Observing January and Nature’s Heart

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January Sunrise Lisa A. Wisniewski

While running earlier in the week, I heard a noise.  The sound was muffled at first, almost like a low hum.  Looking around, I saw nothing to indicate the source of the noise.  It sounded familiar, yet I could not identify it.  As I came closer to the neighbor’s barn, the noise grew louder.  My mind concentrated on the sound as my eyes scanned for the source, yet found nothing visible to indicate either the source or the noise’s identity.

 

Name That Sound

What is that sound? I know it, yet I can’t place it.  This is going to drive me insane if I don’t figure this out…

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Running Water Lisa A. Wisniewski

Then it struck me.  The sound was water running.  With temperatures below freezing since before Christmas, it has been some time since I’ve heard water running outside.  The source was melting snow and ice from the neighbor’s barn roof.  The sun and rising temperatures had allowed the solid water crystals to change into liquid while the roof’s slope gave movement to the molecules, resulting in a very low trickling sound.

Laughing at myself for not being able to identify the sound right away, I trotted toward home and wondered how often in life we miss the little details and clues that could help us solve our problems.  The experience also made me recall the following bit of wisdom from a church bulletin I had read years ago:

When we get tangled up in our problems, be still.  God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.  Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.  Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God.

 

Instruments of Peace

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Sound of Peace Lisa A. Wisniewski

Reflecting on the sound of the running water brought a sense of peace inside.  The experience made me think about how we can still find solace despite the turmoil and drama in the world around us.  While running and biking are my go-to cure-alls for everything life throws my way, I also turn to music as an escape.  The music may be a song on the radio, a sound in nature, or even silence in the dawn.

Regardless of the source, it is the sound that resonates within, moving the mind, body, heart, and soul to a simpler, less complicated, more comfortable atmosphere.  The melody and rhythm appeal to the emotions, setting one free of internal stress.  Though many of the musical instrument used today are electronic and complex in construction, the sounds they make can be stripped down to basic elements, most of which are found naturally in nature.  As such, nature offers instruments of peace in a grand symphony every day.

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Be Still… Lisa A. Wisniewski

Though we may or may not recognize the song being played, the intent is to catch our attention, make us stop briefly, and experience the wonder of life.  Granted, the moment may be fleeting, but it is the experience that gives the soul strength and energy to endure.

“Nature’s music is never over; her silences are pauses, not conclusions.” – Mary Webb

Contrasts and Conflicts

While running and biking tonight, I heard the sound of water running all around me in the falling rain.  The temperature soared into the mid 50°F range, a welcome change from the single digit and below zero temperatures of days prior.  The warmer air felt refreshing as it breezed past me along my route.  Though I was wet, I was not cold, another welcome change.

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Conflicting Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

The stark contrast in weather brought to mind the origin of January.  The month is named after the Roman God Janus, also known as the god of doors.  It was believed Janus represented all beginnings and had the ability to see all things past and future.  Janus is often depicted as having two heads looking in opposite directions to represent past and future.

Often, our past experiences conflict with what is to come in life.  We may start out on what we believe to be the right path and end up totally lost.  We may find failure, difficulties, and much grief at one point of life and slowly come to see success, less hardship, and peace in time.  Our lives are full of conflicting schedules, obligations, and responsibilities.  While we do our best to find a good balance, we don’t always have control over the outcomes of our situations.

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Dawn: Looking Forward and Behind Lisa A. Wisniewski

We also don’t have two heads like Janus, allowing us to see past and future, which is probably a good thing.  If we knew what was to happen next in life, we may never find what we are seeking, for fear, anxiety, stress, ego, or some other characteristic may paralyze us.  It is in not knowing that we are forced to try, learn, grow, and move forward.  It is also in the unknown that we find our faith.

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heart and Soul

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January’s Heart and Soul Lisa A. Wisniewski

Observing the ice, snow, sun, rain, moon, stars, and skies over the past week has lead me to see the heart and soul of January, a month full of beginnings, endings, music, contrasts, conflicts, and deep meaning.  Earlier in the month, we saw the full wolf moon (January 2).  As we approach the heart of the month, we will see the new moon (January 17).  At the end of the month, we will see the blue moon (January 31).

Each moon has its own name, meaning, history, and reason for existence.  The surrounding skies set the stage for each moon’s rising and setting.  In between, the dawns dance to the music of the sun and clouds as time moves along in the river to the sea.  Our experiences and interactions with all of the above give us perspective for reflecting upon the past, living in the present, and planning for the future.

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Moving On Lisa A. Wisniewski

Like the running water mentioned earlier, we find ourselves moving along and reacting to the changes around us.  We find our hearts and souls moved with time, emotion, and faith in both the known and unknown.  While we may not always feel or recognize the details at work in our lives, we are very much a part of our surroundings, and our surroundings have a great influence upon our well-being.

May January’s days open our eyes and minds to the possibilities and opportunities before us.  May our past experiences not hold us back from future endeavors, and may we hear the music of the month in nature’s heart, allowing us to find inner peace, strength, and hope for the remaining miles of our journey.

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Snow on the Pond Lisa A. Wisniewski

Nature’s Heart

Snow on the pond, all frosty white
Under the blue beyond the darkening skies
As day comes to pass and night begins to call
In winter’s grasp within the seasons that fall
Like dominoes over each other in time’s game
Above and below the skies parade
Of sun and clouds, light and dark
That come about within nature’s heart.

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Deer at Sunset Lisa A. Wisniewski

Little deer feeding at sunset
Takes care to stay near where it can get
The nourishment it needs to survive
As it travels time’s seas beneath the skies
That grant it grace and pardon
As the days harken
Through beginnings and endings, stops and starts
Within the mending of nature’s heart.

