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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WPC: Bridge

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Bridges connect us, but also separate us in important ways.  Tidewater, Virginia, is riddled with bridges, large and small, linking communities across several rivers and lots of marshes, creeks, canals and the Chesapeake Bay.  As a child, observing the world from the back seat of my parents’ car, some of these old and narrow bridges frightened me.

We traversed the Bay Bridge Tunnel each summer to visit family on the Eastern Shore.   You soon loose sight of land on this miles long bridge.  Back in the day, when it was only two lanes wide, it was always an adventure.   Still is, when a storm is sweeping across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and wind buffets trucks, sometimes pushing a big rig over the rails.

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Nowadays, many of our area bridges have been upgraded and modernized, but now carry heavy tolls.  Commuters may not be able to afford to cross for casual shopping and visiting; and nearby communities become isolated from one another.

Years ago, I left my home in the Northern Neck,  knowing that a toll was to be levied on this beautiful Coleman Bridge, which links Yorktown and Gloucester. I brought my family south, so we didn’t have to depend on passage across the bridge, and settled in the heart of  urban Tidewater.

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The beautiful and rural peninsulas of Virginia’s bay front coast rely on this bridge to link them to the rest of the state, especially to the nearest cities in Southeast Virginia.  Paying for every trip to shop, visit family, work and stay connected to the larger communities, takes a heavy financial toll.  This bridge becomes a barrier, separating people and communities from one another.

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Now, many years later, I love driving across the Coleman Bridge for day trips and get aways back to the small towns and rural beauty found in Gloucester,  Mathews and Lancaster.  I’ve long loved the gentle lap of our Virginia rivers along their sandy banks, and the villages which thrive along these shores.

From its top, one can see beautiful vistas of the York River, historic Yorktown,  and Gloucester Point.  Every trip is different, depending on the sky and waves, wind and river traffic, and what birds may be nesting on the bridge or flying over the river.

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Our bridges remain part of the fabric of our lives, allowing us to weave a rich tapestry of partnerships and friendships across our watery landscape.  They enrich our lives, even as they impose substantial costs on our families and our communities.

Art and engineering combine to form this beautiful legacy of bridges; which mold our present, even as they shaped our history.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017
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For the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge:  Bridge

 

Late Summer Golden Haze

september-25-2016-pond-034

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Like living sunshine, waves of golden flowers splash across the meadows at the Yorktown battlefields.  We found a quintessential meadow planting, windsown, as we drove through this patchwork of fields and fences, earthworks and reminders of the battles where the British finally surrendered to the Americans in October of 1781.

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Tall native grasses grow in an Oudolph style matrix, punctuated by native  Solidago catching and reflecting the late summer sunlight.  Peaceful now, these fields stand empty as a silent memorial to the passions which bought liberty for our United States.

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The Yorktown battlefields lie at the Eastern end of the Colonial Parkway.  Beyond the fields one finds the little village of Yorktown on the Southern bank of the York River.   We visit from time to time, enjoying the waterfront which hosts concerts, craft fairs, sailing ships and a pleasing variety of restaurants and shops.  Families relax along its sandy beach.

Here, time blurs.  Present day life blends seamlessly with artifacts and memories of the past.

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We enjoy the peace which permeates this place now.  And we enjoy seeing the seasons painting their colors across the fields and trees; the gardens in the village; the river and sky.

Goldenrod is one of the highlights of late summer and autumn here.  This is the wild, native Goldenrod.  While gardeners can purchase several more refined hybrids for their gardens, this is the same Goldenrod the early colonists and Native Americans would have known.

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It grows freely, still, along roadsides throughout our area.  Like so many ‘native perennials,’ Solidago may be seen as a wildflower by some, a weed by others.

It seeds take root in unexpected places.  In fact, native Solidago grows in one of our shrub borders.  Once I realized what it was, I began leaving it to grow undisturbed each year.  It grows very tall in this shaded area.

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While a bit weedy, it feeds many pollinators now at the end of the season, and its beautiful clear golden flowers brighten even the dullest autumn day.

In large masses, Goldenrod creates a lovely late summer golden haze; living, growing sunshine which  brightens the last few weeks of the season.

More on growing Goldenrod

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October 8 Parkway 042

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Which Way?

June 7, 2015  Yorktown 084~

We went a different way today and enjoyed some different views. 

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The shots I captured from “The Other Side” (of the York River, of course) inspired me to join Cee for her Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge this week.

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Our view of The Hermione as we crossed the Coleman Bridge above her.

Our view of The Hermione as we crossed the Coleman Bridge above her.

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A lovely French tall ship, The Hermione, anchored in Yorktown Virginia, this weekend.

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The Hermione is anchored at the beach in Yorktown.

The Hermione is anchored at the beach in Yorktown.

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After crawling through the traffic in Historic Yorktown, we crossed the Coleman Bridge to view the ship and river traffic from Gloucester Point.  We were rewarded with wonderful views of this historic ship and the festival which cropped up in Yorktown today to celebrate its visit.

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This is a reconstruction of the ship which brought General Lafayette to Yorktown in 1780, when he came to meet with General George Washington to pledge France’s support to the colonies in our revolution against the British Crown.

