Spring’s Second Day at the Zoo

26 03 2017

Spring’s Second Day at the Zoo

The real story

Is the robins.

They strut, and fight, and

Explore their urban world anew

In the softer air this second

Day. All the birds seem to know it,

That true frost is behind us –

That there is safety

In boldness.

 

The giraffe, always curious

About the humans who raised him

Stretches to greet me,

Another one passing by.

I like to think

He remembers when

I met him on my second day

Working at the zoo.

 

The siamangs huddle casually,

Still a bit sleepy and cold

But glad of the growing sunshine.

On my way back through

They are basking on a higher branch;

The sun has won them over, but

They are not yet hooting for joy.

That will come, they know;

The animals,

All of them

Adapted to a new life

Still possess the deep ways

Of season,

Of death, and therefore

Of truly living.

 





Lessons from my Garden

29 06 2016

This summer began with a new development in my home garden: after the first few years of shade-gardening with native plants, a light-gap has opened in the woods from a tree falling last year, allowing me to finally pursue a dream of vegetables. My husband and I put in the small, square raised bed; I planted a modest selection of tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper plants; and we fenced it in for protection from ever-present, hungry wildlife.

The first lesson I am confronting is patience.

I believe the seemingly contradictory qualities of impatience and distraction are responsible for my long history of a black thumb. Sometimes I smother my plants with eager watering and prodding; other times, I forget my charges, and they wither from neglect. I have begun to see that vegetables are delicate; if I want any kind of yield, I have to be diligent but not clingy.

Still, as I water them daily, I purse my lips and examine the stalks (gently!) for signs of new flowers.

I also have newfound gratitude for rain. I have always loved rainy days almost more than sunny ones, but rain takes on new meaning now, a direct sign of divine providence. “No need to water today!” I think, with a sigh of contended relief. It’s work lugging the big watering can up to the light gap, far from the hose’s reach.

All this watering gives me greater respect than ever for our crops’ tremendous strain on resources. Just seeing the daily amount my four plants require easily paints a picture in my mind of that amount magnified across our groaning planet. And it occurs to me that all of us, whether omnivore or carnivore, vegetarian or vegan, should be humbled by what it takes to provide for our needs on a daily basis.

Who knew such lessons await in such humble, green places?





Children need us . . .

10 09 2011

And not in the way that we normally hear about, although there are certainly unfortunate children who need our monetary help around the world. Today, however, I saw something that got me thinking about the one thing all children need and mostly don’t get, especially in America.

I am talking about nature role models.

As I walked in my (sub)urban townhome complex today, I spied two small children milling about a uniform patch of grass under a tree. They seemed to be searching for some fun and adventure in that dull spot, as they restlessly combed the grass together. I heard their parents loudly talking through the open townhouse door nearby.

What those children need is a parent, relative or family friend to show them the fun, the adventure, the curiosities and surprises they seek. I see this often, especially so close to a city, where the suburb is really just an extension of urban nature exclusion. In homogenizing our environments for comfort, we have sterilized them of the things children intuitively know they need.

So, the next time you are around children listlessly searching for that experience they can’t define; the next time they seem antsy or declare, “I’m bored,” take them outside  and play, even if all you have is a dull patch of grass.  Look at every bug and interesting leaf. Let the children lead – they just need an adult to be excited along with them. The future of our world is, in that moment, in your own capable hands.





Pay Attention to the Sea

30 07 2011

Today I borrow from a soulful blog, From the House of Edward,  to bring you this thought. I hope it can enrich your day, whether you find yourself facing the sea in person or in your mind.

Slow down.
Notice.
Remember.
When the breeze blows in from off the sea and finds you, stop for a moment to think about the way it feels as it brushes your cheek. Remember the salty fragrance of nature’s perfume. Let your eyes gaze out over and into the blue of the water till you can see that colour behind closed eyes in your sleep.
After all, none of us can remember what we don’t notice in the first place.
*~*




The Hummer and the Butterfly

28 07 2011
Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

The tiger swallowtails are out.

They are floating, sometimes recklessly, sometimes purposefully, their yellow bright against the blazing skies of July. They cross our 21st century byways, but they are just passing through our chronology. Theirs is an evolutionary time and place, one built – as layers of sand become the shore –  tiny life by tiny life.

Watching them, I can feel the simplicity of that life, if only for a tiny moment.

Then, one floats between me and the yellow Hummer in front of me. Its license plate reads, “Our Farms, Our Future.” Behind me, the couple smokes, his Bluetooth on, her tailgating mindlessly.

We are also in an evolutionary timeline. Which will predominate – the Hummer or the Butterfly? The moment or the mindless?

We can tell ourselves that one person cannot influence such monumental forces as evolution. I say, it depends what is evolving, and what we want to come of it.





Suddenly, Wildlife!

26 06 2011

Ghost Crab, Assateague Island

You could be in the middle of the city, or a jungle, or a suburban jungle of lawns and sprinklers. Wherever you are, suddenly the animal, utterly different from your world, appears on the scene. For that moment, your worlds are one and the same, and you feel awe.

I hope you’ve been there. If not, here’s how.

