Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Beauty

Walking at Valley Forge | Photos

I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today. Yesterday evening, D and I looked at his photos taken during a visit with our West Coast daughter and her husband. Today I miss long walks and hikes through Valley Forge. I also miss visits with our West-coast daughter and her husband since Covid days began. The photos below were taken in April 2018.

Nearly two weeks ago our daughter Sherry and her husband Scott arrived for a long-anticipated visit. Yesterday we drove them to the airport for a flight back to the West Coast. Always it’s too short. Always I weep my eyes out, during and after (not without happy breaks). Always I feel softened and vulnerable. Always I love this break from routine. Always I’m loathe to say goodbye.

The day after they arrived we went for a late afternoon walk through part of Valley Forge National Park. Two things strike me when we visit the Park. One is the stillness and quiet, despite being just a stone’s throw from crowded highways and huge shopping centers. The other is nonstop birdsong, whether we’re walking by the meadow or through a wooded area.

Here are a few photos, minus the beautiful birdsong. The photo at the top shows us (minus D who’s behind the camera) just beginning our walk.

Looking out over the meadows, it’s tempting to think they were always there. Before the 1977-78 winter encampment during the Revolutionary War, almost all Valley Forge was forested. During the 6-month winter encampment, most trees were cut down for firewood and buildings.

Reclaiming the land as a national memorial involved delineating swaths of forest, creating managed meadows, and leaving space for a series of state highways, walking and biking paths, visitor facilities, monuments, memorials, reconstructed troop huts, and other renovated facilities such as George Washington’s headquarters during the encampment (a gift to the Park). The Park covers 3,500 acres (1,400 ha), gets over a million visitors per year, and is open year-round. Click here to see a visitor’s map of the grounds (not true to scale).

Here’s a little jack-in-the-pulpit beside a trail through the woods.

Now we’ll pause to ponder the look of young poison ivy in Pennsylvania. Isn’t it beautiful in the late afternoon sun? And don’t forget as you hike through the woods that so-called ‘dead’ poison ivy vines (often as thick as ropes) are also virulent.


The lovely little flowers below are not poison ivy.

On our way back to the parking lot D got a photo of an elusive red-winged blackbird. In the last photo below, I’m almost to the parking lot. Notice the shaded picnic tables to the left, and facilities for visitors on the edge of the parking lot just ahead.

Thanks for stopping by!
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 May 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser, 29 April 2018, reposted 13 June 2022
Valley Forge National Historical Park

Shades of memories revisited

What will become of today
After the sun sets
And the moon moves on
To other nights
In other places

Will anyone remember
Or care what happened
Just now
When I laid eyes on you
And you on me

Shades of memories echo
From your eyes and face
Just beyond reach
Whispers calling to me
In the dark of dawn

A small poem for a large presence in my life. I’ll never forget the first day D’s eyes smiled at me. Just the way they do today. It was 1961. I was a sophomore in college; he was a junior. The quiet type, except for that sparkle in his eyes. I’d never had a man, or boy for that matter, smile at me with his eyes the way D did. To say I went all weak inside would be an understatement. Now, 58 years later, he still has the gift.

Happy Wednesday!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 August 2019, reposted 25 May 2022
Image found at creativelive.com

Falling in love with today

How soft and easy
the pillow of yesterday
when heart, mind and body
were young and strong
filled with adventure

When did the lie creep in?
The lie that weak isn’t strong
or even beautiful in its
softening and yearning for
more time on this precious earth

Peering into the rear-view mirror
of life as I’ve known it has become
a daily gift to myself and to those
I loved and let go along the way
while holding them in my heart

I’m painfully aware that my energy for blogging has plummeted in the past several months. Not because I don’t want to show up, but because I’m still coming to terms with the ups and downs of nondiabetic peripheral neuropathy.

At the top of my daily list have been painful feet plus awkwardness when walking. A close second has been keeping pots of soup or stew ready to eat, along with cut-up veggies ready to eat raw or steamed. In addition, the weather is warming up nicely, the birds fight daily at our two birdfeeders, Smudge loves my lap, and I’m learning to walk outside with my handy-dandy hiking pole.

