June

A woman’s name. The sixth month in the Gregorian calendar and preceding that the Julian calendar. Ovid variously attributes the name to (1) Roman goddess, Juno as the inspiration for its name, (2) the Latin word iuniores as its source–iuniores means younger ones as opposed to the maiores, the older ones, translating into May, preceding June (age before youth).

What do you find yourself focused on these days? What influences what you pay attention to? Seasons? Moods? Tasks? Interests? Chance thoughts? Events? Schedules? Do you wander through a day? Do you march through a day? Does your day’s end show that the day you expected is the day you experienced? If not, which would you rather–expected or experienced?

What is your first response to a surprise? I think I like to be surprised. There is so much I don’t know, and how much I pursue to know is limited by how much I observe or what I think about or what I feel. Yet there is way more outside my physical, intellectual, emotional purview, and it seems that surprises are the best way, perhaps the only way(?), to step outside of my limitations. What do you think?

When June arrived this year in New England, so did some remarkable heat! I wore shorts!! (Usually I am not warm enough until later in the month)

But then it cooled a bit, and then last night it poured, and I am happy, because my vegetables (abundant arugula!! healthy looking mustard greens, tomato plants, eggplant, cilantro, basil, sage… may they all continue and thrive. May we all as well) needed the water, as did the Concord River on whose side I stand in the photograph above. I am standing at the top of the fish ladder in this photograph. In the distance may be the great blue heron, but maybe this one of the moments when he was elsewhere. He did spend a good deal of time with me during the final week I herring watched. I mean, it’s in his interest to do so. Herrings<->herons. Food!!

I worry for the western half of this country. I worry for the many, many dry, hot, fire burdened segments of this world. I worry for the many, many drenched, tornadoed, cycloned, tempestuous water events-laden segments of this world. I worry for the homes destroyed–be they tents of available materials, walled edifices of found and assembled materials, of brick, of lumber, steel, glass; be they places of pride, or just shelter; be they urban or rural or somewhere between; be they owned or rented or squatted in; be they cooled or heated or not enough of either; be they windowed or without–I worry for who they had been protecting. I worry.

I worry for felled trees. For the communities they engender, support, stand in and lie down in, suspire in. I worry for air they enable all living forces to breathe.

I worry for fish finding themselves in uninhabitable waters. I worry for foxes ousted, for horses captured, promised long lives in wide ranges, and sold instead at auction, their purchasers lying, lying to any who is fool enough to believe them.

I worry for us all.

I worry we won’t learn.

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If you read all the way to the end. Thank you.

Rain

Rain is needed everywhere including here. And it is falling right now. I am happy. I am cold! Where two days ago I had on shorts and moccasins and today jeans, socks, double sweaters, still I am happy. Perhaps you are too. Perhaps you are not, you were planning your first large gathering after the 2020-2021 hiatus, likely a cookout or a beach day with family, friends. Ah, well. Wait a couple of days, or until next weekend. Enjoy the slow, new-adventure-each-day return to life with others. Easing into any new or renewed circumstance is softer than diving in, all rawness exposed. No? Personally, I am often a seeker of solitude.

Concord River falls misted in rain. I am standing a bit back from the fish ladder, passage for fish that cannot navigate the falls.

And the other day, in different weather, I shared time at the falls with a great blue heron who also was watching for herrings (or any other fish for a meal, which aspect of the watchI did not share)

Cropping makes the heron and her surroundings a bit pixilated, but …. Plus you might notice how much lower the water was in this earlier in the week photo-to whit, the need for and wonderfulness of this rain today May 29th 2021

I am sad, this said in the face of my earlier admission that I am often a seeker of solitude, I am sad that we spend so much of our time and energy being not that person or not this person, being not another, being aggressively self in the face, the presumed oppositional face, of other. I hope we begin to understand the sharedness that is living that enables life here on earth.

I am listening to a really good podcast. https://onbeing.org/programs/tracy-k-smith-and-michael-kleber-diggs-history-is-upon-us-its-hand-against-our-back/ I hope you’ll listen to it all, but especially from minute 25 on. And really especially, the three poems these two poets read during minutes 43-48 closing out the conversation. Really, this is a great episode of on-being. I hope you will listen to it.

