In our front yard, there are two large crepe myrtle trees, likely planted when the house was built about 14 years ago. One is on the corner by the front sidewalk where I walk out to the driveway. Long stretches of peeling bark now decorate the lower trunk. There is nothing wrong with the tree. Bark shedding is normal, a process that occurs after a crepe myrtle has reached full maturity. Mature trees are often prized because of the coloration that shows up on their wood after the bark is shed. Since it is a deciduous tree, it sheds all its leaves in the winter, leaving behind the unusual bark with colors from cream to cinnamon to red, fading to gray-green or dark red. When the tree blooms, it droops with heavy lavender blooms that are beautiful. This year the blooms are late probably due to heat and drought. But we have beauty in this peeling bark.

One more time, garden grace teaches me to embrace the change that comes with growth and passing years. And also to watch for wonder in unexpected places.


Right now I am unable to take walks in the yard or neighborhood that provided my opportunities for photography for so long. But I did spend time on our back porch and I watered the Christmas cactus starter plant that my sister in law gave us when she downsized to an apartment. Since neither of us travels now, this connection of memory and gratitude is precious. As the water trickled into the plant’s dry soil, I remembered the buds and blooms that delighted us before Christmas last year. It is almost a Thanksgiving Cactus. So I practice the reduction mentioned in the words below. I may miss gathering flowers to bring inside, digging and planting and harvesting in the garden. But my needs of the spirit as mentioned in meaning, purpose, and friendship are met. In tending this one small succulent plant, I find those things. I did photograph the first beginning bloom last year. I can watch for the buds that will come later.

.”It is said that the longest journey begins with one step. So it is with simplicity. There is no one place to begin, but as good a place as any is to simplify our desires. Both our emotional needs for things and our actual physical needs can be simplified. Learn to know the difference between real emotional needs and addictions. The complexity of our lives is directly related to our material desires. Most of our real needs are of the spirit, such as meaning, purpose, and friendship. By simplifying our material desires our lives will become less burdensome‚Ķ”

~ Arthur Gish