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Posts Tagged ‘growth’

Mid-January can feel so bare.  The warmth and sparkle of the holidays are already a distant memory.  The days are still short and the nights long and cold.  New Year’s resolutions made just a couple of weeks ago seem more difficult to keep with every passing day.  It seems that winter has a frozen grip around not just the landscape but our souls as well.

I wonder about the animals hibernating in their cosy holes beneath the ground.  Why don’t we possess the same instinct to withdraw at this time of year?  In centuries past, northern folk refrained from activities after the harvest, huddled together to conserve warmth and waited out the darker days by sleeping more and eating less. 

In contrast we seem to expect more of ourselves at this time of year.  January is a productive time in homes, schools and workplaces as we attempt to meet the challenges we’ve set for ourselves.   If we feel tired and find it difficult to start the day or week, perhaps it should come as no surprise. 

In the winter forest, lichens take advantage of the sunlight that’s blocked by the canopy of leaves during the other seasons.  They cover tree trunks and hang from the bare branches.  Despite seasonal interruptions in light, they carry on, eventually covering entire trees with their delicate ornament.  Their growth may seem slow to us, but it is growth nonetheless.   

In January, instead of expecting amazing strides in growth like leaves in springtime, we might be wiser to adjust our expectations.  Renewed patience for our tasks and our ability to do them might be just what we need.  The year is still new, and there’s plenty of time ahead to make fresh beginnings.

In our journey through life it does not matter whether we achieve all the goals we have set ourselves, but that we should show patience when we do not succeed in something and then make a new start.
~ Ambrose Tinsley OSB

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There’s something comforting about seeing small and simple plants grow down the middle of my driveway.  I get the same feeling when I see grass growing through cracks in the sidewalk.   To me, these are testament to the power of small things and reminders of man’s inability to conquer the natural world. 

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.
~ Hal Borland

Due to its simple form and presence at our feet, it’s all too easy to dismiss the power of grass.  Yet, its strength is in its numbers and its ability to persist despite being trampled on over and over again.  Below, the shadow of a fox trail appears in the grass behind Rainbow Haven beach.

Grass changes with the seasons and makes no futile attempt to hold strong against the wind.  It knows its limitations.  In the winter, it hunkers down under the snow and quietly waits for spring.  When sunshine and rain permit, grass seizes the opportunity to grow to great heights in just a short amount of time, confounding those tasked with mowing it down.

It’s most beautiful when at last it goes to seed. In the early morning light, the grass in the photos below looks like a magical mist rising in the forest.

Growth begins when we begin to accept our own weakness.
~ Jean Vanier

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Spruce trees are silhouetted against the rising sun at Rainbow Haven beach.  Over the years, these trees have endured, despite the salt spray and hurricane force winds.  Like many other trees on the Eastern seaboard, evergreens have shown accelerated growth in recent years.

The lighter, brighter green of this year’s growth is especially remarkable.  Scientists attribute increased growth to the following three factors:

  • Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
  • Warmer temperatures
  • An extended growing season

All of the above factors point to climate change as the underlying cause.

Though older trees on the landscape are a sign of strength and endurance, new ones are representative of hope.  While the strange and severe weather often attributed to climate change is a concern, accelerated tree growth is welcomed.

The forest is alive with new life in its many forms.  Below, a witch’s broom growing on a balsam fir, is light yellow-green.

The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber.  The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For more information on Witches’ Brooms, see Witches’ Brooms in Winter.

For more information on accelerated tree growth see Science Daily.

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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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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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