Death Becomes Her

Now, I could mean anything by that often used phrase, coined originally, at least for the majority of us, in a dark comedy movie with Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn. And I could mean anything simply for the verb-“becomes”. Because as a body, a physical presence, it becomes, ultimately who each of us–animal, mineral, vegetable, “solid” or “liquid” or “gas”-becomes, no longer actively impacting earth. While also it (darkly) compliments one, somehow, in another one’s eye (viz, “is becoming when displayed by her”). And again, be it anthropo or any other human-defined life form.

Today I am thinking of autumn leaves.

In this picture, perhaps you can see, in their autumn “death” hues, the khaki-tinted pin oak leaf, the yellow and ochre tulip poplar leaf, and the american elm twig with seven lovely yellow leaves along it.

On other recent days I considered clam shells and mussel shells, just “empty shells” of their former selves, but thus because they provided sustenance for seagulls at the beach I show below, Plum Island, where I recently returned with my friend, Lynne, and we watched black-backed and herring gulls, as well as a cormorant, and a handful of piping plovers chase and consume sustenance.

Mark and I would come to Plum Island fairly often. May it always be “wild” and protected.

I wonder at the persistence of death into life. I wonder at the miracle of it.

I wonder, too, all, all being combinations of the very same elements (such incredibly wise creation!) if death is even possible. Life becomes her.

You know what? Read Genesis 1. All starts and all that comes from the start, Comes from the start, emerges from the start, is of the start. Is.

Would that we could live as one.

And Suddenly September

I have just figured out why I keep not writing a blog post when I expect I will. Weather.

When it is warm. When the sun shines. I am out and not writing.

When it hot and humid. I am drained and not writing.

When it is precipitating, likeliest time that I will be writing.

It is raining. It has intermittently since midnight poured, rained, stilled. I am so grateful for this rain here. Also that the basement, which is well settled within a high watertable, and is equipped with a sump pump, a dehumidifier that runs all summer (and the outflow of which as mentioned in a previous post, waters my vegetable and window box gardens), and a wet dry vacuum for when the previous two means are overwhelmed, is so far today, dry floored.

The geography of weather seems to be ever more extreme, perhaps still predictable in its type, it is no longer anticipatable in its extent. We are all participants in a wild world.

And it seems I can’t stop talking about it. Oh for the days when weather was local. Oh for the times when life was local, and self-sufficiently so! Those times, I admit, well preceded my personally fairly urban-centric lifetime. Perhaps if I had been raised on a farm, or in one of those small towns through which we occasionally pass on the way to vacationing in some other far-flung where (where, passing through, in the long ago 20th century and first two decades of the 21st century I used to wonder, how do they make a living?), those times may have been more current for me.

But can we live locally anymore? Many, many of my fellow townspeople in our 110,000 population, magnificently diverse city do manage to raise admirable summer vegetable gardens in tiny plots owned, rented, borrowed, or purloined by them. I have even consumed from my own garden abundant arugula, some tomatoes, some cucumbers, some beets. But other than vegetables, what else? What else in anyone’s life these days can be provided, produced at one’s homestead or close neighborhood? By the way, the hoped for buttercup squash I wrote about last time was not. It is gourds. Perhaps one of you can use them to decorate? I am at a loss for what to do once I tire of seeing them draped colorfully over the fence, stakes, and other obstacles that they in their persistent crawl forward latch onto.

This one is actually no longer there, as a visiting something or other snapped it off. Many others remain, some deep dark green, some half orange half green, all with the little knobs poking out willy-nilly.

We cannot. We live and breathe and have our being where we are, but not without enormous input, not without provision from somewhere else, be it the copper in our electronics, the lithium in our batteries, the variously provided cloths in our clothes, the growing elements that comprise our clothes, furniture, food, the chemically produced, extracted, extruded items that comprise our same clothes, furniture, vehicles, possessions (from what are these chemical elements derived? yes, something somewhere not here, or here, and depleting).

Perhaps, as I reread this post, I shouldn’t write during rain. I might be more cheerful on a day of sun, low humidity, moderate temperature, with a sweet breeze, and on the heels of days with just enough precipitation to make earth Eden.

