Gift #1106: October

Welcome to October!  I’m so happy to enter my favorite month.  I think this year we should make things extra special and invite October to stay for 2-3 extra months.  We had a cooler day, but full of sunshine and it was perfect.  Some trees have already started to turn, but most are still green and I’m looking forward to watching the leaves turn, the grasses dry, and the seedpods form.  I’m giddy with excitement to watch a new autumn form!! A few days ago I ran across this poem on Pinterest and I thought it would be perfect to share as October commences.

Why I Like October

Why do I love October?
October’s the month of gold.
There’s crimson and nuts in the woodland,
There’s fruitage in orchard and wold.
Tis the banquet hall of the seasons,
When their purple wine is spilled;
Tis the revel of color and splendors,
Where the wealth of the year is tilled.
And so I love October.
Tis fruition of faith to me,
In the beauty and gold of its garner
The Opulent Giver I see.

-Mamie

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I’m signed up to attend my first ever bead retreat in a few weeks.  Hosted by my favorite bead designer, Humblebeads, we’ll spend a weekend taking classes, hiking, and enjoying the company of friends.  I’ve “known” several of the women attending through following them on facebook and Instagram and I’m excited to meet these talented women for the first time.  As part of our meet ‘n greet on Friday afternoon, we are having a charm swap.  I spent part of this afternoon assembling charms and trying out various designs.  Here’s a couple of sneak peaks.

imageSome prototype bead stacks with acorns and foxes

imageHand-painted skeleton leaves to be incorporate into charms.  I’ve forgotten how much I love painting metal.

Another part of the afternoon was spent shopping for Halloween items for an online knitting swap.  I’ve been working on my knitted item and today I finished purchasing the rest of the gifts I needed for the swap.  Among the goodies I found for her was a kit to make a decorative shadowbox.  I’ve cut the papers and lined the cubbyholes.  Next up will be filling them with diecuts, bottles, and Halloween ephemera.  I hope the recipient will really love it.  The theme for my package is “Halloween curiosity cabinet” and I’m excited about how this will tie it together.

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And at church today we started a new series called “Fall into the Psalms.” Our pastor described how he wants us to approach the next few months – “like a kid running and jumping in a pile of leaves”.  The Psalms are a beloved book for many and they are filled with every emotion we’ll ever face.  I think the Psalms are a perfect way to spend autumn.  Their pages are filled with reminders that whether in times of plenty or in times of need, in happiness and in sorrow, in peace or in turmoil, God’s faithfulness and love towards us is everlasting.  The Opulent Giver always provides for us and at no season is His generosity and care more evident than autumn.  And that’s something to rejoice in this fall and always!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #1105: September Art Bead Challenge

This month is proving to be as busy and fleeting as I expected.  I can’t believe that September is almost gone!  We’re now officially into autumn, my favorite season.  My eyes are glued on the foliage – half hoping to see colorful changes in their leaves and half hoping not too so that the season doesn’t go too quickly.  I love long, long autumns.  Though the month has passed in a whirlwind, I still had some time to create jewelry for the Art Bead Scene blog.  I was expecting perhaps an autumnal themed painting, but instead we had a bright and lighthearted celebration of insects!

Eugene Seguy painted this piece in 1920.   It is a delightfully fun piece full of lively color, pattern, and interest.  It reminds me of collages of fabric swatches.  And it is a fitting tribute to the myriad of insects which will soon be saying their goodbyes till next year.  Cicadas, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, bees, beetles, wasps,  all are busy and full of life during September.  In a last frill of gossamer wings and buzzes, our little insect friends that kept us company all summer long will soon be silent.  This wonderful painting represents the insects in all their color and activity.

I knew exactly what beads I wanted to use to honor our summer insects.  I had a set of matching chrysalis and beads that would be perfect.  Not long ago Heather Powers, of Humblebeads, started Bead Table Wednesdays to share her ideas for jewelry creation.  I’ve loved watching those and the necklace is inspired by the wire wreath with dangles.

