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.



Monday, August 3, 2020

Monday Musings WRITING PRACTICE

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




Compose a one-sentence intention for savoring this last month of summertime 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."

Friday, July 31, 2020

Nighttime Glories

I could not sleep the other night. And instead of doing all of the insomnia mitigation practices as usual, I threw on a bathrobe and headed outside.  

 

The moment my bare feet hit the cooled off wooden deck, I saw a rush of something near my left eye and felt the fluttering hurry of a bat wing on my temple. While I know that Chiroptera share this landscape, it is rare to see them or to have an encounter. Especially an actual physical connection with one. 

 

I then became distracted – well, mesmerized, really – by the vividness of constellations overhead. 

White. Brilliant. Tangible. The sky had darkened just enough that the jewels on the midnight blanket streamed down – close, clear, consuming.

 

A meteor flashed across the northeastern sky and I giggled with delight – like a child charmed by the first sight of the season’s fireflies. Yet here it is again, season of the Perseids, and it took nagging insomnia to remind me. 

 

It was for Neowise that I had been called to the nighttime outside of my cozy cottage a few nights ago. For a couple of weeks, I have been making repeated journeys to the northwest corner of sky to see the phenomenal, fat streak of chalk that is this visiting comet. I have looked with naked eyes. Through binoculars. In vain a few times, at a clouded-over evening. But always with awe at the ongoing wonders of the firmament. This recent night was no different; a bit higher overhead, but still it was the amazing comet - that suspended slash across the black curtain of midsummer. 

 

I swiveled to the south and saw Jupiter and Saturn, bright as can be, side by side just below the tree line. 

 

As I turned back toward the comet and Big Dipper, another swell of meteor arced across the western sky. Then another, and another … in all quadrants of the heavens.

 

With eyes still tilted aloft, I slowly backed into a deck chair and reclined. Face upward, enraptured by the glow of the beauty of this one Earth, these many planets, this Milky Way, these dazzling stars – I surrendered to the night. For some indefinable period, I meditated on the sky. I paused the wordless reverie just long enough to name the ISS as it flew high above. I caught my breath a few times more as meteor after meteor shook loose the last dusty detritus from my thought-riddled brain, leaving me just there.

 

And knowing that there is no saving that I can do at midnight, I simply savored. 

 














































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, July 29, 2020

Image of the Week

"Murky Sun at The Wall"




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, July 27, 2020

Monday Musings GRATITUDE PRACTICE

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



Give thanks to the sun, the moon, the heat or the cool breeze, the wildflowers, rabbits, crows, or whatever else in nature has caught your attention this summer. 










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, July 24, 2020

InterEmbedded

it twirls on the wind

and dances like a banshee in the night

 

leaving small traces:

scratch

scat

scar

 

the full moon 

and the daytime sunlight

nourish, nurture

 

she sings to the others

feathery strains that my ears

retrain to hear as texture and nuance 

 

stillness in the prune tree

a sharp arc of red madrone

twinkling apple leaves

and the deep summer-green maple

 

a dash across dormant grass

leaves,

leaves the memory of another trail

 

he arrived here again last night

the whoo whooo whoooo

the nailprint track

the pile of dark pebbly poo

the silver streak of mucus, water, salts

and the cloud’s small release of tears

 

where language falls apart, 

or at least words - which try to make whole even as they parse-divide

 

the fluids, 

the shapes, 

the need to sing or defecate, 

the desire to fly, hike, scamper, pirouette, or stand still – rooted 

 

are all contained in nonhumans and humans – 

once again confirming our interembedded oneness

















































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, July 22, 2020

Image of the Week


"Eager"
swallow nestling ready to fledge
(which he did the day after I took this photo)



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, July 20, 2020

Monday Musings NATURE PRACTICE

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



Sit outside and notice the ways in which the natural world has transformed during this first month of summer. 






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, July 17, 2020

The Song in the Mirror

I frequently set out early to traverse the hilly trails of our local forest. 

 

But yesterday was a bit different because I had a task: to notice something anew in the everyday nature around my home. A member of my learning pod for an online course I’m taking this month had suggested this small activity as a focal point for our next class discussion. 

 

Of course, this has been my personal, unabating charge in recent months: noticing the fine, exquisite details in this landscape with which I am so at home, so familiar, so in love, so connected, so embedded, so utterly in interconnected relationship. In love. 

 

Just this week, I have had phenomenal engagements with my nonhuman kin:

 

viewing the Neowise comet with my naked eyes

discovering new bear scat, tracks, and scratches on trees in my and my neighbor’s yards

finding a sweet little soft-pink flower hidden beneath tall weeds in which the bright red crocosmia 

I had set out to photograph up-close were nestled

enjoying an ambling river otter who skirted an asphalt parking lot to make his way to the water’s 

edge, unabashedly moving in open space among people and vehicles

showing to my visiting niece the steady bald eagles who have sat in the same treetops for 

more than a decade 

 

So, carrying the task of noticing anew in my ordinary landscape felt natural and simple. And what happened became extraordinary; I ended up on inner journeys I couldn’t possibly have predicted or expected. 

