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.



Friday, November 25, 2022

“Gratitude,” I Wrote

My very first Thanksgiving-time blog post eleven years ago was less than fifty words in length:

 

This is “the season” for counting our blessings. 

But every day is a good one for remembering that for which we are grateful.

 

For whom and for what are you grateful? 

How will you acknowledge your gratitude? 

In what ways can you demonstrate, or act upon, this cultivated gratitude?

 

 

This bare-bones statement is something upon which I have built over the past decade-plus. I have not just crafted blog posts and other writings. I have not just made acknowledgments, scribbled gratitude lists, or created acts of gratefulness. I have not just asked myself and others to engage the inquiries above.

 

I have built a life around these few simple words:

Practices. 

Rituals and ceremonies. 

Professional offerings.

Spiritual endeavors. 

And more.

 

I have wrapped my body in the breathing body of Earth and found my way to the molten core of gratitude. 

Muddy fingers.

The inhaled nectar of sap.

Pollen-stained nose.

Hot belly on cool sand.

Heels in frost, and toes tasting the temperature of foreign seas.

Wind-blown skin, and ears tickled by snow. 

Forehead on bark.

Thighs burning with the topography of mountain slopes traversed. 

Eyes aglow with countless and continual visual joys.

 

Heart in awe, open, receptive.

 

May your own heightened gratitude – yes, even amidst the agonies and obstacles – find a home in the everyday blisses of sunrise, scent-filled air, and the serenades of songbirds. 

 

 



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Image of the Week

"Swelling Gratitude"
Sunset in the Northern Territory



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Monday, November 21, 2022

Monday Meditations

mindful practices to nourish you throughout the day and week



Outside, seek out a color you adore and share a story about it this week with your loved ones.







All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Friday, November 18, 2022

Springtime in Autumn

I was thrilled to see red, orange, and gold autumn leaves still clinging to tree limbs upon my return from the airport a few days ago. I thought that spending six weeks in the Southern Hemisphere’s springtime during October and the first half of November would rob me of my favorite season this 2022. I welcomed with big smiles the chill in the air, the damp mornings, as well as an immediate donning of winter pajamas and three-layers of daytime wear. A dear friend, upon embracing me heartily at bells rehearsal the day after I got home, gently squeezed my cheeks and remarked that I looked “tan” (a feat for this Irish-white skin): spring meets autumn.

 

My sisters and I took an unprecedented trip together to Australia for several weeks after a difficult final-cleanout and thirteen-hundred-mile transport of our mother’s remaining artwork, photos, and possessions. This task had been delayed for a few years due to the early COVID no-travel time and the logistical difficulties of three of us getting time off simultaneously. And rats had made quite a mess in those storage units, adding to the immensity of the sort-out job. 

 

My sisters’ and my need to reconnect in-person after three years was fierce. In the year following our mom’s passing, we had taken numerous trips to rendezvous, to do the initial work on her estate, to celebrate her life and spread her ashes, and to honor our newly motherless sisterhood by finding novel opportunities to recreate family anew. I won’t speak for my sisters, but at least this is how it was for me. 

 

So, when a random comment this past summer was casually dropped into a sisterly conversation about hopping on a flight from LAX to Sydney (since we’d just “happen to be” in SoCal at the endpoint of the estate transport), the idea quickly blossomed into a plan. The three of us had never traveled this far, for this long together … ever. 

 

And what an adventure it was!

 

*          *          *

 

A few highlights include:

 

Seeing the blood moon lunar eclipse from a beach in Queensland

 

Enjoying a second springtime this year, feeling the wet humidity and heat of the Northern Territory

 

Fording through floodwaters and storm-strewn roads while driving on the left side of the road, practicing using blinkers to signal our turns (the windshield wipers and turn signals are in reverse position alongside the steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle), and putting +/- twenty-five hundred miles on foreign rental vehicles)

 

 

Praising the beauty, amazing biodiversity, regeneration – and honoring the graveyards of bleached areas - of the Great Barrier Reef as we snorkeled in a number of locations along the southern and northern parts of the reef (including right at the continent shelf!)

 

Viewing vivid rock art paintings of the Jawoyn People

 

Swimming in waterfalls, enjoying a luxury overnight train to Darwin, being transported overnight in a very-much-not-luxury bus that was freezing cold except for the foot heater that burned my leg and switching buses partway through the night because the driver blew out the window on a turn, pleasant city and rural bus tours, journeying on water (catamarans, ferries, diving boats, riverboats…), hiking and walking, taking in-country flights, faux motor scooter riding (photo trickery for one sister’s benefit), mastering one route on the subway in Sydney, delighting in scenic tramways and train rides, walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge

 

Enjoying Beethoven and Brahms at the Sydney Opera House (a generous surprise from one of my sisters!) on our last night in Australia 

 

Getting very close to crocodiles (freshies and salties) on several different tours

 

Taking underground cave and sinkhole tours and strolling beaches

 

Experiencing awe in the sea stacks, rugged coastline, waterfalls, and supreme beauty along the Great Ocean Road 

 

Being guided all day through the protected rainforest by an indigenous Australian man of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People (north of Cairns) who showed us many medicinal and edible uses of local flora including: an acupressure type process of putting a leaf with many spines on my forehead to stave off migraines), how to paint with a particular type of rock (which they use for ceremonial body painting – and he gave me the four sacred colors of gold, white, dark gray, and red to paint with at home), how to rub a particular seed pod with vigor until it heats up and can be used for massaging sore muscles

 

Hugging koalas!