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The chrysalis bead takes the center of attention, with other complementary dangles within a woodland wire frame.  Cascading flowers, a Czech bead with bead caps, and the word “thrive” pull together the color scheme.  A tiny butterfly perched on the wire nest adds interest.  I debated on what word I wanted to pair with this piece and finally settled on “thrive”.  It seemed a fitting tribute for insects.  In our view of time, insects have such a short life span, often just a few weeks, but what all that insect manages to pack into its lifespan is incredible.  They enrich the earth, change their landscape, provide for the next generation, and fill the earth and air with wings and flashes of color.  They’re a reminder that it’s not the length of days that determines the scope and quality of our lives.

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Earrings are formed from the matching Humblebeads  disc beads – I love that pattern of  wing scales. Bead caps and aqua Czech glass complement the polymer clay beads.  And delicate brass butterflies flutter underneath.

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I loved making this set to pay homage to the little creatures that brought us joy this summer.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1104: Walk through late summer

It’s been a long, difficult week for sure.  And after a week like that there’s only two things to do:  cover the situation in prayer and head for the woods.  Time in the forest is one of the most rejuvenating activities for my heart.  It had been a while since I’d been on a hike – since Denver in fact – and it was past time to spend an afternoon with the trees.  It felt a bit strange to be back in these woods after being in Colorado.  The forests are quite different, but both beautiful in their own right.

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The day was full of sunshine and cool breezes and it was a delightful late-summer stroll.  We saw lots and lots of spider webs and their tenants were busy either waiting for lunch or enjoying their lunch.  Spider webs are notoriously difficult for me to photograph, but the light hit a couple just right and made them look like gold and pearlescent threads.

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Grasses were golden in the sunlight too and so beautiful against the dark greens of the forest.  I love grasses in seed as much as wildflowers.

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There are already signs of autumn in the trees.  Wildflowers are winding down and many have gone to seed.  I can’t wait for milkweed pods to open!  These dried flowers were withered and spent, but still lovely in their form and texture.

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Bees are busy collecting the last bits of nectar from the late-blooming flowers.

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All around nature is busy transitioning from one glorious season to another.  It’s setting the stage for another spectacular display of beauty, full of new things to appreciate and enjoy.  One of the ways God tells us to be reassured of His faithfulness is care is by looking at the dance of the seasons.  At each stage God provides for and clothes His creation in beauty.  It’s a reminder that at each stage of our own lives God is also faithful, He is using the hard bits to grow us and giving us gifts of mercy to remind us of His goodness.  He will be with us and care for us as certainly as He walks each year through the rhythm of the seasons.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

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Gift #1103: August Art Bead Challenge

So I’ve been a bit delinquent in posting about the jewelry I’ve done for Art Bead Scene challenges this summer.  I’ve done them each month, but June and July whisked by before I could blog about them.  I’m being a bit more prepared for August and not waiting till the last minute.  I absolutely loved this piece we had as our inspiration:

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“Twelve Princesses on the Way to the Dance” by Kay Nielsen, published in 1923.  I was delighted that we had an illustration this time instead of a painting – that was a nice change of pace.  And I was thrilled that it was so heavily inspired by Art Nouveau, which is one of my favorite styles of art.  This piece was commissioned to illustrate Twelve Dancing Princesses and Other Fairy Tales, by Author Quiller-Couch.  I think the work of art perfectly captures the whimsy, opulence, and mystery of a fairytale.  The strong repetitive linear lines are very appealing to me and I love the use of color.  The deep dark of the forest background really pops with the lighter tree canopy and the princesses’ dresses and creates a stunning effect.  I love to just stare at it.  For my jewelry, I wanted to capture the essence of the forest scene, the colors, and a linear emphasis to the design.  image

Of course, I knew right where I’d start – my collection of floral birds by Heather Powers.  We won’t discuss exactly how many of these birds I have, but suffice it to say I have a rainbow of colors to choose from.  This bird is a lovely coppery, peach color with brighter peach and white flowers and dark brown tones underneath.  I love how the bird itself mirrors the colors of the illustrations.  I paired the bird with a peach Humblebeads disc bead and one of her coppery Renaissance leaves.  The leaf has a lovely subtle shimmer which lends a sense of opulence to the necklace.  To mimic the linear aspect of the trees, I used two copper twigs from Nunn Jewelry.  The graceful curve in the branches works really well in the necklace.  I embellished one of the twigs with Lucite leaves and flowers to add a bit more color to the necklace and give some visual interest.  I finished off the necklace with gunmetal chain to echo the dark colors of the background.

