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?





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.





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!





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?





. . . And we’re back

23 01 2011

I decided that I want to continue the blog, but on more casual terms. For instance, I will post when the mood strikes and let myself write on more wide-ranging topics. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts, as always. And now, a poem about winter on the Maryland shore, by me.

The Inlet in Winter

The inlet in winter

Whispers stoic peace;

Waves slip

Into secrets

And retreat,

Telling no one, as the secrets

Mean nothing

Under subtle skies.

Nearby,

the maritime woods

snuggle together, protecting

their summertime scent.

We are mere visitors,

Temporary distractions

From the weighty work

Of winter

In their bones.

*~*





Thanks All Around

24 11 2010
The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

Image via Wikipedia

This Thanksgiving, you may or may not be looking for some new things for which to be thankful around your table. Whichever the case, allow me to suggest that we can be thankful:

  • That nature is resilient. With all of the scary things we’ve done to it over the centuries, nature still filters our water, produces our oxygen, and takes our breath away with beautiful sights.
  • That we’ve come a long way. Since the beginning of the environmental movement, we’ve risen to the challenges of learning to recycle, slowing ozone loss, and conserving shrinking habitats. Things could be a lot worse, and there is reason to hope that they can get even better.
  • That God provides. No matter what your situation in life, the natural world can and does sustain you and comfort you, giving both literal and figurative nourishment.

And lastly . . .

  • That you’re not a pilgrim. Life was super hard back then, and even in dire circumstances, at least we don’t have to contend with wolves and angry natives as we prepare our harvest feast.

Enjoy the earth’s bounty this Thanksgiving!





Why Backpacking?

4 11 2010

Me, hiking PA's West Rim Trail

Two Sundays ago, I returned from a real-life adventure. There were glorious views and aching feet, midnight snow and evening rain, critter encounters and an injury. This adventure only took a few days and cost relatively little, but it plucked my husband and I out of our comfortable lives and immersed us more fully in our own survival. We went backpacking.

Some may ask why we would endure weather extremes, freeze-dried food, sleeping on the ground, and muscle pains. The truth is, there is a moment during every trip when even a seasoned backpacker asks themselves the same questions. However, the payoffs are legendary; just ask John Muir, hiker extraordinaire and father of the American park system. He exhorts us to “Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

Yes, it is good to “break clear away,” to work for your vistas and waterfalls, and for your comfort at day’s end. To build a fire – especially when it is hard to do. To have your breath taken away by the sight of something no person could make. To realize that all you need to survive you can haul on your back, and that all the stuff back at home is just window-dressing. And to know that you are blessed with lungs, senses, and thoughts, and that all of these things cost nothing at all.

That is why I go backpacking.





Autumn Reflections

17 10 2010

 


North Quabbin Woods, MA, 2010

 

Much is made of autumn’s clear relationship to death. For some, this is reason enough to discount the season and its joys. But perhaps even those who cannot dare to contemplate death – in general or their own – can begin to learn the lessons autumn brings about dealing with aging.

As leaves in the northern hemisphere die, their green chlorophyll retreats, uncovering the glorious other colors that were there all along. These pigments capitalize on the weaker, slanted light of Fall to capture the final food of the growing season. Just so, as we age, some things fall away, such as youthful innocence and energy. If, however, we are attentive to our own autumn’s rewards, we can unmask the wisdom and perseverance that grew beneath the initial protection of our earlier strengths.

When leaves finish their work and fall the ground, they become rich food for many creatures and fertilization for next summer’s green leaves. Just so, even as we mourn the ending of chapters in our lives, their fruit will enrich the seasons to come with knowledge and experience.

Finally, even as the trees are laid bare, we can recognize in this vulnerable landscape the new and different beauty of honesty and character that lays beneath our fleeting appearances and remains when all our vanities are stripped away. This is the hardest lesson for many of us to accept, and a concept that even the young (like myself) struggle with as they reach new milestones.

It is my prayer that we can all enjoy the physical and spiritual rewards of autumn’s finery, this year and every year going forward, until we smile at is comforting messages in our lives.

Autumn is a second spring
Where every leaf is a flower
~ Albert Camus








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