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Posts Tagged ‘love’

dawn july 9 2013

Summer seems to take forever to arrive to this part of the world.  Sometimes love can feel like that too.  Despite the long anticipation, we often feel unprepared for its arrival.

This past week’s heat wave was overwhelming but it’s hard to complain after such a long wait.   The best we can do is embrace its offerings and enjoy each caress of summer warmth on our limbs.

The earth has received the embrace of the sun and we shall see the results of that love.
~ Sitting Bull

pink peony

Peonies in the garden open their inner hearts gladly.  How many of us dare to open our hearts so courageously to love?  The combination of warm rains and sparkling sunshine has increased the size and number of their blooms.  For some the abundance is a burden that can only be carried so long.  How easily we too can flounder under the weight of  all the responsibilities that accompany love.

peonies falling over

Wild Ragged Robin flowers seem to have a more modest response.  Their delicate petals stretch out in the sun as if to say ‘Here I am World.  Take me as I am.’  Perhaps the happiest souls among us are those who simply feel loved for themselves, just as they are.

pink ragged robin

On the seashore, wet purplish-pink Irish Moss sparkles in the sunshine.  If we are loved consistently and unconditionally, do we not begin to reflect love in the same way?

pink irish moss on shore

Love has its own time, its own season, and its own reasons for coming and going. You cannot bribe it or coerce it or reason it into staying. You can only embrace it when it arrives and give it away when it comes to you.
~ Kent Nerburn

new growth on partridgeberry bush

In the back woods, new pink growth emerges from a partridgeberry bush, ravaged by hungry wildlife earlier this spring.  Where there’s sunshine and warm rain, there’s the promise of an abundant harvest once the summer’s past.  Perhaps the greatest comfort of love’s embrace is hope for the future.

Text and photographs Amy-Lynn Bell 2013

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Earth, my dearest, I will. Oh believe me, you no longer need your springtimes to win me over – one of them, ah, even one, is already too much for my blood. Unspeakably, I have belonged to you, from the first.
~  Rainer Maria Rilke

The Earth doesn’t care about age or wrinkles.  What’s a decade or two when you’re a billion years old and a few cracks when you’re scarred regularly by earthquakes? 

And what does the Earth care about how often the floor is swept? It considers last autumn’s litter simply next year’s humus.

And so what does the Earth value?  Could the persistence of grass be a clue?

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
~ Kahlil Gibran

New life amid the forest debris

Where man finds dissatisfaction, the Earth finds promise and the potential for renewal. Fallen trees and fallen leaves are all cherished for what they can offer now, not just the strength and beauty they possessed in days gone by.

Male woodpecker clinging to the underside of a fallen birch tree

Spring is in the air and it’s Earth Day.   Get outdoors and let yourself fall in love.

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Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
~ Dr. Seuss The Lorax

How do you get a child to care about nature?  You’d think it would come naturally to all children, but it doesn’t.  Bright light, rough textures and cold winds can all make it difficult for some children to like being outdoors.  It helps to make it personal.  Just as children learn how to love other humans by first forming an attachment to their primary caregiver, so too do they learn how to love nature by first forming a personal attachment to an individual natural setting.  This setting could be a backyard, a garden, park or a wood. Sometimes, all it takes is an attachment to a solitary tree to begin a lifelong relationship with nature.

Exploring textures

A simple walk around with your child can provide them with the opportunity to get to know every nook and cranny of their outdoor world.  Even in your own yard, you’d be surprised what creatures share your space.  Encourage your child to look under rocks and peek inside bushes.  The more you know about local wildlife, the more you’re going to want to know.  Field guides can be helpful and the Internet can offer a great deal of information, but neither resource is a subsitute for personal observation. 

Just playing a game of hide and seek can help increase a child’s comfort level outdoors.  If you have safety concerns, pair a young child with an older child or adult as they hide or do a search.  The goal is to get them accustomed to outdoor textures such as the prickliness of evergreen needles and the roughness of tree trunks. 

Keep your sense of proportion by regularly, preferably daily, visiting the natural world. 
~ Catlin Matthews


You needn’t stay outdoors for long.  Frequent visits in different seasons and weather will reveal that bright sunshine, precipitation, wind and cold are all part of nature and can even be enjoyed when dressed appropriately.  Once a child gets beyond their initial comfort zone, it becomes easy to take next steps to forming an attachment with the natural world.  Before you know it, they’ll be crying to stay outside.

