Many have thought in this Thoughtful Spot. Great minds have pondered wondrous things beneath this old London plane tree (Platanus hispanica). Somehow I think their thoughts have lingered, and have changed this place. Is that possible, I wonder - can the thoughts, conversations, ideas seep into the fiber of a place and leave some vestige of their power when the thinkers have long since gone? I doubt it, yet my imagination likes it so. And if ever there were a place to make one believe such a thing, it is this place.
I wonder anyone does anything at Oxford but dream and remember.
- William Butler Yeats
...that peculiar air of Oxford -
Then was winter shaken, and fair was the earth's embrace.
Chickweed (Stellaria media) and henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) and blue creeping speedwell (Veronica repens), nestled deep in oft-overlooked obscurity, herald in their tiny, joyful way the sunny days and warmth ahead. And a single, bright faced dandelion (Taraxacum officinale,) on a tiny stem is the first brave one of its kind to emerge in this little thoughtful spot.
Nothing ever seems impossible in Spring, you know.
Glory be to God for dappled things!
It was one of those days when...
it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.
... a new year, full of things that never have been...
Though ice still clings to the grasses around the mouth of a little culvert nearby, and the bushes are still white with frost most mornings, still it seems that perhaps, slowly and happily, the world is indeed beginning to quicken.
Along a stream that raced and ran / Through tangled trees and over stones,
That long had heard the pipes o' Pan / And shared the joys that nature owns,
I met a fellow fisherman, / Who greeted me in cheerful tones.
We stumbled upon the foundation of an old home beside the trail. It was settled in a perfect corner between large trees, and just a few steps down the path away from it a bridge led over a small waterfall. What a pleasant place to live it must have been. The dried flowers of the wild hydrangeas still look as though they're blooming, and the mountain laurel is everywhere. In the spring this path must be overwhelmed by their pink and white blooms.
An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
These are also the sort of woods which provide fairy-house trees in abundance. Hollowed out trunks with tiny violets sprouting at the base, and little ribbon streams leading to puddle-sized lakes. And, oh, the mushrooms! Ruffled white tree ears and tiny toadstools that look as though they've been lifted straight from the illustrations of Beatrix Potter, and dainty umbrellas nestled in the soldier moss.
Fairy places, fairy things,/Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
Tiny woods below whose boughs/Shady fairies weave a house...
The landscape sleeps in mist from morn till noon;
The morning mist is frosty. The dried seed heads of the iron weed are encased in a feathery shroud of white, and they glitter in the early morning light. The air is cold and bright, and all the world seems awake and gleeful and scattered with twinkling dust. I'm in somewhat unfamiliar woods, I've walked them before but I don't know them like my woods at home, so there's an air of discovery around every turn: a little bridge to span a marshy patch of trail, a bramble of wild roses covered in hips, a little grove of cattails. They all come as a surprise, little gifts of wonder on this most stunning of frosty mornings.
The frost flowers have bloomed in abundance this morning. The delicate tendrils and ribbons that cling to the dead stalks are utterly marvelous, and every one unique. I wonder what it would be like to watch them form, to see that thinnest, most delicate layer of frost twist and curl out from the stalk and create these magical little clusters of ribbon-like ice.
November has always seemed to me the Norway of the year.
Autumn is a second Spring, when every leaf is a flower.
As long as autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas, and colors
enough to paint the beautiful things I see.
Four young ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) trees, resplendent in drooping branches of brilliant yellow leaves stand there, to walk beneath them is to enter a great hall of golden arches, with a golden carpet underfoot. I've always loved ginkgo trees. I love their tenacity and longevity even in harsh environs, their legendary benefits for the mind and memory are fascinating, and their graceful, almost willow-like branches, which earned them the common name "maidenhair tree," are stunning. But I think my favorite thing about them is the curious fact that these leaves must not be harvested while green and thriving, as one might expect, but now, in all their golden glory, just as they fall from the tree.
Lo! I am come to autumn / When all the leaves are gold...
Along the tops of all the yellow trees,
The golden-yellow trees, the sunshine lies;
I cannot resist gathering up a great armful of these brilliant leaves and tossing them into the air to watch them tumble down. This cheerful little thoughtful spot is chilly but bright on this glorious, final shout of color day. What a perfect ending to autumn.
Do You Have a
Many current trends in natural health focus on ecotherapy and shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, reiterating with scientific studies and medical terminology something that Winnie the Pooh taught us many years ago: we all need
a "Thotful Spot".
We need a little corner surrounded by nature where we can sit and be still, ponder and pray, and observe closely the beauty around us.
These posts are musings and meanderings from my Thoughtful Spots, recorded once every month, and interspersed with occasional ramblings about my favorite medicinal herbs.
I hope you'll join me in finding a Thoughtful Spot, visit it often, record the things that make you marvel, and remember,
"the world will never starve for want of wonders..."
- G.K. Chesterton