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Archive for July, 2014

Misty sunrise 1

A late sunrise
veils the trees
in morning mist.

Only winter brings
the gift of this
ethereal  view.

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     Each of us needs a special place—peaceful and beautiful—where we can enjoy moments of calm and bliss, where we can dream and pray, where we can read, plan, and work on our creative projects. In this space nature will heal and inspire us, giving strength to our souls. Tips for Writing

Seek out your special place and lay claim to it. It may be somewhere outside surrounded by nature, or a window near a sunny corner at your kitchen table. Here you can create, rest, relax, and replenish yourself uplifted by nature’s grandeur – for everyone needs beauty as well as their daily bread.

Man Writing

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Time Out

 

Old Wagon


For endless years –
hauling over hills,
traveling up and down
on countless roads
,
the old wagon
has come to rest.

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    Whenever we want to experience an excursion on a different walking track, we go in search of a rail trail. Rail trails are shared-use pathways, recycled from abandoned railway corridors, set aside only for walking, cycling or horse riding. Rail trails link country villages and small towns, while meandering through scenic forests and picturesque rural settings, just as railways did in the past. Following the routes of most rail trails, one will cut through hills, walk under roads, over embankments and across gullies and creeks. Despite the changes in terrain, the trails are comfortable to walk on because the gradient on which the trail was originally constructed had to accommodate a large locomotive, pulling a long string of railway cars.

The rails are removed when a railway closes, but the bridges and cuttings still remain. These are often rebuilt and strengthened to be structurally sound. Signs provide easy-to-follow directions, and guide booklets are always available. Rail trail travelers are well catered for as wineries, cafes, B&Bs and small nearby villages accommodate the longer overnight journeys that people sometimes make.

Apart from being lovely places to hike through, rail trails also function as linear conservation corridors, protecting native plants and animals. In December 2013, our Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Ranger, Peter Kleis, discovered this rare Christmas orchid, the Dipodium punctatum.
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An Australian native terrestrial orchid, the Queensland Herbarium advised the orchid is a saprophyte—a leafless plant—that lives and feeds on decaying wood, like a fungus. The orchid will die if removed from its environment, and is a good example of one of the special surprises that can be encountered while walking a rail trail.

We love where we live because a small remnant of a rail trail leads directly past the back of our home. Across from this unsealed walkway stretches the Samford State Forest, filled with native vegetation and wild birds. Sitting on our open back veranda with coffee and a snack, we watch couples pushing strollers, children on bicycles, walkers, and  many horse riders, all enjoying this peaceful pathway. Rail trails exist world-wide, so research one near you and rather than ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ it, get out into nature and experience it.

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    In our busy lives of work, family, computers, iPhones, tweets, twitters, facebook etc. we need to occasionally put our engines on idle and take a break. I don’t mean that filling a polystyrene cup with machine made tea or coffee, and carrying this back to the work station is a short break. We need to chill out for short periods—creating a small parenthesis of quiet in the daily grind—and a good way to do this to enjoy a cup of tea from a china mug or a cup and saucer.  Tea is not only relaxing, but but is rich in antioxidents and does give a boost to flagging energy levels.

The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, can be grown anywhere in cool climates or at higher elevations in the tropics. Tea leaves are generally harvested four times each year. When the waist-high bush begins another growth spurt (flush) only the top two leaves and the bud are picked for the finest black, oolong, or green tea. After picking, the leaves are spread out for 12 – 18 hours to whither. Next the leaves are rolled, breaking the membranes to release the natural juices that collect on the leaves’ surface. Only then the leaves are moved into large rooms where they ferment before oven roasting. Finally the tea is sorted into lots of equal sizes before being packaged for sale. The essential oils that have dried on the tea will produce a fragrant, tasty beverage after being exposed to boiling water in a tea pot or cup.

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I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
‘Twas very small –   three guests in all
Just I, myself, and me.

Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea.
‘Twas also I who ate the pie,
Then passed the cake to me.

Jessica Nelson North

Here in Australia, the ritual of high tea has returned with a vengeance, and I just love it. The high tea tradition began in the 19th century when it was common for dinner to be served after 8pm. The Duchess of Bedford found an ingenious way of keeping hunger at bay by serving cups of tea in the late afternoon, accompanied by plates of sweet and savoury treats. Even today, ‘taking’ tea has retained its elegance as fine bone china, fresh flowers, and a welcomed glass of champagne are also added to the mix.

Many women now give high tea parties to celebrate birthdays, the arrival of a new baby, or to simply provide an occasion where friends gather to relax and chat over cups of tea. Business women are forsaking the working breakfast, to use hotels and restaurants offering high tea. In this new environment, work and business are discussed, deals are set up or clinched, and clients are entertained in lovely surroundings. Thankfully taste and style have returned again as these small breaks from the big rush boost our long term productivity, while giving enjoyment and pleasure. A cup of tea .. anyone?

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