This week, we take a look at the elements in nature and beyond. Consider these four main elements: water, air, fire, and earth, substances formerly believed to compose the physical universe. Within each element are versions, for example, earth–which includes rocks, stones, soil, wood, etc. Water takes three forms: ice, vapor (clouds, steam), and liquid. The wind and sky are components of air… you get the idea.

If you want to get technical, you can approach this challenge from the periodic table of elements and metals or tackle aether, also called quintessence (the fifth element), a material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere (according to a variety of sources). Some of us might have unintentional photos of aether (aka pics of “nothing”).

Merriam-Webster and Collins Online Dictionaries have multiple definitions for the word elemental. “Fundamental; basic; primal (the elemental needs of humans); of or relating to the nature of earth, air, water, and fire considered as elements; being a chemical element in uncombined form; being an essential or the basic part or parts.”

This week I am also introducing my word of the year (WOTY).

Bur first, to get you started on our elemental journey, last week I mentioned we visited Grand Coulee Dam, a two-hour drive west of Spokane, where I enjoyed wonderful photo-ops of deer. I promised you a picture of the dam. In this photo taken January 22, 2022, the outside temps were 25F, below freezing. You can make out the icy trails of water rolling down the face, surrounded by low clouds, snow, and ice. A good example of how humankind corraled the elements (water and stone) together to create: hydropower for irrigation and water supply, and electricity, a version of fire. This image in no way does the size of the dam justice. It really is massive…

Icy Grand Coulee Dam, Washington
Icy Grand Coulee Dam

Grand Coulee Dam, on the Columbia River about 90 miles northwest of Spokane, Washington, is one of the largest structures ever built by mankind–an engineering wonder built in 1933-1942. Its mass of concrete stands 550 feet high and 5,223 feet long, or just shy of a mile. Grand Coulee contains 12 million cubic yards of concrete, or enough to build a highway from Seattle to Miami. More massive than the Great Pyramid of Giza, Grand Coulee is listed by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the seven civil engineering wonders of the United States.

National Park Service

An Elemental Autumn Weekend in the Desert

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.

John Muir

As I was thinking about Becky B’s ODD squares challenge that begins February 1st, I remembered my previously-shared odd clouds and went back into my photo archives from October 2016 to the weekend we traveled to the Mojave Desert area in Southern California. We stayed with friends in the Helendale area near Victorville and attended their Halloween event. During that weekend, it seemed that all the elements came together as we explored the area!

This image shows all four elements of air, water vapor in the form of clouds, and Mother Earth in the form of plants and soil. I suppose it’s a stretch to use the telephone pole as a symbol of “fire” as a conduit for electricity.

Wavy clouds
Wavy clouds walk the desert floor

Water

In the home we stayed in, ducks greeted us at the backyard deck at sunrise, happily floating on the Mohave River Aquafer of Silver Lake.

Ducks at sunrise
Ducks at sunrise on Silver Lake

Air

This area of the Mohave Desert driving toward the Tehachapi Mountains is known to be windy, hence the wind turbines. Our friends can windsurf on Silver Lake, where hundreds of homes line the marina areas.

Wind Turbines near Tehachapee, CA
Wind Turbines near Tehachapi, CA

Fire

A flame lights a candle as the Halloween party commences, under the fiery sunset. Even the sun can’t withstand the power of clouds as they obscure its light.

Earth: Man-made Structures of Stone and Wood

My friend created beautiful decorations at her party that included this collection of stones and gems. The marina shows examples of stone and wood built over water, under a cloudy sky.

The wood structure marks the Historic Route 66 sign.

Historic Route 66 Mohave Desert
Historic Route 66 Mohave Desert

My Word of the Year (WOTY)

Today I’m officially introducing my WOTY (word of the year). Recalling this week’s theme, my word reflects the theme of elements, or more specifically, in this case, elemental, if we accept the definition of it being an essential or basic part or parts.

My word of the year is WALK.

That being said, it seems to me a WOTY is a guide for the way we act and think, right? Walking is a part of me! This is my first time mindfully sharing a WOTY and I have admired those who have determined theirs over the years while sticking to their word’s meanings. Between many of my fellow bloggers who have shared theirs and encouragement from our church, 2022 seemed like a great time to start.

Marsha of Always Write, says “Pick one word and write about how it relates to creating a new pattern for your life.” AARP and other sources have great articles on choosing a WOTY.

I know it doesn’t seem like a dynamic word, but it kept making its presence known to me and serves as both a spiritual and physical reminder of values I hold dear.

This is a two-fold word of the year. After two years of uncertainty and stress from the pandemic as well as moving to a new state in 2020, buying/selling real estate and all of that inherent stress, I desperately need to continue my spiritual walk with the Lord, as well as my physical walks outdoors.

Some Definitions of WALK

Walk is a verb: to go on foot: step, hike, hobble, strut, waddle, wander, walk the dog
Walk is a noun: “a relaxed journey on foot for exercise or pleasure.”
A place (walkway, promenade), go on a walk

Merriam-Webster

Walking is a manner of living, a spiritual walk…

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

To connect walk to the elements, think of things we say:

  • Walk on water, walking in the water
  • Firewalk, walk over live coals
  • Walking on air, the clouds are walking
  • A walk in the park (earth)…

Walking in the Physical and the Spiritual

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out I found, was really going in.”