So! Will I not post this? No such luck. I will post it. I will hope you are still reading to this point. I will hope you have found cause for delight today, and that it is unshakeable. Taking a cue from myself, I will say that I delight in the friendships with which I am graced. I also delight in your patience and kindness, and how each friend also is a provider of wisdom.

And, just because I am so enamored of so many trees, including and notably, tulip poplars, here you go.

Don’t tell my neighbors, and don’t tell the squirrels, chipmunks, rabbit, opossums, blue jays that I have planted a couple of hickory nuts, a white oak acorn, a scarlet oak acorn, and a beechnut variously in my copiously growing, rather wild albeit tiny backyard. Maybe one will grow up and fill in where the very sadly aging, failing dogwood becomes more and more a host to and housing for woodpeckers (downy, hairy, and red bellied), nuthatches, sparrows, purple and house finches, blue jays, cardinals, and titmice, with occasional visits by carolina wrens, and like all things, ages and sags within its skin. I love that dogwood. So do all the above! It makes for a busy backyard, and will until it no longer can.

May you have joy today, in whatever way, in whatever surprise, may you have joy.

We Begin

My intent was to write a second July post. I assured myself I had time and energy. I did not. How often do we say and say and then it becomes we said, because the time has past.?

And so it is August the first. Or as an acquaintance of mine, who is just learning English calls it Augustus. Which came first in the history of our language–August and thus the child born to a king perhaps emerged ruddy and ready to conquer and thus was named Augustus, or Augustus, perhaps a king so ruddy and ready that persons demonstrating that leadership trait were termed august, and the month named it, blows in so powerfully hot that it, too, was termed this term indicating ruddy and ready to conquer.?

I am growing a rather august vine in my backyard this year, it has enormous leaves, enormous flowers, the non-fruit bearing ones of which I include in my backyard sourced salad and they are succulent! It has been growing and stretching and attaching by tentacles to all manner of grippable surface for a month, and until a couple of days ago, provided me only leaves, vine, flowers, tentacles, and great awe. But then fruit began to grow!! A squash, I think a cucurbita maxima, based on the leaves and flower. If that is so, that means it is a buttercup squash, and it and butternut squash are my favorite!! Here are two photos, one including the first fruit of note. What do you think?

The tentacles grip everything they touch, including clover and rhubarb!

In keeping with the words to here, I am pretty sure this vine insinuated itself into my garden. Its roots are right in the middle of the space in which I tossed wildflower seeds, and so growing around and under and with it are a few daisies, cosmos, and tiny white flowers and tiny pink flowers and others (perhaps next year I will try to learn the names and reasons for the names of some of the wildflowers in my yard, along the rail trails, in the empty urban lots, and jutting from cracks in the sidewalks, among other places). And also ripening among the squash vines are ground cherries, one is actually in the picture above, but short of mastering insertion of pointers to my attached photographs, I could never really direct you to the particular leaves in that photograph that are they. Nevertheless, a delicious fruit. If ever you find some, I recommend partaking.

The fruit is buttercup color, but not the shape, at least not yet. And do you see? A second fruit is forming in the foreground!

How, you may ask, in this drought the world is passing through, except, as I write, in Kentucky, am I watering these plants? Every morning I carry out to the backyard my newly collected dehumidifier water, straight up from the 1915 stone walled basement. The miracles of humidity even in this summer of dry, this summer of dry, so dry that my rain barrels rattle emptily.

And the river is low. The mighty Merrimack is mighty, nakedly rocky.

I am on the North Canal walkway, behind the fence my bicycle leans on is the Merrimack rock garden, usually known as a river, floating haplessly above in the background right is the University Avenue Bridge.

Barely visible in the back left is the dam, it is holding back waters, waters being diverted to the North Canal for distribution into Lowell through the dam further downriver, but in high water, and indeed, even in regular water conditions, water would be flowing over the wall to the left and back, rendering that vertical structure invisible behind the falls. Also, look hard in lower center of the picture is a juvenile heron, what I cannot determine is: what type of heron is this juvenile? black crowned night? yellow crowned night? or a green? This was a day I wished I had a camera, not just a phone.

