Poetry Sunday-Wonderful Viburnum

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Wonderful Viburnum

 

 

Branches covered in snowy white,

Red and blue berries later delight.

Thick scarlet leaves escape from my sight,

To return bright green in the spring’s sunlight.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2012

 

 

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In spring, I love seeing shrubs flower.  One of the most beautiful is the native viburnum, Viburnum dentatum, that blooms right off my patio.  The white flowers turn to blue berries in late summer, and are devoured by birds.  I wrote this poem in honor of this very important native shrub.  You can read more about it here in my garden post.  The pictures here are of that wonderful viburnum that blooms profusely in my garden each year.

 

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and with Gillena@verses for her Monday WRites meme.

viburnum collage

I am also linking in with  Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about wonderful viburnum.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

viburnum

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Beyond Words: Spring At The Lake

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“Silence was the cure, if only temporarily, silence and geography. But of what was I being cured? I do not know, have never known. I only know the cure. Silence, and no connections except to landscape.” 

-Mary Cantwell, Manhattan, When I Was Young

 

 

I wanted to wrap up this series with another trip back to the lake across the street.  Several months ago, I started this series called, Beyond Words.  I wanted to showcase different spots I find, in pictures, with as few words as possible.  I have been focusing on the lake across the street; already seen in late summer, late autumn and winter.

 

 

Now as we are full into spring here, I thought it would be interesting to see how spring unfolded in late April at the lake.  It was chilly still in April.  Some days were warm, and many nights freezing cold.  But still life moved along, and the leaves just started to show up on the trees.

 

 

So let’s see what early spring looked like, at the lake.

 

 

 

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This is the iconic view as you pull up to the beach.  Picnic tables and grills to the left in the trees, and the playground and bathhouse to the right.  Of course the still lake in the background is always a peaceful sight…..when there are no swimmers!

 

 

 

beach collage

The beach wasn’t much different, just a bit greener as the grass grew quickly through the sand in spring.  Soon the machines will be there to dig up the sand, sift it and get it ready when the beach opens this weekend.  For now, geese and gulls are making the beach their home.  And watch out for those cigar-sized goose droppings.

 

 

 

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Closer to the shore you can see all the grass and wood debris that continues to wash up on shore, all needing to be cleaned up too.

 

 

 

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Looking left toward the jetty we can see it is just beginning to green up, and tall grasses will grow out into the lake soon.  Mallards are likely nesting along the shore.

 

 

 

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Again looking toward the little cove, we see all the tall grasses and weedy plants, along with small trees greening up too.  I love how the lake was still and calm making it a reflecting pond.

 

 

 

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As there were no fishermen on the lake or boats yet, I turned around toward the woods that were alive with activity.

 

 

 

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Looking up we can see visitors stopping by.  I was unsure who this was….perhaps a sparrow.  And I was checking out the woodpecker holes to see if anyone was claiming them as a home.  And you can see the maple trees were first to leaf out.

 

 

 

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I decided to walk the path to the bench.  It looked a bit lonely at the edge of the grassy beach.  Lots of bright glaring sunlight around mid-morning.

 

 

 

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I turned back around toward the right again, and saw clouds were beginning to roll in, almost giving the long view, out to the point, a foggy appearance.

 

 

 

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As I walked away, I turned back to look through the woods where the sun was still shining….this view will remain etched on my brain.  I will not be back to the lake for the rest of spring or summer, as it will be overrun with people soon….basking in the sun and splashing in the water.

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed these trips to the lake.  I am not sure what spot I will pick next to highlight, but I’ll let you know.  But for today, I am out celebrating as I turn a young 59!  With this post, I am linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.

 

 

 

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Special Note:  Oneida Lake is the largest lake entirely within New York State.  It has a surface area of 79.8 square miles, and is located northeast of Syracuse and near the Great Lakes.  There are several parks, marinas and beaches along this lake that spans several counties.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional thoughts about celebrating life.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

celebrate life

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Conversations In The Garden: On Creating a Sanctuary

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“Who will free me from hurry, flurry, the feeling of a crowd pushing behind me, of being hustled and crushed? How can I regain even for a minute the feeling of ample leisure I had during my early, my creative years? Then I seldom felt fussed, or hurried. There was time for work, for play, for love, the confidence that if a task was not done at the appointed time, I easily could fit it into another hour. I used to take leisure for granted, as I did time itself.”

~Bernard Berenson

 

 

Many days I felt like this.  Hurried, hustled and bounced about.  Feeling time was running out, and I had accomplished little.  And even after I ticked everything off my To Do list, more was added instantaneously.  Never time for leisure, relaxation or rest.

