Life After the Storm

”Every storm runs, runs out of rain, just like every dark night turns into day.”

– Gary Allan


About this time last week I assumed our next step would be to build an ark. North Texas was absolutely pummeled with rain for days. And days. And even more days, it seemed. I have a hard time remembering a recent period in our weather history with more continuous rain than that. The showers sequestered sorrowful students indoors at the school where I volunteer as garden coordinator, and our home garden just sat, leaves and petals slouching under the weight of water. It’s no surprise, then, when “enough blue in the sky for a Dutchman’s britches” (as J.’s grandmother would have said) finally stuck its bottom through the clouds, that we all feverishly ran outside to check on life.

I think my camera might have actually gathered a little dust during the storm, but throwing that strap over my head this week was like riding a bike…I didn’t forget. And WOW was life alive! The temperatures had shifted from the sweat of summer to a pleasantly cool warm, and EVERYone sought to enjoy it. Newly hatched butterflies flitted and floated everywhere I walked. Bees began gathering their preparatory pollen for winter. Even a litter of bunnies emerged from a mulch hole in the school playground (much to the dismay of our Brassicas).

As I stepped outside this week and could finally inhale a long and deliberate gulp of fresh air, I thought about the storms we all go through in life. I happen to be braving some storms with a few friends right now. I’m like their umbrella holder. The rain is a torrential sideways downpour at the moment for them, with absolutely no hope of staying dry, but at least I can help by shielding a little water from their faces. Inevitably, though, just like a thunderstorm ends so does a life storm. They’ll weather the storm. We all weather our storms. And amazingly, somehow, all of the colors come out in the wash twice as bright as they were before…just like a cutting garden after a hard rain. The bees buzz, the buds bloom and life begins anew.

So if you are braving a storm right now, just know that it WILL run out of rain. You’ll likely get wet (hell it might actually flood up to your neck), but at some point the waters will subside. And I guarantee you that eventually, when the sound of splatters finally silence on your back, your umbrella will tilt just enough to let in a glimpse of blue, and you’ll shake hands with the Dutchman. Man…won’t it be great to finally greet him.


May you enjoy my seven favorite photos from this week of life, witnessed after the storm.


All the best,

A. J.


Spread My Wings (Gulf Fritillary on a bedazzled path)


A Slipping Down Life (Snail hangs from the end of a Passion Vine)


Emergence (The first Goldenrod crown begins to open)


Outsmarting McGregor (Tiny bunny hides within a cavern of vines)


Nectar of the Gods (Hummingbird sips from a Turk’s Cap)


Face Plant (Male Southern Carpenter Bee embracing Indigo Spires)


God Bless Us, Everyone (Tiny Ceratina Bee balances on a Goldenrod bloom)


Sweet Harvest (Rain or shine…a life’s work finally comes to fruition)




To Sweat or To Sit

”I’ve found [photography] has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

– Elliott Erwitt


If you read my post a week ago, you know that I’m starting a Week in Review of fluffy” photos on this blog to give us all just a little something to mindlessly enjoy. Mind you, though, I DID do some actual work this week on the blog. If you haven’t checked out the start of my first identification gallery, you should do that after you read this, especially if you happen to share my fascination with butterflies. But back to this.

When I sat down to pick out my seven favorite photos from this week, I began to see all of the images come together for more than just face value of the subject matter. I began to see them in such a way that they told a story…a story about me…really a story about all of us.

I work a lot. My husband J. calls me a bee. Funny that the bee would now be raising bees in her very own back yard. (Sort of reminds me of that kindergarten teacher sweater that sports bears wearing sweaters that have bears wearing sweaters on them. Where does one bee or bear begin and the other one end?) But back again to this. I’m really not unlike any of you. We all work. We all work a lot. I think what sets some of us workers apart from other workers, though, is an ability to turn off the work switch and flip on the play switch…or, even more delicious, to shut it all down and just be, not bee. Be slow. Be easy. Be centered. Be grounded. For all that is holy and pure…be present. Allow yourself some moments throughout the week where time doesn’t matter. Shocking concept, right? That time shouldn’t always MATTER. If you aren’t doing this religiously, before too long you’ll find yourself flat on your back at the bottom of the hive…DEAD. And, as my bestie Jilly W. reminded me this week, the Monty Python cart master of an undertaker will come along calling, “Bring out your dead,” and your friends and family will just have to carry you out and toss you onto the passing cart.

I had this feeling while walking this week. I glanced under my neighbor’s arbor and spotted an old periwinkle clam-shell chair, sitting amidst spindly stalks of purple Penstemon, and I got this feeling I couldn’t quite place. In my heart of hearts, though, it soothed me. Something about that chair equated to everything that is right in this world. It wasn’t until my friend D. D. commented on the photo and said, “Makes me think of my Grandpa,” that I could set into words why that chair seemed to quell every bit of noise within my soul. If you’ve ever had a Grandpa, nothing about him is busy. The closest you’ll get to “busy” with a Grandpa is more akin to the word “putter,” and that’s what makes him perfect. Grandpas always seem to have time. I know mine did. I have very real, very clear images of him just sitting. Sitting and tapping his foot. Now tell me, who do you know in your life right now that you can clearly imagine just sitting? I bet you’re hard-pressed to name one single individual. That was how the chair unfolded for me. It spoke to me and said, ”At some point every week your story should end up with you as a Grandpa, even for just a few moments.” I can start out busy, sweat on my brow as I bustle here and there, packing everything I can into a day, but in the end, dang it, I absolutely should cool off, take a few long sips, maybe of some wine, and just sit in a chair and be, not bee.

The story is all right here in my seven favorite photos for the week. It’s my story. It could be yours too, if you let it.


All you have to do is pull up a chair.


All the best,

A. J.


“Dive Right In” (Metallic green Sweat Bee working the Coreopsis)


“Just Keep Moving” (Honeybee workers carry pollen into the hive and fly right back out)


“Pack it All In” (Honeybees packing different colors of pollen into the comb)


“The Cool-Down” (Blue Borage bathes in the sprinkler)


“Take a Long Sip” (Four-lined Bug sucks juice from a leaf)


“One Glass or Two?” (Nothing quite as delectable as the perfect Winecup)


“Just Be” (Enough said)

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