The Forest and The Trees

Yesterday morning started with more snow. Not a lot, just an inch or a bit more – enough to add a little light to this darkening landscape.

Before the day had a chance to warm and disperse those lovely white crystals, I darted out the door and down the road with my camera. Within five minutes, I would arrive back at the Seven Bridges Natural Area, with a chance to recreate that bridge photo, hopefully in a more successful black-and-white.

However, while snow lightly covered our yard, the same was not true just over the hill. See the hill in the photo below? We live just on the other side of it.
no snow

In less than two miles, the bright snow dissipated into bleak damp. Undeterred, I set out in search of the little things. When this is the big picture, you have to focus on the details.
dreary forest

After wandering around the paths, retracing my footsteps from the other day in case there was a shot I’d miss, I hiked back to the pasture beyond the many forks of the Rapid River. There, lacy water drops hung from the reedy branches of naked trees.

I spent an inordinate amount of time photographing tiny upside-down worlds, and then I took a moment just to enjoy the open space before it dissolved back into woods further on. I gathered my belongings, and headed slowly back toward the car. I had already realized that grand landscapes wouldn’t materialize, so I was determined to see the trees for the forest.

And literally, over my right shoulder, I spotted a lovely, gnarly paper birch. These quick-growing trees shoot up, often in bunches, and then topple over when they are just a few inches across, victims of their own success. This group, though, contained a shaggy, lichen-loving grandpa. How glorious!

While documenting the old man’s wonderous charm, I ruminated on the application of the lesson to my life. Often, we’re told to take a step back, and look at the big picture. I think we sometimes need to zoom in, though, and look at the little things. Like the fact that my sister can share Halloween photos of my nephews with me, and we can giggle together when we’re really 500 miles apart. Or how I can ask my mom how long to cook stuffed peppers, and she can pass off her cooking wisdom in moments in a text message. Or even how a fuzzy pair of wool socks embraces my toes and protects them from our cold floors.

Our lives are brimming with little bits of happiness. Where do you find it in yours?
birch curls

birch curls

40 thoughts on “The Forest and The Trees

  1. I always have little or big smiles, and moments of just pure pride and happiness, when I click onto FB and see that there is a new blog to read and enjoy. Love the tree pictures in this one!

        • Awww πŸ™‚ We are lucky to have each other. Mom wasn’t thrilled when we got married (not that I blame her – we were 18!), but she is just so supportive and loving, and wonderful πŸ™‚
          And thanks – as a fellow tree-hugger, I’m not too surprised that you do πŸ˜‰ (but I am glad!)

    • How cool is that little piece? With the droplet at the end, too? Getting a shot took a while πŸ˜‰ And I love British Soldier Lichen. Always. But it looks like Christmas decorations under the snow!

  2. A very nice gentle reminder – I need to take camera, go out and wander around my bleak yard looking for bits of beauty for photos. I’ve been very lax in that area.


    • Carol, out of everyone I know, you might be the best at appreciating what you have, even in the face of “the forest.” But you might just feel better if you grab the girls for a trip ’round the yard πŸ™‚

    • The way the birch bark curls never fails to catch my eye. If I ever learn how to make resin jewelry, it’s going in there!
      Looking forward to checking out your California sun πŸ™‚

  3. I popped over from Carol’s blog, and look! Here you are doing what I do!

    I’ve had a thing going on my blog for a little while now, which I call ‘How to be happy’. I try to post once a week about some of the good things I’ve experienced – they might be as small as finding a lovely moth in the house. It’s ALL about looking for the little things that make you smile and not letting yourself get swallowed up in the ‘big picture’ of whatever bad stuff life is throwing you at the time. I have ongoing pain issues, for example, and yet I consider myself a happy person. I believe this is because I can see beyond the ‘big picture’ and find happiness in detail. The warm fuzzy socks you mention would be a perfect example!

    • Nice you meet you, Jay! I do my best to focus on the little things, because I think they tend to have the biggest impact, overall. I especially think it’s important when life is throwing you some lemons! Sometimes I just need to remind myself. Warm fuzzy socks are kind of a big deal in northern Michigan, but I guess they really count as a small thing that make me happy πŸ™‚ (Would love to check out your blog. If you toss me a link, I’ll hop over!)

      • Without wishing to intrude but a little tip, if you click on any Gravatar the profile will usually include a link to any blogs/sites that the Gravatar’s user is linked too. I hope that helps πŸ™‚

          • Thanks, both of you! I have now updated my Gravatar profile. I hadn’t realised that stuff wasn’t in there!

        • Thanks Graham πŸ™‚ I usually only look at comments from within my WordPress dashboard, where the link shows up if someone’s added it to their gravitar account. Jay has two sites – we’ll see which I should visit πŸ˜‰

  4. An utterly butterly delicious post πŸ˜‰ That line is borrowed from a famous Indian commercial for Amul – India’s premiere butter! I think that last twisty curl put me in mind of butter?! Well…I can always pretend it did, although butter’s never far from my mind. And now before you think I’ve completely lost it, back to relevance πŸ˜› Love the licheny distinguishment of Grandpa Beech πŸ™‚

    “Often, we’re told to take a step back, and look at the big picture. I think we sometimes need to zoom in, though, and look at the little things.” So true! I think I’ve neglected detail for a while now, trying to smooth the bigger picture – iron out the giant wrinkles as it were. It’s time to concentrate now on the pieces that make the whole πŸ˜‰

    • “Utterly butterly…Indian commercial.” Now I want butter chicken. That the curl elicited such a strong connection with butter is just cool. Promise I don’t think you’ve lost it. πŸ™‚
      Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed by negativity – because it happens! – I find that counting my littlest blessings helps. And the funny thing is, that when I start counting it might be hard, but it quickly gets easier to find more and more happy things. I’m betting your son’s smile is a big piece of the whole – a detail that makes it easy to ignore some of the wrinkles πŸ™‚

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