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 2, 2021

Monday Musings WRITING PRACTICE

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

 


Write down a sentence about each outdoor summer activity that you’ve enjoyed this season.







All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Friday, July 30, 2021

Images of a Touchstone

What is it that enraptures you in the natural world?

 

Might it be

the soft whisper of an unexpected breeze

a particular shade of blue in the sky just before dusk

a flower you cannot name against the textured ground

the fuzzy down of a baby bird in a nest

dew on a flower petal or frost on leaves

a barred owl hooting in the black summer night

a thin slice of pure white moon—round as a communion wafer or shaved into crescence

a wave, the tide waxing and waning, flat long tidepools

tall green grass that ripples with wind or hides the singing crickets

the butterfly of your childhood, reborn today

ridges on the stem of a thing you long for

stillness and silence as the sun brightens the horizon

the taste of a berry, plump and sweet

?

 

Whatever it is, however unlikely or common, seek it out and find it

Sit in the shade or luminescence of its presence

Roll around in it, walk in it straight and true, swim its lengths until your breath becomes heavy

 

But whatever you do, wherever and however, release yourself to the miracle of it

And know that it is this one thing for right now that is all things that abide forever.

 




 

(Orig. posted in July 2018)


All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Image of the Week

"Six Months Ago Today"



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Monday, July 26, 2021

Monday Musings GRATITUDE PRACTICE

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

 


Make a simple but beautiful card and – with a love message inside – send it to someone. 





All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Friday, July 23, 2021

Every Small and Ordinary Thing

Every small and “ordinary” thing can transform into a miracle of nature with just the barest attention. 

 

Seeing the wonder is so easy. 

 

A snail on the deck near the tomato pots early this morning.

A patch of vibrant yellow fungus standing out along the forest trail.

A nurse log – long since decayed – the nourishing substrate for a host of thriving plants, mosses, trees.

The shift of light and sunshine that creates illuminated clouds, and the clarity of air imbuing a deeper blue to the backdrop of sky.

A leaf impersonating a banana slug.

The scent of roses as I pass a bush.

That eagle screech, the osprey whistle, the flicker drumming the drainpipe (not generally a July phenomenon).

That curious towhee yesterday afternoon; the white-crowned sparrow today.

Dew. Rain. Sun. Breeze-ever-so-slight.

Stillness.

A buzzing junco.

Soft, soft bumble bees.

And the step-inside-me enticement of a creamy-ivory daisy, or the brazen magenta, soft peach, flaming orange of the other daisies I’ve been called to bring home this week.

 

So many glories. 

So much medicine.

So much inspiration, wisdom, beauty, truth. 

 

There are many mentors for how to live in harmonious balance.





























































All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Image of the Week

"Summery Natural Calendar"



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Monday, July 19, 2021

Monday Musings NATURE PRACTICE

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



In a very comfortable natural area, relax as you gently notice what captures your attention. 






All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Friday, July 16, 2021

inner/outer, soul/nature: a quick journal entry

soul nourishment:  

 

small moments out of doors. 

breath. 

awareness.

reaching out to others. 

getting quiet.

writing across the page.

a short gaze at the bright full-ish moon overhead at dawn.

noticing the quality of color and light change.

reading for the sheer act of it.

creating handmade cards.

sitting outside right after awakening.

cool trees swaying in the breeze.

cloud breaks full of rising-sun colors.

 

by doing these we return to our center

 

we restore inner balance

 

these all soften us so that we can embrace others 

 

feeling fortified on the inside makes us more beautiful on the outside, makes our behavior lovelier

 

we are made more whole, and thus, more loving ...






(Orig. posted in July 2017)



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Image of the Week

"Soul Container"



























































All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Monday, July 12, 2021

Monday Musings CREATIVE PRACTICE

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



Using your favorite colors (paint, crayon, chalk, pen, pastel…), create a loose depiction of the nature surrounding your home.  







All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Friday, July 9, 2021

Swallow Passing

On my mother’s birthday this year, I witnessed the return to our yard of the violet-green swallows. They weave nests in the eaves, in boxes, in the barn, on the carport. Every year we’ve been here, we can watch up-close their building of a life anew; there are at least six nests within close range. Using binoculars and increasingly good telephoto cameras, we see views that are stunning. With so many details—of form, of behavior, of pattern and texture, of color, of sound—it has taken years to learn even the littlest bit about who these guys are.

 

Last year I learned that they fledge as a process; it’s not the sudden leap out of the nest never to return to the haven of a cupped nest (like the juncos). They take test flights (and I daresay are given lessons by their parents), stand atop the nest box, continue to take meals delivered by their parents’ mouths. And they return again and again to the nest over a period of days.

 

This year I felt a swell of emotion when I thought they had finally gone. I felt sad, and I missed them. Then the next morning there was a little guy cheeping loudly from inside the nest box opening. A while later he was gone. 

 

I notice their arrival because of the beautiful, seemingly choreographed wide swoops of their curving flight. One day (this year on March 30th) they just appear: Nature’s magic trick of the season. One day (this year on July 3rd) they just leave: Nature’s miracle of birth and growth manifested in the larger flock who departs. 

 

The yard is all but silent now—an emptiness that was just a few days ago filled with the squeaks and chirps of several dozen swallows.

 

And I feel great affection for these birds now. As a little girl going for the touted annual outing with Grandpa (visiting from across the country) to see the swallows return to the mission at San Juan Capistrano, I felt nothing. I don’t even recall a memory of seeing those birds everyone was calling “swallows.” I think for a long time in my early childhood, I imagined those birds looking like seagulls or pigeons. 

 

But today I have built a relationship with them: 

gotten to know them,

studied their shape and behaviors, 

enjoyed their delightful flight, 

savored their striking markings of teal, purple, white, dark gray, royal blue. 

And fallen in love with these creatures. 

 

So when—on the same day the violet-green swallows finally fledged and left the yard—I found a dead swallow up against the house, I felt the loss as if he were kin. 

 

We are kindred beings. 

 

I immediately got a trowel so that I could create a proper burial site, mindful to not go too deep so that his natural decomposition would be fodder for other beings: the gift of life in death. I was going to place him in my beautiful lily garden beneath the scores of blooming red, yellow, and orange stems—the place I buried two juncos a few years ago. But those who feast on small birds who have perished were already well at work on the swallow’s underside; I opted to bury him in situ. I marked the place of his passing with flowers from the yard; I marked the fact of his passing with a prayer of blessing and gratitude. 





All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Image of the Week

"Nestlings' Breakfast"
Violet Green Swallows













































All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2021 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."