At the Heart of Nature

Every New Year must be celebrated at the heart of nature – in the middle of a forest or by the side of a lake under billions of stars – because it is nature who has made our existence possible! ~Mehmet Murat ildan 

It is probably no surprise to anyone that I consider the heart of nature to be in the garden. The day after Christmas was so mild that I spent it quietly potting up all of the bulbs that didn’t get planted in November. A few days later, I managed to rake the last layer of leaves from the garden paths so that their patterns would emerge under the snow. Winter is here in fits and starts; snow covers the ground today but rain is predicted for tomorrow. On this last day of the year, Angel and I are snuggled up on the sofa, looking over the photos of the garden this past year.

PollinatorSignThis was the year that the property became certified by the Penn State Master Gardeners as a Pollinator Friendly Garden, a landmark step in my efforts to create a haven for wildlife in general and pollinators in particular.  With the help of my niece Carly, an untended garden bed along the road got an extensive  makeover and was filled with native plants to further support pollinators.

toursignWP

In late June, 500 visitors meandered through the garden as part of the Town & Country garden tour to benefit the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. I worked 6-8 hours a day, six days a week for two months, to prepare the garden for close inspection. I realized as I was writing the garden description for the tour booklet that I had always thought of this garden as a “garden in the woods” inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Little House in the Big Woods. The trees that surround the house and garden are an integral part of the landscape and are beautiful in every season.

After all the visitors were gone for the season, the plants on the hillside garden were temporarily moved to make room for a new pair of handsome stone walls.  I look forward to seeing them covered with blooms next season.

Other echoes inhabit the garden. Shall we follow? ~T. S. Elliot

The gardening year really begins in the spring, fresh and full of potential.

Memories of summer bring to mind an explosion of flowers amid warm days.

Autumn arrived with a new palette of colors.

The calendar year begins and ends in winter:

Tomorrow brings a new year, full of the hopes and ambiguities of an unknown future. I wish all of you a new year of joy and I hope that you spend some of it in the heart of nature.

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice . . .
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning. ~ T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets: Little Gidding”

(All photos [except pollinator sign] in this blog post ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

Adjusting the Trajectory

Trajectory:
1:
the curve that a body (as a planet or comet in its orbit or a rocket) describes in space

2: a path, progression, or line of development resembling a physical trajectory <an upward career trajectory>
~from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online

Janus sculpture in the Vatican Museum

Janus sculpture in the Vatican Museum

A new year. An opportunity to take stock, to reflect, and to adjust one’s trajectory.  In one sense, this new year is a change of calendar date, nothing more. But symbolically and perhaps tuned to some inner clock within the human race, it is also the moment in which we declare a boundary in time, a stepping over an invisible line between then and now. Janus, the Roman god of gates and doors who presides over all beginnings and transitions, is represented by a two faced head, looking in opposite directions; the month of January is named for him.

Diving Trajectory

Diving Trajectory

I love the idea of adjusting one’s trajectory – small adjustments leading to profound change over distance, in the case of moving objects, or over time, in the case of changing one’s life curve. I know from experience that small adjustments work well for me and now is the time to consider what those adjustments might be. “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” (Ovid) The potential for a wonderful year lies before me – I’ve been granted a sabbatical from teaching in the fall and intend to spend most of the coming year in the fields and forests of western Pennsylvania, recording and photographing the fauna and flora for the resource material of my new musical project, A Year in Penn’s Woods, which I introduced in the post Wild Sounds.  Building up the stamina and strength required to carry out this ambition is the focus of this year’s resolve. I’ve already begun the adjustments, increasing my yoga practice, walking longer distances, changing some eating habits, and practicing using my camera and recording equipment so that it is second nature to manipulate it without hesitation.  Like Janus standing on the threshold of the new year, I can look back and see all the projects that have led me to this new and more ambitious one, and I eagerly look forward to connecting those experiences with the adventure that lies before me.

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpegA special thanks to Kerry of Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog for his year-end gift of the 2012 Blog of the Year Award. (you can read more about the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award here) Kerry is an extraordinary photographer who generously shares his experience and his adventures in capturing images of the American landscape. His work is exceptional and every post is a “must read” and “must see” experience. The care and attention that he gives his work is an inspiration to me and has challenged me to improve my photography skills to a higher standard. I encourage you to visit Kerry!

Since this is an award that is to be passed on, I nominate Ogee at Gardens for Goldens, “a Memorial Garden to help honor and rescue Golden Retrievers.” Ogee and her colleagues maintain a lovely garden in California as part of their efforts for the rescue of Golden Retriever dogs, whom they heal and place in new homes.  Not only is the garden a delight, the stories and images of the dogs strolling through the garden are compelling and heartwarming. Please visit Ogee and enjoy her wonderful and compassionate blog.

Finally, I want to thank all of my readers and followers. Your visits and words of encouragement are bright lights in my daily life, and inspire me to continue to think, to write, and to share.  I wish you all the wisdom and patience to live with joy in a world of change.

“I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.” ― Aldous Huxley

“When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.” ― Andy Warhol

A special thanks to goodreads.com for such a wealth of wonderful quotes.