Sun Sets on Christmas

In my backyard, I take a few moments to myself after sun sets on Christmas.

I am drawn to the silhouetting branches of a tree and the stars surrounding it and eventually retrieve my camera to play with all the ways I can arrange the composition. I realize again what could be one of the reasons why I am drawn to photography: control.

I, in fact, am moving the stars. Positioning them. I manipulate the light. Later, I can manipulate in even more ways with editing apps.

I have danced with control so many times over the years, I had begun to think I was actually the lead. Control for me, though, never has had anything to do with power, simply the illusion of stabilizing, balancing, the perpetual chaos. Little bits of time. Of moments. Of situations. For survival.

As much as I’ve danced with control, I’ve had affairs with denial. Love-hate relationships. I think denial at times was truly a friend, keeping me afloat. At times, I think a betrayer; I could have stood up in the water that was actually shallow. I could have walked out of the water instead of treading. I could have maybe avoided the future near-drownings.

I am drawn most to putting the star here, cradled between the branches reaching for it.

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My Labraheeler has joined me, and I give in to kicking his ball for a bit, then decide to do a few laps around the half acre. He is used to this and follows beside me, jollily carrying his partially deflated mini basketball. We run, silently in companionship.

The weather is simply beautiful, the kind that the soul takes in as the breezy, summer-like night air is inhaled. I trust I know the yard enough to not trip in the growing darkness and trust my pup enough to not cross my path underfoot; I look up to the sky as my blood extra pumps, and all of me feels refreshed, renewed, freed.

This is peace.

The day was merry, and Christmas Eve too. I can’t recall another Christmas in which it truly was. Last year, I wore the smile, made it through, and then was nearly drowned in my after-tears.

I believe in miracles. And in magic. And in love.

I’ve always held fast to faith over the years, but in that hopeful someday kind of way, struggling to not drink in the devil-potions that would make me question and challenge the unfairness of the situations plaguing me. Only a few years ago did I fully recognize miracles, the direct hand of God at work, the Spirit inside me. I had a merry Christmas. We all did. That was a miracle. I’ve always wanted that. I did not think it possible.

I made Christmas magical and happy for my children when they were younger (with the help of my community most years), but I did so under the immense weight of all that being married to an addict-alcoholic adds. Add the strain of being the peacemaker, the glue, and often the leader of my whole family tree. Heavy. Stressful. Masked. Martyr. Superhero. Weighed. Bending. Cracking. Moth-eaten cape. Suffocating. Hiding. Pretending. Pleasing. Holding in. Suppressing. Swallowing. Denying. Lying. Stretched. Thinner. Thinner. Breaking.

Currently, light, airy, floating, feathered, free. Breathing.

So this is Merry Christmas…

I don’t think I’ll edit anything.

Pitfalls and Wings

I remember you describing it like trap doors.

That unexpected drop we don’t see coming. It’s one thing when you are watching your footing, placing your soles carefully around the eggshells, having been conditioned, trained, skilled, at moving around in this on-guard, defensive way. It’s another when you’ve just started to have confidence in the spring in your step upon trusted ground. I was outdoors, in my favorite place, when it happened this last time.

A trap pre-set by a predator disguised as a friend. Another very unexpected fall. No problem. I’m used to it. I know what to do. It’s all very logical. Except when I go to grab onto the root to begin the climb, it opens another hole. I unexpectedly drop again. I reach, I lift myself, I lift myself, I reach for the wrong root again and another hole opens… I don’t understand these. They come from deep within my own self. These were not set by him. There is no logic; I’ve tried every pattern. Eventually, I make it out.

And then another pit sends me plummeting.

I’m thinking about these pitfalls today, sitting upon a rock in a favorite dress on a beautiful day, revisiting the scene, the trap pre-set especially for me. I find myself thinking the all-too-familiar question for each of us, so universal, so personal: why me?

I honestly do feel I should have been spared by my higher power. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve done my time. With Trauma. But what sense of entitlement and special treatment is that? Not to mention the whole free-will clause which others can use to interfere with my own hard work and desires.

So I do now reflect on the possible reasons. Does God have yet another lesson for me to learn, yet another trial to overcome? How strong does He want me to be?! And why?… When I think of this, I do not feel like a victim; there is very little woe is me. I actually get a bit excited that He is preparing me for big things. Like I am a chosen one. And if ever I were to be in training or to serve, I would definitely want it to be for Him! I feel empowered. I feel an ego I never thought I had. I always thought I was selfless to a fault.

I did it. I think. Again. I’ve lost, yet won.

Are you proud of me, God?


