Welcome!

Welcome! This is a place to share how we celebrate & deepen our relationship to Nature. Here you will find stories, images, & ideas about wilderness, human nature, & soulfulness. Drawing from the experiences of everyday living, the topics on this blog include: forays into the natural world, the writing life, community service, meditation, creativity, grief & loss, inspiration, & whatever else emerges from these. I invite you on this exploration of the wild within & outside of us: the inner/outer landscape.



21 September 2018

Season-Ecstasy: A Love Note For Your Eyes Only

Autumn can be an incredibly potent time. Every year I write a love note to the autumn.

9.22.16
Dear Sweet Autumn,

Today is your birthday: the equinox. I love you so very much. In fact, I blushingly admit: I adore you. 

The ecstasy of breezes blowing through the bamboo chimes, shifting light, sunsets that pale in comparison to fire-bearing leaves, the smell of wood smoke in the cooling air, evening windows bathed with the yellow glow of family love. Call me a romantic. Silly. Frivolous, even. But when the sun rises later and later, and the dusty jackets of last winter are called to the coat rack near the door, I begin to feel the thrill of your arrival. I do not mourn the passing of summer; I relish watching you slowly make your way here.

Your beauty and brilliance captivate me. Your steady patience and reliable return each year soothe me. I love your ability to hold a wide open quiet space within—to guide me there, even as the winds rise up loud and strong, the rains begin to rip through the trees in torrents that send the cedar boughs flying. The vast and stunning inner landscape views open up: wide, sweeping, diverse, rich internal geographies. 

You, my Dearest Fall, work your magic on me in inexplicable ways. And you have always done this for me. I have written reveries about your arrival when I was a little girl: 

One dark wet night late in my fourth October, my tiny hands grasped the windowsill and my nose—pressed against the pane—watched dancing twinkles of raindrops, lit up a royal blue. I fell in love with you in that moment, Autumn. The next day you had scattered some liquidambar leaves that recited crispy poetry under my baby shoes as I walked to kindergarten in a love-struck daze. 

Ever since, living in places wet or dry, distinctly marked by seasons or not, you have guided me, held a spacious nest of inspiration, and given me gifts extraordinary with your annual return. 

Your birthday is my gift. How blessed I am! My present to you is my promise, my deep abiding commitment, to be attentive to your glories each time you return. To use the gift of your passionate embrace to root my own work deeper in the world: writing, creating beauty, honoring the opportunity for quiet solitude, being present with my people—those I’m called to serve. I will express my gratitude for all things Nature, all things Awe, all things Beautiful, or Edgy, or Unsure. Because, Dear Fall, you inspire me so! I embrace you with all the love in my heart. 

I celebrate this day, your birthday-equinox, with excitement and in deep respect. My delight in you is boundless, though this letter is not.

I love, love, love, love, love you, Autumn!

With abiding gratitude for the countless gifts you bring year after year, 
Your Adoring Human

(Originally posted on 23 Sept 2016)




All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2018 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."

19 September 2018

Image of the Week


"Change in Progress"     September 2018     In My Driveway


All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2018 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."

17 September 2018

Monday Musings CREATIVE PRACTICE: “Harvest Color"

TEALarbor stories’ Monday Musings are simple practices for exploring the inner/outer landscape. 


Create something (painting, collage, quilt square, collection of nature objects newly fallen on the ground, etc) that captures the colors of harvest season. 




All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2018 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."

14 September 2018

Bringing Nature Inside

“Nature as Inspiration” was the title of a presentation I gave at a skilled nursing facility last week. The mean age in the room was probably 87. Nearly two dozen seniors who have given up houses, lost spouses, who no longer drive or cook or work or volunteer, sat in a semi-circle in a weekly session during which topics of interest are discussed, or presented. 

Certainly, I know that I am inspired by nature. I knew that I would carry into the room a huge basketful of objects I’ve found in nature, images I’ve photographed of the natural world, a story or two about nature from my upcoming book, things to sniff (fresh lavender from my yard) and things to gift (handmade origami cranes). 

But I had no idea what would unfold or in what manner I would present these things.

Most of all I knew I wanted to encourage the residents to participate, to find their own threads of inspiration, to engage with the outdoors and nature that I had carried into the room, and to engage with one another in a little bit of life review.

I began by introducing myself and the ways in which I encourage connection with the natural world in my work. 

I laid out in the center of our circle the objects and images I had brought with me; I asked people to look at them from that several-yards-away vantage point, promising a closer-up look in a few moments. Then I carried a flat basket of some of these objects around the room so each person could select one that immediately struck their fancy.

I asked everyone to sit quietly for several minutes, using a few different senses to connect with their chosen nature item. I observed individuals sniffing, touching, fondling, eyeing from different angles, holding up to their ears the various earthy items.

And here’s what happened: for the next hour and a half (I was only supposed to be there for an hour!) these long-lived, sage seniors took turns telling stories about why they’d chosen their specific item, what they noticed about it, and how it connected them back to their lives. 

What we all learned is how nature is inspiration for:

Memories: A rock covered in barnacles helped someone recall a favorite seaside destination with family, a legacy passed down through the generations.

Rootedness: A fat round rock evoked a sense of stability for a visually impaired person who clutched it inside a fist.

Story: A flat disc-like rock elicited anecdotes about skipping rocks all along the west coast as a youth.

Exploration: A two-inch thick scrap of moss generated surprise about all the curly pieces that make up the plant and how much it is like a cozy blanket.

Facing Transition: Blowing a feather was illustration of what moving into the SNF feels like, possessions culled and adjustments to a totally new way of life. 

New Learning: A pine cone – especially not being sure which tree it came from – became a call to study cones in order to learn their shapes, characteristics, and to be able to identify the trees from which they drop.

Creativity: A faded, dried rose with a hint of red on the leaf edges was inspiration for a former artist to draw the textures of the object, and to resume painting.

There were so many more stories that we heard in the room that day – all sparked by some tiny part of nature held in the hand of an open-hearted being. 

I am buoyed and hopeful. 






All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2018 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."

12 September 2018

Image of the Week

"Autumn's Arriving"     Yesterday     Bainbridge Island, WA



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2018 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."

10 September 2018

Monday Musings NATURE PRACTICE: “Memory”

TEALarbor stories’ Monday Musings are simple practices for exploring the inner/outer landscape. 




Collect something from the natural world outside your door and take a few moments to hold and explore it; see what memory it evokes. 



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2018 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."