In high school, I was fortunate enough to have Janet Williams as my teacher for several English classes.  Mrs. Williams was wonderful–engaging, bright, cultured, and interested in the lives of her students.

And every year, as the live oaks unfurled their new leaves and sent the old ones fluttering to the ground, she led us out of the classroom to a balcony near one of the grandest oaks.  “Look,” she’d say, pointing to a branch with a new sheaf of leaves. “and now listen.”

mountain goats meadow_edited-1


And then she’d recite a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which I am typing here mostly from memory:

Nature’s first green is gold, 

Her hardest hue to hold. 

Her early leaf’s a flower, 

But only so an hour. 

Then leaf subsides to leaf, 

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day, 

Nothing gold can  stay.


I have always loved that poem, and I think of it–and Mrs. Williams–every spring, where one of Florida’s few signs of spring is the unfurling of the live oak leaves and the accompanying golden dust that settles over every stationary object and makes me sneeze. But more than the poem itself, I remember the lesson it contains–nothing stays the same. Your beautiful babies, your precious (and sometimes trying) toddlers, the blush of new love, the thrill of an accomplishment or an award, the shine on that new car–you know what?  It won’t last.  Babies grow, toddlers mature, love settles into a pattern, the thrill wears off, and the new car shine will dull.

I think that’s one reason why I’ve gone into photography. I love capturing moments in creative images that WILL remain for as long as the owner cherishes it.

The other day one of my neighbors remarked that his wife was going to bring their new baby over for a picture, but she didn’t want to take him out in public during his first six weeks.  I tried not to grimace, because at six weeks, the baby is already too big for some of the newborn photos I like to create.  That baby may come in and I can still take his picture, but those newborn opportunities are gone for good.

So call a photographer or pull out your camera.  But more than that, STOP at some point in your day today and realize that this moment will never come again. As a friend of mine wrote in a song,

“Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment . . . today.”




  1. Mary Kay

    Beautifully said.

    Stopping and taking in unrepeatable moments is a lesson I relearn often. Many years ago as dusk fell at the end of a glorious summer day I felt such sadness, realizing the passing of that joy-filled day with loved ones. Smiling now, God continues to give more glorious days–but I still remember that sad gloaming even though I didn’t have a camera to record it. Thanks you, Angie, for spotlighting so many things that are worth remembering.

  2. Leigh Ehrhardt

    Janet Williams was probably the finest teacher in the history of education. Love reading this remembrance of her. I never had her as my teacher, but her daughter was a close friend and I knew her well. My late husband had her and while science and math were his favorites he always spoke fondly of all he learned studying literature with Mrs W.

    And your point here is certainly not lost on me, having lost my husband to a sudden and unexpected death two years ago. We need to live each day with intention, love with abandon and relish each moment. Thanks for the reminder.

    Leigh, RHS Class of ’71 ( I’m Dale Geiger’s sister, Angie. Remember playing in the band with her?)

    • Angie

      Yes, Leigh, I do remember playing the bells with Dale– and the night she fell through the bleachers! Hope she is going well, and its great to hear from you. I’m so sorry for your loss.


      • Leigh

        Thanks, Angie. Mark’s death was hard, but God has been faithful to carry me through. His mercies really ARE new every morning. He has given me “a full life in the emptiest of places” (Isaiah 58:11, the Message)

        We still laugh about Dale’s fall through the bleachers! She’s an executive with an electric utility, proud Mom of two college aged sons, plays handbells and sings at church, and follows her beloved Gators with devotion. I’m blessed that she and her husband live near me. I’ll tell her that we connected on your blog.


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