Wordless Wednesday: A Dash of Dazzle

a goldfinch munching on lavender seed heads in Winter
a goldfinch eating lavender seed heads in Winter

Lavender has a lovely scent and it provides food for bees and other insects from Spring to late Summer. We leave the lavender stems after flowering so that Goldfinches can feed on the seed heads in Winter. It’s a delight to see these lovely birds in the garden at this time of year.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/6.3 – 1/60 s – ISO 800, f/6.5 – 1/80 s – ISO 1000 and f/6.5 – 1/50 s – ISO 800.

Wordless Wednesday

Word of the Day Challenge: Dazzling

Looking Back at 2020: Thank you for the Love

The year began full of promise and we had a new pair of swans moving into the river before any of us had heard of Covid-19. Two days into Spring we went into lockdown and travel restrictions weren’t lifted until early July.

Many of us had to find new ways of working and being and I want to thank all of you who shine a light and are an inspiration to others.

The emphasis this year was on collaboration and I contributed forty-eight poems to a variety of journals, videos, anthologies and works of art.

My heartfelt gratitude for all our readers who read, comment and share our posts on social media. Below are the ones you liked best, together with some other highlights from each season.

redshank snoozing and sunning on tidal sands

We went into full lockdown on 23 March 2020 and focused on the beauty found in our local environment. In late Spring we revisited, virtually, a lovely fishing village we had travelled to the previous December in The Pier at Findochty. This was the most popular post in Spring and would become the most popular post of the year.

The other most popular posts in Spring were Lily of the Valley, Pink Flow, Lunaria Annua, Little Blue Flower and Yellow Curve.

Spring also saw haiku poets from around the world contribute to EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2020 in honour of the Year of the Nurse. I contributed six haiku to this collaboration, two of which were later anthologised.

macro shot of a bumble bee feeding on lavender, seen from behind

Travel restrictions were lifted at the beginning of July and the Highlands were crowded with tourists from other parts of the country. We waited for everything to settle and did more virtual travelling, this time to Belfast, in order to pay homage to one of the teachers who inspired me in A Moment of Inspiration.

The other five most popular posts in the Summer were Angel’s Share, Morning Glory, Earthlight, Sweet Inspiration and Summer Meadow.

Summer also saw me guest-host the Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge on the theme of Sanctuary.

two swans with three young cygnets on the river

In Autumn we entered a Tier system according to the number of Covid-19 infections and people from higher tiers were prevented from travelling to lower tiers. This resulted in a huge reduction of tourists and we could walk more safely throughout the Highlands, which was in Tier 1, without running into visitors from high Covid areas.

The most popular posts in Autumn were Truly Tranquil, Walking Wonderland, Starlings on the Roof, Highland Heather, Along the Loch Shore and Harvest Moon.

Autumn also saw the publication of The Helping Hand Haiku Anthology, edited by Robert Epstein, which includes three of my poems, Bundled Wildflowers, edited by Bryan Rickert, which includes one of my poems and the Dutch anthology Aan het Woord 2020, edited by Ferre Denis, Maria de Bie and Nol Hovens, which includes three of my poems. In addition, one new poem was featured in the Haiku-kantelkalender (Haiku Calendar) 2021, edited by Ferre Denis. Falling Petals received an honourable mention in the International Section of the 2020 Haiku Invitational at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival and ten haiku were featured in the World Haiku Series with Japanese Translations by Mr Hidenori Hiruta.

a red squirrel on a wooden squirrel feeder in a pine tree

After a busy Autumn we stayed closer to home as Winter rolled in and the temperatures dropped. It became a time for Christmas socials via Zoom and catching up with friends at a safe social distance.

The most popular posts in Winter were Treasures, The Name of the Flower, Making Lemonade, All Souls’ Night, Lines at Dusk and When Winter Melts Away.

Winter also saw forty of my images published in Frameless Sky Issue 13 where I was the Featured Artist and the release of the beautiful anthology Dance Into the Light, edited by Michael Dylan Welch, featuring one of my poems.

A very big thank you to the editors and publishers who featured my work throughout the year.

seagulls feeding in the surf

This has been a year like no other and we sadly lost a number of friends and members of our writing community to Covid-19 and to cancer without being able to say goodbye in the way we normally would.

It has also been a year of growing and connecting in new ways and of communities coming together.

A huge thank you to Frank, Kristjaan, Misky, Ronovan and the team at dVerse Poets for your inspiring poetry prompts, to Brian, Christine, Emily, Heather, Katherine, Ping, Punam, Kristian and Sheryl for your wonderful word prompts and to Becca, Cee, Jez, Lisa, Paula, Sue & Gerry, Terri and Amy, Ann-Christine, Patti & Tina for your fabulous photographic prompts.

We leave with you a song by Show of Hands that seems fitting for our times:

Thank you again for the love and we wish you all a blessed, healthy and happy 2021.

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Your Daily Word Prompt: Tidings

Word of the Day Challenge: Wishes

Sunday Stills: Your 2020 Retrospective

Silent Sunday: Alba

close up of autumn heather and lichen
view across the glen towards the Cairngorms in autumn

We wish you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/4 – 1/200 s – ISO 160 and f/2.8 – 1/160 s – ISO 100.

Silent Sunday

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #126: Alphabet Challenge – Letter A

Word of the Day Challenge: Legendary

Wordless Wednesday: As Nature Unravels

brown heather and grass in autumn with a dead tree
north shore of Lochan Deo with leafless shrubs and golden grass

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/60 s – ISO 160, f/2.8 – 1/80 s – ISO 320 and f/2.8 – 1/60 s – ISO 320.