So August is begun. Join me as we explore. For why life if not to search, find, learn, love?

Dry July

It has been, so far, for the most part, dry this July.

And this is not good for any part of the earth, nor for any participant in the life of the earth, in the long run. Yet in short spans, it speeds up my bicycling pace, because the air weighs less, presses less, and billows more, so like a sail in a good breeze, I carry my body faster with less effort. A mixed blessing? What is a mixed blessing? I think a blessing either is or it is not. So I won’t go with that colloquialism. A mixed metaphor? What is a metaphor? I think it is a way of illustrating an idea through equating it with an object that may not have ever been thought of in the way the idea uses it, but once the idea is equated with the object, the object takes on a more detailed face, more lines define it, like narrow ruled paper enables more words on a page than wide ruled paper. So, then, what is a mixed metaphor? What do you think? Is dry air being both beneficial and detrimental a mixed metaphor? Or is it just two actualities of the same force?

Where am I going? Don’t know. Perhaps, whichever way the wind blows…

I bicycle often these days (as usual), often for pleasure, but often I time my tasks, my chores to coincide with good air and wind conditions, conducive to good bicycling experience. I like that it is possible to mix up the order of tasks according to conditions. In my life these days, I can usually do this. Would that all of the world could go when it is good to go, and stop when it is best to stop. So often these options are not able to be part of a plan. If they were, would there be more peace? I ask because I think much of what we fight over is due to the existence of time and task schedules set by gain objectives, or even less desirably, by self-preservation, self-promotion, or self-protection motives. They take time out of our hands, they take, therefore, choice out of our hands and gift it to–generally–not common, not personal, and therefore not natural good. They disturb the possibility of joy of being.

Ah, to spend our days at this pace
And gaggling with these

Do I sound a nay sayer? Do I sound a glass is half emptier? Do I sound like the Eeyore moaner? Or do I offer a visual that, when observed and considered, can encourage, even enable, reordering of what seems to matter toward what does–that which benefits the largest number of impacted beings be they insects, trees, consumers, producers, waterbodies, all fauna, all flora, all air–all that exists and can enable not disable all else to exist.

How many layers and forms of being right here? How long to come to be? And how much did each layer enable and support the other(s)?

Today while pedaling, I paused to watch a father squatting in the center of a dead end street jutting off the urban street I was on. He squatted with two young children, I am guessing his, showing them how to hold a ball in a baseball glove, AND, how to keep the cumbersome glove on their small, very mobile hands. And I watched a mixed-breed puppy watching them, squirming while practicing sitting still, the desired stillness encouraged by soft commands-verbal and manual. It caused me to smile, and pedal a little slower so to see more of what I passed along the way.

So, I worry at the extremities of weather, and I worry about the intensity of time and energy allotment.

She stands just as long as time passes, or a fish. (Recently someone told me they saw a heron standing in a spot in the evening, and, looking there the next morning, still there she stood. Was it still or was it again? Who can attest?

But I have hope.

May I?

May I tell you how beautiful is the silence of this night? How grateful I am to be in a place of peace? Oh, so many are not, for causes huge and causes incomprehensible.

I would like to take you on a delightful small journey I get to make numerous times each year for the past, I think, five years, now. For six weeks, spanning parts of May and June I go, usually by bicycle, usually in the morning, although sometimes late in the afternoon, to count how many herrings course a fish ladder in the Concord River. I do this for 10 minutes of an hour. Sometimes I do one stint in a day, sometimes, like Saturday past, I do three consecutive stints, 10 minutes per hour. Today it was two consecutive watches. It is peaceful. It is noisy with water rushing and falling, redwing blackbirds calling and grackles grackling and song sparrows and warblers of all colors and voices and robins and cardinals and finches all singing and talking and whispering, phoebes shouting, and breezes shushing through the tops of cottonwoods, aspens, silver maples, ashes, white oaks, lindens, tulip poplars rippling their new and vibrantly green late spring leaves. And it is pure pleasure.

