Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Nature

Small gifts of grace

On my way to the garage
A small thin cup-like piece
Of bird shell cracked and broken
Rests on our driveway
Beneath the holly tree
Where resident catbirds set up
temporary nesting quarters

Hours later and bone weary
I turn off the engine and hear
The unmistakable notes of a
Lullaby sweet and calming
Borrowed tunes full of grace
Soft and gentle from a catbird
Keeping watch from a nearby tree

I want to be a catbird when I grow up
Simple beauty singing made-up songs
Of quiet sometimes raucous joy
For everyone and no one in particular
Offering small benedictions to
Broken hearts and weary travelers
On their way from here to there

God bless us every one on this weekend of Sabbath rest and remembrance.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 May 2019
Photo of a SE Pennsylvania Catbird found at reddit.com

Early Spring at Longwood 2019 | Photos B

We’ve exited the flower walk and are headed toward the lake. The photo above shows the lower end of the lake. Thankfully, it was virtually clear of algae and muck. The pink blossoms in the foreground are azaleas.

D took the following photos on the way to the gazebo area above. We’re walking through a forested area, on a path that slopes down toward the lower end of the lake and gazebo (above). It always feels like I’m walking into an outdoor cathedral when we get to this point. The second photo below shows a cinnamon fern. Finally, pink blossoms on one of the few azalea bushes still in bloom.

Now we’ve reached the gazebo shown at the top, and are looking across the water at a robin sitting on her full nest of hungry peeps!

Our main goal now is to stroll around the lake to the pond by the meadow. From the bridge crossing over into the meadow, this is what we saw–a lesson in how to climb a water-logged tree branch!


Now we’ve crossed the pond bridge, and get our first sighting of the meadow. My favorite place to be at Longwood.

We turn right at the path above, navigate a few mud holes, and see a mama and papa pair of Canadian geese by the pond. Then, in the meadow at the edge of the pond, we spot an orchard oriole! Very exciting, since we usually don’t see them. They migrate here for only four months of the year. Finally, just before leaving the pond area, a brilliant North American goldfinch.

Next we make our way uphill toward the far side of the meadow. D takes photos at will. I just keep walking. That way I don’t have to pose for anything!

Just below, we have a red-wing blackbird — super abundant in the meadow, and noisy. Then two photos of a tree swallow guarding the nest.



Now we’re at the top of the path, at a resting place. The pavilion is covered with this honeysuckle-like vine. Then, turning around, this is a view of the meadow, just to our left.

Finally, a gray catbird keeps an eye on us, followed by D’s one and only sighting of a butterfly.

Thanks again for coming along! Just looking at these photos makes me want to go back tomorrow.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 May 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 6 May 2019 at Longwood Gardens

Early Spring at Longwood 2019 | Photos A


Early this week we visited Longwood Gardens. As you can see above, almost everything is green. This courtyard is just inside the entrance to Longwood. The flower walk is to the left. Straight ahead takes you to the lake and eventually to the meadow. We did it all–in cool and cloudy but not stormy weather. Just right.

Here’s an overview of the flower walk. You can see me down the path with the green backpack. The two women keeping everything tidy are part of Longwood’s huge volunteer network. Also, notice the clouds overhead. Just right for a walkaround!

The four photos below are from the first half of the flower walk. I love the colors and textures, along with the beautiful green of early spring. In the first photo, that’s green grass in the background. I don’t know what the second photo is. Do you? The third photo is foxglove in a mixed bed arrangement. Finally, sweet alyssum along the walkway.

Now we’re at the central fountain in the flower walk.

Instead of going straight ahead to the lake area, we turned right to three small gardens that parallel the flower walk. One is a wisteria garden (photos coming later). The most recently renovated garden, not yet in full bloom, is filled with peonies. I wonder who that woman is?

The central garden (below) is coreopsis heaven right now. The first photo shows the overlook from the flower walk into this central garden. It’s followed by what you see when you look down into the central garden. Breaks in the tall hedge on the far side give access minus stairs. Finally, each garden has a few benches for weary walkers who want to mellow out.


