The Hummer and the Butterfly

28 07 2011
Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

The tiger swallowtails are out.

They are floating, sometimes recklessly, sometimes purposefully, their yellow bright against the blazing skies of July. They cross our 21st century byways, but they are just passing through our chronology. Theirs is an evolutionary time and place, one built – as layers of sand become the shore –  tiny life by tiny life.

Watching them, I can feel the simplicity of that life, if only for a tiny moment.

Then, one floats between me and the yellow Hummer in front of me. Its license plate reads, “Our Farms, Our Future.” Behind me, the couple smokes, his Bluetooth on, her tailgating mindlessly.

We are also in an evolutionary timeline. Which will predominate – the Hummer or the Butterfly? The moment or the mindless?

We can tell ourselves that one person cannot influence such monumental forces as evolution. I say, it depends what is evolving, and what we want to come of it.


Capturing Joy

12 07 2011

Image via Wikipedia

A favorite thinker of mine, SARK, has a knack for maximizing small moments for big effect. Her micromovement system overcomes procrastination in the blink of an eye, and she advocates taking (and making) tiny adventures everyday.

I believe in something similar: capturing the joy in mini moments.

What if your outlook on the day could be instantly improved? I am prone to think this is impossible magic, but I find, if I am open to the change, it is possible.

Here are some encapsulated joys that have made my week so far:

  • The little dip in the road on my commute home that feels like riding my bike down a certain hill from childhood.
  • Standing on the balcony on the final evening of a heat wave, anticipating the cooler air to come.
  • Tasting homemade honey right out of the jar.
  • The moment I looked out and saw the first flower I’d grown from seed since I was a kid.
  • Savoring in-season raspberries while listening to hold music during my chaotic work day.

Each of these moments have made my days better. What if we even went a step further and recorded our captured joys often, or just whenever we felt like it? Then we could live the joys all over again.

What are some of your encapsulated joys?

Bucket List

29 06 2011
Bucket List word cloud #1

Image by mccmicb via Flickr

Just write one already! You’ll be crazy surprised at some of the items in a few years. Think of it as present Self kicking future Self in the Carpe Diem.

I realize I cannot motivate you without sharing a few gems from my own list. I give these up only in the hope that they will inspire you to do things similar or totally opposite to them. After all, a bucket list should be full of slightly crazy things you need to write down to gather the courage to ever attempt.

Colleen’s Bucket List: A Sample

  • Drive a dog sled team.
  • Help build our cabin.
  • Publish my writing.
  • Backpack for a week or longer.
  • Zipline. In Costa Rica.

Of course, your bucket list can (and should!) contain the seemingly mundane things that support these and other dreams. More from my list:

  • Learn to bellydance.
  • Speak Spanish.
  • Knit a sweater.
  • Own land.

May I pry? What’s on your bucket list?

Suddenly, Wildlife!

26 06 2011

Ghost Crab, Assateague Island

You could be in the middle of the city, or a jungle, or a suburban jungle of lawns and sprinklers. Wherever you are, suddenly the animal, utterly different from your world, appears on the scene. For that moment, your worlds are one and the same, and you feel awe.

I hope you’ve been there. If not, here’s how.

Finding wildlife is about three basic principles:

  1. Be Still. To see animals you must not move so much. If  you fidget like me, you’ll understand why this is number 1. Try simply sitting somewhere, anywhere, and . . .
  2. Watch.  You might think this goes without saying, but really, when was the last time you watched something other than people or cars go by? Keep your eyes open to everything new and potentially interesting. Of course, you can help this along if you strive to . . .
  3. Be Present. A certain wildlife biologist I know quite well is excellent at being in the moment, and I suspect that’s why he sees most everything before I do. This is also why I have to be obnoxious about it when I do see something first, of course.

I have had birds, rodents, and deer virtually ignore my presence. Once, while walking down a mysterious path at dusk, I came face to face with a porcupine doing the same. We stared at each other breathlessly for several minutes before he broke the tension and walked off. I will never forget the floating moment when we both felt the same fear and, if I can extend your imagination, the same exhilaration at the unexpected encounter.

Hey, it could be true. The point is, experiences are as magical and meaningful as you make them. Another time, in a perfect garden and also at dusk, a dragonfly hovered gently above my head. I’d like to think we were on a similarly Zen wavelength in that moment. I do know for certain that we shared the same beautiful garden on the same beautiful night.

What are your sudden nature encounters?

Summer Joys

19 06 2011

I’m back! Is anyone out there?

Well, whether you are or you aren’t, I’m here and ready to share more Greening  Tree tidbits with you. Watch the blog for continued changes!


Summer is upon us, and the solstice will soon make it official. While I’m not a fan of high temps, I do love many of the pleasures that derive their significance from this fleeting season:

  • An ice-cold drink on the patio.
  • Exultant bird song from early in the morning until long after the sun retires.
  • The lazy pace of everything – our western culture’s nod to seizing the season.
  • Farmer’s markets loaded with brilliant colors and interesting shapes.
  • The way the outdoors becomes our second home.

During the workweek, I take a moment to look out the window and smile upon the world outside. It will be ready to greet me at 5 o’clock, and I want to make sure I’m ready to greet it!

This week, why not:

  • Try a new fruit.
  • Stroll in your neighborhood.
  • Notice an insect and the way it lives.
  • Take an impromptu trip to a park – hike, play ball, picnic, and bask in this friendly season!

I heart baby leaves.

26 04 2011
A pink-flowered Cornus florida

Image via Wikipedia

This is one of the many thoughts I have while driving home. I am fortunate to have a pleasing landscape around me on my way to and from work. Perhaps I’m still partially asleep in the mornings, but the evening brings more contemplation.

It has likely been said before, but each Spring I feel that it has never been this Spring, this almost unexpected beauty. I feel my winter self wiping the crust from its eyes and taking a deeper breath. The entire green world is a translucent emerald gem dotted with redbuds and dogwoods in bloom. Grass is a novel, electric smell.

Life is good, even during rush hour, even after a long day’s work. I marvel at the power of nature, even through the glass windows of a car, to calm and reconnect me to a powerful force: Spring.

These are my thoughts on this great season. Oh, and I heart baby leaves – they are so cute!

Spring Awakenings

7 04 2011

Longwood Gardens, Spring 2010

When most people think about spring doings, cleaning and yard work jump to mind. I would like to propose that awakening be on our agenda.

What projects, plans and dreams have you postponed, either since New Year’s or indefinitely? Did winter bog you down under blankets and gray skies? Throw off your misgivings! Today is never too late, but if not now, when?

My own Spring projects include: writing regularly; continued career movement; and reading an educational book on my lunch break.

While I may not be in a job of my preference, I decided that my lunch hour is at least 30 minutes in which to stimulate my brain with continuing education. Besides – and you may not be much different in this respect – I have many “educational” books I mean to read but which, in the evenings, end up playing a sad second fiddle to magazines and fun fiction. First up: Off the Grid, by Nick Rosen. Review will follow!

I’m sure I will throw more cleaning in there, too. After all, there is a reason Spring cleaning remains prevalent – we feel the ancient urge to mimic nature’s blooming with new growth in our own lives. Allow your cleaning to inspire you.

What are your Spring awakenings?

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