Friday, September 29, 2023

Autumn: The Season for Letting Go

Now that fall has officially arrived, I watch the environment change slowly. It is the season for letting go and breathing in smoky and woody scents. It is the time to sit still, have a cup of spice tea, and agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald that "life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." 

Have you ever reflected on the magnificence of a fall day? I found a digitized photo I created last autumn and began falling in love with fall all over again. The digitized image below is of a "second summer" day, the revised name for "Indian Summer".

"second summer" days
glitter in golden hues
nature's bequeathal
©CVarsalona, 2023, Virginia


Nature finds its way to transition easily from one season to another. Living in New York State afforded me wonderful venues to witness nature's beauty. I thought those were strikingly appealing and peaceful but now that I am living in Virginia, I find the beauty of Autumn in another state. See below the beauty of the Virginia countryside I was able to capture in 2019 before we moved. 

I added a poem with a challenge presented by the Poetry Sisters. It is called a diminishing poem. I must admit this challenge was a CHALLENGE! You can read more about this poem at Writer's Digest and see samples written by Tanita S. Davis. Her blog post for today's Poetry Friday will point you in the right direction to read other Poetry Sisters' and #PoetryPals poems.

Autumn enters with plans to PLEASE.
Agrees to take an extended LEASE
Designing fall landscapes with EASE.
©CVarsalona, 2023, Virginia, diminishing poem

Autumn is the season of transformational beauty. The scenic vibes allow for peaceful contemplation and restorative feelings. I am ready to "just be" and let go of worries. 


Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn.” —John Muir in The Mountains of California


Have you seen my Destination: Summer's End Padlet? This week Michelle Kogan added her image poems and Margaret Simon offered three poems by her students. Please take a look by clicking on the title above. I hope more writers, poets, and students add their artistic expressions to the padlet this week. Thank you, Robyn Hood Black, Linda Baie, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Karen Elise Finch, Patricia Franz, Jane Heitman Healy, Sally Murphy, Janice Scully, Anastasia Suen, for your poetic offerings.


It is now time for Poetry Friday hosted by the marvelous hostess, Jama Rattigan. Be sure to follow me over to Jama's blog for some satire and poetic goodness.


What's Coming Soon

Book Review of Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's The Sound of Kindness  published by Magination Press

Book Review of Matt Forrest Esenwine's The Thing to Remember About Stargazing

More poetry!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Summer Slipped Away in Robes of Glory

When summer gathers up her robes of glory and like a dream glides away (Sarah Helen Whitman), I remember sunsational moments. It is late evening and poetic thoughts rise in the darkness. I am reminded of my Australian poet/children's author, Sally Murphy's inspirational poem.
A poem comes
When it is ready
And writes itself
In the way it needs
To get its point across
©Sally Murphy, 2009

At this time of night, questions and an invitation come to mind from a past summer gallery, Introduction to Nurturing Our Summer Souls. I savored end-of-summer thoughts while mulling over what a new summer gallery should be titled. Many friends traveled to different destinations this summer, including my family who spent two vacations at nearby beaches, our go-to places to relax and enjoy life. At the end of summertime, a new summer gallery came to life. 

Celebrating Creativity and Voice

A gallery of artistic expressions
Comes together when writers
Capture photos,
Weave words,
And release them
Into an online space.
©CVarsalona, 2023


If interested, please add an artistic expression, an image poem, an inspirational quote, a drawing, or a nature photograph to my Destination: Summer's End Padlet. Student work is accepted as well. I plan to showcase a variety of adult and children's poems in a gallery format. My padlet will let me know when a new end-of-summer creation is added. Thank you to Margaret Simon's students for their contributions.

Each offering will be greeted with joyful thanks.

Slicers, please see the Nurturing Nature Our Summer Souls blog posts for sample image poems. You can click on each mini-gallery below.

