Creative Quest

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“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”
~Steve Jobs

 

 

 

Recently, I took part in a week-long Photo Quest (#celebrateARTlife ), put together by Whitney Freya.  I find when I take part in photo challenges, I really reach deep inside and touch my creative soul.  So I was excited to participate.

Each day we were given prompts, and then asked to look at the symbolism of our subject.  I liked the idea of the symbolism, as it revealed much about me, and where I am on my journey.  

Initially, I posted these photos and narratives on my Facebook Page, but I wanted to combine them and post them here too, where I like to showcase what I am creating.  I hope you enjoy the Photo Quest as much as I did…..

 

 

day1 garden maiden

On Day 1, we had to post a picture of a favorite piece in our house that has special meaning for us.  I chose my Garden Water Maiden statue.  Here is what I wrote about this photo:

 

As a long time gardener, she has special meaning for me. I feel she symbolizes gardeners like myself who cherish the land and the critters who live there. She has made her home in my house for a number of years.

And the water jug she carries symbolizes healing water.

Water also symbolizes friendship and love connecting us to the world. It is vital for life, and is a feminine element. Water is also the element of emotion, purification, intuition, mysteries of the self, compassion and family. Water seems to be the perfect symbol for me now as I work on healing and connecting. And we could all use a bit more healing with cleansing water in the world!

 

 

day2 pink

On Day 2, I had to take a picture of my favorite color at the moment.  I was surprised with my choice:

 

Right now pink is catching my eye. I don’t have much pink in the house, but I have a few key pieces like this lovely rose quartz box that belonged to my mother-in-law. It is special and means a lot to me.

Pink has special significance for me right now too. It has very special meanings that are an important part of my healing journey. Pink represents unconditional love, hope, compassion and nurturing. Pink is intuitive, and shows kindness. And pink can signify good health. What a luscious color in my world right now.

 

 

day3 star

Day 3 we had to take a photo of a shape or pattern that was catching my eye.  I thought it would take a while to zero in on one, but I noticed my shape right away:

 

It seems stars are shining for me at the moment. This one is of particular significance; a gift from a dear friend in NM.

Stars have wonderful symbolism and shine the light on our self-reliance. They also symbolize navigation; for me it is navigating a new path with retirement and writing. Stars seem to be guiding my way to my passion and dream, and suggesting I take some bold steps. And this particular star has the Native American lizard symbol on it, also significant for me right now as it represents healing and survival.

 

 

day4 echinacea

Day 4’s prompt was perfect for me, as we had to take a photo of a flower that was most attractive at the moment.  I wasn’t sure what flower I would choose until I went into the garden:

  

Echinacea purpurea, also know as coneflower, is a native wildflower growing throughout my garden smiling on me every day. 

It is a special flower as it represents Strength and Health.  And it is said that Echinacea helps remove whatever is holding you back allowing you to let go of stagnate energy.  It also supports transitions to new ways of doing things.  You should use Echinacea when your self-image is beginning to change, but you haven’t completely become your “new” self.

It is interesting that this flower is capturing my attention as I continue on my journey of retirement, change and healing.  A good flower to keep around me!

 

 

Day5 mandala

On Day 5, we had to create a mandala with materials found inside or out.  I had so many ideas, but when I happened on these materials:

 

I thought about flower petals and stones outside.  But it was hot and humid, so instead I noticed some California poppy petals curled and dried on my little bench indoors.  I gathered some little stones and some live petals from a hydrangea flower in a vase, to add to the mandala.

I am combining materials from the indoors with outdoors for my mandala.  And if you look closely you will see both live and dead materials.  The live or current ringing the past.  And there is much pollen left in those long dead petals, which seem to represent my past life.  These seem to say to me that I have learned so much from my past, and it has propelled me to my current place now.

I also found working with such small materials to represent the minimalism and mindfulness that I am adopting these days.  All in all, this seems to be a pretty significant mandala that I created today.

 

 

Day6 altar

Day 6 had us displaying our sacred space.  I have one inside and one outside, so:

 

I thought I would show a peek at the altar in my sacred space indoors.  It holds many cherished memories and mementos.  It is where I go to relax, to meditate, to read and reflect.

