Coffee, a chance to pause, reflect, plan; a time for conversations, hugs, laughter, tears, warmth, strength. Comfort in a cup for moments of solitude, and a reason in itself to get-together with friends and loved ones. Liquid energy to stir the creative thoughts and complete those important tasks, and a means by which the beauty of the present moment can be savored, sometimes in an antique china cup. ~ Coffee, the perfect excuse to take snapshots along morning walks and send them to my sisters throughout the year so we can all have a coffee break together, wherever we all may be. ~ Coffee, it’s so much more than just coffee.
This evening I was on the back porch, aka my favorite room in the house, reviewing the events of the weekend with the amazing young people with whom I have the privilege of working over the weekend, and checking the calendar when I realized it is the last Monday of summer. Autumn is scheduled to arrive Friday! A couple of things happened nearly simultaneously: a sweet text from an old friend to schedule coffee & catch up time, and a strong sunbeam streaming through the leaves.
Both drew me away from my “business” immediately. Gears were switched, focus was redirected I stepped out into the summer air and turned my face towards the glorious sun rays.
Some sunsets paint the sky in vibrant colors. But sometimes…..sometimes the sun slips below the canopy and directs the late day rays through and onto the leaves. Today was one of those days.
If you missed it, perhaps you can enjoy these few photos, these evening views through some of my favorite trees.
I love it when sunlight breaks through these old trees. It’s as if the rays carry whispers from God saying “I see you, now look towards me”. And so, I will.
Today was one of those rare, cooler than normal summer days here. The late July breeze seemed determined to dance with the leaves, swaying the green ones that held firm to their branches, and sending gold and red ones spinning through the air giving us a welcomed and refreshing reminder of autumn. It was the perfect day to go take a stroll alongside the Haw River in Saxapahaw, NC.
A few steps down from the parking lot, and the trail awaits under a dense canopy of full trees.
There are parts of the trail where the sky isn’t clearly visible directly overhead but today that didn’t matter at all, the reflection on the water shows the clouds moving in.
Sometimes, the light shining through the clouds, then reflecting off the leaves and water makes the entire area, even the air, seem golden-green. If today were a color, It would be this shade of green:
A little further along the trail, the clouds have moved and a little more sunlight is reaching through. Early hints of the coming autumn, golden leaves are hiding within the summer green trees, falling, and drifting downstream.
When I was younger, this part of the river was heavily polluted with dyes from textile mills, both here on these banks and upstream. Environmental restoration began several years ago and continues still. Much more information and details can be found on the Haw River Trail website. It’s really quite interesting.
On the return walk, near the end of the trail the silver reflection of the building clouds caught my eye once again. There have been sporadic showers throughout the day, but despite their impressive appearance, the clouds haven’t delivered any severe weather yet.
The stroll was nearly over when I snapped this last photo. Of all the scenes today, I think this one was my favorite.
There are still quiet, peaceful, lovely places in this wonderful world where one can simply watch the river roll and the sun set, and be thankful to be able to appreciate such moments.
It’s Tuesday here, and during this time of the year I take advantage of the option to work from my remote office, aka my back porch.
The morning and early afternoon was spent with calendars, books, and websites, listing topics and lessons for this coming season in youth ministry. It’s an uplifting exercise in planning. Serious topics with positive reinforcements to help some of the best middle school age youth I know, try to grow in their relationships with one another and Christ despite everything that will try to dissuade them as they encounter more and more of this world. I do this planning away from people, away from human chatter, away from news reports, I don’t even play the radio during this time. Even so, it is far from silent here on the porch.
Today the backdrop for this task is one of tall, old oak trees with full branches of deep summer green leaves, appearing a brilliant gold shade in the morning sunlight and nearly black in the afternoon cloud cover swaying in the soft and much appreciated summer breeze. It’s hot out on the porch, but it’s worth it. My “office mates” on the other side of the screen are a pair of cardinals chirping sweetly at the turning pages and scribbled notes, a few finches peek in from time to time and a humming-bird hovers at the bushes and seems to be interested on what’s going on as well.
These happy and graceful birds, singing to and with one another through the heat and humidity draw my attention upward. Away from the computer, away from the papers, they remind me to be still a few moments and experience the day. Soon enough the rush of a more structured schedule will return, and perhaps I will recall these moments through these words. To stand and get the camera would send them flying away, and any still photograph would not aptly capture this day of most beautiful sights and songs. So, I will stay in the heat a while longer, planning for cooler days and soaking up these most joyful noises.
Recently, I happened to be in the right place at the right time to receive an amazing invitation to Kiawah Island, South Carolina with some wonderful women for a few days. It’s good to travel to nice places, but it’s more important to travel with good people. This unexpected trip was both, and so much more.
This post is all about capturing the small moments, those “bookend” times of the day when one can carve out a few moments of solitude to simply be, and simply be aware of where we are and grateful for our time here.
Allow me to share a few of the beautiful sights and moments experienced within these 13 or so square miles along the edge of the Atlantic. First up: Arrival!
This beautiful place has miles and miles and miles of trails. Level, well-marked, well maintained trails. Where the trails end, there are more miles of well packed sand at the edge of the Atlantic, just perfect for strolling or cruising. Walking and bicycling were the preferred means of transportation throughout much of the stay on Kiawah.