Tomorrow my mother would have been 98 years old. Earlier this year my father would have turned 100. I cannot fathom these ages. I cannot touch the back, the palm of my own hand and understand that it has brushed against so many years of surfaces rough, smooth, broken, chipped…. Yesterday, standing in a wood at the waterfall shown above, I was taken by a tree that stood stiller than I and about five feet from me. I stepped over to it, it is a big tooth aspen and probably in its middle age, based on the shape of the bark’s cracks, and their depth; I stepped over to it and lay my palm against its side. I stood there palm to bark for a few minutes. The silence that stilled my body and settled my thoughts calmed me from breath out to bones to derm to epiderm (my bark), to a peace I wish I could have pocketed and could bring out today, tomorrow, anytime. Perhaps I can bring it out. Perhaps I only need remember, because, even as I type these words I am recalling and sitting nearer that peace. Again. I am grateful. I am grateful for the what were’s that can be the what are’s again. May only the good what were’s be repeated in your life.

Thank you for reading.

Not the Big Tooth Aspen, but a young Black Cherry, along the local rail trail, that could (some have) live to be 400 years old.

Is It Not A Day of Beauty?

So easily I can answer yes, here where I sit on a Friday afternoon, May 14th in New England. In Massachusetts. It is a beauty of a day–the light, the warmth, the level of moisture in the air, the abundance of birds –residents and migrators through and some settling in here to sing and make their nests. The trees are beyond merely leafing, they are feeding their leaves the food needed to reach their largest sizes, their deepest greens and reds and yellows, their flowers are transforming into fruit, their branches and their nooks and crannies are supporting nests for insects, for birds, burrows for small and moderately sized mammals. They are home to millions and food and storehouse and playground. I stand beneath them and it is a day of beauty.

Many, many years ago, when I was in my twenties, my boyfriend of that time gave me a Day of Beauty as a birthday present–makeup, hair wash, trim, and blow dry, special diet lunch, full, wonderful, luxurious swedish massage, manicure, pedicure–the manicurist was not happy with me as then as now, I keep my nails short to the bed and no polish. She insisted on clear polish–polish was part of the package… The gift was generous, and it was kind. I tell you, I reveled in that focus on me.

Field elm

Last week, Mark and I walked for several hours in a forest that is bounded by our city and two other towns. It is a beauty of red oaks and white oaks, sugar and, by the water bodies, red maples, white pines, big tooth aspens, a few elms, some hickories, and some lindens, and striking beeches here and there. Lots, lots of wildflowers, bopping their small yellow, purple, white floral heads into each other, the dirt, their own leaves. We walked slowly. We stopped to listen and to inspect and to admire. We met several friendly, accompanied dogs, delighted to spend a few moments with each, and a passing hello to their accompaniers. When we got home, Mark noted, “that was great! It was so relaxing.” And I realized that we had just completed that current peace-inducing, usually paid for “therapeutic technique” called forest bathing. Ha ha, I thought. We are au courant.

Does anyone know what this growing plant is? We saw it on several shrubs. The shrub was identified as a Leatherwood. Is this an element of it? Is it a visitor? I don’t know.
Copper beech

It is now Saturday morning. And I sit here today at my desk, behind the curtain of the two weeping, gray birches out front, behind the shrub that houses the nest the cardinals I reported on last time have abandoned (don’t know why, just one day before laying any eggs they left; a titmouse check it out once, a robin has investigated it a few times, and a blue jay looked in, but the cardinals have moved to a new home). I am sad at their departure, but they continue to visit the feeder out back…

To my right, out the side window the lilac bush is flowering. Its scent wafts lightly in.

Out back a neighborhood cat howls now and again as it passes through, riling Maria and, I think and hope, intimidating the two groundhogs who I have spotted traversing our yard (yes! now two, not just one. This does not bode well for my garden producing anything for me).

