traipsing in the woods amongst the fungi

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Traipse:
intransitive verb
transitive verb
traipsed, traips′ing
to walk, wander, tramp, or gad

When out in the woods my husband, more often then not, walks with a sense
of focused purpose and direction..

Me on the other hand, well I tend to lag behind…
traipsing about, camera in tow….

(all pics taken in the mid west Georgia woods last Sunday–Julie Cook / 2017)

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens,
and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

Change is in the air

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.
Washington Irving

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(a volunteer viola caught in the wind / Julie Cook / 2015)

Change is in the air. . .
It’s come riding in on the shifting winds.
First it’s cold
then it’s wet
then it’s mild
then it’s windy
then it’s stormy
then it’s icy
then it’s cold
then it starts all over again. . .
Usually all within a 24 hour span of a single day. . .
Ode to March. . .

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(a tiny beginning, the emergence of a lily / Julie Cook / 2015)

And change is indeed taking place, in many different places.
We’ve not talked about Dad in a while. . .
There seems to be trouble brewing on the horizon. . .
The blending of two unfamiliar families, when it comes to elderly parental care, is delicate.
Trepidation has come calling. . .

Between these grown children or these now not so grown parents. . .
This time of change is. . .
overwhelming
disheartening
discouraging
frustrating
challenging
frightening
unnerving
unending
unfair
but here it is, none the less. . .
Discussions are beginning
Decisions are having to be made
Not all parties are happy
Hoping for the best. . .
Once the winds finally cease their shifting,
We will see where this all lands. . .

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(a tulip tree bud / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(mist covered moss / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(dandelions don’t look so bad close up / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(tulip tree bud up close and personal / Julie Cook / 2015)

Hallelujah

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
― Pope John Paul II

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(tiny redheaded woodpecker / Julie Cook / 2015)

And on this January day,
as the sun rose high into the crisp blue sky,
all of Nature could be heard rejoicing. . .

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

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(female Flicker looking skyward / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(female sparrow nibbling a branch / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(both Peaches and a lizard enjoy a respite from the cold rains / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(closeup of someone who should still be hibernating up on my sleeve / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(small bed of moss / Julie Cook / 2015)

And as the beautiful sun settled downward in the distant western sky,
at the ending of this beautiful January day,
all of Nature could be heard whispering . . .

Amen, Amen, Amen

DSC00054(Day is done as the sun sets in the western sky / Julie Cook / 2015)

A visual tale of contrast

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck

The sun is brightly shining, as the frigid bitterness of the days prior, tempers to a delightful and balmy 45ᵒ
I’m on a mission.
A mission to find life amongst the frozen tundra known as the land I call home.
The ground still hard and frozen under foot, the bright winter sun brilliantly warming while accented by a cloudless azure sea of sky.
There is the scent of smoke in the air.
I have shed my heavy coat.
The nuthatches and chickadees chirp merrily as they poke and prod the hard ground for seed.
Nestled near a walkway cowers a small ancient birdbath now sadly frozen.

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Amazingly just a few short steps beyond the solid frozen mass of water, leaves and straw lie tucked sweetly among the rocks, a tiny beautiful carpet of soft chartreuse moss begging to be rubbed. Is there any better feeling on a hot summer day, barefoot, finding a cool patch of moss. . .

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All of the bushes and shrubs are now barren clumps of twisted sticks and twigs. Odd thing it seems now to have merely a garden of sticks verses the usual lush plump green leaves and vines which typically call this place home. Upon a close inspection of the gnarly twig clumps dotting the now leaf covered bank–there oddly remains a few shriveled grey masses protruding along the quince bushes. These alien nodules resemble some sort of grotesque growth rather than the usual crunchy yellow green orbs which typically adorn these showy asian orientals.

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And just as Mother Nature, who seems to relish in her relentless taunting of our tender senses, would have this winter world of cold appear hopelessly void of any semblance of colorful life, I spy a tenacious little champion of all that screams LIFE.
It is the lowly, albeit stubborn, bane of any gardener. . .the hardy and nearly indestructible dandelion.

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The ground a hard frozen mass, the winds and temperatures so brutal that almost all vegetation has either perished or will surly be stunted come the growing season, and yet, this most noxious of garden foes not only maintains its place in the pecking order of nature, but appears to thrive—-providing any and all who happen to pass by a bit of colorful joy in a bleak and oh so cold world.

So yes Mr. Steinbeck, it is to this winter that we must acknowledge there is indeed a sweetness to be had—in just about 5 months or so we will have all but forgotten these current cold long shadowed days. This barren world will no longer exist. Our seemingly long deprived senses will be filled and overflowing—

Yet until those long warmer days arrive, I shall continue my quest, my mission—and that is to find those hidden breadcrumbs which a previous season has strewn along its departure– leaving behind a tantalizing trail to remind me that better days are indeed ahead!

A season of texture and tones

The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself, but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.”
Albert Schweitzer

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(Pinecones from Dad’s yard, along with a fungus covered dead branch, Julie Cook 2013)

With the rapidly approaching official arrival of winter we are, no doubt, beginning to feel as if we are spiraling into a type of color withdrawal. Gone are the beautiful scarlets, golds and burnt oranges of Autumn; gone are the golden swaying wheat fields and the intoxicatingly beautiful jasmine and honeysuckle of Summer; gone are the vibrant explosives reds, blues, greens and lavenders, of Spring. For in this deep slumbering shadow of the calendar, we are left with an empty void of nothingness, or for some, a giant blanket of white encasing every living and non-living thing as far as the eye can see.

Yet in this perceived void of lacking and emptiness, there remains a very important component to our field of vision, for suddenly open for the entire world to view, the earth lies naked before both creature and man— exposed, unprotected and vulnerable. Gone are the colorful coverings of flowers and leaves which act as accessorizing baubles and wrappings. Gone are the tall grasses and heavy ladened branches bearing fruit and flower. What remains is an intricately woven skeletal system, the undercarriage of our natural world.

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Cautiously, and a bit weary, we peer out upon this barren landscape, sad and forlorn, fearing that we are doomed to grey gloomy skies, long dark nights and a lack of visual stimulation. But thankfully a slow hesitant joy begins to claim our mood, for upon closer inspection we realize that we are not the helpless victims of Loss and Void, but rather we discover that we have been granted a tiny treasured lagniappe, a treat for all of our senses, for spread out majestically before us is a different type of visual splendor—one which appears more delicate and almost fragile than what had departed–for here, in what we now find at our grasp, is beauty in its most basic simplicity.

Branches, limbs, sticks, stones, straw, bark, cones and moss—these are the bare essentials which Nature generously offers to our visually weary senses. Wonderfully we rejoice for we now know that we have not been flung out helplessly to fester in a world of monotones and dull eyed death. Here in this seemingly cold and barren world– beauty is to be had, to be seen and to be touched. The visual wonders still abound.

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These visual treasures are not the garish over the top harlots of those previous seasons, but rather these beauties remain understated, subtle and quiet. They speak of structure, shape, texture and tone offering us a tactile reminder that our visual needs have not been forgotten. Old man Winter may be hard and harsh, but he is not unkind. As you fight the deep calling to venture outside to a world of cold wind, freezing rain and gloomy grays, do not be discouraged—Nature knows your need and she has provided.

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