A Short Walk to Wonder

wp198 red jade plantSometimes a long walk just isn’t possible. That’s when I have to make the most of what’s available. For instance, at the Elk Gallery—when business was slow—I simply walked out the front door. An incredibly joyful jade plant greeted me with its pleasingly plump leaf arms. Dark red dots decorated each mature leaf, while new growth glowed chartreuse.

wp198 2 purple, pink flowersJust around the corner flowering bushes stuck their tongues out at me. I returned the gesture with my own fat pink tongue. I may have heard a giggle.

wp918 jewels, leavesI followed the sound of a noisy bee to a Tower of Jewels bush. The budding flowers resembled Victorian garlands. I realized my mouth had dropped open in awe and snapped it shut just before the bee flew right towards it.

wp198 green, purple succulentApproaching the side door, I observed purple-tipped hens and chicks plants in a barrel. A wild burst of growth had interlaced the leaves in a giant hug. I sent a mental hug back, not wanting to crush their waxy leaves.

wp198 toothy succulentJust before reentering the gallery, I was met by the toothy grin of an aloe. I had to smile back. Just five minutes had passed, and I had only covered the distance between the front and side door, yet I felt refreshed, renewed. It’s a short walk to wonder.

All photos © Sondra Sula.


Following the Path

wp197 grass path near lighthouseI’m following a path. I believe when I find the next sign, I will know how to proceed.

wp197 blank sign near lighthouseBut what happens if I reach a juncture and the sign is blank? Just a collection of illegible scribbles?

wp197 red twigs near lighthouseI choose a direction. The direction I choose leads me to a precipice. What do I do now?

I choose another direction.

wp197 tube w cracked cementThis new route brings me to a hub—some sort of old pipe set into a cement base. Cracks from the hub lead in different directions. Which do I choose?

As I contemplate venturing out, I see an embryonic plant emerging from soil that has collected inside the pipe. I now know where to go: inside. To my center. Where Spirit resides; where knowledge rests.

I continue to follow the path.

All photos and artwork © Sondra Sula.



wp196 end signI am thankful for: Living on the edge of the western United States. The very end.

wp196 feather half n halfFeathers in the sand.

wp196 pink dahlia w dewDew-kissed dahlias.

wp196 LS There was a TreeMaking art on a regular basis like this Little Soul entitled There Was a Tree.

wp196 coy lurkingCoy koi.

wp196 gazanias w snail2Potted gazanias on our back porch.

wp196 rob shadow on trunkA husband who likes to hike.

wp196 remy asleepOur dog Remy, especially when he’s sweetly sleeping.

wp196 fire hydrantFire hydrants.

wp196 helicopter seed begoniaHelicopter seed begonias.

wp196 succulent geckoSucculent geckos.

wp196 headland flowersAnd headland flowers that grow by the edge of the sea.

What are you thankful for?

All photos and artwork © Sondra Sula.

Autumn Splendor

wp195 LS Autumn SpendorI unabashedly love autumn. So when I moved to a place where “color tours” (driving trips through forests in full fall regalia) were not a tradition, I worried that I wouldn’t experience the thrill of fall. One solution: create my own autumn. Part of my Little Souls Series, Autumn Splendor captures a slice of the season.

wp195 warty pumpkinsAt the grocery store, I was pleasantly surprised to find a mound of warty pumpkins for sale. Perhaps I wasn’t driving by fields of orange orbs, but these specimens looked quite pretty piled up in the parking lot.

wp195 spider on strawflowerOn another errand, I saw a spider guarding a strawflower. The moisture-less petals sound scratchy when touched. As a child, I made dried arrangements out of seeds pods, leaves and other November field finds. I can do the same here as an adult.

wp195 3 trunks, spire flowerThe gold and wine-hued trunks of the manzanita contain the colors I long for—a beauty unknown to New England and the Midwest. Roadsides glow with red hot pokers and coastal gardens display their taller cousins; I would never have been able to grow them in my Aurora, Illinois yard. And although there are no paper birches here, a red alder proved to be an attractive alternative.

wp195 LS Pear's SecretMendocino has its own autumn flavor, with apples, pears and persimmons aplenty. The Pear’s Secret, another piece from my Little Souls Series, lets me in on its own secret: appreciate the seasons wherever you are, for gratefulness is a grace all its own.