To reach this spot I bicycle a route that climbs and descends four hills. I am proud to say I do not huff and I do not puff, just pedal steadily up one asphalt ascent and whistle down its other side, and another, and another and a fourth, mindful of grit and glass (causing, respectively, slips and slits). And cresting that fourth hill, surrounded by concrete and asphalt passageways, and brick, concrete, steel, and sawn and planed lumber structures, I imagine this hilltop down from which I will fly to the riverbank, as it once was, river water alternately resting and rushing by the foot of this hill, that holds, as I imagine it, hundreds of centuries-old trees–red and black and white oaks, red, sugar, striped and silver maples, white and green ashes, towering tulip poplars, towering aspens, towering cottonwoods, taut and touchable beeches, locusts, elms, quivering willows, and swaying birches, pines and firs and spruces nudging in where windsweep has conquered aged hardwoods. Underbrush of past years’ leaves and berry bushes and shrubs tangling with tree roots and the myriad small mammals who scurry through, and wrangling with larger mammals who skirt them or lumber among them, who rest beneath their arbors in the heat of day in the depth of night. Rich earth formed with the help of thousands maybe millions of insects and tiny creatures whose life work is to compost the largess of the land. And through and under all this the mycellum (sp?) the fungi who support and are supported by these wonders.

I imagine and I wish.

Life is precious. Life is short. Life can be so beautiful.

life ebbing, giving life
ahh
a newly venturing baby rabbit
Close to the rocks can you see the newly venturing young snapping turtle?
This insect sat beside me at the side of the fish ladder. I don’t know what it is. I will try to discover.

And then I return home, each time, to my pals, Maria and Stella. Even in loss there is light.

Maria
Stella

This is my promise in affliction, your promise that gives me life.
Psalm 119:50

We Have Achieved April

This is the month of awakening. And of watching what is tired, rest.

I raked out the oak leaves from the vegetable garden beds, and from the beds wherein slept the hyacinths, tulips, jonquils, which are now standing tall (jonquils), stretching tall and beginning to be the flower they are, every year meant to be (tulips), standing, some, and leaning on each other as they become too heavy for their legs (hyacinths), and wherein just rolling over and thinking of rising, sending out arms to check the air, irises awaken. And from the grasses that comprise my back and front yards, a couple of rogue crocuses have emerged and past their time, and dandelions pop up willy nilly, and violets are beginning their spawn, across free spaces, and all manner of wildflower is pushing upward at their various paces to show face tomorrow, next week, next month, three months from now. The dirt under the grasses is so busy.

Tulips in various stages of emergence.

The hostas under the dogwood tree are standing tall already. I am never sure when they will begin to take precedence over the dirt under that dogwood. Some years it seems like they sleep late, this year I think they were up before dawn. I would say the same about the jonquils, except my phone gave me one of those unbidden memories from previous years “on this date” and last year, 2021, they were up in great number by April 12th, and this year only began to pop out of their green top-of-stem cocoons six days ago, April 16th.

Sometimes technology, which flourishes on so many “precious” metals and perilous labor to come to being, offers the unexpected that can send one’s mind wondering. There is, I guess, nothing on this earth that is purely anything. Every item alive has a dark side.

Even glorious, many-hued, lovely to touch skunk cabbage. Oh how smelly.

This picture I am sneaking in, but it is two weeks old, from April 9th

And the trees. Ah the trees. The weeping birches are greening.

The weeping birch out front yesterday, April 20th.

What will spring out today? Tomorrow? The dirt is so busy!

I wanted to go somewhere else with this post. But I could not.

I will stay here, remembering a poem I have quoted in a previous blog, e.e. cummings: the first lines:

in Just-

spring          when the world is mud

luscious 

I wish you delight.

March

So many meanings to and from this word. March. And so many are contextually driven. I will not list. I will let you follow the associative wonderings of your mind. I believe I may have subjected you to this mind game in a previous March (march), and will not continue.