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Sunset Between the Clouds Lisa A. Wisniewski

Sunset in the distance between the clouds
Confirms the Lord’s existence as the day comes around
To meet the night time skies
Where the owl greets that shadows that hide
All the little creatures of the earth
Settled beneath the leaves, snow, and dirt
Cuddled up in a winding maze of art
Created within the ways of nature’s heart.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Thank You Lisa A. Wisniewski

A Note of Thanks

Thanks to everyone who takes time to read and view our posts.  We sincerely appreciate your time and any comments you may have.  We also hope our writings offer inspiration and/or help in enduring life’s storms and an awareness of all nature has to offer.

-Lisa, Sadie, and Leo

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Moon Over the Stars Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Origin of January – https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/months/january.html

Roman God Janus – https://www.britannica.com/topic/Janus-Roman-god

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Observing a New Year & January’s Moons

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Sunrise January 1, 2018 Lisa A. Wisniewski

The cold, Arctic winds of December have continued into January, making for a rather frigid start to the new year in my area.  Snow that fell on Christmas Day is still on the ground in some areas due to the cold temperatures.  Other areas have been blown clear by the winds, which are now gusting at 10-20 mph, making the temperature feel even colder than what the thermometer is reading.  This condition is known as wind chill, or how cold the air temperature feels upon the skin with the wind taken into account.

Weather Wisdom and Resolve

With overnight low temperatures in the negative digits and daytime high temperatures less than 20° F, running and biking have been a challenge.  In my experience through the years, the keys to keeping warm despite the cold include:

  • Staying dry-Water or anything wet against the skin (including sweat) acts as a cooling agent.
  • Staying active-Continued physical activity helps keep the body’s temperature steady.
  • Layering- Layers of cotton and fleece work to insulate the body while allowing air flow for cooling to keep sweat to a minimum.
  • Avoiding direct wind contact – Wind also acts as a cooling agent and can contribute to frostbite and hypothermia. Staying at lower elevations where the wind is less dominant and taxing to the body are key.
  • Reducing exposure – Reducing the amount of skin exposed to the elements is a key factor in avoiding frostbite and hypothermia.
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Warmth in the Light Above Lisa A. Wisniewski

Running in the cold can be very taxing on the heart and other muscles.  When running in the cold, I typically reduce the number of miles run, which in turn reduces the amount of time my body is exposed to the elements.  Biking is a bit different because though you are exerting energy while pedaling, you are also exposing your body to more air and wind.

Earlier in the week, I was fortunate to be able to run and bike, but today’s wind chill, ice, and wind gusts at 20mph forced me inside to use the treadmill for the first time since last winter.  Biking was out of the question given the conditions.  Based on the National Weather Service Wind Chill Chart, the temperature at the time I would have been running and biking was -9°F.

Full and Super Moons

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Wolf Moon on the Rise Lisa A. Wisniewski

Along with the cold temperatures, January brought the Full Wolf Moon on the second day of the month.  Other names for this full moon include: Old Moon, Ice Moon, Snow Moon, and Moon After the Yule.  The full moon on January 2 was also a supermoon.

This month will have a second full moon on January 31.   This second full moon is known as a Blue moon.

Different Sights Under One Sky

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Night Light Lisa A. Wisniewski

All the different moon names and definitions made me consider the variety in the skies this time of year.  Though cloud cover is an issue, clear nights allow one to see the many stars, planets, and constellations overhead.  Though the sky was clear this morning, the dogs and I were not able to see Jupiter and Mars in the southeastern sky or the Quadrantids meteor shower in the northern sky.

The planets are to provide a special display called a conjuction January 6-7.  The conjunction between Jupiter and Mars pairs the largest planet in the solar system with one of the smallest planets, making for a unique observation.

Resolutions and Solutions

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Resolve in the Old Walnut Tree Lisa A. Wisniewski

Contemplating the sights in the sky led me to thoughts about New Year’s resolutions and the variety of topics often entailed.  Though my family was never into resolutions or even goal setting, we did always have a list of hopes or things we hoped to accomplish.  Sometimes we had a time frame for these hopes, but most times, we were satisfied with effort put forth in making strides toward the hope.  Perhaps the following quote, which I recently read explains our thought process more succinctly:

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ursula K Le Guin

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What Matters Most Lisa A. Wisniewski

Seeing this quote brought to mind a favorite song from my teenage years titled Only Here for a Little While.  The version I remember was sung by Billy Dean, a rather quiet country singer with a knack for making poignant songs popular.  The words that came to mind were the opening lines:

Gonna hold who needs holdin’
Mend what needs mendin’
Walk what needs walkin’
Though it means an extra mile
Pray what needs prayin’
Say what needs sayin’
Cause we’re only here for a little while

The song, written by Richard C. Leigh and Wayland Holyfield, goes on to explain the story behind the chorus and main theme:

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What’s the Hurry? Lisa A. Wisniewski

Today I stood singin’ songs and sayin’ Amen
Saying goodbye to an old friend who seemed so young
He spent his life workin’ hard to chase a dollar
Putting off until tomorrow the things he should have done
Made me start thinking “What’s the hurry, why the runnin’?
I don’t like what I’m becoming, gonna change my style
Take my time and I take it all for granted ”
Cause we’re only here for a little while

Gonna hold who needs holdin’
Mend what needs mendin’
Walk what needs walkin’
Though it means an extra mile
Pray what needs prayin’
Say what needs sayin’
Cause we’re only here for a little while

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Love Like I’ll Never See Tomorrow Lisa A. Wisniewski

Let me love like I’ll never see tomorrow
Treat each day as though it’s borrowed
Like it’s precious as a child
Whoa, take my hand
Let us reach out to each other
Cause we’re only here for a little while

Gonna hold who needs holdin’
Mend what needs mendin’
Walk what needs walkin’
Though it means an extra mile
Pray what needs prayin’
Say what needs sayin’
Cause we’re only here for a little while

Resolutions and Balance

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Do Your Best and Leave the Rest to God Lisa A. Wisniewski

Contemplating the words made me think that my hope for this year is to do the best I can to live as the opening lines and chorus state, doing what needs done, taking time to have compassion and consideration for others, and maintain somewhat of a balance in life and work, complete with exercises for the mind, body, and soul.  In other words, actually live life.