I think, too, about how much I have control of and how much I don’t. I know how we react is everything, our miseries often self-induced, self-perpetuated, the way we keep ourselves trapped and prisoners; we look down sometimes and see the cuffs and chains are unlocked, and we scramble to re-secure them. Why?

Is it all fear?

If so, are we really trusting God is with us, sees what is ahead? We cannot get there if we keep re-locking ourselves when He keeps setting us free.

My past is my past. I have freed myself from it. I must shake the dungeon dust fully off. Perhaps that is the purpose of these new wings.

I feel the breeze of your and His love…

Thank you for always believing in me.

I suppose with wings,
these pitfalls can

no longer sink me;
I’ll keep my eyes

forward in these skies
and focused
on the portals
to my dreams.

Words and images ©LauraDenise

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. ❤ 

To Where You Are

A poetic letter to me sent upon a wave and star
to reach through time, back to where you are… 

This “he” of your fantasies
receives your Little Red Balloon
and your whispers
to be delivered by Moon.

He will continuously clean
your mirrors until you see
as he does, all of your beauty
clearly.

You will weave wedding
wildflowers in your hair
and feel the wind whip
freeingly through the despair.

You will radiate in dresses
and feel feminine,
barefoot and free
upon grass and sand.

Your wavy locks
will be teased by the breeze.
Your hand outstretched
for a companion will receive.

Your heart reopened
will be filled to overflowing,
exceeding your dreams
with God-blessed reality.

Your voice in song
will again reach the heavens,
your loquaciousness endlessly
received with eager anticipation.

That voice in your head
and grip around your growth
will fall away as he convinces you
to love yourself.

Your faith will grow
as anticipated;
God will see you through
as He always has.
He knows always
what is ahead.
He will deliver love
if you cut the thread…

You will not give
your whole life
to this verbally-abusive “man.”
Soon you will be filled
with enough courage to act.
You will come to realize
those decades
of hurtful words
were lies all along;
you will come to know
your worth.

Who you once long ago
hoped instead you were
will appear as unwavering
truths in every mirror.

Dynamic Art

The things we edit…

When it comes to my photography, editing to me is not perfecting, so I suppose I should call it altering; it is transforming creatively the tone, literarily, though that often comes from color changes, cooling or warming, fading or imbuing, really a canvas with my technology as the brush, though you would be surprised with the media I use, an old iPhone about to give out and whatever standard editing app it came with.

My lab is my mind’s eye in reverse, creating what my soul wishes to express, I but a medium myself. I play until the aha moment, always knowing that is exactly what I was looking for. Each starting photo, a message itself I collect from nature. Sometimes it speaks as is, especially when it is lit. Sometimes it lends itself, whispers, “Do with me what you may, May Child; my metamorphism is in your trusted hands. Make me the more you believe I am.”

Sometimes I feel the nature challenges me in this way to keep going beyond and beyond, rebirthing new ways, not godlike, but godchildlike, spending my days attune to the spirit in the petals and breezes, in the rays and the blades, in the insect and the web. I create with images I creatively capture, crouched down and over the barely noticed, shrinking further than Alice into the macroworld, still infused with wonder, perhaps even more so. With each alteration, a new message, perhaps divinely inspired.

I do my duties in the world so I can retreat––into the yard, into myself, into the absence of voices except my inner one and the whispers from butterflies and the birdsong, and I listen and listen for The One as I visit my many companions of the natural realm. Often, I bring heaven down. To earth. Though I find enough evidence that it is already here. All about us. And as much as I avoid the humans, I know the greatest purpose here is to love one another. My purpose the same but from afar. Bringing light and hope to you is how I try to do my part. 

The things we edit… 

Often, in relation, we edit by removing blemishes, by cropping out all the real, showcasing our best fake versions of ourselves and our lives, for behind the cameras lie the whole truths. We compete. We turn the cameras around onto the shells of our selves, lose the nature and others, snapshots of ourselves as the universe’s center, lenses in reverse yet outward, for our inner selves are not the focus. 

There are pieces of heaven in each of us. Because we were each made the way He intended. What we make of ourselves from what we were given: that is the welcomed art of continued collaborative creation. Excavate the light within. Keep painting with your truest inner discovered colors. We should never settle for being done when we are each and all continued masterpieces in progress. May we never fade permanently to sepia or still life; though both of these are essential to the process. 

I still believe we can beautifully alter all of this… 

All words and images on this site ©LauraDenise

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

Clues & Pieces

Reinvention of the self,
a mosaic,
from pieces forged
and discovered–
some to be polished,
painted,
others best with
the coatings of
dust and dirt.

Have you found yourself? 