All photos © Sondra Sula.

Amen to Mushrooms

wp194 2 coral mushroomsWhen I began my walk I wasn’t thinking about mushrooms. But there they were—in fun, fascinating colors—popped up along the path. Coral mushrooms raised their many arms in praise.

wp194 2 purple, orange mushroomsPale purple caps with touches of ochre and ivory lay prostrate in forest detritus as if in silent prayer. A few short steps away brilliant orange peel fungus shouted: Glory be! Its chalice-like cup would do in a pinch to serve communion.

wp194 outline mushroomA pair of yellowish mushrooms showed off “stitched” white edges. I was reminded of fancy hats worn to church by some women.

wp194 2 red cap, side viewJust when I thought there were no more fungi to see, I nearly tripped over a red-capped russula that had been pulled up and flipped. It looked like an odd trumpet playing music to the earth. Was it a hymn?

The last mushroom on the trail was a stalwart fellow whose sturdy stem seemed pillar-like. I was reminded that the faith of ordinary people is every church’s true foundation. And all the mushrooms said: Amen!

All photos © Sondra Sula.

Flower Praise

wp193 poker thingsWhat do the flowers say today? Hallelujah! We reach towards the heavens with everything we have.

wp193 flame gladiolaGladiolas: We bow to God in reverence.

wp193 2 fuchsiaFuchsias: We dance for The Divine. Our whirling “skirts” center us in ecstasy.

wp193 purple HViburnum: Community is everything to us.

wp193 maroon star flowerSucculents: We are eager to look for God everywhere, so we face every direction.

wp193 2 pink hal, roseHypericum: Each day of life is a cause for celebration!

Roses: We find Spirit within our very centers.

All photos © Sondra Sula.

Encounters of the Natural Kind

wp192 bird on fossil 20180806Encounters that occur in nature are often powerful. Recently a stunned bird allowed me to cradle it while I carefully checked it for injuries. I thought it was bleeding from its head, but later discovered the orange-red streak identified it as a male golden-crowned kinglet. I felt fortunate to wait with him while he regained his confidence to fly. Where did he come from and where is he going?

wp192 gazania w snailA few weeks ago I was watering a pot of gazanias and noticed a tiny snail on one of the petals. I noted the complex design on its shell and contemplated its minuscule world. How long would the wee flower petal pasted to its shell remain there? How far would this snail travel during its lifetime?

wp192 tree frogInspecting the burgundy edges of a blackberry vine, I found a lime-hued tree frog. It didn’t spring away as I had expected, but allowed me to observe its black eye stripes, creamy inner limbs and bumpy texture. How do you keep from snagging your delicate skin on the many thorns? Why does your voice carry so far and sound so loud?

wp192 crab claws stump 20180817In the middle of the woods I saw a tree stump strewn with iridescent turquoise and wine-colored crab appendages. Did a gull carry its prey to this “table?” Did the crab see the most amazing vista of its life—a view of the ocean and forest from above—just before it died? I pondered this truth: One life sustains another.

wp192 cairns at noyoOn a stroll by the ocean a number of cairns greeted me. I contemplated cairns. Cairns declare: I was here! Cairns keep me on the right path—direct me which way to turn at a juncture. Cairns serve as markers to remember loved ones. Stacking rocks into cairns is meditative and results in a tangible illustration of balance.

Every encounter can be a source for reflective thought—a way to interface with the greater world to which we all belong. Whether vegetable, mineral or animal—our collective connection is unmistakable. Go forth and ruminate!

All photos © Sondra Sula.