While this may or may not be a huge change for me or make an impact in the rest of the world, it is a place to start.  And sometimes that is really what we need: a base point from which to start and to gage our progress, no matter how large or small, fast or slow, simple or complex.

As I wrestle with the balance part of the equation in my mind, I am reminded of another quote I read that is simple yet profound:

“The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything or nothing.” – Lady Nancy Astor

Keep On Keeping On

In looking back at 2017, I realize I have made progress in some areas of life and need to work on others.  Some of the “vital statistics” I keep help give me guidance on where to turn next.  A few numbers that seem to speak most to me include:

  • 942.6 miles of running in 2017
  • 346 biking days (days when I went for a bike ride)
  • 271 consecutive biking days from March 16 through December 11, a personal best
  • 92 poems written
  • 52 blog posts written
  • 14 number of years I have lived in my house, of which each year has been a lesson in character building
  • 9 number of years my dog Sadie has lived with me and graced my life with amazing blessings
  • 1 number of years since adopting my dog Leo, who is proving to be yet another blessing and Godsend
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Sadie Looks Toward the Light Lisa A. Wisniewski

So, no matter how simple, complex, easy, or difficult you may or may not make the map of your journey through life, or how many statistics you may or may not keep, remember perspective and perseverance are keys to the mindset of finding one’s way AND accomplishing both wants and needs.

Some days are easier than others.  Difficult days are not necessarily tests of will, but rather quizzes on building character and faith that don’t always have right or wrong answers.  Oh, and if all else fails, turn to nature and the skies—they will never stop trying to help you find your way.

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Little Leo in the Snow Lisa A. Wisniewski

May the new year offer opportunities for growth in all aspects of life.  May the experiences we have allow us to share with one another what we have learned, as well as what we may accomplish.  May the steps we take along the way under the January moons lead us closer to our destination.

 

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January Moon in the Clouds Lisa A. Wisniewski

January Moon 2018

January moon way up high
Orange against the deep blue sky
Above the snow-covered fields and trees
Where grows the clover in summer’s green
Now pale from the cold, Arctic wind
Blowing above the swales with day’s end
As night comes softly calling,
Calling in the silence below the snow falling.

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January Moon Round & Full Lisa A. Wisniewski

January moon round and full
Makes winter swoon as it pulls
The season along with the tides
In nature’s song that rides
Every ebb and flow in time’s seas
Through inlets sown along the tributaries
Made long ago and far away
When the earth was an unknown landscape.

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Dawn of a New Year Lisa A. Wisniewski

January moon presiding over a new year
Turning white in the blue expanses made clear
By the cold, cold wind
That holds, holds within
Itself the many mysteries of life
Unleashed in the skies
To wander under upon the journey’s miles
Leading to the dawn’s silent smile.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Arctic Chill Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Blue moon – https://www.space.com/15455-blue-moon.html

Conjunction between Jupiter and Mars – http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/mars-jupiter-conjunction/

Full Wolf Moon – https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/wolf.html

Quadrantid meteor shower – http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-quadrantid-meteor-shower

Supermoon – https://www.space.com/34515-supermoon-guide.html

Wind chill – https://weather.com/science/weather-explainers/news/wind-chill-feels-like-temperature-winter-explainer

Wind chill chart – http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/cold/wind_chill.shtm

Observing Winter’s Sights and December’s Embrace

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December Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

December is historically an unpredictable month in our area.  From cold, Arctic winds to balmy, summer-like evenings, dreary gray to stellar blue skies, and drab olive green to sparkling white landscapes, one never knows what to expect.  In addition to different routines due to holidays and the unpredictable weather, December can really throw those of us who like variety but prefer not to have our routines severely altered into a tailspin.

Trying to Embrace the Season

The past week has been one of those weeks where each day was a challenge due to temperature, wind, scheduled activities, or other reasons.  Given it was also the last week of Advent, I was trying very hard to open my mind and heart to receive Jesus.  Saying prayers, going to church, and spending time alone helped, but I felt either something was missing or I was missing something major.

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Embracing the Season Lisa A. Wisniewski

Though my frustration level was at a climax on Christmas Day, I went to church and did my best to observe, listen, and allow myself to be open to a spiritual awakening.  During the homily, the priest told a story about when he was assigned to a different parish and tailored a mass for children.  He would take baby Jesus from the manger and have the children gather around the nativity set.  Then he would ask the children why they thought Jesus had his arms extended.

After some contemplation, the children reasoned Jesus wanted to hug someone.  The priest then asked whom the children thought Jesus wanted to hug.  The children would think some more and then shout, “Mary!” and the priest would say, “Oh, yes, he wants to hug Mary.  Who else does Jesus want to hug?”

The children would ponder more and shout, “Joseph!”

“Oh, yes, he wants to hug Joseph, too.  Who else does Jesus want to hug?” the priest would ask.

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O, Holy Night Lisa A. Wisniewski

Upon further contemplation, the children would shout, “The shepherds!”

“Oh, yes, he wants to hug the shepherds, too.  Who else does Jesus want to hug?” the priest asked again.

This went on until the children had answered with every person and animal from the nativity set.  The priest finally gave up, for he wanted the children to say Jesus wanted to hug them.

The message of the homily was to open ourselves, no matter how good, bad, broken, or intact we are to allow Jesus to embrace us.

With Open Arms

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Jesus’ Embrace Lisa A. Wisniewski

After mass, I bundled up and went for a long run, contemplating what the priest had said in his homily.  The sky was full of clouds and falling snow.  As I trudged along, I noticed pockets of light where the sun was trying to break through the clouds.  Then I saw the sky open up and a beam of deep golden and orange light filter down to the ground.

