1356. The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within. ~William C. Bryant

yellow jasmine and
daffodils too have I seen
springtime harbingers

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poppy progeny
grows where seeds fell from dried pods
as summer drew nigh

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tulip foliage
as well as anemones
break ground ‘neath the oak

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new leaves appear on
roses that survived the first
hard, too early freeze

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This is what the Lord says to me: “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat…” ~Excerpted passage from Isaiah 18:4  ✝

**All but two images taken by Natalie; collages created by Natalie; haikus written 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

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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

1318. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples… ~John Muir

The oaks and pines and their brethren of the wood,
have seen so many suns rise and set,
so many seasons come and go,
and so many generations pass into silence,
that they may well wonder what
“the story of the trees” would be to us
if they had tongues to tell it,
or if we had ears fine enough to understand.
-Author Unknown

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When one thinks about earth’s courts in such a way, he/she realizes that trees, like us, stand on hallowed ground, and so it’s not surprising that throughout the ages trees have been given deep and sacred meanings. By observing the growth and death of trees, the flexible nature of their branches, the annual reoccurrence of their foliage, humanity has seen trees as powerful symbols of growth, decay, and resurrection. Trees and their way of providing shade and shelter are adored by both wildlife and humanity alike, and the views afforded from their lofty heights are to be envied. Trees are more than simply the largest elements of the landscape or garden; over time they become like venerated companions that unfailingly stand by us throughout the seasons and storms of life. Given their size and the fact that they prevent soil erosion, provide weather-sheltered ecosystems in and under their leaves, play a vital role in the production of oxygen and the reduction of carbon dioxide, moderate ground temperatures, and produce orchard fruits, trees speak to us of the largesse and power of God.

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Soon and in a blaze of glory the trees bearing the leaves in my photos will be stripped of their foliage, but though barren and seemingly no more than a silent sentry where they stands, somewhere in their core their music will play on. Muir’s idea that the fibers of the tree’s being thrills “like harp strings” at all times is true and answers Walt Whitman’s inquiry, “Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?” The music of life plays on in all of Creation, and like God’s presence it is never absent from us. We may not always hear the music but the melodies are there. We may be absent from the Lord, but He is never absent from us. He can be found in the lights of the sky, the colors of earth, the warmth of the sun, in waters that flow, in the wind that can be felt but not seen, and in the boughs of mighty trees. In his Celtic Psalter J. Philip Newell uses the image of trees as a revelation of God’s presence, “Like light dappling through the leaves of a tree and wind stirring its branches, like birdsong sounding from the heights of an orchard and the scent of blossom after rainfall, so you dapple and sound in the human soul, so you stir into motion all that lives.” When our ears and eyes weren’t “fine enough to understand,” God sent us His son. As we follow the star to the manger in celebration of Christ’s birth in a few weeks, may the music in all that God has made be heard, acknowledged, and honored.

For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. -Luke 11:10  ✝

O come, O come Emmanuel!

1317. When I am among the trees, they give off such hints of gladness. ~Excerpted and combined lines from a poem by Mary Oliver

Autumn is the American season.The leaves
take fire on the trees and hang there flaming.
~Excerpted and combined lines
by Archibald MacLeish

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MacLeish is right; the leaves hang in varying shades of flaming red and orange and yellow. And I’m happy to report that it seems the weather guys were a tad overly zealous about the forecast last night. Although it did freeze, the temperature did not fall far enough below freezing to vanquish autumn’s glory after all. Now tonight may be a different story. But we’ll see. My grandfather used to say that anyone who tried to predict the weather in Texas was either a fool or a jackass because ya just never know for sure what the weather’s gonna do in the Lone Star State. However since NOAA is predicting temps in the low 20’s tonight and just in case they’re right this time, I went out today and took one last photographic look at autumn’s splendor, not only that which aflame hangs but also that which ultimately falls to the ground.

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Four hundred year old trees,
who draw aliveness from the earth
like smoke from the heart of God,
we come, not knowing you
will hush our little want to be big;

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we come, not knowing
that all the work is so much
busyness of mind; all
the worry, so much
busyness of heart.