With bags stowed in the condo and sunset approaching, one of the first activities was to find a spot for the best show in the area! A little side note here: Early in the drive, our theme song became Castle On The Hill by Ed Sheeran. Looking at this photo now, watching the pelicans fly over the nearby Sanctuary Hotel that could easily be mistaken for a castle in the sunset that first evening, that song fits so well.
Mornings are a favorite time for me, especially at the beach, any beach, but I had no idea the beauty and majesty awaiting me on my first morning walk at Kiawah. I happened upon a couple of bucks looking for breakfast!
He must have heard me behind him and turned around. For just a few seconds he walked towards me on the boardwalk. I backed up accordingly to give him his space.
After a couple of minutes, the buck turned around and joined a friend for breakfast in the dunes. A lovely cardinal flew into the frame just as I snapped the picture.
The condo where we stayed had a wonderful kitchen with ample beautiful and comfortable spaces to enjoy meals and conversation. But one night we ventured out to a restaurant at Bohicket Marina. Oh.My.Goodness! Yes, the food was delicious, yes the company was delightful, yes the conversation included A LOT of laughter; but upon exiting the building we were greeted by the twilight sky settling in for the night over the boats.
Heavy clouds gathered throughout the night. Summertime thunderstorms are a reality here, but the boats seem determined to shine with their reflections despite the imposing darkness.
The next morning the clouds seemed to want to linger a little longer and enjoy the sunrise as well. Who could blame them? Later this beach will be filled with people enjoying the sunshine and surf, but for now it’s nearly deserted.
I love those glowing moments, when even the air seems saturated between the actual light and the reflection from the water.
More morning scenes from Kiawah ~ lone shrimp boat heading out to sea.
More morning scenes from Kiawah ~ Sunrise reflections from the pond. There’s a sign warning of alligators, but they stayed out of sight on this trip.
As much as I adore the pictures of and on the beach, this picture is one of my favorites from this trip. This is the walkway to the beach following an overnight rainstorm. Fallen leaves, blown by the wind and rain, lay undisturbed as I approached on my morning walk. Perhaps in this picture there’s a hint of how spectacular autumn will be along this trail.
What you don’t see in these pictures are the in-between moments. Images of conversations over coffee, morning chats, laughter over wine, bonding between a mother and her recent high school graduate daughter, friendships growing, rest and renewal.
What I hope you see are images of a beautiful place where these and more wonderful things happened, all because one person chose to extend an amazing invitation.
While leaving, I stopped for one more sign. The Sanctuary Resort sign adorned with Old Glory in preparation for the Independence Day festivities.
Our sign upon arrival simply stated where we were, our sign on departure simply stated what we had experienced ~ Sanctuary.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
My cousin, who’s really more like a sister, called me this afternoon with an invitation to go see an almost 3 week old baby horse. I think I actually said “Awwwwwww” on the phone. A short few minutes later we were through the gate and being greeted by Miss Tia, the Mastiff, who accepted our head scratches as a sign we meant no ill-will towards “her” horses.
That’s really how we do a lot of things in this family, last minute not really planned. I don’t think the animals minded that we hadn’t made an appointment with them.
I view horses as beautiful, graceful, powerful creatures, I have a great deal of respect and a little dose of fear when I’m near the large ones. Those are the ones I admire from a safe distance.
But the small ones, the baby colts are different. They’re so sweet, a little goofy, just looking for some nuzzles, scratches, play time and food.
Baby Surprise grazing in the wild flowers
Grazing under the shade trees
So graceful, just lovely.
Venturing out across part of the pasture, Surprise looked up to see she was pretty far away from her mama and started running back. If you’ve never seen a baby horse kick up its hoofs and run, please do yourself a favor and find some way to witness that. It’s like witnessing laughter in motion.
Her eyes matched the sky behind the storm clouds rolling in. Just gorgeous.
Close to her mama, she seems content to spend the afternoon enjoying the shade and looking at her human and her dog, which is nearly as big as she.
What’s the best camera? The one you have with you. These photos were taken with my Iphone 6 camera. Perhaps one day soon I’ll take a different camera back and get a few clearer shots, but then that wouldn’t be spontaneous at all. Those last-minute out of the blue calls seem to find me in the most amazing places with some of the most wonderful people I know. Enjoy summer everyone, every single unplanned moment of it!
These past few weeks have been filled with changes, growth, and adventure for our family and many of our friends. Graduations, birthdays and other anniversaries all fell in May. Goal trips off the bucket lists have carried over into the first part of June, and suddenly I find myself on my front steps realizing we’re basically halfway through 2017! Wow! That was fast!
So, on this mid year morning, this new day, I found myself thinking on what may lie ahead, and even though I know tomorrow is never promised here on Earth, I have challenges and fears to conquer. I have hopes and dreams that need some acknowledgement and attention if they ever stand a chance of coming to fruition.
It’s day one. I have strong coffee, morning light, and old words. Today’s reminder from my grandfather’s book of ancient prayers, very much paraphrased: “Lord, I stand before you calling for grace and mercy, refresh my spirit and kindle my coldness with the fire of your love, enlighten my blindness with the brightness of your presence”. (Thomas A Kempis)
One of the things I love about that old book is how the prayers and reflections seem to speak to whatever’s happening for me. I don’t think I could have found a better guide for beginning this new day and these new chapters.