Posts Tagged ‘childhood’


… a little boy with big bottles of bubbles. Photos of one of my littlest cousins taken by his older cousin. Hope that smile and those bubbles brighten your day.  🙂



Thanks, L!

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A small, powerful detail in a corner of the stained glass window, David’s Charge to Solomon, at Trinity Church in Copley Square. A little dark but I hope to work with the image over time.  Meanwhile, learn more about Trinity Church, its history and architectural tours via this link. Have a good weekend. 😉

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In the heart of the city, adults don’t tend to say anything.  They’ll pass me by and pretend not to notice me as I lean precariously over fences into private property or kneel at the base of trees.

It is the children who ask, even as their parents are sometimes trying to shush them, “What are you doing, lady?”

When I tell them that I am photographing sunlight, they ask, “Well, how do you do that?”  And I say with great drama, “Well, the way I choose to photograph sunlight is as it pours over the branches of the trees and creates shadows on the ground.”

The older kids raise eyebrows in disbelief but the younger children, they sometimes nod with great understanding.


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It was a delight to receive an email from graphic design artist and photographer Cindy Dyer earlier this year.  I had “liked” a post on her beautiful blog and she had visited mine in response.  She liked enough of what she saw to invite me to include my essay, Seeds, in the Spring 2013 issue of her digital magazine, Celebrate Home.  The issue is on newsstands now, so to speak, free to download and print issues can be purchased.  Seeds can be found on page 95 but I encourage to check out all of the writing, imagery, and recipes to found in this lovely publication.  And you can check out Cindy’s blogs via the following links:  http://www.cindydyer.wordpress.com/ and http://www.gardenmuse.wordpress.com/

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Stained Glass Window, Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston

Stained Glass Window, Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston

I hope my five-year old friend doesn’t stop seeing the fairies in the dandelions after she starts school.  Maybe, in part, it was that thought that made the following article catch my attention:  In Your Mind Was Once a Cathedral by Michael Michalko.  I am a generalist and so I have been privileged to work with people across many different fields of interest.  One thing many have in common is a concern that young people entering the workforce seem to have an increasing inability to think outside the box.  They are extremely facile with social media tools and especially texting and yet at the same time seem less capable of using their hands.  If answers can’t be found in a printed manual or Wikipedia, they don’t know how to take out a blank piece of paper (or lined yellow pad) and sketch out alternative ideas.  Or even how to ask questions.  Perhaps an oversimplification but I’ve seen enough examples firsthand for Michalko’s  article at the Creativity Portal to resonate and make me want to share.  Many other interesting articles there as well.  Enjoy.

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With Father’s Day approaching, I decided to post a “reprint” of a story I wrote that appeared a few years ago on the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature website.  



In elementary school, my younger brother and I participated in an activity where we were given seeds to plant in cups. Over time the seeds sprouted and tiny house plants grew. At home, when my brother discovered that the neighbor’s maple tree helicopters littering our yard were in fact winged seeds, he decided to replicate the school activity.  He planted one seed in a handful of soil in one of the small white Styrofoam cups that our dad liked to use for coffee.

My parents were supportive of his effort, though not at all positive that he was doing anything except making a cup full of mud.  But, green shoots soon sprouted up through the soil. When the sapling outgrew the Styrofoam cup, he planted it in one of Mom’s large clay pots.

My brother was only about seven years old with the attention span of gnat. We all expected him to forget about the tree, to let it wither and die once the joys of watering it faded away. But he didn’t lose interest. He watered it. He moved it around the yard to catch the traveling rays of the sun.  He dragged it under the house during rain storms.  When a branch was accidentally broken, he applied a field dressing of black electrical tape which saved the budding limb.

Dad was fine with the tree until my brother wanted to transplant it from the pot to a fertile area near the vegetable garden. He tried to explain to us that the roots of maple trees spread ferociously. We heard the words but we didn’t really understand. My brother wanted to replant his tree, and I supported him. Mom sided with  us.  “Let him plant the thing. See what happens.”

Over the years we watched the garden shrink as the tree grew magnificently, with a trunk so wide I couldn’t wrap my arms around it, and a canopy so broad that it shaded half the back yard.

One day I saw my father looking up at the tree, lips pursed.  Then he looked at my brother’s head thrown back, face beaming as he looked up at his tree. My father tipped his cap at the tree and sighed.

“Come on,” he said to my brother. “Get inside and wash your hands.”

As my brother dashed by him, my father patted him on the head.

Nearly thirty years later, the tree is gone and so are my parents. My brother is grown and not especially inclined toward gardening.

But recently he did call me. He’d gone to the store to buy gifts for his girlfriend’s two young daughters.

“What did you buy?” I asked.

“Little gardening gloves,” he said.

And I could hear the smile in his voice.

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For most of my professional life, I have worked for environmental organizations where staff often ponder questions like what does it mean to connect children (especially urban youth) to nature (especially in the big city)?  I find myself reflecting on my childhood in a small Virginia city where people kept a chicken or two in their backyards.  One neighbor even illegally kept a goat.  I write often about being able to see the Blue Ridge Mountains from my back porch.  In a yard the size of postage stamp, my younger brother and I discovered bright blue bird’s eggs in a nest near our house, a monarch chrysalis under our backporch, and garter snakes burrowed in the ground near the dog’s water dish.  I never visited a national park in my youth but I certainly felt connected to nature.  I now live in a metropolis of three million plus people.  There is no place I can go without hearing the rumble of cars in the distance, trains rolling by or planes flying overhead.  I believe in the magnificence of cities and in human ingenuity but there is something to be said for a quiet patch of green.

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