Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Nature

patches of sun

patches of sun
shifty clouds
stiff cold breezes and
autumn leaves dropping
mess with my brain

breaking waves
crash onshore
chilled warmth floats
here and there
on the beach
in the mountains
on a long walk
through my life
tears and memories
of what was
and will always be

how quickly
seasons come
and go

Yes, another morning walk. This time full of nostalgia—the good kind. Sometimes it feels like my past is flooding the present. Reminding me that I’ve lived and loved with all my heart. And still do.

Cheers to each of you today,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 November 2019
Photo of Tybee Island Beach near Savannah, GA, found at pinterest.com

When I Am Among the Trees | Mary Oliver

Here’s a Happy Monday poem for everybody. My comments follow.

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

© 2006 by Mary Oliver
Published by Beacon Press in Thirst, p. 4

Today it’s sunny, bright, very cool, and breezy. I’m just back from a morning walk beneath and near trees, many towering toward the sky.

If I were an older tree right now, I’d be cowering close to the ground. Hoping no one would notice how many leaves I’ve lost, or how bent and even broken my branches are. And did you see those ugly thick roots protruding farther from the ground when the green grass turns brown?

On the other hand, maybe passersby will see how beautiful my remaining leaves are. Or listen to the music of the wind dancing around my chilly bones. Or notice that more light flows through and from my gnarly branches when those pesky, preening leaves are long gone.

I love this poem. Though it seems to have spring, summer and autumn in mind, it works for winter as well. Especially when the wind whips through iced branches, bouncing off fragile twigs and sturdy green needles. To say nothing of new snow covering everything in a down comforter.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Happy Monday!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 November 2019
Image of Beech Trees in Autumn found at thurmanovich.com

What I remember

A young girl searching for perfect autumn leaves
A young boy not old enough for soccer, running laps
Leaves rustling on trees and beneath my feet

Shouts and shrieks from grade-school soccer players
The sight of proud, anxious parents looking on
A few parents sitting it all out in their warm cars

Friendly dogs of all sizes out for pause-and-pee walks
Parked cars lining the Episcopal church parking lot
Churchyard grave stones shining white in bright sun

Smiles on faces of passersby known and unknown
A left-over plastic Halloween spider pretending to be road kill
Squirrels racing around, frantically stashing nuts for winter

The feel of cold wind on my face, bright sun in my eyes
Halloween remnants lurking on front yards and porches
Smashed acorns and acorn meal at every turn

I took a long, glorious walk after church this morning. No huge surprises. Just the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, and a chorus of happy shrieks and parental encouragement filling the air.

Sometimes I want to bottle what I feel, see and smell—for rainy days. I’m slowly learning to enjoy each day, and let it go. Clearing the deck for whatever comes tomorrow.

So far today I’m grateful for everything I remember from my walk. I’m also grateful I was able to attend church this morning with D, hear a thoughtful sermon from one of my former students, listen to stunning music during the offering and during communion, collect smiles from several friends, and go for that brisk autumn walk before lunch.

Looking forward to the coming week!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 November 2019
Photo from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, almanac.com

Breath of God Unseen – revisited

wind-sculpted-drifts-martin-nd-13-jan-2017

I  posted this in January 2017. It’s as true today as was then, especially given world and national events of the past few years. It’s difficult to keep my eyes on what matters most these days, rather than what parades as ‘reality.’ 

Breath of God
Unseen
Artist of my heart
And life
Breathe on me 

The wind is cold
Unyielding
To my vain cries
For mercy
Breathe on me 

Evening shadows
Lengthen
In fading light
Brilliant
and foreboding 

Deep blue sky
Darkens
Trees bend and sway
Breath of God
Breathe on me 

It’s late afternoon. This morning I woke to this photo on my weather page. I thought immediately about my life and the way God’s Spirit has blown through and around it, unseen and unbidden.  

Looking back, I’d say the outcomes today are beyond my wildest dreams. Not that I’m perfect or successful or even ‘special.’ Rather, this is about contentment. 

I’m at peace with myself, though not always with situations in which I find myself.  Or even with my behavior. Nonetheless, things have changed in my spirit over the last several years. 

Today I have compassion for myself as a child, as a young teenager, as a wife, mother and grandmother, and as a retired professional. I rarely struggle with feeling like a fraud, or with harsh self-talk that belittles me or accuses me of being The Problem with Everything. 

I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m saying I’m at rest with who I am and who I am not. Especially from the inside out. The part that really matters. 

I like what I see when I think of myself as a huge pile of snow, sculpted by God’s Spirit through winds of change. I know, things aren’t exactly spectacular in the world right now. It’s just that today I’m at peace with myself.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 January 2017, reposted 1 November 2019
Photo taken by Brian Bender at Martin, North Dakota, USA, 13 Jan 2017
Found at Weather Underground App

hushed joy

blessings of this day
sing in silence of the night
closing in with grace
enticing me deeper still
into Your world of hushed joy

These lines came to me last night when I was writing in my journal. Tuesday was busy. For several days I spent time on the phone trying to track down a pharmacy that had the Shingrix vaccination (shingles) shot available. On my last call, I hit the jackpot! They had one dose left for this week. First come, first served.

D and I shot out of here and got there in time for me to claim the last dose! So I was pretty psyched, after days of getting nowhere.

Maybe it sounds crazy (to some of you) to get all happy about getting a vaccination shot. Well…when you’re my age, and you know you’re a candidate for shingles, it’s a blessing to receive a poke in the arm!

