A New Year's Promise: Find Renewal in Moments of Beauty
Children know how to enjoy the world in all seasons ~
There is Comfort in Nature
Sometimes I find myself worrying about all sorts of things related to everyday life. I worry about staying safe while driving in a snowstorm. I worry whether I'll have the opportunity to put in enough contract hours. I worry that I won't find time to keep all of my commitments and still spend time with my family, and/or to immerse myself in my favorite activities.
There is nothing like worry to accelerate the aging process. So I stop. I look out my window and see the beauty of nature quietly inviting me to take a moment to let go and enjoy her. I see snow flurries dancing against dark storm clouds. I see children sledding and making snow angels. I see a shock of red as a cardinal flies by. I hear the wind chimes outside my window. I smell the aroma of bread baking in the oven. My mind shifts slowly from worry to gratitude. The aging process slows down. My mind and heart feel lighter. My energy is heightened. I am infused with a fresh sense of optimism. The desire to step out for a breath of fresh air becomes irresistible. With that fresh air comes calmness. I feel whole again.
An ever widening circle of beauty surrounds our home ~
I am blessed not only with the beauty that surrounds me every day in the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of my home life. I am also blessed by the richness in the resources available for enjoying nature close to home in the places that are out there to visit. Massachusetts is full of conservation land and we love to frequent those sanctuaries and learn from them.
Spring's warmth grows flowers in our hearts ~
Woodstock Wind Chimes
Timeless Cycle of Seasons
The wheel of the year seems to turn more quickly with each revolution of our planet. Its spinning seems to gather momentum and each season seems to follow quickly upon the heels of the one before it. I know that though I would love to kiss this winter goodbye, I will miss its coolness when the heat of summer is at its height. So why not savor each moment instead of wishing it away? Some of my favorite moments have been driving on a sunny winter morning with classical music as my soundtrack for the scenery that I am driving through. I have made my Lenten resolution this year to savor each moment, spend more time playing and less time worrying, and to make my eating habits more wholesome ~ for myself and my planet.
Spring = New Life + Hope
Magnolia trees blossom in Springtime. My family and I make sure we take walks through the conservation land around our home. The ground we walk on is fragrant with flowers and rich soil, and breathing in that fragrance fills our lungs with energy and vitality. We also visit our favorite beacon of warmth and hope ~ Tower Hill Botanical Garden. Both at home and at Tower Hill, we see the delicate daffodils rise up to greet the world. Like the magnolias, daffodils bloom in spring. Their sweet faces seem to radiate the rays of the sun.
Spring = Gardening Season
Spring is also the season for planting. Planting gardens is an activity full of hope and faith. We provide our seeds with the soil environment and water they need to grow. We expect our efforts to encourage those seeds to grow into plants that bear fruit for us to eat, whether that fruit is a strawberry in June or a pumpkin in October. Throughout the spring and summer, I love seeing the ladybugs, spiders, frogs, dragonflies, and snakes that visit my garden while I work to keep it healthy and beautiful. They are my friends. They are part of the beauty of the season and I welcome them into my garden with joy.
Summer = Joy + Abandon
In the summer, we abandon the routines of fall, winter, and spring. We slow down to watch the wonderful gifts that Nature freely gives of herself. We watch for rainbows after a thunderstorm and meteors darting through the constellations at night. My daughter takes pictures to remind her of the beautiful things she has seen and the fun she has enjoyed. I walk our sun-dappled wooded labyrinth at least once a day and listen to the music of chimes while I hang my laundry to dry on the clothesline.
Low Chimes played by a breeze
Springtime makes way for the deeper colors of Summer ~
The Autumn Harvest Season feeds us in many ways ~
Gardening = Fresh Air + Exercise ~
I love the length of the gardening season. From the middle of March until late October there are plenty of daylight hours to enjoy my garden. Not only do the plants I tend produce fresh organic food for me to munch on and feed my family. The work involved in keeping the garden free of weeds and the soil rich means that I am outside soaking up the sunshine, drinking gallons of cleansing water, visiting with beautiful critters of the earth, and listening to the music of my wind chimes. There is nothing that inspires faith and peace in my soul more than gardening.
At the end of a day of gardening, I feel a sense of accomplishment in working together with Mother Nature to grow tasty food and beautiful flowers. I celebrate the gifts I have received from Earth by toasting her with a tall glass of chilled sun tea, usually garnished with fresh home-grown mint ~ and I say "thank you." When I am ready to rise from my revelry, I prepare a fruit smoothie with our fresh strawberries or a salad with the vegetables harvested by my daughter. We love to make smoothies and salads packed with nutrients, flavor, and texture.