I’ve been rethinking this concept lately. For me, I have never really been looking for myself but rather my home, that place where I feel completely welcome, where I am already accurately and wholly known, where I can be completely, freely me, where I’ve been missed, where it makes sense, where it feels just right.  My soul has always been restless.  As a girl and teen, I always felt different, in a sense, like I couldn’t really relate to others. I think because I was always thinking, philosophizing, dreaming. Feeling seemed to be my superpower–not in sensitivity but in depth. I have always thought and felt too deeply about things. I have always been an old soul, have always felt like I’m just not in the right time period or realm. 

An example of this–well, I think I wrote a poem about it once. Let me grab it… Here it is:

Freckle Constellation

This group of freckles
on my forearm
has me mooning,
time-warping
to childhood…

Funny how even then,
felt like these freckles
meant something,
seemed like
a constellation,
a coding,
a knowing,
a piece of
the puzzle
of me.

Funny how even then
when we would travel
at night in the station wagon,
I pondered if the street lights
spelled out a message that
you could only see from
a distance…

Funny how even then
I would get lost in my
own philosophical thoughts,
felt a bit out of sorts
when others seemed
so content splashing in
shallow waters
when I was so anxious
to explore the
depths of the sea.

Now at 44, I find myself
mulling over those same
mysteries, a calling to me,
a profound knowing that
there’s not only so much more,
but somehow that so much more
involves me,
and not passively.

Do I believe in destiny?
Perhaps partially.

I feel like I was born to love
but also to defend,
sword in hand…

I wonder how my story
will end.

I look for clues
in the freckle tattoo…

(04/06/18)

Yep, that definitely fits right in with my current contemplation… I think it’s a combination for me of looking for my place–my home–and also myself. For a while now, I’ve just assumed that I would not find this internal place and peace in this life, and that was okay with me; I have always intended to make the most of it. But lately, I am finding that I am actually getting very close. I am finding along the way pieces of myself. I just don’t know if it is a mosaicking process of creating myself or if it is a collection of clues that lead to myself. I like the idea of both. 

This all came up this evening because I was looking at some pictures of wildflowers I recently took, lol (see what I mean about getting lost in thought?…) Wildflowers speak to my soul, plain and simple. The meeker, the smaller, the more tattered, the more beautiful to me, the stronger the pull, the more complex the silent stories… White/ivory flowers have the same kind of spiritual effect on me. Framing fragile, wild “weeds” in the first or last rays of the day… that is my soul in a photograph. Just something about it… a piece, a clue, for sure. 

I have a very strong connection to nature. It’s where I prefer to be. It’s where I feel I belong. I would rather watch the clouds all day and all night than do any of those things others like to do. That makes me a freak to some, I suppose; my family makes fun of me for it. While most flocked to tourist attractions over spring break, I lived the dream: poetry, photography, and nature. At home. Lots of pajama time. Lots of coffee and tea. (Hence the abundance of posts on Sunday, my last day to indulge in my hobbies before work began again.) Although I am rather socially fearless and can easily be the life of a party, I would rather be home alone doing my own thing. I think I would be quite content as a hermit, preferably a writer in a small, cozy cottage amidst diverse nature. 

So wildflowers are a clue along the trail of myself, or the trail home, or a piece I choose to include in my “me” mural. 

past the flower beds
I seek colors of the wild
to appease my soul

I sit for a while
let my inner light visit
no place like this home

(double haiku)

The morning after writing this post, I discovered my friend’s beautiful video capturing one of his “children’s” books (with his gorgeous artwork and inspired by his dear chickens). It made me cry. And the timing and relevance…so special. Please do take a moment to be moved. Please do yourself the favor of enjoying more of John’s work and soul: https://mylifewithgracie.com/2021/03/20/a-read-beside-me-book-video/

Monday to Monday

Everything happens for a reason? No, I don’t think so. I hope not. I am not a believer in fate to that extreme. It’s too controlling. If it were truth, I’d personally journey to dethrone those meddling Moirai and take back my life. I’d do it for others too.

Now destiny to me is a whole different matter. Even the word is more beautiful. While fate feels fortune-cookie prescribed, destiny feels like personal potential. Fate’s word origin is “that which has been spoken” whereas destiny’s is “to establish.” One makes me wish to defy and retaliate, though essentially, it would supposedly be futile to do so; at worst, it makes me want to give up, surrender. The other makes me want to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter the obstacles—in fact, obstacles become welcome and necessary—choosing the paths, to become all that I can be, all that my higher power wishes for me to discover about myself to bring me closer and closer to The Light.

Some things happen for a reason. I absolutely believe in this. That reason being loving, personal, divine intervention, when we are directly presented gifts, even (and perhaps more importantly) obstacles and uneasy feelings. It is these moments that I feel are crucial for our destinies. The choices. The free will.

