nature

Nature Speaks, Nature Remembers: My Strong, Protective Flower Tree

Flower Tree

(Photo Credit: Ginnie Ann Daniels)

I had some trees cut around the house that seemed likely to fall. After the trees were cut, some of the remaining stumps left such distinctive prints. One, in particular, evoked the memory of when Billy and I, as a young couple 30 years ago, purchased our home. What follows is the dominant impression this idiosyncratic tree, uniquely mine, engendered.

The tree reminded me of you 30 years ago when we first moved in, so strong with muscle limbs, protecting our little family from storms and harsh sunrays. Yet, with time, the strong become weak but still try to withhold winds and persevere. Each year, more dead leaves fell, and we could tell—with unspoken words—this once robust tree was dying.

Flower Tree

(Photo Credit: Ginnie Ann Daniels)

Your strong roots embedded lasting memories for your seedlings, family and friends. We have to let go and start anew. With exultation, however, we never forget that the strong leave roots in the dirt with everlasting memory of the last leaf that fell.

I can now look out of my window to see and remember my strong, protective flower tree.

In loving memory of Billy Daniels, spouse of Ginnie Ann Daniels, married nearly 44 years (23 days short of 44 years).

Ginnie Ann Daniels, El Dorado, Arkansas, Author

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Editor

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The Beauty and Value of the Quotidian

Nature

(Photo Credit: Red Bubble)

Too often we overlook the beauty and value of phenomena present in everyday life.  If we would look around us each day, there are things to adore and treasure.  Let’s never forget to be thankful for the beauty of the natural world.  We can honor the beauty of the natural world by doing things necessary to maintain and protect it.  Being an environmentalist doesn’t have to be an overtly political act.  While we can have honest disagreements about how to take care of our environment, there shouldn’t be anyone who is disinterested in doing things essential to preserve it.

When you’re blessed to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, take a moment to reflect on how appreciative you should be.  Never take anything for granted.  When we take for granted the beauty and significance of quotidian things, we’re not able to experience an authentic appreciation of those things that aren’t mundane.

K – 12 educators should work to instill in students an appreciation for the value and beauty of the quotidian.  We could begin to see a greater value for natural resources and a culture of life when we start teaching people about the importance of things that are commonplace.  Many of the things that we perceive as average are really far beyond average when we devote enough time to analyzing those things thoroughly.

Some people who live in large cities try to look down on those who reside in the country.  While there are numerous things to value about everyday life the city, there are some naturally beautiful phenomena in the country one cannot find in the city.  Those who live in the country shouldn’t feel any lesser than those who live in the city.

The Red Wheelbarrow, a poem penned by William Carlos Williams, affords us an opportunity to see the value of appreciating the quotidian when we engage in a critical analysis of this poem.  On the surface, this poem appears to be boring and simply about a red wheelbarrow.  When we look more closely at the poem, we are able to appreciate the labor of the workers who have constructed this red wheelbarrow, and we can also appreciate the beauty of nature.

What are some common things present in your daily life that you value and find beautiful?  

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Shatter Unnecessary Comfort Zones

Antonio Maurice Daniels

Certain aspects of our day require planning and adhering to a routine.  We do, however, have many opportunities to experience the joy of life that comes from unrestricted spontaneity.  When people are beholden to comfort zones, their lives are dominated by routinization; that is, a highly regimented and scheduled life that acquiesces to the dictates of late capitalism.  Life devoid of spontaneity is mundane and uninteresting.  Although people should not go out and do things that are immature, one needs to benefit from occasional adventures.  Don’t allow your comfort zones to limit who you are and what you can become.

About three years ago, I had one of the most exciting experiences of my life: I went kayaking.  As someone who cannot swim, the thought of kayaking is something I would have never imagined I would do.  One of my best friends, Dr. Renaldo Blocker, convinced me to go kayaking, although I was opposed at first.  Even though I knew there were some potential risks associated with kayaking, I did not allow those risks to prevent me from having a truly fun adventure.  Dr. Blocker, a mutual friend at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I went kayaking on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin.  We all had a great time.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

From this experience, I gained a deeper appreciation for the power one obtains from conquering something he fears.  I learned that when one focuses more on meeting a challenge instead of surrendering to it, he can overlook the fear related to the challenge and simply embrace the pure bliss of the moment.

It was such a wonderful day to go kayaking that summer in Madison, Wisconsin, considering it was a really hot day but the coolness of the lake assuaged the sun’s impact.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

Develop a passion for learning something new every week and doing something you’ve never done each month.  When you shatter your unnecessary comfort zones, you can discover strength, resolve, confidence, skills, knowledge, and much more you never recognized you had.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison