Fabulous Friday: Remnants

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“The paradox of life lies exactly in this:

its resources are finite,

but it itself is endless.

Such a contradictory state of affairs is feasible

only because the resources accessible to life

can be used over and over again.”

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I.I. Gitelson

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“Those who intend to destroy me,

underestimate my ability to regenerate.”


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Aleksandra Ninkovic

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“All the beauty that’s been lost before

wants to find us again”

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U2

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“Change blows through the branches of our existence.

It fortifies the roots on which we stand,

infuses crimson experience with autumn hues,

dismantles Winter’s brittle leaves,

and ushers Spring into our fertile environments.

Seeds of evolution burst

from their pod cocoons

and teardrop buds blossom into Summer flowers.

Change releases its redolent scent,

attracting the buzz of honey bees

and the adoration of discerning butterflies.”


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B.G. Bowers

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

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Fabulous Friday:

Happiness is contagious.  Let’s infect one another!

 

 

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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.”
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Haruki Murakami

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WPC: New Horizon

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Krista challenges, in this week’s Photo Challenge, to look ahead to new horizons.  What will the new year hold?

These trees, which grow beside the Colonial Parkway, always enchant me.  They bring to mind a Greek myth about hospitality,  life long love and friendship.

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A devoted couple,  Baucis and Philemon , showed hospitality to strangers; sharing freely from the little that they had.  Eventually they realized that the strangers in their home were in reality,  Zeus and Hermes, who had come down to Earth in disguise.

Hospitality was the rule in those days, and because of their kindness to strangers, the couple was saved when their town was destroyed.  Their home was transformed into a temple, and they were granted their wish live out their lives as priest and priestess serving in the temple.   Granted a final blessing from their visitors, Baucis and Philemon asked that upon their death they might be transformed into intertwining trees, to spend eternity together.

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Mistletoe lives anchored to the branches of the trees. The trees and mistletoe form a symbiotic community.

Mistletoe lives anchored to the branches of the trees. The trees and mistletoe form a living, ever growing community.

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This story reminds us not only of the importance of hospitality and kindness to strangers, but also of the beauty of community with those we love.

Friends, neighbors, and family grow together over the years, reaching out to one another again and again as lives weave together in the fabric of community.  And this is what I hope for in the year ahead, as my relationships with friends and loved ones deepen and grow richer through the experiences we share.

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You see not only these two trees, and the mistletoe growing from their branches; but also a bit of woods along the horizon.  We all are surrounded by a rich community.  It is up to us to reach out to others, explore the landscape, and find our own place within it.

My partner and I were taking some time together enjoying a beautiful December afternoon when we stopped to photograph these special trees.  There is no official parking place nearby, and so he had pulled over on the shoulder, waiting patiently for me to get these photos with one eye in the mirror watching for traffic.

It was a quiet afternoon, and the few cars took no offense at us stopped by the roadway.  But I appreciate him taking this chance on my behalf.  We both admired the color along the horizon, touched by golden sunshine, here on the banks of the James River.

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These beautiful and graceful trees remind us to reach beyond our current limits.  To reach out to those we love, and to continue reaching higher and higher towards the limitless, infinite universe which pulses all around us.

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  New Horizon

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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Our A Forest Garden 2017 gardening calendar is filled with photos taken in our garden over the past year. 

To order a copy, write to me at woodlandgnome@zoho.com.

Wednesday Vignette

January 19, 2016 Cold 003

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“How you refill,

Lying there. Something like happiness,

just like water, pure and clear pouring in.

So good you don’t even welcome it,

it runs through you in a bright stream,

as if it has been there all along.”

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Peter Heller

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January 19, 2016 Cold 002

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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January 19, 2016 Cold 013

On Such A Winter Day…

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The world feels bare and empty today.

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January 23, 2015 birds 009

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Empty skies show no trace of the winter

storm blowing towards us from the South.

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Growth has paused,

And winter’s winds have nearly cleared

Away summer’s remains.

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Leftover reeds and crisp bleached leaves

Make a tattered fringe around the edges of things.

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Bare branches; bare tangled stems of vines,

Bare muddy marsh,  bare sandy beaches

All waiting.

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The sun finally burned through morning fog

And rose low in the empty sky.

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It’s harsh clear light shows too much;

Makes shadows too dark.

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The birds know.

The birds feel the coming clipper.

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Only the sturdy ones remain,

The survivors,

Who congregate in ponds and coves,

Waiting;

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On such a winter day.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

Beauty Where You Find It

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A friend and I were talking about art recently.

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

The list goes on and on.

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

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

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

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And yet, beauty is where you find it. 

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

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

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

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

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Priceless, fleeting works of art.

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Like all of nature. 

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

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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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

― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

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