1337. Of winter’s lifeless world each tree now seems a perfect part; yet each one holds spring’s secret deep down within its heart. ~Edited quote by Charles G. Stater

Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours;
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers…
~Thomas Campion

Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 5.45.42 PM.png

Gray, foggy dreariness
ushered in the day;
A mist, a cold, frigid drizzle,
fell from on high;
Bare, starkly austere, lay everything
I could see; and
Silence, a stilled quietude, blanketed
my wintry garden.
Bleakly naked, towered tall trees that
stood above all else,
But underneath them from the secret place
murmured a voice,
The sacred, almost indistinguishable, faint
whisper emerged amid
The fog and fine rain to go forward undetected
past the woody sentinels
To allow its utterances to break into morn’s reverie
to tell of signs, longed for signs
Of tiny sparks of life that are preparing to push up
despite the gloominess
And ‘twas this message that stirred embers in my spirit
to keep their glimmer from
Becoming far too dim to continue sustaining my hope,
expectations, and “joie de vie.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 5.43.51 PM.png

Don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter.
It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.
~Rumi

The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds. ~Job 37:9 ✝

**Both photos taken by Natalie

1334. Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Willis Peterson said, “A click of the shutter, a crank of the film, and you’ve caught forever a significant bit of life,” and I could not agree more. But to each of us the “significant bit of life” we choose to capture photographically may be vastly different. For me it is the natural world in general, and my garden of flowers in particular. So when winter begins to weigh heavily on me, I turn to my archives to find “significant bits” from previous years to lift off the weight of lackluster winter. While I share Ehrmann’s prayer with you, I decided I’d share some of my treasured “bits.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 5.05.41 PM.png

Let me do my work each day;
and if the darkened hours
of despair overcome me, may
I not forget the strength
that comforted me in the
desolation of other times.

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 5.50.18 PM.png

May I still remember the bright
hours that found me walking
over the silent hills of my
childhood, or dreaming on
the margin of a quiet river,
when a light glowed within me,
and I promised my early God
to have courage amid the
tempests of the changing years.

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 10.38.11 PM.png

Spare me from bitterness
and from the sharp passions of
unguarded moments. May
I not forget that poverty and
riches are of the spirit.
Though the world knows me not,
may my thoughts and actions
be such as shall keep me
friendly with myself.

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 4.03.04 PM.png

Lift up my eyes
from the earth, and let me not
forget the uses of the stars.
Forbid that I should judge others
lest I condemn myself.
Let me not follow the clamor of
the world, but walk calmly
in my path.

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 4.10.32 PM.png

Give me a few friends
who will love me for what
I am; and keep ever burning
before my vagrant steps
the kindly light of hope.

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 4.33.30 PM.png

And though age and infirmity
overtake me, and I come not within
sight of the castle of my dreams,
teach me still to be thankful
for life, and for time’s olden
memories that are good and
sweet; and may the evening’s
twilight find me gentle still.
~Max Ehrmann

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 4.15.17 PM.png

Let us not depreciate Earth. The sun was like a great visiting presence that stimulated and took its due from all animal energy. When it flung wide its cloak and stepped down over the edge of the fields at evening, it left behind it a spent and exhausted world. ~Willa Cather

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 4.52.47 PM.png

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. ~Psalm 42:8  ✝

1331. I live someplace where snow is rare, you know? It’s rareness makes it so special. ~Edited quote by Stephanie Perkins

Snow is diamonds for a faery’s feet;
Blithely and bonnily she trips along,
Her lips a-carol with a merry song,
And in her eyes the meaning…
Life is sweet!
~Poem by Ruby Archer

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 8.06.58 PM.png

A 20% chance! Just 20%, that was all we had, and since that is almost next to nothing, we never expected to see snow here today. But snow it did for just a little while. It wasn’t a heavy snow, but it was enough to work its magic in places.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 5.55.41 PM.png

The first fall of snow is not only
an event, it is a magical event.
~ J. B. Priestley

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 5.54.05 PM.png

A few feathery flakes are scattered
widely through the air, and hover downward
with uncertain flight, now almost alighting on the earth,
now whirled again aloft into remote regions of the atmosphere.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 8.06.43 PM.png

Snow flurries began to fall and
they swirled around people’s legs
like
like house cats…It was magical.
~Sarah Addison Allen

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 8.00.49 PM.png

The wind crooned softly 
as it
dusted the snow 
against the window…
~Soheir Khashoggi

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 6.04.22 PM.png

Snow…blots and softens the top of
every object like ice on a plum pudding.
~Mark Haddon

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 7.57.26 PM.png

Snow was the most beautiful thing
Amitola had ever seen. It fell so gracefully
and drizzled like a cold whisper.
~Edited quote by Aishabella Sheikh

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 7.58.52 PM.png

Snow is falling outside and
all is peaceful and still. In such
moments it is possible to believe
that the world can still be good.
~Richard Paul Evans

