Crystal Hermitage

Every now and then I get bored with where I live.  I have lived here all my life and occasionally think there is nothing left to see.  I know this is a silly thought but it occasionally comes in my mind nonetheless.  Then as quickly as that thought comes it goes again when a place like Crystal Hermitage presents itself.  I had never heard of this place.  How has no one told me of this place?!  I happen to catch a post on a friends facebook page and was enthralled.  This hermitage, located outside of Nevada City California, plants a tulip garden each year.  The tulips were in full bloom!  I knew if I was going to photograph them I better drop everything and head over because tulips don’t last long especially in this HEAT.  These days with a toddler at home the idea of dropping everything to do anything is an act of congress (and you have seen our Congress in the news these days).  So, like any good Mom would do, I played hookie one afternoon from work and zipped over by myself with camera in tow.  It turns out it was a good idea because, true to its name, this hermitage was in the middle of nowhere and it took a long time to get there.  Part of the Ananda movement and communal, the surrounding area and hermitage aim to help individuals find joy in themselves and their world.  It’s hard not to get behind a mission like that.  Behold some of the images I captured while on my short visit.  While I may not understand Ananda entirely I can let them know that they helped me find joy in my word on this day.

I am submitting this post in response to Jansen Photos “Rise” Challenge.  It certainly doesn’t get more basic that a flower rising upward toward the sunshine!

Belize Botanical Garden – San Ignacio Belize

I am no gardener.  In fact, I sit here staring at my fingers on the keyboard searching for any green hue on my thumbs and there is none.  However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy other people’s gardens!  It is easy to understand why Monet found inspiration as an artist at Giverny.  While I am no Monet, I am a photographer, and I often find inspiration in gardens while traveling.


I visited Belize Botanical Garden as an afterthought when our visits to a few local San Ignacio area archaeological sites were shorter than we originally planned.  I had spied a tiny little sign on the side of the road that said “Botanical garden” with an arrow.  I was secretly hoping we would be able to make time to go.  So we set out.  This garden makes you work to get there driving approximately four miles on a terrible unpaved road uphill.  When we got there the relief was palpable seeing such a well maintained and peaceful property.







The garden boasts 45 acres of native plants and native wildlife.  The garden is adjacent to DuPlooys Jungle Cabins which has a restaurant/bar and jungle cabins for rent.   It is very classy and seems like a wonderful and relaxing place to stay as an alternative to San Ignacio.


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After checking in and receiving a lovely little garden map we set out.  Before I even had a chance to remove my camera from its bag we were greeted by Collared Aracari Toucans eating star fruit for dinner in the orchards.  I would have been happy if this was all I had seen!  We sat and enjoyed them for several minutes before we reluctantly left them.  We were anxious to see what we could of the grounds before sunset.



Various tropical plants, trees, bushes, flowers, have been lovingly planted beginning more than 27 years ago when the ex-pat owners originally purchased the property.  I would have thought this was all wild plants and trees judging by how mature everything was.  Only, the park-like setting gave it away.



A duck blind has been established for birders to sit and observe a small pond located on site.  No birds presented themselves for us in this part of the garden however we did enjoy small pond turtles.  A native orchid house exists paying respect to various seasonal orchids.  A replica Mayan hut made of local materials is on display for those interested in how thatched roofs are designed.  An area dedicated to palms was enjoyable.  And a professional gardener’s area has lovely flowers on display. A 25 foot tall homemade fire tower exists on one end of the property giving the intrepid climber a lovely canopy view of the area.



We were the only visitors to the gardens that afternoon making it feel like we had it all to ourselves.  We finished our walk on a river trail that culminated at the bar where we finished our lovely afternoon off with a Rum Punch and a Belikin before bouncing our way back down the dirt road to San Ignacio.




What does it say for your luck when you lose a 4-leaf clover you have found?

I am pretty sure the Irish Saints are shaking their head at me. My sweet husband and I were walking through a garden of large clovers. I was admiring them and asked my husband to find me a four leaf clover knowing that most people live their entire lives without finding one. No joke, he bends over and the first clover he picks is a giant 4-leaf clover of the most beautiful variety. He naturally thought this clover business was a piece of cake. I took a few photos of it and placed it in the pages of a book like it was my most prized possession. After arriving home I placed it within the pages of a nice hard backed book intending to frame it some day. I chose an important book that I love so I would never lose it. Well, guess what? I can’t remember which book I put it in and haven’t been able to find it now for going on two years. Ugh. Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid are surely rolling their eyes at me.