Fading Foothills • Autumnal Wings • Natural Relief Print • Taking Flight
Begin a practice of harvesting daily gratitude. Feel the shift in your body as you drop into what is working in your life.
Welcome the chill in the air and delight in cozy layers.
Notice the the leaves transitioning. Notice the aspen golds, the maple reds, the copper oaks. Notice which ones are shaped like hearts.
Watch for Downy Woodpeckers exploring tree trunks for their winter home.
Savor the last of the summer harvest. Save some for preserves or pickling.
Notice the chestnut pods ripening. Watch for fallen pods, cracked open and exposing a smooth heart-embellished seed.
Begin an evening ritual of sipping warming, wellness teas.
Forage for signs of Fall. Sketch or capture them with your camera.
Gather the remaining sunflowers and offer them to the Earth.
Harvest some seeds from the wildflowers to save and plant again next Spring.
Notice the helicopter seeds forming on the maple trees. Notice how they fall.
Walk through a collection of fallen leaves. Enjoy the crunch and swish. Select a few to press and print.
Discover new recipes for hearty soups.
Bake something fragrant.
Enjoy the return of hot baths.
Prepare for emergencies by finally putting together that 72 hour kit.
Clear out out some clutter, a closet or some drawers. Donate what you no longer need.
Create a dream catcher from dried vines and found feathers. Add some turquoise for protection.
Embrace the opportunity to slow down, to reflect, to fall in love with autumn.
A delicate tea cup embellished with bluebirds holds the morning coffee, freshly brewed. A scant of organic farm fresh cream is carefully poured from a glass pint. The tiny ceramic spoon decorated with a cat face dips into the coffee and gently stirs, blending until the color of dark caramel. The first sip is savored, bitter and sweet, earthy and rich. A hint of fruit and chocolate.
A Patio for Poets • The Writing's on the Web • Have You Walked on a Carpet of Moss? • Head in the Clouds • Ferry Sunset • Lichen Love • A Woolly Bear Predicts a Mild Winter • Wild Egg Cup
I enjoy an adventure now and then, a change of landscape is good for my inner muse. I suppose. But it isn't easy for my sensitive soul that prefers routine and the comforts of home. It seems people leave home to get away, to escape their lives, to remember themselves. But I never need to leave to know who I am. I already realize how much I adore the quiet within your walls, the safety beyond your turquoise door, the warmth of your sunlit rooms, the cozy nooks and morning views. You are my favorite place to retreat— my sanctuary, my refuge from the noise. Perhaps I leave you so that I can return and remember how I prefer to stay home.
Fancy Mouse • The Sweetest Dream • Fiery Fall Foliage • How My Garden Grows • Foraged Herbs • Comos • Freshly Cut Blooms • Pink Asters
When the morning light filters through polluted skies and projects a band of orange across the Western wall, you see this as an air quality indicator, a hazard warning, a blazing sign to not go out for that morning walk. You grieve a bit, actually a lot. For another morning without a cleansing walk, for the land that's burning and lost habitats, for collective lungs struggling to catch a breath, for the haze displacing a clear blue sky, for the incessant disregard for climate change. And you offer a prayer for the air to clear, for human minds and hearts to awaken and care. And the next time you see a band of orange light, you hope it's from a sunset and not from fiery skies.
The Sweetest Reflection • Blooming Stars • Cup of Courage • Garden Magic
A make-shift fountain sits in the yard. It's ceramic base glazed the color of the sea is a repurposed planter with a micro leak. A tiny pool of water collects at the bottom edge, just enough for the bees to quench their thirst. A bucket cut from an old garbage can is carefully centered inside the base. Tucked in between is a layer of soil, planted with greenery that blooms vibrant yellow. The flowers are host to a variety of pollinators and the soil helps cool the recycling water. Attached to the bucket are two bamboo twigs cradling a tin that once cradled a bird feeder. It now holds a layer of smooth glossy stones. Blues and greens with a scattering of red, the bed of pebbles are small landing pads. The bees stop often for a drink or a bath. And above is a faded bamboo spout, split and rugged where the water flows out. Chickadees and finches frequent this perch, dipping their beaks into the algae-infused stream. The flow is slowed to a white noise gurgle, a soothing addition to bird songs and wind. Each year I think of replacing this fountain, thinking it's time to invest in something new. But the reclaimed elements work well together, offering some respite in the heat of summer. Even the leak serves a greater function, a patch of moss absorbs its slow, patient drip. So I'll continue to attend to this haphazard display and its numerous visitors who pause to partake.
