Category Archives: Travel

Christmas treat

old pines

A beautiful morning unfolded and the forecast was for the temperature to be in the 60’s F. Unseasonable and guaranteed to be a short phenomenon.  With my foot injury,our usual holiday plans have been set aside, so we choose an adventure with limited walking for me.

gull   container ship   Key Bridge                                                                sky   sweet gum

An afternoon drive took us to Fort Smallwood, an old county park near the bay. I would like to return someday and walk the trails, maybe fish from the long fishing pier, picnic on the grounds. But for today, it was gift to sit and listen to the water lapping the rocks, watch a few gulls, watch all the folks walking dogs and enjoy the sky changes.

We found the best parking spot near the pier for me to watch the sky drama unfold at sunset.

 sunset   sunset   sunset

Wondrous.

 

The April Buzz

Like a bee let loose from hibernation — zigzagging from bloom to bloom — me.

And April seemed to go by in a blink!

We began the month in North Texas although we spent some of our hours deep in the German countryside — my brother is the engineer behind the multiple trains and detailed scenery.

trains

We enjoyed the warm days and our all-too-short visit.  These blooms are in his yard. I had never seen Passion Flowers before. They are amazing!  Tx garden flowers

On our way to the airport and home, we spent some lovely, quiet hours in the Israel Prayer Garden in Corinth, TX. I hope to post more about that stop.

Iris

Spring is a time to keep an eye on the weather. Frost. Storms. We knew that had been some storm violence but we didn’t see much evidence on the drive from the airport. It was a shock to round the bend on the driveway and come to a stop. A tree had fallen and the crown covered the driveway.

fallen treeThe next day, I realized that much of my outdoor spring cleaning would have to be done, again.  Our county has a brush recycling contractor — a blessing at the end of each truck load of pick-up and pruning. We were also blessed that your new lawn keeper came with a chain saw, took away firewood and left the driveway clean. I’m grateful for the stamina to do the work, however,  it has has been tiring leaving no energy for digging and refreshing the garden beds – my winter dreaming. And, if only I could record or keep my thoughts together, there would have been blog posts along the way, not just wishful thinking and coffee drinking!

writing

Late frost again nipped the new leaves on the hydrangeas and the bloom stalks of the Bleeding Heart. Time will tell if there will be bloom this year.

Indoors, the last stalk of Amaryllis bloom awaited our return from Texas. I had found an interesting article on caring for these amazing plants so I added to my normal regimen the advice to leave the spent stalk till it withered and faded. Another week or two and the plants can go outside for the summer.

Amaryllis collage

I had reserved Annie F. Downs’ new book, Looking for Lovely, at our library. She writes, ” I want us to learn to look for the lovely all around us and collect it, hold it close, and see how God drops beautiful things into our lives at just the right time to help us step forward on our own paths.”

Looking for Lovely This is such a timely read for me, I bought my own copy.  I had more experiences of loveliness in April, so – To be continued!

A day for musing

A quiet day, much of it spent almost nose to the ground picking up wood shaken from the trees in wind and rain. I’m mindful that this is minor damage and very grateful that our saturated ground was spared the hurricane hit. But it is a tiring chore.

So I’m sharing a brief September trip to Ithaca, home of a dear family member. As I have noted a number of times, I’m smitten with the bird cams sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology located on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

During a leisurely breakfast, we watched the live-streaming of the historic inauguration of Cornell’s new President, Elizabeth Garrett, the prelude to Homecoming Weekend. Although there were many events planned on campus, we managed to evade them all and see the things really important to Elaine :) The field light post where the hawklets were born and fledged was the first stop…

lamp post

It was lovely to stand and look around at the sights we watch on the bird cam. Then it was off to Sapsucker Woods to see the cams at the feeders and on the pond. feeders    sapsucker woods pond

It was a brilliant late afternoon and a luxury to sit on the well placed bench with family and enjoy this peaceful place.  Later we were off to the fabulous Zaza’s to celebrate my upcoming birthday. There, after a wonderful meal,  I met my new dessert love – Affogato al Caffè – “Freshly brewed espresso poured over creamy vanilla gelato”, and, available as de-caf! Such a satisfying day!

sapsucker woods pond

Gratitudes aplenty

“Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.”

                                                                                                         Colossians 4:2 Mess.

We were blessed to visit in Williamsburg again. One of my favorite places is the Botanical Garden there. Like most everywhere else, it was and had been very cold. The afternoon that we visited was brilliant.  Bird chatter from high above or feeders or deep within shrubbery was constant and timid squirrels clung high.

Botanical Garden

I was surprised to find that there had been late Iris bloom, sadly hit by the bitterness. But new buds seemed untouched. There were, in fact, many brilliant things to see in this small place.

Brights

Beautybush, Winterberry, Wax Myrtle (?); Roses, gorgeous leaves, Flowering cabbage; Iris, Tansy, Bald cypress

Then I took another look to see how the garden was dressing itself for the holidays. Here is just a sample.Subtle

I really missed the names of many of these as the colonies are large. But the first is Hops and directly below is Queen Anne’s lace. In the center, trailing pinkish petals, Echinacea and next to it, Northern sea oats. I could hardly take it all in, the variety of subtle was intriguing as I walked round and through the many pathways. Then all to soon, it was time to leave.

Pinecone

I wish everyone a joyous Thanksgiving! May your tables be full of the bounty of family, friends and provisions. Look well, stay alert!

