Ukraine on my mind

While I was working on this Great Blue Heron photo, the colors immediately reminded me of the Ukrainian flag. May Ukraine and her people emerge victorious from this assault on their freedom and sovereignty.

The barbarian, primitive idea of killing people and destroying their homes and country must become an outlawed notion in our world. We must pull together to protect the only home we have – Planet Earth.

Posted in Healing Ourselves and the Planet | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Lessons from the Road

Sometimes, you can find free life lessons on the road. Literally.

Graffiti Road

At the Eastern end of Ashley Avenue, on the island of Folly Beach (South Carolina), a quarter mile of road leading to the beach has been blocked off to vehicular traffic. Every available square inch of asphalt had been written on, doodled on, or spray painted.

Sometimes, the advice was trite, though good natured and well intentioned:





In other places, images predominated, no words needed….

One of the messages, “You are loved, never give up” had an 800-number added.

I looked for that 800-number online and had no idea what I’d find: Logic, an American rapper, performed his song “1-800-273-8255” at the Grammys. The title is actually the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Calls to the hotline spiked after the release of his song which features a young man who is suicidal as he struggles with his sexuality. In the end, the song encourages people to stay alive, reminding them that they have something special to bring to the world. This Youtube video gathered 432 MILLION views in the past 4 years! In almost 400,000 comments, many people talk about their own experiences of despair and how this song helped them stay alive.

I learned all of this by following up on a note scribbled on a road! It was very moving.

After my research, I felt particularly drawn to the following message – it sounded reassuring and sincere:

You will be okay

I wondered what advice I would have added to Graffiti Alley – IF I had chalk (or, less likely, spray paint) on me and IF I could have found an empty piece of asphalt to write on. And this is what I finally settled on:

The best revenge: Live joyfully

What advice would YOU add?

Posted in Artistic Inspiration, Healing Ourselves and the Planet | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Summer Pleasures: The Porch

Around early to mid-June, many household activities move to our covered front porch.  How I Iove to sit here to welcome the new day, enlivened by a cup of coffee!  My morning meditation often consists of simply sitting and observing, and listening to bird song, insect noises, wind rustling in the trees.

On my porch, I am surrounded by potted house plants that live here for the summer:  plumeria taking its own sweet time to bloom, an avocado tree I have been growing for 10 years and which will never bloom or bear fruit, my lemongrass plant, various begonias and the ginger roots that have sprouted lush green leaves resembling bamboo.  Last year, I bought a hanging basket of fuchsia and adored their rich magenta and royal purple blossoms – precious little silk pouches dangling in the breeze.  This year, the immense leaves of elephant ear wave in the breeze reminding me of tropical sojourns.

Fuchsia flowersFrom my porch vantage point, I can watch hummingbirds, bees, bumblebees, butterflies, and many unknown insects sipping flower nectar in the nearby garden.  This year, I had a large stand of pink larkspur which self-seeded from a single plant last year.  I love the splashes of soft pink next to the deep orange of calendula and magenta of purple poppy mallow.  Then there is jewelweed with spotted orange blossoms and wild bergamot bursting into frilly lavender bloom.  My tiger lilies which bloomed prolifically in past years look skimpy and only deliver two blooms – the chipmunks must have been eating their roots.  Canna are unfurling their lush tropical leaves and produce intense scarlet red fireworks in late summer – a favorite snack stop for hummingbirds before they come to the feeder.

What else might you find on my porch?

  • Muddy shoes under the bench and sweaty clothes hung over the railing to dry.
  • Herbs spread out for drying.
  • Garlic and onion bundles hanging from the rafters to cure before they get stored inside for the winter.

The porch is a transition place.  Vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers from the garden are sorted and cleaned before they are brought into the house.

The porch is the place where we feed our semi-feral cats.  Even after 10 years of accepting food and drink from us, they are still quite skittish about being touched.   Whatever clothing or rags end up on the floor will quickly be claimed by the cats to sleep on.  When I place onions or potatoes on an old blanket for drying, the cats will push the produce aside a bit so they can sleep on the edge of the blanket. Cats will hide out in shady, secret places between potted plants; only their snoring gives them away.

