The day was clear and cold and I shuffled along like a little girl kicking the fallen dry leaves on the ground and counting squirrel nests. You can see them so clearly this time of year
In many ways winter allows us to be even more aware of the natural world around us. The scents in the air seem so clean and crisp and I love to inhale deeply and say a meditation of thanks for being given this day and not despair of the darkness that sometimes shadows over me, obscuring the path. I am learning not to panic and just run off thinking I can outrun the shadows. Often now I will just sit quietly and let them pass overhead, as I know the shadows and fear are what allow us to experience the light and the joy and like it or not they all have their place is the cosmos.
I spotted a row of some type of shrubbery showing all the stages of its transition from summer to winter. Some leaves still green and some have already fallen and some defy words in explaining the hues and textures they have. The leaves had thorns on the edges and soft white hairs. A friend recently told me that even though we think of the leaves as “changing colors in the fall” that isn’t exactly what happens. The colors were there all along. I had to check this out and sure enough the explanation I read confirmed this, though it is really just part of the story.
During winter, there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The trees will rest, and live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can’t see them in the summer, because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll. The bright reds and purples we see in leaves are made mostly in the fall. In some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool nights of autumn cause the leaves turn this glucose into a red color. The brown color of trees like oaks is made from wastes left in the leaves.
It is the combination of all these things that make the beautiful fall foliage colors we enjoy each year.
I really like this explanation because it shows us that there is so much around us that is often hidden or waiting to reveal itself in the proper time. It shows me patience and humility and somehow the unimportance of time.
Everything around us is extraordinary in its own way. We just need to open ourselves to the AWARENESS.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
Today I wandered past an old church and glanced up at the window and became mesmerized by the reflections of clouds and sky. I must have watched it for a while because when it first caught my eye the sky was dismal and overcast and then my mind cleared the sky was blue and the clouds drifting by were white and full.
I have heard it said that life comes down to a few great moments but how are we to question and evaluate the moments of our lives and know which of all the moments that have passed by with stealth and brought us times of love, sorrow, joy or despair is a great moment?
I think our lives, when reflected upon, will show us that all the moments, no matter how seemingly insignificant, are connected together and, like the seasons and the tides, our lives ebb and flow and change and sometimes burn bright and sometimes the colors are subdued, perhaps so we might hear the sounds that surround us and those sounds resonate with varying tempos. Sometimes we barely catch the beat and sometimes the sounds seems to shout at us and enter our brains and souls and set up housekeeping like they have found a home at last or even as if they had their birth there.
When I reflect on my life I cannot define any moment as great because it is the continuity and the connections of all the moments that pulsate and blend and make up my past that give me the strength and the courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other and walk into my future.
The moments that felt like the shade of a magnolia tree on a hot summer day and the moments that made my skin crawl and itch like a hot prairie wind are all part of the Plan.
Every reflection seems to showcase a different moment and give me new perspective and insight into who I am and what purpose my life has served and what possibilities lie ahead. The reflections drift by like the clouds in that church window showing me that change is not only inevitable it is not to be feared because the change is just part of the natural world I live in.
Paul Cezanne once said that In order to make progress, there is only nature, and the eye is turned through contact with her. The turning of the eye is a simple phrase that speaks of knowledge and enlightenment to me, to seeing the world in new and different ways.
I took this photograph a few weeks ago and I find myself going back to look at it time and time again. It was an ornamental cabbage upon which a feather had fallen. The ornamental cabbage was silverish grey with a hint of the blue/green I have seen in the shells of some Araucana chickens, and the feather a dark grey/brown that shimmered and the tiny individual vanes with their barbs so intricately woven that light cast shadows and gave then depth.
I think what attracts me to this is the subtlety of color and texture.
Sometimes Nature shows us the beauty of our world by shouting through bright colors and dancing in manic movements like storm clouds or wind howling, or white caps on blue ocean waves. When I experience this I often feel like shouting with glee and letting the immense energy take me away to that place where I can sing out of key and jump and twirl and make sudden movements like a hip-hop dance until I dissolve into giggles and hiccups.
Other times Nature shows us the beauty of soft and subtle through the blending of continuous tones and hues using light and shadow. This photograph makes me think of moonlight and a breeze so gentle it is like the erotic brush of soft lips on my cheek and a whisper in my ear that I understand not through words but through some magical tingle of understanding. I can imagine I am light as air and wearing a gown of dark gossamer silk, spun from the spinnerets of the golden orb spider of Madagascar I have read about, and woven so finely that the weave itself is barely discernible. The feel of the silk on my skin as I sway and swoop and move my arms through the air takes my breath away and moves me almost to tears.
Nature entices me and it is an invitation I am pleased to accept. I love feeling connected to the world around me as it seems to mimic my life and my emotions and give me comfort and a small amount of understanding and release from the fear that sometimes overcomes me.