 

 

 

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I always dreamed of a safe haven away from the flurry of life….where I could go to get away even for 5 minutes to regain my sanity.  And when I thought about this place I saw the ocean or a meadow….flowers or a beach.  Each of these images are healing for me, and immediately ease my pain and renew my soul.

 

 

 

IMG_5627So when I designed the bones of my garden, I imagined flowers and water there in a special spot…and with it the sound of water.  It was clear that a pond would be the perfect spot to have water and flowers.  And that pond had to have a waterfall, so I could have the healing sound of water nearby, especially since I don’t live close to the ocean.

 

 

 

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It was easy to decide where to place the pond….as close to the house as possible so we could have easy access, and hear the water flowing over the rocks.  Where I could sit on a large rock at its edge and look out over the garden of my soul…my sanctuary!

 

 

 

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And once created, this place took on a magic all its own.  I discovered that my sanctuary was also a safe haven for others who wanted to share it with me.  They didn’t talk, they just hung out with me in the moment….they were my quiet solitude companions that added their song to sing me to sweet solitude and peace.

 

 

 

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I am of course referring to the frogs, toads, birds and insects who also call the pond their home, and their sanctuary.  They bathe here, and give birth here.  And some have made this place their home too.  We commune and talk, but mostly we just sit in peaceful meditation marveling at how incredibly beautiful this place can be.

 

 

 

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I look forward to every spring when we put the pump back in, and the pond stirs to life.  To see the tadpoles and frogs awake.  And the lily pads start forming on the surface, knowing the flowers will be along soon.  To watch the reflections in the water.  This is my heaven on earth….my special haven for healing.

 

 

Have you ever created a sanctuary for yourself?

 

 

 

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Special Note:  The pictures here are of my pond in its first year of bloom.  While it is a bit overgrown these days, it is still my sanctuary, and beloved habitat for so many who share the garden with me.

 

I will be taking a week off, and will have another post next Thursday, the 26th!  It is a special day for me….

 

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I leave you with a few additional words on creating a sanctuary.  I welcome you to download this photo and share it.

sanctuary

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-A Flower Delicacy

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A Flower Delicacy

 

 

I love to see these tiny little yellow lanterns spreading out across the, almost bare, meadow landscape.  Their liver-spotted leaves give them away before you see their blooms.  Look quickly though for they only flourish a short while.   A flower delicacy fleeting with time, but like a fine wine, they will be forever burned into your senses….sending you looking for their bright yellow blossoms each spring, even if you can only glimpse them for but a moment.

 

Pagoda flower

Alights over spotted leaf

Tiny lanterns glow

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2016

 

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One of the first native wildflowers to pop up, in early spring, are the Trout Lilies or Erythronium americanum.  Called a spring ephemeral because they bloom for but a few days or so as the air warms.  You can read more about this native flower in my garden post.  I created the haiku in 2012, and completed the haibun this year.  The pictures here are of Trout Lilies that bloomed in my meadow last April.

 

 

I will be skipping posting a Sunday poem next week, and will return on May 29th with another Sunday poem.

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, with Gillena@verses for her Monday WRites meme, and Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday.  This week’s theme is “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is Art.”  Not sure if this hits the mark, but I adore native plants like this Trout Lily, and they seem to be nature’s work of art for me.

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I leave you with a few additional words about rejoicing in spring.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

pagoda

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Wild Blue Indigo

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Wild Blue Indigo

 

 

Deep blue of indigo

Stalks reach skyward.

Magnets for the buzzing drone.

Bees drink their fill

With drunken smiles.

Sweet memories linger

With their departure.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2012

 

 

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I am continuing my spring poems with another wonderful native plant, Wild Blue Indigo or Baptisia australis.  Their spikes of purple flowers rise tall each spring, drawing in dozens of pollinators for weeks on end.  You can read more about this plant here, in my garden post.

 

The pictures here are of the Baptisia that grows in my garden each spring.

 

 

 

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I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and with Gillena@verses for her Monday WRites meme, and Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday.  This week’s theme is “Nothing is more memorable than Scent”!

baptisia

I am also linking in with  Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about deep blue indigo.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

wild indigo

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Wildlife Lesson-Early Spring Critters

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“My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather.”

 ~Loire Hartwould

 

 

 

As spring (March 21st) dawned in the purply-pink sky, there was a perceptible shift in the air, urged on by the warmer spring weather.  As we walked around the area and observed our surrounds, we were greeted by crowds in the trees, in the sky and on the ground; crowds of migratory birds who had returned here early to nest and raise their young.

