Snow Birds

_DSC0024

It snowed during the night and lightly through the morning hours. Jim, after telling anyone who would listen during the past year about how he loves being a snowbird because he hates clearing the snow from the driveway, was out midmorning clearing the one inch of snow from the drive with his snowblower. He came in with a great big smile on his face, having clearly enjoyed being out in the snow. But I understand how clearing snow grows tedious come late February and March.

I spent a lot of time sitting at the dining room table watching the light snow falling, the snow blowing off the neighbor’s roof, and the birds at the feeders that Jim filled yesterday. I am feeling very relaxed as the Christmas decorations are down and I’m just tidying up as we prepare to fly south in a couple of days. My tidying up includes deleting and tagging 2019 photos, starting with my November ones from Naples Botanical Garden. I haven’t gotten far because I keep returning to the dining room and the birds.

I really enjoyed reading and viewing Susan Rushton‘s post this week where she published many of the photos that she loves from her 2019 garden photography but never found their way into a blog. I think I will be doing the same for the next few weeks, starting with some orchids. Orchids are somewhat difficult to photograph so most of my attempts get deleted. Here are some photos that seem to capture the exotic beauty that I see when I view them growing in the garden.

 

Very Cold & Snow

_DSC0024.jpg

I woke to bone-chilling cold and a bit of snow on the ground. The sun, before being seen, announced its presence by coloring wisps of pale pink clouds. As the sun continued to rise, the light-floating clouds lost their color against the thin blue of the winter cold sky. The clouds seemed anemic after shedding the weight of the snow they had been carrying.

I sat in my favorite reading chair in my small room listening to the silence. I am familiar with the silence of cold and snow, and this silent cold seeped through the windowpanes to my right, not respecting the boundary between outside and in. The silence of inside was punctuated by the clinks and clunks of the heat ducts as they rested between attempts to push back the cold. I know when it is more-than-cold outside because that cold has more power than any form of heat but the sun. And soon the cold joined forces with a wind that howled and growled around the corner of the house and onto the porch to overpower the promise of sun-warmth. Late morning we ventured out into the battle in an attempt to say we wouldn’t stop our life for nature’s display of brutal strength, but we were humbled.

In the dawning-day hours, though, I enjoyed the silence of the tempered cold as I sat in my chair by the east-facing window. I held my warm mug of chi tea between my hands and against my chest so the warmth seeped into my soul. As I sipped, letting the tingle of spices and softness of cream linger on my tongue, I watched the white light of morning sun, softened through slatted blinds, drift across purple wall and artwork, lamp and bookcase – illuminating memories of a life lived with joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, pain and pleasure, brokenness and redeeming love.

Getting Ready

_DSC0103

Spring dune flowers in Upper Michigan

It is August and today the weather has that late summer feel, when I start thinking of Fall and our annual 5-week camping trip from mid-August to mid-September. I am so eager to go as we are returning to the Canadian Rockies, the western side of Glacier International Park, and down to Oregon to see our grandson’s family. I have menu items planned, our bed made up for warmer nights, have started stocking the cupboards with staples, and have meals in the freezer so we don’t have to do much grocery shopping while on the road. Next week I’ll be able to start packing in earnest as we will need both warm weather and cold weather bedding and clothes. I really want to get this show on the road.

At the same time as I am eager to move on into Fall and our travelling home, I have been spending time looking at the photos from our last camping trip with friends to the very upper portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan. Not surprising because both involve quiet, easy living. My request for a day trip was to go to Wilderness State Park that is situated where Lake Michigan narrows into the Straits of Mackinaw between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Our friend was asking if we would be able to see the Big Mac so I told him to pull over at a turn-off.

_DSC0110

I remember camping at Wilderness when our kids were young but the campground didn’t look familiar. That has happened several places because the shorelines change as sands shift resulting in the campgrounds needing to be redesigned and enlarged. What was the same was the sense of wildness and quiet. We were far away from towns.

It is a place where the kids learned how to entertain themselves with simple activities using nature’s toys. Maybe we don’t outgrow this pleasure.

_DSC0081

The vastness of each of the five Great Lakes pulls me into thinking about the greater questions of life as I gaze into the horizon. Sometimes we engage in small talk, but most of the time we just enjoy quiet time together.

_DSC0083

This is a beautiful wilderness in the summer months with warm sun and cool breezes off the water. In the winter the weather can be brutal although a lot of people enjoy the outdoor winter sports that are available. When I think of winter in northern Michigan, I think of Florida.

But before I think of Florida, I’m thinking of driving across Canada and down the Rocky Mountains into the northwest states. I’m thinking of traveling with our cozy little home behind us, spending time exploring the changing landscapes, eating healthy meals we cook ourselves, finding small pleasures along the way, and taking lots of photographs.

 

Sunday Calm: Water Lily Humor

_DSC0039

I was leaving the upper lily ponds at the Naples Botanical Garden when I heard some chuckles that turned into laughter. The lily foliage were having such a happy conversation that I wished I was bilingual. My take-away was a smile.

Comfortable Being in Place & Time

_DSC0010

My visit to the Naples Botanical Garden on this recent morning had a different feel to it – I was in a strange state of mind that I am struggling to define. I very seldom head for the garden with an agenda, that I’m going to photograph landscapes or succulents or textures. The morning and the garden speak to me, and I listen. I allow areas or scenes to pull me in, to pique my imagination, to challenge my creative desires.

_DSC0006

I was feeling a lot of body fatigue that made me want to find a bench to sit and wait for  life to come to me, maybe even pass me by. Instead my mind was captivated by the unique colors and creative lighting at the lily pond.

_DSC0007

The light defined what was important to photograph. The flowers I have seen before appeared different, and the single water flower floating high above the water was impossible to ignore. I felt the earth stretching and yawning as the sun rose above the surrounding trees.

The color, texture and composition of these lily pads displayed an aging beauty in the soft morning light. The water surface laid still from lack of a breeze, not able to compete for textural attention.

_DSC0015

Maybe what I saw reflected the fatigue in my body, but the flowers seemed to be slow to reach out to the sun. There seemed to be no urgency. All the flowers and foliage appeared to be comfortable just being in time and place.

How silly of me to assign human thought and motive to plant material. We frequently see ourselves, project our own thoughts and emotions onto what we see. Maybe all that I am saying about the garden on this morning is really what I was experiencing in my mind and body.

_DSC0022

When I left the lily pond, I decided to walk along the path between the formal garden and the lake in the natural garden. My desired destination was the benches along this walk, I still felt the need to be still. My reward was watching an egret fishing for some morning morsels. When I moved on to another bench, I watched a tri-colored heron preening and warming in the morning sun.

I didn’t spend as much time in the garden as is usual, and I even passed by the cafe where I normally stop for a scone and ginger limeade. We were between house guests and I knew I better watch calories because our guests want to make the most of their vacations and Naples is a phenomenal place for eating out. After close to a month of visitors my waist and tummy have responded.

I have missed that special culinary treat in the garden cafe so next time I’m going to indulge. For this visit, what I treasure is being¬†comfortable just being in time and place as I photographed the garden.