Friday, November 5, 2010

Recognizing Beauty

My eleven year old, Noah, and I were watching birds the other day.  There were so many in our yard all at once - blue jay, titmouse, cardinal, woodpecker, wren, and the ever-present mockingbird, that we got out the binoculars.

After some time of urgently-shared binocular use, Noah exclaimed, "This is better than real life!  I can see more through these than in real life!"

Sure enough, once I finagled the Bushnells out of his eager hands, I had to agree with him.  Each spot I focused on was brought into great depth and detail.  It was beautiful.

Here's a little corner of my garden.  I have a nice climbing ivy of some sort that has clambered over my railroad ties and beautifully spills out of any spot I place it.  You can also see a philadendron with holes in the leaves.  One of my favorite plants, it's a Swiss Cheese!  Yeppers.  Just like the cheese itself, these leaves are full of holes.  

It must be fairly rare, because I had one 25 years ago and killed it in a move.  It took me about 20 years to find another one.

At any rate, I began looking very closely at our back yard, tending a plant here, pulling a weed there, and ALWAYS brushing off pine needles, all the time thinking of Noah's comment.  As I worked, I saw minute, wonderful things with intense focus.  Even a small, empty terracotta pot, turned upside down, partially covered with little patterns of moss and mold, with a lovely, determined little vine tracing its way around it, caused me to sigh from its beauty.

These are root beer plants.  Not the plant you make the drink from; nonetheless, if you break off a leaf or stem, the strong scent of root beer strikes you.  I love these babies - they grow six or seven feet tall and have unusual, fairly insignificant flowers which look like six inch, white caterpillars.  They do well in the shade, with lots of water.  I got one plant about five years ago at Mercer Arboretum, and it has multiplied into perhaps thirty or so plants in my back corner.  I can see how it could possibly be invasive if given seriously wet, shady conditions.

Below is Mario, our seven month old kitten, crossing our 'Monet' bridge amidst the root beer plants.  She came to us as a 'he,' and my guys promptly named HIM Mario, after the game, of course.  When we took him to the vet, she surprised us by letting us know the secret - the fact that he was a she.  I tossed around a lot of feminine names, but was stonewalled.  Sometimes she's called MISS Mario, but she will forever remain 'Mario.'  By the way, the vet said we were right to be fooled - almost all gold cats are males.  So I guess we have a rare cat, too!

Anyway, back to the binoculars and all the things I was looking at much more closely.  I believe that our busy lives are not allowing us time to stop and absorb the beauty.  We are so hurried and frazzled that we depend on high definition television and all the other technical advances to see for us, and we're awed by what they present, all the time missing the beauty surrounding us.  Psalm 33 tells us:  "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord."
Here's a beautiful plant by our back door - it's an Allspice tree.  You heard correctly.  Break off a leaf and it smells like pumpkin pie.  When he gets to be a big boy, he'll produce small, black seeds, much like peppercorns, which will be that particular spice!

God surrounded us with beauty.  All the earth speaks His name.  He is the Creator God, the Master Artist.  He gave us senses to appreciate it.  Maybe it's time for us to slow down, pick up our own binoculars, and find that beauty.  Psalm 46 says "Be still, and know that I am God."

As for me, I think I'm going to go get those Bushnells out again...


  1. Your garden is beautiful...I wish I had a green thumb..or even pinky...Lolol....I love the big root beer and the Monet inviting.....Hey nice to meet you..!

  2. Thanks! I loved your blog as well and will be checking in on you now and then. Anybody that loves color the way I do already has my interest. :)

    Just thinking about color, I'm looking at our wall behind this computer screen. I've got six pictures up which encompass the entire color wheel! Every now and then I restrain myself and put in some neutrals to make the color pop even more, but most often, it's simply a riot of color!