Blue singing

The ocean sang from the cover of a book on the library table; I listened to it call my name and I hurried it away.

book

They usually file it in the children’s section where I might never look. Ocean Poems. Perfect for a summer day. So beautifully illustrated that I’m drawn into the words like listening to a shell held tight against my ear and I dream … kite surfer … ocean roars

quiet swimming … jelly … cool water and sand  beach

Listen now from Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs and hear the “Song of the Boat” …

Push away — heave-ho –from the heavy brown pier, from its pilings huddled and dull.

For the water sings blue and the sky does, too, and the sea lets you fly like a gull.

Now go and find a copy and sink into the illustrations of Meilo So and feel the ocean.

sea foam

 

Bending Low

Bryophyta

I believe these to all be mosses. Brilliant greens against the dry old leaves and litter of the forest floor; living color shining as filtered light dances down through new leaves tossing in the wind.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures…He restores my soul”, a long ago shepherd boy said.

While not a pasture, looking at these simple plants slowly forming soft colonies and feeling their gentle cushion as I tread gently on some was amazingly restorative. I am so grateful for small wonders!

 

Spring searching in Virginia

I have a family member who hates to talk about the weather. Certainly it is a boring topic this year. Snow, wintry mix, ice, freezing rain, wind, rain… March continues roaring about but spring is beating in the heart of the earth. We were blessed to go to Williamsburg last week. One of our favorite small places there is the Botanical Gardens. We roamed and sat in warmth for hours, listening.

Virginia spring

One day, we took the ferry from Jamestown to the lovely town of Smithfield. The other month Cathy at Morning Musings wrote about bronze sculptures. This is my sole attempt to follow her lead – hubby and George Washington.

GeorgeIn her post last Monday, she quoted Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, so this one is for Cathy. The sculptor, George Lundeen, portrays the author writing that very poem.

Robert FrostThere are seven stops to view these marvelous works. All are historical figures except one.ValentineThis is “The Valentine Couple”.      Valentine    Valentine So sweet.    You can click on the photos to enlarge them and see the amazing detail.

It is cold here at home and of course the forecast is for snow tomorrow. I’m listening, I know the earth is sheltering buds and blooms and green. For now, I’ll enjoy the memory of these Lenten Roses.Virginia

 

 

January

January snow

Hibernation sounds like a good thing. I’m grateful for down comforters and cozy quilts, crocks of soup and stews and the warmth of home. Simple things like watching birds and light and shadow, reading and coffee seem to fill the days while chores sit and the list of things I planned to do on snowy days is long forgotten in what seems like a never ending winter – and it is only January <sigh>.

red amamryllis

The amaryllis has been such a joy and I will miss its cheerful greeting as the blooms begin to fade.

A few years ago we left our winter snow and went south. Far south.  Where it is cold in summer. I decided to share a few photos from that January when I didn’t mind wearing my winter coat.

port of call - Punta Arenas

And yes, the birds in the background are penguins!  Port of call - Punta Arenas

    Port of call - Punta Arenas These are Magellanic Penguins. They nest in burrows. January is summertime in Punta Arenas, Chile but the season is short; the chicks grow fast and the parents take them down to play in the water’s edge.

Port of call - Punta Arenas

Port of call - Punta Arenas

The most wonderful thing was that we walked on a simple path marked out with sticks and twine right along the edge of their mounds and they didn’t seem to pay the slightest bit of attention to us as they went about. They, however, had our full attention!

Port of call - Punta Arenas

Such amazing creatures hidden away in a remote part of the world waiting for eons for people to even know of their existence, delighting their Creator.

Christmas Day

It was to be a quiet Christmas Day for two. We decided to splurge on the drive and spend time in the beauty of  Longwood Gardens. We were a bit surprised at the number of folks with the same plan. From the voices traveling around us, many were far from homes in other countries.

Longwood Tree

It has been a number of years since we visited and always there are cameras. This year it seemed that at least half our fellow travelers were using other kinds of devices.Longwood Conservatory

Progress into the conservatory was slow as so many groups and couples posed every few feet.

Longwood Conservatory

I had taken my camera so I was caught up in capturing everything I could see when I suddenly realized the camera was flashing its low battery signal.

Longwood Conservatory

And it came to me – my battery was low too and I needed to recharge: breathing fragrance, looking deeply into plants, enjoying the laughter, marveling at the gardeners work,

Longwood Conservatory       Longwood Conservatory

walking slowly, holding hands,   Longwood Conservatory  watching sunlight fade and lights glow from trees  Longwood Conservatory  sharing dinner, walking in cold, crisp air, recharging, rejoicing! Longwood Gardens

We had seen stars shining, nature singing! Singing the praises of their Lord and Creator this Christmas Day! Joyous Holidays to you!

Longwood Longwood Longwood Longwood

Longwood IMG_2161 Longwood Longwood conservatory

Foundations

I suppose we all know the stories of Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony and the stories of their days shown as cartoons can weaken the reality of their struggles to settle this wild land. But before the Plymouth Bay Colony, there was Virginia. The Virginia Colony of entrepreneurs and the Plymouth Colony seeking religious liberty were foundations for these United States.

Our recent trip to historic Jamestowne was again a bleak reminder of the struggles and pain, deprivation and death of the earliest adventurers. It all seemed somehow magnified by the beauty of the day we visited. Jamestowne

Divine Providence, provision, and persistence kept the colony of Virginia, growing it from wilderness to the flourishing community of Williamsburg.

Williamsburg

My own ancestors came over two centuries later but their hearts for freedom and provision for their children gave them resolve to see past dangers and deprivations and, with faith, they came. On this Thanksgiving, I bow my head in gratitude for them and honor the price they paid – for me and my family of today who could only have been a vague and distant dream.  I pray that we as a nation will remain true to our heritage for the generations to come.

Williamsburg

Happy Thanksgiving!

May the coming year abound with blessings for you and your household. Amen!