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For the earrings, I pulled several elements from the necklace, including more disc beads from Humblebeads.  I’m just enchanted with the dark streaks of color through the peach beads and the creamy flowers.  They remind me so much of the illustration.  I filled in the design with Czech beads in a dark earthy green/brown, bead caps, and Lucite floral dangles.

HumblebeadsI relished designing and creating this set based off of such a wonderful piece of art.  As a parting anecdote,  I had been anticipating this month’s challenge for a while, since I had downloaded the ebook of all the artwork for the year.  When I first saw the illustration, something in it reminded me of Fantasia.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but the feeling the illustration stirred in me was similar to some of the sequences in Fantasia – notably the ones with the long parade of people moving through a forest carrying lanterns and the Nutcracker section where the fairies float down.  On the Art Bead Scene post introducing the inspiration for the month, they included some additional info about the artist.   I was stunned to learn that he migrated to the US from Denmark after WWI and worked for Walt Disney.  His biggest contribution was… you guessed it… Fantasia!  Wow!   I had no idea.  Later in life he returned to Denmark but his style was no longer popular.  Though he ended his life in poverty, his work is now considered pinnacle examples of the Golden Age of Illustration.  His work is beautiful and I’m planning to explore more of his art and his life.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1102: Reflections on O’Fallon Perennials

Hello all!  I hope you had a great week and a restful Saturday.  I spent mine bringing autumn into the house.  I’m now surrounded with pumpkins, fall leaves, twinkle lights, and an excess of raffia.  Fall is my favorite season and I can’t get to it quick enough.  We’ve had a bit of a cool down and a few days this week I could feel autumn’s presence like a ghost in the wind.  And I’ve seen a couple red leaves on the burning bush out front!  The peak of autumn makes me giddy with excitement and anticipation, but I also love the late days of summer.  The sun is still warm and golden, flowers are still in bloom and insects are busy sipping nectar.  But there’s a feeling in the air – hard to put into words – that nature knows these days are ending.  There’s a mingled sense of excitement for autumn and a nostalgia for summer that mirrors how I often feel about life.  I’m a restless sort, never quite at home in the present, pulled between the past and a future full of possibilities.  So I find a sense of consolation and kinship in these transition seasons when the earth itself is on the brink of transformation.

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The glories of late summer are written in the wildflowers that continue to carpet the earth with color as they drink in sunshine and turn it to rainbows.   A lovely example of this organic alchemy is found at Denver Botanic Gardens.  While I love every garden in this park, there are some that are very special to me and one of these is a perennial walk right of the entrance.  Framed with tall evergreen borders, this living hallway is filled to the brim with native blooming wildflowers and it’s at peak in late summer. I walk this pathway so often in my mind – remembering the feel of the hot sun, the buzz of bees, the delicate mix of perfume, the way the flowers dance in the breeze.  My soul finds immense rest and joy here.  I’ve often envied the butterflies at these gardens and thought about how lucky they are to spend all their days in this beautiful place.  But I’ve been blessed to spend a day here each year, and like the flowers themselves, perhaps that one day is all the sweeter and more precious because it is fleeting.

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As summer draws to a close, let’s store up all the lovely memories we’ve made this year and savor them anew as we marvel in the ordinary miracles the next season will bring.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1101: Mountain trecks through well worn paths

Hello again from the other side of many travels.  This is my first full week at home in several weeks and I’m still getting used to it.  While I adjust I’ve been spending lots of time looking through my photos and reliving the wonderful moments I spent with my mom in Denver.  It was so lovely to be back home in the mountains for a while.  We had great weather most of the time, and instead of the heat wave we thought we’d endure, we got a cold front instead.  Denver is endearing that way.  The second half of the trip sent my mom and I scurrying to Target to find long-sleeved shirts for our mountain adventures.  We spent our first and last full days at the park which has been dearest to my family.  We went there so much during our time in Denver and though it’s a smaller park, it still holds precious space in my heart.  It’s one of the places I retreat to in my mind when I’m stressed.

I’ve blogged about it before because I’m usually sharing photos of my favorite mountain in the whole world.  Today however, I thought I’d share some photos from other trails in the park.  I noticed I don’t tend to blog about those as often and I don’t know why because it’s just as beautiful.  The picture above is on the way up to the high point of the park, which is an outcropping of rocks with a picturesque view.  After the ascent, there’s a pleasant slow descent down the mountain to the river.  Along this path is a stand of aspen trees that I love to stop and visit with.

The trail curves around across a bridge, taking you back to the picnic areas and parking lot.  Along that side, the edge of the river is shallow and a popular place for playing and fishing.  There’s a magnificent tree that lives there and she’s also a favorite.

I like to perch on her lower limbs and rest my back against the trunk and just listen to the water flow and the wind move through her branches.  I could stay there for the rest of my life I think, wrapped up in the arms of the tree.  This time I collected some leaves and twigs from her that I’m planning to electroplate.  I’d like to make some jewelry to remind me of my special place.

One of the perks on this side of the park is that it is full of sunny meadows and a variety of grasses and wildflowers can be found here.  This field of sunflowers was stunning, especially mixed with the grasses going to seed.

We were on the tail end of flowers that we usually see in bloom when we come earlier in July.  But I did find a few bits of lupine still in bloom.  This plant was in transition from blooming to setting out seed pods.  But coming at a later time meant that we could see different wildflowers, such as this milkweed.

Thistles are among my favorite wildflowers and I delight in taking pictures of them.  I could fill several posts ( in fact I have already) with pictures just of thistles.  I don’t know why I adore them so, but I do.  I took dozens of photos of them at each of the parks, at every stage of blossom I could find.  Stay tuned for more.

And to end with the hike through the park, here’s a few of the stunning mountain meadows.

I never tire of gazing on mountains covered in pine trees with fields of grass at their feet.  It is home for my heart.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1100: Days in Colorado

Yesterday I came back from my beautiful Colorado.  I’ve spent most of the day reminiscing over the trip and looking at pictures to make sure that it really happened.  I tend to be hit hard with post-vacation blues and it’s difficult to readjust to life without the mountains before my eyes.  I miss it so much.  I try hard to memorize every moment and store it all in my heart to carry with me the rest of my life.  Little things… like the way the wind sounds when it blows through the pines, the way the aspen leaved dance in sunlight, the voice of the mountain streams and how they’re all different, the glimmer of rocks after an afternoon shower…  These are the memories I cherish most.

 

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Bear Creek at Lair o’ the Bear Park

 

 

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Aspen tree and wildflowers at Georgetown 

 

We were able to do so much and I’m very grateful for our time there.  We visited mountain parks, both old favorites and new ones, we spent time at the museum and gardens, we savored our favorite fish tacos and chile rellenos, we ate ice cream at night, we soaked up rain and drowned in the sunshine.  We loved every minute that each day brought us.  I remind myself that it is that attitude of finding joy and delighting in beauty each day that makes life worth living, wherever I may be.  The lessons I learned in Colorado give me a way to remember and honor my home even when I’m not physically there and remind me to appreciate what God has given me now.   Each today we have is a precious gift from God and learning to live in the moment, in the “now” has been a long lesson for me.  It’s hard to keep my mind and heart centered on today and not wander off to the nostalgia of yesterday or the opportunities of tomorrow.  But today is unique, because it’s in that fraction of time that our lives touch eternity.  It’s in the now that we commune with God and each other, where we receive grace and forgiveness, and where we find our life.  The memories that we make today can comfort and sustain us in days when it’s not as bright and remind us that God is faithful for our tomorrows.

 

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Denver Botanic Gardens 

 

It’s typical of me to say goodbye to Colorado with a song that holds special significance for that trip.  While I was there, I enjoyed several of my favorites drifting through my mind as I wandered through my favorite places, but this one pressed most on my heart.

