Desert Dreams – A Desert Song Poem


Saguaro © 2014 Bo Mackison

Wisdom begins with wonder. ~ Socrates

Desert dreams are not tidy,
though they are tidier than one might imagine.

The desert practices its tidy habits, no tropical jungle overgrown tangled,
creeping dripping with life-giving nutrients.

The desert is precious gift of space,
space enough to find one’s own place;
space enough for one to gather the desert rains.
It only asks for patience and perseverance.

It is enough.

The desert breeze blows strong, dust swirling.
The desert plays the bass line, like a bassoon and
bass clarinet intermingling, deep and sensuous.

Heat rises from the baked red earth, heat waves
pulsate desert breath. Steady rhythm.
I stand upon the land, alone, embraced by desert song
and supported by my ocotillo walking stick.

It is here I hold onto my world.

Wonder – A Prairie Wisdom Card

Sunflower in Detail

Sunflower © 2103 Bo Mackison

“Could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; and you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

If you ever have a chance to see a giant sunflower, up close and personal, you will notice that the sunflower seeds always form in a spiral pattern. Each successive seed placement approximated the golden angle, (137.5˚) and so fully covers the space.

What a wonder-evoking sight. We know nature is filled with patterns and sequences, but often they remain hidden from our unseeing eyes. The sunflower, another natural things like pine cones, the leaves on a stem or the branching of a tree, the fronds on a fern, even the tippets covering a pineapple, follow this mathematical formula.

The beauty of the pattern, in part, is a result of the precise play of the positioning of each concentric layer, and the creation of an eye-pleasing spiral. Gifts of wonderment!

“This very moment of your life, if you experience it fully, will show you astonishing wonders and exquisite delights.” ~ Martha Beck

The WONDER card offers activities for contemplation, art, and writing and a call to action:

  • Journal prompt: Compile a list of things that are common to our culture – for example, a vending machine, a super-sized grocery store, the subway. Choose one thing and write about it, writing from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with such conveniences.
  • Art and contemplative activities: The circular mandala often is used as a symbol for the Universe, for the whole. Seeds are the tiny packages filled with potential.
    • Gather seeds of any kind — choose one kind of seed, or different colored and sized seeds. Begin with a seed for the center, then create a circle with seeds, much like the sunflower with its closely packed seeds in ever-expanding spirals.
    • You can create this in nature as a temporary art installation in miniature. Or you can glue the seeds to cardboard for a more permanent mandala.
    • As you create the mandala, consider the potential of each seed, and consider the potential that exists within you.
  • Call to action: Take a walk in nature and look for some of the countless patterns in nature. Express your wonder with each discovery: “What a wonder-filled world!”


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  Bo is creating a set of Prairie Wisdom Cards, second in a series of cards based on natural habitats, and used for exploration and self-discovery.

5th Annual Photo Alphabet – The Finale

W is for Wilderness and Wonder.

This is the Trail?

Palo Dura © 2010 Bo Mackison

When I want to do deep thinking, I head for quiet spaces, walk one of the trails through the wilderness. I do some of my most productive thinking here, walking alone. In this deep stillness.

My gratitude for the life I lead is huge. I stand without a movement. I speak to the Universe. I wonder. I fill with a great happiness at the wealth in my world.

As I walk in nature, my world expands. I find my place. I stand upon the Mother Earth, grounded. l connect to a greater plan for the greater good.

If you look for the truth outside yourself,
it gets farther and farther away.
Today, walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step.
It is the same as me, yet I am not it.
Only if you understand it in this way
Will you merge with the way things are.
~ Tung-Shan

X is for eXplore and eXperiment.

Gold Poppies

Poppies in Arizona © 2012 Bo Mackison

There are times when I have a photograph and I just want to play. Explore new techniques. Add and subtract, soften the focus, sharpen the focus. Experiment with colors, saturation, a different crop. It’s similar to coloring outside the lines in a coloring book, then making the sky yellow and the trees turquoise. Usually, when I change a photo extensively, I don’t keep the results. I just enjoy the process.

But once in a while, I like the result. And so I not only have a few hours of play, experimentation, exploration, I also have a fun photograph for my portfolio.

Y is for out Yonder.

Beach Boardwalk

Boardwalk at Sunrise © 2012 Bo Mackison

Sometimes it is enough to look out on a vast body of water and let the senses absorb the space. It is enough to walk along the boardwalk, aware of each step as the walkway shifts under my weight. It is enough to be at the edge of the shore when the sun rises in the East.

Z is for Zen.

Branch in Stricker's Pond

Branch in Pond © 2012 Bo Mackison

Fitting that I end the alphabet, and the year, with a contemplative photograph. I have a folder of photographs I refer to as my Zen photos, photographs I re-visit when I want to focus, settle the voices in my head, and calm my mind. This pond is only a few blocks from my home in Wisconsin. It is the pond I walk around from mid-spring through early winter. I’ve captured the pond in all seasons, in all kinds of weather, and at various times of the day.

I have photographs of the pond when it is home to Canada geese, egrets, herons, and wood ducks. I have photos when half of the pond is a white and green carpet of American lotus in blossom. But this is my favorite photograph from all of my walks – a broken branch in shallow water, shifting in the soft light from a disappearing sun. It is a late summer evening.

I take a few deep breaths, focus my attention on the lines, the colors, the beauty in the simplicity. I am thankful.


And so ends the annual photo alphabet, and just in time too. After spending several weeks compiling the last posts, I am ever so grateful. Grateful for you, my readers. Grateful for the coming of a new year. And grateful that there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet!

Best Wishes for a Wonder-filled, Happy, and Healthy 2013!

Happy New Year! 

~ Bo


Dahlia and the Gift of Wonder

Dahlia and Bud

Dahlia and Bud © 2012 Bo Mackison

Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table. Even a tiny fleck of it stops time. ~ Diane Ackerman

Have you ever been walking in a garden, or a woods, or a desert – anywhere, really, surrounded by the natural world – and suddenly stopped, unable to take another step until you took the time to absorb the many sensations of that exact place?

That sudden stop – it happens to me frequently. Even when I hurry myself along, reminding myself that I only have time for a twenty-minute walk, I am unable to push through, to ignore. I simply must stop.

To do what? Gaze with wonder at a flower, or the pattern and colors of bark on a tree, or the lapping of the waves of Lake Michigan, or the intricate web of a spider…

Wonder. Yes. For me, wonder is a definite time stopper.

What a gift that is – priceless – the ability to totally focus on one small part of the world, on one small part of nature. To see it, truly see it. The dahlia petals, each in place, each twisted into a slightly asymmetrical cone, each petal packed tighter as the rows get closer to the center.

And the pattern on each petal?  Not a single one the same. They are like a snowflake or a fingerprint – each one unique. So much to look at, to explore with my senses. I hold onto these memories for another time, when I am without a flower or a garden or perhaps without any time or place for a walk.

Wonder stops time for me. Does it stop time for you?


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Bo has learned one thing from ‘walking with wonder’ – if she wants to walk for exercise she either needs to wear blinders, walk with a friend, or walk inside where she can ignore the distractions!