Now, I join Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life with gratitude to the slicers who participated in the 2021 Nurturing Our Summer Souls Gallery.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Destination: Summer's End


As host of this week's Roundup, I invite you to look backward to reflect on the mid-September days when the winds of change finally arrived. Overwhelmed by daytime heat and shortened nights, weather patterns slowed down into a rhythmic pattern during the last days of summer. Nature, dressed in sun-bleached colors, gifted earth with crisp coolness, followed by sunkissed skies. Butterflies danced among flowers and worker bees diligently collected nectar for winter storage. 

Life at the end of summer fell into place bringing a day of sunshine and mild weather for our community trip to the historic Hillwood Gardens in Washington, D.C. Hillwood mansion and gardens capture the vision of heiress, entrepreneur, socialite, philanthropist, and collector, Marjorie Merriweather Post, who rebuilt the estate during the 1950s era. The mansion showcases Marjorie Post's collection of 18th-19th-century French art and art treasures from Imperial Russia. There are thirteen acres of gardens full of summer flowers standing erect and posing for their guests while gardeners tend their care. Our tour through the specialty gardens was impressive. My favorite was the Japanese Garden area which was filled with tiers of cascading waters and lush vegetation that provides a Zen-like atmosphere. In the different gardens, there was a sense of harmony and peace in the air.  
"To say it was a beautiful day would not begin to explain it. It was that day when the end of summer intersects perfectly with the start of fall." -Ann Patchett
summer ends
whispers goodbye
to longer days of active moments,
oppressive heat, drought, or heavy rains
moving on
transforming gently
into fall
©CVarsalona, 2023, trinet 
Have you savored the radiance and energy of summertime mixed with relaxation and renewal? Have you documented special summer days in photography or writing? 

If interested, add your artistic expression to my Destination-Summer's End Padlet where I plan to showcase a variety of adult and children's poems in a gallery format. Add your end-of-summer creation to the padlet here

Then, continue reading and following the directions to add your blog link so others can visit your blog post. 

salted sands, sunny shores
sacred sites for inner peace
summer slips away
©CVarsalona, 2023
"Nature is the purest portal to inner peace."
-Angie Weilan Crosby
Writers, Poets, Bloggers 
Are you ready to join the Poetry Friday Roundup?
Sign in below to add your link so others can visit your blog post. 

Visitors, comments are Welcome.
(Send questions to cvarsalona at gmail)

Photo by CVarsalona, 2023
Hillwood Gardens

Friday, September 15, 2023

A Single Moment in Time

I had never heard of boketto poetry until fellow poet, Alan Wright shared it on his blog recently. As I read his description of the format, I knew that it fit nicely into my journey to just be in the moment. I quickly entered information presented by Alan in my digital poetry notebook. The boketto consists of two stanzas; the first stanza has five lines with a total of 30 syllables - 7,7,7,4,5. Stanza two has three lines and 17 syllables-7, 7,3). In addition, Allan wrote.  "The boketto is akin to staring at the sky or into the distance without a thought...getting lost in one's own self; removing the self from a place mentally. There is no regard to the past and no connection to the future. There is only THIS moment."

Below, you will see the end product of my getting lost in nature for a single moment in time. There was stillness in the heat of summer when I captured the nature photo. The words came days later and were refined tonight. I designed the photo and poetic words into a freeze frame, thus becoming an image poem of late summer. Have you felt the yearning to just be, sit still staring at the landscape, and feel surrounded by quietude? 

Today, I stopped to capture a field of wildflowers in the back of my granddaughter's elementary school. What was unusual was dancing pieces of small white fluff following one another in a horizontal pattern. As the progression increased, I realized that the fluff was in reality floating pollen. I was not quick enough to create a small video but did capture the beauty of nature in this photo below.

wildflowers swayed in the heat
basking in nature's sunshine
while pollen floated gently
irritants felt
on this summer day

ragweed season brought itching,
reminder of childhood and
©CVarsalona, 2023, draft

Do you have ragweed allergies? It can be a nuisance and a distraction when trying to enjoy a late summer day but make the most of each day. Enjoy the end-of-summer!


It's Poetry Friday and I am ready to join Rose Cappelli, our host, at her website. Click here. Rose shares her best season of the year through a reverso poem invented by Marilyn Singer.

