Monday, December 21, 2015


Under the thin shade of palo verde
my thoughts are carried
through quiet desert air.

The world beyond
slowly empties from my mind.
I am learning how to  concentrate, 
pay attention to God's creation,
and share it with you;
and now I invite you 
into this poem,
to witness...

how this light breeze
kisses the soft lips of poppy petals;

the way sunlight splashes the
foothills scattered with Saguaro,

or reddens the sandstone ridges;

to recall memory's 

silent treasures
being brought to light;
every year is
full of days being born,
again, and again;
all those yesterdays
giving birth to today
with hope for tomorrow.

What we see in nature is 
borrowed from our gift of days.
Carried now 
by the quiet music of poetry
into gentle souls, 
receptive and richly blessed.
© 2015 Richard Havenga

Photo Locations:

1. Catalina State Park - Tucson, Arizona 

2. Saguaro National Park - (West) - Tucson, Arizona

3. Pusch Ridge Wilderness - Ventana Canyon - Tucson, Arizona

Thursday, December 17, 2015


I close my curious eyes
for long seconds,
then quickly open them
to see again
the discernible change,
the expanding light
along the broad margin 
becoming daybreak;

the hope that comes 
with dawn,
and the blessing
of this new day.
© 2015 Richard Havenga

Photo Location: Home Woods - Cannonsburg, Michigan

Monday, December 14, 2015


Common Mergansers
still finding fish in winter
now searching upstream

© 2015 Richard Havenga

Photo Location:

Big Sable River - Ludington State Park - Ludington, Michigan 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cawing Crows

Crows are communicating
across wide acres of woods.
Cawing out suggestions
along the familiar route
established by the elders.

I listen intently,
trying to translate
and decipher the message,
but their language 
remains mystery.

All I know for sure,
is their steady,
rowing flight pattern,

their cooperation
in efficient flocks,

and their unforgettable feathers
glossy with blackness.
© 2015 Richard Havenga 

Photo Locations:

1, 2, 3, 4,  Grattan Township - Kent County, Michigan

5. Estero, Florida

Monday, December 7, 2015

Van Gogh

" Perhaps I shall begin to look about for greens." 

~ Vincent Van Gogh (to his brother Theo)

from: letters edited by Irving Stone (1873-1890)

book: Dear Theo - © 1937 by Irving Stone

Photo Locations:

1. Wabasis Lake Park - Kent County, Michigan

2. & 4. Pickerel Lake Park - Kent County, Michigan

3. Gunnison, Colorado

Monday, November 30, 2015


this western landscape
worthy of contemplation
and admiration

© 2015 Richard Havenga

Photo Location: Shoshone National Forest - Wyoming 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Walter Wangerin Jr.

"As a writer, I think it is my job to seek God in the common things; indeed, to believe that God is already in the common things ahead of and outside of me. This happens in three ways: first of all, to see the glory of God in the world, to perceive it, to find it,  sometimes to be stunned by the discovery of it when I hadn't been looking well enough. Second, having perceived it, to acknowledge it, to salute it, to be aware of it, to know it, to dance with it, to think about it, to engage with it — and having engaged with it, to give that glory back to God. The third part involves writing — or maybe I should say praise. Ultimately, it is my job to praise." 

~ Excerpt from: "Glory into Glory" presented at the "Festival of Faith and Writing" at Calvin College - Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2000.

Next event: Festival of Faith and Writing - April 14 - 16, 2016   @ Calvin College

Photo LocationGrand Detour, Illinois 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Green Fleece

In memory of Aaron Havenga (April 2, 1975 ~ November 20, 1994)

One precious memory of Aaron
becomes his favorite fleece jacket
that I still wear 
to welcome 
the coolness of autumn,
the cold of winter,
to recall his warm kindness.

Over forty years since you were born.
Twenty-one years today since you died.
Nineteen years we shared;
as you explored your own world,
pursued your own adventures.
Warmed by your green fleece,
clothed in our covering prayers.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
The same dark green fleece
our son Aaron wore when
he skied, biked, and hiked
his adventurous self
through the outdoors
in his late teens.

This green fleece
became mine
when he took
the ultimate trail
into another realm;
the heavenly kingdom.

I wear it to honor his life,
to try to feel a fragment of
the gratitude he now feels,
the glory he now sees,
as I await 
the blessed hope. 
© 2015 Richard Havenga

Monday, November 16, 2015

walk among the clouds

Clouds clinging to the earth.
Mountains creating rain showers.
I am standing in the sky,
walking among the clouds,
tasting the alpine winds,
waiting for inspiration.
© 2015 Richard Havenga

Photo Location:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

picking stones

ripples rinsed with sun
picking stones in cold water
Superior clear
© 2015 Richard Havenga

Photo Location

Lake Superior @ Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center - Schroeder, Minnesota 

Monday, November 9, 2015


You may also enjoy these "Scripture Pictures":

The Words ~ Feb. 10, 2014

The Work ~ Feb. 12, 2014

The Gift ~ Feb. 14, 2014

Photo Location: Grand River (Jupiter Bridge) Grand Rapids, Michigan

Friday, November 6, 2015


live greens turn dead brown
cool November has arrived
month of transition
© 2015 Richard Havenga

Photo Locations:  Home Woods - Cannonsburg, Michigan


colorful display
eat your roots and vegetables
at farmer's market
© 2015 Richard Havenga

Photo LocationAda Farmer's Market - Ada Township - Michigan 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

copper coins

American Beech
arching branches displaying
autumn's copper coins

© 2015 Richard Havenga

Monday, November 2, 2015


early November
wind pushes cumulus and
golden Tamaracks
© 2015 Richard Havenga

You may also like this green edition of Tamaracks: "brushes" (April 27, 2015)

Photo Location: Cannon Township - Kent County, Michigan

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Can you believe this? Flowering in late October, and into November?

