Change is constant.

saffron field web

As spring finally settled in this year, I drove down to the arboretum to explore. Each year I remember where I previously captured moments of unexpected delight: a carpet of giant crocus lining the walkway between hedges, Siberian iris and snowdrops merging together with evergreens, fuzzy pastel pasque flowers, tulips glowing like lampshades filled with sunshine.

Could I take a better photo than the one took back then? Could I get a do-over? Will I miss out on a particular bloom because I waited too long to visit?

Wistfulness, anxiety and compulsiveness run on a constant loop.

Then, I actually start my exploration. I revisit places those places of wonder, expecting the same delight. Instead, I’m greeted with change and slight disappointment. Gardens evolve. Change is constant.

I want to go back to the place of beauty, but that place is no longer the same. There’s nothing to recapture or recreate, because the landscape changed with time.

Similarities, yes. Tulips still bloom, as do the lilacs and roses and lilies. And yet, they’re different each year and so is the lighting, the weather and my timing in visits.

Even as I’m disappointed when I cannot revisit the magic that once was, something always surprises me. The air whooshes out from my lungs on a surprised, “Wow!”

This year, cresting a hill, I glimpsed this field of saffron flowers — hundreds of them glowing beneath a giant old tree. Upon closer inspection, I saw that someone carefully planted them in the shape of a giant heart.

Maybe there’s a lesson about openness in all of this garden business. I want to hold on to those spaces of wonder and joy — to recreate things that once were — but those things have faded.

Maybe life just tastes bittersweet. We cannot hold the moments of wonder and joy, however much we try. They slip through our grasping hands.

Even as change inevitably comes, there’s still hope.

Somehow, if we’re open, life catches us by surprise. The past is gone, and something new still awaits. Maybe not where we were expecting it to come — perhaps the unexpected nature of life is part of the miracle.

We didn’t know we would stumble upon the moment. The air whooshes out from our lungs, delight rushes in, and for a brief moment the world seems to pause as we are swept up in the magic in front of our noses. A baby giggles. The sunset fills the sky with streaks of pink and orange. The waves crash against the shore. Laughter echoes round the table as old friends swap stories and good food. The bear hug reminds we’re welcomed and loved just as we are.

We cannot go back to what once was, but life still bubbles up, often unexpectedly. Will I choose to notice? Will I squander the present joy as I compare it with my past expectations?

Everything isn’t always sparkles, with hundreds of crocus dancing in the breeze. But perhaps these wonder-filled moments are like manna in the wilderness.

The book of Numbers tells of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness after their flight from Egypt. As they wandered in the desert, manna — this mysterious form of nourishment — rained down from heaven. It was enough to feed and sustain them. They couldn’t hoard it or save it — even though some tried. Manna was nourishment for the day. Perhaps boring after so many days of eating it, but still enough to carry them through to the next day.

Will I trust God for the manna to make it through the day? Will I acknowledge the wonder and grace that pops up, or will I grumble and bemoan that grace did not appear the way I wanted? I hope I spend more time in the former.

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Finding peace in enough

purple-crocus

Crocus are the flowers that beckon me outside with me camera as winter shifts to spring.

Folks content with simple things intrigue me, particularly those content with enough instead of excess. This discipline remains uncomfortable for me like sitting on the floor and reaching to my outstretched toes — beyond my grasp, but I stretch and it burns. Continue reading

Converting old jeans into rugs, or a metaphor for Lenten life.

Ragged jeans

This spring I’ve cleaned out closets. I gathered up the stashes of jeans I’d been hoarding and unwilling to chuck — not the jeans that are simply too big or too small, but the ones with worn-out inseams or missing buttons. The kind not even the thrift store wants, as likely they’d get thrown into the garbage or shipped off to other countries. Tossing the fabric to the curb seemed wasteful. Continue reading

Favorite Nature Photos of 2016

Every year J and I make a calendar from our highlights of the previous year’s (horizontal) photos. And this year I thought, why not share our favorites images with you as well?

coral-bells

Coral bells. There’s just something about the green leaves and brilliant red flowers that I adore.