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Huge French and American flags fly from the ships docked in Yorktown today.

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We knew we had taken the right way today, to enjoy this beautiful day.

We found some new river beaches to enjoy, enjoyed the salt breezes blowing off of the river, and appreciated our chance to view this beautifully reconstructed tall ship.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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One Word Photo Challenge: Sapphire

November 12, 2014 golden day 166

Sapphire sky

Appeared in bits and dabs

As morning’s clouds evaporated,

Burned away by the sun.

 

November 12, 2014 golden day 118

Illuminated blue,

Precious stone tint to sea and sky,

Growing ever bluer out towards infinite space.

 

November 12, 2014 golden day 148

 

Ancient cold,

Timeless brilliance

Filling the very air with deepest, truest,

 

 

November 12, 2014 golden day 134 (2)

Sapphire.

 

 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells

for her One Word Photo Challenge: Sapphire

 

December 13 2013 poinsettias 003

Holiday Wreath Challenge

A Golden November Day

Beech tree at the top of the garden

Beech tree at the top of the garden

November 3 2013 Parkway 022

The Colonial Parkway, looking back towards Williamsburg where a fellow photographer told us about the red tree.

The November sun is vibrant today after this morning’s hybrid eclipse.  It is the sort of clear golden light to reach in through the window panes of house or car, grab you, and say, “Come outside and bask in my warmth and goodness.”  The sky is deeply blue.  Every red and golden leaf is a panel of stained glass in the mosaic of this sparkling day.

There is one particular sycamore tree, on one particular pond, along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Yorktown we visit each year when the leaves finally transform themselves into brightness.  It is a very large and well shaped tree.  Caught on the perfect day it is a sight worthy of the pilgrimage.

Our much loved tree between Williamsburg and Yorktown

Our much loved tree between Williamsburg and Yorktown

We decided the best use of this clear blustery morning was to set out together to make the drive and see what we could see.  The weather is still swirling off the coast, the wind truly cold now, whitecaps frosting the rivers.  I was surprised to see how many people were bundled into winter coats and hats on their morning walk or bicycle ride along the Parkway.

Leaves blew in golden showers across the road, reminding us of the approaching snow now close at hand.  Where shafts of light poured through the forest canopy the leaves were illuminated for a moment, then lost in shadow.November 3 2013 Parkway 023

We pulled into the lot beside the pond and discovered our much loved tree nearly bare. Its leaves must have blown off in Friday night’s storm, and we missed its color this year.  Still lovely in form, its bark mottled, with a few stubborn leaves still clinging to its branches, we sat and admired its beauty and remembered other years when our visit was timed more perfectly.

Scarlet Virginia creeper scrambles through shrubs by the marsh.

Virginia creeper scrambles through shrubs by the marsh.  The vine, now scarlet, calls for attention after an entire summer of blending in to the surrounding green.

November 3 2013 Parkway 011

Virginia Creeper

I was looking today for Virginia creeper turned scarlet.  I love the intense red vines climbing through trees and shrubs along the road.  Staghorn Sumac, a slightly duller crimson, and blazing Dogwood trees grabbed at our attention.  We passed so many beautiful spots, but with a car on our bumper and no safe place to pull off.

A fellow photographer tipped us off to a blazing red tree somewhere in Yorktown.  She didn’t mention exactly where- only that it was stopping traffic as car after car stopped to admire it or take a photo.

So we went in search of it.  Yorktown isn’t large, but it is full of dead ends and closed streets.

Yorktown

Yorktown

After a lengthy search, we headed back to the Parkway.  I decided its leaves must have already blown away.  But, there beside the ramp, we spotted a towering tree across the field ablaze in orangey red splendor.  It must be the tree she had seen.  We slowed enough for me to snap two photos from the car window.

A beach near Yorktown

A beach near Yorktown

A tiny bit of space left on the memory stick, we revisited the pond and noticed how everything looked fresh and new seen coming from the other direction.  Life is a bit like that at times, as the people and happenings in our lives subtly shift and change when we look back over them from “here” and “now”.  We see so many little details and connections we failed to notice the first time.

Ironically, we noticed how much of the best color surrounds our own garden; the transition from Parkway to neighborhood to driveway seamless.  Happiness and peace fill the air today.  Clear calm has returned to the sky with the storm off the coast, but the wind is still blowing in from the northeast.

The York River, looking out from Yorktown towards Gloucester.

The York River, looking out from Yorktown towards Gloucester.

A good day for sailing, if you have a strong stomach and a trustworthy boat. (I remember a certain November day, much like today, sailing the Rappahannock River in an old wooden skipjack.  That was another lifetime ago it seems.)  No boats were out on the rivers this morning, and no one fishing from the banks.  Only photographers were braving the wind to go near the water.

We were glad to come back inside at journey’s end to mugs of hot coffee, and to admire the garden from inside, through the windows. Leaves float from limb to ground with every new gust of wind, but our attention has turned to other things on this golden November afternoon.

When I see
                   Heaven and earth as
                   my own garden,
                   I live that moment
                   Outside the Universe.

                              A Zen Harvest: Japanese Folk Zen Sayings,

All photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

Our garden is ringed by beauty.

Our garden is ringed by beauty.

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