May Posies

Early spring showers have turned the landscape green with dots of pinks, yellows, and lavenders.  My corner of the world is alive with flowers, and I am immersing myself in their glory and hopefulness.  This year more than any other I need flowers and the promise of spring.  I need something to celebrate.  I am in search for beauty.

I am ever grateful to the flowers of Moggy Bottom.  It is my secret garden in close proximity to where I live.  I saunter down its gravel paths and savor the colorful sights and fragrant smells.  Walking there reassures me that spring is surely here, and summer is on the horizon.  It will be soon time for my yearly respite from school.  And though I love teaching and learning, I am in much need for a hiatus from busy. 

When I was a child, I loved preparing impromptu spring bouquets for my mother.  I’d gather them from the wildflowers that grew on the hill at the side of our home: black-eyed Susan, sweat pea, daisies, cornflowers, and buttercups.  I’d gather them in simple arrangements in jam jars or wrapped in damp paper towels tied with string.  I can still see their colors, smell their perfume, feel the calm their beauty brought to me.

Lately, I have been reading about Emily Dickinson’s life of poetry and gardening.  I hadn’t realized that the Belle of Amherst was an ardent and accomplished gardener.  Re-reading her poems, I recognize how integral a role flowers played in Dickinson’s experience of the world around her.  The garden was a metaphor for life and its complexities. She delved in deeply as a gardener would: tending plants, encouraging growth, and intimately noticing the shift of seasons. 

I wanted to delve deeply this week, focus on the flowers of Moggy Hollow, listen to what they were saying, and find a way to express what I was feeling.  I created a posy of flowers to share: trillium, lily of the valley, magnolia – delicate and fleeting like this time in spring when the first flowers bloom and then give way to summer’s abundance.

Mindful Gardener

“Earth laughs in flowers.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Though I am not a gardener, I have always had an affinity for gardens and have spent many days in both my grandfathers’ gardens.  They grew all sorts of vegetables, fruits, fruit trees, and flowers.  I loved helping them plant and harvest.  I still enjoy getting dirty planting flowers. There is satisfaction in watching something grow. There is satisfaction in nurturing something.

Over the years, when I was able, I created school and class gardens with my students. I loved watching their curious and surprised faces as they discovered garden treasures: a snail, a green tomato, a huge pumpkin. Children learned so much in the garden, not only about the nature of plants, but also about their own toughness and resiliency – grit if you will.

I’m lucky to live near many public gardens and arboretums.  I cannot wait to see their spring offerings.  This spring seems more precious to me, maybe it’s because of the precariousness of the world.  I need a place of serenity and beauty, a place where things thrive and grow instead of being destroyed.  When I’m in a garden everything else fades away.  I step into a different place and time.  I am fully with the plants and flowers.  Surrounded by beauty, I’m able to breathe deeply, slow my heart rate, and be present to all that is flourishing.

Mindful Gardener

I step out of my thinking
into the pink,
the purple and yellow,
into my personal oasis.
A green haven
sprouting to life,
seeds of calm, 
shoots of inner peace,
knotted roots entwine,
newly budded flowers
silently grow.
I forget about busy
and connect with the flowers,
 feel the soil  between my fingers,
I stop worrying,
listen to the sounds 
of the fertile earth,
Inhale all of spring.
My intentions
In full bloom.

Willowood Arboretum – Chester, New Jersey

New & Unique Garden Books for Kids

  • Celia Planted a Garden: The Story of Celia Thaxter and Her Island Garden by Phillis Root
  • Easy Peasy: Gardening for Kids by Little Gestalten
  • Flowers are Pretty Weird by Rosemary Mosco
  • Grow: A Family Guide to Plants and How to Grow Them by Riz Reyes
  • Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood by Tony Hillery
  • How to say Hello to a Worm by Kari Percival
  • Little Homesteader: A Spring Treasury of Recipes, Crafts, and Wisdom by Angela Ferraro-Fanning
  • Parks for the People: How Frederick Law Olmsted Designed America by Elizabeth Partridge
  • Planting a Garden in Room 6 by Caroline Arnold
  • Springtime is.. by Leah Vis
  • The Gardener of Alcatraz by Emma Bland Smith
  • What Cooking at 10 Garden Street by Felicita Sala
  • What’s Cooking in Flowerville? By Felicita Sala
  • What’s Inside a Flower?: And Other Questions About Science and Nature by Rachel Ignotofsky

A great website for you to feast your gardening senses:

Flower Power Daily

Much gratitude to TWT: Slice of Life and SOS: Sharing Our stories.

Welcome Spring!

The sun is shining, birds gather to sing, and spring is finally here. This morning, my heart is a bit lighter; my mind a bit clearer.  I can push world events away for just a little while.  I can revel in the time when the earth becomes renewed. The woodland animals are coming out of their winter stupor.  I am beginning to feel a little more hopeful.  I too can turn my face to the sunshine and feel restored.  It is a day to celebrate.  Go out into nature, find beauty, and rejoice.

A little song to celebrate this day and the earth’s resilience.  Welcome spring!

Awaken the Peas

Upon the earth, the sun shines down 
Each ray, a warm delight.
Each tiny seed rests and waits 
Until the time is right.

