Ahhh, summer. There is just something about this time of year. It’s the crisp tang of ice cold lemonade. It’s the bright, beautiful colors of summer flowers. And it’s the fresh, clear scent of aromatic herbs.

Summer kicks off the season of fruitful harvest. It is the first time you can really begin to see the fruits of your labor. But don’t forget to take a moment. Be present. Drink in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that make each summer unique.

It was the last day in the mountains. The end of the trip was just hours away. Little did I know there were still a few spectacular sights waiting for me.

As we rounded the bend, there it was. The sun, just beginning to set behind the mountain peak across from us. It felt like it had waited for me. It had waited to shine its last, golden rays and create a halo around the mountain as it slipped silently, quickly,  from view.

Ah, fall. The days get shorter and there’s a bite in frosty air. Sweaters are required for walks through the garden that was so full of life just a month before. But don’t lament the loss just yet. For bright spots of orange dot the brown landscape.

The pumpkin patch is alive and well. It lifts the spirits of those who carefully pick their way between those giant, orange spheres. It is one last patch of life before the world is covered in a blanket of white.

Sometimes in life it feels like we’re climbing a mountain. And it feels like that mountain is so tall, we’ll never reach the top. We get tired. We ache. And we want to give up half way through the climb.

But don’t give in. Keep climbing with every ounce of strength. Because the view from the top is incredible. There is nothing quite like it. And once you’ve conquered the mountain, you can shoot for the moon. Because it’s not that far out of reach.

There is something about stained glass that is so awe inspiring. Someone painstakingly selected each and every one of those pieces of glass. Masterful hands chose the subtle variations of color and texture to bring the work to life. They cut and precisely fit together every piece of glass.

And when pieces seamlessly come together, they tell a brilliant story. One filled with color and life. One that will take your breath away as you gaze at the mastery before you.

There is just something about the sheer delight of childhood. Wouldn’t it be great to go back to those days when the first run down a snowy slide could bring so much joy? Wouldn’t it be fun to land in a huge pile of freshly fallen, fluffy, white, sparkling snow at the end of that slide and laugh until our sides hurt?

This is what childhood looks like. This is the delight and excitement of a little girl, captured in the blink of an eye.

Imagine a river of steely green in early spring. It crashes over itself, searching for the end. It snakes and curves through mountains of red and gray rock.

Imagine a periwinkle sky, dotted with wisps of white, that rises from a mountain that cradles the pure snows of spring. The river appears from nowhere, carving a path just a little deeper with each passing year. Just imagine a mountain river.

It feels like a fairy land. Drops of rain hang precariously from tiny bells. They make the garden shimmer and sparkle in the bright morning sun. Everything seems so delicate and fragile. One small breeze and the magic is gone.

This is a dream garden; a place where wishes come true. The tiniest details are the most important. They are what give this garden its magic.

 

Look carefully. Do you notice anything strange about these coneflowers? Yes, they appear to be very tall. And yes, they’re a beautiful fuchsia color. But more amazing is that each stem proudly holds not one, but two heads.

Are these a special kind of flower? No. Have they been modified in some way? Again, the answer is no. They’re simply overachieving flowers, standing tall.

Although the marker has aged, you are not forgotten. Although so much time has passed, you are not forgotten. Although long, blowing grasses surround this spot, you are not forgotten.

You are a part of someone’s history. And because of that, you will never be forgotten.

This, just the name, takes me back to my childhood. Every time I hear the name Tiger Lily, I think of Peter Pan. And in first grade we had to dress up like a character from the book Peter Pan. Most of the girls dressed up as Tinker Bell or Wendy. Not me! I dressed up like Peter. I wanted to be Peter Pan.

I loved my pointy, green as grass, felt hat with the red felt feather. I loved my pointy, green as leaves, felt shoe covers. And, of course, I loved my little cardboard dagger. I was more than ready to stay in Never Land forever and never grow up.

 

Sometimes, it’s worthwhile to look carefully at the world. When we don’t, we miss some of the most interesting, tiny details. They tend to blend right in to the bigger picture. The thrill of life is finding the wonders that everyone else has passed over.

