This morning was the morning I had been waiting for all winter! The day before my birthday, Mother Nature bestowed the gift of an absolutely dazzling, frosted landscape – on a morning when I didn’t have to rush off to work, no less!
Satisfied with my frost photos from last winter, I had no interest in replicating them. I wanted to discover new images – perhaps a frosted willow tree. I headed up the hill toward my favorite willows but realized the frost was limited to the immediate riverside areas. Then I drove to my favorite willow across the river – which, it turned out, was completely untouched by frost. The surrounding landscape was breathtaking except for the dredging barges and cranes sticking out of it and ruining an otherwise potentially awesome shot.
Eventually, I retreated into the solitude of my favorite riverside sanctuary, steeped in joy.
The gentle percussion of delicate frost showers striking frosty, dried leaves still clinging to oak trees was exquisite and carried a song that filled me with certainty that all is well, and everything is and will be all right. What a reassuring message during this long, cold winter!
Later in the day, I was in a mood and retreated to the forest once again to find some peace of mind. Upset about factors beyond my control, I was more focused on what was absent or missing (for instance, being able to celebrate my birthday with my mom) than on the richness of what is. I felt so agitated that I couldn’t even see much beauty in the woods, aside from the sun shining through the trees (which gets me every time).
Following deer tracks through the woods, I remembered a couple lines from the poem, “Lost,” by David Wagoner:
The forest knows where you are.
Let it find you.
I stopped and contemplated those words as a barred owl flew silently overhead. After a long moment, I announced out loud to the forest, “I am here. Please heal me.” And the forest answered.
The first thing I noticed was the rainbow-colored sparkles glowing on the surface of the sunlit snow. Nearby was a fallen tree that was covered with snow and looked like a perfect canvas. I became still and listened to the words that bubbled up from my heart: Be kind to yourself. Love what is. I wrote those words in the snow above the fallen tree.
I wrote them on a patch of sunny, sparkling snow. As the sun sank rapidly behind the ridge, I wrote them a third time in a higher, sunny spot around a heart-shaped deer track.
As I made my way out of the forest, I felt so much more peaceful than when I entered. I realized (humbly, once again) that the one factor that is within my control is my attitude toward whatever manifests in the present moment. My response toward “what is” is something I can control, even if it means having to release the energy physically or retreat to a healing space. It is important to know yourself and what you need in those moments when you are overcome by destructive thoughts, feelings, and perceptions so you don’t get stuck in them for long. Life is too short to deprive ourselves of the joy and contentment that is available to us when we focus the lens of our awareness on gratitude and beauty instead of deprivation and lack. It seems absurd to waste a single moment resisting reality or adopting a negative perception of “what is” when we are surrounded by so many gifts.
There is always something to pull me back to the present moment and awaken me to its fullness. It might be the song of a chickadee or the delicate zigzag trails left by snowballs rolling on top of the snow.
Make no mistake: There is always something. The important thing is to keep looking.
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