I am hosting Poetry Friday next Friday. I invite everyone to find their favorite end-of-summer nature photo. Share a moment in time photo and write a poem to accompany the photo. Destination End-of-Summer will have its own Gallery of Artistic Expressions.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Nature As a Balm

The poetry of nature is a balm for stormy times. - Friends of the Everglades

Stormy times are certainly happening in the world. Climate change and political unrest continue to cause issues while personal problems taunt us.  Humanity needs slow-down moments to breathe in new life. Allow nature's rhythms to recharge and bring quietude into troubled spaces. 

Poetic Peace

There's nothing left
to call this a home.
Doorknobs found
amongst the debris
paint a new canvas.
Storms may destroy
years you lived here.
Life goes on.
Forests planted by you
need replanting
in today's world.
There may be nothing left except
for what's left of your light
so find a simple way to be.
Let slow-down moments
spark the light within
with the gift of grace.
Let's find hope
for this land in
moments of joy.
©CV, 2023

The above is a found poem based on Carol Labuzzetta's image poem, Debris, and words from yesterday's blog poem posted here and my haibun at Autumn Arrives blog. {Italicized lines are from Carol Labuzzetta's poem.}

Nature as a balm thought is reflected in the awesome poem swap package Carol Labuzzetta sent to me. It is such a joy to have Carol, the amazing environmentalist, nature photographer, poet, and jewelry maker, create something especially significant to me.

Endearing Poem
Nature Photo Greeting Cards
Handmade Bookmark with Color Changing Beads

Carol and I are in tune with one another with our love of nature, photography, crafting, and poetry. I am eager to see color changes in the leather cord bookmark when I place it between the pages of a book to mark my spot. I have just the right book for this, A Field Guide to the Heart - Poems of Love, Comfort, & Hope by Georgia Heard & Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

Special Note: Carol Labuzzetta is inviting interested poets and writers to submit ekphrastic poems for her upcoming children's book, Nature Poetry in Pictures Anthology. The submission window is August 1, 2023-November 1, 2023. You can find the Anthology Guidelines on her blog, The Apples In My Orchard. Click here. I captured nature in photos last weekend and hope to draft some poems soon. I hope you join in also.

In closing, I leave you with a beautiful thought about nature from Anne Frank.
I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
🦋 🦋 🦋

Now, I am ready to join Poetry Friday Roundup at poet and children's book author, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's blog, The Poem Farm. She is giving some (writing?) advice so check out her post and all the poetic goodness that comes from the Poetry Friday writers.

It is serendipitous that Magination Press sent me a box of books to review and share with teachers and inside was The Sound of Kindness by Amy. I can't wait to read the book and enjoy the illustrations by Teres Martinez.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Life at the Speed of Grace

Amidst the dust of cluttered life moments, I sit this morning pondering the words of Henry Nouwen. The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it. For years, I have searched for clarity on how to slow down and sit with peace. The journey is a self-exploration. I find nature's sweet essence as a nurturing factor. In addition, this year my one word, be, is a recurring reminder that life is not about constant motion but a slow-down speed of Grace. I wake to morning cracks of daylight splashing through the shades and the blooming of late summer flowers spreading their buds for a taste of refreshing water. Nature offers its new-day point of view.  It is in moments like these that I hear the chirping sounds of life and know that God is nearby to nurture life. 

This week, poet and children's author, Patricia Franz, leads the Spiritual Journey community in an exploration of a burning question on our spiritual journey. How will Grace find you? She offers thoughts on Grace being her "shorthand for God. I am learning to live at the speed of Grace, letting God catch me, surprise me, right where I am." These words spark my thoughts on my own spiritual journey before leading me into another busy day. The house is quiet; Grace finds me before the world does. I enjoy slow-down still moments as quietude surrounds me and provides a cushioning cloud to start my day. 

Please join me as I start my day at Patricia Franz's blog where the Spiritual Journey community of writers offer inspirational thoughts. May you find Grace and refresh your life.