Throwing Shards • Life Imitating an Art Nouveau Brooch • Pin Hole Sun • A Fungus Among Us • Blue End of the Spectrum • Mindful Ascent
When the moon begins to shade the morning sun, prick a pin hole viewfinder and track the celestial transition. Notice the strange filtered light like dusk in the morning and how the temperature drops as if it is evening. The birds will quiet down as the air grows still and crickets will begin their song of praise. Witness crescent-shaped sun shadows sift through leafy trees and perhaps you'll see a clock telling time in hearts. Just off the path of totality, darkness won't completely mask the day. But whatever is missed in an almost-total-eclipse, the wonder and magic still remain.
Twenty-four weeks of pausing and noticing, of looking up and zooming in, of harvesting the good and celebrating tiny moments. Twenty-four weeks of beauty and delight, of everyday miracles, of witnessing with wonder. Twenty-four weeks of gathering and collecting, savoring and resourcing small moments of mindfulness. Twenty-four weeks of gratitude.
Weeding the garden is a daily practice— therapy of sorts, mindfulness training. Yanking the invasive toxic intruders from their root frees up my mind, feels cathartic. Untangling the plants from the sticky bind weed unsticks the heaviness of my heart for a moment. The weeds are relentless and easily overwhelming. Attempting them all at once is ungrounding. So each day I attend to one patch of weeds, clearing the space and then the next. Eventually, I've weeded the whole of the garden and then I begin again.
Pond Mosaic • Bird Watching • Iridescent Wings • Royal Visitor • Split Open • Looking Out
Three varieties of hummingbirds have taken refuge in our backyard: a Black-chinned, a Broad-tailed, and a Rufous. The Rufous is the most territorial, zipping in with fierce determination anytime the other two dip in for a drink. His tail feathers are a striking blur of russet, black and white as he fans them out mid-flight. And he seems to prefer to sit at the feeder, taking long dips into the nectar. The Black-chinned is a confident rival. Engaging in a display of aerial acrobatic duels, both hummingbirds will chase and scold then eventually retreat to different feeders. The Broad-tailed seems to be the sweetheart of the mix, opting for less intrusive drinks from the flowering vines scattered across the yard. She hovers and dips, hovers and dips all the while keeping a watchful eye.
I am enamored by their swiftness. More than once I've been surprised by their almost silent arrival. I'll look up from my book and see a flash of color and then realize one of the hummingbirds is hovering right in front of me. The soft whirring vibration of their wings fills me with delight. I am equally pleased each time I see one perched on an aspen twig, preening or pausing to rest under the shade. Tucked into the leafy branches, they are barely visible which gives my heart much needed reassurance.
Each of these late summer days brings another miraculous display of tiny winged beauty. By mid-September, they will be gone as they continue their southern migration. I'm grateful to offer them a safe place to land. I benefit equally as they drink in life's sweetness.
At the edge of the pond where the grasses run high and the red hot pokers light the path like summer torches, there is a patch of butterfly milkweed. A smaller cousin of the larger type but no less captivating. Each tall fuzzy stalk hosts a cluster of tiny scarlet and yellow flowers, the perfect landing pad for pollinators to perch and feed on abundant sweet nectar. And further down the stalks, you may see slender pods that have dried and split open, exposing a nest of feathery parachutes, each clinging to an oval brown seed awaiting lift-off. While you investigate the seeds, from the corner of your eye you may see something flutter by. Looking up you will recognize this royal winged messenger— her tawny orange pattern against black veins and margins dotted with white. You will watch her dance along the milkweed, entranced by her graceful radiance, wishing for her to rest so you can capture a closer look. You will stand still waiting to see if she lands. You will wonder how long to wait. Just as you decide to move on, she will arrive and perch atop one of the clusters of vibrant blossoms. First, a couple of feet away. Then, she will drift a foot closer. You might slowly inch towards her, not wanting to scare her off but determined to study the details of her wings. She may stay and expand her wings fully, allowing you to capture her magnificence. You will snap several photos with your mind and through your lens. Not wanting to pressure her to leave, you will thank her for sharing her gorgeous display and comment on how intelligent she is at finding her just-right food, how her presence fills you with delight, how you feel blessed by her magical beauty. Walking away, she may follow you and lightly dance around your head— as if to thank you for witnessing her so profoundly. As if to say she witnessed you as well.
