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Archive for the ‘Natural Phenomena’ Category

An epiphany reveals that which was formerly hidden. It’s the last piece to the puzzle that finally makes the whole complete… an ‘Aha!’ or ‘Eureka!’ moment if you will, that brings sudden clarity.  In the Christian calendar, Epiphany is a celebration of the revelation that Jesus is the son of God.  Although epiphanies are usually short-lived, they can impact our way of looking at life for days, weeks and even years to come.

In nature, the dawn is a perfect example of this sudden revelation, an uncovering of the unknown.   For me, the joy of seeing the sun rise puts a sparkle on the whole day.

Here is a slide show of past sunrises in celebration of Epiphany, the last day of the Christmas season. 

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Song of Joy
Come sing a song of joy for peace shall come, my brother
Sing, sing a song of joy for men shall love each other
That day will dawn just as sure as
Hearts that are pure are hearts set free
No man must stand alone
With outstretched hand before him
Reach out and take them in yours
With love that endures forever more
Then sing a song of joy
For love and understanding

~  Miguel Rios

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As autumn takes hold of the Nova Scotia landscape, trees release to the wind the leaves they’ve nourished since springtime.   When frosty days come around, it’s time to let go.

Though we don’t have leaves to lose at this time of year, perhaps we too have things to release in this season of change…   

Letting go of expectations is a good start.  So often we hold such firm expectations of what life should be like at any given stage, how others should be, how we should be, that we fail to see the what isWho would have thought a fungus could have petals or a log could hold a snowflake?

Wild creatures seem to have so much less of a problem than we do leaving possessions behind that no longer serve a purpose.  It’s odd that we’re the beasts who fiercely hang on tooth and nail to clothes or homes we’ve outgrown and objects that would be better put to use by someone else.  Who’ll find comfort from the winter cold in this abandoned flicker nest?

It’s not the daily increase but the daily decrease.  Hack away at the unessential.
~ Bruce Lee

While summer’s abundant blooms shout out “More is more!” autumn’s Michaelmas daisies whisper wisely “Less is more.”    

What about past successes?  Don’t the things we’ve done well in the past tug at us to continue to do more of the same in the future?  Letting go of these might seem ridiculous unless we consider the toll of doing work that does not fulfill or that may no longer be an expression of who we are now in this new season of life.   A tree that foolishly clings to its beautiful, brightly colored leaves may be completely destroyed in a wind or ice storm.

Perhaps this letting go of our concept of self is the most difficult.  Just as it’s easy to define a tree by its showy leaves, it’s all too easy for us as well to define ourselves simply by our outward skills and talents.  We are so much more and still full of surprises, at any age.  Hey, where did those raspberries come from so late in the year? 

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
~ Lao Tzu

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Nova Scotians are getting ready to welcome Hurricane Earl this morning as a tropical storm.  Hurricane Juan was far more damaging and deadly than was anticipated just hours before his visit in 2003.  It’s best to be prepared.   Even this little spider seems to have battened down the hatches…

The woods are quiet and the songbirds are nowhere to be seen.  Although it’s known that wild creatures seek safe shelters and extra food supplies in anticipation of hurricanes, scientists don’t yet know how they can sense impending stress to the natural environment.  Their ability may simply be the result of heightened sensory awareness through sight, hearing, smell and touch.

Along the shore, the surf is pounding the rocks relentlessly.  Waves are churning up seaweed from the depths.  There are likely some crabs and urchins tangled in the kelp.

Considering how quiet the woods are, I was surprised to see so many seagulls, sandpipers and cormorants hovering around the shore.  They’re probably looking for one last meal before the storm arrives.  Hopefully, they’ll all find safe shelter just in time.

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Battle with unconditioned breath the unconditioned air. Shun electric wire. Communicate slowly. Live a three-dimensional life; stay away from screens.
— Wendell Berry

The more I write about nature while sitting at a computer, the more ridiculous it feels to write about nature while sitting at a computer.  Especially in summer, the wild spaces beckon and it’s difficult to resist the call.   If one is to sing like the grasshopper in summer, the time to do it is now. 

The very ‘nature’ of nature calls one out to wild spaces.  We are three dimensional beings living in a three dimensional world.  This reality becomes clearer the more time we spend outdoors.  Virtual worlds pale in comparison. 

Taste a wild berry right off the vine and immediately all five senses are engaged.  Each fresh berry consumed outdoors seems to act as a magic potion that makes one forget the indoors, technology and all other commitments.  Sparkling waters, singing birds and buzzing bees have a similar enchanting effect.

Each new electric wire that’s erected by the power company seems more and more to desecrate the blue sky.   Do so few people complain about the altered view because they’re so busy keeping their heads down… texting… driving… living in virtual worlds?