The picture is one of water lilies to remind me of my pond and cleansing water.  The bowl is from a friend filled with last year’s rose petals….the parts of me I am letting go.  The cloisonné bell was a present from my parents that was given to me in my former life as a teacher.  In the right hand corner you can see a bit of the Georgia O’Keeffe comparative stamps given to me by a dear friend and a picture of my dad.  And the vase of fresh white flowers represents my outdoor sacred space, my garden.  White is significant as it symbolizes light, goodness and safety. 

I painted this sacred space a bright vibrant green, a very significant color as green is the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy.  It also represents growth, fertility and environment. All the feelings important to cultivate in my sacred space.  When I enter there, I have the feeling that I am home.

 

 

day7selfie

Finally on Day 7, we had to take a selfie of ourselves doing something we love.  What a way to end the quest, with the most challenging prompt:

 

Those who know me well, know I do not take selfies, but I certainly am up to the challenge.  I decided to take a picture of myself doing something I have loved to do since I was very young….reading.  I spend hours a day reading for pleasure.  And my favorite spot is in my sacred place in my rocker next to the window.

This summer I have been reading more self-help, motivational books that have helped me connect to my inner source.  And this personal growth is coming out in my creative self especially through my writing and poetry….and now in my photography with this challenge.

This is our last day of the photo challenge, and I am feeling a sense that I will miss this creative time as it has energized me.  But I am sure I will stay connected through my creative endeavors in some way.  I want to thank Whitney Freya for a most marvelous adventure!

 

 

echinacea

What creative quests have you been on lately?

 

 

 

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Special Note:  

The echinacea in the mosaic and at the top of the post were the rest of the photos I took for Day 4.  it was hard to choose from all these fabulous shots of an amazing native plant that grows all throughout my garden.  You can learn more about echinacea in my garden post.

 

The photo below is another perspective of the mandala I created.

 

 

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I leave you with a few additional words about creativity and my inner fire.  I welcome you to download this photo and share it.

inner fire

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-Dear Imagination

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Dear Imagination:

 

 

You come to me on crayon-colored rainbows

scrawled on envelopes and walls.

You ride on the wind with swings flying high,

and bike spokes pinned with cards, clapping like hoof beats.

You roll down hills laughing so hard

you can hardly breath.

And you plunk down in a meadow plucking yellow and white petals

to the tune of, “He loves me, he loves me not!”

 

 

 

You are part of my soul.

Maybe its most important part.

You have been with me for all my life.

And you are my saving grace.

You are what makes my heart sing.

I am forever yours.

 

 

 

Now there have been times I may not

have been open enough to hear you,

But rest assured I will not let

Fear, Worry, Doubt and Self-Judgement shut you out.

Your voice will sing to me all my days,

and we can ride the clouds to new adventures!

 

 

 

As we lay under the leaves of maple and oak and ash.

And dream of forts, and pirates and princesses.

Making braids of grass and playing tunes on leaves.

Laughing until we can hardly breath.

 

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2016

 

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I am bringing you another epistolary poem from a letter I wrote in April.  This one is special, recalling my inspirational days of childhood.  I have included pictures of native purple lupines which represent ‘Imagination‘.

 

 

 

 

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

lupines

 

 

 

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

dear imagination

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-Do You Talk To The Bees?

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Do You Talk To The Bees?

 

 

Do you talk to the bees?  Well I do.  I wish them a good morning, with the sun’s first rays.  And as I do,  I give a wide berth to these buzzing teenagers, slow to wake.  They can be ornery, you see.  And if aroused, you might feel the sting of their wrath if they are still trying to sleep on their flowery beds.  They require a soft voice, and gentle touch.  Needing time to stretch their wings and get their bearings, they drink in the moment.  They linger over their first sip of nectar or sniff of silky pollen passion.  But once tasted, they move from plant to plant leaving their mark.  Letting all know, “I have been here”.