But there are days, and they are readily identifiable, and they are more frequent, are they not, when we shrug? Where I wonder and why? is my guiding principle as I compose these posts. These days often I wonder, why do I wonder? I will leave you to ponder wonder and to wonder if pondering wondering is worth.. or, on a more hopeful note, why do I wonder, why do I wonder where and why do I wonder why? There is something somewhere the exploration of which does not bring regret. I trust this.

The tulip poplar that I love in its March garb. We are, are we not, raw in March, march?

Although beauty that preceded human bodily existence remains despite human bodily imposition through the access of human mind on this beauty; this beauty that enables us to breathe, to swallow, to grow, to wander, to, well, inspires us to sing, to dance, to float, to dream, to wonder. And I have faith that this beauty can outlast our imprint, it will not be, as it has not been without pain and great diminishment.

Why do we not see that when we reach beyond the delightful stretch of ourself, when we stretch to exceed ourself, as if we had created ourself and are responsible to our self alone, and are the only authority over our self alone, and ourself is free by dint of being to be wherever we choose, whenever, mindless of the diminishment by some acts by, by many thoughts held by, our self to any and all that is not our self, that we are the damage we intend to protect our self against.

The very word, against, makes me tremble. I feel remorse.

It assumes and thus, empowers, enmity. Can there be something better? Can there be something appearing once again, that is better?

___________________

Here is a poem I would like to share

Thunder

It is the animals beginning to return
over the soft belly of the earth.

They have walked a long time
under the same sky with no country,

the dark stream of their bodies rising
into the wind. And they remember

exactly the way, their long shadows
stretching now into the fields,

into the rivers while we watch all day
from our windows, what we thought

was weather or the world in her fever
shaking up on the cleared hill,

a certain thunder gathering underfoot.
Do you not hear it yet?

Look at that man listening.
Something in him is waking up.

This poem is from A Quarter of an Hour which is a book of poems by Leanne O’Sullivan published in 2018

One Would Say I am Weather Written

Or, at least, I would say it. You may have noticed this as well, when the weather interferes with stepping outside for a walk or bicycle ride, I seem to either read a book, write a blog post, or clean house. As it doesn’t happen all that often, you might conclude that my house is in dire need of cleaning, and that my pile of books to read is never shrinking. However, I have made a specious connection at the outset of this paragraph, because inclement weather is not the only cause nor inspiration for me to read, nor (but less frequently than reading!) for me to clean my house, though it is for me to write a blog post.

So, yes, my house is moderately clean–it is a challenge to accomplish that when (1) you don’t get excited by the act of cleaning the house, although you enjoy the results, and (2) it is a very old house, 106 or 109 years old and like any entity as it ages, sheds a lot just standing in place. And, yes, I read a lot. It is a favorite of mine along with walking, bicycling, thinking, and being with friends–all of which, I must admit, take precedence over vacuuming and dusting.

This morning as snow falls I watched a hairy woodpecker as he consumed thistle seed, then suet, then thistle seed, then suet, and then sit absolutely still and shoulder hunched against the thistle seed feeder and under the shelter of the suet feeder house avoiding the fast falling snow. His stillness lasted three minutes, absolutely. Then, as if an alarm sounded, he began nibbling at the thistle, then the suet, thistle, suet…. again. After awhile a house sparrow came along and gripped to the thistle feeder beside the woodpecker. Woodpecker was having none of that!! He pressed against that sparrow, shoving him aside, and then pecking at him, until they both tumbled to the ground, squawking. I waited for an eternity–5 seconds–and then up returned the woodpecker to the feeder and into the azalea bushes escaped the sparrow. I will go out later to see if any feathers were dropped into the snow below the feeders (although I am not likely to find any as the snowfall is immediately and thoroughly covering all). I had never seen that activity before. Usually it is sparrow vs. sparrow. They are scrappy! But this woodpecker had more than food to protect this time, he was in shelter against the storm. That mattered more.

This is the guy of whom I write, but, you can be sure, on a different day than today! However, you can see the proximity of thistle feeder to suet feeder-house, thus the easy shelter for him. And I say him, because the red spot on his head says male. Ahh, those men, they need to gussy up to attract us women.