The 8-year-old inside of me yelled, “It’s Jesus reaching down to embrace you!”

After a few seconds of contemplation, the 43-year-old inside of me said, “I think you are right! I think this is his way of reaching out to me and allowing me to embrace him in return.”

So, despite having legs that felt like Jello from running in the slippery snow and cold wind, I felt invigorated because I finally had the breakthrough moment I had been seeking.  Of course, it happened in nature, with me looking at the sky and trying to interpret the message from above.  This is the way I understand God and Jesus best, in my own element, free of restrictions, rules, and regulations.

Rainbows in December? Really?

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December Rainbow Lisa A. Wisniewski

The following day, despite the frigid temperatures, I was heading down the driveway for a bike ride (the 8-year old is a die hard, and the 43-year old claims there is a fine line between determination and stupidity, so put them together and you get a stubborn mess).  Looking both ways before heading out, I did a double take.  To the west, the sun was setting.  To the south, dark snow clouds were forming.  In between was a rainbow.

A rainbow in December? What are the odds of that? I thought as I fumbled to get my camera out of my pocket with gloved hands to snap some pictures.

As I pedaled along, I reasoned that it was snowing in the distance and the moisture from the frozen water crystals catching the last of the sun’s rays was the explanation for the odd sight.  The other oddity was the rainbow was not in an arch, but rather straight up and down.  Given the angles between the sun and the clouds, this made sense.

Sundogs?

On my way back home, I met a neighbor and told her about the rainbow.  She asked if maybe what I had seen was a sundog.  I had never heard of a sundog before, so I did not know.  As I pedaled homeward, I wondered if a sundog was a type of rainbow.  After all, I recently learned there are different types of twilight, so maybe there were different types of rainbows as well.

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No Sundogs Here Lisa A. Wisniewski

After arriving back home and thawing out, my dogs Sadie and Leo watched as I did some research.  Sundogs, also called mock sun or parhelion, are glowing spots around the sun created when sunlight refracts off plate-shaped crystals in cirrus clouds.  After reading this and looking at the photos of sundogs online, I determined that I had not seen a sundog and that a sundog is not a type of rainbow.

(In case you are wondering, similar spots around the moon are called moondogs, also known as mock moon or paraselene.  Moondogs are less frequently seen because they only occur when the moon is full or close to being full.)

Twelve Types of Rainbows

Additional research led me to discover there are twelve types of rainbows.  The types are based on four characteristics:

  • Primary bow (red on top, blue on the bottom)
  • Secondary reflections (fainter bow with colors reversed)
  • Alexander’s band (dark region between the primary and secondary bows)
  • Supernumerary bows (additional bows created by diffraction and interference of light)

The twelve types of rainbows have the following names:

  • RAB_1, all colors visible, strong Alexander’s band, supernumerary bows present
  • RAB_2, all colors visible, strong Alexander’s band, no supernumerary bows present
  • RAB_3, all colors visible, weak Alexander’s band, supernumerary bows present
  • RAB_4, all colors visible, weak Alexander’s band, no supernumerary bows present
  • RAB_5, no violet or blue bands
  • RAB_6, no green bands
  • RAB_7, no violet and no blue bands
  • RAB_8, no bleu and no green bands
  • RAB_9, only blue and red bands visible
  • RAB_10 only yellow and orange/red bands visible
  • RAB_11, only red band visible
  • RAB_12, other color combinations

Nature’s Enchanting Embrace

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Hold Me Lisa A. Wisniewski

So, I learned all this just because I was trying to allow Jesus to embrace me and to open my mind up to embracing a season that typically does not get along well with me.  As I contemplated what I had learned, not only about the rainbows, the light, and the season, I realized nature is a very illustrious and thorough teacher.  Nature manages to weave its way into our hearts and minds, opening us up to what may have been seemingly impossible just a few minutes earlier, before we learned the lesson.

Nature is also a sneaky, slippery scholar with an aptitude to bring out the best in us by casting its spell of information through sights, sounds, and circumstances.  The lesson deepens the moment we acknowledge nature’s presence, for our acknowledgement provides a tiny crack for nature to enter into our beings.  The small seed planted through the tiny crack grows to exponential proportions as it is fed by time.  The knowledge transferred through the seed into us allows us to find our way through the journey we call life.

May we acknowledge the learning potential of every life circumstance, be it good, bad, or otherwise.  May we open our hearts and minds to embrace each season and the knowledge imparted by the light, and may we find peace through time spent in December’s embrace.

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Freshly Fallen Snow Lisa A. Wisniewski

December’s Embrace

Freshly fallen snow white as can be
Like cotton and all feathery
With little crystals that shine
As the sun pulls itself over the horizon line
To brighten the dawn anew
As the deer plod through
The fields in a weaving maze
In the love revealed by December’s embrace.

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Puffy Clouds in a Blue Sea Lisa A. Wisniewski

Puffy clouds in the blue sea
Of sky that surrounds the sun’s beams
As the daylight fades
And time gives way
To the dark of the night
Above the fields of white
Where the winds bend and sway
The weeds within December’s embrace.

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Green and Red Holly Lisa A. Wisniewski

Green and red holly make the season bright
As the wind shakes the branches side to side
Blowing with Arctic cold
As the jet stream dips deep into the south’s soul
Whining and moaning shrilly in the night
Until the stillness of the dawn finds
Its way back around the clock’s face
Blessed by the grace of December’s embrace.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Rainbow in December Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Moondogs – https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/optical-phenomenon.html

Rainbow Types – https://www.livescience.com/53149-12-flavors-of-rainbows-identified.html

Rainbow Type Names – https://www.dogonews.com/2016/1/24/guess-what-there-are-twelve-kinds-of-rainbows

Sundogs – https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/optical-phenomenon.html

Observing Twilight and One Night

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Winter Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Winter officially arrived on the calendar today, marking the shortest day of the year, also known as the winter solstice.  With sunrise at 7:41 AM and sunset at 4:57 PM in my area, the number of daylight hours (roughly 9.3) was indeed much shorter than those of the night (about 14.7 hours).  This event occurs because the earth is tilted on its axis.  The tilt is also responsible for the seasons, marked by winter and summer solstices (when the sun appears to stand still), and spring and fall equinoxes (when the number of daylight and nighttime hours are almost equal).