 

Petting and feeding kangaroos and wallabies, and watching wild rock wallabies – one of whose babies (“joey”) stuck his head out of his mom’s pouch, then crawled out onto the ground, fed twice from outside the pouch, then nestled back in close to the warm teats 

 

Visiting a random and beautiful island for an overnight, painting at the beach, bearing witness to a bush stone-curlew as he stole my sister’s steak, and losing greatly and publicly at a local Trivial Pursuit game night 

 

Being used as a perch and chew toy by exotic birds – and my half-chewed camera case strap bears evidence of this! – who also randomly bit, clawed, and crawled around on us

 

The gentler moments of butterflies perching on my hand

 

Honoring our mom’s “death day” by sharing childhood stories and memories with one another 

 

Viewing, admiring, learning about, and purchasing art made by Indigenous Australians

 

Riding a 64-degree angled mining train down to the bottom of the Blue Mountains (aptly named because of the eucalyptus trees’ oil droplets that fill the atmosphere); seeing the “Three Sisters” (with my two sisters!) – an unusual rock formation that eroded into these prominent stones

 

The lavender of newborn jacaranda blooms in umbrella-ed canopies high overhead as we meandered, in blanketing canopies beneath us as we were conveyed through the air

 

Listening to the famous carillon in Canberra (Australia’s interesting and lovely capital)  being played unexpectedly by the carillonist who was practicing for the bi-weekly serenade later that day; as an avid bellringer and member of a local handbell choir, I was smitten with this serendipitous concert that was spontaneously gifted to us during our only daylight hour passing through the city; I also appreciated another visit (however brief) to this city after spending time at the university there nine years ago for a professional presentation and conference

 

Sinking hands and feet into the warm white sands of tropical beaches at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef

 

*          *          *

 

The natural history, the culture, the climate, the unexpected moments, the togetherness could fill volumes and volumes of notebooks, journals, blog posts. Each one of the above-noted highlights contains stories within stories. 

 

This is what immersion does for us.

This is what bonding does for us.

This is what deep experience does for us.

 

And over time, I suspect that the deeper resonances of this multi-venture will come through these pages, through this blog, in echos and shades and textures not unlike those we appreciated over these recent weeks: 

 

Birdcalls, crashing surf, pounding rain, dripping moss, and waterfalls dainty and roaring

 

Sunlight glinting off water, lunar glow outlining palm trees

 

Feather, fin, pebble, shell, spines, fur, webbed foot, gnashing teeth, silky smooth pod, pouched haven, sand


Teal and gold, pink drawn through gray, blues and whites and yellows and greens, cream and rose, rust and rainbow, tan-red, peacock hues, spring-flowers pastel, orange to mauve to cobalt to indigo to moonlight

 

This is what interconnection feels like. 


... flying over the Great Barrier Reef on the first leg of the journey home ...



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Image of the Week

"Autumn Bliss"



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit:
"© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Image of the Week

"Pure Gold"
















































All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit:
"© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Image of the Week

"Cascading Autumn"
















































All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit:
"© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Image of the Week

"Blessed Fire"
















































All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit:
"© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Image of the Week

"Terra Firmament"



























































All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit:
"© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Image of the Week

"Nature's Echo"





All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit:
"© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Image of the Week

"Stellar Stealthy Steller's"



















































All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit:
"© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."

Friday, September 30, 2022

Cathedral of Trees

Hike in a gorge

With friends

Light conversation interspersed with deep, quiet solitude

 

Salmon threading a river

Just spawned, die

White translucent decay contrasted with dark, green forestlife

 

Trail

Mostly winding

Smooth dirt path sprinkled with sharp, cobbled shale

 

Amber brilliant gold dripping in strings each suspended from shiny jewel-nodules 

Fading leaves weaving branches into alternating stripes of summergreen-autumnyellow…

Raucous falls of water sounding nearby entirely cloaked by foreground vegetation

A wing of oversized lichen draped on a bough transforming the tree into an angel

 

The halfway turnaround respite place: sitting on a nurse log in the shade of firs whose limbs create webwork that fragments a cerulean sky into glorious negative space sapphires; I want to pluck one, or swim in the royal blue atmosphere, or nestle into the heavenward comfort of the tealblue.tealgreen cathedral of trees





 

(Orig. posted in 2016.)



All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "© 2022 Jennifer J. Wilhoit/TEALarbor stories. All Rights Reserved."