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 8.07.16 PM.png

Snowflakes fall from high.
Flurries lift and twirl below.
The world has turned white.
~Richelle E. Goodrich

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 6.04.48 PM.png

Will had loved the snow,
the cleanness of it, the quiet,
the sense of peace it brought…
~Sandra Dallas

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 6.01.31 PM.png

I love snow…especially snow that happens
when you least expect it and it just sprinkles…
It feels like a secret. ~Edited quote
by Kate Messner

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 8.02.33 PM.png

Two things, love and snow, make
the world look fresh again…
~Edited quote by ~Charles Finch

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 8.04.08 PM.png

Winter invites white;
white invites silence;
silence invites peace.
You see, there is so
much peace in snow!
~Edited quote
by Mehmet Murat ildan

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater… ~Isaiah 55:10  ✝

**All photos taken in her yard by Natalie

1328. It is an old story, this irresistible and ceaseless onflow of life and time… ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.
~William Blake

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 7.11.50 PM.png

Dead and brown is all that once was verdant and full of life. And again today a north wind blew to scatter more of autumn’s splendrous, leafy remains. Willy nilly the leaves whirled about and over the ground as if they were happy children chasing one another. Though a smattering of leaves yet dons a tree or two, for the most part the yard is a graveyard of clattering skeletons, desiccated leaves and withered flowers, bare soil and beige sod. Too, the beating heart of Creation’s life has grown ever so faint, but nonetheless it is discernible to the listening, longing ear. All the while beneath the surface, there’s an entirely different story evolving. For it is there that miraculous, even magical, proceedings are taking place and moving to the rhythm of winter’s muted heartbeat. And as they advance, they gather strength from their sacred sources, mother nature and Father God. So carry on tiny embryos of earth’s womb; I shall wait patiently and not lose heart nor faith while surrounded by this death and decay for I trust and know you will rise in the Spring and once more thrill me beyond the ability to speak so that only squeals of joy will fill the space herein between heaven and earth.

How can those who do not garden,
who have no lot in the great fraternity
of those who watch the changing year
as it affects the earth and its growth,
how can they keep warm their hearts in winter?
~Francis King

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” ~Genesis 8:22  ✝

**Photos taken by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1316. So much has been given to me I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied. ~Helen Keller

For three things I thank God every day of my life:
thanks that he has vouchsafed me knowledge of his works;
deep thanks that he has set in my darkness the lamp of faith;
deep, deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to–
a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song.
~Helen Keller

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 7.57.47 PM.png

Oh autumn, how late you came, but how glorious you have been! Today, however, winter’s first cold, cold breath has blown hard across the garden and these flowery “babies” I found today will perish in the frigid hours before dawn’s first light. In gratitude for their coming I shall like Helen and the author of the poem below go to sleep tonight thanking God that they came at all.

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 7.21.21 PM.png

Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 7.54.01 PM.png

Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father’s good health,
My daughter’s new job,
The song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 7.21.44 PM.png

Decent coffee at the airport,
And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me,
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat, a new poem, my library card,
And that my car keeps running
Despite all the miles.

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 7.22.02 PM.png

And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and
I just keep on going,
I keep naming and listing,
Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.
~Carrie Newcomer

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 7.43.37 PM.png

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~Colossians 2:6-7  ✝

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 7.20.39 PM.png
**This tiny little sunflower came up from a fallen seed that had dropped down out of the bird feeder. I’ve been watching to see if it would bloom before winter nipped it in the bud and sure enough it did. The photos are not my best effort this time, but it was too darned cold to stand out in that cold north wind for long.

1310. Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.~George Eliot

Trickle, trickle, trickle! Plop, plop, plop! How
Steadily the sand falls in the year’s hourglass.
Wait, wait, wait. Day after day we’ve waited
Until at long last you stepped ever so lightly
Through a door which opened months ago.

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 8.39.12 PM.png

How is it that I’m so sure of your presence now?
What is it that speaks loudly of your arrival?
Perhaps it’s the changed hue of a once green leaf,
Or the gusty winds, from both north and south.

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 8.38.24 PM.png

Or could it be the chilled hours at dawn and again
At day’s end? Or it could be the slant of golden
Light, or the nip in the air, or the richness of colors
No longer faded by summer’s miserable heat.

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 8.38.43 PM.png

Or just maybe it’s being able to dally on mellow
Afternoons, or it could be seeing northers
Push hard against the garden’s weathervane
Or maybe it’s the deep blue of the skies above.

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 8.39.41 PM.png

Last season and fourth child of the year,
Autumn, golden, splendid, glorious autumn,
You are late in coming but you’re finally here
And oh, oh, oh, how very welcome you are!

