About hopesquires

I've left behind the daily grind to write full time and to figure out what my own flourishing tree looks like. I'd love to help you flourish and grow along the way, so that you, too, can cultivate a life that pleases God.

Life imitating art imitating life

In last week’s post, I mentioned a recent exhibit my mother and I went to at the North Carolina Museum of Art. The museum has an impressive permanent collection, and each spring, florists descend upon the galleries to interpret works of art using flowers.

Though the exhibit is an annual four-day event, this was the first time for both my mother and me to see it, and I’m so glad we braved the crowds. I only had my cell phone with me, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of my favorites from my phone’s camera.

Calla lilies and one of my favorite paintings in the museum

In some cases, as with the arrangement above, I could easily see the inspiration for the colors and shapes of the blooms the artist/florist chose.

Continue reading

The delight of tiny trees

While I was visiting Raleigh a few weeks ago, the art museum held an annual exhibit called Art in Bloom. I was thrilled the four-day exhibit coincided with my trip, and my mom and I met at the art museum one overcast, chilly morning to enjoy the extravaganza.

Most of it was indoors (more on that part of the exhibit in a future post). Crowds meandered through the museum, clumping around floral exhibits. There was an outdoor part of the exhibit, though, and I’m so happy my mom and I decided to step outside, despite the coolness, to see what was in store.

What awaited us was a collection of bonsai trees.

The Triangle Bonsai Society brought several of these tiny trees to the museum, and members hovered around, happy to chat about the trees, whether theirs or someone else’s.

While I had been fine with just my cell phone for the inside exhibit, I sorely missed having my good camera with me for these trees.

My mom’s favorite was this tiny blooming lilac:

One of the things I never realized about bonsai trees is that they can have different owners over their lifespan. The sign by the lilac tells that while the tree itself is about 15 years old, its owner has only been training it for the last two years.

This Japanese white pine is about 40 years old (!), but its current owner has only been training it for three years.

The intricate moss pattern at the base of this next bonsai made it my favorite. Plus, I love that it seems to be looking at the elms growing behind it, as if to say, “I’m just as much a tree as you.” Can you see its tiny buds beginning to open?

This tree below had the neatest base. I didn’t get to ask any of the bonsai experts if they knew whether the tree had always lived on that particular rock base. The base and the tree trunk mirror each other’s shape and color, and one without the other would not be as interesting. I’m not sure I would have even given the tree a second glance, if not for its base. But look closely at the sign. This tiny tree dates back to the late 1800s. Can you imagine the responsibility each new owner must feel to keep this bonsai flourishing?

I snapped this last shot as Mom and I turned to go back inside. Every time I look at the picture of this one, with the metal sculpture in the background, I cock my head right and then left. I wish they had flipped the tree around to twist in the same direction as the sculpture. Then again, maybe someone was trying to make a statement about life not imitating art.

This Sargent Juniper bonsai is about 65 years old.

I wonder if bonsai trees have a lesson for us about our dreams. They’re beautiful and thriving, despite their diminutive size. They spark curiosity, inspire smiles, and force their owners to learn the specialized skill and discipline of cultivating them.

Because our culture whispers to us that small dreams aren’t as meaningful or significant as grand dreams, maybe, just maybe, these tiny trees can help us see that even our smallest dreams are worth pursuing.

The Easter legend of the dogwood

My mom and I were discussing dogwoods recently. They’re the state flower for North Carolina and the state tree/memorial tree/floral emblem for several other states (Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia).

We’re fortunate to have two pink dogwoods growing in our yard, and they’re in bloom right now, just in time for Easter.

Have you heard the Easter legend of the dogwood? I thought I’d share the version I’ve always heard with you today, this Wednesday of Holy Week. Perhaps you’ve heard a different version? Or never heard the legend at all? It goes a little something like this … Continue reading

Dear Bill and Sally

Four years ago, I shared a story of an inspiring couple, Bill and Sally Squier, who run ultra marathons. They both finished the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run that year, and both have attempted it since.

This past weekend, they were back out at Umstead to try again. Neither made it the full 100 miles. Bill stopped at 37.5 miles, and Sally made it to 50. I haven’t had a chance to talk with them, but I know a hot sun took its toll on Sally.

Did I mention they’re both 74 years old? I’ll pause a moment for you to be impressed.

Sally waved at me on her second trip past me at about mile 19. Note the smile.

Bill smiled, too, as he rounded the corner on his third trip past me. He had already run 31 miles at this point.

I wanted to write them a post-race letter and share it with you, too, because you may find inspiration in their story. Here’s the letter: Continue reading

Playing tourist in your own hometown

Two years ago, I shared a post with you about my first trip back to Raleigh after the big move to California. As I prepare for the same trip this year, I find myself eager to go home but anxious about not being able to see everyone or visit all the places I love. To my friends and family there, please know that I’d love to sit with each one of you for several hours and catch up. This trip simply does not allow for that luxury. I hope you understand.

I’ll see a few beloved people and eat biscuits and drink sweet tea, and that will have to be enough until the next time.

Trying to figure out which places I absolutely must visit while I’m there has me pondering: do you ever play tourist in your own hometown? What are the top three places you always take family or friends when they visit you? Is it a beautiful place? Something fun? Maybe a favorite restaurant or cafe?

I’d love to hear your top three must-see spots in your hometown or where you live now. Will you share them in the comments below?

In the meantime—though my Raleigh list would change each time I made it—here are my top pics for scenery, fun and treats.

For beauty, JC Raulston Arboretum

For fun, Pullen Park

For chocolate, Videri Chocolate Factory

I’m looking forward to hearing your favorite hometown tourist destinations!