1351. Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star! ~Excerpted line from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

Beauty is a nectar which
intoxicates the soul.
~T.C. Henley

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In north central Texas where I live, more often than not, we have a winter warm up for a week or so in January. It’s just enough for a few things to believe that spring has arrived and subsequently bloom weeks earlier than normal. As a result of this year’s January warm up, my first magnolia stellata, sometimes called the star magnolia, opened this morning believing that springtime had indeed arrived. Her white, tinged with pink, beauty intoxicated, as it always does, not only my soul but also my eyes. Thus  I found myself uttering the usual litany of words about her stellar loveliness, words like exquisite, gorgeous, magnificent, elegant and so on. However, I given that I’m certain the magnolia has been egregiously duped by January’s treacherous travesty,  I also offered up a prayer that none of her succeeding blooms should perish before the return to winter that February will bring.

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Ecclesiastes 3:4 tell us there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…,” and what amazes me is that even the creatures and beauties of the field seem to know this. The more I observe the goings on in my garden and other aspects of Creation, the more awestruck I become with its plans, its workings, and its Maker. God’s promises are rock solid and too is His faithfulness in keeping them. For no matter what may strike at the foundations of Creation, nothing stops it cycles and continuation. Another thing that simply blows my mind is that God specifically chose all of you and I to partner with Him in Creation’s amazing and ongoing drama. Perhaps that’s something we should contemplate and let sink down deep in our spirits every day and then thereafter take great delight in the peace that comes with such an awareness.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… ~Ecclesiastes 3:1  ✝

1343. Sometimes we need to sink to the depths to know how to swim to the light. ~Julie Parker

Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on.
Let your tears water the seeds
of your future happiness.
~Steve Maraboli

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If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse. ~Anthon St. Maarten

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. ~Psalm 116:8  ✝

**Image found on Pixabay

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

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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

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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

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

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

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

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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

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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

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

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

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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

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

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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

1329. Life is a series of little deaths out of which life always returns. ~Charles Feidelson, Jr.

Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter
lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb
opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.  ~
Barbara Winkler

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Skies were gray early today, and it was cold, decidedly cold. Bare tree branches filigreed the heavens in brown lacy patterns, and up high in one of them, a neighbor’s pecan tree, I spotted a leafy squirrel’s nest. And as on other occasions I pondered how warm it could truly up there be as well as how the fragile looking nest manages to hold together in gusty north winds. However despite my lack of understanding about that, it simply adds yet another piece to my awareness of ordained purposes for fallen autumnal leaves. Not only are they used appaarently as nest building materials but they also protect and enrich the soil, provide nurseries for butterfly larvae/pupae, overwintering habitats for queen bumblebees and other beneficial insects and microbes as well as affording animals like frogs and salamanders places to hunt and hide, offering food for ground-feeding birds, and doing beneficially good things for the soil. That’s why nature’s tutelage never fails to reveal great insights into God’s heart and His grand plan in Creation. For who but a loving Father would not only create life but also build in ways to keep it nurtured and healthy. ‘Tis this that speaks emphatically of Divine design and what keeps me from seeing any validity whatsoever in a “bang bang” theory or the idea that “good or vibes” of fortune just randomly float in and around our lives from somewhere up above in the cosmos. Even if one were to believe that an ancient concentration of energy and matter expanded and exploded at some point in time to create the building blocks of the universe and life and matter as we know it, that still doesn’t explain where, how, and by what hand/means the concentration of such was in existence and/or from where and how “good or bad vibes” emanate. Everything in nature speaks of rhyme and reason, and that can’t be as easily explained away as it being irrelevant or it being written off to obscurity and anonymity. The past and the natural world yet and eternally whisper of a holy Creator!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. ~Genesis 1:1  ✝

**Photo 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