Twilight Discoveries

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Preference of the Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

Historically, I dread this day because of the darkness.  However, I have learned through the years how to see the darkness from a different perspective and find some rays of light upon which to focus.  Among my discoveries:

  • The days get longer after December 21, so if I can make it through this day, that means tomorrow will be one minute brighter. Though one minute may not be all that noticeable in the grand scheme of life, one minute each day adds up to seven minutes in a week.  Think of all the things you can do with seven more minutes of daylight:  run an extra ½ or ¾ of a mile, take a quick walk, or play outside with kids or pets.  It all starts with just one minute, but leads to more in time.  Granted, once we hit the summer solstice, we start losing daylight again, but in our house, we don’t worry about it until the time arrives.
  • Though sunrise and sunset are at given times each day, the sky starts growing
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    Looking to Brighter Days Lisa A. Wisniewski

    brighter about 30 minutes before sunrise and stays bright enough to see until about 30 minutes after sunset. While this light may be dim or not evident under cloudy skies, it still exists.   In a way, this light is like the Holy Spirit—you can’t always see it, but you know it is there to help guide you on your way.

  • The time of soft light in the sky after sunset and before sunrise is called twilight. During twilight under clear skies, there appears magic in nature, full of colors, silence, and shadows.  It can be a time of calm after a rough day, a time of solace spent reflecting, or a space in the day where we feel connected to God.  Whether the light is visible or not, twilight can be a bright spot in our day.
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Light Before the Dawn Lisa A. Wisniewski

“Laughter is the day, and sobriety is night; a smile is the twilight that hovers gently between both, more bewitching than either.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Types of Twilight

Recently, I discovered that there are three types of twilight.  These types of twilight are defined by the angle the geometric center of the sun makes with the horizon.

Civil twilight is when the sun is less than six degrees below the horizon. Morning civil twilight begins when the sun is six degrees below the horizon and ends at sunrise.  Evening civil twilight begins at sunset and ends when the sun is six degrees below the horizon.  Civil twilight is the brightest type of twilight.

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Civil Twilight Lisa A. Wisniewski

Nautical twilight is when the sun is between six and twelve degrees below the horizon. During this time, most stars are visible to the naked eye.  Nautical twilight dates back to when sailors used the stars instead of instruments to navigate their boats in the water.

Astronomical twilight is when the sun is between twelve and eighteen degrees below the horizon. This type of twilight is the darkest of the three.

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Twilight Shadows Lisa A. Wisniewski

As I contemplated the types of twilight, I found myself comparing them to the holy trinity (God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  Civil dawn is like God the Father—brightest and most encompassing.  Nautical twilight is like God the Son, Jesus, not as visible yet still playing a vital role in bringing light to the world and to the soul.  Astronomical twilight is like the Holy Spirit, least visible, but with a depth, width, and breadth of all-encompassing nature able to guide and protect despite the darkness.

“You cannot, in human experience, rush into the light.  You have to go through the twilight into the broadening day before the noon comes and the full sun is upon the landscape.” – Woodrow Wilson

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Light Above the Landscape Lisa A. Wisniewski

One Item, Many Types

As with many things in nature, classifying or breaking down one object into types, families, or forms helps us to better understand them.  Our understanding in turn provides perspective with which we gain wisdom over time.  However, we need to be careful not to stereotype or lose sight of important aspects when devising all these types of things.

Perhaps one of the ways to better understand the meaning of Christmas is to forget all the types of things and focus on the meaning of one—one light, one life, one love, one Son.

May we find the light despite the darkness of winter’s days.  May the light we find lead us to better understand ourselves and the world around us.  May the twilight times lead us to the meaning of Christmas and the broad impact of the events of one night long ago.

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One Night Lisa A. Wisniewski

One Night

One night
Long ago in the sky
A star stood out
As the shepherds came around
The bend of fate in time’s road
Leading them to the Son of hope.

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Below Heavens Divine Lisa A. Wisniewski

One night
Below the heavens divine
In a manger far away
The Lord’s grace
Was given to all from above
In the birth of the Son.

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‘Neath the Silence of the Night Lisa A. Wisniewski

One night
‘Neath the winds’ height
The silence of the land
Enveloped in nature’s plan
Rang strong and true and free
In the Son’s glory.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Solstice Sunset Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Three Types of Twilight – https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/different-types-twilight.html

Twilight – https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/twilight

Winter Solstice – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/12/21/winter-solstice-2017-five-things-you-should-know-about-the-shortest-day-of-the-year/?utm_term=.5b7c972a2f01

Observing a Significant Snow & December’s Beauty

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First Significant Snow Lisa A. Wisniewski

Our area received the first significant snowfall of the season last night.  The cloud cover marred the chance of viewing the Geminid meteor shower, one of nature’s spectacular shows with 50 to 120 meteors per hour, depending upon viewing area.  The meteors are vaporized debris from 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid measuring three miles across with an orbit bringing it close to earth each December.

Beautiful Just the Same

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Snow Crystals Lisa A. Wisniewski

Instead of flashing meteors, the dogs and I got to see sparkling snowflakes falling at a rapid rate.  While it would have been nice to see the meteors, something about the quietly falling snow made it seem just as elegant and newsworthy.  As we watched the flakes fall, I thought back to my first science lessons when I learned about the states of matter and how snow is a form of water.