This tiny bug is easily passed by – not just because of size, but because it seamlessly blends in with its surrounding. If it weren’t for some slight movements, it may never have been spotted. But, once discovered, this tiny creature is absolutely mesmerizing.

While this photo may not have two deer, antlers locked in battle, pushing each other about, it still appears to be a battle. A dual maybe. It looks like the gloves are off and these two elegant flowers are about fight for the right to the space and the most sunlight.

It appears as though these two flowers are pushing each other back and forth and the winds blow past. But, in the end, we know that there will be no winner or loser. Both will grow tall and strong, with just the right about of sunlight and space. Their purpose is simply to make the world more beautiful.

There are times in life when there are no words to express our feelings. In those moments, sometimes a picture says what we simply can’t. It conveys our deepest gratitude and our greatest sympathies. Thank you for your great sacrifice. You will not be forgotten.

There’s nothing quite like the view from a mountain to make you feel just how big the world really is. The landscape stretches ahead of you for miles and miles. Towns look tiny, nestled in the valley. The long, brown road snakes in and out of mountain. The great pines look like nothing but dabs of dark green on a landscape of white and tan.

It’s a whole new perspective. It’s getting the bird’s eye look at the world while feeling like nothing more than a mouse.

Something surreal tends to happen right before a big storm. The beautifully painted sky is slowly consumed by big, dark, billowing clouds. A sometimes eerie silence descends on the earth. Birds and bugs alike go silent, waiting for the moment. In the distance, faint rumbles of thunder can be heard. As the storm gets closer, they get louder and more frequent.

And then it happens. The first few drops of rain fall on the dusty, parched fields. The silence is deafening as the creatures of this earth wait. And as if to answer the prayers of farmers, the heavens open to release the waterfall of life. Lightning illuminates the sky as the dust settles and those who depend on the soil breathe a deep sigh.

This is a picture of luck. And a lot of patience. I had already spent quite some time, lying on my back, contorting my body this way and that, just to get the perfect shot of a simple dragonfly. I tried low angles. I tried high angles. But nothing quite captured the feel. I didn’t want all the background noise. I just wanted the dragonfly. Pure and simple.

So I took photo after photo. And then it happened. I focused solely on my subject. I took a deep breath and pushed the button. And  there it sat; the perfect, focused moment. A snapshot of a single moment in time, as a dragonfly hangs carefully onto the end of a stick as the backdrop of the world circles around it. Nothing fancy. No editing. Just life in a moment.

 

A New Year dawns bright and beautiful.

And this place….oh, this place…..so peaceful with the promises of a new year. Mornings in this place make you think anything is possible. The brilliant rays of sun just peak over the hill, painting the sky with brilliant shades of purple, pink, yellow and orange. Fields, blanketed in white, are a blank canvas for the beautiful colors. It is the dawn of the first day.

There is something so powerful yet gentle about these creatures. With their long horns, they can be a bit scary. But if you really look into the eyes of these Highlands, you’ll see a tender softness. This particular Highland had just become a big brother, although he wasn’t much older than a year himself. He was very curious about the new little bundle who tried to run on such wobbly legs.

There was a lot of sniffing and poking. And, eventually, a great long tongue emerged and licked just the tip of the little baby’s nose. It was as if to say, “Welcome to the long horned, cinnamon colored, Highland Family, little one.”

How delicate and fragile they seem, floating on tissue paper wings. The warm breeze pushes them through the air. They land so delicately on the flowers, holding on with perfect balance. Oh, to have the grace and beauty of a butterfly.

With a little luck, they’ll perch upon an outstretched hand or shoulder, soaking up the warmth of the sun. These creatures of winged elegance flutter against the expansive backdrop of a periwinkle sky.

This is not a normal sea. It is a sea full of sturdy stalks, topped by blooms of every imaginable color, trumpeting the arrival of spring. They stretch as far as the eye can see, fading from one color into the next. The blooms beckon to onlookers as they sway in the gentle breeze.

The heritage of these simple, elegant blooms is centuries old. For over 500 years they’ve slowly poked through the cold, damp earth, announcing to all the world that the season has changed and new life is beginning.

There is a place, long since forgotten by time. A place where the blowing grass grows tall around an open doorway. What secrets does it hold? Why is it empty and deserted? It’s a place where your imagination can run wild.

