Photo a day. Serene. August 19, 2020

2020 has been a challenging year, and for us in the Bay area, we currently have orange skies and smell of smoke swirling outside from wildfires that started with lightening storm this past weekend. It’s easy to feel hopeless in all the bad news and fear of the future.

But a source of peace for me is being around trees and living things that ask nothing of me. When I feel discouraged, turning to God’s creation shows me his goodness, depth and breath of his glory, and his endless creativity that he holds together. In recent months, our family has turned to walks outdoors to spend time together and do something other than stay indoors (although this activity will be postponed until the air quality improves). We come home in better spirits and big smiles from soaking in the beauty of trees, rocks, sightings of critters, and unexpected discoveries.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from our various outings in the past year. These images spark serenity to me: a little world unto itself. Hope you all find moments of serenity and time to savor God’s marvelous creations.

Montalvo Arts Center
Sea anemone and mussells in tidepool habitat at Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz
Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco

Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.

Thomas Szasz

Jellyfish hangout @ Monterey Bay Aquarium
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, outdoor sitting area




Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

Thanks citysonnet for this photography challenge!

56 thoughts on “Photo a day. Serene. August 19, 2020

  1. Great photos of your outing, Esther. This is the time of year when there are wildfires. It’s very hot here, was 103F yesterday. Edison may have blackout. It hasn’t happened yet.

    I love the way you draw strength from the nature and scripture. πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you!! We were planning on going for another nature outing today, but that will have to be postponed indefinitely. The air quality is awful and smells of smoke. The heat is awful for our drought-stricken state, but that crazy lightening bout last weekend just started the fires. Sad situation when many are feeling hopeless and stressed from COVID already.
      Hope you guys don’t have a blackout and you get to the airport without any disruptions. Thank you for your sweet comment! I try but it’s not easy when things are challenging.

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      • My husband and I haven’t gone anywhere yet. Not too many places to go in such weather.

        Autumn is three next month and he and I will come to the birthday party. That would be his big trip in six months.

        We have the wildfires now, and if there’s heavy rain in winter, we’ll have mud slides. That’s our share of disaster when other states have hurricane or heavy snow.

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      • Yes, the wildfires season is upon us! We need rain. The bay area got struck with over 12,000 lightning strikes a week and a half ago and that started many fires.
        You’re right: wildfires and mudslides and earthquakes are our reality in CA. Hoping this fall and winter season will be uneventful…we already have so much happening.
        Autumn is growing up fast; she’ll be so excited to see you and grandpa again soon on her big celebratory day! Now he has a little sister to congratulate her on her bday too.

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      • I hope you’re far away from the wildfires, Esther! The weather’s getting worse and hotter in CA.

        My daughter told me there’s a program to encourage people to have a certified wild life habitat in their garden. But there’s no such program in CA. We don’t have the climate to do it and it takes water to keep the garden green for the wild life.

        I know I’ll use more water to create a butterfly πŸ¦‹ garden, at least while the plants are getting established.

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      • The weather has been cooling down a bit here thankfully. We had humidity yesterday, which helped with containing the fires. This extreme weather pattern is unusual this year.
        We were close to one of the fires and were closely watching the evacuation orders. The reality of it seemed surreal. When the order was cancelled, I felt like I was getting sick from all the anxiety!
        I hope you are well and staying near the a/c. It’s been triple digits in SoCal.
        The wildlife habitat sounds useful, but your’e right that we don’t have ample water supply to keep them growing lush and well. CA is a great place to grow succulents and plants for hot, dry weather. My black thumb even manages to kill succulents. lol.

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      • Oh no, sorry to hear the wildfires were so close to you, in danger of evacuation. It must be nerve racking. Yes, the weather is cooling off. It was 69F at 9:00 am here.

        It’s not easy to plant a garden and do it yourself in CA. Many of my friends just have gardeners to do it. I started doing gardening 30+ years ago. Now my husband mow the lawn since his retirement a few years ago.