The porch also becomes a summer kitchen.  Canning food is a laborious and hot affair which would unnecessarily increase the temperature inside the house.  So I set up my camp stove on the porch table.  Once it brings the water in a large canning kettle to a boil, I place canning jars with jams, chutneys, or tomato sauce inside for proper sealing.  So far, I’ve canned sour cherry jam and dilly beans, soon to be followed by pickled cucumbers and stew tomatoes.

The porch serves as an outdoor restaurant for our morning coffee, sipping a strawberry milkshake for lunch, or home-made quiche for dinner.  Food and drink taste better when enjoyed on the porch, especially if the ingredients come fresh from the garden.

The porch is a place to receive visitors, the perfect place to socialize during the time of Covid masks and social distancing.

There are other guests that drop by: a grasshopper, a praying mantis, colorful moths resting after a night of frolicking, bugs of every shade and form, hummingbirds,  swallows, robins or house wrens inspecting the rafters for a place to build their nest.  Once in a while, a black bear makes a ruckus looking for something tasty to eat.  I have learned to bring the cat food inside at night; onions, potatoes, or green beans are usually safe and seem to be of no food interest to bears (or raccoons).

On my porch, the world is whole and thriving. Living things intermingle; everything has a place. Well, most everything.  There might be a bit of cruelty when we have to remove a hornet’s nest or tear down a large, intricate spider web.  Sometimes, pruning or discarding is required when insects infest a plant.  Certain unwelcome intruders need to be chased away (bear, rattlesnake, racoon).  At other times, delightful emergence and occurrences happen – a volunteer plant, a perfect rhapsody of bird song, insect sounds and wind chimes, an inspired piece of writing.  There’s always beauty to delight the soul and calm the mind.

The porch is an eco-system that reminds me to maintain balance in my life – work, pleasure, health, exertion and rest, beauty, peacefulness, conversation that deepens and then slides into sublime stillness. Porch life provides lessons about effortlessness, ease, synchronicity and getting off the time track.  And maybe that’s the true purpose of a porch….

Posted in Animals and Critters, Flora, Healing Ourselves and the Planet, Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Bird watching – flagrant voyeurism

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Originally posted on The Beauty Along the Road:
A huge wild cherry tree near our house broke into full bloom around the middle of May.  ? So when I saw a pair of Baltimore Orioles cavorting in its branches, I…

More Galleries | 2 Comments

Wild Ember Sparking!

While I usually separate my just-for-pleasure blog, Beauty Along the Road, from my business blog Emerald Mountain Sanctuary, I felt nudged to introduce my readers to the business side of things.  There might just be a few people out there who are looking for exactly what I am offering.

If you are working on a long-term project, you know the challenges of remaining committed, of facing the inevitable questions of purpose and worth, the need for continuous inspiration and ability to consistently dip into your creative process, and accountability.

In the past, I have had the honor to support writers, artists, and entrepreneurs in their projects – working on a memoir, creating an artistic portfolio, establishing a thriving business, and consciously developing a new lifestyle after a major disruptive life event.

Three years ago, I created a creative project coaching workshop (called Creative Spark then) and participants met at my house in the remote mountains of Virginia.  During the second year, COVID hit and we had to move partially online, and partially to porch meetings.  COVID was my nudge to place the entire workshop series online so that location no longer presents an obstacle.


I am thrilled to announce the 2021 Creative Project Coaching workshop, Wild Ember Sparking. This monthly workshop series runs from March through October 2021 and assists you in getting your creative project off the ground, with clarity and purpose, and then supports your ongoing project. Learn the techniques you need to dive deeper into your creative process and get the work done by setting realistic, achievable goals and being held accountable by an experienced coach.

If you are curious, please check out the details:

Even if you don’t take the workshop, there’s a free pdf download with nature-inspired creativity exercises when you sign up for the newsletter.  These exercises are also being published this month by Psychology Today.  Click here for the first of two essays.

Enjoy and let me hear your feedback.


Posted in Artistic Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments