Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Serene

Take a walk in a garden and admire nature’s handiwork as interpreted by skillful gardeners. Stroll on the beach and marvel at the beautiful sunrise over a calm sea. Contemplate life’s great mysteries in a Japanese Friendship Garden… all of these memories brought to mind some of the photos I’d gathered over the years when Patti suggested that we share serene images for this week’s photo challenge. She writes, “This week we are challenging you to show us serene. Do you feel serene when you visit a special place or sit in your favorite armchair in your living room? Do you find it with specific people or in a specific environment? Do you find it when you drink your favorite tea or eat a piece of chocolate?” You can read her entire challenge post here.

The opening photo features a view of The International Peace Garden. This beautiful garden is located above North Dakota and below Manitoba in a zone that is shared by both the United States and Canada. You must leave one country to visit the garden, but you don’t have to enter the other country. Border entry stations are at each side of the garden and you will need to be sure you have the appropriate credentials to get back into your home country when you leave the garden. It’s worth the hassle to bring your family’s citizenship credentials to enjoy the beauty of this joint effort in honor of the long-term peace between two great nations.

Red River at Orchard Glen-1

The Red River of the North is but a few miles from our home in Fargo. The river can be a raging torrent that causes death and destruction during our springtime floods. In the summer, however, it can be a great place to visit for a scenic walk, or to drop a line in the water in hopes of catching a fish… but I’d recommend catch-and-release for those river fish varieties that are an acquired taste.

Friendship Garden-4

There is something about water, especially when accompanied by the sound it makes while moving down a stream. This view is a snapshot captured at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a great place to spend some quality time in meditation.


Walking along the seashore at dawn on a quiet morning is a special treat. We were lucky to view a pastel sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean on a late autumn morning while visiting one of the islands of the Outer Banks in North Carolina a few years ago.

Missouri River Sunset-1

Sonali’s Garden was created high on a hill in memory of someone who left the world in the spring of her adulthood. Contemplate the meaning of life from the hilltop at the edge of the garden in Bismarck, North Dakota. Benches facing west allow visitors to the garden to enjoy those serene sunsets over the Missouri River.

Wild Horses-6

North Dakota is known for its windy days. However, there are times when the wind doesn’t blow. On a serene day in Theodore Roosevelt National Park at Medora, North Dakota, a small herd of wild horses is enjoying the calm day. These two individuals are enjoying a mid-morning breakfast of native grasses. I was struck by the beautiful coloring of the horse in the foreground.

Fog in Fargo-1

In the early morning on an autumn day, the air is cool, too cool to support the amount of humidity in the air. With no wind to move the air, a soft fog often settles near the Red River. The street lights provide a warm glow that filters through the air heavy with mist.

Next week, the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is on hiatus for the holiday week but will be back on New Years Day with a special surprise for regular readers. As a result, I will take a day off from my usual Thursday post but I will have a New Years Day post instead. Thanks again to Patti for a contemplative challenge as we come to the end of another year.

Feel free to click on any of the above images to take a closer look. You can also visit the entire album on my Flickr site here. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and happy holidays to all of my readers.

John Steiner


  1. A perfect set of photos for the them John 🙂 That shot of the Red River of the North epitomises the word, as does that Outer Banks sunrise and the Missouri sunset – beautiful!

  2. Oooh John, a teaser!! Loved your post this week, all of your images evoke peace and serenity. I loved Sonali’s garden although it sounds like there is a sad story behind it, and of course the beautiful wild horses. Wishing you and wonderful holiday season – looking forward to seeing what the new year brings!

  3. What a gorgeous collection, John! Just lovely. The two horses put me in a serene mood, for sure, as well as your beautiful sunsets. All the best to you and your loved ones in the new year. I’m hoping you have plenty of good health and travel in 2022. 😀😀

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