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

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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.”

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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

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.

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  ✝

1297. There are no sounds that can stir the sublime emotions of men’s souls like the sighs and whispers of nature. ~James Lendall Basford

Magic is really only the utilization
of the entire spectrum of the senses.
Humans have cut themselves off
from their senses. Now they see only
a tiny portion of the visible spectrum,
hear only the loudest of sounds;
their sense of smell is shockingly poor,
and they can only distinguish
the sweetest and sourest of tastes.
~Michael Scott

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I know the thrill of the grasses
when the rain pours over them.
I know the trembling of the leaves
when the winds sweep through them.
I know what the white clover
felt as it held a drop of dew
pressed close in its beauteousness.
I know the quivering of the fragrant petals
at the touch of the pollen-legged bees.
I know what the stream said
to the dipping willows, and what
the moon said to the sweet lavender.
I know what the stars said when
they came stealthily down and crept
fondly into the tops of the trees.
~Muriel Strode

…there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord… ~Excerpt fro Jeremiah 33:10 and 11  ✝

1293. We strain to renew our capacity to wonder, to shock ourselves into astonishment once again. ~Shana Alexander

Human life is as evanescent as the
morning dew or a flash of lightning.
~Samuel Butler

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The disciples are drawn to the high altars
with magnetic certainty, knowing that a
great Presence hovers over the ranges …
in the primal patterns of nature,
a magical union with beauty.
~Ansel Adams

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Beauty is truth’s smile when she
beholds her own face in a perfect mirror.
~Rabindranath Tagore

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The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.
The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
speaks to me.
The faintness of the stars,
the trail of the sun,
the strength of fire,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.
And my heart soars.
~Chief Dan George

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He(God) performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. ~Job 5:9 ✝

**Images via Pinterest

1278. In the fall each seed is like a child being loosed upon the earth to wait for the blessing of sun and rain to fulfill its destiny. ~Natalie

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression,
it must come completely undone.
The shell cracks, its insides come out,
and everything changes.
To someone who doesn’t understand growth,
it would look like complete destruction.
~Cynthia Occelli

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“Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God, nothing seems to me more surprising that the planting of a seed in the blank earth and the result thereof.  Take that Poppy seed, for instance: it lies in your palm, the merest atom of matter, hardly visible, a speck, a pin’s point in bulk, but within it is imprisoned a spirit of beauty ineffable, which will break its bonds and emerge from the dark ground and blossom in a splendor so dazzling as to baffle all powers of description.” ~Celia Thaxter

Where I live winters are mild and so poppies must be sown in the fall. After weeks of making preparations, today was the day to sow not only my poppy seeds, but also the hollyhock, larkspur, and bachelor button seeds. Now in a week or so they will germinate, and I shall squeal with delight once more to find little green babies popping up everywhere. Among the other truly amazing things about the sowing process, is the fact that these small new seedlings will survive some pretty cold days and maybe even some ice and snow. But the leaves of trees, many of which have yet to fall, will eventually blanket the ground and keep my babies warm and safe until the spring’s sun urges them upward and onward. And as for me going out to check on them throughout winter’s often gloomy and forbidding days will keep me thrilled and hopeful!

They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest… ~Psalm 107:37 ✝

**Images of poppy seed pods and seeds found on Pinterest; border and special effects via iPiccy