The water droplets in clouds become supercooled, remaining a liquid even though their temperature is below freezing.  The super cooled droplets evaporate under certain conditions, and the vapor freezes into minute ice crystals.  The crystals grow as more vapor freezes, creating snowflakes.  The shape of a snowflake is dependent upon the temperature and amount of moisture in the air.  Due to the crystalline structure, most snowflakes are 90 percent air.

Silent Snow

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Silent Snow Lisa A. Wisniewski

The amount of air in the crystalline structure is what makes snowflakes excellent insulators and mufflers of sound.  As the dogs and I walked in the yard, not a sound could be heard for miles around.  The stillness despite the light to moderate winds created a peaceful setting despite the chaos of the world around us.

The dogs and I heard more sound later in the day when we went outside to shovel the driveway.  The reason for the increased sound was the sun had melted some of the snow, while the wind had frozen other parts of snow patches.  The resulting smooth and hard surfaces act as reflectors instead of insulators of sound.

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Leo Doing His Snow Dance Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Sadie in the Snow Lisa A. Wisniewski

Serenity of Shoveling

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Serenity Above Lisa A. Wisniewski

While most people may not enjoy shoveling snow due to the effort required or the surrounding cold air, I find it soothing and even therapeutic at times.  Today was one of those days when I just needed to forget life’s problems and be alone in nature.  Though I had to shovel slower than normal due to not feeling well, something about the rhythm of the movement and seeing my progress as I moved along the driveway foot by foot made me feel better.

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Emerging Sun Lisa A. Wisniewski

The emerging sun from the clouds and clearing skies lifted my spirits as I worked diligently.  As I shoveled, I thought about how building faith is a lot like shoveling snow.  One must take steps to build faith, often moving obstacles in the way or chipping at more difficult areas in order to get past a certain point.  What lies ahead in our faith journey is often unknown, just as what lies beneath the snow’s surface may not be what we expect.  Our quiet, diligent work is what determines our progress while building character and strength to help us endure, rise above, and move forward.

May we find sources of hope in the many different forms of light around us, be it in a meteor shower, the sun, the moon, the stars, or glistening snowflakes.  May this light allow us to see the beauty and value of time and nature, and may we find solace in December’s beauty.

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Sun on the Rise Beneath the Crescent Moon Lisa A. Wisniewski

December’s Beauty

Sun on the rise beneath the crescent moon
Of December’s sky deep blue
As the morning twilight fades
Bringing glory to the coming day
As autumn draws to a close and winter stands nigh
Ready to take over in the seasonal tide
Shifting from one guard to another
With the winds drifting into each other
In time’s river to the sea
Within the sights of December’s beauty.

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Tall Pines Flanked By Snow Lisa A. Wisniewski

Tall pines flanked by snow
Dip as the wind winds through the midday glow
Of the sun way up high above the trees,
Glistening white above the silent melody
Of the fallen flakes so intricate
Like fine lace of linen delicate
Enough to shatter and break
By the gentle touch of the sun’s rays
Stretching wide above the trees
In the sights of December’s beauty.

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Little Hemlocks Lisa A. Wisniewski

Little hemlocks with short needles,
Curtsy below the flocks flying above where the beetles
Of summer are now long gone
Lost in the song of summer that will carry on
Once the seasons come back around
Bringing green grass to life upon the ground,
But now it is autumn’s last parade
Of colors and styles that create
The magic inside nature’s sea
Brought to light in December’s beauty.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski
December 14, 2017

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Snow on the Holly Bush Lisa A. Wisniewski

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Snow Progress Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

3200 Phaethon – http://www.newsweek.com/3200-phaethon-geminid-meteor-shower-nasa-722056

Geminid meteor shower – http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-geminid-meteor-shower

Snow as a form of water – https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/snow/science/formation.html

Snow as an insulator – https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/snow/science/characteristics.html

Supercooled – http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/06/18/freaky-physics-supercooled-water/#.WjMl3VWnHZ4

Observing December’s Contrasts

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December Skies Lisa A. Wisniewski

December has brought with it much contrast, both in nature and events.  We’ve had clear, bright skies followed by dreary, drab gray days; warm, still times followed by bitter cold, windy days; and the vivid, full supermoon on December 3, followed by cloudy night skies that obscured the stars.  These contrasts have brought some challenges to my running and biking routines, forcing me to get a little creative in order to enjoy my time alone in nature.

Supermoon Sunday

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Supermoon on the Rise Behind the Pines Lisa A. Wisniewski

The full moon on Sunday was also a supermoon, a more modern name for a perigee full moon or a perigee new moon.  Perigee is from the 16th century peri- (around) and ge (earth), and is defined as the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite that is closest to the center of the earth.  The term supermoon is credited to Richard Nolle, and came into existence about 30 years ago.

Supermoon is viewed to be a more trendy term, hence the popularity over perigee.  Though both words describe the same event, contrast exists in society’s views of the words and their meanings.

Like everything in life, perigee has an opposite.  The opposite of perigee is apogee, or the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite that is farthest away from the earth.  The modern term for an apogee moon is a micromoon.  Micromoons appear smaller in size due to their farther distance from the earth.  They also do not receive as much hype in the media as supermoons, possibly due to their more frequent occurrence.

Contrast in Perspective

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Contrast in the Landscape Lisa A. Wisniewski

As I thought about the supermoon on Sunday and other full moons of the past year, I found myself wondering why we pay more attention to certain things in life than others.  While popularity seems an obvious answer, I think our backgrounds, education levels, and our surroundings often influence our perspective.

While it is good to have and appreciate different perspectives, we need to be careful not to get lost in the contrasting views.  We don’t have to agree or disagree with everything we see and hear, and we don’t necessarily have to “choose sides” in order to continue upon our journey.

Influence of Wisdom

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After the Rain Lisa A. Wisniewski

At one point this week, I found myself pedaling my bike in the middle of a downpour.  The rain pelted me like a wall of water.  The 8-year old mind in me thought:  This is the most miserable bike ride I have ever had.  Why am I out here getting soaked below the skies growing darker by the second?

