174. Sky Meadows State Park

I checked out one of the Nature Backpacks from Fairfax County Public Library – which included a free pass to any Virginia State Park.

The two closest state parks are Sky Meadows and Mason Neck. I checked weather, and Sky Meadows was 5 degrees cooler today. Unfortunately, I failed to realize that at Mason Neck, I probably wouldn’t have hiked up a mountainside in direct sunlight. But anyway, I had a lovely time, got a major workout, did not get heatstroke, and lost a lot of weight in the form of sweat!

But – it was a beautiful time! I hope to return – in Autumn or Spring or maybe even Winter.

151. A Personal Greeting from a Great Blue Heron

One morning this week, I was in a traffic jam close to home. (I’d tried to go around a traffic jam but was still in thick traffic, moving slowly toward a stop sign.) Up ahead of me in the distance, I saw the silhouette of a great blue heron flying. (I know their silhouette!) It flew toward me. Yep, definitely a heron…. It continued to fly straight toward my car and dipped a little right smack in front of me, then flew on behind me.

It was just nice. Instead of being grumpy about the traffic jam, it gave me a big smile.

149. Cardinals and Blue Jays

I think my neighbor has put up a bird feeder — the neighbor right underneath me. I never felt right about putting one up on my balcony, since it would make a mess below me. This is perfect. The birds perch on the trees outside my window and dive down to the bird feeder. So most days, I get to watch lots of beautiful cardinals and blue jays hanging out in the trees outside my windows.

133. Details


My life changed when I got a camera with a zoom lens.


That was when I discovered how much zooming in and looking at details could be beautiful.


I wasn’t necessarily seeing the trees for the forest.


Yes, there’s wonderful Fall Color in the trees.  But there are also little patches of color which, if you zoom in, are also beautiful.


They’re hiding in plain sight.


It’s so easy to not even notice them.


But a zoom lens helps me look more closely.  It highlights the quiet beautiful details, the colorful corners.


The zoom lens helps me to see and notice.


I’m pretty sure God uses a zoom lens when he looks at me.

He sees my details and sees my beauty that others overlook.

131. Leaves as Lucky Pennies


Tonight I went for a walk as the sun was going down and hitting the brightly colored leaves up on the ridge that I can see from my window.


Several threads came together and exploded with wonder in my thoughts while I was walking.  I’m going to try to express some of those.


It started with thinking about a Project 52 post I wrote last night.  I had reflected on the year I was 20 years old and started dating my husband-to-be.

This morning I remembered something I’d forgotten to write about.  We used to hide pennies for each other.  It came from an Annie Dillard quote that I’d read that summer from A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek:

But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.


I had included in the Project 52 post lots of pictures of my friends in the S.I.K. Club, a club about not being afraid to be silly and about embracing joys.  This morning my friend Jovial Gina, one of the S.I.K.s, indicated on Facebook that she really enjoyed remembering back to those silly days.


Gina has recently written a book called Camino Divina, a book about taking meditative walks.  In each chapter she highlights a different “saint” and looks at their inspirational writings.  For several months now, I’ve been reading a short section of Gina’s book right before I go on my walks, to give me something to think about.

Tonight I started a new chapter.  I was in a hurry because the sun was getting lower in the sky.  And guess who the saint of the new chapter was?  Annie Dillard!


I was in a hurry, so I’m afraid I read Gina’s thoughts on Annie Dillard’s writings hastily.  But she did get me thinking about finding pennies, and how they represent finding small joys.

I started reciting in my mind the passage I quoted above.


Another thread:  On Saturday, I did the same walk among the trees.  (Though they weren’t quite as bright yet.)  As I was leaving and the sun had stopped lighting them up, a couple passed and told me I should go to Skyline Drive if I really want to see beautiful leaves.

Now, I’ve been to Skyline Drive in the past, and it is indeed beautiful.  But I’m not going to ignore the gorgeous beauty lit up outside my window just because there’s a more spectacular place an hour away!

Tonight I decided that each bright leaf is like a copper penny.


A lot of people don’t think a penny is worth picking up.


It’s really easy to just drive by and not notice how beautiful the leaves are.

(Though my growing up in southern California helps me to be amazed every year.  The leaves all turning at the same time always seems miraculous.)


And I decided that taking pictures of the leaves was a little like picking up the pennies.


Only this way, I could pick up a million pennies, a million little miracles, all at the same time.


It’s that simple.  What you see is what you get.