On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul.
Psalm 138:3

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Moon Magic for Back-to-School Learners

It's back-to-school mode for educators and students around the globe. While it has been 10 years since I retired as a districtwide administrator, I began consulting with school districts. I taught teachers new ideas to bring a fresh look to learning using a mix of standards. 

With the weather being extremely hot in many parts of the country, it is important to keep students focused. This can be accomplished with new books, new classroom layouts, collaborative lessons, timely topics, and joyful learning.  

The moon has been trending as a timely topic with two different moon looks in August. Last week, I reviewed Irene Latham's new bookThe Museum On The Moon-The Curious Objects on the Lunar Surface. It is an exciting book that will be ready for public viewing on September 19th. It will make a great mentor text to explore a variety of poetic forms and nonfiction information about the moon as not only a marvelous sky phenomenon but a museum of curious objects. Are you intrigued? 

I believe that children will enjoy reading this book in collaborative groups that will lead to research, writing poems with different formats, and presentations of final products from an across-content area perspective. A final project like the creation of a moon gallery will showcase children's talent as artists, actors, and young writers/poets. Educators involved in joyful education in havens of learning offer students a wide range of exciting projects. Perhaps, this book will become a classroom favorite. 

This book accompanied by Wonderopolis articles on the moon are great classroom resources to encourage students to become wonderers of space.

fly me to the moon
via a brand-new book
that will make you swoon

quick write draft


The time has passed and I did not even realize it but I am still posting this to Two Writing Teachers as this week's Slice of Life. I hope that every educator will enjoy this school year and help students become wonderers of learning and life.

Friday, September 1, 2023

The Museum on the Moon

Most people I know love viewing the many faces of the moon in the night sky. Many stare and wonder about its marvels; others take moon photos or view the moon through a high-powered telescope. But did you know that the moon goes beyond being a phenomenon in the sky? It is also a museum of curious objects.
"The most curious museum on Earth isn't on the earth at all; it's on the moon"? 

Author and poet, Irene Latham, thoroughly researched why the moon is a curious museum prior to writing her fascinating new book with an interesting title, The Museum On The Moon-The Curious Objects on the Lunar Surface. Her book is so engaging that not only children but adults will be enthralled with Irene's addition of nonfiction information and a variety of poetic formats. In turn, Myrim Warers, the illustrator, created a series of magical scenes throughout the book that bring clarity to Irene's poems and non-fiction information. Their combination of artistic talents created a children's book that is out-of-this-world exciting.

When Irene introduced her new book, I immediately expressed interest in reviewing it. I thought it fortunate to not only see the book prior to public release but to enjoy virtually flying to the moon with Irene. I do admit that I was curious to view the artifact collection left on the moon. Perhaps, you, also have been inquisitive about the moon and lunar visits. My interest started when the American astronaut, Neil Armstrong, became the first person to step onto the moon (July 20, 1969) and declared, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".  

If we peek into the book we will find a beautiful blend of word choice, poetic formats, interesting historical facts, and artwork. This is the type of book that will provide worthwhile night reading for families and a resource for teachers and librarians. Also, this book would provide hours of inquiry at a science/literacy wonder station, alongside Wonderopolis' articles on the moon, such as Wonder #128 How Much Do You Weigh On the Moon?  Teachers could pair this Wonder of the Day with Irene's poem on Gravity.

The book begins with a Table of Contents that draws children's attention. Some children may be inclined to skip to a particular title that delights them or follow the traditional way of reading a book. I indulged in a few moments reviewing the titles that are great introductions to the book itself. "The Junk Side of the Moon" caught my eye and I wanted to know more but I started with the first poem and nonfiction piece, Welcome Earthlings. Below is a portion of Irene's first poem using the triolet format.

Think you know the Moon 

because you see it every night?... 

So many artifacts hide in plain sight! 

Don’t think you know the Moon 

just because you see it every night. 