I'd like to introduce you to the WITCH ...

Witch Hazel.

Hazel has the distinction of being Michigan's only woody plant which blossoms in late autumn, sometimes after the first snowfall. It is the last flowering plant that Father Nature knows of.

Witch Hazel is a common shrub, or small tree, growing in the understory of other hardwood, deciduous trees. Typically 12 to 20 feet (4 - 7 m.) tall.

Its growth form displays several arching or crooked stems that together produce an irregular, open crown. 

Each clump is one plant. They are slow growing, and moderately shade tolerant.

The leaves are generally oval, with uneven bases, 4 - 6" (10-15 cm) long, and attached to the slender twigs by short petioles. And, as you can see, very conspicuously veined.

The wavy-edged margin is slightly toothed or shallow-toothed. (For the serious Botanists out there: a sinuate-dentated margin) You could also call it scalloped.

The tawny, lateral buds are barely noticeable, being naked, except for two small scales. Terminal buds, at the end of twigs, are slightly larger, and flattened.

Flowers are usually in clusters of three; sometimes four or five. See the four-lobed calyx, and four petals, shaped like tiny, yellow ribbons, each a half-inch (1.5 cm) long.

In the bud, these petals are rolled inward in a tight, close spiral; like a watch spring.

Coiled tightly into a solid, little ball, only a few millimeters in diameter.

After the leaves have fallen, these yellow, starry flowers are more conspicuous, and bring light and warmth to the woods in late Fall.

(Starting to split open)

The nuts, or capsules, require a full year to mature. They are about 1/2" (1.5 cm) long, and covered in a velvety outer husk. These shown above, are just slightly  larger than life size.

(Split open, seeds scattered)

The inner shell is extremely hard and contains two, brown-black seeds. They are polished and smooth. I was unable to find any of these tiny, shiny seeds. Perhaps your kids can crawl around on the forest floor and come up with some. Better yet, prune a few twigs containing these capsules, and take them indoors. When they dry out, if they're mature, they will blast out the seed with amazing force. If you're lucky, you will hear them ricocheting across the counter, or bouncing onto the kitchen floor. In the wild, they are expelled with power; shot out 10 - 20 feet (3-7 m) from the parent plant.

Father Nature did this years ago. If you need some minor entertainment, it works. Maybe the seeds will pop when the kids are quietly doing their homework, like it happened for his kids, back in the day.


Witch Hazel oil, distilled mainly from the twigs, is one of those all-purpose healing remedies legitimized by long tradition if not by medical science. It is still an over-the-counter item in drugstores.

Another ancient tradition is the use of forked Witch Hazel branches as "divining rods" for "water witching". People who believed in its powers swore on its ability to point to underground water, coal, tin, and copper lodes.

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Slender twigs hold clustered blossoms.

Unfolding their bent and wrinkled, strap-like petals...

... into fine, narrow bands.

"In the dusky, somber woodland, thwarting vistas dull and cold,

Thrown in vivid constellations, gleam the hazel stars of gold,

Gracious gift of wealth untold." Anna Botsford Comstock  (1854 - 1930)


Handbook of Nature Study - Anna Botsford Comstock  (Comstock)
Cornell University Press  c 1911, 1939

Michigan Trees - Charles Herbert Otis  (Otis)
 University of Michigan Press  c 1931, 1965

Textbook of Dendrology - William Harlow, & Ellwood S. Harrar  (Dendrology)
McGraw-Hill Co.  c 1937, 1958

The Book of Forest and Thicket - John Eastman  (Eastman)
Stackpole Books  c 1992

Photo Locations:

Home Woods

Egypt Valley State Game Area,  (Egypt Valley)  Kent County,  Michigan (Michigan)

Thursday, October 29, 2015


pebbles of light rain
ping the platter of the lake;
concentric circles

© 2015 Richard Havenga

Photo Location: Pickerel Lake Park -  Kent County, Michigan

Monday, October 26, 2015

Grateful Heart

With a grateful heart,
I have come here to rest,
and let my eyes adjust
to the future
coming at me
in this, my seventh
decade of life
on the good earth.


the desire to know,
and the need to praise;
I have become intimate
with some small pockets
of life on this planet;

nearly forty years
for the love of birds,

intrigued by the flow
of rivers and streams,

a lingering fascination 
with insects,

enchanted by the short seasons
of wildflowers,

a watcher of clouds
for decades,

a dedication
to dependable trees 
- familiar as friends -

and captivated by the
mysteries of the night sky.

How can I help but

praise you God,
for the gift of life,
and thank you
for my remaining days?
© 2015 Richard Havenga

Photo Locations:

1. Prothonotary Warbler - Allegan State Game Area- Kalamazoo River - Michigan

2. Crested ButteColorado  

3. Canon Township - Kent County, Michigan

4. Cardinal Flower - Ada Township - Kent County, Michigan

5. Yosemite National Park - California

6. Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming

7. Grattan Township - Kent County, Michigan

8. Sunset Beach, North Carolina