 

 

Of course it was different when the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) came around in mid-February.  The birds scattered to find warmth as it fell on the coldest weekend of the year with -20F temps and -40F wind chills.   It was lonely and the trees were pretty bare.  Now weeks later, the birds are showing up to usher in spring right on schedule….March 21st.

 

 

 

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When we returned in early March from our trip out west, the weather had warmed a bit and the peepers were singing us to sleep.  And when I walked around our pond, the first week of spring, I saw tadpoles swimming.  The frogs are usually not long off.  The first are usually the Northern leopard frogs (Lithobates pipiens).

 

 

 

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Prior to the new birds arriving, I noticed the Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura) were pairing off and looking around for nesting sites.

 

 

 

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And American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos), along with various hawks, were seen gathering nesting materials.  This crow was ripping bark from an old vine growing in the meadow.

 

 

 

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Canada geese (Branta canadensis) were also returning, in droves, in mid-March, littering the skies on their way to the lake across the street.

 

 

 

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And many blackbirds descended upon us as spring started….Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater), and Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula).  A few Red-winged Blackbirds were back in February, but the raucous noise of the males returning to their nesting sites was a glad spring chorus in late March.

 

 

 

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But I knew spring was here, when we heard the familiar banging on our front windows.  Our female ‘crazy-toes’ American robin (Turdus migratorius) was back to claim her nesting site, our garden, for her third year.  The banging meant she was back to fight the imaginary robins in our windows.  You can read more about our journey with her here.

 

As I report on the events of the start of spring in March, April receded to winter with snow and cold.  The robins were especially struggling, and you can read about their struggle here.  They seem to have made it through and are now building their nest next door at the abandoned house.

 

 

So there you have some of our first spring visitors.  I will update you on more spring critters next month….April warmed, and the critter activity has been busy!  What signs of spring are you seeing in your area?

 

 

 

With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  I am also linking in with with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.

 

 

 

I leave you with another thought about the lessons to learned from the singing birds.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

birds sing

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-16.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Lilies of the Wood

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Lilies of the Wood

 

 

Through the shadows

of early woods,

Carpets of white

arise in pools of light.

Spreading out far and wide

in glorious song of spring’s arrival.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2012

 

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In honor of National Wildflower Week, I am highlighting one native plant, that grows in my garden, each week for the next 5 weeks.

 

Wildflowers are amazing to see in the woods in spring.  These lilies of the wood, as I call them, are also known as Trillium grandiflorum.  Upon seeing their carpet of white blooms, across the floor of the forest, I was inspired to write this poem.  You can read more about this beautiful wildflower in my garden post.

 

The Trillium pictured here are those that I grow in my garden, in hopes they will make a mass of stunning blooms one day.

 

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.

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I am also linking in with  Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about the lily of the wood.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

lilies of the wood

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-April Spring

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April Spring

 

 

The soul stirs under bright April skies,

Raw and cold, with warm sun, clouds rolling by.

 

 

Rain pours down and pools throughout,

Replenishing the soil; pushing worms out.

 

 

Everywhere in the garden is the rush to grow,

Fresh green foliage wrapped with bright colorful bows.

 

 

More voices join daily in the garden’s song,

First robin’s, then peepers all the day long.

 

 

And my heart quickens its beat on this glorious stage,

As April moves to May and writes a new page.

 

 

 © Donna Donabella 2016

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April springs are unique and special.  The weather shifts from cold and rainy to warm and sunny, even within the same day….trying to settle.  This year it has been very unsettled.  The blooms continue to pop up more and more throughout the garden decorating garden beds throughout….much like presents with bows.

 

The flowers here are pretty spring bulbs known as, Chionodoxa, or Glory of the Snow.

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.

glory of snow collage

I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about April spring.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

april spring

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Conversations in the Garden: On Perspective

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“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”
~Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

 

 

For me, I would say the world IS a garden.  A big, beautiful garden full of plants and wildlife, so much more fascinating than I could ever dream them to be.  And the intricate webs of life, that are woven in this garden, are so important for us….for you and for me, and for the plants and wildlife we live amongst.

 

 

With Earth Day being celebrated tomorrow…or is it anymore….I am reminded of the call, in 1970, to change how we treat the world, the environment we live in.  It meant something important and special to me, that first Earth Day.  Finally a way to recognize what we must do to change how we are treating our planet.

 

 

IMG_0412And the rallying cry, ‘Earth Day Everyday’ was a perfect mantra for me.  A young 13-year-old wanting to make a difference.  I knew so little then…and now some 46 years later after all I have learned, and all I try to do, I wonder do I make a difference at all.  Will my one garden, grown organically, using less water…will it matter in the grand scheme?  Will it matter to the wildlife in my one plot?

