Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Focusing on Nature


Focusing on Nature

Nature has been a bit more obvious around here lately, with squirrels dashing in front of cars, hawks flying down closer to people and deer gallivanting on streets and in backyards. Here is an example. There were actually five deer crossing our backyard the other day. Two moved off into our neighbor’s property behind the children’s playground. One had stopped for a moment to look at the swings. I wondered if it was considering having a ride. When my husband came out with his camera, the deer moved on. They crossed the street slowly as if they were just out for a daily walk.

I think that our housing development was built on the deer’s natural roaming path. They figured out how to navigate around the fences that some of our neighbors have erected. We are used to them coming into our back to munch on our plants and our sweet cherry tree. But they have been showing up more frequently and being less reserved.

I think we all are looking at things differently now. What used to be in the background of our busy lives has come to be more prominent in our awareness as we become more locally aware. Focusing on nature is a way to step out of our daily worries and be lifted by its beauty or be delightfully surprised by an unusual encounter. I think of it as a gift that opens me up to a wider perspective.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Our Roots

We’ve been going to various nature centers during this pandemic, trying to be outdoors but away from crowds. I always find something that surprises me on these walks. This time, at the Parvin State Park in Pittsgrove, NJ, it was tree roots that were reaching up to the sky. The tree had fallen over into the lake and half of its roots were yanked up into the air. It was no longer living but half of its roots still held on, deep into the earth.

It was captivating. It isn’t often that tree roots are so visible. There was a lacy quality to them. I could see how interconnected they were, supporting each other so that the tree was able to rise high into the air.

It made me think of people who have passed away, especially now when so many have died from the corona virus. They may be virtually gone but they, too, have left roots in our society. Some of those roots can still be seen, biologically visible in relatives. But it is the impact they have made through their work and interactions in society that are the hidden roots, the connections that affect all of us.

Parvin State Park has quite a history:



Tuesday, November 3, 2020


Mushroom Hunt

My grandson and I have been on a mushroom hunt these past covid months. Periodically we go out for a walk around the neighborhood, looking for varieties we haven’t yet come upon. I think we are up to thirteen.

We haven’t identified the mushrooms we’ve seen but that doesn’t matter: we don’t plan to eat any. We are aware of their structure, color, and size as we compare our findings. It is a way to connect with nature and to spend time with each other.   

These days it’s important to appreciate any connections we have, whether it’s with family or friends or nature, but safely. We keep a safe distance from each other on our walks. We wave to neighbors across the street. And when we find something interesting in nature to look at, we take turns going up close. I miss our hugs, to be sure, but I value our contact – however we need to do it.

Here’s how you can effectively photo mushrooms:


Here is a (very) detailed chart to help you identify mushrooms:


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Grasshoppers Leap Into the Future


Grasshoppers Leap into the Future

You never know what will greet you when you open your front door. This time it was a grasshopper that had settled on the glass, an intriguing start to the day. Grasshoppers seem so ordinary but they have a history of deep symbolism. Sometimes looking into symbolism helps us move along in difficult times.

Grasshoppers are a symbol of good luck. They jump up and forward and encourage us to do the same, to move ahead and not get stuck on the past or regrets. It also is a symbol for freedom, joy, and creativity, among other positive qualities.

During this pandemic we are often, understandably, lost in negative, worrisome thoughts. But there are positive things to focus on: neighbors greeting neighbors with smiles and friendly though distant conversations, gratitude for the dedication of our health practitioners, conscious appreciation of the people in our lives.

The grasshopper eventually hopped away, taking a leap of faith that it will land safely. Perhaps it was a reminder for us to do the same.  

Lots to know about grasshoppers: