vulnerable path

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Welcome to May

It’s been a long 5 months.  Back in January, I was sending up my wishes for the new year in bird seed, peanut butter, and pine cones.  Let’s see — I wished to embrace my failures.  Check!  It feels like that’s all I’ve managed to accomplish since New Year’s Day.  All the other wishes — well, life got in the way.  But there is still hope! Welcome to May!

bush 2_editedMay makes me happy.  The days are getting longer.  It’s warm enough to get outside and take a walk, go bicycling, or head to the trail for a hike.  Thank God for May!  It had gotten to the point where I could not set foot in the gym and bear that treadmill one more time.  I NEEDED to get outdoors!

I finally had the opportunity to break open the shed and dust off my bike last weekend.  I missed her so much!  “You and me, Bike, we are going to have a really nice ride today!  Let’s get you spiffed up!”  Put a little air in those tires and we are ready to roll.

Until I was out there, cruising down the road, I had not realized just how much I missed this activity.  It’s the way I keep my sanity.  It restores my balance.  It clears my head of all the gunk of everyday.  I was so thirsty for a bike ride.  And it quenched my soul!

cherry blossom 3_editedI feel so blessed to live in a community that has such a wonderful network of recreational trails.  We have the Delaware and Lehigh Rail Trail running straight through the heart of our area.  It’s actually a 165 mile trail system that runs from Wilke-Barre, PA all the way past New Hope along the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers.  I haven’t ridden the whole trail — yet!  You can read all about it here.

May ushers in the downhill run toward the end of the school year.  And this is a good thing for me.  Not because I’m a teacher, and I look forward to my summers off.  Actually, in some respects, I am a teacher.  I’m a Girl Scout leader, and we teach lots of things.  At least we try to.  And while I love my volunteer work more than my paying gig, I’m still ready for a break.  Summer re-charges my batteries.

White hearts_editedMy plan is to get re-connected to nature this summer, and in the process, re-connect to those wishes I made on January 1.  Maybe I will explore a new section of the Rail Trail.  Or perhaps I will brave a kayaking trip on the river.  It would also be awesome just to sit on my back porch, under my umbrella, with a drink in one hand and a good book in the other.

The explosion of new life in springtime is revitalizing.  Gone are the browns, grays, whites of winter.  The trees burst with blossoms and colors.  Things turn GREEN again!  I had to take along my camera and capture nature showing itself off today.

violets_editedI’ve noticed that not all wild plants are weeds.  How can you argue when you find these delightful violets popping up in your grass?  When I was a kid, I always looked forward to finding violets in my yard.  I would carefully pick them, place them in a tiny vase, and present them to my Mom.  Being a Mom myself now, I know that is the best gift!  I also picked Dandelions, clover, butter cups, and wild strawberries.  Did you ever hold a butter cup up to your chin?  A yellow reflection is supposed to indicate a fondness for butter!

bleeding heart_editedRalph Waldo Emerson said that a weed is a plant whose virtues have never been discovered.  Maybe this is true of ourselves sometimes too.  When we are unsure of who we are or where we want to go in life, we doubt our virtues.  But they are waiting to be discovered.  When we are criticized or bullied by others, we may feel as worthless as a weed.  But weeds are survivors.  Pulled out, cut down, poisoned, yet somehow finding persistence, power, roots, and new growth again.  Perhaps the weed sees the beauty in itself, refusing to let go of it’s wild confidence.

I’m refusing to let go of my New Year’s wishes.  I still wish to grow in spirit, strengthen my will, change those failures into opportunities, and improve my forward fold.  There is still time.  There is always a new day and a new chance to blossom.


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A walk in the woods

The weather may have been freezing cold this weekend, but I was determined to spend some time outside, appreciating nature.  Here in Pennsylvania, we are lucky to experience the change of seasons.  And I try to see the beauty in all of them.

lake_editedWith the chaos of the holiday season right around the corner, I find it even more important to step aside and enjoy a quiet moment.  No better place for that than in the woods.

 

I take my Girl Scouts on a wonderful camping trip every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Here are a few of the scenes I found at our lovely hide-away in the woods.

 

During the summer, this lake is filled with swimmers and boaters.  But on the verge of winter, it is already frozen over.  Even the waves by the lake’s edge seemed to have been frozen right as they were about to break.

 

 

rhododendrun_editedIt’s fascinating that as winter approaches, some plants in the woods are already preparing for spring.  The cold air curls the leaves of the rhododendron bushes, as though they are wrapping themselves tight against the frosty air.  Clusters of dead flowers still cling to the plant.  But the new blossoms have already formed and wait to explode in the warmth of June.

 

The lake is encircled by hundreds, if not thousands, of rhododendron bushes.  They have grown massive over the years.  Along one section of trail around the lake, the bushes form a canopy overhead.  What a sight it must be in the spring!

 

kayaks_editedThis time of year, there is not much color to liven up the landscape.  But one sign of summer lingered, brightening up the view!

I think I would have been tempted to take a kayak out on the lake had it not been frozen over!  Though, no paddles were in sight, so that might have been difficult.

 

frosty_leavesI love to take a close look at Mother Nature’s creations.  The smallest crystals of frost on the dried leaves were like tiny gems sparking in the morning sunlight.

 

Nearby, a marshy bog had frozen over.  The ice was smooth and perfectly clear.  It was like peering through glass at the forest floor trapped beneath.  What living things could be under there?  Will they be strong enough to survive these harsh conditions?

 

Nature is full of resilience.  And so are we.  A walk in the woods reminds me of this.  Our frozen hearts can be revived.  We are strong enough to outlast the harshest winter of the soul.  Our spirits can bloom again, stronger, wiser, and more beautiful than ever.

© Vulnerable Path, 2014