This post is the third in a series about Getting Children Outdoors

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stone beach

Finding the ideal love is like trying to find a perfectly symmetrical stone on the beach.  It’s not easy.  Even with so many possibilities, the task is more difficult than one would imagine.  And the longer you look, the slimmer the odds of finding that perfect specimen may seem.  Though some might appear somewhat perfect at a distance, upon closer inspection, it soon becomes apparent that they are not quite so.

That’s not to say that it’s downright impossible to find perfect specimens. They are indeed out there, but be forewarned that many years may pass between one discovery and the next.

circular stones

Whether or not we realize it, we also search for physical symmetry in other human beings. Characteristic of good genes and general good health in nature, perfect symmetry in a mate would likely increase one’s chances of creating healthy offspring.  No wonder we’re so drawn to people with beautifully symmetrical faces.

And yet, there is a certain charm and character attributable to the not-so-symmetrical. With perhaps an even stronger  magnetism, especially where romantic love is concerned, we are drawn towards the imperfect.  Why? One theory suggests that while our minds are pleasantly calmed by symmetry, they also quickly become bored with it.  Intrigued by complexity, when faced with marginally flawed symmetry, our minds are perked and subconsciously go to work to try and figure out what’s causing the disparity.

Although the human body is symmetrical in so many ways, the shape of the human heart is not.   Could that be a clue that perfection in matters of the heart was created to be elusive?   If we are to achieve any semblance of perfection in love, like the rare round stones found sometimes on the beach, it’s only due to years of surviving the pounding waves and stormy seas.  Now there’s something to ponder as we approach Valentine’s Day.

Text and images copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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What on earth would you liken love to?  Ever since King Solomon compared his beloved to a garden of delights, poets and writers of prose have made use of elements in nature to describe their feelings of  love in terms that others can understand.  

In the 1700s, ‘The Ploughman’s Poet’ Robert Burns wrote:

My love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June…

These wild roses found growing behind Rainbow Haven beach last summer are more pink than red, but the effect is similar.  Their petals look so soft and tender, and the buds seem especially full of promise. 

Anyone who thinks love is only for the young might be surprised to learn that Pulitzer prize winner Carl Sandburg was in his eighties when he wrote these lines from Offering and Rebuff:

I could love you, as dry roots love rain.
I could hold you, as branches in the wind brandish petals.
Forgive me for speaking so soon.

 

‘The Poet for the Planet,’ John Denver, frequently found inspiration in nature… 

You fill up my senses
Like a night in the forest
Like a mountain in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like the sleepy blue ocean…

Later in life, Denver also wrote

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of change…

If love is anything, it’s never that way for long.  Like so much in nature, it keeps transforming itself as well as those who are touched by it.  

Matt Groening, creator of the comic strip ‘Life in Hell’ and ‘The Simpsons’ wrote:

Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath.  At night, the ice weasels come.

Though ice weasels (ermines), like this one I found last winter in the salt marsh, are pretty cute creatures, they tend to go right for the jugular when attacking.  Love can be like that too.

In good times and bad, there is no denying the power love has over our lives.  Perhaps Solomon, the wisest man who ever walked the planet, said it best…

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.
~ Song of Solomon 8.7

Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you’re in the mood to read more about love, here are some previous posts on the topic:

The Deepest Secret

Love at the Beach

Transformations

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They come in a series of seven.
And the seventh wave is big enough…
…to take us both out
beyond the point of return.
~ Papillon   (Henri Charrière)

Walking along the seashore, it’s obvious that not all waves possess the same strength.  Some trickle onto the shore while others crash and extend a farther reach onto the sand.  Many have wondered if there’s some kind of pattern to the frequency of the stronger waves.  

Wave height and strength are determined by a number of factors:

  • the force of the wind (the stronger the wind, the larger the wave)
  • the distance over which the water is affected by the wind (the longer the distance, the larger the wave)
  • tidal action (incoming high tides into a small inlet from a larger expanse of water can cause especially large waves)
  • seismic activity beneath the ocean floor (these can sometimes cause huge waves to occur)
  • the depth of the water (waves cannot sustain their height once they reach shallow water)

The magic of the seventh wave continues to elude shoreline visitors across cultures.  Surfers are especially keen wave watchers, always on the look-out for the perfect wave to catch.  Some may have been able to find small patterns in the course of a single day on a specific beach but this usually involves a series of fewer or more than seven waves.  Though experts say there’s no way to predict the frequency of stronger waves, the French story of an island prisoner in Papillon details a swim to freedom enabled by the seventh wave.  

The waves have pounded the earth’s shorelines for millennia and will continue to do so long after we’re gone.  Wave patterns are altered from hour to hour, day to day and year to year.  Despite ongoing changes, the mystery and power of the seventh wave will likely endure.

