Lost in the Yard Again

Sunny and 70s this weekend in northwest Florida but with enough seasonal variety to get to experience some autumn colors alongside the re-flowering trees. I meant to go to the ocean but ended up staying in my yard. It’s just so quiet and peaceful here, and that’s really what I needed most this weekend, especially since our house guests are out of town. It’s late Sunday afternoon now; I’m still in my pajamas and still procrastinating starting my schoolwork…. maybe after this blog post on the patio…

I thought I’d let you into my head a bit, since there is never a dull moment there. 🙂 This morning as the sun rose and dried the raindrops from the leaves, I enjoyed some nature photography. In my backyard. 🙂

A friend recently asked what kind of camera I use. Ummmm, an outdated and malfunctioning iPhone (8) and whatever photo editing app it came with. My old Canon is no longer working, though I really do need to try harder to revive it. I’m not one to spend money, and I hate updates and changing what I’m familiar and comfortable with. My daughter has the pro gear (and newer phone), but I’ve yet to borrow or learn it. I have an inherited camera too I’ve been meaning to play with. So me and my on-its-last-leg iPhone out back this morning….

If you know anything about me, you know it would be the wildflowers and white flowers that would call to me the most. From inside, on my way to make morning coffee (after going back to sleep earlier since I woke with a headache), the familiar white wildflowers drew me out. I loved that they were still blooming and wanted to capture them against the autumn-leaves background. There is such pure and soulful beauty I find in white blossoms, so this was my main therapy after my emotionally-turbulent week. Ahhhh…

I find nature the most therapeutic for me when I focus on the details, the tinier the better. I suppose that makes sense. When I’m spiraling out of control from an emotional trigger that trips a mine from my traumatic, buried past, the one who knows me best (I’ve recently caught on to this..) tells me something very specific in our conversation, a unique detail. I tend to focus on it. I tend to forget the rest for a moment or two. It’s a grasp for me, something to hold onto. Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed to stop the free fall. I focus on the folds in petals, the almost-evaporated drops from last night’s (all-too-coincidentally-metaphoric) rain, the tiniest bright stars in the unfurled center. It centers me. Again.

This one entranced me the most, like a beautiful ballet, its story performed without words but deeply felt… 

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Then there’s simply the beauty of autumn’s bright leaves, which I do not take for granted living in the South.

In just about every subject I frame in my lens, I also find a story or lesson. I begin my autumn adventure with the nest in the nook of my eucalyptus tree. This tree is not the mother of these leaves, but then again, home is sometimes found, and families can be made outside of genes, and both of these can save a soul. 

(Here is the eucalyptus’ biological offspring:)img_8132

Next, as tends to happen, I notice and go out of my way to admire and showcase the beauty in the imperfect. I chose this leaf to be the star today.

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I’m sure the ones who were more “whole” and less “marred” were confused. Like with flowers and seashells, I find the most powerfully-moving stories in the subjects that many would overlook or toss back, reject. We are all imperfect, though; we all have our scars, and with each, a very personal story, usually untold. Yet how similar, I’m sure, our hidden fears and pains are. The light seems to find all of us equally though, as a saving, nonjudgmental love.

This leads me also to respect the shadows. This bright red evoked a somber mood. I paused a while to pay homage.

This next green leaf intrigued me so! Among the astonishing inner workings, a very distinct marking gave my imagination the lead in metaphorical hypotheses formation: an internal imaging picture revealing the disease or alien or parasite inside; a tattoo (and what does it symbolize?); a birthmark; a branding; an astrological sign? Victim, chosen savior, scarred warrior? Its emblem is seared into my mind’s eye. 

Nearby, another attention capturer, the decay in such stark contrast to the green stem. A charred lung having always been fed plenty of oxygen. Self-asphyxiation? Leaving or returning to life? Maybe the later stages of the disease above? Open back up the valve to your heart! Choose to receive the love! (I told you there’s never a dull moment in my mind…) 

In this next one, I find the bittersweet. The sun’s rays have found this one and are comfortingly drying the pool of tears. Such a tender and touching healing story, especially since the leaf has detached from its life source. Perhaps the rays are the forgiveness before death, all amends made before the soul leaves the body to be lifted. Is there anything left unspoken in your own heart today?… 

Don’t worry, I’ve saved the most lighthearted for last! 🙂 Here we have the strawberry or the rose (shhhh…don’t let it hear you say its a leaf!). We can really be whatever we choose to be, can we not? This one made me smile. Now I could manipulate the leaves to create such a capture, but when I find it naturally so, it makes it so much better. 