Finally, the wisteria garden. Always a favorite.

After the flower walk and side gardens, we went on toward the lake and meadow. I’ll post some of D’s great photos from that walk as well, but not today.

Happy Friday, everybody! And thanks for coming along.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 May 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 6 May 2019
at Longwood Gardens

You prepare a table before me….

Yesterday D and I visited Longwood Gardens. The weather was beautiful–mild temperatures, a bit of sun, and plenty of clouds without rain.

D took this unlikely photo in the meadow. Oh….  A weed. Maybe; maybe not.

I’m sorry you can’t see how tiny this little ‘wild weed’ is. And I’m fairly certain some of you may not see the little insect lunching on one of the flowers. It looks like a little brown speck on a blossom to the left of the main stem.

I couldn’t help thinking about Psalm 23, and hearing this as a reference to nature’s insects. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” I’m pretty sure this little insect’s enemies would include birds and larger insects looking for lunch. But they could also include human beings. Instead of guarding them and their habitats, it seems we’re intent on destroying them.

After all, they’re tiny. A dime a dozen, Who’s going to miss them? Besides, who needs that mangy old meadow, or that weedy vacant lot anymore? They’re eyesores!

It felt odd to think of this little insect as a link in our food chain and the food chain of the meadow. One of thousands of links in distress. The news reports were full of it last night. We’re quickly ramping up our own global disaster already in the making. I couldn’t help thinking about this little speck of an insect on a common ‘weed.’

Happy Tuesday to each of you! I’m working on more LG pics for a later post.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 May 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, 6 May 2019, Longwood Gardens Meadow

Saving the best for last

Saving the best for last
All creatures fall silent
Hushed save an occasional
Chirp of sweet birdsong
Spilling final notes
Into air gone quiet

Leaves release one last sigh
And wait for last light
To descend beneath earth’s
Horizon without fanfare
Or outbreaks of odes to joy

No, we didn’t walk in the Blue Ridge Mountains yesterday evening. Just around our neighborhood. Still, the poem reflects the grandeur of both locations. Not only because of green leafy trees and the relative silence of birds and human voices, but because of Spring’s early evening drama.

I always love a walk around our neighborhood. Even so, an evening walk after supper during this part of Spring is often magical. Just like yesterday evening.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 May 2019
Photo of Blue Ridge Mountains taken by Dana Foreman, found at pixels.com

Teach me to number my days

I inhabit moments
One after the other,
Not without hope

I witness resurrection partially
In passing seasons of my life
And repeated seasons of nature

Seasons of life
are once and over
living on in aging memory
and dusty memorabilia

Though my spirit revives
From time to time,
The clock ticks on
Without reverting to zero

I hope for what I cannot see
And choose to let go of certainty,
Falling instead into something
I’ve never seen or known

There’s sadness and agony
In daily and final death;
I’m invited to accept this
Not deny or sublimate it
As though it didn’t exist

Is hesitation to own
The agony of death
A denial of life as it is
On this side of
Whatever comes next?

In this life I’m called
To face fears, regrets, sorrows,
And the anguish of saying goodbye
Not once but many times over

Whatever comes next
It isn’t about denial or
We’ll cross that bridge
When we come to it

It’s about preparing for death
Every day of my life
Because it matters to me
and to those I leave behind

So teach me to number my days….

This is my attempt to put a few personal thoughts into words. I’m convinced this part of my life is about learning to die and learning to talk and write about it. Not the moment of death itself, but how I’m doing (or not doing) at living this last chapter of my life.

So this is where I am as of today. Thanks for reading, and for any comments you care to leave. I’m most grateful!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 May 2019
Photo of Masai Mara National Park Sunset found at brettstephens.com

An Easter Lament and Question

Nothing comes easy these days
Small deaths and large
Gaping holes
Clutter the landscape

Rain falls sideways
Streaking over my back yard
Daring me to will it
To the ground

Out of control and out of time
Bombs tick silently
Within this fragile planet of creatures
And plant life whipped
By gales of political
And personal expediency

So many deaths
Not enough tombs
Or people with vision
And voices to help us
Find our way home

‘Come to me
All who labor
And I will give you rest’
Yet even You were hung
On a tree whiplashed
And left to die

How will Easter
Arrive on this good earth
Not just for the flowers
But for all of us?

