A Change of Heart

Yogic Seasons

The WordPress Daily Photo Challenge provides the theme of Transformation.

One of our most constant companions, that contribute greatly to our existence on this planet, are trees. These stately producers of oxygen, building material, shelter, shade and so much more, were often worshipped in ancient times for the magic they contain. My appreciation of trees has shown itself in quite a bit of my work, and, in particular, one tree: the Yoga Tree.

Over the years, the Yoga Tree has transformed herself in response to the seasons, as well as her environment, as you can see in the Winter images. She has always stood with pride and dignity, even now, when she is surrounded by the detritus that makes up a compost farm…

Here’s a look at some of her transformations…

This tree has brought me much joy over the years that I photographed her, and I hope that some of these images bring a bit of joy to those who view them.

Have a wonderful day!

Good day, Sunshine!

Wisdom and light

The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge has the wonderful theme of ooh, Shiny!; on Monday I posted a piece with a bit of reflection to celebrate a bit of occlusion of the Sun by the Moon (no totality in New England).

This time, let’s take a look back at one of the images that I still enjoy from my Yoga Tree series…

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The Wise Tree

This image is definitely among the top of my list of Yoga Tree photographs, particularly, as it was one of the very early ones in the series; it was not the first, but certainly is the first to convince me that there was a lot to capture of this wondrous tree.  Oh, and yes, this is an iPhone shot as well.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Morning

Welcome the morning!

Welcome to Week 51 of the Tuesday Photo Challenge. I really enjoyed reading through your responses to last week’s theme of Forward!  There is never a shortage of creativity or directions, into which you take these challenges.  A lot of fun!

So I am sitting here in the cafeteria on the 9th floor of the Red Hat tower in Raleigh, North Carolina, thinking what might be a good follow up to the past couple of weeks, while also thinking ahead toward today’s work. I was a little stymied for ideas, when Nature helped out…  The sun came out from behind the clouds and stared me right in the face with this week’s theme: Morning!

We may not always enjoy getting up early in the morning, as we fumble for that first cup of coffee, but for those of us who are fans, the morning light often carries beauty with it.  So, I’m challenging you to capture something that is quintessential morning, and share it with us!

As always, feel free to be creative in your interpretation of the theme, and be sure to put your best effort into creating something evocative in your images.  I’m looking forward to seeing your great posts!

Here’s an image that a lot of you have seen before, that was captured during that first hour of morning…

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The Wise Tree

This photo kicked off an extensive series of Yoga Tree images that lasted for several years; she graces a compost farm these days, which mars the scenery, but she’s still proud!

The full rules of this challenge are in TPC Guidelines, but here’s the tl;dr:

  • Write a post with an image for this week’s topic
  • Please tag your post with fpj-photo-challenge (if you’re not sure about how tags work, please check out this WordPress article about tagging posts)
  • Create a pingback link to this post, so that I can create a post showing all of the submissions over the week (note: pingbacks may not appear immediately, as my site is set up to require approval for linking to it; helps against previous bad experiences with spamming)
  • Have fun creating something new (or sharing something old)!!

Very much looking forward to all of your great images!  Should be a fun week!

Thank you for a Milestone!

Couldn’t do it without you!

Just over a year ago, I made up my mind to learn more about blogging, so that I could get the word out about my photography, and photography in general, on this little blog.  Facebook was just not doing it for me in terms of being able to communicate my thoughts and ideas, as I felt there was more to talk about.

So, along came WordPress Blogging University’s Blogging 101 course, which kicked me off in the right direction.  And with lots of encouragement and interaction with like-minded spirits in the blogosphere, and thanks to loyal and inquisitive readers, we have come together as 1000+ followers!

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Birth of the Sun

And a special thanks to Helli Patel for being the 1000th follower on WordPress!!

The Grace of Nature

On this wonderful Saturday, my wife and I went for a walk with 2 of our dogs (the old boys prefer to sleep at home) and enjoyed the rather mild weather that we have today.  Upon doing a quick blog check, I noticed today’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme of Graceful.