crabapple-blossom

Crabapple blossoms. Making spring feel like a fairy wonderland.

dutch-iris

Dutch iris. Tiny bursts of brilliant color.

forsythia

Forsythia. I love the way these shrubs glow in the sunlight, even as J prefers them against a brilliant blue sky.

geranium

Geraniums. The smell. The soft colors. The dainty elegance. Geraniums are delightful.

hellebore-lenten-rose

Lenten roses bloom early in the spring, and every year it’s a struggle to get an image of these that I enjoy. This year: success!

lady-slipper-orchid

Lady slipper orchids. Until this last summer, I’d never seen these in the wild. Discovering bunches of them in growing in roadside ditches in northern Minnesota was thrilling.

lilies-red-orange-yellow

Lilies. Brilliant red lilies might be my favorite, but there’s something wildly joyous about mixing and matching the bold colors.

orange-brown-lily

Part of me hates this color combination on the lily, and yet I find myself loving the photo in spite of myself. Even if it does look like a rotting banana.

pasque-flowers

Pasque flowers. I noticed these flowers for the first time this spring, and found myself obsessed with them. The fuzziness. The soft lavender. The blinding yellow centers. When everything else was brown and muddy, these buds signaled the hope of spring.

pink-coneflower

Pink coneflower. Coneflowers aren’t my favorite in bouquets, but there’s an indescribable magic about them in photographs. The way the light makes them brilliant and ultra neon totally catches my fancy.

pink-crocus

Pink crocus. I find hope when flowers pop up in seemingly barren places.

pink-flowers

Raspberry splash lungwort. The intense color changes on the flowers — pink to purple to blue — fascinate me.

pink-lily

Pink lily. Lily pollen makes me sneezy. But, I’m so happy with the lighting on the lily, the sneezing fit was worth it.

pink-orange-lilies

Lilies. I’m so happy to have gotten a lily photo from our yard where the lilies weren’t covered by ants.

pink-tulips

I (heart) pink tulips.

purple-crocus

Crocus. Crocus beckon me outside with my camera as winter shifts to spring.

purple-iris-bunch

Iris. These flowers remind me of my mother every time I photograph them. These are similar to the varieties of iris I remember my dad picking up for my mom from the grocery store every spring.

purple-pasque-flowers

Pasque flowers. Dark purple and fabulous.

purple-tulip

Purple tulip. It’s sassy, and I dig that.

red-dahlia

Dahlia. Giant, fluffy flowers as big as my head? Yes, please.

red-tulip

Red tulip. Tulips are splendid as they turn translucent in sunlight. It’s my favorite way to photograph them.

snowdrops

Snowdrops. Dainty, spotless white flowers. Finding speckle-free white flowers is nearly impossible, which is why I usually avoid white flowers as subjects. Especially as I prefer not to photoshop my images.

water-lily

Water lilies. The ombre effect of the flower petals intrigues me. And that a flower this big springs up out of the water still boggles my mind.

yellow-red-lily

Lily. Experimenting with different angles yields more interesting photographs.

yellow-tulips

Tulips. Perhaps what I like most about this photo is the color combinations. The photo just makes me happy when I look at it. And that’s enough for me.

Happy Fall (and I’ll be back soon)!

Hi Friends,

I’ve been a little quiet here while I’ve been working on some other projects. I’ll be back soon with more words I promise.

In the meantime, I leave you with some photos from recent adventures.

Happy Fall!

coneflower

I love yellow coneflowers!

gingko-fruit

Gingko trees are my favorite!

pink-dahlia

Funky, curly dahlia

red-mums

Nothing says fall quite like mums!

Yours, Mine or Ours?

090216 Gooseberry Falls

Middle Falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park

Recently Dad, J and I spent a few days hiking around what we Minnesotans call the North Shore. I dug out my camera and was excited to experiment with my shutter speed settings as I photographed waterfalls. If done well, slowing the shutter speed captures the flow of the water while keeping a crisp surrounding landscape.

This image taken at Gooseberry Falls seems peaceful and quiet, like I might be the only person there.

But, I was not. There were swarms, like every other time we failed to get there really early in the morning. Continue reading