As soon as that thought passed, the more mature 43-year old mind in me responded:  It may be miserable, but considering it is December, and in a traditional year, the weather would not permit you to ride a bicycle.  Given the weather, no one else is out here.  It is just you and God .  You can choose to be miserable, or you can be thankful for this experience.

 

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Wisdom in Time Lisa A. Wisniewski

Both thoughts had merit and truth to them, though they contrasted each other.  Part of me found peace in recognizing the importance of these thoughts, as well as the water now streaming down my spine as I pedaled fiercely to get back home.  Though the rain water now felt cold, it washed away the stress felt earlier in the day.

The lesson I learned is you don’t necessarily have to be comfortable in order to find some peace in life.  In fact, sometimes you have to feel miserable in order to recognize peace that may be staring you in the face.  This reality made me recall a quote I read recently:

“The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside.” – Dag Hammarkskjold

Every Way the Wind Blows

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Every Way the Wind Blows Lisa A. Wisniewski

The nighttime hours following my biking experience were filled with gusting, cold winds.  As the dogs and I listed to the wind, I wondered what we would find in the yard the following morning.  Debris pelted the house throughout the night, making it hard to sleep.

By dawn, the winds subsided considerably.  We found no major damage close to the house and watched the first rays of dawn break over the horizon in dead silence.  All around, not a sound could be heard.  The quiet in contrast to the noise of the wind was a welcome change, bringing a different kind of peace to the start of another day.  I made a mental note of how the brightness of the sky and the lack of noise made me feel lighter, happier, and more confident about the tasks ahead of me.

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Quiet Time Lisa A. Wisniewski

Though I do enjoy listening to the wind, I also have times in life when silence is the song I wish to hear.  Perhaps it has to do with being inundated by noise throughout the course of the day, or the fact that every person around me feels the need to be “plugged in” to some electronic device that beeps, rings, chimes, or plays music.

We all have times in life when we need to hear the wind in our own way.  We also have times when we feel the need to retreat and remove ourselves from the noise.  These times are important to our overall health and wellbeing.  We may feel guilty about taking time to retreat, but we also need to remember that we are human, and as such, we have natural needs that must be tended to in order to keep moving upon our journey.

“The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.” – Anonymous

Colorful Sea

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Colorful Sea Lisa A. Wisniewski

Throughout the day after the wind storm, I found myself looking to the skies, which were a brilliant blue, almost crystal-like with passing bright white clouds.  The sight was welcome after two days of solid gray clouds.  The contrast in the skies brought a change to my mindset and some progress in solving some problems both at work and at home.  The experience made me recognize the importance recognizing one’s surroundings and how to use what is around you to the best of your ability.

The sunset that night was amazingly beautiful, radiating from a crimson core that reflected neon light off of the clouds.  As the clouds move off into the distance, the light turned orange and golden, making the twilight sky much brighter than normal for this time of year.  I took full advantage of the extended light, running, biking, and staying outside with the dogs until the very last rays dropped from the sky.

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Journey Beyond Oneself Lisa A. Wisniewski

Afterward, I contemplated all the places I have been in life and how experiencing many different colored skies has helped me to build character and faith.  Though I am still a work in progress, I can see how little changes made years ago have led to brighter, better days.  Perhaps the following quote best illustrates this point:

“The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.” – John Dewey

4:54 –vs- 8:55

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After Sunset Lisa A. Wisniewski

Sunset in my area has been stuck at 4:54 PM since December 2, and will remain at this time for a few more days.  This is the earliest time the sun can set in my area, and though I dread the early darkness, I look forward to when sunset moves to 4:55, then 4:56, then 4:57, and all the way through winter and into summer’s peak sunset time of 8:55 PM.

The peak summer sunset time also sticks around for days, which I don’t mind because it allows me to be outside in the yard longer.  Conversely, the early sunset often drives the dogs and me inside, which can be fun, but not as fun as being outside.  Once again, this contrast of time and light illustrates how our perspectives are affected and influenced by our surroundings.

May the contrasts we find in life allow us to gain wisdom and perspective, as well as build stamina and strength for our journey.  May what we see and do help us to build character and faith upon the way, and may sharing our experiences with others allow  us to overcome obstacles found in life’s contrasts.

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Late Autumn Contrast Lisa A. Wisniewski

Contrast

Contrast
On, over, around, and back,
Noted differences
To contemplate and reflect
Round about in time’s escape
As the sun rises and then fades
So within life does one see
Today, yesterday, tomorrow, and all points inbetween.

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New Sights to See Lisa A. Wisniewski

Contrast
Over the landscape past
New sights to see
Through time’s seas
Rolling, rolling on
As the sun wakes the dawn
Soaked in the light
That makes the truth known in life.

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Orange, Red, and Yellow Cast Lisa A. Wisniewski

Contrast
Orange, red, and yellow cast
Next to blue, purple, and green
To create the sunset beneath
Rain and snow clouds
As the seasons change in and out
Scattering the sun, moon, and stars
Through the heavens afar.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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First December Snowflakes Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Apogee – https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/lunar-perigee-apogee.html

Perigee – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/perigee

Micromoon – https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/micro-moon.html

Supermoon – http://earthsky.org/space/what-is-a-supermoon#what-is

Observing November’s Last Days and Nature’s Grace

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Nature’s Grace Lisa A. Wisniewski

The colder temperatures of the weekend gave way to milder, warmer air this week, ending November on a rather balmy note compared to past years.  Though the mornings were still filled with heavy, white frost, the rising sun quickly warmed the fields to bring the fading green grass back in view.  Light to moderate winds were a reminder of November’s chill, although they were tempered by pockets of warmer air that I encountered on my walks, runs, and bike rides.