My curiosity was piqued immediately, so I eagerly awaited the collection of poems that unveiled artifacts that were left on the moon. At first, I wondered why the astronauts would leave personal possessions, their tools, equipment, and even golf balls but then, I started thinking about the Oregon Trail pioneers who left many of their beloved possessions along the side of the road. I did find out the reason though. Because astronauts were bringing back to Earth items from the moon for scientific research, they needed to divest themselves of heavy objects. I also found out from Irene's research that the aim of the NASA Apollo Program "was not to create a museum. The program aimed to establish space technology, carry out scientific exploration of the Moon, and to develop ways for humans to work in the lunar environment." Irene added links to various aspects of the program at the end of the book providing a pathway for children to complete a small research project in collaborative groups. 

Forever Footprints was the second poem that also used great word choice: "Human tracks tattoo Moon's rutted face-". Children will enjoy the imagery in this poem and most likely will need a dictionary to gain access to the meaning of some words, which is a wonderful way to introduce a worthwhile reading skill. The poem, "Invisible" made me stop and ponder the wonder of stardust and moon dust that merge hope, prayers, wishes, and dreams-come-true. The nonfiction piece on the left of the poem provided an inspirational goal-in-motion thought.

I extend thanks to Irene's publisher, Bushel & Peck, under their poetry imprint, Moonshower. Moonshower "publishes artful, exciting volumes of poetry for kids of all ages by some of the world's leading poets. Irene Latham is a notable figure in the children's poetry field. As you can see from the sneak preview, she is a thoughtful writer with a fine sense of how to create books that will empower children to become wonderers, readers, and writers. She writes to expand children's imaginations and also to promote creativity and children's potential to expand their horizons. 

Because digging into the whys of writing a book is important, I asked Irene to respond to two burning questions I posed.

1. Why were you drawn to researchng information on "The curious objects on the lunar surface"?
I was definitely one of those "space kids" who followed the Apollo missions and watched space movies (Space Camp, anyone?) and visited space museums. (Huntsville Space and Rocket Center is less than two hours away!) And our eldest son also had a big obsession with space, so it felt like I've had this books inside me for a long time! 
2. How did you decide which poetic format you should use when composing each poem?
I knew I wanted to use a variety of forms (thank you DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD), but I didn't set out to write any one poem in any particular form. I just kind of played around, and eventually (sometimes, immediately, as in the poem "Peace", which is an adaptation of an acrostic) a form would make itself known. I think I spend most of my time as a poet setting poems free from the constraints/expectations I come into the poem's hard sometimes (and takes time!) to just let a poem be what it wants to be! But it's kind of essential, because in my experience, that's how one catches the best poems.

With delight, I opened my email today to Irene's responses. As parents, teachers, and librarians, it is important to understand the endless possibilities that books provide. Irene is one of those deep-thinkers who desires to open children's eyes to the magic of books. 

Below are some artifacts that Irene sent me to brighten my days I prepared to write this book review.

Artful Photography
Inspirational Poetry

Remembrance of the Apollo Missions Into Space

When Irene hosted Poetry Friday on June 30, 2023, she asked the community of writers to join her "Moon in June" themed Roundup. She created a Welcome to the Museum on the Moon! padlet here so others could enjoy the poetic goodness that came in different styles. I offered a Moon in June blog post with four moon-related poems and photos. You can see my offering here.

Note: Due to printing delays, the published date for the Museum on the Moon by Irene Latham is now set for September 19, 2023. This book will become the 19th children's book that Irene has written and a wonderful gift for any child, educator, or librarian. 

I've always been smitten by the moon and now I add Irene Latham's artistic and creative book, The Museum On The Moon-The Curious Objects on the Lunar Surface, to my wonder list of items that awe me. 


Today, I offer the Poetry Friday community a peek into Irene Latham's newest book with the hopes that everyone spreads the news across social media, into classrooms, and libraries. Children benefit from books that spark their imagination and who knows perhaps there are little stargazers, astronauts, and scientists in the making who will grow up to honor the moon and all the Apollo missions. 

Thank you, Ramona Behnke, for hosting Poetry Friday today. I know that you are busy with your move across the country. May your new view bring many walks of peace to your late summer days.