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“Bountiful implies that your cup is already overflowing so you simply tip your abundance into the hands of others.”  Christina Katz at The Prosperous Writer, “52 Qualities of Prosperous Writers:  Number Thirty-Four is Bountiful.”

My cup overflows.  It’s true.

I should regularly reflect on the gifts in my life so I can more fully appreciate its bounty.   Instead, I often focus on the minutiae of each day rather than savoring each sweet, small moment before it has passed.

I spent the morning with my daughter.  We had appointments to meet and errands to run, but before the flury of daily activity began, I sat at my kitchen table soaking in the early morning light streaming through the window in front of me as I sipped my coffee and Bear chattered in her chair about “doggy” and “cereal” and “agua.”  The morning light softened her bedraggled hair and face sticky from peaches and post-nasal drip.  I turned my thoughts from the piles of magazines and junk mail on the table and dirty dishes in the sink.  Instead, I focused on the loveliness of sitting quietly at my kitchen table, with a warm drink in hand, and a sweet soul next to me.

Later, as we waited in an exam room for Bear’s allergist, Bear and I read a beautiful book about butterflies that my dearest friend gave us about a year ago.  I pulled the book from Bear’s bookshelf today for the first time, knowing that a long doctor’s visit might be the perfect time to read it.  Bear gazed lovingly at it from the moment she laid her eyes on the cover.  We spent long moments lingering on each page where Bear could pull out flaps revealing elaborate garden scenes and run her fingers over vibrant butterfly wings, kingfisher feathers, and sunflowers.  She continually amazed me as she pointed at the ladybugs and fireflies that I asked her to find, even though I didn’t think that she knew about such things.  I found myself holding Bear a little more closely, breathing in the smell of her hair, and sending a silent thank-you to my friend for the thoughtful book that had so completely captured my daughter’s interest.

As Bear has napped this afternoon, I checked in with the world at work and found that it has not fallen apart in my absence.  This has left me with a span of uninterrupted time to think and write.  The dog sleeps on the floor next to me.  The locusts sing and buzz soothingly outside my window, and our homebuilding neighbor builds quietly across the street.   I can sit at my computer reading, thinking, and typing; embracing this rare time to be alone with my thoughts and to focus them in the directions I desire.

My husband told me earlier that his day has been passing smoothly and quickly.  His work has been going well, and clients have been cooperative.  Before long, he’ll drive back to our home and his family.  When the garage door begins groaning and rising, the dog will scamper wildly around the house, and Bear will run to the door shouting, “Daddy!” and he will step through wearing an expectant smile at our celebration.  Then, we will start our long weekend together.

All is well in my world, and I am thankful for each sweet, small moment of the day and the bountiful life they signify.  I hope that by sharing the bounty that I enjoy in life, I’ll tip my cup to help fill up yours.

  

009, originally uploaded by raisingbrainchild. 

 
I’m offering you a glimpse into my backyard today.  This past week has gone by so quickly, it is nice to slow down for a moment and appreciate the world around us, don’t you think?
 
My husband and I did some “slowing down” and “appreciating” this past weekend.  After a crazy week full of EpiPens and learning code words for soy, we both needed a break from reality.  Instead of going out to eat with Bear, which is something that suddenly is no longer easy to do, we stayed home on Saturday night and grilled steaks (yes, we are Good Midwesterners) in our driveway.  We usually prefer to cook our meat in the backyard on the deck and away from the curious eyes of anyone who happens to walk past, but my husband had big plans to stain the deck the following day and had moved the grill and just about everything else into the garage and driveway.  So, after thoroughly enjoying our steaks, and putting Bear to bed, we took a bottle of wine and two rocking chairs to the driveway.
 
It was a beautiful evening for mid-July.  The weather was nearly cool.  Fireflies seemed to hover over our lawn in the dusk, and no one was about.  We sat there rocking and drinking for hours.  We had better conversations that we have in years.  When the wine was gone, we were both hesitant for our sweet moment to end.
 
Life all too often is frenetic, and it would do my soul (and my marriage) good to invest in more moments like these.

 

hydrangea, by Muffet on Flickr, Creative Commons.

I left work briefly today and took a walk through a neighborhood adjoining my office, something that I have never done during the three years that I have worked here. When I was pregnant, I would occasionally head outside and tramp up and down the sidewalk in front of my office in an effort to churn up some energy, but I have never headed beyond the sidewalk outside of my urban office, in most part due to the fact that the area has its fair share of crime. However, for late June, the weather is fairly nice, and I was in need of a little inspiration, which I always find outside.

Once outside of my office and across the busy street to the South of it, I discovered a community garden, which despite driving past it several times a day, I have never noticed the sweet, little triangular patch of green nestled in-between two highly- traveled streets. As I continued down the sidewalk, on one side I passed a neighborhood school with uniformed children playing basketball outside and on the other, a row of poorly-kept houses. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that outside of one, three cats on leashes were chained to the front porch. They stared back at me with wild eyes, and two of them had hopelessly wrapped their tethers around a tree. Aside from their constraints, which were obviously not well-suited for their cat natures, they seemed well-cared for.

The row of houses led to several recently-constructed condo buildings, which had sprung up a few years ago before the bottom fell out of real estate market. Outside, two young women lounged by a very blue pool reading. I found my real discovery beyond the condos, however, where the neighborhood suddenly morphed into a line of very well-maintained older homes built into a steep hillside. Instead of grassy lawns, most had trails of English ivy bordering the steep driveways that wound up one side of each home and behind either into garages or down into basements. Several homes had terraced gardens full of brightly-colored flowers and plants. I took in the blues and purples of hydrangeas and the bright oranges of tiger lilies with the green of the ivy and the pastels of each home. Large oaks lined the street, which had no sidewalk, and helped drown out the buzz of traffic only a block or two away. I could hear the sweet songs of birds! Along with the sunshine and light exercise, their songs eased my busy mind.

On the way back to the office, I thought about my grandmother. My dear, sweet grandma has been slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s, and despite the fact that both she and my grandfather are still living, we sold off most of their belongings this past weekend. Following the sale, I spent some time reading through a journal that my grandmother had kept when I was a young child. She wrote of tending her garden, which took up most of her backyard and consisted of winding trails, benches, fountains, statues, and most of all, tall plants that obscured the view of the house. She described how this garden and the nature she observed in it eased some of the pain and tension she felt as a result of a loveless marriage.

Her rough relationship with my grandfather has never been a secret in my family, and the marriage still exists, although now she sees my grandfather as the grumpy, old man who is her roommate, or sometimes, as the grumpy, old man who happens to be in the room with her as her perception does not always go beyond the present moment. However, her description of the solace she found outside, reminds me of myself. I always believed that the peace I found in nature came from my upbringing on a Midwestern farm and the hours I spent playing alone outside because I had no playmates nearby, aside from the cat and dog and horses and cattle. However, I found some of her words in my own mind and her truth in my own heart. As I returned to my office and passed back by the beautiful homes on the hillside, the modern condos with their blue pool, and the funny, little houses and chained cats, I felt better equipped to deal with the requirements of my day, just as my grandmother must have felt somewhat refueled to return to the battle that was her marriage.