Sweetness Discovered • Handful of Gratitude • The Light Moves Through Her • Stretched • Hello Little One • Upon a Quail Family Dust Bath
“What would it be like to be raised on gratitude, to speak to the natural world as a member of the democracy of the species, to raise a pledge of interdependence? No declarations of political loyalty are required, just a response to a repeated question: Can we agree to be grateful for all that is given?" ~Robin Wall Kimmerer from Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
Over the weekend, I was invited to a mini workshop as a gift of gratitude from a dear friend and teacher. As we circled together for introductions, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief in the awareness that I was encircled by quality humans— a collective of wise, generous, reflective women with a shared devotion to cultivating connection and a deepening commitment to ourselves and the world. The relief came with remembering that not all humans suck, something that I have been struggling to remember in the barrage of bad news. I felt lifted by the individual and shared intentions to re-center towards loving kindness, gratitude and mindful attention.
From the circle we transitioned into our individual spaces for a movement lesson. Beginning on our backs, we were invited to release our weight, our tension, our whole selves to the support of the ground. Though this wasn't my first time to allow myself to drop into the supportive Earth, something about this time was different. Rather than simply sensing the firm ground under me and softening into that support, I experienced an intense connection with the energy of Mother Earth. It wasn't an intellectual awareness but a fully embodied sense of being held and rooted in her love. I was a profoundly aware of her offerings, her life-sustaining gifts, parts of her that are suffering, the implications of human choices, my own grief in relationship to this sacred Mother that we call home. As the movement lesson continued, tears rolled gently from my eyes. It was different than crying. It felt as if the Earth and I were communing together in this moment grief and gratitude, awakening and renewal. It felt like a much needed reminder and release.
In the days since, I have been reflecting on my current work. Sometimes it seems a small thing to spend time attending to the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Sometimes I wonder if it matters that I've noticed a robin building a nest or heard the alarm call of a quail as he watches out for the safety of his wee ones. How important is it that I recognize the subtle signs and shifts within a season? Who benefits if I pause to appreciate the flow of a rushing stream or stand in awe of a thundering cloudscape?
What I know for sure is that everyday I am touched by the life-sustaining gifts of Mother Earth. We all are. It is never a small thing to attend to her offerings with mindful attention and a grateful heart. It is never a small thing to grieve what is no longer here or want to conserve what could be lost. It is never a small thing to plant one seed, to find contentment in the company of trees, or to advocate for the preservation of ocean life. It is never a small thing to learn from winged messengers or sing praises for the sun's morning light. It isn't a small thing to breathe clean air or have clean water to drink. It is never a small thing to recognize the interdependence of all life. Life touches life touches life.
It is my desire that what I offer in the way of beauty and attention can awaken others to the gifts of the natural world. It is my wish that my way in the world will inspire a ripple of grateful and restorative actions that help to heal and preserve these gifts.
Upon a Fiery Skipper • Love Maintenance • Dear Bhakti, I Adore You
I was writing a letter to July, lamenting her relentless heat. How the garden was parched and so was my skin. How the sunflowers seemed to be fading too soon. How the fountain was birthing layers of algae and the moss had finally lost hope for recovery. I searched for reasons to savor the month— the sight of a brave snail crossing my sun-soaked path or a new winged messenger touching down in the garden. Every time the sky filled with clouds, I released an audible prayer for moisture.
I wished for winds of fresh change to breathe life into the polluted air. I wished for the early arrival of monsoons to revive the landscape and free up my breathing.
Then, in the night I awoke to roaring thunder and flashes of light as the sky broke open. Drenching rain fell for over an hour. By morning, the yard had fully recovered. Sunflowers reclaimed their vibrant height. Snails took advantage of the rain-soaked sidewalks. Earthworms wriggled up from wet loosened soil. Everything sparkled with clinging raindrops, miniature magnifiers of petals and leaf veins. The air felt damp and cool against my skin as I traversed puddled paths and storm-muddied gutters. I breathed in clean air with a hint of summer sweetness, remembering again to savor the season.
Looking up at the sky with earnest gratitude, I praised July for hearing my prayer.
I want to hold onto this cleansing moment, to soak in these tears of summer renewal. Because the sun's heat will return. The sky will clear. July will finish out her mid-summer baking. The clouds will continue their work of shape-shifting, with scattered chances of thunder and lightning. And sometimes rain. Praise for the rain.