The sun’s steady light
Begins to warm and spread,
Awakening each little seed
From its frosty bed.

Awaken the peas 
from their round green beds
Remind them spring is coming,
Tell each raindrop to kiss their heads
And set the bees a-humming.

Thank you to TWT: Slice of Life and SOS: Sharing our Stories for their creative outlet and support.

Power to Pause

This week, my thoughts came in quick, short phrases.  They begged to be placed into poetry.  January is a perfect month for reflection, and I am able to get to the center of my thoughts when I compose poetry.  Everything seems to fall into place, and I feel comforted by the rhythm of my thinking.

Invitations to Wonder…

Last week, Ruth Ayers invited her online writing group (SOS: Sharing Our Stories) to write about 7 small things.  Instead, I chose to write about anger.  Anger is not a small thing.  Anger is a big thing, an explosive thing.  It starts small and then grows.

As I read some members’ blog posts this week, I was reminded about the importance of simple joys.  All week, I  kept turning lists of small things over and over in my mind.  I have always been attracted to the small seemingly insignificant things: stop to notice the dandelion blooming between the cracks in concrete.  I’m a photographer, and so as I make my way through a mountain pass or a city street, my eye is always on the small things that most people would miss.  Those small things aren’t always aesthetic or beautiful, they were just common, ordinary things.  In their ordinariness lies their unique importance.

Poet, Valerie Worth, wrote a book for children called All Small.  I’ve used her poems to teach children to notice the wonders of small things.  Small IS beautiful.  The world consists of countless small things and those small things are what what makes the world an incredible place of wonderment.

As I made those lists in my mind of small things, as I reflected on a selection of small items, I thought about the work of Basho, the 17th century Japanese poet who was a master of haiku – the 3 line poem of 5-7-5 syllables.

                                                  The old pond.                                                                                                                                           A frog leaps in.                                                                                                                                        Sound of the water.


                                              Their own fire                                                                                                                                          Are on the trees,                                                                                             the fireflies Around the house with flowers.


I decided to try my hand at some haiku for this last week of April, focusing on the small all around me.  I offer these seven small things to you now.

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Apple blossoms pink                                                        Branches tap on my window                                        A burst of bright spring








Here pinecones scatter                                   

Among the gray-green bracken                     

Thorny and silent






Petals on petals

Circular meditation

Center holds beauty








Salt, sand, surf meets shore

Shells in pink light perfect                                         

Curves – one to another






Perfect sculpted fur                                            Squirrel’s not camera shy                                   Swishes his puffed tail







Egret stands alone

Graceful curved neck – peaceful

Alert – swish of fish




















Something Beautiful

Lotus Print.jpg

I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty lately.  This spring and summer I was tasked with finding an assisted living facility for my mother-in-law.  It has proved to be an arduous journey fraught with near-hysteria, even with expert advice from A Place for Mom, which I cannot recommend more highly!

But I digress.  I want to stick with beauty. Concentrating on beauty has helped me get through some really difficult moments.  Beauty has been the balm to heal some really ugly images.  Beauty is God’s grace.  Beauty in this mortal world should not be taken lightly, it should be revered.

My mother, Vivian, died almost six years ago now, at the age of 91.  She was a teacher, artist, and clothing designer.  She had a great sense of style and aesthetic.  She imparted those gifts to me, however, I cannot sew on a zipper to save my life!  I did not inherit her sewing skills, that’s for sure, but I can admire them. And I can make curtains, quilts, and pillows – anything with a simple straight line.

My friend, Melissa, loves fashion too.  Her blog, Turing Fashion Inside Out, details all her fashion adventures. She has a great sense of the aesthetic, and I love how she thinks about how she puts her wardrobe together.  Honestly,  I never thought about the creativity that goes into dressing oneself before I began talking with Melissa.  Now, I revel in being aware of patterns and color, texture and form.

In between investigating assisted living places, rescuing my ninety-three-year old father from a rehab hospital where he was recovering from hip surgery, witnessing the gauntlet of gray figures in wheelchairs, I’ve been pursuing beauty in anyplace I can think of:  stopping by the grocery store’s floral section a little longer, noticing the perfect rise of a white moon, and the cloud-pink sunset over the mountains.  I remind myself that beauty is one of the things that keeps me alive. Without beauty there would be no hope, no hint of heaven.

Something Beautiful                                                                                                                            by Joanne L. Emery

I’ve been thinking of patterns lately,

A little geometry of flowers and delight:

The red dress my mother made me

When I was six,

The one with the yellow chicks

And the smooth, round buttons.


In the fabric store last month,

I caught a glimpse of a pattern:

A yellow dress with bright red buttons

And big patch pockets

On a skinny six-year-old

With lopsided braids,

Nodding her head to my question:

Did your mother make that for you?


Yesterday, in the discount store,

Walking the rows of clothing,

Not looking for style,

But searching for pattern

Something familiar,

Something that would catch

My mother’s eye:

Aqua flowers –

The shape of which is a cross between

Artichokes and lotus blossoms –

Floating on a cream background

In soft chiffon,

Over my head it goes


Making me feel like

Something beautiful.