 

 

And realistically in the grand scheme of things maybe not.  But for me it does matter.  I was taught respect.  Something I find sorely lacking these days.  And the respect that we may give others who have earned it, also translates to a respect for the earth that supports us.  Indeed it is essential that we respect the earth.  That we do our best to do no harm.

 

 

I know I am not perfect, nor can I be.  But my efforts do help the microcosm of life, here in my one plot.  The rabbits nest here, the animals find food here to support themselves and their young.  Unlike those around me, who spray every bug until it dies, I cultivate the insects.  I welcome them home.  And my garden is abuzz with their sounds throughout the season.  These insects are the reason my flowers grow, my fruits and vegetables produce, and birds and babes flock here to nest and raise their young.

 

 

IMG_0381From my perspective, it is really rather simple…..do no harm.  Stop spraying your weeds and the insects.  The chemicals not only are killing the wildlife around us, but they are killing us.  More and more research is showing that our exposure to chemicals is causing diseases in us and our pets.    And the chemicals found in our food, is where we get the bulk of these chemicals that are deadly to us.

 

 

I am not going to regale you with research article after research article.  They are there if you chose to read them, or even believe them.  But if we use common sense, why would we want to poison our bodies.  Once I started eating only organic foods, I found many of the health issues I had subsided, and the inflammation in my body was drastically reduced.  Not scientific research…no.  But good common sense….do no harm.

 

 

If chemicals kill weeds and insects, then it follows they poison us too on some level.  Have you ever used some of these chemicals.  I did a long time ago, and even poisoned myself….I was deathly ill after prolonged use….several days of spraying to rid myself of lawn and weeds.  I was lucky to escape with my life in tact.  But then I was only focused on getting rid of the weeds…can’t have weeds you know!  Now I live with the weeds.  The weeds that support wildlife.  I’d rather have weeds, and wildlife and my life, than a chemically sprayed world devoid of life.

 

 

IMG_0413Can you tell I am impassioned about this topic?  Am I preaching to the choir?  Yes, and I am up on my soapbox too.  And maybe my voice will reach very few, but that is not going to stop me from doing what I know in my heart is the right thing….do no harm.  This is my perspective, and only you can reach your own conclusions based on how you see the world.

 

 

I ask that you take a moment this Earth Day, and consider my words.  Look at the world from a different vantage point.  Shift your view, to see the world through the eyes of others that we share this planet with.  Look at the future for yourself and your children, your family.  Bury your face in the grass and see the teeming life there that we depend on, and that depends on us to first do no harm.

 

 

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How are you celebrating Earth Day?  What is your perspective?

 

 

 

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Special Note:  The pictures here are of Iris reticulata that grow in early spring.  I took pictures of the same clump of iris from different perspectives.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words on perspective.  I welcome you to download this photo and share it.

perspective

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Rejoice

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Rejoice

 

 

Snow retreats,

while armfuls of green stems stretch out.

Toward skies of deep blue,

chill winds blow strong.

Yellow faces waving,

bright smiles beam toward the sun.

Rejoice-the daffodils are up!

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2012

 

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One of the first flowers to pop up, in early spring, are the yellow trumpet daffodils.  I look forward to seeing their cheery faces.  This poem was born from observing them bloom.  And even though mine were buried for 4 days under snow, they have perked back up, and are smiling in the 70 degree sun!

 

The pictures here are of the daffodils that bloom in my garden in early April.

 

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday.  This week’s theme is ‘a drop of sunshine’; what gives us more sunshine than the first daffodils of spring!

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I am also linking in with  Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about rejoicing in spring.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

rejoice

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Nature’s Healing Balm

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“What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet once more,
to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks
where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes,
or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that
tumble and roll and climb in riotous gladness!”

~Helen Keller

 

 

When spring gets into full swing….where the flowers are coloring the landscape, and the warm breezes drift around me carrying intoxicating scents….I am calmed, I am rejuvenated, I am healed.

 

 

And it isn’t just in spring….it is anytime I am in nature really.  I have a strong need to be here where I can observe a special world that moves to its own slow rhythm and pace.  Being surrounded by the constant noise of machines and voices, the smell of exhaust from engines, the bright light of screens, and the endless push, push, push to get things done, I need a place to go where I can feel a healing balm descend on me body and soul.  Where I am reminded to breath slowly….to look and listen…to take in the world around me with every sense I can muster.

