An early August visit to the DeFries calendar garden and nearby Baintertown wetlands. . . .
I've been pondering the question "What is the value of a mosquito?" I could certainly do without the bumper crop we've had in the past few weeks, but a narrow focus on that seems a bit anthropocentric. I read recently that one side effect of the thriving crop of mosquitoes is a bumper crop of flourishing dragonflies, who feed on them. We saw plenty of feasting dragonflies hovering over the wetlands, and this one clinging to a seedpod.
Elsewhere some seeds are wind-blown, others not yet formed by their flower, or gathered up and stored in glass.
Yesterday, my Windwatchers group spent time praying with an object from the created world. I had prepared a tray with stones, shells, nuts, driftwood, a couple finch nests, and some dried plants. After a few minutes of settling and opening themselves to God's illumination, my participants each chose an object that drew them in some way.
The prayer itself is much like lectio divina, but with the focus being the object rather than a scriptural passage. We gaze and take in the object through eyes and touch, noticing any particular aspects that shimmer for us or nudge at us for attention.
Then we allow memories, feelings, images, and connections to our lives to surface. We listen for any invitations the Holy Spirit might have for us through this object. We rest in gratitude. We have time to share with each other from our experience and to name the invitations we've heard.
I was drawn to a pine cone. Since I was leading, my attention was somewhat divided between guiding the others and time focused on my pine cone. Still, I was entranced by the patterns and lines of this piece of God's creation and resolved to spend more time with it later in the day. Here are the results of gazing with my camera, ending with the cone back in its current normal location, at the side of a much larger cone my mother picked up in California years ago.
On one of the warmer days this past week, we walked down to the dam and did the circle through the woods. John spotted this heron before I did, but I had fun finding the shapes and patterns below.
Tuesday was a typical northern Indiana, transition-into-winter day, one that could make you gloomy just looking out the window. Warm though, with a forecast for below-freezing temperatures the rest of the week, so I found time to go out with my camera.
It took about half the walk, heading out from the house, to shed the writing project I had been working on. The scenery didn't help -- bare tree branches, gray skies, prairie plantings full of blackened, weedy stems. I didn't even bother pulling my camera out of my pocket.
When I got to the southwest corner of campus, a couple little rusty-capped sparrows flew up from the grasses to take refuge in nearby bushes. They caught my wandering attention. I listened to them sing and started looking more closely at the weeds and grasses nearby. I found silver and gold, and evidence that the birds had been enjoying the banquet spread out before them.
Saturday began as one of those golden fall days, full of sunlight and wind, with gold leaves on the maple trees along 8th Street, twirling through the air, scuttling across the roads, and resting in drifts by my door.
When I drove down to the Calendar Garden in the afternoon, I discovered that out in the open countryside the trees were pretty well bare already. It was quieter in the garden, but as I strolled through the spring quarter, I kept spotting the shimmer of milkweed seeds, like tiny white fireworks, scattered amidst the other plants. They had blown a ways, but I finally found their origin -- a candelabra of tall, narrow milkweed pods.
It's the seedy season -- buckeyes and acorns and parachutes of seed-carrying fluff. All sorts of shapes and shades of brown and tan -- and one last morning glory blooming on our vine, when I thought it was all dried and gone to seed. No seeds in the last photo though, just Yertle the Turtle and friends.
On a recent walk across campus on a gray, wet day, John looked at the gray, wet prairie plantings, and shook his head at how dreary and dead it all looked. It does rather bring to mind the Ghost of Prairie Past these days, especially when, as in the photo below, there's a flurry of snowflakes in the air.
A closer look foretells the Ghost of Prairie Yet to Come. I wonder how many seeds are held in all those seed clusters, of so many different shapes? There is a strong theme of ghostly gray and pale beige, and yet even on a gray day, glimpses of gold can be found.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"