New Life Mandala by Beth Sawickie

New Life Mandala

New Life Mandala by Beth Sawickie

This mandala was inspired by early spring buds appearing on a cold winter’s day with snow still on the ground.

New Life pushing through the snow, ice and cold.

New Life appearing in what appeared to be barren and lifeless.

New Life appearing after a long, cold, dark winter.

Nature shows us that there is a cycle to everything – just like in life.

The cold, dark winter of our souls need not be forever.  Spring is near.

Prints, cards and pillows! of this mandala are available HERE.

Here is the original photo that inspired this mandala:

Spring Bud 1 by Beth Sawickie


Doing nature photography and creating mandalas is something that feeds my soul and brings me great joy!
It wasn’t until I took action to move from Blah (depression) to Bliss that my talents for photography and mandala creation blossomed.  If you’d like to move from Blah to Bliss too, check out the free Blah to Bliss Toolkit here.

Pygmy Pine Plains 1 - Beth Sawickie

Nature Stroll – Pygmy Pine Forest & Oswego Lake in NJ – Feb. 8th 2015

What a day it was!

2 days ago it was 25 degrees – today, high 50’s!  WOW!

I’d still like more snow, but I can’t say no to a beautiful day full of sunshine and blue skies!

Today we (me, Doug and Soc – the dog) went on a little adventure to the Pygmy Pines in the NJ Pine Barrens and headed to Spring Hill then over to Oswego Lake.

You may have heard that the last time we tried to get to Spring Hill we got stuck in an icy puddle!  This time we went a different way 😉  No stuckage! lol.

Here’s the video I made for you that shows some of the beautiful scenes we saw today:

There’s more info about the location and biology of the Pygmy Pine Planes towards the bottom of this article.

 Photos from the day…

Here we are starting out on our adventure…

Beth Sawickie

The Pygmy Pine Plains…

Looking out over the Pygmy Pine Plains near Spring Hill.

Pygmy Pine Plains 1 - Beth Sawickie

About the Pygmy Pitch Pine Trees:

The Pygmy Pine Plains (or Dwarf Plains) of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey are upland forests that have long intrigued biologists.

Early in the 20th Century, Witmer Stone described them as “desolate stretches of white sand barrens … for the most part devoid of trees higher than one’s knees.” The Pine Plains are dominated by dwarfed Pitch Pines and Blackjack Oaks in the low canopy. Pine Barrens Heather is frequent in the understory. Ground cover includes lichens, mosses, and the sub-shrubs Bearberry and Teaberry.
Source: Pinelands Preservation Alliance,

Where to Find the Pygmy Pines:

The “pygmy” pines, a stunted variety (of) the pitch pine, can be seen at their best on Route 72 which runs northwest from Stafford Township through to Burlington County and beyond to the Philadelphia area.   County Route 539, running from Little Egg Harbor north, also has many great views of these mysterious trees in the southern area.

Source: Piney Power!,

 There are a bunch of sandy trails that wind their way through the plains.

Here is Doug and Soc standing in the plains.  Notice how TINY the pines are! Doug is 5’10”.

Pygmy Pine Plains Size by Beth Sawickie

Now here is Doug standing next to a regular NJ Pine Barrens Pitch Pine.

Tall Pitch Pine by Beth Sawickie

What a difference !!

Here’s the view from Spring Hill.  This photo really doesn’t do it justice.

View from Spring Hill in Pine Barrens by Beth Sawickie

Tweet About This Nature Stroll 🙂


There are a few Geocaches up there.  We found ’em 🙂

Here’s Doug filling in a log for one.  Notice how tiny the trees are.

Do you Geocache? (tell me about it in the comments).

Geocaching in the Pines - Beth Sawickie

Here’s Doug surveying the scene and pointing towards another trail in the distance.

doug-truck-02-09-2015-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)

There’s a lot of elevation changes in this area of the pines.

Well, a lot for THIS area which is typically rather flat.

I’m looking up a hill here, Doug is all the way up top (at Spring Hill).

Trail to Spring Hill by Beth Sawickie

I find that often the really special things in the Pine Barrens go unnoticed because they are so small.  This definitely goes for the flowers like orchids which aren’t out yet.

Here is this neat mushroom/fungus that doesn’t look like much from a distance.

