Nature as a Tonic in Difficult Times



The passage of time is  fleeting and volatile, I find it going so fast, and this last week’s events, and the rapid change have only reinforced this. Time moves so quickly, what was a current post or theme, in 2 seconds is old news – or actually perhaps it isn’t…..let me explain.

This post first started out as an ode to the spectacular beauty of autumn. Travel, Halloween and various other distractions took over that world, but nothing like the diversion that the national election in America was this past week. As you know, usually I ignore all subjects except design and my concept of beauty, because there are experts in their own fields such as politics, but for all of us living through this election, it has been a disconcerting time, and to not say something about this monumental time would have you believe I’d been living under a rock, and I haven’t.

This was a difficult time in the US, with a level of vitriol and discourse, not witnessed before, at least certainly not in my time. These unchartered waters since November 9 have left many in a state of surprise, and as we are now witnessing, through protests and despair; many in our country are terribly unhappy. A shadow has been left over the nation, and I only hope that some of the remarkable grace shown by Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton and President Elect Donald Trump since the outcome was announced could be mirrored, enabling us to say we are all together as Americans, and we will try and make this work.

As architect Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” When in doubt, or sadness, I still think the beauty of nature is always inspiring and restorative – whether it encourages you to go on and fight for your beliefs, or promote the intention that we will go through a hopefully peaceful transition.

I’m providing these autumnal images as something to ponder, and prepare us for a favorite American holiday, Thanksgiving, as we still do have a lot to be thankful for.

In contemplation and peace,



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105 thoughts on “Nature as a Tonic in Difficult Times

  1. My life has literally reflected your post. This past week my only solace was to head outside, knowing Mother Nature has never let me down. I needed time to emotionally decompress and process, and submerging myself in the cacophany of colors and crunch that is autumn is the only thing that has given me relief. I am so grateful to have such a deep appreciation for all that is the Earth. May we work as hard as we can to keep her beautiful. Thank you for the limitless inspiration you give me to display her finery.

    • And thank you for your beautiful words, ‘cacophony of colors and crunch that is autumn’ is just the most perfect description! cr

  2. So beautifully said. I have had a difficult Summer, but I kept hiking through the woods and along Lake Michigan. My peaceful places. Autumn was so gorgeous this year!!! My first back here in 16 years. No matter our station, we can all find something to be thankful for.

      • I have been wondering how you fared during Matthew. I will be in Charleston in April.

        • Thanks for asking Margot, we were extremely lucky, and while the garden sustained quite a lot of damage, only the basement was flooded, with the rest of the house spared, cr

        • Can I guess that maybe one of your hikes takes you through and around The Clearing near Ellison Bay? If not, you owe it to yourself to go there. For the others reading this, The Clearing is an old old artists school set in the middle of the forest but hugging the rugged Green Bay coastline with beautiful buildings used for classes and lodging. Very cool.

  3. Hi Carolyn!
    This is the first post I have ever made! My friend Peter adores you and turned me on to your website. Your photographs are stunning! I love your floral arrangements! It looks like you brought the sunshine in, especially in the yellow hallway!
    Keep insipiring and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
    Marie Adamo

    • Welcome to the blog Marie, and thanks for your kind words – very happy to hear you enjoy these posts, cr

  4. So beautiful thank you.
    I trust we can all enjoy the beauty of nature like you have shown us.

  5. Hi Carolyn, a very thoughtful post. As I live in Munich I am not in the thick of things anymore but my heart goes out to all my fellow Americans. At Thanksgiving time my mind goes over the big pond with hope and appreciation. Thank you for reminding us that nature is truly a big healer.
    Enjoy the holidays and say hello to the turkey for me!

  6. Dearest Carolyne,

    Very wise words in a time of uncertainty bordering on possible anarchy. Yes you are most correct… we should be Grateful and Thankful for All the Gifts that Mother Nature gives us.