 

 

Catching the first light

Dancing through the morning scents

Waking to my day

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2016

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I love to go into my garden and start the day by watching the bees sleeping on flowers.  And I talk with them as they are just beginning to wake.  Thanking them for being part of my garden sanctuary, and pollinating the flowers bringing us abundance.  They remind me to savor the beginning of the day, and live in the moment.

 

The pictures here are of those spring bees that wake early in the garden season, and do their spring dance bringing me indescribable joy.  This haibun poem is in honor of these precious bees, who are under assault from chemical warfare.

 

 

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

bee collage

 

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

talk to bees

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-Bride’s Feather

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Bride’s Feather

 

 

Behold the sight of creamy white,

Like feathers standing, stretching, bending.

Fireworks of plumes exploding-now dancing on the wind.

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2012

 

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The plant profiled here is called Bride’s Feather, Goat’s beard or Aruncus dioicus.  Its unusual blooms look like fluffy feathers.  And it is a pollinator magnet.  You can read more about it here.  This native plant grows in my summer garden, and is pictured throughout the post.

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading some of my wildflower poems, over the last several weeks.

 

 

 

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

brides feather 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 this beautiful native plant.  I welcome you to download the photo and share it.

goats beard

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-As Spring Unfolds

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“One should pay attention to even the smallest crawling creature for these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us.”

~Black Elk

 

 

 

As spring warms up, the birds come flocking to our garden.  Many have visited before, and return to find feeders, nesting areas or boxes, and a habitat in which to raise their young.  Chemical free with lots of plant debris.  And water….a nice pond to drink from or bathe in.  More on the pond in another Wildlife post in the months ahead.

 

 

And each critter who wakes or visits, teaches us lessons in how they live, cohabitate and survive.  So here are some of the mid to late spring visitors to our garden.

 

 

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Squirrels naturally assume that wherever they are, is the place to be.  We have found many black walnuts in and around the garden; some eaten, some forgotten.  The squirrels love to play around and explore every nook and cranny of the garden, high and low.  I can tell you this favorite perch on the wren house had to be vacated once the wrens were back.

 

 

 

baby bunny collage

And what a surprise to see this baby bunny just out of the nest.  In March, we saw a pregnant female near the big ash trees in the center of the garden.  I could not find the nest, but eventually, once they left, I saw the small opening.  It is not uncommon to have a nest in our garden each year, but this year they nested early because of the very warm March weather.

 

This little babe was hiding in the middle of a bunch of daffs absolutely still (see last photo at end of post).  I almost didn’t see it.  It eventually moved more to the edge of the daffs the next day, and then it was gone.  We see a small bunny around our neighbor’s shed so perhaps we will see her in our garden eating the clover that is flowering.

 

 

 

bee collage

Pollinators were cautious of the warm March weather, and were slow to emerge in April.  But once they did, they were busy making nests in the bee house we have.  I am not good at identifying bees, but these are small solitary bees.

 

 

 

frog collage

The pond also awoke cautiously in later April.  Frogs…..

 

 

 

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and toads.  This is a female toad laying eggs for the first time in the pond.  I’ll have their story for you this summer.  And I’ll show you the pond project that has been a roaring success for the critters.

 

 

 

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Pileated woodpeckers live here year round, or so it seems.  They have been busy in the garden since February, digging holes and getting the insects that have been living in trees and stumps..  This female visits often.  I plan to have a post about these majestic creatures this fall.

 

 

 

finches collage

Finches live here all year round too.  They eat the dandelion seeds, in spring, that are all over the back lawn…which is mostly dandelions and clover.  The Goldfinch looks very happy, and the House Finch looks like he got caught in the act.

 

 

 

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Red-wing blackbirds came early with the robins this year.  They returned to their territory and nesting areas, and many visited the suet feeders, especially this March and April as the cool weather kept their insect diet at bay.

 

 

 

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Other familiar year round faces are the Cardinals, here, and the Song Sparrow in the picture at the top of the post.  Cardinals sing all year round too.  It is a beautiful song.

 

 

 

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But as May dawns, I look for two migratory birds to return to the garden….the Baltimore Oriole….