I’ll be a dandy, and I’ll be a rover
You’ll know who I am by the songs that I sing
I’ll feast at your table, I’ll sleep in your clover
Who cares what tomorrow shall bring

Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries and I’ll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today

I can’t be contented with yesterday’s glory
I can’t live on promises winter to spring
Today is my moment and right now is my story
I’ll laugh and I’ll cry and I’ll sing

Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries and I’ll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
Ere I forget all the joy that is mine, today

 

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Wild raspberries on the trail

 

This sweet song is a favorite of mine that I first heard many, many years ago in Colorado.  It’s always reminded me of long summer days full of sun and green grass and pure simple joy – all that Colorado is to me.  It beautifully expresses the attitude I’m working to cultivate – one of living life with open hands, not clinging to what I had, but delighting in each thing that God brings to me, being blessed by His gifts all around, and remembering that today is from Him.  So today I will be thankful for all I experienced in Colorado and I will rejoice that I have two homes I love, and a million tomorrows will ere pass away before I forget all the joy that I’ve known.  I love you Colorado.

 

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Thistles at O’Fallon Park

 

 

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Mountain Meadow at Mt. Falcon

 

Blessings to you,

Sarah

Addendum:  I had already chosen this song for my Colorado goodbye, but saw this evening that Glen Campbell had passed away.  He recorded this song and it seemed a fitting tribute for him as well.  Goodbye Glen: thank you for making the world more beautiful with your voice.  We will miss you.

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Gift #1099: Flying Away

I’m settled in the airport awaiting the flight that will bring me home to my mountains for a few days.  At my gate is a beautiful art installation on the window of birds flying into the deep blue sky and this poem.

For now you are flying over quarry lakes, green water where stone was once cut for the Empire State, the nation’s capital, buildings all over the world

Aspiring toward sky deep and blue, as you head away or back, thinking of the people below living their lives above bedrock formed from the silt of ancient seas, on prairie plowed flat by glacial ice

and though you are of that swirling earth below, for these few moments you float with some small time away from the matters you’re going to and the places you’ve left behind. 

I’m looking forward to the week and of course I have knitting in hand.  I’ll try to blog about my adventures if I can, but  most of my posting will be done on Instagram because it’s easier to use when traveling.  Feel free to join me there and follow me, seraines317.  Until next time….

blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1098: More Garden Delights

Since it’s summer time and the gardens are in high bloom, today we have more floral pictures.  I’m not particularly a fan of summer, so it’s main redeeming perk is that summer is filled with flowers and they are a delight to behold.  Here are more pictures from the Betty Ford Alpine Garden.  Last time I posted on the high-altitude paradise, I showed some floral vignettes I’d taken throughout the garden.  Did you notice they were all purple/blue flowers?  Well, I might have led you to believe the garden designers were as OCD as I am and actually planted monochromatic hued gardens so that everything would match.  Realizing that might give rise to an improper view of the garden, I thought maybe I should show evidence of a range of colors.  So here are more flowers from the garden – not in purples (which is apparently my favorite color right now).

 Pink lupine grows attractively against a backdrop of pine, and reminds me of my beloved montane forest.

 I’m not quite sure what this is – I think I looked it up and forgot.  But I love the frilly texture of the petals and the growth habit of this beautiful wildflower.

Now, to one of my favorites –  I love poppies!  As with orchids, this is one I had to work on appreciating ( I think some Wizard of Oz phobia played into my initial dislike).  But I adore poppies, especially since coming to find they come in other colors besides red.  The yellow and pale peach colors are my favorites.

I was surprised to see them in bloom – typically they are a mid/late summer flower in Denver and it was still quite cool in the mountains when I was here.  But as the afternoon sun crested, I came upon this garden bed edged in fully-opened pristine poppies.  The sun made them glisten like translucent jewels and I was utterly entranced.  They must have just bloomed too because their petals were perfect.  It was one of my happiest memories in the garden.

