Thursday, December 31, 2015

This New Year

May your 2016 be like a strong branch clustered with surprising jewels along the way. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Do you hear cackling?

I feel like Gretel who smells something delicious and then sees a lovely cottage in the woods and goes carefully toward it.  I took these this morning, December 30.

I got down on my knees sinking into the cool wet earth and took a photo to remember this impossibility.  

I say "Gretel" because I am waiting to hear a witches cackle in the coming days.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Are You Paying Attention?

The world is changing.  She shrugs her shoulders big time in China and she sneezes in Texas and she catches cold in Colorado.  Here, where I live, she seems to be banking the warm fires for so long that I actually welcome this 40F degree day today.  Even the geese seem disoriented in our river wondering what happened to the winter.  The fall was so long and so lovely that I cannot help but think we are not paying the price yet that others are paying.

We went for a walk in the nearby woods and marshland and I took a few photos that are an example of our non-winter winter.  There is not much birdsong or insect percussion in this place, but the warm air makes me think there should be.

You can hear the crackle of dead leaves and you have to be careful about pockets of wet marsh, but I have on my hiking shoes and do not worry.

So much rain and the moss has maintained is brilliant green retaining nature's compass.

The beaver is engineering the flow of the water to suit his winter home.

And this cattail looks as if it is throwing up his arms in celebration of a little bit of sunshine, at long last.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Test?

The temperature is going to reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas Eve.  Even the rest of the week will  be  very pleasant.  I am thankful for no snow to shovel and no ice to navigate.  Wondering what  the New Year will bring and if we are going to be tested after enjoying this unusually warm weather.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

This Morning

Long before the winter's sun broke over the black horizon, just when the sky was turning its cold pink, the red-tailed hawk could be heard crying high in the sky over my house.  His piercing call was the only sound in the cold desert of the morning's silence. Was it in celebration of the new day or in sadness over the shortness of the day before solstice?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Days Waiting for Winter

I took a walk around my yard a few days ago. I don't know when winter will finally get here, but it appears we have broken any temperature records but we must have broken the record for mores days in a row above average temperature. Small bees have come out of hibernation burying themselves in these flowers and cherry blossoms are blooming in D.C. Beautiful and scary at the same time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Red

The sunrise decorated my forest trees in red for Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2015

At the Beach

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
                                "Dover Beach" Mathew Arnold

We went to the beach to find coloured shells
the kind that when placed to our ears
make the sound of the ocean appear,
and gathered rocks that we never would find
in the places we walked,
for most of the time.
                                     "Memories of the Beach"  David Taylor

Of lavender and pearl, umber and rose,
Of iridescent sheen, dim-shaded dun,
Of red that smoulders and of red that glows,
To lie there glistening beneath the sun,
Beside the shouting or the singing sea,
All beautiful, and empty every one.
                                 "The Beach of Shells" Edward Shanks

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The Comfort of Being in Union

In Paradise there is nothing to stop the wind that flows across the Gulf of Mexico onto the white sandy beaches.  It actually races instead of flows during the late fall months driven by the warm waters of summer, dumping shells, seaweed, small sea creatures and whatever else is in its path.  It seems to want to wipe the surface of the ocean clean.  It wants to start fresh,  as do I.

Many of the worshipers at the shrine of the tropical waves hide indoors during this service, because they are suddenly afraid of the power of something as simple as moving air or perhaps afraid of how weak they are in its presence.  Small air molecules joining with surprising force in their demands can suddenly get our attention.  When they really want our attention they lift things that we cannot.

 I had the beach almost totally to myself.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The First Evening

Our arrival on Marco Island was just as the sun was setting.  We did not even unpack our car, but went directly to the beach to enjoy a cool weather sunset.  Cool weather for southern Florida but warm for those of us from the mid-Atlantic.  Breathing in and breathing out before the crush of family.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tree Fruit

I have several persimmon trees. Because they are still young we sometimes get great fruit in the late fall yet sometimes the cold weather comes too early, sometimes the crows and raccoons discover our harvest before us.   But the colors this year are more than enough reward.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Feather Heads

This common reed plant (Phragmites) has some varieties that are native to the USA. Back in the 1800's it is believed that the phragmites from Europe came through ballasts in the boats and invaded the United States pushing out the native reed grasses.  Recently this is being questioned.  Peat bog research indicates that it has been here for over 3,000 years.  The non-native version is much more invasive and has squeezed out all types of native plants along coastlines in the mid-Atlantic but the reason for that is still disputed.  While the photo above makes you think it has lots of seeds, it spreads mostly underground by rhizomes. A recent study has found 27 lineages/strains of this plant exist with only 11 being native to North America.  With the rise of water against shorelines, it will interesting to see how rapidly this reed adapts or dies.  Only an expert can tell the different varieties by observation.  When putting up our wood duck boxes we found we had to move a number further out into the marsh since the phragmites had taken over the space providing a tool for predators such as snakes to climb up into the boxes.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Looking Down

A week or so ago I took a walk around a cluster of lakes west of where I live.  The wooded paths were more than inviting.  We have had a perfect fall that kept cool weather plants spring green while changing all other plants to a rainbow of warm colors.

