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Posts Tagged ‘leaves’

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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The Tired Trees

The trees are tired and who can blame them?  Scorched by the sun last week and then ravaged by the wind on the weekend, they’re ready to retire for the season.

Up close the leaves look blemished, nibbled by insects and tattered by the wind.  They’ve seen better days.  As the leaves have yet to turn color for the fall, after Hurricane Earl departed it was odd to see so many green ones covering the forest floor.

Earl’s high winds beat many of the trees to the ground.  Some tried their best to accommodate the wind by bending,  but even a young tree can only bend so far before it’s folded in half and unable to get back up again.

Lulled to sleep by the soft buzz of chainsaws in the distance, some have become logs, ready for the deep rest that comes once one is covered with mosses.  

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. ~Willa Cather

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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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october vines

Overnight winds have pulled many of the leaves off the trees and beaten the vine leaves repeatedly against the bricks.  Many are now on the lawn.  It won’t be long before November’s bareness sets in.  But not yet.  There’s still time for one last look at October’s stunning palette of colours.

vine palette

I’ve taken squares of colour from the photo of vines above to create a palette of hues representational of this time of year.

colour wheelIn art theory, red and green are considered opposite one another on the colour wheel.  These are known as complementary colours.

Some of the vine reds appear purplish and there is also some yellow present.  Purple and yellow is another complementary combination, as is the combination of orange and blue.

blueorangeblueWhether it’s a light or bright blue,  October’s sky contrasts beautifully with orange tinged leaves.  Their warm and fiery hue manages to balance the crisp coolness of the clear blue sky, making autumn seem less chilling.

complementary pairs

When unmuted complementary colours are placed next to each other in a painting, the line between them may appear to vibrate.   Despite the mutedness of some of October’s colours, the juxtaposition of pairs of complementary leaf and sky colours in the landscape still produces a visually vibrant liveliness that exudes warmth and excitement.  No wonder this time of year can inspire so much awe among onlookers.

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autumn through living room window

Sometimes, even when sunny skies beckon, we still have to stay indoors.  Sometimes it’s because there’s house or office work to be done.  Other times, it’s because we’re sick.  Such is the case with me this week with a diagnosis of pneumonia.

From behind glass, there’s still much to see of nature outside.  Trees continue to change colour and some of the vines on the house have turned red and pink.  They adorn the edges of the living room window.  There’s no time like the present to appreciate them as the wind will soon blow them all away.  In the summer months, they make drapes in the window unnecessary and bring nature’s colours up close.

second storey vines

Vines can also be seen from one of the second storey windows.  Although their colours are still bright through the screen, they’re even prettier seen from the outdoors, as in the photo taken on the weekend. 

leaves through front door windowSilhouettes of leaves can be seen trembling in the wind through the glass of the front door’s window as well.  By the time witches and goblins show up at the door in a couple of weeks, they’ll be all gone.

I’ve been so accustomed to stepping outdoors several times a day.  There is something about fresh air and sunshine that makes us feel better just by being outdoors. 

So why do we tend to stay in when we’re sick?  I wonder if perhaps we would recover more quickly outdoors.  The challenge would be to not engage in too much tiring activity. 

From the kitchen window I can see a large snowshoe hare that’s decided to come close.  Its ears are perked and it’s sitting just below the window, posed perfectly still for a photograph.   Sometimes, when you can’t go out into nature, nature knows, and comes to you.

hare from window

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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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