So there you have it!   Some more lovelies from the garden, and none of them were purple! In truth though, these were all the non-purple photos I found I’d taken, and I still have lots of purple wildflower pics I haven’t shared.  That poppy though – isn’t she amazing?!  Every flower is an ordinary miracle and I hope your day is filled with them.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1097: Garden Whimsy

Hello again!  I’m hoping by August to become a bit more consistent with my blog posts.  There’s not much hope for the rest of July though.  I’ve been thinking about what to write for the next post and had been tossing around several ideas.  And then I read a passage in my book at lunch and I knew I had to include it in my next blog.  I am reading Orchid – A Cultural History, by Jim Endersby of Kew Botanic Gardens.  It’s a journey through time, culture, and science about orchids.  It is the second of three books I received for my birthday about orchids.  Remember earlier in the year when I said I’d finally made the transition and started loving orchids?  Well, I’ve been reading about them ever since.  The first book I read was Orchid Fever by Eric Hansen and it was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  The author has a mischievous engaging style of writing and is blessed with the ability to phrase complex ideas succinctly and simply.  Plus the personalities and situations he described as people go to all lengths to collect and care for their beloved orchids makes for great reading.

But back to my current book.  Being by a Kew botanist, it is a bit more scholarly in tone and subject matter.  I’m now reading about the Victorian craze for orchids that put all of Europe in an uproar.  It was also a fascinating time because botany was a popular interest and many periodicals, papers, and books were focused on bringing plant biology and gardening to the masses.  Public nurseries were established as the number of species exported from all over the world funneled into England.  Orchids were touted as a practical plant with a touch of aristocracy about them because they were a reliable and long-lasting flower.  An owner’s growing manual had the following to say in praise of orchids:

“An orchid-flower means what it says.  It does not fall to pieces like a lily; there is no shedding of petals; no dropping away from the peduncle; no self-decapitation, like that of a fuchsia; no collapsing and dissolving, like a spiderwort; – no, there is never any of this; the orchid-flower is neither superficial, nor fugitive, nor insincere…. If we mistake not, orchid-flowers have a grand future before them.” 

That paragraph just made me giggle.  I love the way Victorians were not afraid to anthropomorphize plants and animals and imbue them with personalities.  Orchids were stout, reliable, sturdy plants – remarkably like the British themselves.  The description is ideal to be sure, and almost absurd given that at the time, most botanists were still working out how to grow the myriad orchid species coming in from tropics around the world.  Many years of patient effort were required to get some species to flower.

The unexpected bit of whimsy in my book reminded me of a recent trip to the White River Gardens.  I hadn’t been there in a long time and decided to visit a couple of weekends ago. It’s not nearly as large as my Botanic Gardens in Denver, but it has several pleasant stroll through shade, sun, water, and meditation gardens.  It’s strong point however are the sweet touches of playful statues scattered throughout the gardens.

For example, there’s the forgetful turtle, who’s quite sure he had something important in his hand a few minutes ago… if only he could remember what it was and where he put it.  Perhaps he should ask a more observant neighbor.

But Mr. Squirrel is far too enamored of his love, the acorn, to take notice of anyone else.  Just look at that gaze of utter adoration.  Sigh… to be an acorn in the arms of an amorous squirrel…  and in a garden too!

And here’s a self-satisfied sort.  Mr. Rabbit lives in the back of the garden, conveniently near the vegetable patch.  You can see he’s helped himself to some of the gardener’s bounty and is congratulating himself on his fine catch.  They’ll be no living with him after this – you can be sure he’ll be bragging about his skills to any unfortunate passerby that gets tangled in conversation.

Mr. Frog however is a thoughtful soul, given to quietness and introspection, and not likely to venture beyond his lily pad.  Here he finds more than enough to ponder – why both the sky and water are blue, who tells the lily blossoms when to open and close each day, how the dragonfly dances on the water, and when will the fireflies sprinkle magic in the twilight.

Oh good, it seems Mr. Turtle has found his misplaced treasure.  It appears to be a lovely Allium flower.  And he’s invited all the other turtles to a dance to celebrate!  Spying on a turtle dance is a rare treat – they clap and whirl and twirl to riotous music from the tree frogs.  How fortunate we were able to visit the neighborhood today!

I hope you enjoyed the tour through the garden and may you find magic in the ordinary miracles today.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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