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      • The wildfires were scary and still ongoing. The smoke smell is still lingering in the air. The good news is that it’s contained. whew! A whirlwind experience.
        If gardening becomes too tedious for you, then you could hire a gardener. But it seems like an enjoyable hobby for you, so keep going! 30 years of gardening experience probably gave you as much or more knowledge about tending plants than a gardener. The convenience of hiring someone sounds tempting though.
        Have a great start to a new week and the beginning of September. Yikes, summer went fast. Soon the days will grow shorter…

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      • When there was a fierce wildfire near my daughter’s home, people closed all the windows. I visited her shortly after that, the smoke filter the sun and I could look right into it. I took photos of the sun and it was like a blood sun.
        Yeah, gardening is my hobby and I enjoy doing it and it makes me relax.
        It gets dark earlier and earlier now. I go for walks after dinner, used to get home at 8 p.m. and now it gets dark at 7:30.

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      • Miriam, I really like your explanation of what the air was like! Yes, “the smoke filter the sun” and that you could look right at it.
        The days are getting shorter and cooler at night. Don’t know if we’ll be able to visit the pumpkin patch this year…i hope we can.

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      • I hope they can go to the pumpkin patch this year! It’s a fun tradition for children and the pictures come out great against the orange and farm background.
        We have different sizes of pumpkin patches in this area. The large ones are more fun with larger bales of hay, train rides, and nature. There’s nature and ample outdoor space so I worry less about kids catching cold or the flu. I don’t know what will happen this year with COVID. This year is a year of changes.
        I do hope your grandbabies get to go! It’s a great photo op.

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    • I was actually going to message you to wish you a good trip. My memory of dates is hazy but 21st I remembered.
      I hope you have a wonderful trip!! So exciting to meet your new granddaughter and to see familiar faces. Your heart must be aflutter and you will fall in love with the baby instantly. Wishing you fabulous family time and loving on your daughter’s family. Stay well and safe travels. hugs…

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      • Thank you, Esther! Nora greeted me with smile and talking. My older granddaughter came back from camping trip with my son-in-law. My daughter had her in the car when coming to pick me up. She was tired and sleeping.

        My daughter stayed home with Nora while they were gone. It was good for all.

        I did something with Autumn after dinner. She put glue on some pictures and glued them on paper by alphabets.

        She made a list of things she wants to do with me. That was cute. She’ll be three next month.

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      • Hi Miriam!! I’m so happy that you finally got to meet Nora and reconnect with your daughter’s family. There must be a lot of love in that home.
        I bet Autumn is thrilled to have grandma to play with. Grandma’s attention and love are the best. Oh, she’s a little one. That age is sweet and the way they talk and carry themselves is adorable.
        Have fun making memories!

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      • Thank you, Esther. When we were having breakfast and talking, Autumn asked her dad, “What are you talking about?” It made me laugh. She talked in long and complete sentences.

        Nora is a happy child, smiles a lot. It has been great being here. I’m going home tomorrow, and will be back next month.

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      • You’re probably back in CA now. I hope the trip was wonderful.
        Almost 3 year olds are interesting little people. You expect them to talk like babies, but when they talk in sentences and interact with grown ups, it’s surprising. You wonder where they learned to talk like that!!
        I’m sure Autumn is absorbing everything said and seen around her.
        Love Nora’s name. Very pretty. Happy you got to see her and will see her again soon.

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      • Sorry for responding late. I was busy with gardening after I came back. Need to do a lot before winter.

        Thank you for your comment. I was very happy to see them. My husband will be going also on our next trip for Autumn’s birthday.

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      • No worries~ there’s so much to do after coming home from a trip. I hope your gardening is going well and will be ready for winter.
        Next time you see Nora, she would’ve grown a bit more. Babies grow quickly. How cool that Autumn celebrates her birthday with grandma and grandpa!

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  2. These are some beautiful photos, Esther! Thank you for sharing them. This really spoke to me:

    “But a source of peace for me is being around trees and living things that ask nothing of me. When I feel discouraged, turning to God’s creation shows me his goodness, depth and breath of his glory, and his endless creativity that he holds together.”

    This is peace and simplicity at its finest. I just realized that you live in San Francisco. I didn’t notice before, but no wonder why you’re surrounded by so much beauty, for San Fran is stunningly beautiful! I’ve always wanted to visit.

    Here’s to a blessed weekend.