This is bird migratory time and between our back and front yards, the Merrimack River, and the Concord River by the fish ladder, I have seen, heard, and delighted in visiting, passing through warblers–yellow warbler, northern parula, yellow rumped warbler, american redstart, chestnut-sided warbler, least common warbler, black & white warbler, nevermind the myriad other resident and visiting birds of colors, colors unimaginable and songs that soar in the soul.

Song sparrow singing sweetly from her perch (tried to photograph one of the warblers but they dart so fast)

So here you have a day in the life of Kate VH the blogger. As soon as I send this to you I will hop on the bicycle. Today, like yesterday, is not a day to be missed.

Good Afternoon!

I write this on Saturday, April 24, 2021. Today the sun and the warmth returned. It is a wonderful day here in Massachusetts. Hyacinths are holding tight to their place in this time. Tulips are up and bright, so bright they shine; this is their time for center stage.

Tulips open and ready to open. Hyacinths hold the middleground. Oak leaves in the foreground provide food and place for the myriad insects in their various stages of development to thrive and serve. I thank my neighbors for their gigantic pin oak that contributes leaves that protect and feed the dirt in my flower beds and vegetable beds every winter into spring.

Daffodils-Jonquils are holding their own, although their time is fading fast. I look at them, and they more than any other spring flower bring to mind my own aging process. They continue in their colors and standing tall, but the hues of their colors fade and the “tall” stand has begun a suggestion of a hunch at the shoulders.

Jonquils in their initial ebb. More oak leaves to protect and feed the earth!

I smushed up the vegetable garden dirt today. I emended it with compost bin dirt and a little local cow manure. They both are rich and the dirt has colors in it like orange, auburn, deep, deep brown, and black. It is sweet, and it is ready. Tomorrow it is projected to rain. That is the idea!! Bring it on. We need rain badly. I celebrate its arrival. I am tempted especially as the weather warms, to run out and dance in the rain. Instead, I will follow its fall with placing cucumber seeds in the ground. And little brussels sprouts sets that I tried to establish in the basement. They may or may not succeed. I’ll give them a couple of weeks. If no luck, to the garden center I will go and hope to find plants still available. But with folks in the USA seeming to have discovered gardening as a diversion and a comfort these confusing days, I hold no assurance. Well, whatever else is available, I will try.

But there are other seeds to place in the days and weeks coming: Arugula, sage to add to that which overwintered successfully, rosemary to add to that which may or may not have overwintered successfully, carrots, cilantro, zucchini (maybe), beets. Any other suggestions? And I will experiment with a turnip that my husband kept too long, and it has begun to leaf. I am guessing I can just plant it! Worth a try. Then also I will later place some tomato plants and some basil.

And!! And, on the animal front, the cardinals have built and are carefully guarding a nest in the evergreen shrub in front of my house. Again! They were there a couple of years ago. I am being extra careful to not go and look so as not to direct the attention of blue jays and squirrels to this location. I so want them to succeed. You may remember that the last time the cardinals nested in my front shrub, I provided photographs, taken with great care, in a blog post. The eggs, the hatchlings, it was great. But then a predator entered and the fledglings were nowhere to be found. Thus, no pictures this time. No attention paid to them. I will let them be.

Sometimes backing off is the greatest gift one can give.

This is it for now. Probably I’ll be back to you all again soon. But for today, this is all I have to say. I hope you are well. I hope you are happy. I hope you have peace.

On This March Day

Hmmm. I began a sentence first about how all are talking about soon returning to places of employment. The whens; the wheres; the circumstances of which. And immediately I groaned. So not where I want to tread today!

Instead, I have just been eating my lunch sitting in front of the kitchen window that looks out back at the bird feeders, and the birds that feed at them. And the whole time, was serenaded by a titmouse who between tugging sunflower seeds out of the feeder, and poking at the dogwood branches to place them within, sang out her whole range of mezzo-soprano melodies, unconcerned by the 20 degrees farenheit chill, that “feels like” 9 degrees farenheit due to wind chill, unconcerned by that very active wind that is making that chill and shoving me indoors all day, because I, as noted in a previous post or two, do not enjoy how much work it is for me to walk against chilly winds, nevermind pedal my bicycle into their press.