Every ripple on the ocean
Every leaf on every tree
Every sand dune in the desert
Every power we never see
There is a deeper wave than this
                      . . .
I say love is the seventh wave.
~ Sting

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… here is the deepest secret nobody knows


(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud


and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart).
~ ee cummings

The world has many secrets. Some are ancient but new ones are made (and revealed) daily.  This one is probably the most wonderful.  It’s what allows people to go on and remain connected to one another, despite the suffering brought on by separation, either through death or some other circumstance. 

Someone might read Cumming’s poem and think of romantic love, another the love between a parent or grandparent and a child, the love between siblings or friends or the love of God.  Regardless of how many hearts we hold within our hearts, somehow, they are always large enough to hold these all in.  And that, in itself, is a wonder.

This morning’s clear November sky allowed me to find these images: the root in an upturned tree (the negative image is shown), the bud in one of next year’s frosted Rhododendron buds, and a spruce tree at sunrise along the salt marsh trail.  Birch and maple leaves provided the background for the shape of the heart within a heart.

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around the corner

We humans are creatures of habit and the older we become, the more we appreciate that which is predictable.  We learn to work around familiar limitations and establish routines that make the most of the positive.  However, seasons change, both in the weather and in our daily lives.  Fresh green leaves turn red as the weather cools and autumn comes knocking on the door, indicators of more changes waiting just around the corner. 

JJ&G sept 09Numerous events over the past couple of weeks have prevented me from posting with the same regularity as before: the birth of a second grandson with more time spent caring for his older brother; the death of my quilting group’s mentor; a new job substituting at a preschool; and final visits with my middle son prior to his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

Some changes are more welcome than others.  Some are anticipated, while others come as a complete surprise.  We never know what’s around the corner, only that change is imminent and part of life on the planet.   

sunflowerWhether good or bad, change usually brings stress and requires a period of adjustment before bearings can be found again. Nevertheless, new challenges and situations present opportunities for transformation once we dare to break free from our comfort zones.   As long as we’re alive, there is potential for growth.

Love is the only flower that grows and blossoms without the aid of the seasons.
~ Kahlil Gibran

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heart stone

Looking for heart-shaped stones on the beach is something I’d never thought of doing until recently.  Many people have collections of these.  Who would have thought anyone would consider a ‘heart of stone’ something worth searching for?

Beaches are favorite places for couples to visit.  They take long walks along the shoreline at sunset, or sit on the beach together, gazing out at the horizon while sharing their dreams of the future.   Nearby Rainbow Haven Beach attracts numerous singles seeking summer romance .  Glowing with suntan lotion, they bask in the sun while non-chalantly checking one another out from behind their fashionable sunglasses.

The shore and its pounding waves are sometimes employed by poets as a metaphor for the coming together of lovers.  One waits patiently for the other to arrive at long last from afar.

shore

But what happens when love dies and couples who walked together so often hand in hand along the sand must now walk alone?  If love can begin at the beach, could it not end there as well?

This week I found not only one, but several yellow long-stemmed roses tangled in the seaweed on the shore.  Although they were a bit frazzled by the elements, they still looked fairly fresh.

yellow rose

In the language of flowers, yellow roses symbolize the end of a love affair.  Could someone have been given a bouquet of yellow roses at the beach?  And could these have then been abandoned on the shore or thrown into the sea?  We’ll never know.

yellow rose 2

Strange how my heart beats
To find myself upon your shore.
Strange how I still feel
My loss of comfort gone before.
Cool waves wash over
And drift away with dreams of youth.
So time is stolen
I cannot hold you long enough.

~ Enya

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I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees.
~ Pablo Neruda

cherry blossom branchSpring changes everything.  Trees blossom to life, flowers push out of the cold, damp ground and animals get busy finding mates and making preparations for the next generation.  Even our bodies seem more at ease after rigidly holding up our shoulders  during the cold winter months.

We’re changed internally too.  We feel lighter, and not just from shedding extra layers of clothes.  We have more energy to clean the cobwebs out of the corners of our homes and minds; we’re eager to spend more time outdoors and cheerfully look forward to warmer days ahead.  Spring is in the air and we’re transformed. 

For many, love is also in the air.  This week I’ve been working on a wedding invitation design for a friend who’s getting married later this summer.  Along with a Celtic knot, the design incorporates a phrase chosen by him and his fiancée that speaks of the transformational effect of love…

celticknot

Like spring, love awakens that which is lying dormant within us and beckons us to be transformed.    There is a call to action and growth… a moving up and forward into the future while also giving us enjoyment in the present moment.  This is what the tree buds and our winter-weary hearts have been waiting for.   Ahh… spring!

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