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.



22 May 2017

Monday Musings QUOTATION

TEALarbor stories’ Monday Musings are practices and quotations offering simple ways to explore the ecotone of the inner/outer landscape. 




“I could not be who I am today without a fierce surrender to all that is natural—inside and outside of me.”

From Writing on the Landscape, © 2017 Jennifer J. Wilhoit









All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2017 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."

19 May 2017

Birds, Birds, Birds

I’m literally right now in the middle of deep editing my book. I quickly hit the “new document” icon in Word and I’m typing onto this new page because …

… what I find astonishes me: my experience this week is perfectly mirrored by the essay I’m currently polishing in my book; it is a section about learning to identify birds on the east coast during graduate school.

On Monday I was at handbell practice and a woman who was subbing asked if a fellow ringer who’d just returned from a birding trip to Cuba could help her ID a bird she’d just seen in her backyard. She said it had brilliant red and yellow with some black. I was quietly wondering whether it was a tricolored blackbird: the first local avian resident that came to mind. They agreed to exchange emails with a fuzzy photo of the bird in question. I resumed my focus on bells.

The next day though, walking through my yard, I saw a flash of something fiery atop the small orchard tree. And there he was: a brilliant bird with black and white wing feathers, a flaming red head, and yellow body. I immediately thought of my fellow handbell ringer. I rushed inside to grab my cameras; I took a number of photos with both cameras at a distance – all of which turned out blurry.

I immediately discovered, as I consulted my field guide, that I’d just had the great pleasure of seeing a western tanager. Despite countless explorations - weeks and months at a stretch - out of doors in this Pacific Northwest landscape over a couple of decades, I have never seen a tanager here. I was delighted to share my news and discovery with the handbell woman; she returned a message with her photo. We had both seen a western tanager!

And as I had stood agape at the base of the little tree trunk, looking up at the half-rainbow-of-a-bird, a hummingbird darted an inch above the head of the sitting tanager: cool teal met the warmth of red-yellow. A complete rainbow?

… and now I’m editing my book and see a reference to a scarlet tanager I’d identified in New Hampshire … along with a host of other east coast birds …

This morning during an early phone call, I saw and photographed one of the swallows who has returned to nest on the property. I watch their aerial delight as they swoop and arc at dawn and dusk. But this one guy just sat perfectly framed in my window as I talked. I took his photo, too, because I just could not resist his iridescent brilliance: purples, teal, blue.

And two days ago - with a quick glance - thought it was the northern flicker who landed in that same little tree out my window; he is the same flicker who percussively rat-a-tats on the metal drainpipe beside my office window … but I looked again … and it was somebody altogether different: a falcon!

I really am not a “birder,” in the sense of making a methodical and passionate inventory as a practice of expanding a “life list.” But I do pay attention. I do notice what is happening … particularly in my immediate environment.

And this week it has been a menagerie of new birds sitting atop trees, displaying their colors … and life is all the richer for it.




All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2017 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."

17 May 2017

Image of the Week

"Wrapping It Up"     Jennifer J. Wilhoit Circa 2004     Oil Pastels & Watercolor


All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2017 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."

15 May 2017

Monday Musings CREATIVE PRACTICE: “Stick Figure”

TEALarbor stories’ Monday Musings are practices and quotations offering simple ways to explore the ecotone of the inner/outer landscape. 



Stretch your imagination to create a playful figure out of twigs. Nature’s forms are infinitely interesting; allow yourself to reach for opportunities to enjoy them.









All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2017 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."

12 May 2017

Ordinary/Extraordinary

The singing robins in my yard; the city park with trails near rabbits and herons, a path next to sapsuckers crafting perfectly round pock marks in pond side trees, and the osprey atop his towering nest; the dripping coastal forests and perpetual waves on the shore; the simple ritual of a quiet cup of coffee in this overcast island’s spring and summer light; these are the ‘daily-nesses’ that help us feel fully alive and vibrant. They are not the exclamation marks in life. Rather, these beautiful offerings are the foundation of an earth-based existence, those which give voice to the ordinariness as a human; they are commas and periods, semicolons and dashes. Without this common ground with all other beings in our everyday landscape, we become disconnected, cut off, incomplete. These ordinary aspects of life provide constancy: sustenance. The other experiences—the green flash at sunrise over a Baja beach, a wild pony’s mane brushing my mother’s cheek when he put his head inside our rental car window—are woven in as the exclamation-marked, bold, and highlighted paragraphs in life.

We need both: the daily-nesses to remind us of our rightful, still, quiet place in the whole fabric of being; and the marvelous, to make tangible the divine in a world that so very much needs the peachy-mauve glow on the snowcapped peaks at sunset.





(Adapted from a post on July 8, 2011)



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2017 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."

10 May 2017

Image of the Week

"Silken Beauty"     April 2016     Olympic Peninsula, WA





All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2017 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."