Tag Archive | nature

Wonderful Winter Fog

winter fogA few days ago, in my neck of the woods, we had a morning of rare thick fog. It hovered deep over rooftops and created frost linings along wires and tree branches. The sky was white, with no hint of sun through the haze, just the glow that bathed everything. It was utterly magical.

On this frigid Saturday morning at 8:00 am, I wasn’t concerned about throwing on my yoga pants and a t-shirt to go buy some groceries since I’d be mostly hidden beneath my black parka anyways. As I hopped in the car and backed out of the garage, the awe escaped me in a gasp of wonder. If you live in a northern clime and have experienced a hoar frost in the making, you know what I mean. If you live more southerly and haven’t experienced this incredible wonder of nature, it’s difficult to describe how beautiful it is. Photographs, no matter how artfully taken, fail to grasp the beauty of this natural phenomenon.

My local grocer is only a few blocks away but I kept on driving. I’m very grateful to live near a huge wild park preserve with a network of paths, some that run along the river, and picnic table areas scattered among the acres of old growth forest. It was definitely a ‘selling feature’ when we were house hunting.

As I drove past the grocery store and into the wild preserve, I was pleased with the lack of traffic. Indeed, everything seemed hushed and in slow motion. I found myself driving under the speed limit just to gape and marvel at the incredible sight of the trees frosted with white, their tall tips melting into grey fog. Luckily the speed limit is already very slow into this family-friendly park as I kept inching along. Keeping a close eye on my rear mirrors, I saw that no one was coming, or going, on this incredible morning.

Then I saw one person, with a small dog on a leash, walking out of the fog in front of me to cross the road. I happily stopped and leaned forward to look up at the exquisite splendor of the tall trees being painted with hoar frost icicles on every surface. Glancing in my mirrors I saw, again, no one behind me. I drove slowly deeper into the park, approaching the lake and the turn-around where the road ends.

The beauty of nature always feels like a painting by God to me, and the more beautiful the sight, the more deeply I am moved. This particular morning I was moved to tears. Perhaps that I was listening to Amy Grant’s ‘Better than a Hallelujah’ might have something to do with it, but mostly I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for life, and the gifts we are so freely given, every day, if we but open our eyes.

hoar frostAs I finished the drive and looped back towards the grocery store I realized, I wasn’t finished. Not yet. I wasn’t done admiring this incredibly beautiful and rare event of nature. I had to go back! Pulling a careful U-turn on that deserted road, I drove back to the one parking lot in the middle of the main cluster of picnic areas, a place I visit often in the warmer months. A place one can easily walk down to the river. I pulled in and parked not too far from the only other vehicle, a mini-van.

As I turned off the engine, wrapped my scarf around my neck a couple of times and pulled my wool hat and gloves from my bag, I saw the occupants of the van slowly heading towards the river. From their sizes I guessed one adult and three young children, all bundled in snow pants and parkas.

Seeking solitude, I headed the other way along a path following a creek that feeds into the massive river. The hush upon the forest couldn’t hide the occasional squeals and joyful shouts from the small gathering behind me, and it made me smile. I looked up at the treetops in the blanketing fog and quietly recited a poem aloud, knowing no one was around to hear and wonder about this woman speaking to herself.

There was tremendous duck and goose chatter at the river, and I was compelled to stop walking away from the commotion and instead go and see what kind of bird action was happening. As I turned around I noticed that the family hadn’t gone far, and instead were playing in a small copse of trees just beyond the parking lot. I walked past them towards the river, pausing at a small cluster of young aspen beside the path to touch the intricate frost icicles that formed along their thin branches.

As I approached the river I noticed more birds than I’d ever seen on this section of river before, and seeing as some were on this side of the river, I stopped well back since I didn’t want to disturb them. For several minutes I stood and watched this massive display of wildlife. There were Canadian geese intermingled with black Coots, and ducks of various species, and I estimated their numbers to be in the hundreds. Shuffling about for position, drifting into the swiftly flowing, deep river to glide to a new spot, these waterfowl were busily settling in for something, or conversing with relatives, re-establishing friendships… who knows for sure. But their noisy bustling was a wonderful sight and it helped swell my already happy heart up to nearly bursting with joy.

Google search forest+fogWith a smile on my face I turned to head back towards my car, since I hadn’t dressed appropriately and my legs and feet were getting quite cold. Seeing the mother and children (I’d heard her voice so now presumed the adult under the parka to be ‘mom’) slowly spreading onto the narrow footworn path I’d taken from the main path towards the river, and not wishing to interrupt them, I turned to the left to follow the main path. After several feet of walking I realized this route would take me much farther from my car before I could head back towards it, over a bridge.