But while most of us look up at the rich leaves dancing against a blue sky, I decided to spend some time looking down.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Neutral in the Light

Mousy gray, velvet fog is
moving stealthily between 
half-dressed tree branches 
quietly bumping a leaf or two 
starting a yellow spinning fall. 

Then it drapes the webs 
of small spiders in diamonds and pearls 
revealing their secret locations 
against the smokey air 
in its frozen movement.

It hides the blue heron across the river 
until he sees my advance 
and like his pterodactyl ancestor 
breaks a perfect silence by screeching harshly
in his departure into the grayness 
disappearing like an angry ghost 
over the distant river.

Hidden even closer
breaking the surface of mirrored water
at my side
a Canada loon cantillates a nostalgic song 
as if missing his summer already
and eyeing me to see if I understand.

The Earth is sighing
after the brash energetic show 
she put on all week for the masses.
Then throwing a silky covering 
across her shoulders 
like a Prima Donna
she begins to remove the last of her make-up
just as the final curtain comes down.

Sunday, November 01, 2015


I have a sugar maple tree.  Boy do I have a sugar maple tree! 
When first planted it was just my height, now it is thrice my size 
and I am probably a bit shorter, and still it is young.
It grows with madness creating huge palm shaped fans of green 
that flicker and fly and make deep green shade
in the summer
sheltering insects and birds and me. 
It is a snow bird in my warmer climate
but seems to accept the longer season.

When autumn comes for her audacious visit,
my maple becomes insane in reds, peaches,
oranges and limes 
flaunting color back at the sun 
bold and bodacious in its shades of glory

expending the last of its energy before casting everything to the ground,
in the grand finale then taking a long winter's nap. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Falling Eve

The air, now crisp and thin, like old lace
frames the calming sunsets
which are a dichotomy of torrid fire, 
a slow moving sentinal
repeating the habit of farewell

Air that carries a type of chill
easily blocked by a silk scarf
yet still able to blow memories
into the listening ear
of a familiar Song of adieu.

For just this vitreous moment
the silence is quantum
speaking of an eternity
of rhythmic forordination 
that is our destiny while we are here


Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Wildest that flows through a Population?

Rivers are the life blood of much of America.

We hiked along a river that runs through three states and one District.
It extends 383 miles from the Appalachian Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay and starts way up high in the mountains.

This river is the home to many many birds.

Both the great blue heron and the bald eagle live here.

The river has had a long relationship with man as well.  People lived along it shores 15,000 years ago.

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the river traced the border between the Union and the Confederacy.  It WAS the line that divided the country.

People pull their canoes and kayaks out as they reach the gorge.  It is too dangerous to go on in some places.

For those who take the land the hiking along the shoreline is sometimes easy and sometimes difficult, But it is also beautiful this time of year.

Can you see hubby struggling with the rocks?

A waterfall from the Canal.
Do you know which river this is?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Water Project

You have to go to my other blog to see what was happening here with that large aluminum disk in the canoe.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Have You Checked Your Magnetic Compass Lately?

I was at a local concert with a casual friend the other evening.  (We were listening to brassy and bold shanty songs of the sailors and oystermen of the Chesapeake Bay.  Most of the songs were original, but still had that boozy sexuality that only boatmen seem to love.  Must have something to do with the up and down of the waves.)

During the intermission, the woman explained to me how she had lived most of her life on the West Coast of America and always accepted that the massive body of water was to the West.  Then she moved here to the East coast a little more than a decade ago and she said she still has to sometimes reset her internal compass to accept that the water is to the East, that the sun sets over the continent.  I thought about this and then somehow realized we are like birds, turtles and lots of others, such as some butterflies, in having that magnetic compass that has been set inside by the earth.  Like us they instinctively know North and South and East and West and then have it confirmed by land masses and bodies of water and sometimes by smells and wind drifts.  I think we do the same, but ignore this inner link to our earth because we have other technical guidance systems and pathways that distract us and keep us on task.  The artificial temperatures we create and the artificial smells turn us to a narrower path.

This year I had only ONE Monarch butterfly visit the yard.  I have planted at least three butterfly milkweed plants for them to eat and use, but to no avail.  They are disappearing.  We never had many on this side of the continent, but now some are talking of near extinction.  It is just a butterfly after all.  Who would notice if it was gone?  It is just one more tiny knot in the fabric of life that it beginning to come loose.