Plantae + Polyphony.

Last Sunday I drove to Athens, Georgia for the day to visit a friend, see her amaaazzzzing/colorful/clean/bright/superbly-decorated home, eat a spectacular sandwich at The Grit, and spend some time at the state botanical gardens in the name of Capstone research.

Upon walking through the glass doors into the conservatory, I was struck by two things: a hot wall of humidity, and delightful music.
One thing (amongst a brief list of others including gothic architecture, live orchestras, and the perfect breakfast) that never fails to overwhelm me with its beauty is the sound of strong, pure voices sewn together in a polyphonic harmony, a cappella.  It is a specific thing and when it strikes, it affects me not simply on an emotional level, but physically. I find tears that have involuntarily welled up behind my eyes, and rapidly evaluate my surroundings to determine whether or not the context is suitable for said tears to escape. (Suitable contexts: dimly-lit concert halls, the comfort of my own home, etc. Unsuitable contexts: Botanical garden conservatory, crowded, mid-day...)

A group of approximately forty members comprised of both young children and men and women older than my grandparents sat in a tight group of chairs facing a central conductor who could not have been older than ten years old. I do not know what kind of group they were and I never tried to find out, as I was all too content studying the texture of maidenhair ferns and curvature of the Phlebodium aureum to such an ethereal soundtrack.

We strolled, lingered next to the ferns, met a few other friendly chatty visitors, finally identified a cactus I had been spotting across middle Georgia for a while now, pet the fuzzy tufts of Lambsear sprouting up outside (only when typing that out do I realize how weird that sounds... ugh.whateva.), and took in the goodness of an afternoon laced with sunshiny bliss. All the while I documented various specimens and gathered enough images to work from for the time being.

Day o' fun peppered with subtle productivity = success.

To Staying in Bed.

Consider my glass raised.

I am a morning person. I like to wake up around the same time the sun does. It could be due to some kind of suppressed competitive nature I have yet to fully admit to, but if ever I am the last to wake up in the house, I hate it. I feel as though I have been beaten to the punch, because I wanted this precious, quiet morning to myself - uninterrupted by any of you goons' thunderous banter (mildly dramatic... but not always entirely untrue). 

Idyllic mornings consist of rainy conditions outside, hot breakfast, coffee via french press drunk from my favorite cerulean pottery mug, little to no speaking, sitting on the blue sofa adjacent to the corner window in my bedroom, breathing deeply, reminding myself of things that are Good, sometimes reading, sometimes writing, and trying to be quiet, be present. 

On a recent morning, however, I slept later than planned and having missed those fleeting hours, dared attempt a different course of action: I stayed in bed ... for quite some time. I ventured to the kitchen only to prepare my french press and cook some oats, and with my steaming breakfast and coffee in tow, hurried quickly back into the cocoon of flannel and down.

Curling up under the toasty comforter after finishing my oats, I picked up an outdated issue of Kinfolk I got on sale for $4 at Williams Sonoma (probably the only thing I have ever actually purchased from Williams Sonoma) and perused a few of the beautifully written essays and tales accompanied by stunning photos of magnificent places. Simple stories of humanity and beauty. 

For me, I have learned there is great value in beginning my day in a state of rest and imagination. And in that, I have learned those purest morning hours are not the only hours in which such a state can be experienced. And in that, I have learned sleeping in (past 8 AM) is not always in my worst interest. (As long as I have a warm, unmade bed and anthology of something Good awaiting my return)

Snow Storms.

...Or what we define as such in the south.

{The Green House, laden in snow}
January 28, 10:16AM: Classes cancelled. 

The day began uneventfully. Skies were a flat tint of grey, the air was cold, and I was posted up in my corner by the window, mixing several hues of oil paints until I achieved the exact colors necessary to fill my stylized Rhododendron leaves for a botanical illustration series I'm in the throes of producing (more on that later).  A day without classes turned into a studio day for the most part. But alas, my "studio day" turned into a day of some painting, watching "The Help" and doing yoga with roommates, and cultivating my appreciation for the trusty space heater on loan from my sis who moved from St. Louis to Kampala last year (thus having no current need for a space heater).  
Eventually we made it over to a friend's house after dinner where things really got crazy with a rousing 1000-piece puzzle of a Charleston street scene and conversations revolving around our ideal team of comrades - friends and/or celebrities - in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I'm looking at you, Daniel Craig. 
Mid conversation, snow began to fall. And it was glorious. The group of us ran outside into a world veiled in white, lit by amber streetlights. The great snow "storm" of 2014 was underway.

{My beautiful campus, looking like Narnia)

We awoke to scenes like this lovely one, and after a hot breakfast and a piping mug of coffee began to do some walking. We walked to campus, and involuntary gave confused stares to two girls going for a run. "Don't be a hero." "What are you trying to prove?" we muttered under our breath. 
Our stroll led us to our friends' house where everyone was sitting together doing homework and insisting they needed to finish said homework before playing. It was remarkably easy to convince them that they were, in fact, incorrect. And just like that, we were outside playing, having snowball fights, sledding, wiping out, and letting Boone the snow pup out to explore. 

A happy way to spend a Wednesday, don't you think?

{The always-welcoming Gargoyle}

{My friends are fabulous}

{Georgians trying to sled = scooting kayaks down slush}

{Boone dog loves snow!}

I want to note that I am incredibly thankful for empty roads, pipes that are not frozen, a home that is heated, the SPACE HEATER, and that my family did not have to endue the abhorrent conditions plaguing the streets of Atlanta. Countless friends were stuck in gridlock traffic for 8+ hours, in what would otherwise be a 10 minute commute. People ditched their cars on the interstate and walked miles in pursuit of places to eat and sleep. My Young Life leader from high school gave birth to a baby girl, delivered by her husband, in the traffic... Amy, you are the most amazing woman in the world.

My wonderful parents and sister walked a few houses down to where our neighborhood meets a main road, and went from car to car talking to those poor souls trapped in the mess, passing out cider and hot chocolate, and offering our home as a place to stay. My mom said that the people she met had been sitting there for hours on end and only traveled less than a mile. Insanity.

I'm hoping things get all cleared up very soon, and that next time snow is in the forecast, folks get some salt on the roads and maybe stagger the school release times... But for now, let's watch all the Harry Potter movies, eat soup and cookies, and forget to put real pants on.

From the starstruck, legging-clad, slushy-grounded wonder that is Milledgeville, Georgia,
Happy snow day to you and yours!