And there you have it: a glimpse of what it’s like to be in Laura’s head when far away in the nearness of nature. I’d like to stay lost forever. I don’t think I’d miss the world. Wherever I go though, I promise to always send you rays of light, reflected with my lenses. ❤ 

A Fallen Blossom At Dawn

Another fallen blossom…
like the ones before
in years passed
I photographed
and told stories for.

Each of these moves me
in such profound ways;
what’s underfoot,
what others pass,
stops me in my tracks
with the silent beauty
so profoundly displayed.

For a lifetime, I feel
I could sit and contemplate,
reflect on all the lessons
and secrets it portrays…

This is how I know
I’m different, 
for off the beaten path,
tucked away,
alone in nature
is my happiest place. 

The soft morning light
haloing the fallen lady
bids me pay respect 
and paint legacy allegories.

Not as sad as the last one
I payed homage to, 
(but of course that is influenced 
by my inner untappable currents
and current surface mood,
no doubt, in turn, affected by
the recent tides and moon…)
this fallen beauty, still so poised,
fills me with bittersweet truths,

for we, the best things, this life itself…
all fleeting, all blossoms plucked by breezes
in the grand scheme of it all,
these hundred years if we are lucky
(but who’s to say that’s luck
when we know not
what’s next and beyond;
perhaps those taken early
were needed for something else,
angels only visiting
to help us with ourselves…)
nothing at all, 
a blink in time,
though insignificant
nor the center 
of the universe 
should we feel;
we are each dearly loved,
part of the same mother tree
unseen but a morph of every variety,
the keeper of every seed and leaf
releasing us one by one
into the world 
upon the breezes
in perfectly timed seasons
to root ourselves
until it’s our time
and we are called back again
like this beautiful blossom
having just detached.
I always wonder if it’s 
a leap of faith or
sacrifice or circumstance.

In any event, who could not
ponder the rest of their life
happening upon

a “fallen” blossom
at dawn. 

Poem and image ©LauraDenise

Leaves in my Lens

In our mix of seasons overlapping in the American South, I’ve written recently about my fascination of it as an observer, contemplator, photographer, and writer. In revisiting an earlier photographed corner of my yard, I noticed this morning that the last of Autumn is finally giving way to Spring. And of course, I saw the exquisite beauty and story beneath…

I wonder if other souls like mine see the stories I so naturally do, in every detail of nature. If so, I wonder what the commonality is, the soul feature that is so susceptible to falling so still, getting so moved, by the normally unseen that so many are blind to. Mindfulness perhaps the trendy term. But before that, I’ve always heard the whispers.

Is it a trait shared by photographers? Poets? Believers? In any case, I can’t imagine not having the connections I do, to every leaf, every cloud, every wild bloom (the next post…).

This morning, another love story found its way into my frame. To most, just two leaves. To me, a wordless tale of the most profound and tender beauty…

A leaf drying up,
weathered by time.
Its thirst I feel.
Its veins taking in
all that it can
to simply get by,
for a while longer,
survive.
Against a cloudy sky.

A love found,
a desperate grasp,
a clinging
to each other,
a tear
of relief,
perhaps
the last.

Her colors
fading too,
yet she offers
her final
burst of brights,
and the selfless act
renews,
fills them both
with new life.

Together, they reach
for their together dream,
and when they fall,
it will now be in love,
and as one, they will land
and embrace
the next unknown,
together spend
each future season
where seasons have no
end…

And that’s what I see in the leaves in my lens.

Saltwater Rinse

Sometimes the sea simply calls me,
in cahoots with the clouds, it seems;
my steering wheel turns by itself
toward their captivating spell, south,
and where the land ends, it begins,
the shift in me when I step in.

The saltwater rushes my feet
in an urgency to take me
that contradicts with the stillness
that fills me in elixir drips;
there is no sting when it rinses,
my heart and soul wounds, deep cleanses.

As if Sunset stalled just for me,
colors begin to burst and bleed,
adding to the gas canvas,
never settling to finish
what was begun so long ago
in designful, loving brushstrokes.

The waves repeat their friendly hush.
Seabird wings lead my gaze back up
as the day’s light and burdens fade.
My dear friend Moon leads me away;
his beams I feel hugging my soul.
My secrets he already knows.

Poem and image ©LauraDenise

I Do Not Need Spring

I do not need spring

to bring me relief

from barrenness of green,

for beauty

I can still see

in the bleak;

 

all seasons

year-round

live in me,

as mixed up

as this year’s weather

has proven

to be.

 

I do not deny, though,

that I am happy to greet

the buds of pink

popping up so soothingly,

as if showering

my healing spirit

with my favorite

floral coloring.

You spoil me,

dear Spring.

 

I stop my feet

and indulge in

the thought retreat,

still my camera,

and with the bees,

capture the sweet

intricacies hidden in

the blushes of

the softest of

pinks.

