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Children aren’t looking for life to be just so to stop and see beauty. It’s in the midst. In the blanket fort a mish-mashed mess, in collected litter treasures, in the living room dust particles dancing like fairies upon the sun’s backlight.

For me, it can be hard to see the beauty for the piles, but when I get away from the confines of these four walls for a while, often times it helps me remember.

A few weeks ago, when the roses here in Portland had reached their seasonal peak, the girls and I headed to the International Rose Gardens ten or so minutes from our house.

It’s a traditional kind of beauty to be sure, but there’s always unexpected among the rows. The flower on the edge of life, just holding onto petals before they drop free. The sing-song of foreign languages and the way he looks at her before he snaps that shot next to the row of Spanish red.

It was a humid cloudy burning off to intense sun on the face kind of day, the type where you alternate every few minutes putting on your sweater and then tying it around your waist. I’d sort of forgotten about the old project in which the girls take photos that represent their view on a theme (in the past, they captured impressions of Love and Joy), but when one of my budding photographers asked if she could snap a few photos with the phone, I handed it over, and then the girls passed it around.

Between sniffs — “this one is peaches” and “you’ve gotta smell this one…it’s just that perfect rose scent” — they darted among the flowers. Beauty seekers — that’s what they were.

The light was a bit of a mixed bag and so some of the photos are a bit bright with that midday glare, but I chose not to alter or edit them in any way here. Today, you’re seeing just what my girls saw.

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While they photographed, I asked,
“What is beauty?”

Sici (age 11): “Beauty is attitude. It’s internal.”

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Lala (age 4 1/2): “I name this petal Beauty.”

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J (age 8): “I know what makes something beautiful. Life.”

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Amen.

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