I don’t have any answers.  Just more questions.

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July 2nd 2010.  One dawn.  One fantillion colors.  How could just one sunrise possibly exude such a varied palette of yellows, oranges, pinks, purples and blues?  Just another of nature’s wonders that will likely remain a mystery for the ages.

I’ll tell you how the sun rose a ribbon at a time.
~ Emily Dickenson

All photos were taken at sunrise near and in Rainbow Haven provincial park in Cow Bay, Nova Scotia.  The beach will be filled with people today, each one enjoying the sand and the surf, none of them ever realizing what a spectacle took place here this morning.

There is more day to dawn.
~ Henry David Thoreau

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Perhaps it’s because there are so many foggy days in springtime in Nova Scotia that each blue sky is considered extraordinary.  We can’t take any for granted and each one is a wonder unto itself.

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reflected in the water, skies here make an impression both above and below the horizon line.  Some days, the blue is mixed with grey, some days with pink.

The sky is one whole, the water another; and between those two infinities the soul of man is in loneliness.
~ Henryk Sienkiewicz

Right after taking the above photograph at dawn, I saw a young couple still in graduation dance attire drive by.   Going to the beach at dawn to see the sun rise seemed like a fitting end to an already memorable day.

We all see something different when we look at the sky, projecting onto it our feelings of either loneliness, sadness, joy or contentment.  Some of us look to the sky and dream hopeful dreams while others feel the weight of regrets and mourn past losses.   Regardless of the land-, sea- or sky-scape, nothing matters as much as our point of view.

The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through.

~ Edna St.Vincent Millay

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Spring sunlight bounces off the fog and onto the sea as the spruce trees watch in awe.  Light shows like this don’t happen every day.  In the woods, light is filtering through the mist and trees, putting on a spectacle of a different kind.

Beams of light are descending onto the forest floor further down the path.  Light shining through mist or trees in a forest can often appear otherworldly or heaven-sent.  This is especially so if the rays of light are separated from one another.  It’s no wonder that walking towards such a light is often used as a metaphor for attaining a peaceful presence in the next life.  

Spring:  An experience in immortality.

~ Henry David Thoreau

In the marsh, spring light is putting its mark on every surface. Nothing is so fine it can escape its touch.

Even colors are affected. Greens appear fresher and more full of life.   Pinks seem more tender and delicate.   Even the sky seems a kinder blue.  Nature is lighter and human nature can’t help but respond with a feeling of hope that at least for today, all things are possible. 

It’s amazing how spring light can so transform the world.

The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.

~ Edwin Way Teale

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Nova Scotia’s woods beckon in May.  They coax you outdoors and do their best to keep you engaged.  Apple blossoms call out for your undivided attention as you walk along the path.  ‘Look at us know’ they tell you, ‘we won’t be in bloom for long.’

Farther off the beaten path, bog rhodora wave at you in the breeze to come have a closer look at their petals.  Their delicate beauty is short-lived too. 

The soft white blooms of elderberry trees wink at you from a corner of the woods where mountain ash are also thriving.  These elegant trees have cropped up in large numbers since Hurricane Juan downed most of the large firs and spruce.  The lacy elderberry flowers wish to be noticed now too before they must give way to the berries.  

Down by the seashore, the story is different.  The whispers of the woods are drowned out by the ongoing moan of the ocean.  The seaweeds sway with the current below the surface but remain silent.  They want to be left alone in their muted sadness.  Only the waves seem to relentlessly rush to the shore. Are they finding comfort among the rocks that are waiting for them there?

Whether large or small, the rocks have become rounded stones, worn out from listening to the waves’ endless refrain of sadness hour after hour, year after year, age after age. 

The woods are never solitary–they are full of whispering, beckoning, friendly life. But the sea is a mighty soul, forever moaning of some great, unshareable sorrow, which shuts it up into itself for all eternity.

~ Lucy Maud Montgomery

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Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

~ Edna St, Vincent Millay

The beautiful, the tender, the kind, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.  They represent to us the best that we have to offer one another.   Certainly among their ranks was navy diver Craig Blake, who was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb on May 3rd.  He was only 37 years old.  His funeral is today at Shearwater.

This past weekend I walked through Bowes Cemetery with my grandson.  The sun was shining, birds were singing in the spruce trees and tiny bluets were blooming everywhere in the grass. 

Together we read the names on the headstones and talked about those whose lives had ended:  some in infancy, some in childhood and many in young adulthood.  To die at any age brings sadness, but this is especially so when someone’s lifespan has not yet reached half a century.  It’s also especially sad when someone’s life ends in the spring of the year, when all of nature is busy renewing itself and creating new life. 

