November favorites, final week

I don’t know why the powers-that-be decided NaNoWriMo should be the same month as Thanksgiving, but I suppose you could make an argument against any month, and they had to pick one of the twelve.

Writing this past week has been a struggle, partly because of the holiday, partly because of a majestic bird, and partly because some unruly bit-part characters (so minor I didn’t even name them at first) announced that I must tell their story, too. Their story matters, but it may mean NaNoWriMo takes up all of December for me, too. (That’s not necessarily a bad thing.) Continue reading

The essential nature of the field trip

“The lupines are at their most glorious best right now along the river trail,” my husband said to me after his run. His words changed my plans for the morning, especially once I realized I had not taken the river trail for at least five weeks because of shorter walks while my dog healed. She was ready for a longer walk, and I was ready for a field trip.

We rounded the first corner of the river trail, and this is what greeted us:

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A real-life Impressionist painting?

She and I walked the trail together first, and I returned later with the camera. I didn’t want to wear her out with so much standing still while I took photos.

As I walked, I could feel myself inhale more deeply and let go with each exhale a little bit of the tension that had built up in me these last few hard weeks.

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Among the sea of purple, I stopped to listen. The wind rustled—a gentle, unceasing caress—through the flowers. Bees and hummingbirds buzzed about, and water rushed by.

I realized I had underestimated the essential nature of the field trip, more healing and more necessary even in adulthood than in childhood.

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Purple lupine and other blooms, growing wherever possible along the trail

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I loved field trips during school when I was growing up. Whether to a museum, or a farm, or the nearby university, a field trip meant something different and new. My favorite final exam in high school involved a field trip to the art museum so we could choose pieces of art and sit in front of them as we wrote our essays about the artist, the piece, the time period, the art movement of the day.

Field trips take us out of the ordinary, mundane tasks of our daily existence. They refresh, invigorate and recharge us. They teach us to pause and examine beauty we might otherwise miss. I’m especially grateful for this unplanned one.

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Poppies are blooming, too, and I love to see them standing out in the sea of purple flowers.

Have you been on a field trip lately? Is it time to get outside and discover what you’ve been missing this spring?

Birdwatching

The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
— Song of Solomon 2:12

Is it any wonder that a woman who loves trees so much should eventually turn her attention to the birds living and dancing and nesting among those trees?

The last few weeks have brought early signs of spring and a stunning array of birds to the river, including what I believe is a Golden Eagle. I’ve spent countless hours out along the river banks taking photographs and trying to see the eagle again.

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The one time I saw the eagle up close, I had no camera or phone with me. Probably Murphy’s Law in action. When I have brought my camera with me, the eagle is either in hiding or perched across the river, too far for a good, clear photograph.

I’m no birding expert, but I have started learning the names and characteristics of an increasing number of birds. I thought you might like to come along on a virtual field trip with me to see a few of my favorites.

Continue reading

Snapshots from home

Plenty of folks may say you can’t go home again, and I understand what they mean. But I went home to North Carolina for a bit of rest a few weeks ago anyway. Here are some snapshots and brief thoughts of my visit home.

It’s hard to balance the need to rest with the desire to catch up with dear friends and family, and so I ended up not doing as much of either as I had hoped. I am slowly realizing that it may always be this way on the visits home, the pull of the heart to spend time with those I love and the pull of the body to rest and soak up the nature of this beautiful place.

The cows came up to the near pasture on my hike through this most favorite of places:

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I always love this view but especially when the field is full of cows.

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Fields of gold

I almost missed my chance at taking this hike, so busy hiking and running and walking in other loved places, but if I hadn’t gone, I would have missed the lilies blooming: Continue reading

The dragonfly visitor

As I continue to fight to get over a lingering illness, my energy is slowly coming back. A couple of days ago, I knew I was on the mend because I felt like going outside to take some pictures.

A visitor has been stopping by my house every day, usually several times a day. She kindly posed for me on several of her favorite perches:

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Glittering in the sun

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Smiling at me?

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Sunning atop an apple tree

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I cannot get over the intricacy of her wings

I’ve been calling her Joy—first, because her visits delight me. Second, one of my dearest friends is named Joy, and she loves dragonflies. So when this small, beautiful creature visits me, she makes me smile and makes me think of my sweet friend.

What visitors delight you in your garden? Or bring you joy on your daily walk? Or welcome you in a special place you visit to unwind?