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As the sun warms anything near,
being warms everything still
and the great still things
that outlast us

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make us crack l
ike leaves of laurel
releasing a fragrance
that has always been.
~Mark Nepo, In Muir Woods

Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord… ~Excerpt from 1 Chronicles 16:33  ✝

**In the photos are leaves from an assortment of local trees including my Japanese Maple as well as fallen leaves both conglomerates of such and individual ones on my front sidewalk. My favorite was the carpet of yellow Gingko Biloba in the yard of a house my daughter used to own.

1315. The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. ~Helen Keller

Everything has its wonders,
even darkness and silence,
and I learn, whatever state I may
be in, therein to be content.
~Helen Keller

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Oh, what a glory doth the world put on
These peerless, perfect autumn days
There is a beautiful spirit of gladness everywhere,
The wooded waysides are luminous
With brightly painted leaves;
The forest-trees with royal grace have donned
Their gorgeous autumn tapestries;
And even the rocks and fences are broidered
With ferns, sumachs and brilliantly tinted ivies.
But so exquisitely blended are the lights and shades,
The golds, scarlets and purples, that no sense is wearied;
For God himself hath painted the landscape.

The hillsides gleam with golden corn;
Apple and peach-trees bend beneath
Their burdens of golden fruit.
The golden-rods, too, are here, whole armies of them,
With waving plumes, resplendent with gold;
And about the wild grapes, purple and
Fair and full of sunshine,
The little birds southward going
Linger, like travelers at an Inn,
And sip the perfumed wine.
And far away the mountains against the blue sky stand
Calm and mysterious, like prophets of God,
Wrapped in purple mist.
~Helen Keller

I was fortunate enough while working as an educator to be able to teach THE MIRACLE WORKER which is a play written about Helen Keller. Helen had become deaf and blind in infancy and Anne Sullivan was hired by her family to come to their home in Alabama to be her teacher. The inspiring story is one that I believe everyone should read. I have the utmost respect and admiration for these two remarkable women and find it so amazing that a blind woman could write such a beautiful and accurate description of Autumn! The poem was written in 1898.

In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. ~Isaiah 28:19  ✝

**Image of autumn leaves which look almost like fallen jewels upon the ground was via Pinterest

1313. In the woods we return to reason and faith. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson  

How beautifully the leaves grow old!
How full of light and color are their last days!
~John Burroughs

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It is not so much for its beauty
that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts,
as for that subtle something, that quality of air,
that emanation from old trees that so wonderfully
changes and renews a weary spirit.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

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The forest is not merely an expression or representation of sacredness, nor a place to invoke the sacred; the forest is sacredness itself.  Nature is not merely created by God, nature is God. Whoever moves within the forest can partake directly of sacredness, experience sacredness with his entire body, breath sacredness and contain it within himself, drink the sacred water as a living communion, bury his feet in sacredness, open his eyes and witness the burning beauty of sacredness. ~Richard Nelson

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The forests are the flags of nature.
They appeal to all and awaken
inspiring universal feelings.
Enter the forest and the boundaries
of nations are forgotten. It may be
that some time an immortal pine
will be the flag of a united peaceful world.
~Enos A. Mills

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When you enter a grove peopled with ancient trees, higher than the ordinary, and shutting out the sky with their thickly inter-twined branches, do not the stately shadows of the wood, the stillness of the place, and the awful gloom of this doomed cavern then strike you with the presence of a deity?  ~Seneca

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Take me to a quiet place
with earth under our backs,
cradled in a soft forest glade.
There we’ll point out and
acknowledge things we see
and things we do not.
In solitude we’ll take in the
wisdom offered in each other
and in the hum of the forest.
~Phoebe Wahl

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Underfoot, leaves of  wondrous autumn colors
crunch beneath my feet as I tread on and upon
earth’s hallowed ground to capture a piece of the
Lord’s reddened glory laid upon a wooden altar!
~Natalie Scarberry

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When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” ~Luke 5:20  ✝

**Notice the lady bug on the leaf in the first photo. I love it when I get an unexpected bonus on a photo. All photos were taken this last week by me.

1312. Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. ~Rabindranath Tagore

And this, our life, exempt from public haunt,
finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
sermons in stones, and good in everything.
~William Shakespeare

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When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
~Mary Oliver

The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. ~Excerpt from Genesis 2:9  ✝