Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Garden

Tom Paxton wrote the song “Whose Garden Was This?” for the first Earth Day in 1970. John Denver released an album that same year, named for the song, which he covered.

Whose garden was this? It must have been lovely
Did it have flowers? I’ve seen pictures of flowers
And I’d love to have smelled one

Tell me again, I need to know
The forests had trees, the meadows were green
The oceans were blue, and birds really flew
Can you swear that was true?

Whose river was this? You say it ran freely
Blue was its color, I’ve seen blue in some pictures
And I’d love to have been there

Tell me again, I need to know
The forests had trees, the meadows were green
The oceans were blue, and birds really flew
Can you swear that was true?

Those who imagine the Earth as a garden, as opposed to a wilderness, consider humans to be the primary architects of plant communities and responsible for their creation and maintenance. In this Anthropocene Era, human impact dominates the landscape, and the soil serves our needs – for food, for resources, for beauty, for creativity. It’s important to remember, though, that one of our needs is to have a healthy planet, one that will be resilient to our mistakes, our greed, our hubris. There is always a need for observation and humility, an imperative that we learn from autonomous ecosystems.

Whose garden was this? It must have been lovely
Did it have flowers? I’ve seen pictures of flowers
And I’d love to have smelled one..

Thank you to AMY for this week’s challenge theme, and Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow to all you blogging Moms (like me)!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Colorful April

“April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

This morning in April, here in Oregon, there is frost on the ground, but the sun is shining brightly. I’ve spotted daffodils and tulips and crocuses and forsythia and trillium and trout lily and Western blue flag iris in bloom already this month. The predominant color around here, though, is Spring Green. Fescue fields cover vast expanses of farmland nearby, where Icelandic sheep, domestic sheep, horses, goats, and donkeys graze.

On the first day of April, the trails around the marsh at Finley Wildlife Refuge open for the season. They are closed during the winter to protect the migrating birds who are resting and nesting. The skies are full of long skeins of flocks from November through March. When I ventured over there a few days ago, I noticed a small population of ducks and geese, and one heron. I had only my Samsung Galaxy phone with me, but I took a few photos nevertheless.

“Spring is made of solid, fourteen-karat gratitude, the reward for the long wait. Every religious tradition from the northern hemisphere honors some form of April hallelujah, for this is the season of exquisite redemption, a slam-bang return to joy after a season of cold second thoughts.” ― Barbara Kingsolver

I have to add my gratitude for the gifts of flowers that I have received this month as well, displayed on my dining room table. (again, taken with my phone) They certainly illustrate a return to joy in my life!

Thank you to Amy at The World Is A Book for inviting us to share the theme of her beautifully colorful post. May we all experience that April “hallelujah” and new joy in our lives!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Change of Scenery

Spring Beauty

“The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart. If you have ever recovered from a serious illness, you will be familiar with the blessed state when you are in a delicious state of anticipation, and are liable to smile without any obvious reason. Evidently that is what nature is experiencing just now.” ― Anton Chekhov

The Vernal Equinox is here, announcing the first day of Spring! A change of scenery is about to unfold all around you, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. What have you seen so far? Crocuses? Daffodils? Forsythia?  

Have you sighted returning migratory birds like red-winged blackbirds, cranes, geese, robins? Have you witnessed any courtship rituals?

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Have you started any Spring projects yet? Cleaning, planting, or otherwise loving a change of scenery into being? 

“Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.”
― John Muir

It won’t be long now before the Earth shows on parade the joyful resilience of Life that we have come to know in the depths of our souls as HOPE. 

“The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

It has certainly been a long, strange, and anxious year. I welcome a change of scenery from the dreary outlook of fear, manifest in so many ways on so many levels. There is much to be learned from the long, dark time that we’ve been through, much to be brought into the sunlight and witnessed with new eyes and a new resolve. May we all do the work of Spring in our lives and enjoy the change of scenery that New Life brings!

 

Many thanks to Beth of Wandering Dawgs for hosting this Lens-Artists challenge and welcoming a Change of Scenery into our week!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Detail

Patti poses an interesting challenge this week: when the scope of a scene is visually overwhelming, choose to focus on a detail that hints at the grandeur of the whole.
For me, that sense of overwhelming wonder is always present when I am outside in Nature. I love the Earth. I work for a Conservation Foundation, and I am often dazzled by the beauty of the land while I am also stunned by the complexity of biological interactions and the enormity of the task of preserving ecosystems that are under constant threats of degradation. I believe that showing people the accessible beauty of the world around them can engender the kind of affection for Place that will motivate them to protect it, to safeguard it for the future.
Have you ever looked at a common plant up close? Or gazed into the intelligent eyes of an animal?  There are details all around you capable of blowing your mind with the immense and intricate magnificence of Life. I invite you to become a Lover of Life — a Biophile, if you will.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Nature

“Measured against the agenda of human survival, how might we rethink education? Let me suggest six principles.

First, all education is environmental education.” — David Orr, What Is Education For?

 

I actually met and spoke to David Orr at a conference near the Aldo Leopold Foundation Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin a few years ago. He is a fascinating speaker, a person who has clearly thought a great deal about how humans fit into the natural world.

Yesterday, I spent the morning volunteering in a homeschool class at a Nature Center. The children, aged 6-8, shared their journal entries during snack time. They each had spent time in a “Secret Place”, observing the natural world around them, drawing pictures, writing sentences using vocabulary words, and playing. I was so pleased to see this, and told them that they were following in the footsteps of Aldo Leopold, Henry David Thoreau, Beatrix Potter and many, many others — very important thinkers and learners.

What do we need to learn from Nature? So much. I have a page on this blog called “Spiritual Lessons from Nature”. Click on the link just under the header if you’re curious about them.

Some things I’ve learned about Nature: it’s powerful and deserving of respect. 

It’s complex and autonomous.

It’s vast and largely incomprehensible.

It’s older than anyone can imagine. 

It’s more detailed than anyone can see. 

Humans are just one small leaf on the great Tree of Life.  That’s always good to remember. 

Thanks to Patti for hosting this challenge and for sharing stunning photos of Fiji.

For My Own Sake

It’s still cold and snowy here in Wisconsin, and I have to do my taxes. I’m looking for a bright spot. I found a lot of them last weekend when I was in Chicago for my son’s wedding. The brightest were about family and love, but there was this other bit that was also bright and colorful — a visit to the Garfield Park Conservatory.

There are goldfinches at my feeder. I see their feathers brightening a bit each day from their winter brown to that radiant, sunny yellow I love so much. It’s only a matter of time. I will try to “possess my soul in patience”. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny!

“Hey, look! A plastic castle!”

No thank you. Plastic? Yuck. Man made? Not interested. 

My favorite diversions, distractions, and delightful detours are definitely of the flowers-and-butterflies variety.

Polygonia comma

Gray treefrog

Blue vervain

But to tell you the truth, these things are not merely beautiful bagatelles. These are the elements of a grand eco-system, the intrinsic parts of a working Universe. And so I am trying to be that disciplined, working person that focuses on protecting these habitats. They are not my distraction, then, they are my day plan. 

Ooh, Shiny!

Flowers! Just because….

The sun peeked out today for the first time in about a week. Cold, gray, snowy, icy, cloudy, foggy Wisconsin tends to get me down. Getting up in the dark, working through a sunless day, and then going home in the dark seems to pull all the shape out of life. And the news is even more depressing. So, I’m injecting some color and light into things with this post. Enjoy!