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.

 





Small Things

1 09 2016

Waking up when you didn’t remember it was Saturday

The tea at just the right temperature

The first sip of coffee on a cold, tired morning

When you are alone for the first time in some time, and the room is silent

Coming home, sitting down, removing your shoes and petting the cat

Entering a house from the cold outside when a fire is in the hearth

A bee on a flower, oblivious

A butterfly wafting where you cannot

When the rain starts and the heat is broken

When the rain ends and all is new

Eating the first cherry tomato, warm from the vine

The first flower peeking through the cold ground

The cat lying in the shaft of light; a book on your lap

Taking out the finished pie

A chocolate chip cookie, still warm and melted

The first cookie of Christmas, eaten while leaning against the counter in the warm kitchen

Happening upon a brook in the forest

When you arrive at the beach and hurry out to stand before the waves

A bird landing on a low branch, inspecting you

Wildlife in the garden, unaware you are watching

Walking out of the office on the day before vacation

Christmas Eve at midnight

Christmas Day, before the house has risen

Easter morning sunlight through the church windows





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?





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.





Capturing Joy

12 07 2011
Raspberries

Image via Wikipedia

A favorite thinker of mine, SARK, has a knack for maximizing small moments for big effect. Her micromovement system overcomes procrastination in the blink of an eye, and she advocates taking (and making) tiny adventures everyday.

I believe in something similar: capturing the joy in mini moments.

What if your outlook on the day could be instantly improved? I am prone to think this is impossible magic, but I find, if I am open to the change, it is possible.

Here are some encapsulated joys that have made my week so far:

  • The little dip in the road on my commute home that feels like riding my bike down a certain hill from childhood.
  • Standing on the balcony on the final evening of a heat wave, anticipating the cooler air to come.
  • Tasting homemade honey right out of the jar.
  • The moment I looked out and saw the first flower I’d grown from seed since I was a kid.
  • Savoring in-season raspberries while listening to hold music during my chaotic work day.

Each of these moments have made my days better. What if we even went a step further and recorded our captured joys often, or just whenever we felt like it? Then we could live the joys all over again.

What are some of your encapsulated joys?





Spring Awakenings

7 04 2011

Longwood Gardens, Spring 2010

When most people think about spring doings, cleaning and yard work jump to mind. I would like to propose that awakening be on our agenda.

What projects, plans and dreams have you postponed, either since New Year’s or indefinitely? Did winter bog you down under blankets and gray skies? Throw off your misgivings! Today is never too late, but if not now, when?

My own Spring projects include: writing regularly; continued career movement; and reading an educational book on my lunch break.

While I may not be in a job of my preference, I decided that my lunch hour is at least 30 minutes in which to stimulate my brain with continuing education. Besides – and you may not be much different in this respect – I have many “educational” books I mean to read but which, in the evenings, end up playing a sad second fiddle to magazines and fun fiction. First up: Off the Grid, by Nick Rosen. Review will follow!

I’m sure I will throw more cleaning in there, too. After all, there is a reason Spring cleaning remains prevalent – we feel the ancient urge to mimic nature’s blooming with new growth in our own lives. Allow your cleaning to inspire you.

What are your Spring awakenings?





Friends and Circles of Friends

23 02 2011

I’ve noticed, finally and irrevocably: I am sorely lacking a true “circle of friends.” Some people may never have many friends, so I’m told. My personality profile suggests that I am one who makes few deep connections due to feeling a lack of intimacy with most, and I believe that’s true.

Nevertheless, I am prone to wonder: as adults, do people stop calling most of their friends, especially if they live outside of a certain radius? Is this due to laziness or a sense that their time is better invested elsewhere?

So I now ask you, directly: what is your experience with growing older and your circle of friends – has it shrunk, enlarged or remained the same?

 





Perchance to Dream?

6 02 2011
New Gold Dream...

Image by law_keven via Flickr

I’ve been thinking about dreams lately – the ones we have but doubt they will ever be anything other than that.

We are now in February, the month where New Year’s resolutions often go to die. We are stuck inside, staring glumly at another storm out there, wishing instead for warm breezes and sandals. This can do a number on our resolve to change our lives for the better. We think, what does it matter? I will make resolutions again next year. It’s too cold to do anything worthwhile.

Of course, you know what I’m going to say: Not so! But I don’t want to admonish you to stick to your resolutions. Rather, I want to exhort you to stick to your dreams. Don’t let the fire die, whether it’s the passion you have for your art or bowling, or an actual fireplace you dream of.

Make lists and charts; draw diagrams; write lengthy imaginations of what you desire to be. Not only will you wile away the gray hours of February; you’ll be paving the way for Spring, too. And Spring is never truly far behind.

So, I want to know: what’s  your dream for yourself, for others you know – for whatever?





. . . 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.

*~*





And so it is New Years . . .

2 01 2011
2008 Taipei City New Year Countdown Party: The...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, actually, yesterday was. Now it is January 2nd, and the resolutions tend to fall away like wrapping paper and party hats. Heaving a great sigh, people return to their jobs and brace for the rest of the winter, thinking about summer or maybe an upcoming vacation. Whether or not it snows, the magic of the season just passsed seems lost in the landscape.

What can we do to prolong the joy of Christmas and the determination of New Year’s Day? Perhaps it is our most subtle habits – our comfortable ways of thinking – that sabotage our best efforts to keep Christmas in our hearts and lose ten pounds this year. Maybe, if we defied the depression, rebelled against complacency and encouraged enthusiasm the rest of the year with the vigor we show in the holiday season, our sometimes empty vows to do so would prove true.

Oh, we should probably post our resolutions where we’ll see them, too. What unique resolutions have you made this year?








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