Monthly Photo Challenge: North Chagrin Reservation — October

Wow. What a change a few days makes! We are now definitely into the fall here. The temps have begun to drop. We saw our first snow fall of the season yesterday and it has still been “spittin’ ” snow today though there is no accumulation. The jackets and coats have come out and the thermostat was turned up to warm the house. Personally I experience a little grief about this time every year. I thrive in the spring and summer months, so this transition into fall (and eventually winter) triggers a bit of melancholy. Having said that however, spending time at the reservation reminds me of the glory of every season, which boosts my sagging spirit. I really tried to capture the fall feeling and gorgeousness of this place this month.

As an aside, today is my birthday. I don’t do big parties or celebrations. We tend to find simple, meaningful ways to mark life events around here. With that in mind, my birthday treat to myself was to drive out to the reservation and spend hours this morning roaming, meditating, photographing, and rejuvenating. Some of the photos posted today were taken this morning. What a wonderful way to start the day! I hope that you, too, find meaningful ways to spend your days. Enjoy this month’s collection.



The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by
The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by

Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist


It has been a very long time since I’ve posted in the weekly photo challenge. About half way through my graduate studies blogging had to take a back seat, but now I’m finished with school. I have a job. It is demanding but I am happy to be working. And slowly I am working my way back to photography and blogging (hopefully). When I saw this week’s theme, I knew it was time to get back in the game! Hope you like the photo, and I look forward to seeing yours. 🙂

Autumn Thoughts

When the studies become oppressive and I feel smothered by deadlines and all things academic, the best mental health therapy I know is to grab a camera and head for the woods. I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods lately. In fact, I recently discovered  what is officially known as “nature therapy,” based on the premise that human angst, depression, disconnectedness and stress can in part be attributed to the fact that in our technological world, we have become too alienated from nature. The cure (or at least some relief) is found by spending more time outdoors reconnecting with the natural world. That is certainly true for me. So much so that once I am a licensed clinical counselor (a few years hence) I plan to seek certification as an art therapist, and now, a nature therapist, too. I can think of no better approach to becoming centered and finding one’s authentic being. But one does not have to travel afar to benefit from immersing in the natural world. When not out in the woods, you will often find me on our back deck or in the yard piddling around. This is soul-refreshing work for me. I have great plans for our yard, plans that will make our yard a small wildlife habitat. It will take time, but with patience and perseverance we will have a nature retreat outside our back door. But it is Autumn and for now everything is put to rest for the season. No more digging and planting until the spring. As you can see, a few days ago the trees that line the back of our property were in full color which made the following bird shots more beautiful than ever. Even that old pie plate bird feeder doesn’t look quite as tacky as usual. 😉


Now however, the trees in the background have lost most of their leaves. Gray barrenness dominates the countryside. It’s hard to believe that these photos were taken just a day or two ago. Dreary rains have set in and the time has come to settle in to our cozy home knowing that winter is not too far off. School work continues. I will begin my fieldwork (counseling) in the spring, and if all goes according to plan (does it ever?) I will graduate in December, 2013. The work is tiring and I’ve reached the stage where I sometimes consider quitting this process. I am tired of school. But I am old enough to know that this, too, shall pass. And there are always the woods, or the yard, and the foliage and various animals to lift my spirits.

Well, school work is once again calling my name so I’m off. Have a wonderful week; try to get out into nature if you can, and I’ll see you all next time.



Autumn Has Arrived

This morning I looked out our living room window to see this little critter huddled next to the screen. It’s bushy tail curled around to hide its head as if to say “I’m hiding here where no one can see me.” I watched the tree branches sway with the breeze and noticed the clouds overhead. This looks to be a dreary day indeed. Of course this is to be expected especially if one lives close to the “big” lakes as we do. Lake Erie is less than thirty minutes from our door, and I hear that the winters here are brutal. I try not to think about that though. Staying in the present moment, I force myself to consider what wonderful things await me on this chilly autumn day? Ugh. The positive approach just isn’t working at the moment. I feel like the little critter-squirrel on our window ledge this morning. I want to pull the covers up over my head so that no one sees me.  I want to snuggle in warmth. On the other hand, I also want to explore more of this new environment in which we now live. Maybe the sun will come out a little later. For now I’ll take another cup of coffee, watch the trees sway and the leaves dance as they drift to the ground. I’ll make this a good day. I will adapt to living in the north. I will discover beauty even on a cold Autumn day. . . Or I’ll curl up next to Pele, my faithful cat, in my favorite fuzzy warm bathrobe, with a good book and read to my heart’s content.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fall

September has been a month of family crisis this year. Everyone I know experiences emergencies, worst-fears-realized, and drama from time to time. They are a part of life painful though they may be. Sometimes we are blessed with sweet joy when victorious over catastrophe; sometimes loss is followed by grief. We have experienced both this month; the loss of Tim and Maria’s baby, and the near death experience of my dear father. One loss we still grieve, the other we celebrate because he beat the odds and survived. Once we realized Dad was going to survive this last crisis, the family celebrated and the tears turned from those of fear and grief to tears of rejoicing. When all was said and done however, I for one felt emotionally depleted. This has been a month of drama, of extreme highs and lows.

Late afternoon yesterday Richard and I needed to get out into nature to refresh our weary souls. When the world crowds in, or when I am weary from whatever the stress, a walk in the woods does absolute wonders. So with camera in hand, we headed out for a late afternoon and early evening soul-healing jaunt. Remembering the photo challenge this week, I thought a return to the nature preserve would be a nice place to start our trek. We were not disappointed.

To begin with, cloud formations created dramatic scenes for most of the day. We often get gorgeous clouds, I think because they are coming off the great lake nearby.

Next, I noticed the fall flowers: beautiful, colorful, a wonderful sight on a glorious fall day.

We also enjoyed the different fowl that inhabit the nature preserve, some of them quite colorful.

But after a bit, the storm clouds began to move in . . .

and the rain began to fall . . .

and the ducks swam for shelter!

Then the heavens opened up and rain poured down. Fortunately we sheltered in the nature center till the deluge subsided. And when there was a lull, we made the mad dash to our car, but I hesitated along the trail to shoot one last frame.

Back in our car, the heavens once again opened up as we headed out of the preserve. Since we were already out, we decided to run a few errands on the way home, all the while thinking that our jaunt was drawing to a close. When we pulled into the market parking lot however, we sighted a reminder that in good times or bad, the Divine Presence is still with us. . . Always.

We did our shopping, but Richard suggested one more stop before going home. Since moving to Cleveland earlier this month, we had not yet been to the lake. Even though clouds filled the sky and the view was rather gloomy, my dear romantic husband thought that tonight would be a good night to get our first peek at this magnificent body of water. No gorgeous sunset greeted us, but what a beautiful sight, an enticement for frequent visits in the future.

On our way home, I had one last conversation for the night with Mom. We both realize how fragile life is, and how our lives can and do change instantly from time to time. But for tonight, our family is thankful beyond words that Dad is with us. In fact, he is already talking about his next camping trip. And after our wonderful trek into the natural world this evening, Richard and I finally relax into a good night’s sleep.