Gratitude among contradictions

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Spicebush swallowtail butterfly

Even as we celebrated the American holiday of Thanksgiving this week, I am mindful that gratitude is seasonless and ever appropriate regardless of temporal circumstances. I have taken a long hiatus from this blog as I dove deep underground for reflection and renewal these past few months. Surfacing into a heavy teaching schedule this fall only complicated matters, yet each day brings something for which I am grateful.

herbcircle2

 “I have been finding treasures in places I did not want to search. I have been hearing wisdom from tongues I did not want to listen. I have been finding beauty where I did not want to look. And I have learned so much from journeys I did not want to take.” ~Suzy Kassem

There were many moments of beauty in the garden during those months. Flowers bloomed, butterflies graced the garden, and the rain came often to soak the ground and encourage growth and flowering. (click on any photo in the mosaic to see a full size image)

Two weeks ago, the autumnal light slanted through the woods while the mild fall weather had barely turned the leaves into shades of red and gold.

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf. ~Albert Schweitzer

Chestnut Oak leaf with acornsLast week, a freezing rain followed by snow turned the woods into a fairy land but bent to the ground many trees that had not yet dropped their leaves.

brokenpineboughsGrateful that our electric power stayed on,  several friends were not so lucky and dealt with many cold days and dark nights. Alas, our white pines suffered damage from the heavy load and lost several branches, crushing a chair beneath them. Fortunately the Chinese dogwoods (Cornus kousa) and Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) trees sprung back up after being bowed to the ground. Resilience in nature is not to be underestimated!

Today’s frigid temperatures revealed roses frozen in mid-bloom and a bounty of rose hips from previous blooms that will feed birds throughout the winter. frozenrose

Even as people in many parts of our country and our world are in distress, I am aware of my blessings as I write this from the warmth of my home, my sweet Angel curled next to me, my husband serenading us on his guitar. How fortunate I am to have a home, a loving family, a beautiful garden, and meaningful work.  Marcel Proust reminds us “let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” swallowtailechinacea

May your soul blossom now and through the coming days and please, send a word of thanks to those who have given so much, regardless of circumstances. Heroes walk among us, every day people who give their time, their hearts and sometimes their lives.

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light. ~Albert Schweitzer

All text and images ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.

That beautiful season

That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
And the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is the middle of the calendar year, that fulcrum on which the earth spins and twists into the depths of summer. This Fourth of July morning, the garden was at the height of bloom, sparking with floral fireworks.

hothemshillWP

The hydrangeas have grown twice their normal size from the many days of rain in June and sweep the ground with their massive white blossoms against the deep green of the woods. (click on any image in the mosaics to see a full size photo)

The daylilies have stepped forward into the spotlight and are singing intricate songs of color and shape. Some appear gentle, fragile, tender in tints of pink and violet.

Others are bold and daring, as if they’ve thrown their heads back for a hearty laugh.

My favorites are the dark quiet treasures, promising secrets if you listen closely enough.

True lilies are blooming too – Orienpet lily ‘Altari’ is so fragrant that her scent carries over the entire garden in the heat of a July morning. altariWP

The smaller Asiatic lilies are almost done blooming for the season.

The woods have grown dark with summer leaves, promising a cool respite from the summer heat.

gatetowoodsWP

The trees have it in their pent up buds,
to darken nature and be summer woods. ~Robert Frost

Coming and going through the garden gate, the sheer bounty of color and life makes me pause for a longer look.

My eyes, weary of staring at luminous screens indoors for days on end, find relief and delight in the complex layers of shadow and light before me. I look across the garden at scenes of color and texture

and look down to the tiniest leaves at my feet. yellowbluefoliageWPIt is like looking at the music that I hear in my dreams but can never quite remember, rich and wild and overflowing with life. It is a beautiful season indeed.

All images and text ©2018 by Lynn Emberg Purse, except as noted.

