Feeling Your Senses in Photos, Part 1: Seed Heads

IMG_1317 copyright Of-the-Essence Blog, 2020

A sparkle blast of sun on seeds–just what we need in the gray winter days.

 

That’s a brave thing, to start with “Part 1,” especially after not posting for two weeks due to a nasty head cold and some computer issues (neither of which is quite resolved, but getting there).

I like the idea of mixing senses: to take vision and see what we can “feel.” Can your fingers sense the softness of seeds, the velvet or raspy texture of dried leaves–just through looking at pictures?  Can you hear the light crunch as you press them between your fingers and smell the late fall moulder in them? What memories come up when you do that?

IMG_1514 copyright Of-the-Essence Blog 2020

Dried and curled in head of Queen Anne’s Lace (wild carrot), Vischer Ferry Preserve

Happy New Year, and thanks for your patience. Over the week, ignore any judgment you’ve heard on the winter weather and step outdoors. Take in what your senses gift you. What did you find? (Feel free to click on the Leave A Reply button and share.)

Solstice Sun

IMG_2098

Frost sparkling over a creek, Scotia, NY

Just some simple images today, light in the darkness. To meditate in the midst of what for many folks is frenzy and for others, sadness.

Allow the magnificence of nature to be your sanctuary; let it creep into your soul quietly and sweetly, and inhabit your senses.

IMG_2073 copyright Of-the-Essence Blog 2019

December sunset over grasses, Saratoga Spa State Park

 

IMG_2079

Sunset over the fields, Glenville NY

IMG_2117 Copyright Of-the-Essence Blog 2019

Solstice sunset over farmer’s field cornstalks and the hedgerow.

Enjoy the glow, and the light increasing!

Snowflake Cookies, Snow and Ice and Stars

IMG_2009_Version 2.jpg, copyright Of-the-Essence Blog 2019

Last week’s snowflakes on star shaped buds of ruby red stag-horn sumac

The photo post is late this week because I was up on Monday night until 10:30 pm making holiday cookies.  Actually it was only part one of three, of cookie making sessions. 

My friend Jenny and I have finally realized—after several years of exhaustion—that we can’t do the baking and decorating all in one crazy marathon that goes late into the night and morning. I don’t do well past 7 or 8 pm most nights! Tuesday morning I was self-compassionate (see last week’s photo thoughts) and knew I had to sleep in instead of post.

So until we finish sessions two and three, here are some photos of last year’s Modern Art sugar and gingerbread cookies. The icing is colored with natural dyes and therefore are more pastel than bright, more pink than the red of the sumac or holly berry.

IMG_6233 copyright Of-the-Essence Blog 2019

Snowflake in cookie form

IMG_6242 copyright Of-the-Essence Blog 2019

Stars in blue

Here’s one of my favorite ice photos recently, of frozen bubbles rising from a scarlet or red oak leaf. I can really feel the submersion, the weight of ice above, yet the air lifting like tiny beams of starlight from its surface. The leaf rests on the frozen water below, as well. 

IMG_6582 copyright Of-the-Essence Blog 2019

Suspended in frozen water and surrounded by visible air

Can you think of a time you felt support where you didn’t expect it? Sweetness or rest when you needed it or actively chose it? Beauty in a moment that popped right out in front of you? Especially when you were tempted into frantic movement? (None of that going on currently, no, no.)

Blessings and fruitful meditation to you, as we head toward more cookie baking and self-care, and into this weekend’s winter solstice.

 

Using What You Have: Snowstorm Soup

IMG_2028_Version 2 copyright Of-The-Essence Blog 2019.jpg

The crystal patterns of yesterday’s snow: long shards that were light, but broken and folded in on themselves, made great snowballs.

 

When Governor Cuomo decided to give me (and many others) a snow day yesterday, I was delighted. 

As flakes sprinkled and flew outside, I dug through the fridge. Lighter and healthier breakfasts are calling me lately, and being at home I could make a fresh hot soup. I was out of miso paste. However, never one to waste, the day before I had taken the bones and skin of a natural roasted chicken and made a golden savory broth.

I took a few tablespoons and used that to steam frozen cauliflower. Cooked cabbage left from a different meal a few days before came next. The previous night’s dinner yielded some vegetables for tiny specks of color in a so far white yellow dish. Plop! In went the green and yellow beans and carrots sliced tiny.