And notice it is sitting on a bed of sand and rock.  I believe most of those rocks are quartz – I have a bunch in the tumbler now – shining ’em up 🙂

Fungus in the Pines - Beth Sawickie

Fungus in the Pines 2 - Beth Sawickie

We left the Pygmy Pine Plains and headed towards Oswego Lake…

Along the way we ran into this icy puddle.

Icy Puddle in Pines - Beth Sawickie

Would you drive over it?

We did – even though we had gotten stuck in a much smaller icy puddle a few weeks ago!

Luckily, we made it through! Phew!

Here’s  another one of the dirt/sand roads we drove on.

Glowing Pine Barrens Dirt Road by Beth Sawickie

Here is Oswego Lake:

Oswego Lake in NJ by Beth Sawickie

About Oswego Lake:

Oswego Lake is a great “get-away” spot to picnic and experience the remote beauty and serenity of the Pine Barrens. White cedar and pitch pine forest provide a scenic background to the beauty of the lake. The best way to experience the lake is by kayak, but there are also miles of sand roads through Penn State Forest where a beginning or avid naturalist could spend hours exploring white cedar swamp, pitch pine forest, red maple swamp, and other habitats. The lake and surrounding forest offer the chance to encounter a plethora of wildlife, including snakes, lizards, turtles, birds, various insects and rare plants. 2010 marks the 100 year anniversary of Penn State Forest.

Sourde: NJ Wildlife Trails

We have kayaked the Oswego and it is BEAUTIFUL!  If you like to enjoy the serene beauty of nature in peace, I’d suggest not going in the summer.

And here’s a shot of the Oswego River flowing into Oswego Lake.

Oswego River by Beth Sawickie

It was such a treat to see plants coming back to life. Green starting to pop out and buds becoming noticeable!

I LOVE moss!  This guy caught my eye!

Green Moss by Beth Sawickie

And it inspired this image:

Green Moss Glow by Beth Sawickie

I have no idea what this plant is – do you? (let me know in the comments below!)

red green plant

And I don’t know what this one is either (young Swamp Maple ???)

tree-buds-02-09-2015-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)

Swamp Maple Tree Buds

Swamp Maple Tree Buds by Beth Sawickie

Blackjack Oak Tree Buds:

Blackjack Oak Tree Buds

And this one would be a Pitch Pine 🙂

Pitch Pine Glow by Beth Sawickie

Well, that’s all I have for you today 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the video and photos!

Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

And, hey, pass this “Nature Stroll” along to a friend using the buttons below 🙂

Wishing you many warm, sunny days!


P.S. For me, being in nature is a MUST!  It fills my heart and soul with peace and joy.  Even though this is something that makes me happy, I spent a long time not doing it very often.  This was during many years when I was being challenged by depression.  It’s been a long journey but I’ve turned from “blah” towards “BLISS!” and I’d like to share my journey and tips with you.  Go check out my Blah to Bliss Toolkit where you can get a free copy of my book that shares my story and actionable steps to move from Blah to Bliss!


Sunset Stroll – February 7th, 2015

Today was very warm – at least 45 degrees! That’s a 20 degree difference from yesterday!

Earlier in the day I noticed one of the first signs of spring – a Hyacinth pushing up through the ground 🙂

I took advantage of this warm weather and took Soc (the dog) for a nice walk near Whitesbog Village in NJ where we captured the sunset….  Enjoy!

I caught some of the sunset on video – take a look…


This was when we first got there…. hoping those clouds light up with color in a bit!
Sunset Stroll February 7 2015 with Beth Sawickie

sunset-feb-7-2015-02-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)


Here’s some close-up’s of the clouds.  Can you tell me what kind of clouds these are?  (let me know in the comments down below).sunset-feb-7-2015-04-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1) sunset-feb-7-2015-03-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)


While waiting for the color show, we walked around.

Most of the bogs still had a layer of ice on them.

There were some neat ice formations at the edges – looked like the moving water froze as it was lapping at the edge of the bog.

And another area on the sand/dirt road where a puddle was melting.

sunset-feb-7-2015-05-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)sunset-feb-7-2015-06-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)


Then I turned around and looked at the opposite side (East)… it looked pretty neat over there too!