Now here is an ongoing challenge — just what is my neighbor building in his backyard? It is not a “shed” as the door is not large enough to enable entry of a lawn mower, never mind a snow blower, etc. And so I wonder, a dwelling? A hideaway? A workout room? Whatever, I am unhappy with its encroachment, but that is the plight of a semi-urban homestead. I pray daily that he does not tire of the magnificent oak that stands in the back corner and supports so many of the birds that grace us daily with their visual and audible presence, and that provides me with the leaves that cover my gardens all winter and enable the dogwood, birch, maple, cherry, and plum leaves to heat and become dirt over the winter, enriching my soil daily.

Hopefully, come spring warmth, the neighbor’s construction savvy friends will return and the building will receive a cover over that paper. And then they will neither build nor deconstruct anymore. Grouse, grouse, grouse.

But today. The snow! Yesterday, pre-snow day, I walked through one of my favorite “wild” corridors and came upon a dozen or 18 red wing blackbirds, and a dozen grackles. They peppered the tops of a stand of trees — oaks, maples, aspens, and a couple of beeches — and they just talked, and talked, and talked. They could care less that I stood there binoculars to eyes watching, watching, watching and listening, listening to their crowd conversation uncomprehendingly but with such joy. Closer, at foot and knee level among the ample brush were countless juncos flitting and flicking their grey with startling white stripes tails, and sparrows ranging the grasses and reeds pulling seeds and weeds, chuckling between tugs.

I also crossed paths with a fallen tree, supported for I don’t know how long by a second tree, and surrounded by young and middle-age trees. The heartwood of the fallen tree is beautiful!! See here.

In front is an aging black cherry, and beside it a younger but ailing other black cherry. Supporting the fallen tree is? By the lenticels I think it may be a young black cherry. The supported, fallen tree with the beautiful heartwood is a poplar. In its demise it is house, food, shelter for how many living, breathing other types of creation, and is supported as it saves.

Would that the world could enjoy such peace, always, everywhere.

Remember

Today is February 5th, 2022. Do you remember February 5th, 2021? Do you remember February 5th, 2020? If you do, what do you remember? Why do you remember what you remember? Do you remember February 5th, 2010? Is there any February 5th in any year that you particularly remember?

How do you remember? Do you sit and conjure up a time and then begin picturing it, and hearing from it, and establishing its date? Are you walking down the street and a sound, or you open a door and a scent brings to mind another place, another time and reverie begins? (or desire to block that which was brought to mind?) Do you read your diary and review the source of an entry, see/hear/feel/smell the aspects of that entry all over again? Do you smile? Do you cringe? Do you find you don’t remember at all why you wrote that entry? But do you like it, anyway?

I have a friend, a very good, life-long friend who, I believe, remembers every detail of her life, and every detail of my life whenever we are together or, even something I may have told her once, or something about my life or me that I didn’t share and that didn’t occur when we were with each other, but she learned by a random means. She is just as thorough in her detail about any and every friend she has, no matter how intimate or longstanding; no matter if the friendship is comfortable or not. It is intriguing. She also until fairly recently could report on events of the day anywhere in the world that media touched and shared.

She still remembers, and raises episodes and observations from our lives over the years, and events from other of her friends’ lives as pertinent to our conversation of the moment. And she is present to recently occurred events, and to current events she hears about–but the numbers of events, and the timeliness of her information (which, the timeliness, if spoken of in recall is not so much of import) is greatly reduced. She has placed herself in the background of life, lived and mediated. We talk regularly, and enjoyably. I love her, this friend of mine, and wonder what corners I have turned over the past decades I would not have had we not been friends, sharing lives, thoughts, friends (some), a history worthy of a very thick diary or maybe six.

In fact, how much did we each contribute to the fashioning of who each of us is, and who we are as friends? And it’s not only remembering who, what, why, when, where about one another (good thing! since my remembering is gap-filled), it’s how our presence and our essence informs, actually, seeps into each other purely by sharing space, air, ideas, moods, surprises, dislikes, disagreements, and time.

And so, am I writing here about what one remembers, how much one remembers–and recalls–or about the gift of good friends?