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    • Thank you Diane for your comment and support of my photos!! I do love nature and the feelings it gives me of peace, freedom, and wildness. God makes some beautiful stuff to bloom and blossom.
      Is that my writing you quoted? I had to read it again…I wasn’t sure. Thank you.
      I live in San Jose, about an hour south of SF. There is a lot of beautiful places here. I hope you do visit one day, just not this year. It’s a mess with the wildfires going on and as you know the scary COVID situation.
      Can 2021 come sooner?!
      Have a great Tuesday and hope your health is well!

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      • You’re welcome, my friend! I can see how much you love nature and it’s a beautiful feeling. Yes, He certainly does and it surely was your writing. You’re welcome. πŸ’™

        I’ve heard only wonderful things about San Jose! I hope I can visit one day as well. It’s been on my travel list for so long. Haha! Right!

        Thank you and I trust that you’re having a great week.

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      • That’s awesome! If you do visit, please let me know. It’ll be great to meet a friend blogger from virtual to real.
        I forget, where do you reside?
        Thank you, having a good week. God has been helping me survive the demands of the first week of homeschooling, ongoing housework, and not getting sick. God works in small ways to show me that He helps me daily.
        And thank you for your comment! I do love nature for its prettiness and in understanding how big our God is.
        Stay well and take care!!

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      • Of course, I’ll let you know! I reside in Trinidad. I’m glad that you’re having a good week and God is by your side every step of the way. He certainly does!

        You’re welcome! That’s exactly what nature do for us. Thank you and same to you! πŸ’™

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      • Oh you live in Trinidad! I have a friend in NYC who was from there: we were part of the same bible study group at school. We all had similar struggles getting through school, so all the students became good friends.
        He graduated with his Ph.D. and has been a chemistry professor since at Hunter University. Wish we learned more about his culture but we were so busy with making it out alive from school that we just talked about personal struggles. All kinds of different life seasons!

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      • That’s wonderful! It’s always good to make friends from around the world.

        Well, that’s amazing! I hoped to start a category on our culture some months ago, but I didn’t get the time to actually plan it. However, it’s stories such as these that makes the world go round. πŸ’™

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      • That blog idea sounds interesting. Maybe you could have other people from Trinidad contribute too to share their photos on your blog. Just an idea…take your time to plan.
        Thank you for your sweet comment! Stories of people we meet do make the world go round.

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  3. Serenity is certainly conveyed here in this post Esther … I like the photos and that sculpture of mother and child at the hospital is very nice and calming, which is a good thing at a pediatric hospital where nerves are on edge. I have been to the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco when I took the California coast tour back in 1980. I enjoyed that tour. I’ve been hearing lots of reports about California wildfires and evacuations and I have my fingers crossed that you are not a part of this evacuation.

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    • Hi Linda, sorry for my very late reply! It’s been hectic the past few days with the wildfires and the possibility of evacuation. The fires were near us and the air quality is still awful. The possibility of another lightning storm on Sunday through Monday got all of us rattled. It’s so dry here, making wildfire sparks possible. No evacuation thankfully and fires near us seem to be contained.
      Serenity I did not have last weekend. But I’m doing better now. And I’m so glad you liked the pictures. Thank you! Your California coast tour hit all the major spots here. The tour company did a comprehensive tour.
      The sculpture at the hospital always tug at my heart. That’s a model of what you want to feel with your kid after the hospital drama. The hospital makes so much effort to bring peace and calm to patients and their families.

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      • I was starting to worry – I figured you likely had evacuated due to all the news I heard about the lightning strikes – they are saying the fires are the worse than ever because of the lightning strikes. Do you have to water your property to keep it wet enough to avoid any sparks? I hope the worst is over for you and I’m guessing you do not go out of the house due to the bad air quality either. Yes, it was a very comprehensive tour and I enjoyed it … they did a wonderful job and I met some nice people which is always good since I traveled alone. That was a moving sculpture. I will keep your family in my prayers and thoughts.