 

 

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But there are rules when I enter nature’s world….and these rules must be observed if we are to get any healing effect from it.  You must surrender to this world in silence….open up your eyes and ears.  Breath deep, and drink in every smell.  Feel the temperature, the air and light on your skin.  Be there in the moments that present themselves.  And for heaven’s sake, bring no electronics with you…well maybe a camera from time to time to capture a bit of it.  We cannot notice this special world when we are engaged in looking at a screen or talking to another person.  This is a world to enter alone.  To give ourselves to fully.

 

 

Recently, I have been keeping a digital journal of Moments of Fulfillment in my garden.  Moments I am beginning to write down in a journal and on my other blog, monthly.  The moments that bring light and lightness to my heart.  Where I feel at home, and at peace.  Let me show you a few of these moments that have been a healing balm for me this spring.

 

 

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When a sky, this color, presents itself, you must capture the moment in your mind as you sit and gaze on it….just by looking at its magnificence I am instantly calmed.  And the tears that well up in my eyes, at its miracle, match the raindrops still on the branches of the tree.

 

 

 

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Sitting on the Wall Garden, I can watch the first pollinators roll around in the crocus pollen…they are drunk and high with their first drink of spring.  And the high is catching.

 

 

 

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The tiniest of bulbs are now popping up all over the garden.  And because the landscape is so bare, you can’t help but notice them…..in blues…..

 

 

 

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And pale pinks….nestled in and among the new growth and spent debris of last year’s garden.  Hardly noticeable sometimes unless you stop and look closely.  Even getting down on hands and knees.  Sometimes I will even lay upon the earth and stare at their beauty.

 

 

 

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There are surprises around every corner.  A clump of dried grass is so much more upon closer inspection.  The thought of new life, or life that never came to be.  Pondering the mystery brings me solace.

 

 

 

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And visiting nature after a refreshing rain can bring its own special beauty.

 

 

 

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One of the most incredible sounds is the sweet song of the spring birds.  Calling to each other.   Whistling a tune.  They just seem so happy, that each time I hear their songs, I break into a smile that lights my heart.  For me there is no better healing balm than nature…whether in my own garden, or in a park across the street, or a nature center across town.

 

 

Where do you find solace and healing?

 

 

 

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Special Note:  The pictures here are of the recent early spring in my garden.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words the healing power of nature.  I welcome you to download this photo and share it.

touch of nature

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Seeds Await

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Seeds Await

 

 

Under the ground the seed awaits

For the warmth of the sun upon its head.

Waking from peaceful slumber

To break free and push past its constraints.

Stretching now toward the nourishing light,

Changing and growing into a new form

Soon to show the world the beauty that has lain dormant

Now unfettered-a true celebration!

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2012

 

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I wrote this poem in spring 2012, when I was starting my vegetable garden.  Seeds have always mesmerized me as they have everything in their small capsule to make a plant, flower and fruit.  Quite a miracle that little seed.

 

The pictures here are of seeds I started indoors, last winter and spring.  They were planted out when the weather was warm enough.  And I will be planting seeds directly in the garden soon when the weather warms, and the garden season starts again.

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday.  This week’s theme is spring, and our views about the season.

seedling collage

I am also linking in with  Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.

 

 

 

spring ruralA perfect way to start off spring is to read RURAL’s spring issue.  I am honored to be contributing again to this amazing online magazine, the creation of Jen@The Light Laughed.  I hope you will drop by and read all the amazing articles….and best of all it is free.

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about seeds waiting to grow.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

seedlings

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Wildlife Lessons: A Survivor’s Tale

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“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.”

~Yann Martel, Life of Pi

 

 

 

I had a different story for you today.  One that started out with beautiful spring skies, and warm breezes, birds chirping and arriving to their summer homes a bit early.  And then the bottom dropped out, and we had this….this frigid cold, and snow….days of snow.  Snow that froze my daffodils and hyacinths to the ground and kept them there for 4 days.

 

 

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Snow in April is common here.  We get dustings, and even up to 3, 4 or 5 inches.  But it melts fast.  In all my days here, I have never seen so much snow in April, 8 or more inches for 2 days, and no melting even when it stopped.  Cold January and February temps, in the 20s and teens, instead of normal early April temps in the 40s and 50s.

 

 

And as I tell this story, our snow is still here.  And my flowers are still suffering.  But the more poignant part of the story was not about me, and my whining about my poor flowers.  It was about the birds, and especially the American Robins.  They came back in March.  The last to arrive were here on the first full day of spring…our lovely warm spring that has disappeared.

 

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We have loads of robins who visit us.  They pair off, and make their home claiming the land between every 2-3 houses.  Staking their territory to start their home and raise their young.  And our pair has been coming here now for 3 years running.  We know because the female greets us every morning by banging on the window.  She is the only one to ever do this, and she has been doing it now for three years.  But that is another story you can read here.

