Give Yourself a Spring Bouquet

Crabapple Spring Returns 

Crabapple Spring Returns 


The earth laughs in flowers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is something so delightfully enchanting about treating yourself to fresh flowers. They are not “useful” in a utilitarian sense, but they feed the soul’s desire for beauty and bounty. The unfolding of a rose is a miracle, a living reminder that the life force unfolds from within. Lilies are fragrant, filling the room with sensuous sweetness. Sunflowers are the symbols of high summer and phototropic joy, like sunny smiling faces. Dogwood white against forest brown, deep blue dwarf larkspur, and tiny pink and yellow spring wildflowers make the earth new again as the season of growth begins after a long cold winter. The fierce red “I AM” of a tulip, the tender petal pink of a rosebud, or clouds of white crabapple blossoms at their peak of perfection remind me that life is ever new, every lovely, and ever surprising.

One way to give yourself the gift of a lasting bouquet is to take pictures. Petals fall and seasons change, but the beauty lives on long after the flower has gone to compost. I love to take pictures of flowers, capturing a moment as they bask in the light. A spray of plum blossoms caught in setting sun and reflecting the light as if they are living lamps, or the shadowed petals of an unfolding rose that creates a geometry of grace—every photo is a different expression of floral grace. I prefer capturing the blossoms in natural light, and have learned to look for nature’s “spotlight” for each scene. 

Much depends on the camera as well as the lighting. It doesn’t take fancy equipment to capture a bit of lasting beauty. I still use my old Kodak EasyShare point-and-shoot camera, and because I have used it for so many years, I have learned its ways more deeply. I have learned more of the ways of flowers from it. One day soon I will be investing in cameras with more bells and whistles, but something tells me that I will want to keep my old camera available, even if it is held together with masking tape (actually, it IS held together with masking tape, as the battery compartment no longer stays closed on its own, thanks to the camera being dropped once or twice). That old camera is a friend, another eye that helps me see what I would otherwise miss. Almost every photo on my website has been taken on my trusty little digital camera. I revel in the bouquets the camera and I create together. 

Timing is a big factor. Capturing the peak of the blossom or the perfect lighting is an essential part of the magic. I have a sunset view and at certain times of year the light of the lowering sun comes through the kitchen door and creates a space of light on my counter. I provide a background with a few simple props and place the opening rose in front of the complementary backdrop. Then I just chase the light as the sunset evolves. At other times of year my den skylight sends light down from on high, and my flowers bask in its spotlight for a few minutes of staged beauty. 

Best of all is chasing the light and beauty outdoors. I go to local parks, botanical gardens, or a favorite lake in blossom time, and the magic unfolds under the ever-changing weather conditions. It’s such a joy to capture the perfection of spring blossom. I have learned to love the light as it dances with the flowers, caressing them with passing splendor. Light makes love with the earth, bathing it in beauty, coaxing the plants and flowers into being. The clouds and shadows reveal and hide; the early morning or waning afternoon casts a subtle glow that full noon is too harsh to reveal. Sunlight through the petals reveal secrets of the flower, offering a sense of another world more luminous and whole, more perfect in its glowing beauty than earth can fully bear. 

Spring comes and goes fast in the South, as a warm day can open everything so quickly, and send it past its peak even more swiftly. Pacific Northwest spring blossoms linger in the grey coolness, but the southern sun can shorten the bloom time with a few days of unexpected heat. If I come upon a scene of peak blossom and glorious light, I take as many pictures as I can. I must capture the moment because it will not come again. Every year it’s different: same tree, same location, same spring blossom—yet never the same, and the photos are always different, day-to-day, season to season, moment by moment. Just like life: you can never repeat the moment, so keep your eyes wide open and your heart ready to receive. One day the cherry blossom is white. Two days later, it has deepened to pink. One day the crabapple buds are pink and red with promise, two days later they are a blanket of open white blossoms covering the tree. Two more days and they are petals falling and gone, swept away by the wind as a thunderstorm rushes in with a cleansing cold front. 

The most artfully luminous photos become icons for me. One or two photos from a session will stand out because of a bit of light and form captured in random perfection. They represent something more than just the flower itself. It is as if there are more dimensions reflected in their beauty. As I have grown in my artistry, I have found certain ways of looking at the composition of flower and light to create something much more than a mere snapshot of something pretty. The photo itself is like a flower opening my eyes to another layer of beauty and meaning. For me, contemplating flowers has become a way of contemplating the mystery of life. 

