"Nature is full
of genius,
full of divinity,
so that not a snowflake
escapes its
fashioning hand."

Henry David Thoreau

Introducing another Holiday card today, although, it seems to appeal year round. White Zinnias from my sister Mary's farm are layered one on top of another. I think I used 3 or 4 original photos of flowers to arrive at this final snowflake. Veiny patterns texture the ivory petals which have antiqued edges and rusty-brown points. Turquoise accents give it a contemporary look. The center seems to glow from within. I work particularly long on the centers of all my illustrations of single flowers so they'll seem infused with light and energy.

I don't know what more I could say about Thoreau's quote. He was a genius in his observations of nature, understanding the underlying and unifying energy weaving through it all. To me this is part of the Mystery, which is where I get my inspiration... where my muse resides.

Speaking of inspiring nature experiences, my husband and I took a trip to the mountains this week to the lodge where we were married exactly 8 years ago this week. Instead of buying expensive rings for the wedding, which neither of us like to wear, we invited family and friends to be our guests for 3 days in the Cascades. We reserved the entire lodge and another inn down the road. Had unbelievable food prepared for us all weekend. In a big circular building, almost tee pee-like with a center skylight, family and friends gathered into the wee hours to enjoy each other's company, energy and laughter to the max. There's a little meadow visible just below the Forest Room, as it's called, where we had our ceremony on a bright, crisp October Saturday. The memories are so so sweet. But also bittersweet, as I lost a friend to a sudden medical crisis and Ken lost his brother to cancer since that day. We stood in silence in the meadow to remember them.

Below is me standing where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the highway on our way up the mountain. I hike a few miles along the trail from time to time picking it up at different places in these mountains.

When we were at the lodge for lunch this week we ran into the owner, Diarmuid McGuire, and his dog Jake, who wandered out for a walk with us and gave us a tour of some of the 165 acres where he and his son Padraic are building new cabins - all from wood harvested and milled on the property. As we neared the farthest cabin, the silence caught us by surprise. The moments standing on that deck and gazing out to wilderness all around me brought a serious infusion of contentment and inspiration into my week. Why don't we do this more often? is usually the first comment one of us makes when we get in the car to head back down to the valley.

My final thoughts going into the weekend: Make it your intention to let the things that nurture your soul find you. Don't hide. Let nature's genius be one of the things that inspire your life. There are so many scenes and scents and sounds from the natural world trying to get your attention . But they are polite and often don't insist unless you welcome them. Consciously welcome beauty, Mystery, and nature's genius to be your muse and ally in all your creating, loving, living.