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Tuesdays are Senior Days at the Holden Arboretum in Kirkland, OH, USA. That means that Richard and I are admitted free of charge. The Holden Arboretum is a 3,600 acre nature sanctuary with 20 miles of trails through garden, bogs and forests, making it one of the largest arboreta in the US. Holden is a haven for bird watchers, gardeners, hikers, photographers and nature enthusiasts. They have an extensive education program and library that supports research, conservation efforts, and educational programs for all kinds of groups. This is a place that inspires me and brings enjoyment as I walk along its trails, learn about bogs, gather gardening hints and other information that will help me as I plan our home gardens. But most of all I love to stroll through the large butterfly garden, or sit on a bench nestled under a tree beside Blueberry Pond as I meditate about the wonders of creation. It is a wonderful place to visit, and we do so regularly. I am grateful for The Holden Arboretum.

Tuesdays are “Free for Seniors Day” at Holden Arboretum, so that is where you will find us on most Tuesdays. The problem is this summer is proving the hottest on record for a huge chunk of the US, and Cleveland is no exception. Walks, even along wooded trails, deplete our energy. Park benches placed throughout this world-class arboretum are wonderful spots to sit and cool down in this kind of weather. One of the rest stops on our most recent trip to the Arboretum was beside a lily pond shaded by large big leaf maple trees. The shaded areas under the trees were at least ten degrees cooler than in the open sun. As Richard and I rested, watched the pond and listened to the many sounds of nature, I looked up and couldn’t help but admire the canopy of green leaves that provided shelter and respite from the scorching heat. I am grateful for summer’s green leaves and the shade they give!

A few days ago I posted a gratitude for beautiful flowers that my children sent to me for Mother’s Day. Today the roses still adorn my dining room table, albeit a bit worn and drooping. They will be gone soon, but the memory of the love and thoughtfulness they represent will linger long afterwards. As you can see, even in their “old age,” they exhibit an exquisite beauty. I suppose most people would have discarded the roses by the time they appeared wilted and discolored. Such a metaphor for life! As I age, I am discovering that each age and stage has its unique gifts to offer. The skin increasingly sags, the joints stiffen, the eyes dull with passing time, yet the most beautiful, loving, compassionate people I know are the ones who are aging. But like these beautiful roses, they become more beautiful with age. It occurred to me this morning that I am truly grateful for aging . . . my aging process and those of many others who bless my life, too. So, here’s to aging and the beauty of the process.

Our yard is pretty much empty of vegetation. We have only been in our new home since the first of May and I haven’t planted anything yet. This year won’t see much change, maybe a few additions~a small flower garden, some potted veggies on the deck, but probably not much else. So it was a delightful moment when I discovered that the previous owners had planted peonies along the side of the garage. I have watched them for the past week, anxiously awaiting the blossoms’ debut. Well, they are finally opening up and what a gorgeous sight they are. I walk out to the garage each morning to see how they are coming along. I just love flowers!!! I am most grateful for these lovely peonies that brighten my day. 🙂

Butterflies flitting through summer blooms have always mesmerized me.  I can spend hours watching them as the flutter about totally oblivious to the passing of time.  If one ponders the metamorphosis from the plain, even ugly, caterpillar into a creature of delicate and colorful beauty, the butterfly becomes even more amazing.  Butterflies are the perfect metaphor for life.  We are tooling through our days without much concern when suddenly we hit a bump–or even a crater!–and then we are forced into a cocoon of sorrow, pain, suffering, doubt, whatever the case may be, only to emerge having metamorphosed into a butterfly ourselves.  Romantic vision? Yes. But romance is not all bad.  In this case the butterfly is a symbol of hope, renewed life, delicate as it may be.  I’ve been through a few of those experiences in my lifetime, and only when I have emerged as a butterfly am I able to appreciate the journey that got me here.  I am grateful for butterflies!

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