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 8.40.37 PM.png

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. ~Psalm 136:1  ✝

**All of these photos were taken by me in and around my neighborhood today. I know many of you have been enjoying autumn for some time, but the colorful part of ours didn’t starting happening until recently. I know not how long it will last since we are rapidly approaching the Winter Solstice but I shall enjoy ever minute of it until winter topples her and sits on its chilly throne.

1309. O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being. ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

So I like best of all autumn,
because its tone is mellower,
its colors are richer,
and it is tinged with a little sorrow.
~Lin Yutang

Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 7.39.22 PM.png

If I had to pick a recent, appropriate emblem for deep November, it would be the mellow richness of this rose. Though a wild west wind has blown today, the day I found it, dawn had broken under a heavy fog, and when the mist lifted, this rose and everything else in the garden was left completely soaked. It was as if the heavens had rained down a multitude of tears and tinged the landscape with more than the little autumn sorrow of which Yutang speaks. I for one have to wonder if, with daybreak coming later and later and darkness falling earlier and earlier, a garden knows that the year has almost completed another turn around the sun. If so and because the longing to be, to exist as an expression of the Divine Presence, can be seen in all Creation, that longing is not easily given up.

As this year draws to its end
we give thanks for the gifts it has brought
and how they came inlaid within,
where neither time nor tide
could touch them, and we also thanks
for the days when the veil lifted
and the soul could see delight;
when a quiver caressed the heart
in the sheer exuberance of being here.
-Excerpted and edited lines
by John O’Donohoe

When we take time to look beyond the trials of life, we see God’s blessings and realize that daily we continue to be given endowments of grace from the Host of the universe. From unmistakable “quivers that caress the heart” we know that we are not alone. We know that we belong to God and recognize a longing within us to touch Him. We know that He sits at the heart of life, and from there works at bringing to fruition that which He inlaid in us from the beginning. We know too that He is beside us in every moment and that our sadness is His sadness, our joy His joy, our loss His loss, our victory His victory.

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done. ~1 Chronicles 16:8  ✝

1291. The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered at times over the garden… ~Excerpted and adapted line by Henri-Frédéric Amiel

Screen Shot 2016-11-05 at 6.26.01 PM.png

In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil. ~Rose G. Kingsley

Screen Shot 2016-11-05 at 6.25.30 PM.png

And at no season, save perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb colour effects as we find in October and November when a cooler version of summer is in effect in Texas. ~Edited and adapted quote by Rose G. Kingsley

Screen Shot 2016-11-05 at 6.24.41 PM.png

I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud and too hot. ~Edited and adapted line by Lin Yutang

Screen Shot 2016-11-05 at 6.29.48 PM.png

So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. ~Lin Yutang

Screen Shot 2016-11-05 at 6.30.16 PM.png

Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. ~Lin Yutang

Screen Shot 2016-11-05 at 6.27.14 PM.png

It knows the limitations of life and its content. ~Lin Yutang

Screen Shot 2016-11-05 at 6.37.02 PM.png

Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? ~Job 12:12  ✝

**All photos taken by me in my yard today. The yard may not has as many blooms now as the riotous days of its early splendor, but it has more than enough to keep feeding my soul.

1281. Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking. ~Khalil Gibran

Everyone is overridden with thoughts; that’s why
they have so much heartache and sorrow.
~Rumi

Screen Shot 2016-10-23 at 6.42.48 PM.png

The Gardener
Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough.
Have I come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
Actually I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
is tending his children, the roses.
~Mary Oliver

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. ~Romans 1:21  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage created by Natalie

1280. October inherits summer’s hand-me-downs… ~Rachel Peden

I know the year is slowly dying…
Ah, ‘tis then I love to wander,
Wander idly and alone,
Listening to the solemn music
Of sweet nature’s undertone…
~Excerpted lines from a poem by
Mortimer Crane Brown

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 6.55.37 PM.png

Though October grows long in the tooth
a measure of summer’s steamy heat lingers on
and so the dance of sweet glories of the morn waltzes on

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 6.54.59 PM.png

The full, harvest moon has come and gone
but the sultry high humidity of August yet remains
thus dance on still the satiny, white glories of the evening

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 8.37.44 PM.png

Morning’s are cooler, some even quite crisp
but afternoons revive September’s persistent misery
keeping at bay the last dance of all the glories in the garden fair

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 6.56.13 PM.png

The grass is showing patches not quite as green
though it’s not dead enough to slow the hum of mowers
near arbors and trellises where scramble high the twining vines

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 6.54.34 PM.png

The promise of autumn rain has not been fulfilled so far
which keeps the gardener’s feet scuffling along the dusty paths
but it has yet to halt the dance of the morning glories and moonflowers

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 8.36.12 PM.png

The sun’s trek from east to west across the yard continues
and days grow shorter and more golden as November draws nigh
but still the flowering vines dance perkily along the chain-link fence lines

Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 6.56.49 PM.png

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. ~James 5:7  ✝

**All the photos taken by me in my yard today