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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.



Friday, April 9, 2021

Soil Push

Earlier this week I took a few moments to explore the latest spring growth in my lily garden. 

 

Four years ago, I had planted two types of lilies, some veronica, and several patches of thyme in an alternating pattern in a desiccated, rocky-soiled, neglected patch of Earth abutting the side of my cottage. Though I had added dozens of pounds of new, high-nutrient potting soil before putting in the plants, that fifty-square-foot garden area has required ample tending three seasons a year: weeding, watering, cutting back the plants in autumn, adding more bags of soil. 

 

And the careful observation of who eats the fresh lilies (slugs of many sorts), which plants are thriving, and which need pruning. 

 

Last fall, perhaps motivated by a year of covid isolation, and a persistent need for beauty, I impulsively decided to remove as much of the veronica and thyme as I could before winter set it; the straggling twigs of these two plants had become too thick, with few flowers or leaves, and the original aesthetic had vanished two years before; in short, they were unsightly.

 

But those lily varieties have become monstrous and lush! Even with the pre-winter “buzz cut” that takes their four-foot height back to a few inches, they return each spring with a fervor for life. The bulbs have multiplied so they have essentially taken over the entire space. They love their crowded conditions. 

 

I also think they love the robins who are finally in full-volume spring chorus.

I believe they enjoy the pale golden sunrise and still-chilly nights.

I am confident that they whisper sweet nothings to the frog who visits annually, climbing their heights, posing for my photographs. 

I am sure they call in the slugs: we have a cozy place for you under our tall stalks and will offer ourselves as nourishment to you – more than you and your families can consume. 

I have wondered if they sing a vigil to the birds who have fallen into their leaves after hitting a window, some of whom never flew away again. Some of who I buried with wreaths of flowers in other parts of the yard. Two years ago, a few baby juncos perished – one in the shed and one in the driveway; I reverently placed them together in a grave beneath the lilies. 

 

Birds as nutrients for soil holding lilies. 

Lilies as shelter or final resting place or soft cushion upon which birds can land. 

 

There are many ways in which these cycles carry on: I am part of it too with my careful watching of returning swallows or nest boxes being inhabited or lilies growing tall green stalk-highways for all manner of crawling beings or red, yellow, orange blossoms emerging out of the thick green plants or flocks of juncos foraging on the ground a few feet away from the lily garden – some of whom are, no doubt, last year’s fledglings. 

 

I also saw this the other day for the first time too: a new clump of daylily that was pushing up the soil. Not pushing up through the soil. Pushing up the soil; I saw a small clod of soil move an iota at the edge of the daylily sprout. These weightlifter lilies are reverse-excavating so that they, too, can birdwatch, bloom, feel the warmth of the coming sun, receive the rain (or my incessant summer watering). 

 

This garden has been a site of life-affirming and death-honoring transitions. The lilies are not just sprouting, growing, budding, blooming, and dying back each year. They are intimately interconnected with a much broader community of beings, with me and the slugs and the birds and the frog, with spiders, worms, a butterfly, one or two bees …

 

Oh, the glory! 




























































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, April 7, 2021

Image of the Week

"Last Month's 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, April 5, 2021

Monday Musings WRITING PRACTICE

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

 


List three springtime projects you aspire to complete.






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, April 2, 2021

Compassion in Difficulty

I just ran across the following blog post from last year. What I wrote for others twelve months ago I need for myself right now. Glad to have found it:

 

 

go outside to sit

wander freely among the trees 

pause in a sunbeam 

let rain sprinkles tickle cheeks

see Coyote dash through the yard, a change from his usual saunter-sniff

feel the shadow from overhead brush past and look up to see soaring birds of prey

soothe, comfort, pause, rest

cherish, send love now, embrace the beauty in whatever form it presents itself

 

*          *          *

            

Rummaging through files this morning, I came across a draft of some talking points from a webinar I gave several years ago:  

 

“Acknowledge Grief – what we fear, what we fear we’ll lose, what we’ve already lost

Embrace Compassion – for ourselves, for others

Be a Kind Action Practitioner – takes oh-so-many forms”

 

*          *          *

 

see those pansies already packed in a flat,

the ones that are not even your favorite colors, that are not even evenly-apportioned, that you 

hadn’t even planned to buy,

the ones that – nevertheless - seem to be calling your name?

linger no longer 

plant those very ones today

and see just how glorious tomorrow morning becomes

as you stand outside bare-footed, tousle-headed, three steps out of bed, one sip before coffee:

beholding the rain-scented air and the way a maroon pansy wears its pearls of water

 

*          *          *

 

that lilac bud gently shattered its protection

vulnerable yet imminently viable

raw, exposed, not yet its full lavender hue 

yet willing to do what is its nature

to flourish even in the hailstorms that came repeatedly today 



 

Orig. posted Apr 3, 2020



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, March 31, 2021

Image of the Week

"Ready"



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, March 29, 2021

Monday Musings GRATITUDE PRACTICE

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



Place your palms together at your heart as you gaze at a leaf or flower bud. 







