There was color shining between the houses with clouds higher up, always a promising sign. So I grabbed my camera, knowing there was no time to waste.
I had to wonder do those living by Robins Farm Park ever take the time to stop and really take in the wonders visible through their windows? Still, there is something to be said about being out in it – right there with the squirrels and birds in the dark as the day starts.
I was glad of the unusual weather conditions on this gray day. Mist rising from Hills pond never seemed to last very long. It had begun to disperse by the time I made my way around the small body of water.
The enveloping hush seemed just right for this pause between holiday celebrations and the start of a new year, a year that will no doubt bring its own share of challenges.
This year the rains have started again after a prolonged draught. I came across yellow and orange Chicken of the woods brackets where I found them last year. And there were a few other interesting fungi, mostly in shades of white, tan and brown. As the season is not yet over, I may share additional examples below.
With so little rain this past summer, I did not expect to find the amazing mushrooms that had sprung up in Menotomy Rocks Park last fall. But my timing was good to capture a number of images of these colorful chicken of the woods fruiting bodies before they were taken by eager foragers.
The series below follows the central protrusion as it evolved before someone cut parts of it and what remained deteriorated.
Arlington Heights, Massachusetts, USA where I live, like Boulder Colorado, and a number of other places, has rocks in all sizes. In fact, a major reason I bought the house where I live is because the turtle-shaped top of a large glacier-scraped granite outcrop was visible through the kitchen window.
Once I found the courage to climb to the top of an outcrop in Menotomy Rocks Park, looking down I could see Hills pond through the trees. The contours of this secluded high up spot, with blueberry bushes and natural rock arrangements scattered here and there made it feel quite magical.
Any number of these rock arrangements could be the highlight of a Japanese garden, or for that matter, arranged in a bowl of sand for indoor viewing.
The ducks and turtles did not seem to mind the algae, but I missed what the light could do playing on the pond’s once clear waters (lower photos). When I wrote about trouble at Menotomy Rocks Park a year ago, I felt sure my town would invest in maintaining the health of Hills pond. But the green scum kept spreading, and I began to worry.
This morning as I walked around the pond, I noticed a sign stating the pond had been treated. When I looked to see if the waters were indeed clearing, a bullfrog croaked as if in confirmation.
One of the more accessible mindfulness practices is “horizon gazing.” You simply sit comfortably in a place where you can see the horizon. Then you bring a soft, wide mindfulness and a gentle gaze to what is in front of you.
Nearby Robins Farm Park, with its grassy slope seemed ideal. But where you do this practice is far less important than just taking it in. At any time of day, and in all weather conditions, the sky is there for us. While these photos do not provide the full sensory experience, they do hint, I think, at the wonder, peace and even awe that horizon gazing can provide.
When my Japanese tea ceremony teacher, Giselle Maya, told me that the poetic word for 2022 is “window,” I thought it might be time to revisit “Dream Window” by Peter Grilli. He had metaphorical reasons to choose that title for his poetic film about Japanese gardens. But it is also true that gardens are often viewed through actual windows – Such sight lines are an important consideration in garden design. What do you see through the windows where you live?
Whether another building, a field, undisturbed nature, an empty lot, busy sidewalk or a garden, looking through windows can bring out the poetry of this world. A limited view into space-time somehow makes the ever-changing wholeness of everything “out there” easier to relate to.
Once I came across a child beating icy Hills pond with a stick. It made a most appealing bonging sound. Later I heard haunting chirps and zinging at the same pond. Since I was the only one there, I had to assume the ice was making those sounds all by itself. Searching online, I came across Jonna Jinton’s videos with the other worldly, yet peaceful sounds and the beauty of the crack patterns that ice can make as it freezes. Fascinated, I decided to review Jonna’s numbered vlogs in the order they were posted.
Vivid aliveness and a deep appreciation for the changing seasons in unspoiled northern Sweden where Jonna lives informed all that she shared. Living in her very tiny community also required a great deal of hard work just to stay alive and keep warm, along with a willingness to accept dark times – quite literally unavoidable in winter that far north. As she had hoped, Jonna’s online business selling lovely silver jewelry, prints of her photos and large paintings provided a means to support several family members and friends in a place where jobs can be hard to find.
Besides her various creative endeavors, the videos show Jonna interacting with beloved pets, renovating buildings, making paints from local materials, and singing to cows. She shares her world in breath-taking drone footage as well as from more intimate camera angles. While she makes clear that she hopes her videos can bring the inspiration of nature to those who lack access, she does not invite envy. Rather she invites each of us to consider what we would like to have in our own precious lives.
As for me, I am grateful to have a pond nearby where children make bonging sounds on the ice. Hills pond was singing by itself again when I went looking for ice photos this morning inspired by Jonna’s passion for what ice can do. The unique delights I found in Menotomy Rocks Park over a number of winter seasons are shared below.
It is natural to notice a muskrat chasing quacking ducks, but the woods can have a quieter energy – There is a lot going on, but it is easier to miss.
Trees with their roots wrapped around granite outcrops or buried beneath fallen leaves and mounding needles are the backbone here. Warm beams of sunlight suddenly illuminate the all-embracing living wonder while the woods in winter has its own kind of resting beauty.