Bottom line: I’m learning to treat my feet as part of me—not as my enemies. They aren’t going away, and even if I live to be 100 years old, I can’t thank them enough for taking me places I never dreamed I would go. So yes, we’re on the same side now. No more glowering looks or worse. Instead, I’m learning to listen to them, thank them for letting me know enough is enough, and give them and myself the break we deserve.

I pray your day includes giving yourself the breaks you need and deserve.
Cheers from Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 May 2022
Photo from eventbrite.jpg

Gratitude and Weariness

Going nowhere fast
Drifting from one possibility
to the next
Weary with long lists of
thou shalt nots

I want to go back to bed
and listen yet again
to early bird dawn songs
full of life, energy and gratitude
for making it through another night
without marauders or being
captured by wind whipping trees,
sending shock waves through
this war-weary world

Though my body wants to move
I’m not sure where to take it
The phone is out of order and
I’m out of steam

I think I’ll go cook something up–
maybe a huge serving of music
plus madness on this sunny day
that fogs my eyesight with tears
of gratitude and weariness

How long can this world live in crisis mode? Together or apart, it doesn’t matter who I am or where you are. We’re part of a fabric woven with intent, now unraveling with shocks of truth. Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? In the meantime, I still want to go back to bed and listen to the birds’ dawn songs. Full of life, energy and gratitude.

Praying this finds you more together than apart, no matter where you live or who you voted for or against in the last election.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 April 2022
Photo found at countrygardener.co.uk

The Gardener | Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver’s poem has been getting under my skin (in a good way) for several months. This is for me, and for anyone out there addicted to being super-diligent about life. My comments follow.

The Gardener

Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I
come to any conclusions?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
Actually, I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
is tending his children, the roses.

Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings, p. 7
© 2012 by NW Orchard, LLC
First published by Penguin Press 2012

My mind and body are addicted to being super-reliable. Productive. Organized. Diligent. Prepared. These days, however, my body has rebelled. It loves to have its own agenda for each day. It really doesn’t matter what I think I ‘ought’ to do.

If I take Mary Oliver’s gardener (“a simple man”) seriously, I’ll tend the roses. Things like playing the piano, listening to music I love, reading what I want to read, staring out the window with no agenda except watching the birds engage in social antics and bravado around the birdfeeders. Or finding ways to be engaged without being overwhelmed.

This is NOT the way I was brought up. So now I’m learning to be my own wonderfully understanding parent, helping myself let go of things that stress body and spirit. Taking deep breaths. Listening to music from earth and heaven. Basking in the warmth of early spring. Taking on projects that bring me joy rather than trying to make things happen or go away.

A simple life? Not really, but today I can pretend. Or at least practice a bit. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get it.

Thanks for your visit!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 April 2022
Photo found at pinterest.com

Unrehearsed

Downstairs
the piano is being tuned
one key at a time

In my heart
one string after another
slips a bit

Who am I now?
Who am I becoming?
Silence reigns

What was
is no longer
the end

What was not
has come to life
at the end

How unscripted
and disjointed
it all feels

Yet the beginning
and the end meet,
Unrehearsed

Rarely in my adult life have I felt so out of control. So uncertain about today, tomorrow, and even yesterday. We see so much, and know or understand so little.

At the same time, though, pieces I never before understood suddenly punch me in the gut. Yes, there is a logic. But not the logic of my childhood.

Life if a gift. Often beautiful and filled with joy, though not without pain and uncertainty. Not simply because of our mega-earth crisis, but because of personal ‘stuff’ that gets in the way.

Still, I look outside my kitchen window every morning. Nothing has been rehearsed, and nothing has been promised. Yet the birds keep visiting the feeders, the trees dance in breezes or lash around in torrential storms, and the sun comes up whether I see it or not.

It’s an honor to be human. Nonetheless, sometimes I would love to trade places with a small Carolina Wren, a large Red-breasted Woodpecker, or Smudge sitting at the kitchen window watching the morning feeding frenzy.

Cheers from me to you on this chilly, windy, early April morning.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 April 2022
Photo taken by erf, September 2020

Cooper’s Hawk | Photo

Yesterday morning I was watching the back yard while I ate breakfast. Suddenly, there she was, sitting on a large old flowerpot next to our garage. She looked like a statue, except for her head and eyes that kept turning from side to side, craftily scanning the yard for food. Maybe a lazy squirrel or a small bird for breakfast? Yummy. But…we went out to get in our car and she decided to find another hunting ground for now.