I was too cold to walk the further distance so I turned around, deciding to head back through the family gathering on the pathway. They were climbing up out of the lower ground amidst the copse of trees they’d been in. I was about 20 feet away when the tallest child turned and saw me, a boy maybe 5 years old. He reached his arm out full length to point towards me and exclaim excitedly, “Look Mom! A PERSON!!”

I laughed out loud with the most joyous love overflowing from every part of my being. It was already a magical, meaningful morning for me, but NOW to be someone’s sighting! How fun is that?!

I waved as I laughed again, and said, “Yes, it’s me. A person!” and the mom smiled at me, undoubtedly having known of my whereabouts ever since I arrived in the park, just after them. The youngest one at her feet, about 2 years old, slipped and did the cutest little slide in his snow pants, down the one-foot embankment the snow-blower had left beside the paved pathway. He was smiling at me as he laid there. I said ‘whoopsie-daisy’ and his mom gently asked, ‘Are you alright buddy?’ to which his smiling face, still looking at me, replied, ‘Oh yes, that was nothing.’ My heart melted even more.

My walking had now brought me right amongst them, and I smiled at the mother and said, “This fog is really rather magical, isn’t it?” waving my hand in a sweeping motion, and she replied immediately “It IS rather magical! That’s why we’re out here.” “Yay. Good for you. Have a wonderful day!” “You too” she replied. The five year old ‘wildlife spotter’ called out, ‘There’s a great big hole to play in there!’ indicating the hollow in the wooded copse they’d spent much time in, and where I was walking past. I called back ‘Yay! What fun!’

I was someone’s sighting! I felt like Bigfoot, or better yet, Buddy the Elf in the forest when he was ‘spotted’ during his assistance of Santa’s crashed sleigh in that sweet, funny movie “ELF”. I chuckled and smiled all the way to my car… and all through the grocery store actually. That sweet child, and his enthusiasm at spotting ME coming out of the fog, made my day. How wonderful that I’d chosen to go beyond merely admiring the fog’s beauty from my car, and decided to actually walk in it, correct clothing or not. God gifted my choice with the pure sweet joy that radiates from happy children, and just remembering that moment makes me smile. And the chorus was playing in my mind, ‘We pour out our miseries… God just hears a melody… Beautiful, the mess we are… the honest cries of breaking hearts… are better than a hallelujah’

Yes I wasn’t dressed perfectly for a winter outing. Yes I felt overwhelmed with grief and sadness much of the time, but the beautiful fog captured my imagination and I forgot everything else. I went for it and was rewarded with a most joyful gift. This helps me remember to go with the flow and be open to whatever might happen. Things don’t need to be preplanned or perfect. I am not perfect and that is perfectly alright. God loves me, and all of us, just the way we are… hurting or not… right here and right now. He knows we’re working on it. We’re trying to get better, to be better, but we’re already good enough. Right now.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my frosty and magical morning foray. May nature’s beauty gift you always with joy, love, and learning. And may we embrace the understanding that we are enough, just as we are.

This is what I felt like…

Bigfoot+walking

Okay… who am I kidding. You know I’m more like this!

Elf sighting

Let Us Be Like A Wise Old Owl

A wise old owl sat in an oak

The more he saw the less he spoke

The less he spoke the more he heard

Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

 

This old nursery rhyme was recorded as early as 1875 and is likely much older than that. It was quoted by John D. Rockefeller in 1915 and is often mis-attributed to Edward Hersey Richards. [source]

Image sources: Great Horned Owl, Barn Owl, pair of Owls grooming

Be Happy For Earth Day

Nature is superior to our human mistakes. The vastness of her power is beyond our comprehension. One way to celebrate Earth Day, beyond enjoying time outdoors, is to focus on what is working. Certainly let’s take action with conserving energy, purchasing less and repurposing more. But let’s also help with our minds and hearts as we pay attention to what is working. Let’s focus on building the new. Together, with Nature’s awesome power and our opportunities for making a difference, we can fix this. Happy Earth Day! And let’s BE HAPPY for Earth Day. Namaste.

Glorious Greys

Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty if only we have the eyes to see them. ~ John Ruskin

.
micro snowflakesOn this half way point, this vernal equinox, the planet is poised between black and white, darkness and light, teaching the lesson of the bountiful beauty to be discovered amidst the shades of grey.

“Thank You God for this day.” My daily prayer, a mantra of sorts, is something I say a lot. Often aloud and definitely daily.

Thank You God for this day.

Today where I live it sure doesn’t look or feel like the first day of spring as the calendar indicates. The sky is filled with wet spring snow. Angled sharply with bursts of wind, it stings the face and causes treacherous driving. As I drove the lad to work this morning (the transit service to his work is awful) and the grey sky pelted at the world, all I could see was the beauty. Gorgeous shades of grey.