Harvest Time ~ Let the Feast Begin!
Throughout the summer there are fresh fruits and vegetables to munch on straight from their source. They are very pretty to behold on the bushes, vines, and plants that they grow on. I love to take pictures of them before I pick them. Not only do we enjoy the strawberries that grow in our own humble plot, we also enjoy the wild blackberries that grow at the back of our community's playing field, the blueberries from their bushes, and the peaches that grow on trees near our common house.
Squirreling some food away for the Winter
Summer is not only a time to enjoy the fresh fruits, berries, herbs, and vegetables that grow so freely during those months. It is a time to remember that the days will grow colder and the plants will stop producing, Summer is also a time to think about preserving and storing some of the food we grow so that we can enjoy eating them during the cold, dark winter months. It is during the cold, dark months that we need the reminder that another spring and summer will come, a reminder of the season's abundance. We can stay hopeful and healthy during winter by eating what we have grown during the warmer months. The more food I take the time to store by the end of each growing season, the less I am prone to worry during the winter months.
When my life was feeling deeply frozen near the beginning of February, I pulled out some strawberries that I froze in June and made a smoothie with them. My family and I enjoyed the burst of wholesome sun-kissed sweetness in the middle of a cold spell. We toasted Nature gratefully with our glasses.
Fall Foliage Splendor
In the middle of the hours spent preserving, cooking the fall harvest, and the revelry with neighbors and friends, it is important to my family to take walks and enjoy the beauty of the foliage. It is important to rake piles of leaves to jump in, to carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, to camp out in our back yard, watching meteors race across the sky. There is a cozy crispness in the air as I lay my gardens to sleep in late October. My neighbor's wood pellet stove adds a lovely fragrance in the air.
Simple beauty warms our hearts ~
Winter's Unique Beauty
What happens after I put away my wind chimes and gardening tools for the winter? I play more, and work with my hands in other ways. I love to cook and I love to craft. I love to stitch and I love to knit. My daughter is also learning to stitch and knit. We sit side by side knitting together when we have finished our home-schooling activities for the day. Often we also sip hot cocoa as we busy our hands with creating something new.
It's Time to Bundle Up
In between the home-schooling activities and crafting, writing and making music, we take walks. When the temperature hovers around 30°F we bundle up and play outside. If there is little or no snow on the ground, we swing together, or walk through the pine grove path that connects our community to the co-housing community north of us. We also visit Tower Hill Botanical Garden for their "Harvestival" and "Holly Days" exhibits and celebrations. When the snow comes early, we make snow people and snow angels together before retreating inside to knit and sip cocoa. Or, she reads to me while we cuddle together under a warm blanket.
A Season for Sharing
The festivals of light are not only a time to keep light shining in our homes, hearths, and hearts, it is a time to share the light, and in that sharing we know we have helped another thrive. Such sharing includes helping out the critters that have a harder time finding food during the colder, darker months. For them we make bird seed feeders and fruit wreaths.
I love creating beautiful things that reflect nature for the pleasure of others, and I am usually busiest during the later moths of the year. Those months are also a time that I reach out more often to invite neighbors to dinner. I always keep a place at our table set for a guest. When there is no human guest at our table, I usually keep a basket filled with fruit and nuts to snack from. It is our reminder of Earth's abundance, even when the world is shrouded in snow. Snacking from our basket full of hope, we enjoy the winter beauty outside our kitchen and living room windows.
Aspects of Nature that Soothe My Soul ~
Children playing in a blizzard
Crocuses and tulips popping up their heads
Gardens in full bloom
The riot of color outside my windows
Snow sparkling in the sunlight
Cold frames full of seedlings waiting to be planted
The quiet green coolness of the wooded Labyrinth
The scent of vine fruit and vegetables ripening
Shadows of tree branches dancing with golden rays of light at sunset
Leaf buds and blossoms on trees
The sound of wind chimes while I hang out my clothes
The fragrance of herbs on my back deck
Deep blue shadows on the snow when the moon is full
The song of birds and spring peepers
Swimming in the lake at a local beach
The rich fragrance and crunchy sound of leaves when I walk around my community
Does Nature Heal Your Heart?
Does time spent enjoying nature's beauty renew your spirit?
© 2014 Karen Szklany Gault