 

 

 

DSCN3136The robins are used to a bit of snow, and cold.  But this snow swallowed the ground, and not a bit of it was left uncovered.  Why is this significant?  Because robins eat worms and insects in spring, which were nowhere to be found in the snow.  See my poor daffodil buds languishing in the snow.

 

 

 

DSCN3151And it didn’t dawn on me that they would be suffering until I saw this.  Our female struggling in the Barberry branches.  At first I thought, why would she choose to perch in this thorny bush, where the branches are vertical and packed tight with barely any breathing space.  And then I saw it….

 

 

 

barberry collage

She was eating the berries formed last fall.  We have never seen any birds eating these berries.  Which is a good thing, as the seeds then are scattered (if the birds eat the berries), and this invasive bush colonizes in forests pushing out the native understory plants.  But this day I was glad for the barberry berries as were the robins.

I do have lots of berry producing bushes that are native and preferred by the birds, but those were picked clean in late summer and fall.

 

 

 

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Another sign they were eating these berries, was the tell-tale red droppings in the snow, and on my front porch bench.

 

 

 

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They found evergreens or trees with dense branches for some shelter, but their isn’t much here as the trees are not leafing out for another month.  For birds to survive the cold, it is essential they have food, stay still, especially if they can’t find much food, and use their metabolism to generate heat. And they puff up their feathers to keep the cold air away from their skin, and trap body heat.

 

 

 

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Of course they need water to drink, but all puddles and ponds were frozen.  So at first, I saw them eating snow often to stay hydrated.  As the snow on the driveway and roads melted and formed tiny puddles, they drank from those.

 

 

 

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Seeing their little foot prints in the deep snow, broke my heart.  They seemed to prefer staying on the ground, even sitting on top of the snow in sheltered areas.

 

I have plans to take out the barberry bush in the next year or so, but I will make sure we replace it with a nice berry producing bush, and maybe add a couple more along the side of the house just in case.  After all, we have lots of bird friends who like berries, so the more the better.

 

 

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I guess I should have realized the burden this unexpected weather would put on these birds, but we are so used to seeing birds here all winter.  Of course our full-timers, as I call them, are acclimated to our climate and know how to survive.  Unfortunately for the visitors, they are not used to this, but boy they are wired to survive, and find what they need.

 

I was buoyed by their feistiness, and their determination.  It pulled me out of my snowy weather doldrums, and made me see the bigger picture beyond my flowers….which I bet may survive after all.  I won’t count them out yet either!

 

 

 

With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  I am also linking in with with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.

 

 

Note:  I’ll tell you the nice spring critter story next month, and give you any updates on the robins.  Also please excuse some of the pictures…between the weather, dirty windows and screens they made for some dark and out of focus shots.

 

 

I leave you with another thought about nature and surviving.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

survival

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-16.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Ode To A Toad

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Ode To A Toad

 

 

 

On the ground or in the pond

Amongst the leaf litter

Toads can be found.

 

 

Sweltering suns can force them to flee

Below ground

Or in deep meadow green.

 

 

On warm, gentle nights the ‘whirring’ begins

Rushing to ponds

For the courting whirlwind.

 

 

In morning look closely and you’ll spy,

On stout stems,

Pearly stings of eggs loosely tied.

 

 

In no time at all these glistening beads

Alter their form-

To inky blobs between the reeds.

 

 

Warts galore they begin to forage

 For worms, slugs and ants

 Their surrounds, exploring.

 

 

But with the sun waning, the air turning cool,

Underground to slumber

Dreaming again of warm nights by the pool.

 

 

 

©Donna Donabella 2016

 

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I wrote this poem in early spring as I was anticipating the toads returning to the pond.  Each stanza talks about the life of the toad, from where they live, laying their glistening bead-like eggs and hibernating again below the soil when fall returns.  I have not seen or heard them yet as it has turned cold.  But once their song starts, it sings us to sleep every night from spring through summer.

 

The toads pictured here are found in my garden and pond from spring to fall.

 

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday.  I am not sure if this poem fits with the ‘Surely You Jest’ theme, but I think some people think it amusing that I have written a poem to a toad!

toad collage

I am also linking in with  Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about toads.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

ode for a toad

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Crocus

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Crocus

 

 

Petals unfurl,

with shouts of joy!

A youthful gladness-

finally enjoyed.

 

 © Donna Donabella 2012

 

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One of the first bulbs to bloom, early in my garden, are the snow crocus pictured here.  They shout spring with splashes of color all over the garden.   Wishing everyone a joyous Easter!