    However it is also with deep sadness that we listen to irresponsible and short sighted comments on the validity of “Global Warming”. It is with the Greatest concern and Regret to think that ALL the wonderful Gifts that Mother Nature selflessly gives us could be horribly destroyed by irresponsible and short sighted Leaders. We do sincerely HOPE that the selfishness and Greed of a few is not going to determine how our Children and future Generations will Live.

    I Thank You Sincerely and Kindly for the very very Good Work that You have done and are still doing. Never Stop….we all need You.

    With Warmest Regards


    • Thank you Pearl, I intend to keep going just as long as I can – I can’t imagine life any other way! cr

    • The most ridiculous signs I’ve ever seen were students holding ones saying, “Stop Climate Change!” Life has always been a swinging pendulum…be it politics, fashion, or weather! Let God handle the weather and everything will be ok. “Professing ourselves to be wise,” we have become ridiculous!

      • Pam the problm is not letting God handle the weather, the problem is what man does that impacts God’s weather.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to post, Carolyne. I always enjoy the beauty you offer so generously. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones. XOXOXO

  8. Inspiring as always! Thought of your beautiful aesthetic as I recently walked through chatsworth and the old vic. The paintings in the background reminded me of this.

  9. Thank you Carolyne for the exquisite images – Virginia Billeaud Anderson

  10. Life goes on regardless of political outcome.
    As a middle class woman, I lost considerable savings on my home sale.
    Watched my brother loose his job after 25 years to outsourcing and still have twins in high school.
    Have my 88 year old mother struggle to live independently on social security.
    Definitely understand why people wanted a political upheaval for change.
    Politically incorrect? Yes, but change nonetheless. May God grant us peaceful change.

    • Yes, you are right Charlotte, life does go on, and we just have to hope it’s peaceful. I’m sorry to hear about your recent challenges, but sounds like you have the right attitude to help you through, cr

    • Hello, Charlotte. Spot on. I am European born, and if you think the US is having problems, which we knew by the vacuum of the US in world affairs and the economic woes you are mentioning, you have no idea of the problems the EU is having in all fronts. The Welfare State is unsustainable in the long range. At least We The People understood it. Yes, Nature is the best antidote to clear the head. You see, Nature is the Creator on display telling us, “among all the upheaval, I am always with you. Keep the faith. Stay strong

  11. Your thoughts and feelings are kind and respectful of all the sides of these uncertain times. Your respect for every one’s feelings and emotions no matter who you voted for or against. We can only hope for peace and prosperity for all in our country. Happy Thanksgiving and as always love the flower arrangements.

  12. Carolyne, The above was beautifully stated…we throughout America are all feeling the same sentiments…focusing on nature and your gorgeous pics gives us another perspective. We have so many blessings to be thankful for in this era of change. Each and everyone of us makes a difference. We need to need to remember: World peace, joy, and love.
    Happy Thanksgiving! Meredith

  13. We consider ourselves inordinately fortunate to be on this earth at the same time as you. We feel the same way about Ralph Lauren. Gushing? Perhaps. But we wish to be succinct. To combine an unerring eye along with spiritual – of a sort, we wish of course no blasphemy nor do we believe would you – insight is remarkable. It elevates us. Thank you.

    Now a segue to the mentioned concept of grace, or at least our personal understanding of it. Appreciate the kind words regarding the three politicians, and if we may respectfully add to your gracious comment, politics being politics, no one is perfect as by definition the gloves are off throughout an election process. But our understanding would not include refusing to [graciously] concede to the winner once announced. To stage theatrics well after the opponent’s decisive moment of victory and with an unexplained extended delay no less was despicably poor sportsmanship particularly for a seasoned politician and spouse of a seasoned politician. In matching royal colors as though in a medieval court. It was an election not a coronation. Unprecedented. Inexcusable. And it embarrassed our country.