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, March 26, 2021

a bustling crowd of loving trees

the other day something happened to me.

 

i’ve tried to explain it once, twice, to trusted others. to no avail. 

 

i’ve heard others say things similar to what i experienced. 

heck, i have probably said similar things in the past. 

actually, i know i have said similar things in the past, even as recently as last autumn when i wrote about a deciduous tree who welcomed me (http://tealarborstories.blogspot.com/2019/11/the-welcoming-tree.html)

 

trees as sentient beings. not a new idea, nor a new experience. 

 

but what happened the other day felt completely different, unprecedented. perhaps because we are in unprecedented times:

 

(…it may take me a few tries, over time, to really articulate this clearly…)

 

as i stepped onto the dirt road that leads me to my forested trail – where the protected area is to the left and a few rural properties are to the right -

 

i was stopped. by the sea of trees on my starboard side.

out for a vigorous hike but suddenly just stopped on the road, agape at this crowd of “not-forest” forest trees.

 

for a few seconds

they were not just trees, not just alive, not just the same guys i pass every day, not just ecological beings, not just redcedars and douglas firs, not just those whose lives i honor in as many ways as i can think to do

no.

 

these trees became sentient. beyond sentient: perfect, brilliant, intelligent, healthy, my kin, my people – tall, strong, sturdy companions

 

they told me that:

they are here,

they are not sick, 

they intend to stand by me: caressing, holding, nourishing, protecting, remaining

they will guide, soothe, inspire, instruct, envelop, nurture

 

farther along the trail - wind through boughs became soft, gentle giggling

 

all of this was palpable in a swift flush of image, sensation, insight

 

and in my overwhelm of feeling, all i could utter - as i brought my hands together at my heart - was: 

 

“thank you”





(Orig. posted Mar 2020)


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, March 24, 2021

Image of the Week

"Picked and Trampled"
(but still a beautiful crocus)



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, March 22, 2021

Monday Musings GRATITUDE PRACTICE

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


Celebrate the spring equinox (20th) by enjoying something that’s newly blooming. 






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, March 19, 2021

The Slow and Sudden Unfolding

Spring does that. It comes both in fast waves and unhurried measure. 

 

That lilac bush I mentioned last week seemed to move from having totally brown buds to solid green ones from one day to the next: a sudden unfolding.

 

The beige-green buds on the pear tree, though – those will take their time over weeks: the slow unfolding. 

 

Sunshine, higher temperatures, longer daylight, robins’ songs, nests, the return of the violet green swallows, faster-growing grass: these, too, will unfold in different rhythms.

 

I am grateful to Spring. That she should entice us with the rapid transitions - eye-popping changes that provide instant gratification for the vernal seeker - makes sense to me. We are given just the buoying from nature that we need after a long, dark, cold winter. Why not receive an infusion of immediate balm! It’s a promise of a greener world, the first notes that will become a choir of avian and faunal voices. 

 

I am also grateful to Spring for her patience and drawn-out unfurling. This stretches out the glorious acts of new life becoming, emphasizing miracle after beautiful miracle of twig to bud to flower to leaf to tree crown to forest canopy. We can witness the individual species, honoring each as they leaf out or fly over or construct a haven for their young in the unique temporal landscape of their kind.

 

Last year I recall checking at least thrice daily over a number of days to catch the actual moment when the lilies I planted would release the bright red or burnt orange or golden yellow tip of a petal from the tightly spun bud. I did not care to take measurements of the aperture through which the lily would be ultimately revealed so that I could quantify this blossoming. I just wanted to spy the movement: one sliver of rainbow color sliding out of the green sheath through a slit I could scarcely perceive. 

 

If, like time-lapse photography, springtime were to evolve in a more punctuated way, we would miss the repeated opportunities to bear witness to this mystery. Imagine a technicolor explosion of leafed out bloomfulness! All of that savoring day by day would be lost if the gift landed one day in full completion. 

 

We are meant to appreciate. We are meant to enjoy. We are meant to watch and wait - the hope rising from some obscure darkness within until it becomes palpable - for the entire universe of growing things to appear again. Year after year, season by season. 

 

It is the transition that is to be cherished. And how fitting, for life is a series of fluctuations and movements (not the fixed thing we sometimes imagine). 

 

So, I keep my eyes open, darting out into the fresh still-cold morning air so that I might see a tiny new shift in the world of this springtime landscape. 

 

Many blessings to you and yours for the vernal equinox that is upon us! 





























































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, March 17, 2021

Image of the Week

"Happy Spring Equinox - March 20, 2021"

























































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, March 15, 2021

Monday Musings NATURE PRACTICE

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



Lovingly do one simple task to prepare for spring. 







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."