That’s a whole bunch o’ Pitch Pine growin’ there.

(Original photo edited to reflect the energy I felt while viewing it.)

sunset-feb-7-2015-08-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)


Here’s the sky at the height of the color!

sunset-feb-7-2015-12-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)


These next 2 show the energy I felt when viewing the sunset:

sunset-feb-7-2015-13-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)sunset-feb-7-2015-14-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)


And then it faded…

sunset-feb-7-2015-15-beth-sawickie-72wm (1 of 1)

Soc and I continued to walk for a bit – it still wasn’t too cold.

That itty bitty touch of pink/purple left in the sky did seem to rise up a bit again – too dark at that point for me to get a shot without a tripod.

I hope you enjoyed tonight’s Sunset Stroll 🙂  Let me know you enjoyed it by sharing it with others (use the buttons below) 🙂

And if you know what any of those clouds are, please let me know in the comments below.

Wishing you MANY more sunsets!


P.S. My love of nature and photography really blossomed as I moved from “Blah” (depression) towards “Bliss”.  Read more about my journey in “Get Back on the Feel Good Train” that you can get for Free HERE.

Electric Sunset by Beth Sawickie

Sunset Stroll – February 6th, 2015

It was looking like it was not going to be a very colorful sunset.

Out my window I could see a low band of dark clouds along the horizon – usually a sign that whatever color would pop would be mostly blocked by ’em.

Besides – it was darn cold out (again) – mid-20’s.

So I went on my merry way doing whatever it was – oh yeah – cooking dinner.

Took a quick peak out the window and – WHOA!

Purple, pink, blue, orange!  Holy NUTS!

Dinner could wait! This sunset was a once in a lifetime opportunity! (you never see the same one twice).

I turned off the burner on the rice and luckily hadn’t started anything else yet.

I made it down the road to the bridge in time to watch the stunning sunset!

You can see a bit of it in this video here:

I was sitting on the frozen sand on the shoreline of the frozen lake.

I was in awe of the beautiful color show and didn’t realize just how COLD my rear end was getting!  LOL.

Here are my favorite photos from the sunset:

Electric Sunset by Beth Sawickie

Electric Sunset

This is by far my favorite photo of the evening. (above)

Prints, cards and gifts featuring “Electric Sunset” are available HERE.

Sunset February 6 #1 by Beth Sawickie

The colors were truly spectacular!  Not only were they reflecting off of the open water – but also the ice.

Sunset Reflected on Ice by Beth Sawickie

Sunset #3 by Beth Sawickie

Here’s the sunset from a part of the lake where the ice was frozen in ripples along the shoreline:

Frozen Sunset #2 by Beth Sawickie

The color lasted for a long time.

Actual sunset was around 5:15.  I started shooting at 5:23 and my last shot was at 5:44 (below).

Sunset #4 by Beth Sawickie

Most of the color had drained from the sky.  You can still see a bit of that hot pink peaking out from behind the trees towards the left.

I was totally frozen by this point and kinda happy that the show was coming to a close! lol.

Getting to see that marvelous one-of-a-kind live painting in the sky was definitely worth it though!

AND… an added bonus… I accidentally learned a new way to cook rice!  Even though I turned the burner off on the rice half-way through cooking, when I got home it was PERFECTLY cooked!

Later in the evenin,g I created this “Energy Flow Mandala” inspired by tonight’s sunset:

Energy Flow Mandala by Beth Sawickie

Prints, cards and gifts featuring this “Energy Flow Mandala” are available HERE.

Thank you for joining me on this “virtual” Sunset Stroll.

I hope you enjoyed the video and photos!

Your comments are always appreciated – drop me a line below.

And, please, share this post with others using the buttons below 🙂

Pastel Sky Mandala by Beth Sawickie

Pastel Sky Mandala

Pastel Sky Mandala by Beth Sawickie

It was an early February evening.

Bitter cold with a whipping wind.

The setting sun cast it’s color around the sky.

A lone birch tree silhouetted by the soft pastel sky.

Peace, contentment and solace among the whipping frigged wind.

Prints, cards and pillows featuring this Pastel Sky Mandala are available – Click HERE.


Tweet about this mandala…

Pass this mandala on to others – use the sharing buttons below 🙂