Take a look out your window. Our natural world is quietly preparing for a season of rest and recuperation. Seize the moment to crunch through the fallen leaves and gather a few of nature's riches for your tabletop.
A walk in the woods, a stroll through the prairie, or a hike in the hills will enlighten your senses and let you see the beauty in nature's wraps -- the papery star that encloses each husk tomato, for example. Small jewels like these make a graceful focal point when nestled in a plain white bowl or tray. Make time to scan the earth's floor and gaze upward at the treetops, all the while keeping your eyes open for natural finds. Don't be alarmed as you discover that the calm of nature letting go is infectious. When you return home, try to take a little of that feeling inside, too.
Twisty twigs, puffed seed capsules, intricately cut leaves, silky smooth stones, color-rich bark, air-dried blossoms like those of the delicate hops -- anything that strikes your fancy.
Nature's gifts abound with texture, shape, and color, which make them wonderful works of art all on their own. Pair your finds with white or clear glass trays, bowls, or vases to accentuate their natural beauty. Keep your nature-inspired still life soothing by using one or just a few objects in an arrangement.
Awaken your inner child, permitting her or him to feel the joy of innocent wonder at the discovery of nature's small treasures. Share the beauty of nature with guests by creating a fresh-from-the-outdoors centerpiece for your next gathering. Or greet yourself with the serenity of nature at rest by placing a handful of acorns or dried flower blossoms in a clear glass vase on your bedside table. Celebrate nature's letting go by detaching from your own cares of the day.
Originally published in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, October 2004.