 

I am on the forested path:

 

closing my eyes as I hike on the part of the trail in which dappled sunlight reaches the forest 

floor, I discover how profoundly the brightness and darkness play upon my eyelids as my feet feel their way forward

following the scent of trees warmed by a summer morning, I notice how I am led into 

the inner terrain of memory: long-ago summers among very different nature siblings of 

my childhood 

rounding the same corner of the same trail I have hiked nearly daily for months, and frequently over years, I 

                see how one lichen-draped limb is curved into a rainbow of myriad greens

bowing in gratitude with palms together at my heart as I leave the sacred grove where beloved

 Redcedar lives, I am suddenly struck with a potent insight from my first vision fast 

fourteen years ago … the traditional singing I heard in the barren empty desert on the 

third day of that four-day spiritual quest is actually the song that is within me, not

outside of me. 

 

I have long known that nature is a mirror of the human soul. This has been at the center of my heart, my research, my professional work for decades. So I found it especially profound when, just yesterday, I was instantly offered this insight seemingly out of nowhere and unbidden by thought. How could I not have realized this those fourteen years ago – that I am the carrier of that song? The chorus and melody of that song play within me and echo out into the world …

 

The miraculous sacred resides in the holy everyday landscape and our intimate relationship with each of her beings. The seed of revelation can be broken open to sprout - like fire working on the serotinous cone - with the simple task of attending to our Earth-kin. 


 






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, July 15, 2020

Image of the Week

"Windows"




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, July 13, 2020

Monday Musings CREATIVE PRACTICE


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


Using only one type of natural object, create something pretty outside. 




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, July 10, 2020

Listening

A bit of robin song – though much quieter and infrequent than in springtime - is still audible in the background of the early morning chorus. I hear their presence. 

 

The volume of hunger-peeps from swallow nestlings has been increasing in proportion to the size of the chicks in the nest. Over the past week as several nests-full fledge, their robust squawk-cheeps are in grown-up decibels as they dart and dash in arcing swoops around our yard. Many times over recent weeks, they have watched me from the eaves. For the short bit of time that they and I are in community (before their departure for two and half seasons), I will listen to them with reverence.

 

The lavender is in full bud. Every time I walk down the outside steps which border the garden, I gently grab a spire, caress it, and bring my lavender-scented palm to my nose. Every time, almost involuntarily, I hear myself mutter: Mmmmm! The dark purple, oily flowers-to-be are asking me to harvest them; they want to be in service to beauty. 


Two different species of bee, each as intrigued with the lavender as I am, pause long enough for a photo. Each of us regards the other, but keeps our focus on the burgeoning purple. 

 

I catch sight this morning of a fledgling who tears out of the nest box, soars high into the air, and makes contact – twice – with a parent high overhead who appears each time to pass along a tasty morsel beak t0 beak. I hear their familial bond. 

 

A hemlock’s droopy top is caught in a small swell of wind. I hear only silence as its tip bends down to the left, touching the tiptop of the cedar next to it. I am amazed that this repeats several times. Each repetition I hear the love between a hemlock and a cedar. 

 

The clicking pzzzt-buzz of juncos shouting warnings is part of the foreground melody of the active bird life. 

 

I see someone pass by on my deck as I sip my wake-me-up coffee today. She is calling me over to the glass door; I do as I'm told. Expecting to see sparrows and juncos doing their dance – a gift I do not take for granted, I am stunned to see one of the small wild bunnies dashing to and fro across the wooden planks. I thought I had given her, the mama, and her siblings ample attention the many times I have seen them nibbling in the grass, foraging in the gravel driveway. But today she is asking for more, even as she plays hide and seek. She teases me with questions about how and why she is on my deck. I quietly listen, trying to answer. 

 

Thrush. Wren. Flicker. Pileated woodpecker. Goldfinch. Each one calls me: the hello of a flash of colorful wing, a drumming for food, the chattering and flitting on my deck, a quiet perch atop the fence post, a song to break open a heart. I hear each of you. 

 

Fresh bear scat is showing up again all around my home. I almost feel I can hear the shadow of a black bear lumbering through our woods. One night recently I dream that I am face to face with a bear and I listen to her as she tells me that we are all wild. 

 

*                *                *

 

Nonhumans are communicating. Whispering. Calling. Shouting. Silently beseeching. We will heal ourselves a little bit more in each moment that we recognize our parity with all other living beings. The tasks are: to pay attention, to listen, to openheartedly respond.  

 







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, July 8, 2020

Image of the Week

"One Year Ago, Today ... Ireland"



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."