Chickadees bobbled back and forth to the bird feeder. Snow movers scraped and pushed piles of snow. What else goes in here? I asked. 

Digging past makings for new meals, I found a container of onion chutney with sweet red pepper from a wondrous take-out meal (Shalimar in Delmar). That added some spice, fresh cumin seed, and a gorgeous reddish color.  It needed something salty yet, pops of flavor. Back to the freezer, and tucked in a bag, a thin sausage grilled in the end-of-September sun at Wiawaka’s Cancer Survivor Day where I had volunteered. Diced small, I mixed that in.

Perfection! A huge bowl of filling vegetables and warmth for my mouth. Colors to match the cardinals and sparrows and finches pecking for sunflower seed.

Out the window, more flakes danced past each other in cascades and wind blown veils. Later would come a walk outdoors:  giggles and digging out a car, snowballs thrown at cattails, and small neighborhood children glorying in the view from atop ten foot snow mounds, while parents shoveled and snapped photos. 

For now I had created something out of what I already had, richness from examining what had already been given me.

 

IMG_1982 copyright Of-The-Essence Blog

Tasty warm soup, hurray!

What is in your hands right now that is wonderful, useful, delightful?

Look Up

IMG_1340 copyright Of-the-Essence Blog 2019

Winter tree shape on white birch bark, Five Rivers, November 2019

 

Sometimes when I walk through the woods, I look up from my feet and visions pop out.

A lone leaf wiggles frenetically in the wind. Sunlight breaks through the gloom to light up one small yellow oxalis flower. A red eft wriggles on rock, or a snake slides under dry oak leaves, or a tiny brown toad hops-hops-hops in the path ahead.

 

IMG_1748 copyright Of-The-Essence Blog 2019

I looked back and there it was–a bird’s nest lit by autumn sun. Five Rivers, November 2019

I say to myself–treasure these gifts, these moments. Pay attention.

Even in my office, captured by computer screen and phone rings and beeps, I look up and stretch my neck. Light from the window on the other side of the room captures me. Above trees, I see a horizon. I am reminded again: I don’t have to spend hours in meditation every day; I can take these moments over the day and their richness will feed me.

I just have to look up.

 

Prospect Mountain view

 

IMG_1651 copyright Of-The-Essence Blog

Late October view from the top of Prospect Mountain, Lake George, NY.

I can see it is going to be difficult to hold to one (or two or three) photos each week. There’s so damned much beauty out there. Especially when so many worries pull—about health, work, friends, state of the world–we need multiple doses of the medicine of nature.

 

IMG_1606 copyright Of-the-Essence Blog

View of Lake George from the second overlook.

The other weekend: Prospect Mountain in Lake George, just past fall color peak. Every stage of autumn, like every step on a path or into a river, is different and wondrous. The sun still glows on golden trees. Now the rust and orange and smoke start to predominate.

We take in three pull-overs with views. At one, a leather-clad motorcyclist speaks with tears in his eyes, of family sick with cancer. We nod and share enthusiasm about the gumdrops of trees coating the mountainside: colors of spearmint and lemon and berry.  Good wishes all around, each of us leaves bolstered, encouraged, somehow better.

IMG_1638 copyright Of-The-Essence Blog

Late afternoon sun lights up trees on the way, Prospect Mountain, Lake George NY.

The road spirals up and up in angled late day sun. At the top, tourists stand precariously on ledges to snap selfies with Lake George Village behind them. We tromp in the 45 degree chill and breathe in the oxygen-rich Adirondack air. We sigh and sigh, and feel connected to things bigger than ourselves.

How do you care for yourself when life weighs heavy? What outside place in nature feeds you?

 

October milkweed

 

IMG_1533 copyright Of-The-Essence Blog

Mid-October milkweed seeds, Vischer Ferry Preserve

Milkweed calls out the poet in me. 

Against the backdrop of gray grasses and tan marsh reeds, the popped open pods pull my eye.  Silver-white seeds twist and spill out; drops of morning dew spangle like holiday lights. 

These particular seeds remind me of a teenager hanging her hair upside down, to brush it full. There’s a sense of movement into the future, a sense of letting go into the unknown and yet beautifully seasonal, as summer gives in to autumn.

(This is for Beth and family, who have been particularly enthusiastic about photos of milkweed, with those memories of childhood fields of wildflowers.)

What do milkweed seeds call to, in you?