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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 June 2018

Bark

I was hiking through the forest with a friend today and I noticed a piece of alder bark on the trail. It wasn’t just the thin outer layer that I usually find; it was a quarter-inch-thick hunk of beauty—like a miniature artwork framed and ready to hang on the wall. 

In my early morning quiet time today, a few hours before that hike, I suddenly recalled a tree outside my childhood home and my young obsession to peel off its loose bark. That sycamore was my favorite of all the trees on our property; the interesting shapes and coloration of the shedding bark reminded me of the jigsaw puzzles I loved to piece together as a young girl. 

A friend who is new to the Pacific Northwest mentioned that she can only identify the native hemlock tree from a distance, by spotting its droopy top. I thought about this while brushing my teeth this morning. I can easily spot the hemlocks at the landscape level but standing among the tall trunks I get confused about which bark belongs to them. I made a mental note to check my field guide; by the time I’d finished brushing my teeth, my thoughts had roamed and I forgot all about it. 

Thirty years ago, I taught myself how to create handmade paper from junk mail. In an early experiment to include natural items in the paper pulp, I gathered a bunch of madrone tree bark; its rust and tan colors and wafer-thin texture enticed me. I added brown paper shopping bags to that pulp. The result was a spotted, wrinkly, textured paper of dark brown and auburn. I still have some of that barky paper. 

It is these small details that inspire deeper connection with inner nature and biological nature: moments of noticing what is around me, 
exploring shapes and textures and colors in nature, 
learning the names of things and forgetting and relearning, 
testing out nature on inside projects, 
calling a tree by its name or a bark by its furrows …

What an abundance of opportunity! It is the second day of summer: may you find your own moments to explore in the coming days and weeks. 




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

20 June 2018

Image of the Week

"South African Dusk"     Kruger National Park     April 2009


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

18 June 2018

Monday Musings CREATIVE PRACTICE: “Solstice Beauty"

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


On the ground outside make a circle of small rocks, twigs, flowers, or feathers and place the largest object in the center to mark the longest day of the year (June 21).  




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

15 June 2018

Dawn

This is the time of year when everything outside is fat, ripe, and exuberant. Everywhere I look there is something growing, flying, feeding, swaying, crawling; the natural world is full of infinite possibilities for exploration.

A few mornings ago I took a hike through a patch of forest near my home that I hadn’t yet journeyed. I wound through the sanctuary of trees. Dirt, mud, pine needles underfoot. Even a few of last year’s fallen leaves, in various states of decay: skeletal remains of those most deteriorated were also those that most captivated me … beauty incomparable. 

Another morning this week I spied the first swallowtail butterfly of the season. Then a second one appeared and I was lost in the colors, shapes, textures of fluttering wings on petals and that hairy half-caterpillar body … and then it was wings on wings as the two butterflies posed one atop the other for an instant that seemed too brief to be reproduction and too elegant to be a quarrel. 

A third morning this week carried a thunder- and rain- storm that pummeled everything … and then stopped as abruptly as it had arrived. The scent of rain was a powerful aphrodisiac: head over heels smitten with and beholden to the lover in every living nonhuman being. 

But before all of this was the dawn. 

That still-magical moment when the trusty ol’ sun – as fat, ripe, and exuberant right now as everything-nature on the Earth below – just does what it does: rotates into view, an apparition of beauty divine standing up behind the facade of horizon with head aglow. 

Dawn: the serenity of human quiet before the day’s din forces its way in. 
Dawn: the musical performance of birds, breeze, breath giving thanks for the day. 
Dawn: hope and light, expansion and possibility.

Dawn ... to be cherished. 




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

13 June 2018

Image of the Week

"Deluxe Work Break"     Swallowtail Enjoying My Flowers     June 12, 2018


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

11 June 2018

Monday Musings NATURE PRACTICE: “From Your List”

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


Choose one thing from your list (see 6/4 writing practice) and go outside today to actually enjoy it.




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