    To paraphrase David Geffen, blind ambition is not reason enough for a person to get the Presidency. It’s about the country, not an individual’s reward or personal journey. It’s not you, it’s us. The pronoun is plural. And the one person from whom we have never heard a sour grape would be our Vice President, who, had it not been for an overarching ego and entrenched sense of entitlement, would most likely have earned the post legitimately and with the purpose in mind of serving the American people. Yes his family would certainly have been proud; but they are already. Interpersonal and family validation carry no contingencies of professional performance.

    Thank you kindly for listening. We look forward to owning even more of your books in the years to come.

    • Hi Dee—do I have your name correct?– because I also see the M and was not sure. Thank you for your insights and thank you for liking my books. cr

  14. Hi Carolyn If you are aware of the magnificence of nature it can give you immeasurable strength. This is the core of Qi Gong and why I’ve come to understand that in the midst of chaos you can find peace. Many many years ago while In Art school I remember driving to school and realizing how my drawing courses have taught me also to look at this incredible landscape! And all the changes in each season. I am also a floral designer and still after 35 years in this wonderful career I’m still amazed! I just love the beauty of floral work whether just gathering beautiful cut flowers and greens from the garden or receiving a box of cut flowers for a
    party. I know you understand all this we are lucky ladies to have our lives surrounded with this beauty ! I love your posts and your designs still inspire me … Have a Wonderful Holiday Season
    Cindy Hubeny

    • Thank you Cindy, it’s always such an honor to hear I inspire someone….and yes, we are indeed lucky to be surrounded by such beauty, and I think even luckier to be able to pause and enjoy it, cr

  15. Let us not despair. We can be thankful that perhaps we have learned by the mistakes made in the election, and that we are all still here to soldier on. Look for silver linings. It was certainly a lovely autumn, and I enjoyed every minute of it, and looking forward to time with friends and relatives during the holiday season. As far as the decorative arts, it seems we are finally turning away from the drab coldness of the sterile modernity that has gripped interior design for the last 10 years. I’m seeing more and more return to tradition and warmth, and that makes me terribly happy and relieved. So let us be thankful for all the little things that please us and spend time with those that we love most.

  16. Thank you! Beautiful photos. We have much to be thankful for. Wishing you a Happy, Peaceful and Relaxing Thanksgiving!

  17. Dear Carolyne!
    I am Flor, from Spain. In my name and my friends name we want to give you thanks for everything. The flowers, the candles, the sense of quality without losing the confort of a calid home. We bought your books and watercolours with joy. Rosa is excellent, very warm, honest and very proud to be close to you. Our trip was perfect because travelling with friends is so nice.
    Please come to Spain! The four of us would be happy to give you what you worth it ❤️

    • Hi Flor–Rosa so enjoyed meeting you —and yes I have not been in Spain in years and long to come back to your beautiful country!!! cr

  18. A beautiful post Carolyne…colours for the heart and soul! I’m from across the pond but I like to think many good hands will steady the ship..America is a great nation with wonderful people! Very best wishes

  19. Good morning Carolyne, Your pictures are simply breathtaking! As I sit at my computer with my morning coffee, I reminisce about my childhood in New York and the beautiful autumns that I miss so much. Thank you for such beautiful pictures.


  20. We so needed your thoughts, so fair and unprejudiced, so many Americans have seemed to
    Have lost that ability. You are an inspiration in so many ways. You exemplify Truth is beauty..
    And always appreciating nature and things we take for granted—-the sun in he morning
    and the moon at night, and of course the beautiful stars! Wasn’t the super moon
    Glorious? Your flower arrangements bring color and happiness.

    June Emmert

    • Thank you June…I think appreciating all these moments is exactly what Lloyd Wright means. As for fair and unprejudiced, I certainly have my moments, but I do indeed try to make a habit of keeping an open mind, and use it as an opportunity to just keep on learning, cr

      • Yes, keeping an open mind and to keep on learning. I cannot imagine not wanting to learn.
        Learning is such a gift to have.

