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Posts Tagged ‘seasons’

What exactly marks the end of a season and the beginning of the next?  The calendar has little to do with it.  Despite the subtle changes that slowly happen over days and weeks, one day these all accumulate and the transformation from summer to autumn is all too evident.  A lone trembling red leaf sends out the message to all:  summer has ended.

Canada geese too announce the message in the marsh with their honking call.  The days are getting shorter.  Even the sky and waters at sunrise seem different, less warm and more ominous of the darker, colder mornings ahead.

As if to compensate, the marsh grasses glow with golden hues.  Do herons dread the colder days ahead as much as we humans do?  Warm and wonderful summers are especially difficult to leave behind.

The end of summer means food will soon be difficult to find for many creatures.  In the marsh, the woods, and even the house, spiders can be  seen diligently spinning their webs in the hopes of capturing the last of the season’s flying insects.

Those who haven’t prepared for the colder days ahead will be singing their sad songs in the days to come.

Please let me out so I can sing in the sunshine one last time.

This post was written in response to Scott Thomas’ End of Summer challenge at Views Infinitum.

All text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012.

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testing Atlantic waters in March

Spring sometimes takes one step forward and two steps backwards…

But this spring’s steps forward and backwards seem more extreme than in the past.   How can I be finding refreshment in the waters of the Atlantic one hot day, and soon afterwards be wondering if I should thaw the water in the birdbath?

The vernal pools in the woods are almost dried up. Unless we receive a lot of rain this spring, we’re going to have a very dry summer as there’s no snow left to melt.

The Cow Bay River in late March 2010 (left) and late March 2012 (right)

The Cow Bay River in late March 2010 at left, and late March 2012 at right

Even the Cow Bay River is looking a bit drier than usual for this time of year.

Under sunny skies on Friday, the waters in the marsh were wild and churning.

On the weekend, they were calm as glass…

So calm, that you can barely tell which of these images is inverted…

March is a time of change, when winter gives way to spring.  The process is never gradual.  But these waters seem more mysterious than ever.

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The seasons wait for no one.  In Nova Scotia, this is especially true with our springs and summers, which always seem too short. 

Looking back on a summer that flew by more quickly than most, I notice myself scrambling to find a few small things to take with me into the cooler seasons ahead.   There may not have been any long hot days at the beach to look back on, but that’s ok…

Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.

~  Winnie the Pooh 

Children playing in the sunshine, a warm breeze enjoyed while hanging out the laundry and flowers glimpsed coloring the wayside… these are the little things that will still provide warm memories of summer next January. 

Perhaps it’s their vulnerability that endears these small things to us.  Wild roses growing on the edge of a busy road…

Or tiny caterpillars crossing the trail…

Perhaps it’s because the blooming time for many small wild things is limited to just a couple of weeks a year.  

 Come the dark days of November, their presence will seem to have been as fleeting as that of a butterfly.

And the rising summer sun a brief kiss of light.

Is it so small a thing
To have enjoyed the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved,
To have thought,
To have done?
~ Matthew Arnold

This post was inspired by Summertime written by Isabelle at Isathreadsoflife’s Blog.

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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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Most branches are already bare of the snow that fell early Sunday, but there’s no doubt about it.  There’s a bite of cold in the air that wasn’t present last week, and the waves of snow on the lawn confirm the inevitable.  Winter is here. 

This snow is crunchy this morning.  Underfoot, this isn’t a sound that’s experienced until after winter has set its claws into the landscape.  Ice has bonded the snow to the leaves and grass lying beneath it. Its hard surface is of the variety that makes it difficult to track the movements of small animals. 

Resting on the surface of these ripples of icy snow is a dusting of tiny bright white snow pellets.  This isn’t the type of snow that children delight in playing with.  It’s simply a tease to them and a promise of bigger snowfalls yet to come.  For adults, it’s an indicator that spring is closer than it was last week.

O Wind, if Winter comes… can Spring be far behind?

~Percy Bysshe Shelley

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autumn gold

It’s been half a century since gold was mined in Cow Bay.  Gold deposits here are part of the evidence that support the theory that this corner of Nova Scotia was attached to Africa prior to continental drift.  Today, the closest we have to gold is found in November’s plant life along the Salt Marsh Trail. 