And the place HAS run wild. It’s wild with animals and plants and bugs. They’ve taken it over. Reclaimed it. Made it their home. It’s shelter from the wind that howls across the wide open spaces in winter. In some ways this place has been forgotten, but in others, it has just been discovered.

This is home. There is something so calming about the big lake. The waves carry your troubles away as they roll back out. The air smells different here. The breeze feels different. And it’s nothing but water as far as the eye can see. Footprints are made in the smooth sand, then quickly washed away with crashing waves.

Children and adults alike scour the beach, searching for that infamous stone. A little bit of luck and an eagle eye is all it takes.  There is nothing quite like the feeling of this calm hunt. It’s just you and the lake and your thoughts, together in this peaceful serenity.

This little turtle was a backyard staple. He was always there, wandering five acres of tall grass. You could tell it was him from the battle scars on his shell. Sometimes he was scared and shrank back into his shell like a kid hiding under the bed. But most of the time he just explored the world we shared.

He seemed so confident, out there for a slow stroll. It was as if he owned this land. It was his slice of heaven. And how could I blame him? I loved that land too. We were  bonded by  love for the same small patch of earth.

Sometimes we feel a bit like Alice. Like we’ve chased a white rabbit down a hole and don’t recognize the world in which we’ve landed. It’s a strange and confusing place. Sometimes it’s a place where things just don’t make sense and we wonder how exactly we’ve ended there.

But have no fear. Jump in and learn from the journey. Sometimes we have to make the most out of the situations we find ourselves in. That’s how we grow and learn who we truly are and what we’re made of. It’s often where we learn what’s really important to us.

So come on! Let’s have our Alice moment. Let’s take advice from a blue caterpillar on a mushroom and try something new.

How delicately they’re strung, on thread so strong and fine. These tiny drops of dew, like perfect strands of dainty pearls. It’s  a collaboration that yields one of the most intricate and beautiful things in nature.

Yet, in the blink of an eye, it vanishes as dawn gives way to the sun of a new day. But with a little luck, tomorrow will bring more of the same. The world awakened, draped in fine strands of glittering, shimmering dew; showcasing its delicately natural splendor.

 

She beckons the butterflies with her sultry, dark “eyes” as she sways with the gentle breeze. She’s been in these fields for hundreds of years; she’s withstood the test of time. She’s simple and sturdy and wild and free. She stands tall and proud among the long waving grass. Her seeds, carried, in a strong prairie wind. She’ll be back next year, dotting the landscape with her sunny face and sultry, dark “eyes.”

“They don’t make ’em like they used to,” the old man said with a grin. And deep down I knew he was right. Back then, things were more simple. People were more simple. Life was more simple. And some things seemed to last forever. It was a time when summer meant riding bikes, playing in puddles, fishing in streams, and smelling fresh laundry as it blew in the breeze. It was when simple meant a stick shift and a single cab with a bench seat.

Simple is always being able to just jump in, turn the key and go. Simple is that old, faithful truck that always starts and whisks you away in the blink of an eye.

Now is the time to plan your escape. Time to leave the mixed up world behind, if just for a short while. Maybe it’s a dream you’ve always had. Maybe it’s lands of rolling green hills and cloudy gray skies that suddenly drop to the sea. Or maybe it’s somewhere you’ve already been; a trip back in time as you climb mountains so high to find aspen dripping with moss.

Wherever it is, a hill or a mountain, find your place of calm. Draw a deep breath and be still. Treasure and enjoy the peace that awaits for those who take time to seek it.

 

They fill the air with music, these old practiced hands. It’s music that floats gently above the din of the busy market. It swirls overhead as the old man smiles. He’s been on that bench every weekend I can remember, sharing his musical gift. He laughs while children dance, his fingers dancing with them.

Joy comes not just from his music but from the bright colors in his shirt. From the jaunty cap perched on his head. And from the twinkle and shine in his eyes. Moments will forever be filled with music from old practiced hands.

This is a secret place. A place you can only find if you really look. But it holds so many wonders. There is so much color. So much pattern. So much texture. So much contrast. And there’s more than meets the eye in this small place.

