The cup is filling up

The past several months have been a whirlwind and are starting to slow to a naturally-paced rhythm which is allowing time to fill my cup.

Art, for me, is that cup visually spilling over and me wanting to share the solace my soul feels when walking through a forest or noticing wildlife–even if it is only just  in my own back yard. When my soul is not able to rest and breathe, I find that it grows tight and small. I feel in my chest a gripping sensation as though something is trying to hold on for dear life. It is fight or flight. Only when I expand my world does that feeling go away. The expansion occurs when I feel awe and wonder.

For example the surprise of finding my first morel hiding under a huge May Apple leaf! Elinor and I were looking for quite some time. She actually found some cut stems that someone else had already taken. We walked farther down the path and came across another patch of May Apples up a bit farther on the side of a hill. There is was! I swear it was glowing in the sunshine with beams of radiance exuding from within! Then the angels started singing... lol.
My first wild morel sighting... without assistance.
We cut it off above ground level so that the mycelium will continue to grow and give us mushroomy deliciousness for another year. In total we found seven morels, although Elinor was much better at finding them than I was! We took them over to my mother's house for positive identification and then prepared Morel and Spring Vegetable Risotto with roasted chicken. As we shopped and prepared the risotto, mom prepared the table with Muscato, candles and an elegant piano solo. It was such a nice way to spend a morning and afternoon. Good food, good company, and good memories made.
Deer joyfully playing with one another.
 Another weekend, Paul and I went out to Afton Prairie Park to see what we could see. There was nothing we saw that was out of the ordinary, Canadian geese, deer, flowers; but it sure made us want to go camping again. Paul planned an open area with a tent, hammock, horseshoe pit. It is nice to imagine, but I like creating these places as well as imagine. Vacation can't come soon enough.
Trying to see fish or frogs at Afton Prairie Park. Gracie was not interested.
Even in my own back yard my heart is lightened. This week two baby bunnies came out of their burrow for the first time and were playing in the grass. I sat at my kitchen table and laughed out loud as I watched these two cuties box one another, roll around and nibble the grass.
Baby bunnies exploring in the grass for the first time.
Paul and I visited Matthiesen State Park for the first time for his 55th birthday. Neither one of us had ever been in a canyon before. The wooden handrails were polished smooth with years of people gripping them for balance. As we walked farther down the steep stairs to the bottom of the canyon at Lake Falls, the air cooled.  The sound of wind and chirping birds was replaced by a quiet stillness which was dampened by humidity. Then, a bit further down, the roar of the falls - not too loud - just splashing and cascading down the sandstone canyon walls.
Lake falls at Mattheisen State Park in Utica, IL
In places the canyon walls were lined with liverwort, mosses and ferns. On a ledge, a toad with golden eyes watched us carefully from his stage.  Golden flakes adorned the walls and floors of the canyon like glitter.
Fools Gold (?) in the sediment at the bottom of the falls.
Hiked the canyons of Mattheisen State Park in Utica, IL
 Paul and I considered the beauty, trying to soak it all in. When we stood still, cliff swallows flew past expertly dodging the two newcomers to their relm. There was evidence of people carved into the sides of the soft sandstone canyon walls, but it was all too easy to imagine that we were travelers who had gone back in time hundreds of years.
Paul sees Lake Falls for the first time.

We had started at Matthiessen Lake.  Then we walked down to see the bottom of Lake Falls. We spotted a deep impression called the Giant's Bathtub, rounded out to Cedar Point, and continued to Cascade Falls. We ended up hiking a full circle back to the lake where we saw a beautiful and large great blue heron landed on some dead logs and begin to hunt. I was surprised and happy to see how clear the lake was. Fish were abundant. I could see them from the top of the bridge!

bridge over the canyon
 We spied minnows in the canyon streams, several inchworms, that golden-eyed toad, turkey vultures, cliff swallows, wood peckers, Jack-in-the-pulpits, several types of ferns, May Apples, and lots of poison ivy.
An inch worm takes the bridge over the canyons. Smart worm!
 Next weekend, hopefully, another adventure and another chance to fill that cup through enjoying the world God has richly blessed us with.