a beautiful day for walking on the beach of the James River.

Monday was a beautiful day for walking on the beach of the James River.

And the birds must feel the coming change.  As the gulls had already flown in from the coast this weekend to our Jamestown marshes, so I’m sure they have moved on elsewhere by now:  Nature’s wordless wisdom in action.

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Sunset Monday afternoon as families loaded dogs and fishing equipment into their cars to head home.

One could not ask for a finer January weekend than we have just enjoyed.  Since we’ve had the opportunity to get outside and be a part of it,  I will share a few photos, which didn’t make it into other posts, in today’s Tuesday Snapshots.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

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A new site allows me to continue posting new content since after more than 1700 posts there is no more room on this site.  -WG

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