It’s what you can imagine. It’s what you can dream. It’s a place that can inspire if you let it. Allow yourself to be swept away to this secret place. It will lead you home.

Nature has a way of reminding us that no matter how bad things may get, better days will follow. It just takes time, a little bit of faith, and sometimes, even determination. And it might be two steps forward and one step back. Our lives might be like the first crocus in spring. We start to see the bright sun and warmth only to be covered again by the weight of snow. But that doesn’t mean we stop. It means we push ahead. We may stumble or even pause for a moment, but that’s ok as long as we eventually move forward.

Nature reminds us, with all its colorful glory, that we will get by. That beauty will always be around us, we just have to look a bit harder. Sometimes we have to weather an unexpected storm and pause before we can see it.

Sometimes the cure for being scared is waiting just outside your window. Sometimes it’s the unexpected. Nature has a way of making everything better, if only for a moment. It doesn’t always take bright colored, beautiful flowers. And it doesn’t have to be a warm spring breeze. Sometimes all it takes is a quick, cheeky look from a small bird who’s meal has been interrupted by your gaze. Sometimes that is enough to banish the fear and inspire strength.

This color palette is traditional, yet strong. We take our cues from nature and mix and match them for the perfect look every time.

Shhhh. Be still and listen. She has a story to tell. A tale of days long gone. A story of lazy days and adventure. A story of how she came to sit in this place, forgotten and falling apart. She’s been waiting to be found. Waiting for someone to see the possibilities and the beauty that could be. She’s waiting for someone to take that first step and return her to the life she once knew. Her bones are good but she needs someone to care.

Even now, her colors are soft and subtle. They’re at the same time cool, but also warm and inviting. They can inspire dreams. She’s just an old wood boat. But she’s waiting for the dust to be blown off and the new adventure to begin.

Sometimes you come across a scene that seems to have so much organization and structure compared to the rest of the chaos that surrounds us. It seems like the perfect watercolor painting; one color expertly blended into the next. And the perfect painting is accompanied by the melodic sounds of soft, gentle moos from the cows in the field below. They’re calling their calves to their sides for protection from the night. Oh, to be able to paint a feeling, a sound, a moment in time.

Although we can’t always live in a painting, we can go back to that feeling. We can color the world around us with reminders of that scene. And it doesn’t take much to do that. Just tiny splashes from a master’s palette will take use back to that perfect watercolor sky.

These days we’re all looking for comfort. And that comfort comes in all different forms. For some people, it’s the smell of cookies or bread filling the house. For others it’s curling up with a pet or loved one. And for some, it’s hobbies forgotten long ago but recently rediscovered.

Comfort can be found in colors, textures, and patterns. And color doesn’t have to be boring to be comforting. Sometimes we think neutrals are comfortable because it’s what we’re used to. But these blues, greens, and pale lavender can seem neutral when used in just the right way.

This soft yarn, with it’s pale green color, was crocheted into a warm pair of mittens. And although the season for this type of thing may be over, they can still bring comfort. There is a sense that no matter how bad things may seem, we can still create something beautiful, learn new things, feel a sense of accomplishment, and be comforted by the simple things.

 

 

This photo is from up north where this small shed (Mom’s “potting shed”) and old water pump sits in the middle of nowhere. It’s always intriguing to see how nature reclaims the spaces we once thought belonged to us. Given just a bit of time, balance and harmony are restored. The new life blends away into the old.

That is where we find ourselves. The new way of life blends into the old. More time for family and our favorite past times.

These colors mimic life. The tans and beiges that have always been staple colors are given a spark of new life with the infusion of spring green. The new blends into the old and a new story is created. And that can be comforting because although it’s new, it’s also very familiar.

This is a photo taken last spring. This year is very different. But for all the ways this spring isn’t the same, it will still be so much like every other spring. Sunny, sweet smelling flowers will still bloom. The colors they bring will infuse light into the gray world. The sun will shine when the rain stops. And warm days will replace the chilly ones.

Gray is a great backdrop for these brighter colors. Like these flowers, the colors are meant to be accents. They’re meant to give new life to a space. The green is calming, while the splashes of yellow and pink bring warmth and smiles.