Thursday, January 22, 2015

More Birds

I wish the world's problems could be solved as easily as I solved my squirrel problem. I like squirrels. I do. I just don't like to feed them at the expense of the small birds that winter over. Squirrels are perpetually hungry and their appetites are voracious. Fond of seeds and nuts, they consider the food I set out for the birds theirs for the taking. So this week I hied myself over to the local Agway to replenish my seed supply and while I was there I bought two "squirrel proof" feeders. Designed to bear the weight of small songbirds, the cage has a spring loaded feeder tube that drops down to close the open feed ports when anything as heavy as a blue jay or a squirrel climbs aboard. So far, they're working. The squirrels give up after a minute or two of fruitless gnawing and drop back to the ground to eat the little seed spilled there by the birds.

I am not without heart. I spread a tray of peanuts for the squirrels and jays at a distance from the cottage. It's a noisy place. I've seen a jay swoop down and snatch a peanut from the paws of a squirrel, who then chatters loudly, flicking its tail and spewing squirrel curses at the errant bird. I've also seen the silly squirrels bury the nuts in the snow where watchful jays locate them moments later.

Last week I posted a photo of a chickadee being hand fed and though I posted due credit below my own words, some readers thought I'd taken the picture. I wish I was that kind of photographer! The pictures of the feeders here are my own. As you can see, it would take a far more skilled eye (and hand) than mine to photograph myself feeding a bird. I've done that, though, fed a bird in my hand. The chickadees that come to my feeders are quite bold. If I sit on the stoop at feeding time with seed in my palm and I am patient and quiet, one or two of the little creatures will perch on my fingers and look at me with their bright little eyes. I don't have a photo to prove it, though.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Coping With the World Right Now

photo credit:

While the world elsewhere
is carrying on its drama

I extend my hand
and feed a chickadee

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Not Quite Haiku

This Sunday’s writing prompt was to compose pithy phrases, not necessarily sticking to the 17 syllables of American haiku but with enough rhythm to give the illusion of poetry. It took me a while to loosen up and let go of the form. Writing like this is such fun and very freeing.

Cold winter rain falls.
Birds seek shelter. So do I.
Flowers sleep on, undisturbed.

Darkness is not bleak
when one remembers the moon.
Hang your own sky light.

Early morning birds,
Apples saucing in the pan;
small things delight me.

The tea kettle boils.
Silence shatters on a whistle.
The sun never appears.

Snow makes a dim light
garnered from the night bright stars
laid on the bare ground.

each one winter’s warrior

Yard, roof, sky
wrapped in impenetrable

Tracks in the snow
lead to everywhere.
I cannot follow.

Birds whisper in winter
the songs they sing in spring.

Gray weathered fence
Supports a weary rose.
I bend my own head down.

One shuddering leaf
speaks for all of winter.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

inclement weather

birds flit and dance in the wind
hovering round the feeders
jousting for position at the tray
feasting on seed and suet

cold clamps its hands around us all
holds us out to the buffeting wind
warmth is a clouded memory
light a pale gray shroud

snow is a promise held at bay
until evening; when the sky opens
flakes will tumble down
only to melt in the path of warmer air

that overnight will turn the snow to ice.
on the morrow ice will turn to rain-
on the weather map a ragged patch of
deep blue hovers northward

its fingers reaching, reaching
turning rain back to ice
and ice back to snow.
the weather favors winter just now.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Gift

The reason I’m looking out the window
Is because dawn brings hungry birds to the feeder,
whole flocks of rosy finches,
a pair of ruby cardinals,
sky colored jays and red capped flickers,
an upside down nuthatch in its gray-blue cape,
chickadees with their black caps
pulled down around their ears.

And this morning, ten days before Christmas,
a gift – an albino finch, white as the grounded snow,
white as the shy ermine down by the pond,
white as a feathered angel,
its wings fluffed against the cold - 

stayed just long enough for me to see it,
to say Oh! and cast about for my camera.
Then something – caution, fright, a need to fly,
lifted its wings and flung it back into the sky

where white clouds waited to enfold it.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Another Sunday Prompt

This Sunday's prompt was to find a poem and respond to it line by line. I fell in love with this poem at first reading and hesitated to barge in with my own thoughts. Still, it might make you want to try the prompt, too. At the very least, enjoy the words.