John Muir

I find it easy to walk and hike in my area. The snow and ice have made it a little touchy this winter, but I choose main roads that are cleared and sanded by the snowplows. Like Frank shares with us at Beach Walk Reflections, I find my mind is made clear and I can think better while walking. The fresh air is incredible and of course quite crisp now in winter. But when that winter sun finally shines after weeks of fog, it feels miraculous. I’m already prone to SAD as I’ve mentioned, but even a 30-minute walk with the dogs is amazing mental and physical therapy. I get to talk with the Lord a little, too, and utter a few prayers as they come to me.

Having a spiritual walk coupled with a physical daily walk is just the elemental structure I need. As I embark on a daily spiritual walk with God, I shall truly be grateful for my life.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

“Lord, you are my rock in times I have walked by faith through fire toward the living waters of your Word. May your Holy Spirit refresh me in my daily walks.” My elemental prayer.

Photo Challenges this Week

There is some serious double-dipping going on this week as I contribute to several challenges.

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

Sunday Stills weekly photo challenge is easy to join. You have all week to share and link your post.

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Tag your post “Sunday Stills.”
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Below are this week’s links from bloggers who shared photos of the elements.

Themes for February are ready to view on my Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Page. This page is updated monthly and I am open to YOUR theme ideas, too! February is National Feed the Birds month, so we’ll kick off next week’s Sunday Stills (February 6) by feeding the birds.

I’m looking forward to seeing your posts of the elements this week. Please feel free to be creative and have a great week!

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123 thoughts on “Sunday Stills: The Power of the #Elements

  1. Interestingly, I enjoyed your photo of those ducks on the Silver Lake more than the sky captures.
    The dissolving reflections on the water looks incredible.
    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post with my challenge, Terri 🙂

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  2. Wow, this is some post, Terri, you have covered so many things. I like your pictures and that dam sounds amazing. I think walk is a very good choice of word. It doesn’t just mean the physical action of walking either. It can be walking through life, books, new friendships, lots of things.

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  3. Hi Terri = I enjoyed your post so much and wanted to let you know that the personal share with he “walk with the lord” reply touched me (and it is so nice to meet Christians like you and Marsha who do not force feed things to people – and best wishes with that goal for the coming year)

    also, good theme with the elements and seeing the Route 66 sign was so Americana

    https://priorhouse.blog/2022/02/02/the-elements-wqw-sunday-stills/

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  4. I love your WOTY, Terri. Last night, while watching TV, a presenter mentioned how energising and healthy going for a walk in the great outdoors is. It never fails to make me feel a lot better, both physically and mentally.

    Your winter temperatures are so low., but great to see that you’re still getting some sightseeing and walking in. I’ve never suffered from SAD, but I am pleased to witness the lengthening of daylight hours.

    This week’s theme is a great subject, especially as I took what I consider to be a fantastic photo the other night. Well, I think it’s rather fantastic, anyway. I’ll be linking back to Sunday Stills when I publish my Wordless Wednesday post later today.

    Enjoy your walks and the rest of the week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Hugh, this was the only WOTY that jumped out at me, and elemental in its simplicity, I believe. Despite the cold, the sun has FINALLY been out all day making glittering diamonds on the snow and gifting me with chemicals to keep me happy, LOL! I haven’t been able to walk on the trails behind us yet, too icy, but several of the main roads are clear of ice and snow, so walking is not a treacherous activity! We have light until after 5pm now. Soon, we’ll blink and it will be light again until 10pm! I’m off to check your post! Thanks!

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  5. Those waves of clouds in front of the mountains look so cool, Terri! I haven’t been to Grand Coulee in the winter. I wish we had some of that snow. They used to project laser light shows on the dam in the summer. We took our kids a couple times to see it. Not sure if they still do that.

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  6. Coincidentally I just finished reading an article – an extract of a book written by an Indigenous Australian author talking about walking being more than a physical activity – that it connects mind, body, spirit, Country and story. A great word. Thanks so much for linking up.

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    1. Thank you, Jo! At one point I snubbed my nose as just walking, preferring to go for stronger cardio. But I still have to walk the pups daily, and as I have aged some, I love the walking for not only cardio (especially no that I have hills to climb) but for the peace and mind-clearing it provides. I work out a lot of problems by just walking in nature. That book sounds perfect!

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  7. We live here in part because I was scared to go out walking on ice, Terri. I could find no pleasure in teetering and trying to hold onto my balance, which is poor at the best of times. That song ‘Walking on sunshine’ was made for me. Thanks for linking to me, hon. Have a wonderful week!

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  8. Terri,
    Walk is a WOTY that suits you perfectly and I’m delighted you included the aspect of a spiritual walk as well. My WOTY is health and I intend to work on it for both body and mind (not getting any younger and certainly not any smarter). Great pictures–and I love the John Muir quotes. My contribution for the week is an image I captured in Oklahoma of the morning sun warming a pond just enough to produce water vapor–kinda elemental, don’t you think? Keep warm and keep walking! Joe

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  9. oh Terri what a wonderful post, so many love shots and I am loving your word of the year. Also feeling very honoured to be included in your double dipping, and those clouds – well wow!