You can see and read more about Cooper’s Hawks here. We’ve also seen them in snowy mid-winter, flying through bare trees after a tasty bird.

In case you’re wondering, the yellow post in the foreground warns us if we get the car too close to the brick wall.

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 March 2022
Photo taken by DAFraser, 18 March 2022

The looking-glass

This morning I looked into my bathroom mirror and got a fright. Who is this woman? Do I know her?

Well…of course I know her. Still, there’s something about mirrors that feels like betrayal. They’re so honest!

So I washed my hair and washed my face and, for at least a few minutes, felt quite lovely, thank you.

Here’s a poem I wrote in December 2016. I’ve had it on my mind for about a week, so now it’s your turn to have it on your mind–for at least the minute it takes to read it!

Her bespoke face
betrayed no provenance
no signature or style
save those life etched within each line
each scar and curve of chin and cheek

No sign of props placed here and there
to hold it all in space
no awkward look or heavy paint
to dazzle or illuminate
Just a canvas standing there
with pleasant eyes of burning depth
and mouth with upturned corners

Quite suddenly she smiled at me
and said hello-how-are-you?
One of a kind I see — said I —
with hat tipped to my Maker

Given today’s upheavals here and abroad, I pray each of us will find a bit of peace and hope to share with neighbors and strangers alike. Thank you for stopping by.
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 February 2022
Image found at pingfind.com

The world as God’s poem

Several years ago I posted “Emily Dickinson meets Mary Oliver.” A phrase from one of Mary Oliver’s poems had captured my imagination. As she puts it, we owe our dignity to being part of “the poem that God made, and called the world.”

With so much ‘undignified’ death flooding our news media, it’s difficult to hold onto Mary Oliver’s image. I don’t easily hear or see “the poem that God made, and called the world.” It’s easier to picture what’s happening today as a rising tide of undignified and wrongful deaths that should never have happened. Which may also be true.

Here’s my response, first posted in August 2017, and reposted below in light of today’s current events.

No mortal words of poetry will ever do justice to this world, God’s poem.

Nor do we understand ourselves
unless we give up all efforts to capture in our words
the reality of what God created and invited us to inhabit as caretakers.

We can look and point;
We cannot replicate.

Furthermore, no poetic words of ours
will ever improve upon God’s great poem.
Still, as humans we’re at our best when we reflect in our lives
the grandeur of creation.

Surely the summer sky, the deer,
and all parts of God’s creation are dignified
not because of what each does, understands,
or even writes in flowing poetry.

Rather, they and we owe our dignity to being part of
“the poem that God made, and called the world.”*

*Quotation from Mary Oliver’s poem,
“More Beautiful than the Honey Locust Tree
Are the Words of the Lord.” Published in Thirst, p. 31

~~~

Praying we’ll become open to seeing each human life and each creature great or small as part of God’s poem. Which, of course, includes each of us with all our flaws and our gifts.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 February 2022
Photo found at smartpress.com

The greatest gift

When I began blogging, I didn’t give much thought to writing poems. I loved to write. I loved using imagery. I loved playing things out in words. And I loved reading poetry.

But writing it myself? Not since my freshman year of college, when my writing professor told me I would never write poetry. I believed her. Until I began blogging.

This morning I read the poem below. I’ve read it many times, always accompanied by tears of gratitude along with recognition that my life is in its final chapter. I hope you enjoy it and are prompted to remember things that bring joy and music into your heart and mind.

music to my ears

I love the calm cadence of your voice
and the way you make rare 
the everyday

waves rolling in on the beach
wind whispering in the willows
my husband reading to me aloud
Mendelssohn’s E Major Song Without Words
J. S. Bach’s C Major Prelude #1
doves cooing in the morning
robins singing in dusky evening
the overwhelming calm of Psalm 23

I chose the Bach rendition above because of the player’s calm approach to Bach’s Prelude in C Major. Also because it’s being played by a so-called amateur who gets the nuances just right.

Wishing you a calming Tuesday no matter what’s going on around you,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2/22/2022
Video found on YouTube

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