And the Cantilevered Inference Shall Hold the Day

Things are not as they seem: the innuendo of everything makes
itself felt and trembles towards meanings we never intuited
or dreamed. (My mother used to say that- nothing is as it seems – and I would look around me with my child’s eyes and wonder what she was trying to tell me, for to a child of four or seven or even ten, the whole world is magic.)  

Take, for example, how the warbler, perched on a
mere branch, can kidnap the day from its tediums and send us
heavenwards, or how, held up by nothing we really see, our
spirits soar and then, in a mysterious series of twists and turns,

come to a safe landing in a field, encircled by greenery. (Happy moments, I’ve come to call them, those times when happiness descends, surrounds, unbidden but not unrecognized, when all that is is understandable, even when you can’t understand what it is you know. You just know and that knowing is enough.) 

Nothing I can say to you here can possibly convince you that a man
as unreliable as I have been can smuggle in truths between tercets

and quatrains on scraps of paper, but the world as we know it
is full of surprises, and the likelihood that here, in the shape
of this very bird, redemption awaits us should not be dismissed

so easily. (Redemption – reclamation, restoration – the same old us looking through new eyes. We find we don’t know the world at all and so begin anew to describe it, and ourselves, to ourselves.)  Each year, days swivel and diminish along their inscrutable
axes, then lengthen again until we are bathed in light we were not
prepared for. (How easy it is to get lost in the winter darkness and forget that spring will come.) Last night, lying in bed with nothing to hold onto

but myself, I gazed at the emptiness beside me and saw there, in the
shape of absence, something so sweet and deliberate I called it darling. (The shape of absence – a place where we come in with our crayons, our brushes, our words, and create…)
No one who encrusticates (I made that up!) his silliness in a bowl,

waiting for sanctity, can ever know how lovely playfulness can be,
and, that said, let me wish you a Merry One (or Chanukah if you
prefer), and may whatever holds you up stay forever beneath you,

and may the robin find many a worm, and our cruelties abate,
and may you be well and happy and full of mischief as I am,
and may all your nothings, too, hold something up and sing. (Amen)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Colorful Sunday Write

A cheerful bit of winter green.
This Sunday's writing prompt: color.

My four-year-old granddaughter is very interested in knowing everyone’s favorite color - Mama’s, Papa’s, sister Lily’s, mine. She insisted I pick just one so I told her without hesitation that my favorite color is green. And that’s true, but so is blue in any shade from robin’s egg to cerulean, and every hue of orange with the exception of neon, rust being a definite. I’m partial to pale yellow fading to cream, and the pink that appears on the horizon at dawn. In fact, pink in every shade (though no hot pink, please) pleases me, as do various shades of brown.  I once had my colors done and was told my palette was definitely pastel. No violent colors for me, red least of all. I like red mixed with yellow, though, and when you mix it with blue I love the vast array of available purples.

Still, if I had to pick just one color it would be green; grass green and pea soup green, hemlock green, the blue green of spruce and every shade of leaf. I like lime and mint greens, military green and Kermit the Frog green.

According to color psychology, green is the color of equilibrium and harmony, balancing the heart and the emotions. It is also the color of growth and of spring. It restores depleted energy, creating a sanctuary from stress and increasing a sense of well-being.

“Green encompasses the mental clarity and optimism of yellow with the emotional calm and insight of blue, inspiring hope and a generosity of spirit.” So says one color psychology site ( When I think of the way I operate in the world, I can see that’s true. I’m a green girl, wanting to understand everything and needing to share what I learn.

I once had a favorite green blouse that made me feel all-of-a-piece when I wore it.  The gray green of unripe olives, the color complemented the yellow in my hair and the pink of my skin. I’d put it on and conquer the world every time. I wore it to shreds.

John Denver’s song, Cool and Green and Shady is one of my favorites. I love green leafy things to eat – spinach, lettuce, beet greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts – and have decorated my living space in varying shades of blue-green.

I can get lost in the blue of the sky, ooooh and aaaahhh over pink sunsets, dress in shades of russet and brown, but hands down, green is the hue I’d wrap my world in if given the choice of just one color.