🌸🌸💝🌸💓🌸💞🌸💗🌸💖🌸🌸

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Poem and images ©LauraDenise

I Will Never Tire

I will never tire of

morning birdsong,

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the daily rising of the sun,

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the ways the rays 

beam between trees,

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the clouds that form

in such artistry,

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the freedom flaunted in wildflowers,

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all the colors of twilight hours,

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the breezes that rouse my desires,

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the stars that kindle my dreams afire,

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for as long as I am alive,

I will never tire

of these natural delights,

 

never tire

even when the seasons fade away,

for a spirit saturated in the natural

never decays. 

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Poem and images ©LauraDenise

 

The Call

~  Let your soul lead you to the water, then set free your heart’s desires. ~

There is something about the sea that calls us. A universal, innate tugging that draws us out toward the coasts. The soft, lulling melody of distant waves like an ancient incantation seems to entrance our long-awaiting souls in psalm. What is it about the Great Water that beckons the land-dwellers to come? What revelations does it yearn to reveal in whispers to each individual in person? When we go, do we even listen?

We are perhaps drawn to the sea for its grandeur, its vast expanse that so powerfully suggests there is more. There is so much more. Much like space, inseparable from creation theories, the oceans challenge and confirm individual and collective beliefs and put us in our place. We are significant. Each of us. We are intentionally created, each precisely as we are. We are loved and have purpose. Yet, we are small. Not insignificant though. We belong. We are an intricate and essential part of this “more.” We each have a role that only each of us can fill. These are my deeply-rooted personal truths. The powers greater than humanity are represented here at the shoreline as we toe the boundaries, further exploration at this time denied. We build ships and aircrafts in attempts to go farther, but the higher powers are infinitely wiser. We are not meant to know more at this time, in this place. Or is it that we simply have not achieved what we are capable of? There are no answers. Or are there?

In a sense, we come to feel this smallness. Because sensing there is so much more out there makes us feel less alone. It comforts us to know we have a home beyond our own. It is easy to feel abandoned on this supposed third rock from a sun. No overt, direct guidance, no speech or sight or touch from above. Handicapped by only five senses, we feel unfairly ill-equipped. We call out, but no voice we can hear with our ears responds. Bodies that carry the souls we come to know die out, or die at perceived premature times, and leave us feeling more alone. What is the purpose of all of this? What are we to be doing? We all wonder side by side as we grow further and further apart. What if the meaning of it all is simply love? Love for yourself, love for your neighbor, love for all those strangers gathered beside you on the pier wondering the same. What if the unknown cannot be explored with anything manmade? What if the only way we can transcend the boundaries is to love at our fullest potentials? What if it were that simple? All along. How far have we come?

We come to the shoreline not necessarily in search of the answers but to be reminded, to confirm, how little we know. Most of our home planet is ocean and most of the ocean unexplored; we can only discover so much on our own. The rest must come with faith and hope. We do our best to fill in the blanks, but there is nothing missing here. We are surrounded by the gifts of nature and each other. We yearn for a greater understanding. For ourselves and for us all. If we believe in anything beyond this, it should change the way we live. Without the natural world, it would be too easy to forget, to devalue our existence. The ocean symbolizes this unknown, the infinite possibilities, the mysteries. It fills us with comfort and hope, to know we know not what is out there, what is yet to come. Every soul and dream could use this renewal. What is impossible becomes possible again. There is no end. The sky is never the limit.

We gravitate to the great aquahorizon. Such panoramic views, like that from atop mountains, take our breaths away. We come for the aesthetics, the pure beauty that exists in such picturesque visuals, the gifted perspectives we are not used to. We become part of the postcard, the Googled image; we can say we’ve been there and experienced it. We can carry it in our minds’ eyes long after. Luxurious, currency-dependent manmade entertainment places can be appealing experiences, but they can’t make obsolete the innate desire to simply see and sensually soak in the magnificence of natural wonders. We can create things that cause our jaws to drop, but the awe of what we cannot, the natural world that predates our existence that came about and cycles independent of us, fills us with wonder, questions impossible to answer, testaments of our extreme limitations, reminders of our blessed insignificance, for the powers held by such entities seem to be in good handless keep. We come to revel in the beauty of the view of an infinite horizon. We come to be moved. Internally.

There is something about the sea that calls us. Why has it summoned you?
There is something about the sea that calls us. Listen for its truths.

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6/28/2019 

Morning Dose of Nature

Being outdoors restores me, especially my mental health. I am a firm believer that allowing yourself to receive the unconditional loving embrace of Mother Nature is an essential part of healthy living. There is only one hard-fast rule in visiting with her though: no digital devices, with the exception of an internet-disabled camera.