 

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog. Please visit to read some more wonderful verse.

crocus collage

I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles 2016.

 

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about first spring crocus.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

crocus

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

3/5/12

Poetry Sunday-Perennial Life

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Perennial Life

 

 

A beautiful spring.

Next a strong summer,

Moves to a waning fall

As blossom and leaf are shed.

 

To winter slumber,

Emerging slowly.

Renewed with the warm spring breezes,

To flower once more with vigor-

Begins the cycle again.

 

 

 © Donna Donabella 2016

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As a gardener, I often see my life’s journey as parallel to the seasons in the garden.  This poem was written after one of those reflective moments.

 

Pictured here are Oriental Poppies and their seedheads.  They have such a unique look, and I am struck often by their mandala tops.

 

 

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These are the same poppies in bud and flower.  I love the crinkly, papery petals resembling crepe paper.

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and with Gillena@Verses for her Monday WRites link-up.

poppy seeds

I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about a perennial life.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

perennial life

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Retreating to Spring

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Retreating to Spring

 

 

As I reflect on the garden these days,

I find my mind retreating

to the spring colors,

of bulbs popping up-

the subtle greens emerging

and dotting the brown wet soil.

Of beginning again…always a new start.

 

 

 © Donna Donabella 2016

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March means spring is on its way…even if the weather is cold and snowy.  We know it isn’t far off.  And as spring approaches, the bulbs start to pop up with the snow’s retreat.

 

With our unusually warm weather, the snow retreated already and bulbs are up.  I am renewed each spring as if my life has the beautiful gift of starting over…..nothing is the same, and I am ready for all the new wonders about to be shown!

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog, and Sanaa@A Dash of Sunny for her Prompt Nights every Friday.  I am not sure if this poem fits with the ‘Faith, healing’ theme, but the new growth of spring is my healing…it is where I find my spiritual place!

sprouts collage

Please visit these fabulous poetry blogs to read some more wonderful verse.

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about retreating to spring.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

retreating to spring

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Wildlife Lesson-Squirreling Around

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“Not much goes on in the mind of a squirrel.

Huge portions of what is loosely termed “the squirrel brain” are given over to one thought:  food.

The average squirrel cogitation goes something like this: I wonder what there is to eat.”
~ Kate DiCamillo

 

 

 

I have not always been fond of squirrels….eastern gray squirrels that is, or Sciurus carolinensis as they are also known. As a matter of fact, in my old garden that grew beneath an orchard of old black walnut trees, I actually loathed these beasts.  They dug up my plants, chewed all the flowers off my tulips and crocuses.  We waged a battle of wits to keep them from our bird feeder…..yes, I was not fond of squirrels back then.

 

 

But here in our present garden, the squirrels are not as big or plentiful.  They are part of the native landscape…residents that hunt up food, and are food for those who hunt them.  So they are kept in check.  Even the small Common Wrens chase them from the spring and summer garden trees when they are nesting.

 

 

 

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And as part of our wildlife garden, I have found them cute and amusing…we’ll see how long that lasts if they destroy my tulips again.  For now, though, I actually get a kick out of them.  Especially in winter when they are wrapped up in their thick winter coats.  We  can see their frequent visits, and even their typical pathways once winter arrives.  They have very distinctive footprints.

 

 

 

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Last March, the squirrels found the suet feeder as the winter’s frigid cold was harsh and all the critters needed extra fat for energy and survival.  This winter they tore it down once as they swung on it.

 

 

 

DSCN1322And this little squirrel, was likely born in winter as Eastern Gray Squirrels breed in summer and winter.  Brrrr!  Not a time I would think of breeding and raising young ones….although all those bodies in a nest must make it toasty.  I am assuming he is one of a few gray squirrels still frequenting the garden.

 

 

 

We don’t have any squirrels actually living in the garden in hollow tree nests, but we have had leaf nests, also known as dreys.  Gray squirrels usually use these dreys primarily in summer as they are supposed to be temporary.  But here we see the nests built and used in winter too.  It is said that if the nests are built high in the trees, then the winter will be harsh.  This year, the squirrels seemed to be unsure with good reason…it has been an atypical winter.

 

 

And within the last year, we have noticed a new visitor…..a Black Squirrel.  The Black Squirrel is a subgroup of our gray squirrel, and not usually seen in these parts.

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This squirrel is pretty aggressive as is usual for Black Squirrels.  When he hopped into our garden, he liked what he saw.  He has taken over the yards of 5 houses as his territory, and if a gray squirrel is found anywhere near, he chases, and chases, and chases them.  Of course the gray squirrels sneak in and make themselves at home when he is gone.