So, the titmouse (family paridae) and her considerably larger, similar in so many ways except size, blue jay (family corvidae) compatriots: They, both species, stay put year round, have attentive crests that rise and fall, hang out in mixed crowds, are not shy about grabbing their desired portion of the food, are also of prominent voice providing a mix of songs and calls that carry over most any intervening noises, are delightful to watch, and seem to stare back at me almost as one of us looks at ourself in the mirror, open-eyed and objectively.

I am grateful for the signs of spring, one being that a day this cold has quickly become an oddity, not the norm. But I miss the private silence that a new snowfall imposes, such that the titmouse, the blue jay, even the constantly background chattering house sparrows, are hushed, just briefly. And then, when they do call out, it is as if a forest surrounds me, as if nothing but the forest and its free, safe dwellers is surrounding me and there is no strong sugar maple felled for aesthetic nor for fear reasons, no hefty red oak having only car hoods and roofs as a destination for its generously shed acorns, no beeches scratched along their bodies with initials and arrow-pierced hearts, no big-tooth aspens rising without community, solo, like power poles strung with cable, no tulip poplars flowering for none but those power lines, the windows of houses almost larger than their property dimensions, the chainlink fences against which they have rubbed for decades. I miss that mystery of new snow cover.

But I am grateful that the presently relatively barren signs of spring, portend leafing–yellow, lime green, deep green, swarthy red, striped, speckled; and fruiting–especially berries the size of a comma to berries that fill my palm, and drupes (fruits with stone centers) of so many colors and textures. These will cover, will disguise, will make disappear if I half close my eyes, the structures we have designed and constructed beneath our feet, beside us, and over us, crowding, crowding. A stand of beeches, maples, ashes, oaks, pines and firs beckons me. A stand of architecturally significant homes, or office compounds unnerves me.

Well, just walked back into the kitchen, and then out to the back porch briefly. Simultaneously, a white breasted nuthatch was honking from the dogwood, and a downy woodpecker was hammering at the pin oak in the yard behind ours, while a crowd of house sparrows hovered around and crowded each other away from the “song bird mix” seed feeder. Petey had placed himself on the kitchen floor inside the bounds of the bright, sunlit spot provided through the west window. He is not interested in watching birds.

And now back at my desk, Maria napping beside me, has been known, frequently, to leap from a deep, snoring sleep to pointer position in front of a window across the house outside of which one of the re-emerging chipmunks may be passing. What is within her awareness center that captures that whispering footfall 35 feet and several walls and doorways away? A mystery to unravel another time. For now:

“No one can measure the depth of God’s understanding.” Isaiah 40:28c

Truth

I just walked outside for a bit. Only around the backyard. Filling bird feeders. Peering at squirrel and rabbit prints crisscrossing under the dogwood, alongside the house, then up the fence (squirrel) and under the mulch pile behind the shed (rabbit). I chose, today, to not go out anywhere–no walk, and certainly, due to abundant snow on the ground and more or sleet predicted any minute now, no bicycling. I didn’t even feel like walking the .4 miles there and back to the mailbox, which is nicely situated along the perimeter of a greenspace that the city has pretty effectively maintained. It is about 1/4 acre diagonally bisected with a footpath that beginning in autumn is wonderfully carpeted in acorns from three large red oaks and one black oak. There is also a sugar maple, maybe two. There also were two lindens/american basswoods, but they were felled a year or two ago–I wrote a rant about that in a previous post. Three ornamental cherries have since been planted in their stead. I pray for their health and growth. They’ll be far less imposing in 20 years than the lindens were, but if successful, they will provide their own story and feed their own crowd of robins, mourning doves, cardinals, sparrows, mockingbirds, and blue jays, with finches flitting through. By then I’ll be able to do little more than sit on the park bench beneath them and watch, delightedly. If I’m honest, even that is a maybe–me in 20 years.