Given all the turmoil that is the current state of affairs and its lack of grace, I think that focusing on a theme such as this is important.  The Universe is full of grace and Nature never ceases to inspire me with its grace and beauty.  Of course, for me a lot of grace and beauty has been demonstrated by the Yoga Tree, whose wisdom is on display in this image…

The Wise Tree

The gentle curve that she presents, as she reaches up toward the firmament, reminding us to accept all that is beautiful in our lives and the Universe.

May you have a wonderful day filled with grace.

Beauty after the Snow

It has been rather chilly here in New England over the past couple of days and we were visited by a bit of a storm that made its way up the Atlantic Coast.  This is one of those unusual storms that deposits more snow on the coast than further in-land; unusual, because our weather pattern usually has storm scoring down from Canada out of the West, which deposits much more snow in-land than on the coast.

As a result we were blessed with approximately 4-6 inches of snow over the past 24 or so hours, which makes for a beautiful landscape with a blue sky to grace it (even though with a temperature of about 15F (-9C), it is a bit on the cool side.  This landscape reminds me of this image…

First Snow

This view of the Yoga Tree was under similar circumstances as today.

How do you like snow?  Do you enjoy it?

Have a great day, as I’m off for a little jog.

Wednesday Wonderment – Winter Solstice

Today, the Northern Hemisphere experiences the winter solstice.  That  special moment of the annual cycle for some cultures even during neolithic times. Astronomical events were often used to guide activities such as the mating of animals, the sowing of crops and the monitoring of winter reserves of food. Many cultural mythologies and traditions are derived from this. This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites, such as Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland. The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise (Newgrange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge). It is significant that at Stonehenge the Great Trilithon was erected outwards from the middle of the monument, i.e. its smooth flat face was turned towards the midwinter Sun.

The winter solstice was immensely important because the people were economically dependent on monitoring the progress of the seasons. Starvation was common during the first months of the winter, January to April (northern hemisphere) or July to October (southern hemisphere), also known as “the famine months”. In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a plentiful supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but at the beginning of the pagan day, which in many cultures fell on the previous eve.

Birth of the Sun

Because the event was seen as the reversal of the Sun’s ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods have been common and, in cultures which used cyclic calendars based on the winter solstice, the “year as reborn” was celebrated with reference to life-death-rebirth deities or “new beginnings” such as Hogmanay’s redding, a New Year cleaning tradition. Also “reversal” is yet another frequent theme, as in Saturnalia’s slave and master reversals.

Iranian people celebrate the night of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice as, “Yalda night”, which known to be the “longest and darkest night of the year”. In this night all the family gather together, usually at the house of the oldest, and celebrate it by eating, drinking and reading poems (esp. Hafez). Nuts, pomegranates and watermelons are particularly served during this festival.

The pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day “midwinter” (winter solstice) holiday called Yule (also called Jul, Julblot, jólablót, midvinterblot, julofferfest). Many modern Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas wreath, the Yule log, and others, are direct descendents of Yule customs. Scandinavians still call Yule “Jul”. In English, the word “Yule” is often used in combination with the season “yuletide”  a usage first recorded in 900. It is believed that the celebration of this day was a worship of these peculiar days, interpreted as the reawakening of nature. The Yule (Jul) particular god was Jólner, which is one of Odin’s many names. The concept of Yule occurs in a tribute poem to Harold Hårfager from about AD 900, where someone said “drinking Jul”. Julblot is the most solemn sacrifice feast. At the “julblotet”, sacrifices were given to the gods to earn blessing on the forthcoming germinating crops. Julblotet was eventually integrated into the Christian Christmas. As a remainder from this Viking era, the Midsummer is still important in Scandinavia, and hence vividly celebrated.

Sol Invictus (“The Unconquered Sun”) was originally a Syrian god who was later adopted as the chief god of the Roman Empire under Emperor Aurelian. His holiday is traditionally celebrated on December 25, as are several gods associated with the winter solstice in many pagan traditions.

Time to celebrate!  How will you celebrate this momentous occasion?