a place of repose and inexhaustible beauty

On a brisk afternoon last November, I drove to the post office to mail a package. Walking back to my car, I spied a sycamore leaf on the sidewalk. Scooping it up, I examined its interesting form and delicate coloration. The leaf was something most passersby would likely overlook. To me, it was a botanical specimen, its unique shape rendered all the more interesting in juxtaposition to the angular stretch of sidewalk on which it rested. I ferried my little treasure home, traced its outline on paper, cut out the shape, and added it to my growing collection of leaf templates.

I began collecting leaf samples in the autumn of 2014, reasoning that someday I would enjoy having the outlines of real leaves to use in some future sewing or art project. My interest in leaf shapes over the past few years has made me develop a true reverence for them. The more closely I study the intricacies of nature, the more I’m enthralled. I think this has always been true of me. Nature whispers my name and bids me draw close, and closer still…

Because I wanted to preserve late autumn loveliness, I decided to design hand-beaded leaf ornaments as Christmas gifts for our children. Happy with the concept, I wandered around our property, plucking leaf-jewels from the grass, considering which kind of leaf would make the most fitting gift for each child.

A stalwart symbol of fortitude, a white oak leaf was my immediate choice for our youngest daughter, who moved far from home last August. The white oak is not only the state tree of Illinois, it’s also a reminder of our home, which nestles on a hillside heavily populated with oaks of various kind.

A red serviceberry leaf was my choice for our son and his wife. Like the white oak, the serviceberry is native to Illinois. When our future daughter-in-law first visited us in April of 2011, she and our son posed for a photo beneath the white-blossomed boughs of our serviceberry, an airy tree that forms a lacy canopy over our garden arbor bench.

I selected a yellow river birch leaf for our oldest daughter. While the river birch isn’t native to Illinois, it’s certainly a familiar icon of home. When our family moved to this house, we planted a river birch that has become the focal point of our front yard. Also, although many miles and state lines divide us, we and our oldest daughter both live beside the Mississippi. Because a deep flowing river connects her to us, a river birch leaf seemed just the right choice.

These hand-beaded leaves, traced from actual leaves gathered from around our property, were my favorite Christmas offerings to our far-flung children. I hope these small tokens of love will remind them of our strong family roots and encourage them to be attentive to nature’s loveliness…


My family and I redesigned our Christmas tree this year. We left in boxes the baubles of previous decades and invented a new, woodland tree. At the top, we hung a simple star of braided straw, and a graceful papier-mâché bird with outstretched wing. We tucked among the branches a fox, a deer, a raccoon, a pair of winter-white wrens, a glistening acorn. There was a delicate sprinkling of wooden stars, and a quiet cascade of wooden snowflakes. Gone, the bright-beaded garland of yesteryear. In its place, the soft glow of undulating gold ribbon, gleaming like late summer sun on the Mississippi…




Before Christmas dinner, my loved ones clasped hands beside the sparkling tree. All heads bowed to hear once again the familiar words of my mother’s lovely Christmas benediction. I read the words aloud for the first time without tears… Ours was a sweet, simple, natural, joyful, meaningful Christmas. I’ll cherish its memory always.


All too quickly, the holidays have come and gone. Our beloved children are back once again in their respective cities. As I write, freezing rain taps at the window. Glancing up, I notice our metal peace dove. She hangs from a prominent bough in our Japanese maple. With a coating of ice on her wings, the dove teeters precariously, just as peace seems to teeter in this uncertain world.

Braving the icy onslaught, our peace dove maintains a resolute southward gaze, as if focusing her vision on warmth, kindness, light, growth, renewal. In her beak she holds something precious: a leaf! It makes me smile… Her wings are spread wide, inviting me to rise with her above the heaviness of the fabricated world and soar free in the true one.

My true world is the real world: the world of nature –a place of repose and inexhaustible beauty where all are welcomed home.



Postscript: For those of you who enjoy reading my occasional musings, I apologize for posting them so infrequently. Since 2015, I’ve been studying embroidery, which has equipped me with a fascinating new means of expressing myself. I’m happy as can be with my needle in hand, but embroidering more has meant that I’m writing here less. I still have things to say, however, so stay tuned! If you’d care to connect with me on Instagram, I maintain a regular presence there. My account carries the same name as this blog: mypathwithstarsbestrewn .

My best wishes to all for a beautiful, nature-filled 2018! xo

12 thoughts on “a place of repose and inexhaustible beauty

  1. Love the gift of handmade leaves you chose to make for your children, the woodland Christmas tree and your beautiful poetic writing! Your posts always fill my heart.

  2. Amy, your talent in bringing out God’s beauty even more to us is wonderful! In words and in picture/design. Your family is so blessed to have you in their lives to share this beauty with them from the love in your heart. It is so very touching! I know that they fill your heart with love, too. It’s the way God designed it. How blessed are you all! xoxo

    • They certainly do fill my heart with love, Kathi! Your kind words are much appreciated. Thank you, and all my best wishes to you and your family in 2018. xoxo

  3. simply beautiful. i love the new tree, the gold ribbon threaded through, the idea of using nature as your actual template, and of course of course the needle-and-thread art. what a beautiful gift for your beautiful flock. i love that your world, your natural world, comes to find you wherever you are. i love the image of all you circled round that quiet woodland tree, the air broken only by the sound of your voice reading your mama’s words…..

    an epiphany gift for all of us……thank you.

    • Thank you, dear friend, for joining me here in my quiet woodland reverie. I love sharing my heart with one as tender and generous as yours. Blessings~ xxoo

  4. Oh goodness. This is all absolutely amazing, Amy. How blessed are your children to have a mother that shows them the way as you do. May the new year bring you many blessings via needle and word. xoxoxo

    • Thank you, dear Nan, for your kindness. The new year sounds so lovely when I think in terms of needle and word! And friendship. Much love to you, my friend! xoxo

  5. This is exquisite on so many levels. As I read this I felt peace, joy, love, gratitude, beauty, and tranquility. Thank you for sharing your gifts with all of us. Happy new year to you and your family, Amy. ❤

    • I so love sharing my thoughts and my work with you, gentle friend. Thank you so much for the gift of your loving kindness. Wishing you joy in the new year ahead! x o x o

  6. Dear Amy, Waking in the early morning hours unable to return to slumberland after a horrficly stressful week, I stumbled upon your beautifully spoken chosen words which connected my soul with yours as I read your poetic and all so inspiring post — you reconnected me with what I treasure dearly family, art and nature. Thank you for sharing your gifts and heart, your family is fortunate to hold your presence in their hearts. My best, Loretta

    • Loretta, what a lovely message. Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s a good feeling to know my small offering here has resonated with you. Thank you for letting me know! Hoping all stress is behind you now so that you can reconnect with the things you cherish most. All my best wishes to you. xo

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