Wordless Wednesday

Jez Braithwaite’s Water Water Everywhere #53

Word of the Day Challenge: Natural

Tanka: Ambient

an abandoned shed in the woods

blackbirds sing
around the cobwebbed shed
a key turns
for a glimpse of you
tapping and chiselling wood

© Xenia Tran

an abandoned shed in the woods

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/80 s – ISO 400, f/2.8 – 1/160 s – ISO 500 and f/2.8 – 1/80 s – ISO 250.

Ambient was first published in Ribbons, Fall 2020: Volume 16, Number 3. A very big thank you to Michael McClintock and the team at Ribbons for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #125: You Pick It

Your Daily Word Prompt: Ambient

Word of the Day Challenge: Architecture

Haiku: Harvest Moon

zoomed image of Harvest Moon behind side of a pylon

harvest moon
climbing a pylon
in the night sky

© Xenia Tran

harvest moon glowing gold in a dark night sky

Thank you again for all your good wishes before we went on our blogging break and we hope you had a good week too.

These images were taken a couple of nights ago when the moon had a lovely glow.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday and happy moon-gazing when we see the full moon tomorrow,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Frank J Tassone’s Weekly Haikai Challenge #158: Harvest Moon

Word of the Day Challenge: Sustain

Thursday’s Special: Pick A Word 2020-2 (Lunar)

Silent Sunday: Sunlit Roses

macro shot of a coral and pink rose
close-up shot of a coral and pink rose in the evening sun

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/3.5 – 1/800 s – ISO 100, f/3.5 – 1/2000 s – ISO 160 and f/3.5 – 1/640 s – ISO 100.

Silent Sunday

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Sue’s Weekly Prompt: Weekend Challenge – Flower Power

Word of the Day Challenge: Garden

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #108: Sanctuary

Create a sanctuary within yourself where you can go anytime you want to
(Shakti Gawain)

an ancient pine overhanging a mountain stream with a wooden bridge behind it

Your sanctuary is your ideal place of relaxation, tranquillity and safety and you can create it exactly as you want it (Shakti Gawain)

Welcome to the Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge, where Patti, Tina, Amy and Ann-Christine kindly invited me to guest-host this week.

Here in the Scottish Highlands we spent more than a hundred days in lockdown where both our home and our community became our sanctuary during the Covid-19 crisis.

We are blessed that we live in a loving home and in a caring community. We have been reaching out to those who are less fortunate, those for whom home is not the safest place to be.

two swans with three young cygnets on the river

These people have been offered sanctuary with another loving family, with extended family members, neighbours, teachers or in solitude.

thistles, wild wheat and grasses in the dunes

Sanctuary can be found and created in a garden, a park, a field of wild flowers and by the sea …

a house sparrow feeding on wild wheat

… watching wildlife, listening to birdsong …

Cairngorms National Park in Summer, a view across Glenmore

… along the forest trails and in the mountains.

This week we invite you to share what Sanctuary means to you, where you find it or how you create your place of calm and healing. In your post, please make sure you include a link to this challenge and use the Lens-Artists tag so we can find your post in the WP Reader.

Last week, you shared your wonderful images of Winter for Ann-Christine’s challenge. Many thanks Ann-Christine for hosting last week’s challenge and to all of you who contributed your amazing images of this beautiful season of snow and contemplation.

Have you seen these?

  • Abrie (Abrie Dink Hardop) takes us on a breath-taking Winter expedition in South Africa and shares a potential front cover for his memoir in Conquering Africa – A Winter Expedition
  • Yan Balczewski (From Hiding to Blogging) shares some beautiful frost flowers in Polar Vortex
  • Rupali (mazeepuran) shows us a magical Norwegian Winter and a poignant sculpture titled ‘Peace is a Promise of the Future’ in Fred er løfte om fremtid

What’s up next week? Stay tuned on 8 August when Amy will be hosting LAPC #109.

Wishing you all a wonderful and creative week ahead and I look forward to your submissions!

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #108: Sanctuary

Word of the Day Challenge: Introducing

Tanka: Meadowsweet and Thistle

a swan family preening and relaxing in a moat

shaded meadow
a range of flowers
surrounds our nest
the lockdown gives us time
to see each other clearly

© Xenia Tran

a smiling crow looking at the camera

Meadowsweet and Thistle was first published in Ribbons, Spring/Summer 2020: Volume 16, Number 2. A very big thank you to Christine L Villa and the team at Ribbons for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Wishing you all a blessed Wednesday and a wonderful rest of the week,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/5 – 1/200 s – ISO 125, f/5.6 – 1/320 s – ISO 200 and f/6.5 – 1/250 s – ISO 100.

Frank J Tassone’s Weekly Haikai Challenge #148: Summer Meadow

Your Daily Word Prompt: Connote

Word of the Day Challenge: Grace

dVerse Poets: Open Link Night #270

A further selection of recent publications in online and print journals can be found here:

Wordless Wednesday: Currants and Berries

close up of a ripening gooseberry in the evening sun
close up of ripening gooseberry in the evening sun

The clean air during the lockdown is helping the fruits in our garden grow better than ever.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday and may you stay safe and well,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Lumix Panasonic FZ200, Settings: f/3.5 – 1/2000 s – ISO 100 and f/3.5 – 1/1250 s – ISO 100.

Wordless Wednesday

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Word of the Day Challenge: Golden