full home, full heart

I collected my daughter from boarding school this morning, where she’s been since September. So now our home is full again with all residents accounted for. I still miss my out-of-state family, and look forward to the day we can travel to see each other once more, but for now, my heart is full.

And because I like to post photos, here are several photos of leaves and ferns that made me see a heart shape. (For what I intended to be a quick post, it’s a little crazy how long it took me to decide on what photos to share.)

ensnared by the sparkle

I woke up really early this morning, and my plan was to walk the dog early and then do some work before other humans were up. I didn’t manage to drag myself out of bed until about 6:30, and then by the time I’d had my tea and was bundled up to head out into the frosty air to walk the dog, it was already 7:30. Still pretty early. I figured I could be home and settle down to work shortly after 8:00.

The sun was still low in the sky when the dog and I headed out, and everything was covered with either frost, or beaded water drops. There was some serious sparkling going on.

It turns out that I had also just gotten a new phone yesterday, and set it up last night. The camera is pretty amazing.

I kept stopping to take pictures, so that quick walk became not-so-quick. And then when we got home, I went back outside to take more pictures. Because the sparkle kept going. And my new phone kept capturing it.

So, a couple of hours and a few hundred photos later, I hadn’t actually sat down to work. But while I’m sill behind in my work, my mood was much improved by focusing on the beauty. (Literally and figuratively.)

I shared a few photos on my Instagram, but these are some different ones. If you want to see more of this morning’s sparkle, you can visit there. :) Also, I note that this is far from the first time I’ve been ensnared by a sparkly morning.

Finding beauty in damage

While I still appreciate the beauty of a perfectly shaped leaf in the flush of its early autumnal glow, my eye is also drawn to the more mature beauties of late fall. The mottling of age, the delicate lace patterns of holes, the map-like lines traced by the beginnings of decay.

Remembering to breathe

Stress levels are high, and my mood is less than cheerful. But I’m trying to remind myself to focus on the good things. And also to breathe. Here are some recent photos taken outside, highlighting trees and vines and leaves. I offer them my thanks for the oxygen they provide, and for their breathtaking beauty.

Tomorrow is likely going to be a very long day.

hoping, expecting, waiting

I sometimes say that I can tell that I’m an optimist because I’m so often disappointed.

Back in mid March, our governor announced that all schools in Massachusetts would be closed for three weeks. Our district had already announced a closure for two weeks, and the additional week seemed prudent. Massachusetts was just starting to see a steep rise in Covid cases. A couple of weeks later, the governor announced that the statewide school closures were being extended to May 4th. Again, this seemed wise.

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As the weeks went by, statewide cases and deaths continued to rise alarmingly. It was clear that Massachusetts was being hit hard, climbing up to number 3 for confirmed cases in the US, and third also in terms of cases by population density. It seemed unlikely that schools would be reopening in May. With many states already having announced school closures for the rest of the year, I didn’t really expect that our schools would reopen. My head knew that things looked bad. The writing was on the wall, and my head could read it just fine.

And yet it turned out that there was, apparently, still a teeny, tiny barely perceptible fiber of hope embedded in my heart, as it were. Some part of me thought that maybe, just maybe, the kids could return to school by June for the last few weeks. Maybe they could have a brief reunion with friends and teachers. Maybe my eighth grade daughter could have at least some modified fragment of the send off from middle school before leaving for high school.

I really only realized that this hope had been there when it was announced, two weeks ago, that schools would not be reopening this school year.

I expected it. I really did. I just hoped for something different.

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It got me thinking, as I’ve done before, about the distinction between hope and expect. In Portuguese, the same verb, esperar, can mean either to hope or to expect. The two concepts share a root, grounded in thoughts of the future. And yet one branches out to mean what our head believes will happen, and the other what our heart wants to happen.

Interestingly, esperar also means to wait. And now the days pass into weeks into months, and we must wait to know what to expect. We wait for testing to become more widely available. We wait for a vaccine to be discovered.  We wait, expectantly, hopefully, for signs that we have turned the corner.

Espero. I hope. Espero. I expect. Espero. I wait.

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I’m including photos of early spring leaf buds from my recent walks. I find buds to be so hopeful, with their potential bundled up and gradually unfurling. 

funky acorns of Central Park

Yes, this post is really about acorns. In particular, some acorns that looked a bit funny to me, compared to those that my local oak trees drop. For one thing the acorns are really long. While they are probably of a similar thickness to those acorns I see locally, or maybe even a bit skinnier, they are quite a bit longer. Some of them even about twice as long as I expect an acorn to be.

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Long acorns.

Second, they have these crazy-looking hairy tops. They remind me of see anemones and rambutans. Or shaggy wigs.

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The caps from these acorns look like crazy hair. Or sea anemones. Or rambutans.

These acorns (and  presumably the trees they fell from) were near the reservoir in Central Park. I’m sure there is a way to identify them, but I’m not going to do so tonight. However, if any tree-lovers are out there who know the answer, let me know!

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I liked the way these acorns lined themselves up along the sticks or vines on the ground.

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This is just a stray leaf that caught my eye. I don’t know whether it is related to the acorns, but I believe it to be some sort of oak leaf.

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving, and since I’m going a little nuts getting ready, I figured I’d post a bit about some nutty-looking nuts.

superlative skies

I guess I may have my head in the clouds more than most, because I do find myself noticing the sky quite often, and even pointing it out to others. Take, for example, the rather spectacular, improbably pink sunset below, which I saw during my son’s soccer practice one evening.

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I was completely entranced by the shape and color, and took quite a few photos. When the soccer practice ended, the other parents and I walked toward the filed to collect our kids. I asked the nearest parent: “Did you see that sunset?” In turns out that she had not, even though she had been sitting only a few feet away from me.

The composition below is another one I saw during a soccer practice. What the photo doesn’t quite capture is the the colorful right edge of the cloud, which had both pink and green.

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And because I like to post things in sets of at least three, here is a non-sunset cloudscape from yesterday morning.

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