by Charlene Burgi
We spend money to entertain ourselves, yet nature provides a show, in my opinion, that cannot be equaled. While visiting my mom this week, I walked through her kitchen and did a double take at the intense color of the Chinese pistache growing outside her window. This flush of color made me think of the extreme beauty that is found in nature. I wondered, with our hectic schedules, how many of us stop to admire nature’s gifts that surround us?
This past summer, I was humbled by my lack of attention to the details of nature. I took a class in digital photography that exposed my want of awareness. One of these classes required that we take pictures of water movement, another class demanded close-up photos of vein patterns found in leaves, while another class focused on clouds, sunsets and sunrises. Natural lighting was a huge factor in the equation of my success. And, this class did more than teach me how to capture a lovely photo. It taught me to appreciate the microscopic detail that nature offers—again, another gift. The photography class changed my life. I have learned to appreciate and look for more than the whole of a subject. I now appreciate the gift of observation . . . a glimpse of raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens.
Observation is also critical to creating a healthy garden. Noticing, for example, what plants beneficials favor as their food source, or where water travels in the garden, helps us to work with nature. This summer, bumblebees, dragonflies and butterflies thrived in the front garden filled with lavender, Echinacea, iris, columbine, daylilies, hummingbird mint and catnip. I observed the type of plants the beneficials were drawn to, noted the water feature they frequented, and enjoyed the intricacies of wing patterns and their behavior in this setting.
With winter’s approach, I noted flocks of birds migrating through the property. The sunflowers and apple trees growing wild on the roadside to the house and in the garden sustained these feathered friends as they passed through. Even the despised thistle in the fields was a food source for the plentiful yellow finches that set up permanent residence with us. I discovered we must be on a major flight migration path as the masses of species came to feed and left me with a sense of wonder at their beauty.
Recently, rain and melted snow created rivulets moving through my garden. Nature takes its own course with water, but I wondered which plants would appreciate the winter rain and snow directed their way, and which would prefer I grade the earth to steer the excess water away. One of the “since retired” employees used to say, and I quote him, “the devil is in the details.”
We are approaching the holiday season at what seems like warp speed. The airwaves are already filled with music about letting it snow, going to grandma’s house, and Santa. Despite this push, it is the lyrics from the Sound of Music that keep running through my mind, reminding me to hold dear to the details found in nature.
I am reminded it is Thanksgiving week, a time to give thanks to those in my life and my surroundings. I encourage you to take a moment out of your busy schedule to reflect on the details of some of your favorite things. Remember to “stop and smell the roses.”
Have a very blessed Thanksgiving.