As you know I believe in practice. Everything gets easier with practice. We have to keep at things, and they will get easier. Because I say Thank You God often, I live mostly in a state of gratitude.

snowy branchDuring today’s commute, all I could see was my blessings. How lucky my son and I are to be travelling safe and warm in this car. I am thankful for excellent tires and the great condition my husband keeps this car in. I give a prayer of thanks for my husband. And just look at all the other good drivers, paying attention and signaling like I do. And the colour, oh the gorgeous shades of grey everywhere! The misty effect the blowing snow gives to the very air as it moves and undulates is breathtakingly beautiful. To actually see the air the way we can with falling snow is really a kind of a miracle.

So rather than view it as awful, and what ‘shouldn’t’ be happening, I feel so much better when I tune into a sense of celebration in my heart for this moment. Now. I am thankful for the beauty and blessings of this life and I feel, at times, like I see priceless, incredible gifts everywhere I look. Joy is contagious and I want you to catch it with me!

See the soft shades of grey and the undulating shapes in the wind-driven snow and sleet. Come back indoors and give thanks for the shelter. Give thanks for scarves. Get back in your car and give thanks for the security of being able to drive somewhere warm, and indeed back home as well. Make some tea and give thanks for that.

lovely shades of greyI’m not saying I don’t wish spring would arrive and get blooming. I’m suggesting that we look for and find the beauty right here, in every moment. Every day is the most beautiful day of the year, up to this point, don’t you agree? We are lucky to be here today, and this is the weather today comes with. I choose to see the beauty now (even if I would rather see blooming bulbs in my gardens).

Do not allow yourself to feel crestfallen if the first day of Spring blows in like a lion, whipping snow around and keeping bulbs and buds sleeping.

Let’s say it aloud together:

Thank You God for this day.

And thank you for the gloriously gorgeous greys.

Copyright © 2014 Gina ~ Professions for PEACE

 

Visit my Pinterest board of “Nature ~ beauty beyond words” to see this owl, and more.
http://www.pinterest.com/Ginas4PEACE/nature-%7E-beauty-beyond-words/

Both the macro flakes and snowy branch images are from this board by Trudy Tarasoff on Pinterest with images of winter and I love what she wrote: “Snow ~ I live in a part of Canada that can experience up to 7 months of snow. Some people curse the white stuff. I, however, think that it is beautiful. These photos are testimony to that beauty.” Thank you Trudy! 
http://www.pinterest.com/tlt55/snow/

In celebrating greys, one of my favourite bloggers came to mind. When I revisited, once again this incredible post reverberated through my soul. If you have seen it already, perhaps visit again. And if not I am certain you will be uplifted and mesmerized by the beauty this talented artist captures. Thank you Sriram. You bless us with your wise poetic heart and skillful eye.
http://sriramjanak.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/mind-seeing/

And lastly, if you are indeed craving a sight of spring please click link to visit my other blog’s post for today. It’s a collection of bright and cheerful photographs of spring decor to celebrate its arrival if only in our hearts. Springing For Joy 

Outgrowing

~Let’s Outgrow Our Past~

In the springtime

go out and observe

the blossoms

on the fruit trees.

 

The blossoms

vanish

of themselves

as the fruit grows.

 

So too will

the lower self, the false self, the ego,

vanish

as the Divine

grows within you.

 

As taught by Vivakenanda, and shared by Dr. Wayne Dyer on the PBS program ‘Wishes Fulfilled’

The teacher Vivakenanda was asked by his devotees, “How do you do it? How do you access your Higher Self? How do you make this your reality?” He answered with the above example to help us focus on our spiritual growth, knowing whatever is unnecessary to our highest learning will dissolve away like fruit blossoms.

It reminds me of Carl Jung: “Our most important problems cannot be solved. They must be outgrown.” This powerful concept helps retrain how I think, to pay NO attention to the things I don’t like in my life. I’m too busy being focused on where I’m headed. As Ernest Holmes taught, I choose to “Only look at that which you wish to experience.”

When I was single I noticed healthy, loving relationships around me with a smile and a glowing heart, knowing it would one day be my own joy – and now it is. When I allowed an unhealthy substance to take over my life, I prayed for and focused on what it felt like to be a light and carefree non-drinker, and that is my joyful experience of life now.

Every day I continue growing towards who I am becoming. I visualize myself feeling, behaving, and acting peacefully no matter what external events are happening. I certainly have a ways to go, but every slip up [such as yesterday when I was grumpy with my husband when I hadn’t noticed how hungry I’d become] helps strengthen my resolve to focus on calmness and inner peace. To be aware of what pulls me off balance so that I can remain steady. And I fully believe we all get where we’re going by looking forward, and giving zero attention to what we no longer want. Let’s focus on what we DO want, and let the rest fall away like finished fruiting blossoms.