        Thank you Carolyn for your response!


        June Emmert

  21. What a treat to have a post from you this morning! A great inspiration to start my Thanksgiving preparations and nothing could be more inspiring than your beautiful arrangements and awesome pictures. So very true, we have so much to be thankful for. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

  22. You always do fabulous photography. This must be Aspen, CO. Your floral arrangements are wonderful also. Thanks for sharing these photos with the world. I’ve been a long time follower of your career and publications. Love to all your pups this Thanksgiving.

    • Thank you Colleen, and yes, those photos were taken in Aspen this autumn. I will send your love to my beloved furry friends! cr

  23. Thanks, Carolyn…as an East Coaster and a woman of substance you have lived long enough to meet and know all sorts of people with all sorts of perspectives. Some are conservative people, liberal people, rich people, poor people, old and young people, educated on a college level and those in the school of hard knocks. Today we have to add people who have moved from the fringe to the exposed and many who want to force their perspective on others.
    Our country ( and that’s the beauty of it) can embrace all and has to some degree or another done so, perhaps more slowly than desired. There is nothing wrong with our country that UNITED in our DIFFERENCES we can’t overcome.
    So, if more people view your beautiful Fall pictures they’ll be able to see how diverse Mother Nature is in our beloved land.

    • Thank you Barbara….if my pictures, in fact any of my work, can help in creating peace and acceptance, my mission is very much accomplished, and I truly can’t think of a better cause, cr

    • Hi Janet, unfortunately we can’t add you in, but it’s easy to do yourself – just go to the bottom right of the page and click on

  24. I’m always so pleased to see one of your post in my inbox. I walk most mornings through the local woods and I find it is a time for me to think, to reflect and to appreciate life.
    Your flower arrangements are gorgeous!

  25. Carolyne,
    Thank you so much for this beautiful post. These beautiful images do indeed make a difficult time more tolerable. As a designer myself I am by nature a visual person, and your posts are always so uplifting and we all need that now. Thank you again and have a spectacular Thanksgiving!!!!

  26. Beautiful. So true and so important. Thank you for sharing these gorgeous photo’s. Elaine and Bing Swanson

  27. Carolyne,
    I voted to restore “America the Beautiful!’ We were in grave danger of losing her. And the people have spoken, In four years they can voice their preferences once again. It’s the American way…
    Love, love, love your fabulous photography!

  28. Thank you Carolyn for an uplifting post at a time of terrible turmoil for our country. Beautiful nature and art will always be the place for solace, rejuvenation and the energy to regroup. Your photography and watercolours are stunning.

  29. Dear Carolyne – Photos are gorgeous as usual. As one who never uses the yellows in either my gardens or indoor arrangements, I may be rethinking that. The last photo you show is my fave – Absolute Magic ! Happy Thanksgiving

  30. A gift for my soul is the best phrase I can use to describe my feelings when your post arrived today. My heart is weary with the repercussions of this election. The morning after the election there was an open bloom on one of my gardenia trees. Nature speaking to me that all would be well. Your beautiful pictures of Aspen brought joy and hope. Sincere thanks and appreciation to you. Have a lovely Thanksgiving.

  31. You never fail to inspire me on so many levels. Your photos were spectacular. In my area, nature was a little disappointing this year. Not sure why, heat, drought, or what caused this, but when I spotted the lone yellow or red tree among the dingy brown, it was so breathtaking. My spirit has been bruised a little by the worldly happenings, but not so much that the future doesn’t look better to me than the past. Keep inspiring and lifting our spirits.

