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.



Friday, September 25, 2020

Rain, Dance, Hope

Mist

After two weeks of very unhealthy and hazardous air quality, the rain came. At first it was so light that my moisture-starved cheeks, uplifted to the sky for several minutes, remained dusty with ash. I danced barefoot anyway on the barely-perceptible wet deck by the wan light of dawn.

 

Heavy Drizzle

Then it came again under the cover of nighttime. As I slept, dreaming a fitful barrage of disturbing stories, the rain arrived a bit weightier, a bit steadier. It stayed, a very welcome guest, cleaning out the wind-driven ash

the hazardous particles in the air

the angst that had been brewing.

And I awoke to the possibility of renewal, of replenishment – inner and outer. 

 

Short Rainstorms

She continued off and on for days: cleaning out dry corners of the yard, wetting the forest floor under even the thick-canopied areas, singing her siren’s song to the fat slugs who had been sheltering in hidden nooks under the dying stems in my lily garden.

 

Mini Squall

One mostly-sunny day this week, the strong breeze ushered in a tiny burst of rain that dampened the grass and hushed the birds.

 

Shower

I was hopeful when one particular shower came, imagining a day of rain-listening, scent-seeking, pearlescent-drop photographing, wet-toed hiking. Though the shower ceased (as they do), my hope remained. 

 

Downpour to Sprinkle

As I sit hugging the window and typing this rain-narrative, the sixty-minute downpour that I have been relishing suddenly ceased. In its stead came a calm, then a sprinkle. 

 

Torrents to Deluge

These will come, eventually. By the time they do, we will all be well-soaked with the glories of autumn, wrapped in layers against colder days, cozying in near the hearth of flame and family. And I will rejoice even as I slip my thick-socked feet into calf-high rainboots and my arms inside my still-damp winter raincoat.

 

Rainscape

I know the rain isn’t everybody’s greatest love. My neighbors and loved ones are already bracing themselves for a long, wet winter; steeling themselves against puddles and wet fur, sunless days and chill-induced jaunts. We have felt the rain growing in intensity over the week.

 

But the rain carries blessings: quenching parched body and soul, nourishing the land, cleansing and clearing, opening our hearts to clarity, and strengthening our resolve to do good. 


Hope is like this too: starting small, swelling over time, refreshing and emboldening us. 

 

I can hold the hope for my people when they shrink back. And I will dance for all of us through rubies of rain, season after season…  












































All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Image of the Week

"Parts to Whole: Farewell to Summer"
Welcome to Autumn ... Sept 22, 2020!
Equinox Blessings to you.



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Monday, September 21, 2020

Monday Musings NATURE PRACTICE

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



In celebration of the autumnal equinox (tomorrow 9/22/20), make a holy stack of nature objects.  







All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Friday, September 18, 2020

Love of Autumn: Equinox, September 22, 2020

Here we are at another threshold,

A turning point amidst turning points,

Another marker of time in the still-liminal space of pandemic, social unrest, polarized political upheaval, wildfires, hurricanes, smoke inundation, altered daily routines …

 

How do we claim the strength, find the courage, move forward and deeper, reach out with compassion, stand with integrity, cultivate peace, create beauty, make a difference … day by day by day?

 

In all of this disruption, a nugget of stability we can rely on and learn from comes again in the cycling of the seasons.

 

Autumn is here. 

We mark it on the calendar at a particular hour on a particular date. But it is here already. Because seasons are transitions ... natural ones, reliable ones ... that happen as a process rather than an event.

And it is now:

in the golden maple edge of the tree line, 

in the moisture-infused morning and the earlier arrival of dusk, 

in the twinkle and flash of leaves twirling from limb to bed of Earth, 

in the shifting slant and intensity of afternoon sunlight, 

in the coyote’s hungry howl and the rabbit’s frenzied dash for cover,

in the squirrels’ rapidly repeated pluck of pine cone from twig,

in the frenzied berry foraging of these several dozen robins in my yard each afternoon, 

in your own deep yearning for haven and community. 

 

A reminder that we, too, cycle: turn, flourish and wilt, birth anew, go dormant and reawaken – over and over again. 

 

May this autumn show us where the wildfires in our souls rage on uncontrolled. Or where their natural intensity might be the healthy, restorative inner burn that frees us of the tangle of invasives and nourishes our soul’s-soil with regenerative nutrients.

 

May this autumn open our eyes anew to the great gift of breath – inhalation and exhalation deep and necessary. Where air has become choked with the noxious, or COVID has invaded the lungs, breath is strained, diminished, eliminated. But let us stand next to a tree, or a houseplant, and exchange with this other living being our carbon dioxide for her oxygen and we feel that reciprocity, that mutual need. 

