The pace of nature

December 15, 2011

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience” (Ralph Waldo Emmerson).

Patience was  really needed to fulfill Scott Thomas’ last photography assignment for this year  http://viewsinfinitum.com/2010/12/08/assignment-seasons-2011/ The aim was to picture the same view during our Four Seasons and see the changes nature brought to a particular place in our surroundings. I chose a view close to me and that I love all year round: the landscape I see from   my kitchen window.

I started taking pictures in December  2010 on a day when snow fell like in a fairy tale. Snow flakes kept falling silently day and night leaving a strange quietness over the landscape. The bare rowan-tree outside the window became heavy with snow and some of its fragile branches broke. Gusts of wind brought snowflakes onto the window and they stayed there, frozen around the wooden frame.

“Winter teaches us what it means to close one phase of life so that we can begin something else, totally different, totally new. It gives us the joy of beginning over and over again throughout the whole of life.”

April changed the view from my window. Green fields dotted with dandelions and buttercups, the first soft green leaves opening slowly in the rowan-tree and a pot of daisies decorating the windowsill. Not much warmth yet but more light and the beginning of a long awaited Spring.

“Spring teaches us patience. Things – and we, a well – grow slowly. Do not overvalue the speed that races to produce what the heart is not yet wise enough to use well.”

Summer in a blazing heat around midday. Everything is growing wildly in the garden, the wheat fields  are looking almost white under the sun and bunches of red berries are now hanging in the rowan-tree for the great pleasure of lots of birds. This is the end of Season for daisies, geraniums will replace them later.  I often sat  in the shade of the ever present rowan-tree in this inviting folding chair.

“Summer teaches us that to have the fullness of life – great tastes, good fun, warm sun and wild abandon – we must have less of it than we expect. Too much of anything sears the soul.”

Fall and its warm colours;  leaves are turning yellow and rusty on the rowan-tree, purple heather has replaced  geraniums on the windowsill and a small mapple-tree is showing its autumnal dress. The fields are still green but with a touch of gold,  at sunset a light haze emerges from the  forest in the far. Almost all ripe red berries have been eaten by the birds preparing for a long migration to the South. Happy and excited reunions in the branches and a carpet of little red fruits on the ground.

“Fall teaches us the value of resting our minds as well as our bodies, the value of readiness, the value of transition. In all the in-between phases and places of life, we are given the time to allow our souls to catch up with our restless energies, to take stock of the present, to get sight of all our possible futures and choose between them.”

Thanks so much Scott for choosing this  theme for your last challenge this year. I took many pictures (with different cameras)  at each Season before choosing these four ones. I love the way Nature looks like through this opening. I  surely missed  a special light or a moody sky but generally this is how my Four Seasons would appear to you from my kitchen window. Although sometimes you may have some surprises…

Like this silent cat, sitting on a woodpile and  observing me patiently behind the window as I was preparing breakfast one morning. When I finally saw him, I could not help but opening the window and giving  him some of Nino’s kibbles. Behind me there were loud howls of protest ! Just an example of an early morning in my kitchen.

All quotes are taken from  Joan Chittister’s monthly Newsletter (The Monastic Way) and I thank her for letting me share them with you.

A call to nature

July 16, 2011

Quiet days in the mountains. A  vacation that offers plenty of time for reading, quilting, hiking and observing nature. A landscape I have been seeing for year, one I never  get tired of looking at.During a reading pause on a terrace between sky and earth, I went again through the June issue of a monthly newsletter :  “The Monastic Way” by Joan Chittister, OSB.  “Food for thought” is a very good expression to describe  what her spiritual writing means for me.  Re-reading slowly some of J. Chittister´s  words, I felt like sharing the thoughts she proposed for meditation on particular days in June.

“There is a call to nature in all of us”.  I went through my photos archives and found some images to illustrate J. Chittister´s thoughts on this  inspiring theme.

“Water calls us to explore the depth of the self. It washes away, wave after wave, the seismic shocks of the day upon our souls. It soothes the riled self”.

Sunset in South Texas. I sat with friends at the edge of this wide  lake. The day had brought happiness and sadness. We all needed some peace of mind that we found as the waves moved gently towards the shore and the sun shone over the quiet waters. Hardly any sound around us but the lapping of the waves and the occasional bird singing a few notes before night fell. Serenity.

“Fire drives us out of ourselves, it touches the spark within us that leads us to create new worlds in the face of the years gone to ashes before us”.

Sitting around a fire,  whether alone or with others, is always a special moment for me. Letting one’s  mind wander over the flames, imagining  the new paths they will follow over the logs and the shapes they create is fascinating. When a spark bursts brightly and loudly reality comes back and with it the deep pleasure of the present moment.

“Earth, the vast expanse of the plains, the colors in a far away meadow, beckons us to explore, to know, to touch, to grow with the environment around us. It makes us its own and teaches us what home is about”.

Vast plains remind me of  South  Texas and Russia, meadows  are spreading  over soft hills and in the valleys all around me. High mountain pastures, their unbelievably bright flora and rare wildlife  are very much  home for me. The varied environment I lived in taught me to explore and respect nature, to know its people and the culture they developed in their surrounding area. Nature taught me a lot about “home”.

“Air, fresh and soft, teaches us how little it takes to live, to go on, to be pure of heart, to begin to live all over again, to believe. “The whole earth”, Mohammad said, “has been made a mosque and pure for me”.

A sudden puff of wind  blew a cloud of thistles all over my camera and my face… light touches of a wonderful nature. Thistledown as light as the mountain breeze in a blue sky,  tiny seeds ready to be dispersed. So little it may take to go on and live all over again.

Many thanks to Joan Chittister http://www.joanchittister.org/ for letting me reproduce part of her writing in “The Monastic Way”  and share it with you.

Wishing you all a very pleasant weekend !