These golden grasses and leaves exhude a warmth and richness that were not present earlier this fall.

the marsh in september

The Marsh in September

The goldening of the grasses takes place at the same time that the water turns a steel grey.  

marsh grasss nov

The colours look especially burnished in the morning sunlight.  Even when there is frost on the seaweed, there is a warm glow to the landscape.

frost in autumn

The few leaves remaining on the rosebushes that border the trail are also golden.  They stand in bright contrast to the brilliant red rose hips that were orange earlier in the season.

gold rosebush

Even the November sunrise seems more golden…

november sunrise

Which makes me wonder… why do we usually think of November as such a dull, dreary month?

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maple leaf mandala

Through the ages, mandalas have been employed by Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Native people the world over to create sacred spaces and focal points for prayer and meditation.

seastone mandalaOften painted, they may also be made of stone, colored sand or stained glass, such as in the rose windows found in Gothic cathedrals. Some, like Tibetan sand mandalas, possess an impermanent quality, as their deconstruction is also part of the ritual surrounding their creation.  Mandalas might be intended as representations of the universe, the unconscious self or the relationship between the inner and outer realms. 

Mine are simple creations made with natural materials found in my yard:  leaves, flowers, twigs and tree cones.  The first mandala shown at the top of this post was made from the colorful leaves of a sugar maple and a yellow birch.  The second was created on my gravel driveway from sea smoothed stones gathered near the ocean.

peony leaf mandala

This peony leaf mandala also includes fern leaves, purple asters and two-flowered Cynthia blooms.  A curled up wooly bear caterpillar is at its centre.

fir cone mandala

Above, heal-all flowers have been arranged with balsam fir cones around a mushroom centre.  The creation of each mandala gave me an opportunity to reflect on autumn’s beautiful colours and textures.  I’m thankful to live in a place where nature’s palette is ever changing and fresh.   

My mandalas will slowly fall apart, be moved by the winds or wild creatures, decay and return to the earth.  Their ephemeral quality only serves to enhance their present beauty.

Have you ever considered using natural materials to create a mandala outdoors?

 

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autumn leaves

Autumn brings brilliant hues that brighten up the Nova Scotia landscape.  In the salt marsh, maple leaves and red apples stand in bright contrast to the evergreens and grey waters.

red apples

Bright orange rose hips replace summer’s pink blooms on the wild rose bushes. Full of vitamin C, they’ll provide a nourishing treat for birds in the cold winter months ahead. They’re often dried for use in herbal teas.

rose hips

nightshade berriesUnlike the rose hips, the elongated nightshade berries shown at left, are NOT edible. Both the fruit and leaves of this plant are extremely toxic. Consumption of fewer than five of these berries can be lethal to children. It’s best not to eat any wild berries that grow in a similar oblong (as opposed to spherical) shape.  These nightshade plants are  numerous along the edges of the salt marsh trail and can be identified by their purple flowers during the summer months.

Nightshade was used to poison the tips of arrows by early people.  It was also used to poison political rivals in Ancient Rome and employed by MacBeth to poison troops in Scotland.

This single long stemmed red rose was found wedged between two tree trunks along Rosemary’s Way, a small path that leads off to the side before the first bridge on the trail. How it arrived in this setting is a mystery.  Besides heralding the cooler days ahead, it would appear that Autumn’s colours reveal the fiery passions that still lie beneath the surface.

red rose

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sunrise

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze.
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears.

~ Sheldon Harnick, Zorba

sun flower

 Seagulls seemed oblivious to the last hours of summer trickling away yesterday afternoon.  While a few people walked along  the shore at Rainbow Haven Beach, some were laid out on blankets, looking to catch the last few rays of summer sunshine.  Summer always seems too short, but this one was especially brief.  

As my grandson threw pebbles into the waves and we collected shells in the strandlines, it seemed like I had just engaged in the same activities with his father a moment ago.  Seasons change and generations pass in the blink of an eye.  The natural world carries on.

gulls on beach

The sunshine and warm breezes wait for nobody.  Sparkling waters and sand can only be enjoyed in the moment.  I doubt if anyone who had been on the beach yesterday afternoon regretted having made time in their day for just one more walk on the summer sand.

waves on beach

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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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