Whether I take a series of rose photos in afternoon’s fading light or go hunting at my favorite spring haunts for blossoms in the peak of their perfection, I go with an open heart as well as an open eye. Give yourself the gift of fragrant blossom and allow it to remind you of the inner dimension of the soul. A digital work of photo art, a painting that expresses your creative response to beauty, or just a lovely flower to scent your day and bringing beauty to your home; all of these remind you that eternity is calling to you through the lattices and windows of time and space. A big bouquet, a single rose, or wildflowers gathered from the side of the road—say it with flowers and take joy in nature’s sweet pleasures.

• Stop at a flower stand and pick your favorite bouquet. Now buy it and take it home and enjoy it. Or take your digital camera and go for a ramble in fields, forest, or garden. Take delight in the floral bounty that is always blooming for you. 


Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless: peacocks and lilies, for instance.
John Ruskin

Once or twice I have been asked what the peacock is “good for”—a question which gets no answer from me because it deserves none.
Flannery O’Connor

The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers. 
Basho

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.
Buddha

Beauty is reality seen with the eyes of love.
Evelyn Underhill

I like to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
George Washington Carver

Spring—an experience in immortality.
Henry David Thoreau

Every spring is the only spring—a perpetual astonishment.
Ellis Peters

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection not in words alone, but in every leaf in springtime.
Martin Luther

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light.
The glory and freshness of a dream.
William Wordsworth

In the garden mystery glows
the secret is hidden in the rose.
Farid ud-Din Attar

We cannot discover ourselves without first discovering the universe, the earth, and the imperatives of our own being. Each of these has a creative power and a vision far beyond any rational thought or cultural creation of which we are capable.
Thomas Berry

We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through the fabric of illusion.
Ansel Adams

Cherry Blossoms
Setting aside my worldly affairs,
On the cherry-bloom I will gaze,
Every day till it withers; for
The flowers will last so few days.
Moto-Ori Norinaga

Nature never makes haste; her systems revolve at an even pace. The buds swell imperceptibly, without hurry or confusion, as though the short spring days were an eternity. Why, then, should man hasten as if anything less than eternity were allotted for the least deed.
Henry David Thoreau 

Comments

  1. March 19, 2013 11:21 AM CDT

    A friend wrote me a card with wise words encouraging me not to stay tight in the bud but to risk blossoming (Anais Nin) and serendipitously I find your book, The Art of Simplicity, leading me to your blog and all these beautiful blossoms. I am inspired, thank you so much, Candy.

    - beth hunt

Seize the Day

Forest Magic 

Forest Magic 

Today is all you have. The past is behind you and the future is unknown. This moment is where life is lived, not in yesterday or tomorrow. Each day offers opportunities that will never come again. Your choices and decisions will color not only this day, but also cast their shadows on coming days. Remember, too, that by not making a choice, you are really making a choice, and that choice always has unforeseen consequences. 

Procrastination, putting off till tomorrow what should be done today, steals precious opportunities. Procrastination produces guilt because you know you should do something but you don’t. Instead, choose to value your time by doing what needs to be done right now, and live fully in each moment.

Be aware that there are hidden depths and dimensions in each day, unique to that day. Yes, there will be other opportunities on other days, but this day lived well will reward you with its own special joys.

Procrastination is the thief of time.
Edward Young

Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do.
Jose Ortega y Gasset

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.
Albert Camus

May you live all the days of your life.
Jonathan Swift

We look backward too much and we look forward too much; thus we miss the only eternity of which we can be absolutely sure—the eternal present, for it is always now.
William Phelps

To bring to the place where you live only the best and most beautiful—what a plan for life!
Howard Thurman

• Set a simple goal for today and achieve that goal. Reward yourself with a small pleasure when you achieve the goal.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
Dale Carnegie

A Season of Waiting

I have been working like mad on my first e-book, Inner Abundance, and it’s in the final edit and formatting stage. It’s been a long and heavy pregnancy with this book baby. There has been lot of wrestling with fear and doubt, especially because of the new e-book format. It hasn’t felt as “real” as a physical book with an established publisher. It’s a brave new world and there are no guarantees that this will work, only good people who have created their own e-book successes to encourage me. Now it’s almost ready in the text-only version that will be available for all the e-book formats. A PDF-only full color photo version will come later. Stay tuned for the birth announcement. Inner Abundance will soon be a bouncing baby book!

I wrote this meditation a few years ago, but even with a milder than usual summer here in Nashville, an inner heat wave has enveloped me. I wrote more wisely than I realized when I wrote this meditation on waiting. 

Heat Wave

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
--Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

The air is heavy with waiting. This is the hot breathless time of soaring summer temperatures, Bermuda highs, and killer humidity. It is a still time, when no breezes blow, no rain falls, and the sun beats down with its highest intensity. You can almost hear the plants growing, and you see daily development in the garden. But it is too uncomfortable to stay out very long. The minute you step outdoors, your clothing sticks to you, clinging to a body that is instantly covered with sweat. In this weather, only the bugs seem happy and comfortable. 

This is the time of waiting. You may be a gardener waiting for the plants to produce. Or you may be cultivating your own life, waiting for projects to come to fruition and dreams to come true. There comes a season in every life where the heat is on and all you can do is wait.

Sometimes it just takes waiting for the right timing. And during the season of high heat, timing is often not in your favor. You have to sweat it out. Do you have a project you’ve been working on that suddenly seems blocked or stopped? Are you waiting on someone else’s necessary decision, only to find out they’re on summer vacation and won’t be back until next week? Do processes feel like they’re being dragged out and results few and far between? Does your spiritual life feel meaningless, your prayer closet like a sauna, and a breath of fresh air seem as far away as a dream? Welcome to the dog days of the summer heat wave. 

St. John of the Cross talked about the dark night of the soul. Other spiritual masters talk about the silence of the senses. The humidity of a soul sweating out the work of time and the timing of the Creator is like a heat wave, deadening the senses into numb misery. It seems like an endless spiritual desert. Yet it is in the desert that saints and monks have purified their souls and found spiritual insight and clarity. If you are in a season of difficult waiting, perhaps God is developing the fruit of the Spirit in you. Just as a sweat breaks a fever and releases toxins, so this travail of the soul and body could be releasing impurities that keep you from spiritual health and well being. 

A time of waiting is part of life’s process and there is no way to avoid it, no shortcut around it. We have three possible responses: we can fight it, we can whine about it, or we can accept it as a necessary time for spiritual development. 

Sometimes in the early stages of a heat wave, we fight it. Angry that our vacation plans don’t include avoiding this discomfort and that circumstances demand our presence in this unpleasant weather, we are anxious, frustrated, and trying to figure a way out—any way out, at any price, as soon as possible. When we realize there is no way out and that we have to just slog through the heat, we grumble and complain. But whining can make the atmosphere even more unpleasant than the muggy humidity of waiting. We make the hard times harder with a negative attitude.

Then there is the way of acceptance. Sooner or later we come to the time when we must make this choice: will we accept the circumstance, adapt to the situation, and wait out God’s timing? If we choose the way of acceptance, there is no guarantee that the heat will lessen or that the weather will change any sooner. What we do discover, however, is that we can cope with this waiting in the heat, perhaps even learn from it. 

Here in the South, you learn to hibernate in the heat and choose your times of emergence into the outdoors wisely. You turn up the air conditioner during the day, wait till evening or early morning to do your hard work. You drink plenty of water, take it easy during the hottest part of the day, and wear comfortable clothes you can sweat into. You don’t just have to hibernate in the refrigerated indoors, however. You can also embrace the heat and immerse yourself in things as they are, rather than putting your energy into wishing for what isn’t. Spending time outdoors, embracing the heat, actually helps you cope, as your body adjusts to the temperatures and builds strength to endure.

In the southern summer I have learned take long early morning or twilight walks in clothes that I plan to sweat in, carrying bottled water to keep myself hydrated. I move more slowly and take time to look and listen to what nature is doing. There on the banks of Lake Radnor, I listen to the call of the bullfrog, watch the deer and geese feed in the green pond goo of duckweed, see the waterbugs dance on the surface of the lake, making patterns like raindrops across its surface. I feel the silky warmth of the humid evening on my bare arms, become aware of the sensuousness of the misty night. I plan on cool showers when I get home and a long tall iced tea or lemonade. I eat more lightly, adapting to my body’s diminished appetite in the heat. 