Lately I have found myself thinking about truth, and finding references to truth, and to truths, in just about everything I pick up to read, from newspapers, to mystery novel, to a collection of environmental observances and commentaries, to the Bible, to articles on the histories of several countries, including this one in which I was born and live, to poems of the day, to friends’ electronic communication sites.

I have been finding myself uncomfortable with the range of pronouncements/opinions/theories on what is truth. Is truth so malleable? Does one ever speak it? What is more stable a measure–fact or truth? What do I mean, a measure? What is measuring, by what means, and what is being measured? Is truth measurable? Against what standards? Say the word ‘truth’. What are your expectations when you hear it said? Is truth a concept or an object?

Then I listened to a conversation, presented on February 20th, 2021, on On Being, hosted by Krista Tippett. She was talking with Rabbi Ariel Burger, who was a student of, and continues to study Elie Wiesel. Rabbi Burger said this: “…truth is really the search for truth. It’s not primarily about facts and data. We needs facts & data, & that’s been an endangered specie, in many ways, for awhile too. But there’s a certain way of opening up to a larger perspective and saying, “I need to reflect, & I need to challenge my assumptions. I need to become aware of my assumptions.” And this is a big part of my own experience as a student. The best things I’ve ever learned were not content. They were some sort of contrast with someone else’s way of thinking that at first seemed really strange to me, that I allowed in that I allowed to question me. And I, through that process, became aware of my own assumptions and the lens through which I was looking.”

Perhaps consider, truth is the way we live in, it is not in us, it is never confined by us, thus not defined by us, we are within it, or not.

Nearly mid-February

I realize as I place fingers to keyboard that this, February 12th, 2021, is the 212th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. I am a deep admirer of Abraham Lincoln, the man about whom I have read myriad biographies and histories and critical pieces. His life, and his time as President of this country, as depicted by so many writers–historians, biographers, civilization studiers, sociologists, psychologists, novelists, political pundits, students, honorers, dishonorers, reporters, probably gossip columnists, maybe congregation leaders–has uncountable versions. Which are accurate? Which are true? Is there a difference between accurate and true?

What comes through as I read the variety of accounts, is that he kept learning, and kept applying what he learned to his life and to his responsibilities. Sometimes the lessons he latched onto may have been ones to not have taken, and sometimes he reversed a stand he had held, and sometimes he dug in his heels, and maybe that was good, and other times, maybe it was not the right choice. Me too.

You too?

We have had an abundance of opportunities to make impactful decisions in the way we pursue even our thoughts, as well as our words and our acts, in our lives, and especially in our recent pasts and in our present. Decisions that affect ourselves, our neighbors (by that I mean all creation, down to the diatom, down to the nanobe, down to the nucleic acid) , our relations, and a future. May we pause, often, and listen, feel, see, smell, taste, cry, smile, consider the paying forward of our way of being and having our life, consider the wake that we follow and how it has or could or will or won’t direct the shape of our own way, consider the wake beside the one we follow, the wake that someone else or something else is following and how each impacts the other.

The number of times that I think I am absolutely right but am shown otherwise in toto or in part, or discover myself the flaw in Kate’s rightness, the number of times is embarrassing. The number of those times that I am ready to curl up and not acknowledge, I don’t want to count. The number of opportunities not to curl up and not to not acknowledge, thankfully, are at least as many.

There’s a parable told in the Bible by Jesus, in the book of Luke, about a widow who had a request of a judge, who would not listen to her. I’m not too happy with her request, she is seeking revenge. But to this part of the story–She persisted and finally he listened and acted on her request. Her persistence had worn him down. Lots of interpretations are presented for this parable. Today, at this moment I see from it that persistence. In the face of–in the face of odds placed before me by my gender, my faith, my age, my place of dwelling, my previous choices–individually and in accumulation, my attitudes, my inabilities, my self, my conformance, my nonconformance, my neighbors, my fears–I can persist in seeing where I am wrong, again, and then seeking advice, example, help, attention, patience, so that I might, this time, get it right.

That’s it for today. Thank you for reading all the way through.

I am adding this photograph because in my previous post, I mentioned Maria, but had no photo to show. Here she is.