Green things growing

O the green things growing, the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!
       ~Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (English poet)

greengarden

Profuse rain and warm sunny days have turned the world green. Plants grew a foot overnight and the tender veil of new leaves in the spring woods was suddenly transformed into a verdant velvet curtain. O the green things growing indeed.

herbcircletrees

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration . . . ~D. H. Lawrence

In a few weeks, flowers will fill the garden beds but for now, they are lush islands of leaves with a few sparks of floral color. Not all of the foliage is green though – deep reds, bright golds and warm bronzes have come into full leaf as well.

There are a few bright spots of contrasting colors as spring flowers give way to the early summer blooms of alliums and flowering shrubs. (Click on any photo to see a larger image)

Some of the perennials have begun to bloom, bridging the floral gap between spring and summer.

In a few days, the garden will change again as the roses and peonies and foxglove add their drama to the scene, but for now I will treasure the blessing of green things growing.

All photos and text ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse (except where noted)

Tipping Point

Tipping point – the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place ~Merriam-Webster 

For the past few weeks, spring bulbs have been blooming at my feet, adding shots of welcome color to a skeletal world of bare branches and empty earth. Each day brought something new into flower.

The past few days, after warm and rainy weather, the world looks if an artist had spilled an entire palette of colors into the landscape. The skeletons of bark and branch are suddenly clothed in spring finery and the once bare earth is filled with plants rising up to meet the new canopy overhead.

The kousa dogwood reveals its delicate young leaves against the woods around it. dogwoodleaves

Vibrant new oak leaves are festooned with tassels of Victorian flowers whose pollen sifts to the ground, layering everything with a fine gold dust. oakflowers

The shrubs are fully flushed out with lush green foliage and some, like this Viburnum plicatum ‘Summer Snowflake’ are beginning to flower. woodlandedgeWP

 

A lady bug emerges into the cool morning air from the rough leaf of a Chinese viburnum, where she sheltered during the night.ladybugleaf

Each morning when I step outside, my eyes are dazzled by the richness of the garden, herbbedsMay

the light sifting through leaf northwalkWP

and flower. bellacoolaWP

Scenes that were flat and dull are now filled with shadow and light, herbcornerWP

shape and color. bleedingheartWP

I am too restless to stay indoors; I trace my path through the garden again and again to greet each new face, marvel at each new sign of life.  cherrytreearchWP

As the light fades in the evening, I stand on the deck for one last drink of color.  glMay

Early spring has tipped deliriously into May and each new day promises more change, more surprise, more beauty. Wherever you find yourself, may your days be spent in the beauty of nature awakening.  lowergrdnMayWP

Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire. ~Virgil

 

Earth Day, Watershed Edition

I remember the first Earth Day as a teenager – I loved the idea then and all of these years later, it still seems a special day to celebrate. As I grow with my garden, I realize that creating a healthy place for all flora and fauna to flourish is my first ideal and goal. Lately, my time has been caught up in finishing the school semester, guiding my ensemble through its spring concert and tending my garden. Bill, my husband and creative partner, has been editing and mixing the studio recording of Watershed for cello and orchestra that was premiered in late February. The CD containing the piece will be released in late fall on Three Oranges Recordings but we are far enough in the mixing process to share a few of the highlights here in this montage, thanks to Bill’s talents and generosity. (see an earlier Watershed post here).

Adam Liu, the cellist for whom the piece was written, turned in a stunning and passionate performance and our Duquesne University Orchestra, inspired by masterful conductor Daniel Meyer, was at their best. How lucky can a composer be when the artists that bring a piece to life give their creative all? Adam began his musical career playing the erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument, and suggested that he play the second movement, Sunrise on Still Water, on the erhu rather than the cello. I agreed and I love the sound – it shimmers with unearthly beauty. I hope you enjoy this short montage of highlights from the 20 minute piece.

Spring is tentatively here, with mild days alternating with snowy winter days. The weeping cherry tree is in full bloom, but ironically its cultivar name ‘Snow Fountain’ became a reality when an overnight storm coated the blossoms with white snow.

The daffodils are coming into season, even as the early small bulbs continue to bloom.

The hellebores have shrugged off the snow and cold and continue to bloom in soft pastel shades.

Wherever you are, I hope spring is coming your way and your world is filled with color and beauty. And may every day become “earth day” in our hearts and minds.