Copyright © 2014 Gina ~ Professions for PEACE

[Images gratefully sourced from Google.com]

Eye Heart Nature

open hearts see love everywhere

Here’s a photographic celebration of seeing loving hearts everywhere.

Each and every day is a blessing. May you enjoy these Nature Valentines! 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[Images gratefully sourced from Google]

Loving Trees

tree_canopy smAll my life, as far back as I can remember, I have felt a connection with trees. I’ve grasped trunks and branches during youthful climbs and wondered how my hands felt to them. I felt their surface as rough, crumbly, sticky in places with sap, and I wondered if they felt me climbing them as warm, human, fleeting, soft.

One of my earliest memories regarding my family involved a tree. A very tall tree. We lived near the end of a long country road and our yard had a row of tall spruce running along the property line, separating our house and yard from the road. I loved those huge spruce trees and would often climb up to sit, swing and bounce on those sprawling lower branches. For my tiny body of six years those branches made a perfect ladder all the way to the top, and one day I just kept going.

I can still remember the sticky sap that clung to my palms as I reached up to another and then another branch-rung in this ladder to the clouds. That is until the branches were so close together that all I could do was perch on the sturdiest one and hold onto the trunk. It was exhilarating. My heart was happy and excited and I felt so intimately close to that old tree. I felt safe. Cocooned. I even noticed how the breeze made that old tree sway. In my mind it was as if I was nestled in the clouds and I loved it.

spruce_tree 300Then I looked down through the branches and saw my family in the yard: mother gardening, father working on one of his cars, and much older sister preparing to head out in her own car. I could hear them easily and they were starting to ask each other, “Have you seen Gina?” so I unveiled my hiding spot and cheerily called out to them, “Hi Mom! Hi Dad! Hi Sis!” Unfortunately (but predictably) they didn’t think my being 50 feet up in a narrow evergreen quite as enchanting as I did. My Mom went into a screaming state of panic and her fear was palatable. I suddenly gripped that trunk and felt the rush of a powerful fear.

I climbed down with a much more unhappy energy than I’d climbed up with, but I still give thanks for that memory. The trauma from my mother’s fear helped imprint that day, that moment, into my brain to be permanently stored. I loved that tree, that day, the clouds, the breeze, even the sticky and prickly branches, and my mother’s introduction of fear helped sear that day into me so that I would never forget.

Once I became a mother it was easy to forgive and understand my mom’s frantic, scolding behaviour. While I never experienced looking up a 50-foot tree to see my six-year old child near the top, I can still easily understand her behaviour (although I don’t recommend letting your child SEE your level of panic, if at all possible). Obviously I made it down safely, although the coming down was vastly worse than the going up. I was harshly scolded and forbidden from ever climbing trees again. (Not that it lasted. I discovered an ancient walnut tree as well as a prolific cherry tree at our next home. I figured moving made that ‘No Climbing Trees’ agreement void)

tree roots 350Now mid-life has snuck up on me and those memories are decades old. In my world I now have 50-foot spruce trees on my own property. While I do not feel the urge to push my much-larger body through the branches in an attempt to reach the heights, I feel their roots. I offer love to their roots.

I wonder, is this a part of aging? In my youth I longed for the tip-top branches, swaying in the breeze, and now I respect and appreciate roots where I add compost, occasional fertilizer and water during times of drought.

I myself have put deeper roots down as I cherish these years of my forties. If I may be so lucky this is the halfway point… the true mid-life stage and I intend to show up and put on a good show.

Offering my love and appreciation for the two huge spruce I share this property with is one way I celebrate life. They are old trees, older than I am, and their sprawling shallow roots reach much farther than the drip-line. Their roots might even be under me now as I type in the den facing the street, beside the nearest of the two giant trees as I watch the pattern of the wind in its branches.

If this is the case and the roots are under my feet, may it receive this prayer I offer. May this tree feel my appreciation for the birds it shelters and the shade it offers. May it know those fertilizer spikes I pound in at the drip-line during spring rains are one way I show my love as I attempt to replenish the soil nourishment our city lifestyles rob from urban trees. May it, on some unknown level, feel my loving eyes as I watch its branches from my window and attempt to capture poetic words to describe the beauty I behold. May these old trees, and all the trees in my neighbourhood and the wilderness walks I enjoy, feel my deep appreciation for them and continue to flourish and share their oxygenating, healing energy with us all.

Thank You God for all the Trees.

forest-old-growth

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.

~ Chinese Proverb

I willingly confess to so great a partiality for trees as tempts me to respect a man in exact proportion to his respect for them. 

~ James Russell Lowell

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live
than other things do.
 ~ Willa Cather

See additional quotes on TREES and more on my Quotes Page.
Related reading at my older post: A Forest Sprite

[With genuine gratitude for these randomly-sourced royalty-free photos off Google images]