Here is a kind of answer: This morning I woke up thinking about remembering and that led to thoughts about my friend. Then, by happenstance, I was reading an article an hour or so ago Jennifer Croft, who translated a novel by Olga Tokarczuk. Jennifer Croft was talking about the art/act of translating. She spoke of words viz self: “A self is narrative because it must see itself in terms of a life story. It finds those terms in conceptual apparatuses such as language and time. It conceives of the former by way of the latter and expresses the latter by way of the former. Each self’s story contains causes and effects arising from a beginning and leading to an end.”

“A self is intersubjective ….. because it cannot achieve its telos (ultimate end, i.e., purpose) without the collaboration of other selves, …”1

I am also reading a novel by an author who earned his PhD. in Identity and Ethics. The other day, when I first read that about him, I asked myself, ‘what is that? identity and ethics? how does one develop that specific study?’ Well, what do you think? Have we just figured out the answer?

Remember–for yourself and with others. Start with love, and base everyone every thought from there.

A photograph I took on February 5th, 2020.

1Literary Hub, February 1, 2022.

I Mean, Really, What Else To Do When It Is Blizzarding Outside?

For awhile earlier this morning I watched the juncos and a male cardinal raiding the feeders, although, the juncos spent more time sitting on the roof of the suet feeder than bothering to tug seeds out of the mixed seed feeder or the sunflower seed feeder; they didn’t even look at the thistle seed feeder. The cardinal steadily tugged at the sunflower seed feeder, sitting comfortably (?) on the horizontal rim that surrounds the feeder under cover of the clear plastic “umbrella” suspended over this feeder. Why do I not have protective covers over the thistle feeder and the mixed seed feeder as well? I don’t know. Perhaps soon I will.

We also have, I am sure I have mentioned, a resident cooper’s hawk. I will not detail his successes, only tell you, that he is persistent.

He sits patiently in the azalea bush, a favorite haunt of the sparrows, cardinals, juncos (when he is not there!)

The other day I had occasion to wander the banks of the Muddy River again. It was late in the afternoon. I caught sight of 7, yes SEVEN, great blue herons napping in the half frozen waters and among the reeds. I reported it on my e-bird daily sighting, and the algorithms that run that program immediately bounced back–“huh? (my rephrase of their automatic doubting response) Can’t be!” So I proved it!!

The actual photograph of the seven herons and some mallards and at the bottom of the picture some of the diverse footprints I also spied
The same photograph cropped to bring into clearer view the herons
And here’s a cropped photograph to show the range of bird prints –shape and size

Further along the river ten canada geese, four hooded mergansers, and four mallards were sharing one length of the water–the geese were drifting forward in a meticulous parade, the mergansers were diving and emerging diving and emerging around the geese and the mallards, the mallards were paddling in place–absolutely none of them was disturbed by the presence of the other in their space. Imagine.

And robins!! There were a couple dozen robins very busily nosing under the abundant leaf cover (mostly oak, which have such staying power that when I “mulch” my flower beds and shrub beds and vegetable garden in the fall, I first layer in birch and plum tree leaves, then dogwood leaves, and finally the oak leaves–the first three leaf types breakdown over the winter and become more of the dirt, while the oak leaves stay and are a cover all winter, which I rake up in very early spring so that the tiny buds can emerge and delight), nosing and chattering all along the sloped banks that rise on either side of the river. It was a sweet evening sound accompanying the setting sun.

So here we go. As I have typed this, this morning the snow has added probably another two inches to its depth; the weeping birch branches are swinging side to side under the winds and gusts; the sunflower bird feeder has become nearly inaccessible without pushing one’s beak through snowdrifts (despite the protective “umbrella!”); and I am second-guessing my original plan to go out and shovel periodically to make the final shoveling effort less. It is 16 degrees farenheit, the wind is wilding, the snow is so fluffy, why not wait? I think I’ll brew myself another coffee.

What, I wonder, would the best me of each of us be? Why is that so hard to achieve? Why do I find thoughts, actions, responses to regret each and every day? Then again, may I never not regret missteps.

Peace. I pray. Peace to you to all.