“Th’ abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.”

Brutus in Julius Caesar (2.1.19-20)

Well it is January, After All

And I was insistent, at least in my head, that I was going to take a walk, albeit a vigorous walk, today, despite the analog thermometer suspended at our back kitchen window showing 4 degrees farenheit, and the branches of the dogwood, the entire 30′ heighted arborvitae, and the dangling bird feeders all frequently flinging practically horizontal in the gusts. I mean, after all, the feeders were a place of feasts today–chickadees, titmice, juncos, cardinals, goldfinches, house sparrows, blue jays, a nuthatch, and a starling all consumed their shares between 7:15AM and 8:00AM. It was as busy as the supermarket the day before a forecast snowstorm! As busy as the drive up windows to any eatery I pass by! So if they are fine, should I not be as well?

And then I stepped outside onto the back porch. Oh my. I get it why down is said to be so effective a heat holder. I am in double socks, jeans and a thick wool turtlenecked sweater over long johns, a crocheted wool scarf wrapped twice around my neck, a second sweater, knee length over these layers, a wool winter coat that reaches down to mid-calf, waterproof, windproof, filled tuck-innable gloves, a wool felt cloche, a second scarf, mid-height insulated winter boots, and I am immediately shivering and rethinking any plans to roam the local roads a pied.

Down as soft as spring sun; as gentle as summer breeze; as enveloping as leaves piled and leapt into. So why did we bipeds make choices over the eons that resulted in our keeping barely a skim coat of that miracle enveloper? What a species we are, we shed all that protects us from the elements, and then use plants, other animals, and then chemical compositions, to reintroduce the protection the elements require of us. I wonder at us.

left to right: chickadee, four sparrows (two on sunflower feeder, two on tube feeder), goldfinch
left to right: sparrow, sparrow blue jay (sparrow on the tube feeder, blue jay on sunflower seed feeder), sparrow on the thistle feeder

I just took the above pictures, now approximately noon on Friday, January 29th, 2021. Would that I had thought to bring my phone/camera to breakfast to capture images of the avian community gathered earlier and named at the top of this post. I would say that noon must be house sparrow hour. But every hour is house sparrow hour. And I will not complain about their ubiquity, because I have learned that their populations are collapsing. So I root for them to return, and return, and return. Along with all their friends and neighbors. FYI: The temperature has risen to 10 degrees. The gusts have not lessened. And these down enveloped birds are undeterred.

However, the cats, domesticated over the centuries, to a less dense fur, appreciate the presence of our clanking, steam radiators as much as do I.

Petey napping
Stella graces me with a yawn.

I couldn’t find Maria. I checked all the radiators. Nope. I checked her hot spot and there she was, bedroom closet, nestled on a sweatshirt that she likes to pull off the shelf.

I have no profundities to add. I believe I shall bid you adieu. May you be well, still, and continue so.

We Enter Trembling

It seems, what, inappropriate to enter a room and talk of anything inconsequential during these days of such consequence. So much of the events of our current days are being deemed unprecedented. But, what of the act of living, the fact of being is precedented? Just as each hexagonal snowflake is different from each other hexagonal snowflake, each moment we live and breathe and think and talk and hope and be is like no other. It can’t be helped. And thank God. There are so many moments that should not be spent again.

Unlike snowflakes, though, our moments, our selves, are sentient, and we can learn and we can teach, and we can understand, and we can try to understand, and we can help to understand, and we can shape-change, of our own volition, not just because, like for snowflakes, of temperature or touchdown. Perhaps because of touch, because by being we are touching others — physically, emotionally, intellectually, sensibly and insensibly, sensitively and insensitively, wisely and unwisely, honestly and dishonestly…. Never think you don’t matter. You do. But also, never think you don’t have impact. You do. We are each responsible for our acts, and for our responses–their tone, their direction, their intensity, their intent. You can hurt me, but I am not yours. I can hurt you, but you are not mine. Ever.

Shift in gears.