 

 

 

tree squirrel collage

As tree dwellers, squirrels are at home in our trees.  Especially this fellow.

 

 

 

pumpkin squirrel collage

This pumpkin was smashed in front of our house in late November.  We decided to put it in the veg garden so perhaps the seeds would germinate in summer.  But our friendly gray squirrel is making himself at home.  We watched him take one seed at a time and bury them throughout the garden, especially near the veg beds and in the veg beds.   He even came back later and found a few for a snack.  And the black squirrel has buried several black walnuts, from the nearby woods, in the veg garden….we find the shells all over the garden in fall and winter.

 

 

 

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I do love their faces…too cute and they have the best expressions.  Recently we even had one come to the back stairs to peer in through the kitchen glass door.  He lingered a bit on the railing of the stairs…..

 

 

 

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All I could  capture of him was his tail end.

 

 

 

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As a matter of fact, I often photograph them from the tail side.  After all it is a rather handsome tail.

 

 

With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  I am also linking in with with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.

 

And I am sharing this lesson with Beth@PlantPostings for her wonderful Garden Lessons Learned meme.  I hope you will join her.  Please check out all these great blogs.

 

 

I leave you with another thought about the lessons I am learning from nature.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

squirrel

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-16.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

End of Month Potpourri-February 2016

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“Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.” ~Hugh Macmillan

 

 

 

With scenes like this, I feel a sense of peace and calm even in the midst of a snow storm.  There is a feeling of being wrapped in a blanket, cocooned in safety as I watch this swirling magical world descend.  There is a beauty and magic to winter we miss when we just think about the negatives of snow.

 

 

It’s cold, the roads are a mess and I hate driving in it, I can’t garden or get outside….the list can go on and on.  But when I think of the time I spend indoors in winter, I feel glad to have this special time to rest, recharge and reconnect with my inner self.

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And I do make time for the outdoors almost daily in winter….it is a renewed commitment to being out in all seasons and experiencing what they bring.  I absolutely love walking outside, even in cold winds, because it is refreshing.  I can give it many other terms:  bracing, invigorating, stimulating, energizing, exhilarating, reviving, restorative, rejuvenating, revitalizing.…well you get the picture.  And these words also describe how I feel about winter in general.

 

 

So I thought I would show you a few more pictures of winter this year…..most of it has happened in just one month, January.  Very strange to not have snow for at least 3 months, but I accept each month as they come.

 

 

 

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When winter falls on the meadow, it is a breathtaking sight especially when the cold frosty morning meets the sunshine of the new day.

 

 

 

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Each plant, coated in frost and snow, shimmers with the sunrise.

 

 

 

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The fresh snow sits like cotton balls dipped in glitter.

 

 

 

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And as the sun rises, I am intrigued by the bokeh effect on the landscape.

 

 

 

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The display changes from different vantage points and lighting.  One reason I love to wander around after a snow fall, is to capture the different effects and views.

 

 

 

DSCN1881And  even on the grayer days, there is a beauty to the snow.

 

 

 

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New snowy white flowers appearing where there was once only a seedhead….I call them winter flowers.

 

 

 

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As the gray lightens or darkens the effect on the garden does too.  This Clethra bush is stunning when it is splashes with some snow.  It completely transforms under a heavier coating.

 

 

 

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I hope you enjoyed this little look into winter in my own backyard.  We don’t have to venture too far to see the beauty of nature, frosty and sparkling under the winter snows.  You can also see some additional winter scenes with, winter at the lake, just a 10 minute walk from my door.

 

 

I will be away from my blog for a bit, and won’t have a Thursday post until March 10th.  I’ll see you then.

 

 

 

I leave you with a bit more sentiment about winter.   Feel free to download the photo and share.

winter

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-16.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

Poetry Sunday-Fire In The Sky

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Fire in the Sky

 

 

Darkness descends

on the glowing embers of the day,

all color fades to black.

The silence sparkles under moonlight,

as an obsidian horizon spins toward the new dawn-

Fire in the Sky.

 

 

 © Donna Donabella 2011

 

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This poem was also written in late fall 2011.  As the seasons change, I observe the subtle and not so subtle shifts in nature.  Winter has some of the most stunning and colorful sunsets and sunrises.  The pictures here are of the sunset seen from my garden as autumn shifted to winter.

 

 

I am joining in with Poets United and Gillena@Verses for their weekly poetry link up for poets who blog.  Visit them to read some more wonderful verse.

sunset collage

I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday.

 

 I will be away from my blog for a while taking a break.  So I will not be posting poetry again until mid-March.  I’ll see you then.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about the fire in the sky.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

fire in sky

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.