 

 

 

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….and the Ruby-throated hummingbirds.  We put up feeders, for both birds, but more birds prefer the Oriole feeder, even the hummer above.  Both birds arrived a day apart in the evening, and were exhausted taking long drinks and resting on the feeder.

 

 

 

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Our oriole feeder holds sweetened water, and cups for grape jelly.  And as we were refilling the jelly, the Orioles couldn’t wait to partake…..you can see we didn’t even have to hang the feeder.

 

 

 

oriole feeder collage

And Orioles (left and top right) are not the only ones who love the sweetened water and jelly.  Downy Woodpeckers (center right) visit frequently, along with Catbirds (lower right), Sparrows and a newcomer to the garden…..

 

 

 

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…Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  A stunning bird isn’t it.

 

 

 

wren collage

I wasn’t sure the Wrens would return.  I heard their jolly, bright song for weeks and finally they were ready to nest.  It is fascinating to watch them carefully make a nest of small sticks….turning the sticks in their beaks and handing them off to their partner in the box.

 

 

 

waxwing collage

And last but not least, the Cedar Waxwings returned in late May right around my birthday.  Always the best present!

 

 

I am struck by the spring lessons of caution and focus as I observed, looking back at our visiting and year round critters.  Pollinators and pond critters took their time not being lured out of hibernation too soon.  And I was cautious too as I observed an early spring that turned back to winter.  And those critters that came too early, weathered the storm and showed me such resilience.

 

Once the critters arrived for spring, they were focused on their chores of finding food, and procreating.  I too was very focused with garden chores this spring.  And we will see the fruit of their labors soon enough with baby frogs and baby birds being added to the garden habitat.  I hope to see the fruits of my labors as well as the garden season progresses.

 

I am sharing these lessons with Beth@PlantPostings for her wonderful Garden Lessons Learned meme.  I hope you will join her.

 

 

So there you have some of our mid to late spring visitors.  I have at least two more spring stories coming in the next two months….both about the pond.  What critters are showing up in your garden this spring?

 

 

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 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.  Please check out all these great blogs.

 

 

 

I leave you with another thought about the lessons to learn from looking deep into nature.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

look nature

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-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.

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.

pagoda collage (1)

 

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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.

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.

trillium

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.

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!

daffs

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.

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.

 

 

 

bird footprints

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.

 

 

poppy collage

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.

 

 

 

tracks

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.

 

 

 

squirrel (1)

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.

 

 

 

snowy branches

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.

 

 

 

winter clethra collage

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-A New Life

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A New Life

 

 

First kiss.

Such bliss.

Standing at this entrance way,

As One,  will be joined this day.

 

 

Joined as one this day

Pure love delightfully displayed.

Tears of joy shed all around,

Souls collide in sparks abound.

 

 

Watch the sparks from this collision

Can’t be stopped that’s love true mission.

The current builds, this pair transformed

And now, a new bond is formed.

 

 

Formed today this bond is spoken,

With vows never to be broken.

Hard work is needed, and a grand wish,

For a new life started with this first kiss.

 

 

 

© Donna Donabella 2015

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I wrote this poem in October after attending my niece’s wedding.  The first 2 lines were a song in my head, and the rest just came after.  I was playing with an idea for a form, to work the first line of the next stanza from the words of the last line in the stanza before.  It was a challenge, but fun.  And I rather like how it turned out.

 

The pictures at the beginning and end of the post are of my niece, Christina, and her husband Colin, Mr. and Mrs. Murtagh.  The mosaic is my parents’ wedding picture from 1954, and my wedding picture from 1997.  In my wedding picture, my mom is pictured far left standing, and my niece was the flower girl.  She was 10 years old.

 

 

 

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.  Thanks for the invite Sanaa! Please visit these fabulous poetry blogs to read some more wonderful verse.

wedding collage

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

 

 

 

If you enjoy reading this blog, I welcome you to share it with others. I enjoy spreading the blog love, and I appreciate all who come and read my blogs. 

 

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

new 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.