Finding wildlife is about three basic principles:

  1. Be Still. To see animals you must not move so much. If  you fidget like me, you’ll understand why this is number 1. Try simply sitting somewhere, anywhere, and . . .
  2. Watch.  You might think this goes without saying, but really, when was the last time you watched something other than people or cars go by? Keep your eyes open to everything new and potentially interesting. Of course, you can help this along if you strive to . . .
  3. Be Present. A certain wildlife biologist I know quite well is excellent at being in the moment, and I suspect that’s why he sees most everything before I do. This is also why I have to be obnoxious about it when I do see something first, of course.

I have had birds, rodents, and deer virtually ignore my presence. Once, while walking down a mysterious path at dusk, I came face to face with a porcupine doing the same. We stared at each other breathlessly for several minutes before he broke the tension and walked off. I will never forget the floating moment when we both felt the same fear and, if I can extend your imagination, the same exhilaration at the unexpected encounter.

Hey, it could be true. The point is, experiences are as magical and meaningful as you make them. Another time, in a perfect garden and also at dusk, a dragonfly hovered gently above my head. I’d like to think we were on a similarly Zen wavelength in that moment. I do know for certain that we shared the same beautiful garden on the same beautiful night.

What are your sudden nature encounters?





Summer Joys

19 06 2011

I’m back! Is anyone out there?

Well, whether you are or you aren’t, I’m here and ready to share more Greening  Tree tidbits with you. Watch the blog for continued changes!

*~*

Summer is upon us, and the solstice will soon make it official. While I’m not a fan of high temps, I do love many of the pleasures that derive their significance from this fleeting season:

  • An ice-cold drink on the patio.
  • Exultant bird song from early in the morning until long after the sun retires.
  • The lazy pace of everything – our western culture’s nod to seizing the season.
  • Farmer’s markets loaded with brilliant colors and interesting shapes.
  • The way the outdoors becomes our second home.

During the workweek, I take a moment to look out the window and smile upon the world outside. It will be ready to greet me at 5 o’clock, and I want to make sure I’m ready to greet it!

This week, why not:

  • Try a new fruit.
  • Stroll in your neighborhood.
  • Notice an insect and the way it lives.
  • Take an impromptu trip to a park – hike, play ball, picnic, and bask in this friendly season!




I heart baby leaves.

26 04 2011
A pink-flowered Cornus florida

Image via Wikipedia

This is one of the many thoughts I have while driving home. I am fortunate to have a pleasing landscape around me on my way to and from work. Perhaps I’m still partially asleep in the mornings, but the evening brings more contemplation.

It has likely been said before, but each Spring I feel that it has never been this Spring, this almost unexpected beauty. I feel my winter self wiping the crust from its eyes and taking a deeper breath. The entire green world is a translucent emerald gem dotted with redbuds and dogwoods in bloom. Grass is a novel, electric smell.

Life is good, even during rush hour, even after a long day’s work. I marvel at the power of nature, even through the glass windows of a car, to calm and reconnect me to a powerful force: Spring.

These are my thoughts on this great season. Oh, and I heart baby leaves – they are so cute!





The Town without a Place

5 04 2011
Cul-de-sacs: Atlanta Image copyleft: Image tak...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve noticed something disturbing lately.

The people in my town live nowhere.

Ice cream trucks run in the cold of early March. People wear shorts and forgo jackets after the first warm day, despite the weather turning chill again. Gardens are mostly absent; a lawn statue here, a wagon wheel there seem to suffice. Christmas decor remains until spring, and I think I know why.

You see, my town is not really a town. It is a development that crawled in one long line, connecting the city to the historic town at its end, with townhouses and cul-de-sacs snaking away into the rural area on either side. As a result of its utilitarian birth, its residents seem to have no identity, no culture, and certainly no connection to the place they live. They could be living anywhere, and so I say they live nowhere at all.

Cultivating a sense of place is vital to protecting the nature we say we appreciate. Right now I gain such joy each day from the incremental unveiling of nature – a new tree blooming there, more grass cropping up here. The way most of my neighbors walk, heads down, or drive distracted, I doubt many see these fascinating changes. This may be the one of many unfortunate reasons that invasive species are left to shove out native, that we just set a heat record for early April, and that more people than ever call themselves environmentalists but lack a true connection to Earth.

Do you live in a town without a place? Don’t let it get you down; just noticing where you are can combat this zombie nation.





Preparing for Spring

20 02 2011
Garden with some tulips and narcissus

Image via Wikipedia

Some say it’s here. The groundhog said it would come before March 21st, if you can believe him. Others are not convinced by the temporary, even frighteningly warm spell we just experienced.

All I can say is, undoubtedly, things are happening underground. Along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor yesterday, tulips were shooting up, just waiting for the days to lengthen sufficiently for their big debut. I smelled a disgruntled skunk while driving through the countryside. Yes, it’s true: animals and plants are stirring. And so should we!
Do you long for greeness and warmth again? Ever so slowly, resume your springtime self. Wear bright colors. Dust something. Water your long-suffering indoor plants. Turn your face up to the sky and think spring thoughts. It won’t be long now!

How are you preparing for Spring?








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