Finding Beauty

Find beauty in all seasons of life, even when you are worn and your branches no longer hold leaves, or even a tube of green deep inside that sleeps until spring. Even when mushrooms prepare you as food for the others in the forest. Even when you finally rest on the forest floor.

Willing yourself to be positive in a situation rarely works. Your expression will only be flat and superficial. The real work is in the beauty. Finding beauty in all of life’s challenges is an act of finding love. Your expression is full and meaningful.

Sometimes life is really challenging. We have to reach down deep, into our roots, and pull every last bit of positivity out of us. We have to will ourselves to love.

Be in love with life. Find the beauty.

Short

I cross the field, partially frozen ground of water and ice bobbing surface, sending liquid to another crevasse not near me but somehow, still connected to my feet. Crunching, splashing, my wet feet navigating, weaving through a field that was solid but now shifts. All in an effort to reach the short one.

We say that seeing is believing. I think that’s where we get ourselves into trouble. We can always find what we are looking for and if we depend on seeing something then we’ve just sold ourselves short.

When I look at this stump I see what we don’t see. I see a fairy land with a large mountain. I see the sun setting on something that seems to be thriving, glowing. I see life even in the cold snow and ice. I see the results of what is a healthy root system.

I see a community of trees supporting one another and even though this one has little to show for it on the surface it is a part of a bigger whole, united.

What would happen if we didn’t see just the obvious? What would happen if we acknowledged and supported each other, even the little stumps?

Because I care

Young branches heavy with snow, protected and nurtured, exposed just enough to feel the warmth of the sun. Community surrounding and encouraging them to grow, to reach, to become.

Winter’s chill, darkness of sleep and lazy shadows meandering through the forest bringing armor to the little ones.

My elders have long left this earth but I remember the community and when I see these young trees I too want to wrap them in snow and tuck them in for the night.

I want to protect them and keep them from making the same mistakes I made, embark well-meaning words of caution learned from life’s lessons. Don’t pay too much for a house, always save money, give when you have the chance. Always under bake chocolate chip cookies and keep plenty of sand on hand in the winter when the freezing rain washes the snow from your driveway and you are left with pure ice.

I will always be a mom, not just to my children and grand children but to everyone because I care. I will teach, and nurture, until my last breath is taken away and I leave this earth for good.

Sometimes it’s easy

So stink’n cute!

Unconditional love is easy when you encounter a smile or a light heart, or a grandchild. The love comes beaming at you, swirling, glowing. It’s easy to say that you’ve done the work, you’ve evolved, you can do this! All time stands in your heart and you know the sun will set, but not before you are ready.

It’s easy when the forest speaks to you and fairies puff their wings and you sing the birds songs. Mud and ice beneath your feet, the smell of emerging buds on trees and last year’s leaves, frozen. Not thoughts. No accomplishments. No confrontations or opinions. Just saplings and elders and deer tracks.

It’s easy when you come to nature in awe.

Like this sapling, I want to spread my little branches and hang my needles so they sway in the breeze and glisten with frozen rain. I want to grow and love and have lots of little saplings that have saplings before the sun sets low in the sky. Before I begin to rot and be fed to insects and be made home by forest animals. Before the woodpeckers come and bore holes in my well worn bark. It’s easy when you spend time with this sapling.

Today we embraced at sunset, this little sapling and I, casting long blue shadows in the snow.

I want to want to be here

I am but a tree beside the road. Placed atop a small mound, my lower trunk bends from the years of giving, of responding. My roots are not fully covered by the ground now frozen, my tips exposed.

I want some nice person to come by and cover my roots with rich soil, warm, cover me so that I will stay here by the side of the road. I want to stay and grow. I want to become like the tree across the road, big, old, wise, branches brown and strong. Leaves that turn bright orange or burnt red. Shade that cools and protects. I want to stay to become the tree across the road. Because I know I can.

But now I sit, roots exposed, cold. Wanting and wanting to be moved, or changed. Knowing that some day the change will come. Spring will be here. The ground will thaw.

And I will become.

Read-dy

Breakfast Served All Day

My youngest grandchild lives close by so I have the pleasure of seeing him often. Time just stands still when you are with an 18 month old. He grounds and teaches me the fun of the present moment.

For Christmas I gave him a little wooden kitchen set so that he can cook like mommy and daddy. For about an hour we did just that. I sat on the floor as he delighted in making me an egg with cheese, or onion, or tomato, or hot sauce, or honey or just plain. He would take the adorable fake sunny side up egg and put it in the adorable little pan. He’d add something to it or just leave it plain and put it in the oven and close the oven door. Then he’d count to three and gleefully exclaim, “Read-dy” and toddle over to me with the pan in one hand and a spatula in another. And we’d eat. Yum. Repeat. Yum. Repeat. Yum. You get the idea.

After this experience I decided to adopt his joyful technique as a mantra to bring me to the present moment. Many, many times a day I say Read-dy to myself. It never fails to bring a smile to my face. We never made cinnamon bread in his little oven but I have in my big girl oven. It’s easy. Maybe it will inspire you to be Read-dy for a new mantra. Here’s the recipe.

Cinnamon Bread

Recipe modified from several sources over many years

Dough

1 cup of milk at 105 degrees f

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar

1 packet of quick rise yeast

1 large eggs

6 tablespoons of butter

1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

4 cups of flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

Filling

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup of raisins (optional)

7 tablespoons of butter softened, not melted

First make dough

1-Bring milk to temp

2-Put milk in bowl, add yeast, stir to dissolve, add 1 tablespoon of sugar, stir to dissolve

3-Let sit for 5-7 minutes (sometimes 10) till it starts to get foamy

4-Add rest of sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.  Mix

5-Add flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg. Stir in bowl then empty onto floured surface and kneed for about 5 minutes.

6-form ball and place in greased bowl, cover with towel.  Let it double in size.  About an hour.

Next make filling

Add all of the ingredients except the butter in a bowl.  Make sure that the butter is very soft but not melted.  Add the butter with a fork and mix until you have crumbles.

When the dough is doubled

Turn it out onto floured surface.  Punch down then roll out to form a rectangle that is about 12×24 or a bit larger.  Spread the filling out onto rectangle with your hands.  Dont go all of the way to the edges.  Roll into a log starting at the 12” or shorter side.  Pinch down the edges.  Place into a 8’ or 9’ bread pan that is greased or sprayed or lined with parchment paper.  Cover and let double.  Might take 30-40 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes.  You know that it is done when you can tap on the top of the loaf and it sounds hollow.  Let cool in pan for 5 min, then turn out of pan and cool on rack.  Once completely cooled you can slice and toast or just eat warm!