for the weekend | an outing to the garden shop


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When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
   but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Mary Oliver, When I Am Among the Trees

Summer is always hot and sticky in the South, and this one is proving the same. My bedroom windows face the rising sun, and on my favorite mornings I am in bed long enough to wake to it. Even then it is hot outside, but I try to make my way out of the door anyway while the light is still sleepy. We do not live among the mountains or near a cold river or the sea. But we have the morning and the evening and of course also the green trees. And that is enough to fill me with hints of gladness, and to teach me how to walk slowly and bow often, as Oliver writes. And so I take a brief walk twice a day, once to begin and the other to close it.

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Yesterday morning, while the boys finished their breakfasts and morning readings, the girls and I visited our local garden shop. We are planting new ivy for our backyard wall and also a late-season garden. Although it feels odd to be planting in the peak heat, sometimes sewing new life into the hardest circumstances sews life into the soul as well. So we walked about the shop’s property yesterday, noticing the sun-loving blooms and vines. We took refuge in the potting shed, grateful for the mid-morning shade. When we grew tired, we paused near the pond and enjoyed the sound of water running over the fountains. Beauty truly can be found in the smallest places.

As I consider the remaining summer days (and months!), I’m learning how to find joy in these types of simple moments and outings. As it turns, my children are learning the same. Of course, our favorite summer activities this time of year revolve around water, but without a backyard pool or pond or ocean, water activities need to be planned in advance for travel or with friends. The garden shop can be a place to play outdoors, to experience a variety of plant life at once, and to inspire a personal garden space. For me, it was a place to visit and be filled.

This post is in partnership with MUNY, a Brooklyn clothier creating handwoven, hand-printed clothing for women and children. Cloistered Away readers can save 25% off of anything in the 2016 line before July 15 using the code summer25. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep this space afloat. 

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  1. I have been dying to go to the Antique Rose Emporium this season but haven’t for all the typical guilt-ridden mother reasons. We’re going tomorrow. Do you mind sharing where your family was in the above pictures? We live in the same area, and I’m excited to possibly discover a new beautiful place to rest.

  2. always refreshed with your desire for simpler, crisper, slower days. your mantra to walk twice during the day – allowing movement, but at an enjoyable pace – is something i am adopting and trying to flesh out in my days.

    i, too, love heading to the local nurseries, rain or shine (thought our heat is nothing in comparison!). it’s inspiring to see something that was once a seed, bloom and give the joy you spoke of. life is so beautiful. thanks for reminding me to savor and take in in all of its moments today.

    bisous xo

  3. Oh Bethany, these pictures are beautiful, and the words so dreamy! Love the poem! I am so ready for the summer break now… We still have another two weeks to go and I’m counting down to a slower pace of life!

  4. Dear Bethany, thanks for the wonderful pics that show the dresses so well. And I love your thoughts and reflections…
    I noticed that Olive has the same face and smile as you…
    I also noticed your saltwater sandals. I had red ones that I wore every summer for 5 years. Its time to get new ones. Maybe tan this time…;)
    Enjoy the rest of the summer. xx

  5. I live at the base of the mountains and still seek to be outdoors early or late. My favorite is eveningtide when all the trees are back-lit from the sun as it starts its slow descent among the peaks. It’s perfection.
    I was gifted with 70+ Italian terra cotta pots last weekend. They’ve sat in the corner of a defunct greenhouse for decades. It took hours to clean them up, but now they are stacked on the shelves in my greenhouse holding the promises of new life and leaves for when it is time to plant again.

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