When I am battened down in my air conditioned office, I disperse essential oils into the atmosphere to remind me of the mountains and cool breezes I long for: tree scents of cedar, spruce, juniper, pine, and fir; and herb scents of spearmint, peppermint, lavender, thyme, and marjoram. I listen to my body and take naps when possible. I allow myself to be more sluggish and respect the power of the heat and humidity. People die in these conditions when they don’t adapt or take care of themselves. And I wait, doing what work I can, but also knowing that the change in the weather is in God’s timing, not my own. I practice the difficult art of patience. 

When you are in a waiting time, it is time to let go and let God. It sounds simplistic, but there are seasons when we as creatures need to work with the rhythms of creation and wait on the timing of the Creator, whether we want to or not. Fighting it only makes the inevitable more difficult. Surrendering the ego, letting go of your own agenda, opening to a wider, wiser unfolding of events—all of this can bear fruit in the long wait of the summer heat. 

The hot humid weather will eventually pass. The time of waiting will be over. You will discover that during the time of waiting, through the long hot days and humid nights, the garden was still growing and the plants were developing toward the days of harvest. The wise gardener is patient, whether he is waiting on the weather or the development of his own soul.

The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it.
--Henri Nouwen

Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain.
--James 5:6 (RSV)

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
--Henry David Thoreau

The seed of mystery lies in muddy water.
How can I perceive this mystery?
Water becomes clear through stillness.
How can I become still?
By flowing with the stream.
--Lao Tzu

Every time something difficult and challenging has happened to me it has marked the beginning of a new era in my life.
--Kimberly Kirberger

A streak of toughness combined with optimism is a good passport through life. The winners are the ones who get on with it.
--Maeve Binchy

Any man can work when every stroke of his hands brings down the fruit rattling from the tree… but to labor in season and out of season, under every discouragement… that requires a heroism which is transcendent.
--Henry Ward Beecher

One day at a time—this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet become. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.
--Ida Scott Taylor

Whenever a mind is simple, it is able to receive divine wisdom; old things pass away; it lives now and absorbs past and future into the present hour.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you let yourself be absorbed completely, if you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.
--Anne Morrow Lindbergh

With all our philosophy, with all our grand and enhancing ideas, we cannot escape life as we live it. Star-gazers are still walking on the solid earth.
--D.T. Suzuki

In walking, just walk. In sitting, just sit. Above all, don’t wobble.
--Yun Men

O God, grant us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed; the courage to change what should be changed; and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.
--Reinhold Niebuhr

One act of thanksgiving made when things go wrong is worth a thousand when they go well.
--St. John of the Cross

Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible. Not to run away.
--Dag Hammarskjold

There is a kind of release that comes directly to those who have undergone an ordeal and who know, having survived it, that they are equal to all of life’s occasions. 
--Lewis Mumford

Meaning, moods, the whole scale of our inner experience, finds in nature “the correspondences” through which we may know our boundless selves.
--Kathleen Raine

Introducing an inspiring friend: 

I have been following Chris Guillebeau at http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/ for guidance and inspiration on building my Internet business. He has just released a new Unconventional Guide on using social networking for your business. http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/the-unconventional-guide-to-the-social-web/ Also check out Christine Kane, songwriter, to see what she is doing with her Internet business. Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a free subscription to LiveCreative at http://christinekane.com/. And if you are lover of the food and the written word, check out this site: http://alimentumjournal.com/ I met the editor at a party. She moved to Nashville recently from New York. They currently feature a young Parisian blog writer who took her writing and love of food into a whole new career at http://chocolateandzucchini.com/
 

Comments

  1. September 11, 2009 5:10 PM CDT

    I'm writing about YOU & Abundance on my blog today! I have always loved your books and I'm glad to see that your website is up and running!

    www.thefootballwife.com

    - Sara -- The Football Wife

  2. July 1, 2010 1:54 PM CDT

    It is good to see that you are still surviving and thriving! This season has been an especially challenging one for me, with the death of my father in April and taking care of my mother and all the "loose ends" involved. I like to stop by here for encouragement and inspiration. Namaste, Candy!

    - Thomas W. Parker