  32. When Mr. Obama was elected, no one gave me grief counseling, nor did I hit the streets and break things. Some how, tens of millions of us silently suffered through for 8 years of government overreach, economic decline, job loss, un-checked illegal immigration, and massive national debt. Mr. Obama sat in a church for years which defiled God and our country–to me, that is far more offensive than a man with a past history of a foul mouth. The left has fomented all of the divisiveness that we presently see. Why hasn’t our first African American president healed the racial divide in America? As for Mrs. Clinton, she is a pathological and unapologetic liar who has used her powerful positions in government to enrich herself and curry favor. It’s unacceptable. Americans are fed up with life-long politicians who live off the fat of the land, make rules for the rest of us which they don’t have to live under themselves (Obamacare), and lack any discernible career, talent, or contribution to the country. Americans chose a candidate who is admittedly rough around the edges, but at least Mr. Trump doesn’t have a track record of lies, deceit, wealth building while in public office, or corruption. I couldn’t be happier! Let’s give him a chance!

  33. Thank you for these gorgeous reminder photos of our luck at living in this great nation. I hope these photos serve as a little trophy for every person that feels wronged in the outcome of recent events. Get out in the garden and make things happen.

  34. Thank you so much for your beautiful articles and of course your beautiful flowers and plants and i have many
    of your table books and keep them out to enjoy, but have lived long enough to been through several presidents and elections and know we will all make it and life will go on and my hope for is that we can all come together and teach this to the younger people, that there will be disappointments in life and we have to be stronger for the real ones that life throws at us, like a sickness or loss of a loved one. Thank you Carolyn!

  35. Thank you for this great ray of sunshine and hope that that that it makes me feel less alone. Many of my artist friends and I have been posting that we cannot work because our minds are so troubled. I Believe that returning to nature is the key to finding our inner peace again not to mention blockingout any post of political nature . Maybe that is burying my head in the sand but it seems to be what I need right now .

    I think we all need to turn to what we love most and have some time of quiet reflection to restore our souls .

    • Deborah, could not agree with you more! When my friend was on the news at times – especially during the election, I would cover my ears and leave. Cannot take much of the yelling! cr

  36. Sometimes it does seem that manners and grace have been lost for good. That everyone feels they have the right to have tantrums and behave badly. It can be very disheartening. But beauty and nature heal. After just a few days at our cottage in the country, I could deal with it all again. Thanks for the lovely images.

    • You are right – beauty, nature and a few days at a country cottage sound like a remedy for most things! cr

  37. Dear Carolyne,

    Absolutely beautiful.
    I have just discovered you on Instagram. I am slow!
    Now I can keep more “up-to-date” with you.

    ???. Marie ???

    • Very glad you’ve discovered Instagram, though I am only relatively new to it myself, so that would count us both as slow! cr

  38. The way you expressed your thoughts on the election should be a guideline to many others.
    On Nov. 12th I had to walk from 54th and Madison to 41st and 5th Avenue , because 5th Ave. had to be closed off for those that thought only their voices should be heard. I just kept walking afraid to say anything, because I walk with a cane, and for the first time I felt really out of step with what could be the coming face of America. I had worried what the western states would do if President – Elect Trump had lost, not that the East and West coasts would forget their manners.
    Thank you, for the lovely photos. I am going to shamelessly copy on a much smaller scale your flower and leaf arrangements.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Lillie, what perfect words, thank you. Please copy away, shamelessly, I am so delighted to be of inspiration. Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving, cr

  39. CR
    It may be true, as the poem says “only God can make a tree,” but your beautiful arrangements improve on nature and make natural things even more beautiful. Thank you so much for all the loveliness you bring to our lives.

    • My dear traveling friend where ever you are thanks for the sweet words a big hug and safe travels cr

  40. Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for your wonderful ideas, gardening inspiration and uplifting words. Lynn

  41. Lot’s of wonderful photos. Thanks for that! 🙂
    I’m off to Maui for the first time..and hope to photograf lots of Tropicals and green foliage!
    If I can be half as good as the photos YOU take..I’ll be happy.
    Erik H.

    • Erik have a wonderful time!1 i love taking pictures Maui so hope you have a great picture taking time. I have never been to Maui one day I hope to go with my camera as well. Post your photos !!! Aloha cr

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