Goodbye my friend it’s hard to die
When all the birds are singing in the sky
Now that the spring is in the air…
With the flowers everywhere
I wish that we could both be there.

~ Terry Jacks, Seasons in the Sun

And blue has never been bluer
True has never been truer
Honey never tasted so sweet
There’s a song in the breeze
A million voices in praise

A rose has never smelled redder
The sun has never been brighter
If I could find the right words to say
If you could look at my face
If you could just see this place
You wouldn’t cry for me today
You wouldn’t cry for me today

~ Mandisa, You Wouldn’t Cry

 

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Have you seen the Green Man? His tracks are everywhere these days…  in the yard, in the woods and around the salt marsh.  He’s been busy engaged in activities that are too often attributed to Mother Nature.

From the trail I can see where he’s been doing his business in the woods, carpeting the forest floor.

Even areas with standing dead wood seem to come to life with him around.

The Green Man has been laboring in secret for thousands of years.  Besides greenery, his signature work includes flowers like forget-me-nots that are frequently found growing out of bounds.

Through the ages, he’s been known by many titles, among them Pan, Silvanus, the Wild Man, Skanda and the Green Knight.  But Mystery’s always his middle name.  He’s busy wherever it’s spring and summer on the planet, spreading his seed and encouraging unbridled growth.  His drawn, painted, or  sculptured image is found worldwide in various cultures dating back to ancient times.  His face is often covered with leaves.

Though you may not get to see him in person, you’re probably familiar with his work.  It speaks to all of us who are looking for a rebirth of the spirit (and the garden) at this time of year.

For more information about the Green Man, see Wikipedia’s entry.

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What if you woke up one morning and your vision wasn’t the same?  How would you adjust your day, your work and your attitude?

Last week I crossed paths with a small garter snake that had only one eye.  Even though snakes rely on vibration and scent to track their prey, I wondered how it would manage.  Coincidentally, the next day, an eye infection left me with no vision in one eye and blurred sight in the other.  

Many wild creatures, such as the ospreys above, rely on good vision in both their eyes to make the fine judgements in distance required to capture prey.  Others rely on both their eyes to avert becoming prey themselves.  Humans who have lost sight in one eye quickly adapt to any loss in depth perception by moving their heads slightly in order to make a more accurate judgement of distances involved.  In humans at least, it would seem that the greatest benefit to having two eyes is simply in having a spare.  

 Blurred vision is another problem.  It can make a familiar walk in the woods an intimidating experience unless a much slower pace than usual is adopted.   Many of the beautiful details in nature are also lost when vision is blurred.   

However, when vision is impaired, sounds and textures can become a source of both information and pleasure.  The sound of rain falling, the soft texture of spring grass underfoot and the warmth of a spring breeze on your face can be soothing and refreshing in ways that may have been overlooked before.

Those things that nature denied to human sight, she revealed to the eyes of the soul.
~ Ovid

Our immediate surroundings become more important when our eyesight is  impaired.  Unable to look clearly into the distance or quickly shift our gaze from one focal point to another, we’re also more compelled to focus on just one thing at a time.  Since everything seems to take more time to execute, there is a greater need to simplify and prioritize activities.   Fortunately, once limitations are accepted, the transition becomes easier, bringing with it a more peaceful existence. 

As my normal vision returns, I wonder if something that was found this past week will be lost again.  I’ll have to wait and see.

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Whether experienced outdoors or seen through a window, fog’s softening effect brings a sense of cosiness to Nova Scotia in springtime.  Fog may be dense, accompanied by drizzle or thinning to a mist.  It may arrive in the morning and dissipate by noon, or still be seen rolling down the street in wafts of whiteness at midday.  

Foggy days with reduced visibility force us to look inward.  When the path that  lies ahead and the one that lies behind us are both blurred, it makes sense to rely on our intuition for direction.  

It also helps to listen carefully.  Fog consists of tiny water droplets, which allow sound to travel more quickly.  If we would slow down and listen to what is being whispered to us in the fog, we’d gain better insight into the path before us.

The fog is rolling over the hill
Winding twining rock and rill.
Softer and kinder than the light
Takes what’s sharp and wraps it white.

I will walk down by the foggy sea
Where the rocks are weeping silently.
That love that was once so bright and bold
Has turned itself to cold.

And so I love a foggy night
I walk and walk to my heart’s delight.
The fog’s cool kiss upon my face
All sorrow will erase.

The fog is rolling over the bay
It drifts my heart so far away.
Softer and kinder than the light
Takes what’s sharp and wraps it white.

~ Rose Vaughan, Song of the Fog

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