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      • The dry lightning strikes sparked these fires. It caught us off guard, because we were just coping with the triple digit heat. But dang, those bolts lit up the sky and the sounds fierce.
        There was no word on watering the property….probably just evacuate when you get the alert. The air quality has improved with cooler temps recently but it’ll probably stay poor quality for a while.
        Glad you came on that tour when you did, because who knows when that kind of service will be available. Even if it, will they be safe with COVID and all that stuff?! Thank you for your prayers…

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      • I continue to keep you in my prayers – what a horrible year for weather. I guess they lucked out with Hurricane Laura today; it was anticipated to be much greater damage (despite the devastation I saw and death). The dry lightning strikes … too bad there is not a way to halt them.

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      • Thank you Linda!! This year has been a year of awful news in human history. The weather has been fickle. Hope we make it safely through the rest of this year with flu season coming upon us, as well as winter weather. God help us all!!! Stay well…you mentioned it would be another heat wave where you are! Hugs…

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      • The heat here will pass eventually – we are not dealing with anything like California or Louisiana with their disastrous situations. The weather has been so volatile everywhere – I watched a clip of the devastation in Louisiana from Hurricane Laura – amazingly, a house went off its moorings and landed on a sidewalk, then floated in the water. I can’t imagine. And a pandemic underlying all of it. Stay safe there – hugs back to you Esther.

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      • The devastation is great. I just saw an instagram post of the impacts the flood in Pakistan is having in that area…people waist high in water, cars disappearing under the rising waters.
        It must be so tough and heartbreaking. No words really to understand the extent of their pain. Let’s stay thankful for staying healthy in this climate!

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      • Yes, some of the floods from monsoons in India in the past have just been amazing. A fellow blogger who is Pakistani has mentioned the floods they have in the past. So sad and then I feel badly for whining about our weather yesterday.

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      • It must be frightening when rain pours till there’s that much flooding. It could be so much worse for us, right?! Must stay thankful each day for another day. Hope you have a great start to the week and transition into September.

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      • I know flooding is bad, and people drown, or vehicles and houses are lost, but I have to think that the wildfires seem scarier to me … the devastation seems greater and more powerful when you think of all the trees, many years old, falling. I hope that the new month brings peace from Mother Nature’s ravages in your part of the world.

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      • Flooding is awful and dangerous! Cannot take nature’s fury lightly. I hope the next few months left of 2020 will be noneventful. We had a heat wave warning for this weekend and on Monday it will be 101 degrees.
        Hope your weather is better and tolerable! Have a great Labor Day weekend.

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      • Yes, Mother Nature has ramped up everything this year it seems – is it climate change or Mother Nature having a bad day? You have a great Labor Day holiday as well Esther.

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  4. Esther, I’m sorry you have wildfires near you. We started the year with fires and then had to deal with the pandemic. And now you’re enduring fires and the virus at the same time. Life can look bleak at times, can’t it? It’s easy to feel discouraged. Your photos are beautiful. I love sculptures. The one of the mother and child is delightful!

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    • Hi Sue, thank you for stopping by and for your comment. It’s crazy the amount of stuff the world is going through this year.
      You must’ve been frightened too with the fires and then the pandemic setting in! And we’re going through the same thing over on this side of the world.
      I agree: life can seem bleak and out of control. It came out of nowhere and it rattled us all with possible evacuation orders and packing your bags. It felt unreal. Thankfully, we are ok for now. Hoping the winds don’t start up and we get some much needed rainfall.
      I’m so happy you enjoyed the serenity photos! Thank you for your kind comment.
      The mother and child sculpture is my personal favorite!
      Hope you are having a good last week of August. Take care and talk soon. πŸ™‚

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  5. Esther, your photos are so beautiful and peaceful. I’m sorry your state is having such a hard time right now. I’m glad you find peaceful moments in nature. Praying for your continued optimism and strength.

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    • Thank you Erin for your kind and encouraging comment!! Appreciate it.
      CA. got over 10,000 lightning strikes in one night over a week ago. With our dry grounds and drought, that set the wildfires off. It is scary since this is the first time it’s burning close to home. I read that we’ve had over 200 lightning strikes occurred last night, probably in another county. Yikes!
      But God is good and I am trying to have faith that He is God and I am not.
      Thanks Erin for stopping by and for sharing your sweet thoughts!! Have a great Tuesday and take care. πŸ™‚

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