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.



Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Image of the Week

"Puzzle"



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, September 13, 2021

Monday Musings CREATIVE PRACTICE

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



Photograph something in nature that takes you by surprise this week. 






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, September 10, 2021

One Hundred Ten in Seventy

I wrote an enthusiastic blog post in early July, chronicling a five-day nature journaling conference that I had just attended. (Review “So Very Much More” here.)

 

What I didn’t write about then is my insecurity about how the few sketches and drawings I have ever made look. Child-like. Unskilled. Awkward. Not very representative of whatever it is (cedar tree, rose, coyote, leaf) that I’m attempting to capture in visual form. I’m just not “a natural,” and I let that stop me from believing I could create the beautiful types of nature journals that I have been admiring for thirty-plus years. I thought that if I didn’t have innate talent, I couldn’t engage that form. Until this summer. 

 

Since that July post, I have done it. I turned down the volume on my expectations, perfectionist tendencies, desires for beautiful or perfectly accurate outcome. And I have JUST completed my first visual nature journal. It’s rough and overstuffed in some places, spare and wanting in others. But it is totally mine, replete with my very own drawings and sketches and paintings and words. 

 

Apparently, I am still teachable. I can practice drawing a junco or baby robin, over and over, until her little sketched form begins to resemble the actual birds in my yard. Natural talent would be convenient. But the lack does not have to stop me from practicing. 

 

Here are the details:

 

Intention & Mission Accomplished

·      The don’t-know-if-I-can-make-it goal of completing one page per day, met. (Exceeded, actually. Those one hundred ten pages were completed in only seventy days!)

·      One hundred ten full-size pages of a sketchbook, filled.

 

Supplies

Colored pencils, watercolor paint, markers, colored scribing pens, gouache, charcoal pencils (black, to grays, to white), and a lone gelly roll white pen. Watercolor paper, tissue paper, tracing paper, brown grocery bags, gray toned paper, photographic paper.

 

Contents: All About the Ever-Unfolding Natural World Right Outside my Door

·      Try after try and practice after clumsy practice of those pansies on my deck … a memory of my mother’s early post-parenting painting days flooding in, as she was instructed to paint one pansy after another. 

·      Local flora and fauna. 

·      Pencil sketches, gesture drawings, blind (and 90/10 blind) contour drawings, and ink sketches fill parts of some pages.

·      Diagrams, maps, abstract and realistic pieces, color tests, and color charts appear.

·      Collages and photographs.

·      Bird body parts, sketched in sixty-second intervals. 

·      Drawn replicas of faunal burial sites I have created over and over this summer whenever I encounter an animal who has died. 

·      Handwritten word entries, praise and invocations, inquiries, declarations, observations, speculations, facts and measurements, songs, reveries, and memories.

·      And one lone origami crane I folded from a photograph I’d printed out. Though he’s glued to a page at the end of the journal, his spirit soars. 

 

Like mine. My spirit is buoyant with this effort. 

 

Why?

At the same time I am writing this, I want to doubt the importance of this “luxury” accomplishment. 

Who cares when there are refugees without basic needs? Who cares when a beloved just received terrible medical news? Who cares about drawing skills, when whole continents of people are still dying of covid with no relief in sight and no prophylactic measures available? Who cares when the world is suffering in so many ways?

Why? Because we build transformation one task, one service, one type of support at a time, as we can, to serve whom we can. We work toward wholeness bit by bit. We don’t have to forego efforts on behalf of the world even as we move deeper into relationship with those who impassion us nearby (the inhabitants of my nonhuman natural community, for example). 

We can paint and draw, one practice piece at a time, even as we reach out to those we love, care about, suffer with, feel for … 

 

No matter one’s work in the world, beauty matters. Beauty of the heart. Beauty rendered on a page. A try at beauty. Beautiful service. Relationships with and details about “other” built one line at a time: one curved wing, one webbed foot, one insect-filled beak. 

 

It matters to build relationship with all beings. So, I reach out a hand to refugees in my area, support causes, labor for justice, serve the needs of clients, offer support and assistance to family…

 

And as I do those, I do this: one journal page at a time building deeper interconnection with, intimate knowledge of, and creating images to capture the beauty of – my floral and faunal neighbors. 

 

We don’t need to be experts to serve the needs of humanity. We don’t need to be “naturals” (with innate artistic skills) to convey the beauty of the nonhuman world. All we have to do is show up with passion and heart (“compassion”), and to do what we know how to do in a moment, striving all the while to enhance our service and capacities over the long term. 

 






























































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, September 8, 2021

Image of the Week

"Green Comes in All Shapes"



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, September 6, 2021

Monday Musings WRITING PRACTICE

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



Journal about what you hope to experience this autumn. 






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, September 3, 2021

A Few Images From My Week





























































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, September 1, 2021

Image of the Week

"Frog Energy"



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, August 30, 2021

Monday Musings GRATITUDE PRACTICE

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



When you see something beautiful (or someone doing a beautiful act) while running errands, stop to admire it and say “thank you.”









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, August 27, 2021

ForestBeing

Though there are infinite possibilities, here is a quick list I just made. It’s called:

 

Ways to Be in, Move Through, a Forest

 

Hugging trees and creatures along the way

Burying those who’ve passed away

Strolling

Speedhiking

Stroking ferns, flowers, bark along the way

Meditatively

Focused on seeking out a particular species

Staying a while and just listening, watching, attending

Praying

Making works of art, beauty, creativity

Snapping photos

Silently

Skipping along trails

Sacredly

Quickly careening around curves so the body feels the arcing motion

Furtively – alert for the shy ones

With a focus on the ground

With a focus on the sky

With a focus on limbs of trees

With a focus at eye level

Singing

Whispering greetings to everyone (nonhuman) encountered

(Quietly passing other people)

(Cheerfully greeting other people)

Stooping to look more closely

Graciously and gratefully gathering an object that calls – stone, seed, cone, hush, leaf …

With a soft gaze

With a tune carried in the heart

v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y.

Aimlessly

Purposefully 

 

I have done everything on this list, some as recently as today. 

 

What matters most is that we choose a respectful posture, a ripe heart, and an open attentiveness as our guides …

 


































































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, August 25, 2021

Image of the Week

"Late Summer Refreshment"





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, August 23, 2021

Monday Musings GRATITUDE PRACTICE

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



Give a small gift to your local grocer, postal worker, or healthcare provider. 






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, August 20, 2021

Questions for a Passionate Now in Nature

What sets you aflame?

 

Where do you dance with frivolous abandon?

 

Which songs become your ode to the mountains or rivers, the trees, or flower, or baby lamb?

 

In what landscape do you become uninhibited, liberated, and completely you?

 

Who of the Wild Ones visits you in your dreams?

 

What Earthy thing stirs your blood today? Yesterday? Or that you hope for tomorrow?

 

In what waters do you swim, or dip, or splash, or float – and why?

 

For which rock will you bow your head in supplication? 

 

To which Earth element do you cling as a beloved? 

 

For what type of wind – warm and gentle, icy-cold, whispery breeze, or something else - will you say your prayer of gladness?

 

In which seasons will you let down your hair or gift a strand in homage to our communal presence on this spinning planet? 

 

Which passion-inducing questions do you need to ask yourself in order to re-ignite the spark of seamless abidance with all who inhabit the out of doors?

 

Please – do not mistake these inquiries as close-ended ones. No single response can capture the fluid dynamism of the moment of our engagement with something specific in the natural world. 

 

Just do the thing that lights your wick! 

Burn brilliantly through the darkness … 

Glow fancifully in the light … 

Eat and move and encounter all with litheness … 




























































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."