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  10. What a helpful and lovely post. Gosh, two years where we have all asked the questions …”how did covid change us?” “what on earth is happening”….and yet time moves on regardless and we must too. I like walk. I used to be, until very recently, someone who walked in a hurry..to “get there” wherever “that” was and in some ways the old weight loss tricks that stay in your head after decades…”walk fast, burn the calories”. So, in my 73 rd year on earth I am very grateful to be in my 5th year of recovery from my head and neck cancer so I am now walking slowly or strolling to notice more around me and the ground on which I walk. Love that it’s helping me slow down and become less of a striver. Take care dear Terri. Denyse #woty2022linkup

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    1. Thank you, Denyse and lovely to hear from you! I’ve always been a power walker so I get it, but I also used to be a runner until I killed my knees. I am able to stop and look around and just be! Congrats on 5 years of being cancer free!

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  11. Hi Terri, thanks so much for linking up to our first 2022 Word of the Year Link Party. I’ve enjoyed discovering the words that participants have chosen. Walk is a great word and is not restricting to the physical. I enjoy walking by the beach where I live. Water is my favourite element and I love the photo of the ducks. I look forward to you joining us next month with how you have focussed on your WOTY. Enjoy February!

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  12. Great post for this week – this year, Terri! Walking is my favorite thing to do in the world as far as exercise is concerned. (As you know!) I love your theme of elements. You’ve created some ties between the elements and your word of the year. I’m inspired to look for elements this evening. I’ll link back to you soon 🙂 My element posts are going to be dispersed from March through December.

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      1. We drove to Williams today. It was snowy there and still about 55. I haven’t quite figured that out, how it can be so warm and the snow is still on the ground. Everything was closed up. It was almost like a ghost town. We will go back when it gets a little warmer. It looks like a cute place.

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  13. Hi Terri, so much to love here in your post! Your photos tell us a story and show us the elements in all their glory and we learn ore about you in your choice of your WOTY as well. A great choice with all its various meanings. Also I must go and look at Becky’s Squares link to see what’s in store for the month :). Thanks again for all you do.
    Here’s my post with the title chosen by my wordsmith husband 🙂 https://debs-world.com/2022/01/30/hot-wet-dirt-and-rustle-for-sundaystills/

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  14. synchronicity abounds! In the first sermon of the year our minister talked about choosing a word of the year. I have often had a color of the year to guide my way. I have chosen the word BRAID or Weave as a way connect in the world all year. More to come

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  15. First of all, thanks for the kind words and the link. I invite your readers to stop by because I don’t bite. Great thoughts about elements. I’ve got it on the possible topic list for a beach walk – so time will tell. Walk is a great choice for WOTY. “Walking” is also on my list of possible topics. Keep walking!

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    1. Happy to share to love, Frank! The fact that you share your walks is very motivating and encouraging to MANY folks is wonderful. You show just how walking can take your brain many places as your feet move along the path!

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  16. Beautiful pictures. I think I saw several on my cross-country trip–Historic Route 66, the wind turbines. Walk–pretty great word for the new year. I bought a treadmill so I can walk more (not run)!

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  17. A lovely foray into the elements, Terri. Those clouds that look like waves are so fascinating; that photo captured my imagination for sure. And WALK is an excellent word for the year. Exercise and plenty of chances for wonderful sights and photos. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Diana! It worked out for the post to just look at that particular set of images from that weekend, and it made an interesting elemental collection! Every day I check to see if I can walk outside–we just got some snow…

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  18. Great variety of photos this week, Terri. I love the colors in the duck photo. I like your choice for WOTY. Walking is my favorite exercise and is always a mood booster. I also think it’s interesting that I often go out thinking ‘I’ll take a photo of this or that.’ Then, on the walk, something completely different catches my attention, a reminder to remain open to whatever comes along. Here’s mine this week: https://grahamsisland.com/2022/01/30/high-surf/

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    1. Thank you, Tina. When developing my weekly themes, I strive for something new when possible or go for one that is seasonal and can be repeated. I enjoyed challenging myself with this one, too! I’ll be by shortly to read your post!

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  19. I love your WOTY! I too find that while it is not always easy to get out and walk/hike in winter that it really does boost my mood when we do. We try to get out a minimum of twice a week but it has been very cold and snowy here and that makes it so much harder. We tend to stick to flat trails where even if it is icy it isn’t so treacherous.

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    1. Thank you, I feared my word was too elemental but it works on many levels. It’s snowing again here in Eastern WA, so I may have to “walk” on the elliptical today. Thank you so much for your comment!

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    1. Thank you, John, I’ve never seen anything like it since then. A freak of nature I suppose. It was taken with an older cellphone in 2016 so the image isn’t too sharp, but oh well, it’s visible. I even consulted my Pocket Cloud Book and nothing in it that looks like this.

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  20. Great examples of the elements, Terri. They’ve certainly given us a show over the last few months and are still ongoing. The only thing we’re missing is snow.

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