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.



23 January 2020

Beauty Abounds

the waning gibbous moon, blurred from storm moisture in the air
thick crimson, pumpkin, turquoise oil paint lumped and layered and slathered wisely on a canvas
four acquaintances who compose and send email love letters
tiny reproductions of hand-painted flora and fauna carefully lined up inside a crafts piece
the slight playful nudge, and then hug, from a friend in the frenzied store
the spacious, quiet, holding of space that a friend offers during storytellings of abuse
a search for a single snowflake, a video of Antarctic auroras, the bliss of South Georgia Island
the enthusiasm of attentive students who labor, giving birth to beauty
compassionate caregivers who say “yes” to a joy-bringing offer for the residents
the very ill artist who makes paintings from words
a realization that holey is holy, too
a pileated woodpecker sitting on a mossy, snow-covered branch
the gentlest “thank you” from a hospice patient’s daughter
a potent inner joy about completed book chapters
sweet memories of a loved one’s smile
cerulean blue fireflies of sun glimmering atop icy peaks of snow 
the wan-but-healthy peach and blue skies that bookended the day

it doesn’t take much – a commitment to openness, attentiveness – to appreciate and engage the intricate patterns of grace and beauty in each day




(Originally posted 2/8/19)

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."

22 January 2020

Image of the Week

"Snowy Sunrise"


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."

20 January 2020

Monday Musings NATURE PRACTICE

TEALarbor stories’ Monday Musings are simple practices for exploring the inner/outer landscape. Each weekly practice can take just a few seconds or as long as desirable. The practice is most effective when repeated over time. 

Place your hands and fingers on the ground 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."

17 January 2020

Found Snails

Five days ago, I had the great pleasure – and honor – of reading from my latest book (co-authored with Steve Jones, Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) at Elliott Bay Book Company. 

In the middle of the reading, somebody asked a question: Who was the little girl that became the woman now reading inspiring nature stories to us?

I had an immediate answer: My childhood in nature is referenced in one of these chapters - perhaps the one on spiritual ecology. 

Then I proceeded to tell my audience a story about the little-girl-Jennifer who played with snails on the bird of paradise plant in the front yard of my childhood home. 

And now, several days after my book reading, I have just run across a file on my computer entitled “Nature as Refuge.” In it I discovered a 2005 version of the snail story that I just recounted at Elliott Bay Books. 

Here’s an excerpt from that clumsier 2005 version: 

I’d build huts for them: four walls, no ceiling – the perfect refuge with a view to the sky. 

As a very little girl I learned that my mother’s tendency to overwater led to an enticingly muddy yard. The bird of paradise bush became a moist haven for snails. 

I would carefully reach down into the spiny depths of the plant to gather the snails. Two stubby fingers, one short gentle tug, a pause, and then I could feel the snail release its sticky grip on the spiky growth of the plant. I gingerly put them in the inside-out pocket I’d made of the lower half of my rolled-up T-shirt. 

I always collected the snails before beginning to construct the mud huts. I wanted their company and I raced to finish their “houses” before they began to move away. I loved the feel of that cool, sticky mud at the base of the plant. 

Those snails were my “pets” and I was eager to see their heads emerge out of their shells. The sensitivity of those protuberances really struck me: without touching them, I could cause them to retract their tentacle just by holding above them my hot skin, a blade of grass, a brunette strand of hair ripped from my head. 

If I was patient, I would get to watch them slowly drag their bodies across my hand, leaving that silvery see-through trail. I would stroke the curve of their shells, noting the spiral shape as it wound ever-inward toward the center. 

I didn’t care that others told me that I didn’t have to build homes for the snails because they carried their shelter on their backs. I adored the snails. I wanted to provide for them. 

Once the snails were placed one per hut, I would sit on my haunches, my knees, or cross-legged. Watching. Waiting. I knew that eventually, no matter how many child-years it seemed to take, those snails would begin to push out one eye, then another, a bit of the tentacle, then both, until the snail was fully extended and mobile. 

I see in today’s re-finding of a story, a premature version, how lives spiral and cycle just like the snail shell. I see how stories bend in on themselves in unexpected moments. How the meaning we make curls, swirls, and is re-created as we repeatedly tell (and write) our stories. Always, their essence is intact. Embodied. One gastropod at a time. One book, one chapter, one question, one observation at a time. 

Now I live in the land of slugs. I am no less enamored by them as a mid-fifties nature lover than I was as a three-year-old snail homebuilder. 

It is not always the pretty, the charismatic, the huge creatures who imprint nature’s significance and teach us what stories really matter, which stories have truly shaped us.  




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."

15 January 2020

Image of the Week

"Snow Start"



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."

13 January 2020

Monday Musings CREATIVE PRACTICE

TEALarbor stories’ Monday Musings are simple practices for exploring the inner/outer landscape. Each weekly practice can take just a few seconds or as long as desirable. The practice is most effective when repeated over time. 


Choose a creative project that you will commit to working on 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."