Monday after work, I seized the day, to ride the wave of what was at the time the merging of a beautiful late afternoon with my good spirits; I headed for the coast (across the street but a 20-minute drive to the National Seashore parking area I opted for rather than the main beach). I just wanted to bank some credit on my emotional health, as this school year for me as a teacher has been the most challenging yet. Usually in my past, I would more likely seek out nature as my medicine upon feeling the first symptoms of mental unwellness, though my soul requires daily doses of the outdoors. I’ve had the photos I took that afternoon in my phone; no particular inspiration came from them during the week. Until now.

Monday again. A holiday. Yet something off within me. I get frustrated with that feeling because I feel I’ve put sooooo much work into my total healing that I deserve to never feel an uncomfortable feeling again. That’s absurd though, I know, and I would probably hate such a boring emotional predictability. I talked to my higher power aloud, as is natural for me. I retracted my request to take these disquieting feelings from me to “unless I am meant to feel them for a purpose because I need to, because you are trying to help me realize something.” I sat down on the couch with my morning coffee (deliberately avoiding my bed) and brought a notebook, as it seemed like a pen-to-paper doodling therapy session might be needed over the digital screen. It’s raining out; I usually love staying home as reader and writer on a rainy day, but for some reason, though I finished reading a novel, my muses for the first time in a couple of years were not around this week. Until now.

Some things happen for a reason.

The only WordPress post I found myself at, Listening to the Reed, was one from the same soul whose music moved me recently. After reading it and thanking her for the inspiration, my typing fingers remembered again how to dance. And what I saw in Monday’s photos became apparent. Funny how it all comes together in magical moments….

Even before the water comes into view, parking lot inspiration captures me as I snap a photo of a stranger, here too, to use her gifts, “alone” in nature. She is me, the poet, the photographer, using different media. She is the musician brushing notes, and although we all seem to speak a different language, our stories, our messages, are all too similar, invisibly thread us together, I am certain. Her silence, my silence, a silent symphony that runs through us both, all. Solitude is not without its benefits. May we become, again and again, blank and empty, for our higher power’s use of us as instruments, as lenses, as canvases. May we share with one another those masterpieces, the instruments being masterpieces themselves. 

The sun is out still; I am thankful to get off work early enough to enjoy it. Sixty degrees on this February pre-evening. I came to this area for the adventure, though I’ve also come in the past for the solitude. I can see the shoreline through the trees; the hike doesn’t begin until I sink deeper into the sand. The view always seems like a long sought after oasis discovery, yet it is always simply before me, so easily accessible. It seems like cheating to start at Paradise. 

The late afternoon rays highlight the remains of a tree. I’ve visited this one before, but the light upon and within is particularly captivating today. The way the tree stands so resolutely, still firmly rooted yet maimed, seems honorable, and I pause to add a moment of silence to the silence. To me, it is a veteran, not fallen but partially sacrificed. I am standing upon the barrier island that protects the mainland, in official wilderness, where the defenders too often are unseen and unappreciated. 

The soft, beautiful light within draws me in further, not deeper but into the world of its complex interior, a secret cavern faithfully harbored, a portal hesitantly opened for the sincere, and I enter with reverence into its still and shallow waters. 

Exposed, I see every feature, every fissure, every shadowed crevice, and the continued sacrifices. I am reminded of Silverstein’s Giving Tree, and it stills me to pay even more homage. 

From inside the sacred sanctuary, the view of the sun seems so much more beautiful, and the Light so personally and tenderly loving. I recall the times, like a week from today, my private, protected, inner self has looked through such deeply-anchored panes. 

I continue on my solo voyage, following the coastline that has changed, and I remember another hurricane has passed through since my last visit. The windblown tree that throws off the perpendicular order with its angle is the first testament that life inevitably alters us. Yet again, I focus on the roots, still buried, that interconnect with others, locking, intertwining, determined to protect, holding the sand itself together. I recall where I was when this happened, a bit inland, in an interior closet with my daughter and dog. I recall prayers to my higher power to turn the powerfully-increasing storm back to sea, not west or east but back, asking to protect us all, in every land. How relevant, yet even more symbolic, are the exposed roots of the great (still) Live Oak I happen upon next… 

I bend down again to inspect the clues without altering the scene, a cracked log, split halfway down the center and not by the axe, reveals the hollow and part of the skeleton within, severed from the tree, no longer adrift, arrived and at rest at its burial place, but not even that is certain. 

