Sunday, March 27, 2011

Shadow Shot

A Rose is Still A Rose

Though twice removed from life- 
your vital force first drained 
and dried, now captured in shadow-
your beauty has not dimmed in my memory.
I know the very day you blossomed
at the tips of my child's fingers.
Every day is mother's day.

Harriet hosts Shadow Shot Sunday for which this was posted.

Friday, March 25, 2011

April Will Come, Come What May

Daffodils emerge despite lingering snow.
The calendar says spring but winter can't read nor does it care that we are all tired, tired, tired of the snow and cold. All it knows is what it is. But in this part of the world, one season is bound to give way to another and the earth knows, even if the wind does not, that change has begun. You can see it in the widening patches of grass where the snow has receded and in the emergence of flower stalks and leaves. You can feel it in the increasing warmth of the sun. You can hear it in the burbling voices of the returning song birds.

Today I hung a washing on the line - the first since November. Tonight my sheets will smell of spring winds and sunshine and I will dream of green.

Snow was heaped under the clothesline just two weeks ago...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Pile of rocks in the middle of my favorite meadow.
It’s not wise to think that there’s only one way to see things. Occasionally it’s a good idea to look at the world from a different perspective, to turn things topsy-turvy. Today the outdoors tugged at me like wind at a kite string so I pulled on my boots and set off across the fields. In the center of one is a great heap of rocks piled up when the field was plowed under for corn. I climb to the top and sit in the hollow of the largest boulder. From there my view of the meadow alters.

Over the tops of the willows that line the creek bank I can see a third field with rows upon rows of old corn stubble converging to a point at one corner of the woods. I spy a red-winged blackbird clinging to the brown spike of a cattail. It sways slightly in the wind and I hear it singing, “Here I am, here I am, oh mine, this one’s mine.”

Over my head two geese wing their way through the too-blue sky, their harsh cries echoing down to me like falling leaves. Farther on, a red-tailed hawk sits on a branch high above me and watches me watching it. I climb into the lower branches of a sturdy tree and look down as the hawk does. My view of the earth changes again and so do my thoughts. With my feet ground-anchored and my eyes looking up I contemplated flight. Standing shakily on a tree limb looking down, I think of falling.

Last year’s leaves form a patterned carpet, and the sky is bracketed by tree branches sketched in sepia. Safely back on the ground I search for a soft dry place to lie down, and discover a hollow. I snuggle in and the whole world becomes suddenly smaller to my eyes, encompassed by leaf covered banks and tree trunks and thick branches that allow only tiny glimpses of the sky. Here where my view is limited, I can let my imagination soar. When I was a child, this came easier. I was less reluctant to let go of my rational mind, more able to move unrestricted through the worlds inside my head. I could be the hawk soaring above and the girl on the ground and know them both from my protected place.

I have learned to acknowledge that while all things change, they stay the same. The wind still blows, even if I cannot feel it in the hollow. The sky changes from blue to smoke to dusk. At the end of today tomorrow waits, and tomorrow I will see everything differently.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Ice going out on the pond near my house.
“To think to know the country and not know

The hillside on the day the sun lets go
Ten million silver lizards out of snow!”

from Robert Frost’s A Hillside Thaw.

The geese aren’t flying in formation, instead their vees are raggedy; geese in disarray, raucously joyful. They’re only headed as far north as the muddy cornfields, the river, the ice-crinkled edges of the pond. They come trailing warmth on their wings, pulling summer behind them on their way to Canada. Not long now, they say; I can read their writing against the gray and weeping sky.

Songbirds, too, are part of the great awakening, and the bright green spears of daffodil and crocus. What snow remains is spellbound, unable to leave without April’s permission. A word from her and it will change into a rush of silver lizards, as undisciplined in flight as the raucous, joyous geese. I read Robert Frost and wait.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Outing

River in flood
Periodically I co-lead write/walk workshops at Bartholomew's Cobble, a Trustees of Reservations property not far from where I live. We plan a program that includes writing prompts, a mostly silent walk through the woods and meadows that make up the Cobble, and a group writing/reading wrap-up back at the Ranger Station.  Today's walk was in celebration of the month-long Berkshire Women Writer's Festival.

The Housatonic River runs through the Cobble and is currently in flood stage. Most of the snow has receded, leaving slick spots on some of the trails that wind past ancient boulders and through heavily wooded areas. Nearer the river, parts of the trail were under water.

Returning Canada geese
It's almost impossible to walk there and not be inspired by some aspect of nature, be it weather, the rocks and trees, or the wildlife. The geese have returned to find their placid summer river spread across the width and breadth of meadow and farmland. Several flocks called loudly across the watery expanse to one another. Crows and jays squawked from the tree tops and ducks murmured to themselves along the river bank.

Emerging skunk cabbage cone
We discovered one tiny hepatica blossom and numerous skunk cabbage cones emerging from the stream and surrounding swamp. And after all was said and done, I discovered a poem.


The going snow,
scoured by March winds,
collapses in the sun,
wilts in the warm promise of April.

Slowly it settles.
Slowly it dies,
and rises again
as green.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

My friend B is composing some wonderful "braiku" on his new site. Haiku and their US cousins, American Sentences, help to sharpen perception and force one to eliminate unnecessary syllables.

American sentences are haiku-length poems that US author Allen Ginsberg suggested be limited to 17 syllables, like haiku in Japanese. While Japanese haiku typically contains a seasonal reference, and a cutting word (a word that briefly cuts the stream of thought,  or one that ends the verse with a heightened sense of closure), English haiku and American sentences often deal with any subject matter and do not always contain a cutting word. My American Sentences often contain references to nature as that is one of my favorite subjects.

 Spring comes in increments just big enough to see with the naked eye.

Spring makes its own time.
It weaves the dark of winter
into light. Enough.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Good-bye, Hello!

Winter dragging its raggedy robes...
Yesterday the sky was the blue of a new baby's eyes. Today it is as grey and silvery as the first catkins I spied on my walk. Rain makes the landscape a blur of soft browns and hopeful yellows with a smear of red osier at meadow's edge, all signs that the sap is rising and spring is coming. Temperatures have risen steadily over the past few hours until the thermometer reads close to fifty degrees! The air smells of suddenly exposed earth, and into the soft morning tumble the territorial songs of the returning red-winged blackbird, the wild chirping of robins, the plaintive little two-note song of the chickadee. A south-facing lilac holds burgeoning buds to the light. In the small feeder pond, the ice is melting. Yesterday a group of ice fishermen sloshed through ankle-deep ice melt that covered the surface of the big mill pond.

This is the Old Man stage of winter. His beard is stained and scruffy. His white robes, once pristine and trimmed with sun-sparked diamonds is now raggedy and dirty at the edges. He may howl on his way out, but out he is headed and behind him, with flowery breath and sweet song dances April.

First of the silvery catkins.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


March is the month
of smoke and mirrors,
all those grey skies,
those dancing flakes on
violent winds,
pond middles still iced in.
But oh, don’t be deceived.
There is light in the sky until
evening now, and warmth
in the noontime sun.
Spring’s magic hat spills birds
into the morning and they sing
of April.