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.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Prelude to Winter

A tarnished pewter sky
peers through leafless branches.
Fog drifts and curls,

along the riverbanks and
hovers above the water.
Half a dozen geese float—

six dark shadows that
appear and disappear
as if they, too, were

mere mist and imagination.
The last forlorn light
leaches from the afternoon.

Suspended between seasons,
the days grow short;
the old year, feeling its age,

draws to a close.
Everything slows, quiets, fades,
until it seems the dreary days

will never end. Snow sweeps in,
making art of the drab browns,
the cheerless grays,

weighting the sad, dead grasses,
frosting every branch and twig
until the landscape looks luminous,

even on sunless days.
And when it does shine, oh! the brilliance
of it, the dazzling radiance.

There is beauty in the passing
of one season to the next,

even in grim November.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

This Morning

This photo is from last autumn. The female died and the male mourned alone all summer. Just a month ago a new female arrived on the pond. It was this new one I thought was icebound yesterday. The male hovered close for hours but late in the day the two of them had moved to the other side of the pond. Such a relief, such joy!

This Sunday's writing prompt was a quote from Leonard Cohen. We were to write a letter to him in response. Here's the quote and my letter.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in Leonard Cohen

Dear Mr. Cohen,

I’m sitting with these words of yours this morning, looking out my window to a landscape that is marked with stark and naked branches and drifts of crumpled leaves made restless by a cool wind. I was out there when the light got in, a mere lessening of the darkness at first and then a sudden rush of gold through a crack in the clouds that made my shadow stretch miraculously in front of me.

Dawn was, in a sense, a perfect offering, the opportunity for a whole new day, similar but unlike yesterday, a day when the swans I thought then to be icebound now floated free, their elongated necks entwined in an avian hug. I had no bell to ring but I did breathe a deep sigh made up of relief and pure joy and a kind of gratitude for all things wild.

I should probably come to the day with an offering – perhaps joy and gratitude and yes, relief that I did actually awaken, are not enough? I turn these thoughts over in my mind, looking for the cracks that will let the light in. I think often that I myself am cracked, flawed in a way that pushes light away. Your words make me wonder if I ought not fuss so much about those cracks, that they just might be a place where light not only gets in but rushes back out, flinging gold into dark places.

With gratitude then,


Thanks Hilary (and Tabor!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Little Autumn Poem

autumn morning

how can ordinary words
describe the sunlit undersides of geese
or how the swamp maple 
in the first blush of dawn
thrusts an implausible pink trunk
into the sky?

exactly which upper
and lower case letters will allow you to
feel the bite of the first frost
on your carelessly bare feet
skipping through the wet fire
to the sound of syncopated honks?

hours from now
unless these observations are
fixed on the open sky of the page
who will understand how your
shadowed footprints melted
into the dying grass
or how the great birds were swallowed
by the rising light?

Sunday, November 09, 2014

This Time of Year

At 3:30 in the afternoon, the light is already beginning to decant, pouring itself over the ground in long golden fingers. Shadows stretch long and longer still, until all that remains of the daylight is gathered high in the dome of the sky. Outside my window the trees stand in varying stages of undress. Most of the red maples have lost their leaves but the branches of many of the sugar maples are still clad in buttery yellow. Larches have turned the color of caramel and oak leaves boast shades of burnt orange and leather brown.

The yard is leaf strewn. Now and then a sturdy gust of wind blows them skittering and chattering across the road or into the briars at the edge of the lawn where they catch and wave like dry little hands.  Birds in similar colors – the brilliant red cardinal, the scarlet breasted house finch, the soft brown sparrow, the late-lingering goldfinch – flit about in the underbrush or come to the feeder in pairs to feast on seed. They do not sing the sun up in the morning as they do in summer. They limit their vocalizations to chirps and cheeps and leave the mornings to the crows and the jays whose strident calls vie with the rooster next door.

I find myself imitating the changes I see out of doors. I rise later like the sun and get sleepy earlier. I feel the urge to stock up on food the way the squirrels are doing, to eat more at one sitting like the birds. I walk less briskly, curl up on the sofa more often, slip into silence and contemplation more frequently. Conversations with trees and rocks and water become slower, less audible, as though the elements themselves were slipping into a semi-conscious state. Sometimes I feel the urge to pull the quilt of the clouded sky close around my shoulders and drift off to sleep with the bear and the caterpillar and the cinnamon colored chipmunk.

I’d do that except I don’t want to miss the winter.  I love the wind that whips around the corner of the house and shouts down the chimney. I want to be out of doors when the sun comes up and splashes diamonds across the first snowfall. I want to catch snowdrops on my tongue and snowshoe through the quiet woods. I want to feel the bitter bite of ice and wind then assuage it by sitting inside before a blazing fire. There’s too much life and beauty in winter to waste months sleeping. Perhaps that’s why we humans stay awake.

Thank you, Hilary