Sunday Morning Grace

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Sunday Morning Grace Lisa A. Wisniewski

Sunday was one of those days were the temperature was warmest in the morning and dropped rather quickly throughout the day.  The air was warm as I rode my bike while watching the sunrise.  The experience was peaceful, almost like stealing a glimpse of heaven on earth.  The colors on the horizon and the patterns in the clouds made me think that God was riding along with me, helping to guide my thoughts and clear my head.

As I rode along, I noticed the green grass in the yards and fields had begun to fade.  This fading is a sign the grass is going dormant.  The state of dormancy is the way grass fights the stress of inadequate water supply.  Though we have had a fair amount of rain in my area lately, we did have a rather dry spell for most of October, which has left the groundwater levels quite low.  The inadequate amount of water combined with the cooler temperatures of November have forced the grass to react to the stress level.

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Graceful Goldenrod Lisa A. Wisniewski

The reaction has been slow and graceful, like nature dancing a waltz to time’s music.  Perhaps this grace is one of November’s greatest characteristics–slowly, methodically, patiently changing while offering many lessons in life for one to reflect upon.   Though much in the landscape is dying off or devoid of vivid color, the potential for new life to form is unlimited.  Beneath the gray, tan, brown, and olive green drabness, the dying seeds and decaying molecules are forging ahead in the life cycle to foster new growth once the winter winds give way to the spring rains and increased daylight.

Cycle of Grace

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Sunrise Given to be Received Lisa A. Wisniewski

The cycle of decay and growth is nature’s way of giving and receiving. What is received from the decaying plants and organisms allows for new life.  The new life is then given away in time as the seeds and offspring mature.  Upon reaching maturity, the decaying process starts once again, offering up what is left to start anew.  The cycle repeats over and over, each time offering similar yet different organisms and plants the opportunity to receive and contribute to the process of life.

The cycles may be simple or complex, easy or difficult to understand, and orthodox or unorthodox in how they transpire.  The beauty in these cycles lies in the graceful way they move along with time, taking each minute and capturing the highlights to preserve nature and life itself.

Through this preservation, nature offers us perspective, wisdom, knowledge, and examples to help guide us along our journeys.  Perhaps this concept is best explained in the following quote:

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

Weekday Exploring

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Staghorn Sumac Lisa A. Wisniewski

While moving about the landscape this week, I found patches of staghorn sumac, made noticeable by their dark red clusters of hairy seeds.  The contrast of the red seed clusters against the clear blue skies made me contemplate the nature’s endless beauty and array of colors.

Though I sometimes see colors differently than others, I have found nature’s palette to be one of intrigue, for every color has its own properties that make it unique and visible.  Colors often spark memories or connote emotion for the human mind to explore.  It is in exploring these colors that we often discover who we are, who we may become, or who we wish to be.  The following quote sums this up in a more graceful way:

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Light Carving a Path Lisa A. Wisniewski

Seeing the sumac against the sky also reminded me that although we may be related in some way to others, we each have our own set of characteristics that make us who we are.  The staghorn sumac belongs to the same family as poison sumac and poison ivy, yet the staghorn is not poisonous.

Though it is often helpful to categorize traits or aspects we encounter in life, we need to be careful not to allow this categorization to cloud our judgement or limit us, as the following quote suggests:

“Judgement traps you within the limitations of your comparisons.  It inhibits freedom.”- Willie Stargell

The beauty of nature’s colors offers us unlimited opportunities to experience grace–grace of God, grace of wisdom, and grace to be given and received.  November’s last days have been full of colors, some vivid, others rather drab, but all of importance in leading the soul through life.

Grace in the Unknown

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Sadie and Me in 2008 Lisa A. Wisniewski

The last days of November also made me reflect upon one of the greatest graces I have ever received.  This grace came with the adoption of my dog, Sadie, on November 29, 2008.  Sadie was only four months old when I adopted her, and the future for both of us was unknown.  However, the coming days, months, and years led us to where we are today, forming a bond no words can fully describe and no value can be placed.

Sadie brought my soul back to life, offered me a new perspective from which to view the world, and deepened my faith.  She has also allowed me to face the unknown with less fear and more trust in God.  The last days of November always bring to mind the day we met, how quickly we bonded, and how we have managed to adapt, grow, and change through life’s storms.  I am forever grateful to God for sending Sadie to me and to Sadie for loving me despite my faults.   Though our reactions within life are not always graceful, they are most certainly full of grace.

May the days we encounter upon our journey lead us to grace and peace, love and hope, faith and understanding.  May we find moments to both give and receive grace, and may we learn much from nature’s grace.

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In the Twilight Lisa A. Wisniewski

Nature’s Grace

In the twilight hours after the sun sets low
And the night’s darkness comes in tow
Bringing out the moon and the stars
Amid the blue expanse from afar,
The stillness of the minutes
Fill the land within them
With nature’s grace so fine
Aged each day within life.

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In the Early Dawn Lisa A. Wisniewski

In the moments of the early dawn
As the glowing sun casts its light upon
The deer in the fields and the dew on the grass
To reveal the details within nature’s grasp,
Art and science meet and become one
Erasing the expanse between them as the river runs
Rolling with water from places unknown
All mixed together to offer hydration to those
Thirsting for nature’s grace so fine
Found within the escape of the light.

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In the Skies of Heaven Lisa A. Wisniewski

In the skies of heaven and on earth below
The light extends, retracts, and shows
Every detail in and about
From the rabbit’s tail to the squirrel’s mouth,
Every blade of grass and hair upon each head,
Every wave that comes to pass within the oceans,
Every molecule, particle, and tiny life form
Drawn together and pooled as gifts placed before
The soul to be saved within time
By nature’s grace and the spirit divine.

-Lisa A. Wisniewski

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November’s Grace Personified Lisa A. Wisniewski

Resources and Related Links

Dormant grass – http://www.milorganite.com/lawn-care/lawn-care-basics/dormancy

Staghorn sumac – http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c337