I am blessed to have a backyard in which there is plenty of nature happenings. I get to be a Disney princess every morning surrounded by my familiar and visiting backyard creatures. I feel confident even the flowers are happy to see me. (Well, now I sound more like an outdoor version of a cat lady and/or my unhealthy need to be liked and wanted is coming out…)

Nature has an unexplainable calming magical quality. As a writer and poet and English teacher, it is often impossible for me to describe this effect with our limited worldly communication abilities. I’ve seen it work on others though, particularly with my own adolescent children. You have to take an older child to the nature trail kicking and screaming, but once you toss them out there to lead the way, they transform into innocent, wide-eyed, wonder-filled little kids again.

I have developed a short attention span like my students; they will be the first to admit I am verrrrryyyyyy easily distracted and looooovvvveee to talk and interact (Squirrel!!….).  No worries, if you are this type also, though: it is NOT boring to do nature. There are so many grand and minute wonders all about to observe. In fact, it is this “action” that helps with mental wellness, I think. You get both so distracted and entranced that you forget all about your problems and worries. For a while, at least. It’s a natural drunkenness, I suppose. But instead of killing your brain cells and forgetting what you did the whole time you were under the influence, you get to remember and keep with you always what you experienced in your natural getaway. Later, when the problems surface again, you can administer another dose of nature or simply recall it: I carry in my mind’s eye a gallery of colors and birdsongs and shell whispers, and it is always accessible, much like music.

Nature’s effect, simply by emerging yourself in it, is profound. But I am deep thinker and also a dreamer, so I get the added benefit of finding a story or lesson in every single observation. I came out to my backyard patio hours ago already with my morning coffee, intending to write for a bit. I didn’t get to writing for a long while because, even though I do it almost every single day, I had to make my rounds through the yard, being drawn in again by this and that, some new, some the same.

Here are this morning’s observations…

The first thing I reveled in was the way the rising sun was falling so golden upon the trees, causing the shadows to slowly shrink away. This particular tree was looking a bit rough, the creeper vines not entirely expunged and the quenching rains sparse in the hot Southern temperatures. This tree stands strong and majestic in spite of these hardships, though. It is both sad and inspirational to me. I am always ready for the next rain to wash away and refresh me, offer its essential nourishment. I, too, carry the chokers of the past, cut free from the source, but the vines still cling to me and remind me, and I have to learn to grow with those things that remain a part of me.

This got me to thinking about how I always have a tendency to champion the underdogs and favor the unpopular. In nature, this means spending equal if not more time with such things as “weeds” and mushrooms and spiders and snakes. In my classroom, this means I am extra keen and sensitive to those students who seem difficult and those who tend to slip through the cracks. This comes in part, perhaps, because I know what it’s like to feel that way and have to combat that lacking self-esteem regularly. I know how hard it is to believe in yourself when others for so long have told you and shown you that you are not enough. But you are. And it’s easy for others to say not to listen to those negative opinions and actions you’ve experienced, that you are beautiful and worthy and important and wanted and needed: but they’ve never been the mushroom, so they cannot understand. It is a fact, though, that mushrooms have much to offer. (And they always kick up my imagination, going hand in hand with forest fairies and such.)

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What got me a bit sentimental, though, was noticing the first hibiscus pair of the season to emerge. The timing of this each season seems too coincidental to me, always symbolizing something going on with me personally, internally. Yesterday, I worked overtime in battling a melancholy mood that really took me down the day before. It’s not until I can muster back up enough strength to raise my sword for another round of life that I can rise again; I still carry the pain, another dent in my shield. My shield is riddled with these, each with a story untold. It is always after such a meek and shaky-footed rising that I seem to see the double-hibiscus bloom, as if a sign from above reassuring me that it’s good growth to keep trying to open up despite my instinct to be that closed and guarded bud.

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I also always enjoy all the stages of growth simultaneously present in the hibiscus bush.

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I don’t think it’s possible to have your pains overtake you when you let Mother Nature help and work her magic and retreat into the open arms of her loving embrace. It’s an unconditional love she seems to have for us. The natural world is a testament at all times that we, that I, am never truly alone. It is a relief and I, for one, am grateful for the free and universal therapy.

This Summer Breeze (With Audio)

(Click here for audio)

This summer breeze comes and goes,

an invisible ebb and flow;

lush trees leap up to meet it

creating in their dance the music

 

that entices the distant wind chime

and the birds hovering,

spread-winged in flight

to softly join in,

and the chorus flows in

and out of me

as a sea of peace

chasing away again and again

the sticky stillness of the heat.

 

Some may stay indoors to avoid the humidity,

but without some uncomfortableness,

how can one appreciate the blessings

given so freely,

like that of the tree-dance ceremony

performed so gracefully

in the summer breeze.

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Poem and image ©LauraDenise