Instead of the expected crabs that usually endlessly entertain me here, I find never-encountered peculiar objects and remnants I have yet to identify. Some explorers are quick to Google their finds, but as curious as I am and as much of a lifelong learner as I hope to be, most of the time, I treasure more the mystery, the unexplained, my imagination, the childlike wonder. So much on this excursion is new this time, and I find a peculiar yet not very unsettling eeriness in the lack of both human life and wildlife found anywhere. I continue on, backward or forward in time, I cannot tell, but the present is nowhere about. 

Not-quite-parallel lines, natural elements, hurricane relics, and human footprints all seem to travel in the same direction: along the shore, toward the light. The sound (aptly named) both contributes, discreetly takes away, and smooths again the slate of history. I leave my own temporary tracks, an intermingling legacy, but I sense if I turn around, I may catch Time itself sweeping the evidence away. After all, I am but a visitor in this past or future, and my present is patiently waiting for my return. I press on, though, just a bit more, farther and further away from the portal. 

The sand itself becomes more and more buried beneath the new after-storm covering. The terrain, so foreign-feeling, draws my attention to my every step. Sooner than I wanted, I arrive at the infamous “where the beach ends.”  

This was not the end before though; funny how endings can change. I want to be allowed to pass, to make it to the tree patch where the seabirds often nest. I pause at the obstacle I could surmount if I choose to, but I doubt the wildlife I am looking for is up there this time. It is neither doubt nor fear of the unknown though that propels my pivot but the satisfaction of this leg of my journey today, and my present is one that I am not trying to escape, unlike the pattern of my past. 

In my return journey, as it grows late in the day, I do not light the torch but instead frame the flame between two seemingly scorched matchstick trees. Sometimes a shift in perspective can become a powerful thing. This non-desolate non-wasteland thrives with natural, resilient beauty. We are blessed to witness its offerings. In the absence of our existence, the surf would still play its music, the flower would still bloom, the bird would still sing, though I do believe they prefer to gift us those things. But the green.. the green would gleefully creep out from the earth and revel in its reclamation, stretch its vines and branches and burst forth new leaves and lift itself again to the heavens. 

The clouds begin to rise up, themselves, from the sea, rising up to cradle Sun and gently lower it into the ripples, to extinguish the day’s light. Benevolent Moon will soon fill in so darkness never truly sets in, and stars will adorn the night, to collect our wishes and christen them in the magical moonlit tide.

I hear not the cry of Yeats’ falcon; I see not his sea beast. The only wild creature that crosses my path is the single, silent pelican, wings spread wide, as it soars like a promise of hope into the cloud-misted sunset. 

I was called to the coast on a Monday,
though my core was perfectly intact.
On a rainy day inside me,
it restored my soul on the next. 

Photographer’s note: the only thing I edited in these photos was lightening some of the shadows…

Related by Laura: My Mother is the Beach

First Dandelion

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I am a champion of dandelions, so when I spotted the first one unseasonably early this year in January, it was meaningful to me.

This “winter” along the Gulf Coast has been a wonderland for me despite the absence of snow. Summer flowers refused to fold, autumn arrived in December and passed yet lingers, some leaves finally fallen and browned, others “frozen” in time.

I don’t think the leaves and flowers and frost are confused by the erratic temperatures. It feels more willful than that. They feel alive, refusing to conform, but not in a defiant resistance, more of a joyful jubilee, an awakening, a desire to witness, delayed death meeting premature birth, overlapping, perhaps just this once as planets form a particular pattern.

I see the parallels in me.

I woke long before dawn on a Sunday because I couldn’t sleep, didn’t want to, any longer. I yearned to write, to seize the day, because it was mine. As much as I love my career, it dictates me like any other. No agenda today but my own, the only notes needed, the scribblings of poetic thoughts flittering in the spring of my mind. Like the flowers and leaves out of doors, I will inevitably sleep but if fate allows, I’ll decide the time. A nap with the window open mid-afternoon, perhaps in the middle of a chapter, perhaps in an hour.

The seasons of our lives are wed to time, and these seasons are defying order, the same way the past in me can mix with my present, competing for my attention, openly and beneath. Sometimes it is simply past time for the last leaf to release its grip; after all, it is sacrificial and needed for the tree’s perseverance. The trees of life within us, like the blooms, will assuredly bud again. Perhaps the exposed bareness is necessary for us too, to feel the abrasive, harsh winds, to virus-hibernate for a while, to better appreciate the warmth and warmer rains, and friends. To extend once again or for the first time, our olive branches.

I lean down to the ground behind my privacy fence to capture the “Tooth of the Lion.” I shake my head instead of getting mad when I am photo-bombed. Sometimes the unexpected comes along, for we were not designed to be able to translate the harbinger’s song.