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 October 2019
Photo of sunset in Africa found at PxHere

Morning Poem | Mary Oliver

No “orange sticks of the sun” this morning. Just rain, gusty wind, and the nonstop sound of water draining from the gutters. Nonetheless, Mary Oliver’s poem invites me into a world waiting with open arms. My comments follow.

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches –
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries in it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead –
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging –

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted –

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

© Mary Oliver, 1992, in New and Selected Poems, Vol. One, pp 106-07
Published by Beacon Press

I don’t have to feel happy and upbeat every morning. This poem isn’t about how I feel. It’s about what I’m already being offered, and what I already need no matter how I feel.

I don’t even have to pray. The gift is already there. Ready and waiting for me to discover it. The answer to what I’ve always wanted. The world re-created overnight. Wild and beautiful. Carrying on with or without me. An answer to a prayer I never even prayed.

I’m encouraged when I think about Mary Oliver’s life. She left everything in order to make a life for herself. One day at a time. Heading upstream. One small observation at a time, plus a few words ‘thrown together.’ Mary Oliver lived what she wrote, and wrote what she lived.

No magic wand or mantra can make it all come out right. Still, each morning we’re offered the gift of another day. Plus imagination to look beyond the heaviness of today, and see that dark pond of water lilies blazing with color.

Praying you’ll have a glimpse of blazing lilies today.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 October 2019
Photo found at etsy.com

A Morning Walk at Chanticleer

This morning I met a friend at Chanticleer Garden for a late autumn walk. The weather was sunny, chilly and very breezy. D wasn’t along to take photos, so I did a quick check of the Chanticleer website for recent photos. Of the nine posted here, I chose three for this post. The photographer’s name is Linda Roper.

Because we’re having a late autumn chill (so it feels to me), trees are late showing their autumn colors. Not to worry. All those nonstop rainy days in summer produced a bumper crop of beauty. Here are the other two photos.

So it wasn’t quite this picture-perfect when we were there. But it was close! A great way to begin the day and get my morning allotment of sunshine and unexpected, overflowing grace.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 October 2019
Linda Roper, photographer: October 2019 at Chanticleer Gardens

chill wind screams

chill wind screams wailing
through tree branches caught off-guard
in dawn’s early light
souls of the departed soar
beyond this realm of sorrow

I wrote this short poem early this morning. I didn’t have Representative Elijah Cummings in mind. Nonetheless, the shoe seems to fit.

Cummings died last night at the age of 68. He was a son of sharecroppers, a civil rights warrior, a member of Congress from Maryland, and a fearless leader in the House of Representatives’ inquiry into Donald Trump’s dealings as POTUS, here and abroad.

According to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Cummings recently said,

When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked:
In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?

Indeed. A tough question for each of us, no matter which political party we prefer.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 October 2019
Image found at rd.com
Thanks to Reuters for the quotation above.

Monday morning photos | Longwood Fall 2019

What would we do without nature’s stunning beauty? Especially now, in the midst of disappointment, betrayals, upheavals, back-stabbings and fury. Here’s a quick Monday-morning peek at the way nature reaches out to us.

Granted, it isn’t always pretty. It is, however, a reminder that whatever I think I am on this speck of dust, I’m not alone or forgotten.

The roses above are in a small rose garden at Longwood. It’s being redesigned, and will make its debut next spring. In the meantime, the gardeners created a mixed company of compatible plants, including roses.

Everything doesn’t always need to be in bright colors. On the way into the Visitor’s Center, we saw several gorgeous examples of fall beauty in browns and grays.

Finally, one last look at the small garden arrangement just outside the Visitor’s Center. An autumn extravaganza of enthusiasm!

The last several weeks have been filled with unexpected challenges. Last week’s visit to Longwood reminded me that we’re not alone, and that autumn has its own gracious and graceful beauty, unlike any other season.

Happy Monday to each of you, whether you’re in the autumn flameout years of your life or not.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 October 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 7 October 2019, Longwood Gardens

Ikebana and Chrysanthemums at Longwood 2019 | Photos

I’m in agony! Too many beautiful photos from our recent Longwood visit! Here’s a condensed version of what we saw in the main Conservatory. The Ikebana installations were stunning. Nothing fragile here. Just artists, often in teams, playing with flowers and bamboo and who knows what else to come up with these magnificent displays.

Here’s the information sign that stands beside the installation above.

For starters, here are a few chrysanthemum displays, beginning with the view down the center at the side entrance to the conservatory.

Here we have two medium-size installations standing at the opposite end of the stream. Notice their uses of materials.

The next conservatory room was a stunner. I wasn’t expecting anything like this:

After walking around the perimeter, we took a last look back. I love the beautiful ceiling, reflected in the water below and echoed in the weaving of bamboo leaves. All rather graceful and flowing.

After a deep breath, we turned around to see this installation right down the middle of the old conservatory entrance.

As a guide pointed out, both installations went through lengthy screening and certifications for safety. Especially the ‘bridge’ above, under which real live people would be walking. The two guides above are Longwood’s version of street patrols. Making sure nothing untoward happens to us or to this gorgeous entrance.

Finally, here are some of my favorite small installations. They’re scattered throughout the conservatory. Gems waiting for you to turn the corner!

We saw tons more than this. I’m tempted to do another Longwood post later. It was a wonderful day. Not too cold or hot; just-right breezy; not as many visitors as usual. And these stunning pieces of installation art. I loved it! I loved being with D! And I especially loved coming home to my lovely rocking chair and putting my feet up!

Thanks so much for visiting. Here’s to a wonderful Thursday and upcoming weekend.

Elouise 

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 October 2019
Photos taken by DAFraser, 7 October 2019, Longwood Gardens Conservatory

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