 

May the autumnal equinox this year be our call back to ourselves to balance and stability within, to the opportunity to start again, a moment to open our eyes to what is outside (however altered or calming, however beautiful or ragged) and renew ourselves as members of the broad Earth community of living beings. 

 

May this autumn bring us great and abiding peace, overflowing compassion, a well of desire to improve and heal the world, and great gasps of wonder at the beauty we can find, for example, in even the smallest spore of a simple mushroom. 




All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Image of the Week


"Nature Calendar from August 2020"





All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday Musings CREATIVE PRACTICE

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



Photograph or sketch one thing that has shifted in your natural environment in the past few months. 







All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Friday, September 11, 2020

Gifts in the Chore: Journal Notes

Ash on the window sill, blood red sun rising above the treetops, blue overhead turned dirty, and 

pervasive smoke: “Unhealthy air quality. Stay indoors.” Though altering for us, these conditions are far less oppressive than those being faced by the fire victims east and south of us: blessings for safety to you, dear wildfire sufferers!

 

Amidst this, a chore:

 

Up the long-hilled driveway, lugging large recycling and trash bins across cobbled gravel

A normal task turned breathing-rigorous in the smoky haze. 

 

But, the blessings on just one driveway round trip (house to road) were plentiful: 

 

A healthy hawk made a low flight over the dormant tan field.

 

The coyote “boy” sauntered into the back yard, licked his lips and jowls, and stood jauntily there.

 

The white crescent moon hovered like a morning prayer high in the western sky.

 

A small patch of blue opens in a corner of the northern firmament: a tear-away in the blanket of thick gray “ash-mosphere.” 

 

White butterflies (reminding me of the esteemed yet personable Robert Michael Pyle) dance around my head (as I reached out my hand to stroke or offer a perch).

 

One especially long banana slug seems out of place in today’s dust-drenched gravel.

 

Lavender blossom lingerers whose lengths I caress each time I pass, entice me again and again to offer my scent-infused palm to my nose. 

 

Small geographies of yellowing leaves punctuate the landscape of maple and alder canopies. 

 

Fat soft bees, just a few remaining as summer’s floral bounty fades, swirl atop the once-blossom-drenched stems.

 

One lone eager wasp and all his kin – who I (admittedly) feel grateful to be able to bid adieu to for the next two seasons – makes one last, hopeful dash at nest-building.  

 

The spider now clinging to the window above where the trash bins abut the house is an annual late-summer promise of autumn.  

 

And as I walk, I also meander through the week-old memory of another fantastic barred owl encounter: up-close, with prolonged eye contact, murmuring sweet nothings to him. I marvel at the significance, or symbolism, of two rare encounters in the span of less than three weeks.

 

On a late summer day, in the haze of firesmoke and a pandemic:

 

These are just some of the gifts offered in a ten-minute journey down and back up the driveway.


 



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Image of the Week

"paradise, of course"




All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Monday, September 7, 2020

Monday Musings WRITING PRACTICE

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

 

Journal about how the transition to autumn looks different in your life this year. 






All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Friday, September 4, 2020

Summer Gives Way

Summer isn’t for introverts.

There’s a lot of extra nerve-jarring noise.

Windows are open and others’ racket steps inside, an unwanted guest.

Cars move faster, outdoor public areas burgeon; it feels like a crowded race to the Let’s Have Fun finish line.

 

A “super extrovert” I know recently told me how energizing and exciting it is to be around "weekend energy, parties, entertaining friends"; all I could feel for myself was the big drain opening and sucking out the last lifeblood of calm and wellbeing.

 

Me? I’d rather watch the grass grow. 

Inhale long and deeply while the last spring flower’s perfume arrives within me.

Slow walks on the beach, fast walks along green spaces, climbing, hiking, treading water: movement that sustains my bodily life, not diminishes it.

A gentle hand reaching out to steady a stranger, the hug that enwraps a dear friend, hands down on the growing, pulsing, waiting land; these connections sustain emotional life.

Pausing, listening, lying upright with ground as root support and the sky as palette for the imagination; yep, these sustain the inner landscape: creative impulse, spiritual source, connection to the divine.

Deep immersion in a captivating book, working out solutions to a challenge, writing and creating and exploring new landscapes, cultures, opportunities. An introvert can handle these. 

 

I can thrive in the frozen heart of winter. 

I can sustain my soul through the first open buds of spring. 

Summer – even this I can embrace with some doses of the clamor … as long as a quiet respite is at hand when I need it. 

 

But autumn? I’m gearing up for it. This is the true season of my being. 

 

 


 

 




All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Image of the Week

"Huggable?"



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Monday, August 31, 2020

Monday Musings GRATITUDE PRACTICE

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

 


Sitting quietly and still, ponder what gratefulness means for you.  






All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2020 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."