A Bounty of Begonias

wp191 2 ruffled begoniasI walked into the “begonia building” at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and was thrilled by a plethora of pulchritudinous petals.

wp191 3 wild centersNot only did I reel from the riot of color, rocking back on my heels—I then rocked forward to my toe tips to have an intimate look inside the beckoning blossoms.

wp191 3 rose, beak, picoteeRuffled petticoats, picoted petals and fringed edges greeted me warmly.

wp191 3 burst, curly centersEye-catching curlicues, beautiful bursts and wild, wiggly portals of pollen radiated from the centers of the fantastical flowers.

wp191 2 wild, roseyAnd what did I learn as I strolled among the rows and rows of these potted wonders? That within one genus there are many variations, yet they all belong to the same family.

wp191 orange wild begoniaOne is many, many are one.

wp191 pink ruffle begoniaUnity. We are all one in Spirit.

wp191 2 orange rose, whiteYet as individuals we are breathtakingly unique.

wp191 2 fringed begoniasEnjoy showing your true colors. A black and white world is simply too bland. Ask any begonia.

wp191 picotee begoniaAll photos © Sondra Sula.

Inspiration for the Mind

wp190 remove nothing from forestMy husband and I decided to explore Hendy Woods State Park for our twenty-second wedding anniversary. A bench there reads:
Remove Nothing from the Forest
Except Nourishment for the Soul
Consolation for the Heart
Inspiration for the Mind

wp190 2 horsechestnut, fallMy soul was instantly nourished by a horse chestnut tree stripped of leaves waving its fat nut pods in the blue sky. Cheerful colored leaves hung like ornaments on a tree in a nearby meadow. Creation knows how to trim itself in festive glory—no human intervention needed.

wp190 2 arrow, trunkWe were guided by a moss-framed arrow to redwood wonders aplenty.

wp190 2 redwood needles floorMy heart felt the joy of consolation as I contemplated God-made art at my feet. Each section in my view was a well-laid-out masterpiece—not a mere jumble of fallen needles and leaves as some might imagine.

wp190 2 barksPatterns in the bare, exposed trunk of an old coastal redwood shouted like a megaphone: What do you see in me? I saw sound itself, staccato and insistent. Another trunk modestly covered itself with lichen, fungus and a skirt of fern-like moss. It wasn’t ready to display the vulnerability of age.

wp190 2 fern bark, knotWe came upon a gigantic protruding burl. It looked like a face that could tell many stories about what it has seen. But it only shared silence with me. The forest harbors many secrets which may never be revealed to us.

wp190 2 leaf, acorn topAs we rounded the last bend of a misshapen loop, I realized my mind had definitely been inspired. Whether looking up or down, there was beauty to behold. The bench signaled we had come full circle—and fulfilled its message.

All photos © Sondra Sula.

Art Lesson

wp189 number 2I’m not sure why I find machines so appealing, but perhaps it goes back to art school. My professors were always spouting off about patina, but I didn’t truly understand its meaning. Now I know that a rich surface brings life to art.

wp189 2 water flow, yellow abstractI was able to closely inspect a water truck, road roller and loader that were parked in our yard over the weekend for a driveway project. Talk about patina! Layers of paint, rust and scratches created exquisite surfaces.

wp189 blue headlightSmooth and ridged textures mixed; horizontal and vertical lines intersected; raised dots formed checkerboards.

wp189 orange wheel hA wheel took concentric circles to the extreme—circles within circles within circles.

wp189 tank w aqua hoseThe truck’s “waterways” made perfect compositions: arcs, bends and shapes galore.

wp189 2 scooper, greaseA tactile aesthetic was not lacking either: gooey grease gleamed in bulbous gobs tempered by dirt-encrusted, matte-finished chunks. Oval cutouts tempted my fingers to explore the loader’s innards.

wp189 2 abstract truck patinasIf one’s taste tends toward the abstract, plenty of surfaces satisfied.

wp189 2 hole, tireEven auditory senses were awakened: I bellowed into a hollow and listened for the echo. Had anyone called to the tire before, or was I the first?

wp189 2 wires, tail lightThe walk around the yard came to a close as I passed a rubber accordion and a fret holding metal strings. If you make music tonight, I’ll listen. A tail light winked goodbye; I winked back. My curiosity was now sated, my art lesson learned: Patina is everywhere. My professors would be proud.

All photos © Sondra Sula.

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