Yesterday I took a long walk, passing along the shores of two rivers that bisect this city, and intersect with each other within this city’s limits. The Concord River flows north into the south and east flowing Merrimack River here. Along the Concord River, which is of a higher water level than it was a couple of months ago, but still low, I saw no birds, not even a stray mallard. Along the Merrimack River I saw a community of mallards! I also saw a glaucous gull (one of the definitions of glaucous is “of a light bluish-grey or bluish-white color”. I find it an unpleasant word to fit my tongue around, and wonder at its choice, its origins*), which, I was told by a birder who was photographing as I passed, is uncommon here. And I saw a community of common golden-eyed ducks-males sharply black and white, females sharply deep brown and white. Both with golden eyes, and quite attractive. They winter here, and summer further north.

Unlike mallards, the golden-eyed dive underwater as they fish for food. The mallards only “dabble” — they stick their faces in the water, and their butts glow above.

*Glaucous came to English—by way of Latin glaucus—from Greek glaukos, meaning “gleaming” or “gray,” and has been used to describe a range of pale colors from a yellow-green to a bluish-gray. The word is often found in horticultural writing describing the pale color of the leaves of various plants as well as the powdery bloom that can be found on some fruits and leaves. The stem glauc- appears in some other English words, the most familiar of which is glaucoma, referring to a disease of the eye that can result in gradual loss of vision. So here it is defined, but it still tastes unpleasant to me to say. This leads to another subject, which I venture to sometimes but will not pursue today, why languages range so widely in their component sounds and in their incidence of sibilance and of clicking or tapping when spoken. And why some languages pile on the consonants, and some roll out the vowels. Ponder if you wish.

A final brief entry. The other day I was walking in the neighborhood and was stopped by this waltzing pair. In my mind I alliterate and call them waltzing willows. But must acknowledge that accuracy requires me to let you know that they are maples. Nevertheless, they are dancing, don’t you think?

May you find promise where you look, and fulfillment where you are.

And So This is December 24th 2020

For many of us it is celebrated as Christmas Eve. For many of us it is not a celebratory eve. But here is what it is, a day, 24 hours, winter in the northern hemisphere, summer in the southern hemisphere the third shortest day in the northern and the third longest day in the southern. Imagine if the earth suddenly upended. You’d think that we’d all be suddenly standing on our heads. But! But no one is right now, and half the globe is upside down from the other half, no? Yet we are all standing feet to the ground heads to the air. Here is the mystery of gravity.

How many mysteries are there in life? This pleases me. I like the freedom to explore that not-knowing gives. And I like this about mysteries, they are greater than us. And I hold to that this season while I celebrate Christmas.

And every place on earth has its own sources of things to wonder about, many of them to celebrate. Every square inch does. And somebody has figured out one thing, say-why there are pines with three needles per bunch and pines with five needles per bunch and pines with shorter or longer needles; even, say-the molecular content of a grain of dirt, and somebody else who doesn’t get it about pines or dirt or even care, has figured out how to look at another person’s facial expression and know just the right way to respond, and someone else knows why a rosemary plant can be stored all winter either in the ground or a cool place (depending on what planting zone you live in–another wonder!) while a basil plant cannot overwinter. Why do some birds nest in treetops and some in brush?

And why am I curious about this nest and not the mechanics of an automobile engine?

Can someone tell me how Stella, who was napping upstairs, knew that the squirrel was caching nuts in the window box outside my window, and came down here to sit on my desk and see? (This was a few days ago, pre-current snowfall, all 12 inches of which, by the way is melting right now as I type. Why?)

I finish today’s post with this poem by James Joyce. Written in 1932, and is said to celebrate the birth of his grandson and to mourn the death of his father.

Ecce Puer
Of the dark past
A child is born;
With joy and grief
My heart is torn.

Calm in his cradle
The living lies.
May love and mercy
Unclose his eyes!

Young life is breathed
On the glass;
The world that was not
Comes to pass.

A child is sleeping:
An old man gone.
O, father forsaken,
Forgive your son!
James Joyce

Ecce Puer is translated as: behold a young boy

And I share a Christmas wrapping picture (and I notice that Stella got into this photograph too!):