Is dying our only option?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 April 2019
Photo found at pixabay.com

Within my Garden, rides a Bird

Here’s a fun riddle-like poem from Emily Dickinson, followed by my note to Emily. Today is the anniversary of my sister Diane’s birthday. She lived with ALS for ten years before dying in 2006. Diane was 61 years old. One of her greatest joys was watching hummers feast in her back yard garden. A garden created in her mind, and in reality by her family and friends. A magical place where anything could happen.

Within my Garden, rides a Bird
Upon a single Wheel –
Whose spokes a dizzy Music make
As ‘twere a travelling Mill –

He never stops, but slackens
Above the Ripest Rose –
Partakes without alighting
And praises as he goes,

Till every spice is tasted –
And then his Fairy Gig
Reels in remoter atmospheres –
And I rejoin my Dog,

And He and I, perplex us
If positive, ‘twere we –
Or bore the Garden in the Brain
This Curiosity –

But He, the best Logician,
Refers my clumsy eye –
To just vibrating Blossoms!
An Exquisite Reply!

c. 1862

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

Dearest Emily,

What a fun riddle! Of course the answer is obvious, at least to your Dog. What isn’t so obvious is how your nimble mind creates miniature stage productions from fleeting, everyday realities.

I don’t remember one single occasion when a tiny hummer elicited in my mind’s eye a complete and detailed account of what was going on before my wide-open eyes—all in the space of 5 seconds max.

I see a gorgeous hummingbird. You see an entire stage production played out impromptu on the canvases of your Garden and your fertile imagination.

Actually, spectacular is too weak for whatever is happening in your imagination. And then there’s your super-observant Dog who figures it all out!

I fear we’re losing our capacity to see things with lively imagination. Not just in the natural world, but on the streets of our towns and cities. And in each other.

What might happen if we could be inquisitive young children again? Or get caught up in the wonder of other human beings, or the keen observational skills of our pets?

Just a note to let you know how much I enjoyed your poem. Happy Wednesday to you from me, your erratic pen pal and sometime follower.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 April 2019
Hummingbird and Roses artwork found at pinterest.com

Sunday afternoon walk and my heart

Spring air hangs breathless and damp
Broken by chirping bird songs
And children’s muffled voices
Clouds roll in silent and gray
Saturated with sprinkles
Gathering for a shower

The gathering shower turned into a ferocious thunder and lightning storm–over 500 lightning strikes last night in Philly! I slept through every moment of it. Astonishing. Today the storm is over the Atlantic, and blustery wind has moved in. Temperatures drop by the hour.

Nonetheless, beautiful green leaves, colorful flowering trees and shrubs, and small wildflowers are taking over! No turning back the clock.

During the last month I rearranged my daily routines to support what my heart wants and needs. Sometimes it’s as simple as postponing grocery shopping. Other times, it’s not so easy. Like staying home from church two of the last four Sundays after waking up with an unsteady heartbeat and the weakness that comes with it.

On the other hand, during the same time frame I visited with two of my woman friends, talked with at least two others on the phone, had email correspondence with a few others, enjoyed tea and conversation with our next-door neighbors, walked regularly with D, talked with our son and daughter via phone, and played with Smudge.

I’ve also posted from time to time, enjoyed hearing from some of you, and saw others peeking out from your gravatars!

So here’s to a thoughtful Holy Week, listening to all nature sing on and off-key, and staying in touch with ourselves and with the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Much we need Thy tender care.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 April 2019
Photo of Center City, Philadelphia; taken by Bill Cannon; found at fineartamerica.com
Photo of Smudge playing hide and seek, taken by me!

one last slow dance

wispy silver veins
gleam frosty white lavender
cling to each other
floating on mid-summer air
one last slow dance together

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 April 2019
Photo taken DAFraser Summer 2016, Glen Eyrie Conference Center, Colorado

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