Each day is

This morning, I bicycled to a local not for profit urban farm market to check out their annual sale of plants to buy. I bought a four pack of cherry tomatoes, figuring I could figure out how to carry those safely on my bicycle (two options I knew to work, gingerly–bungee corded to the shelf over the rear tire, or carefully held in my ever-present across the chest “shopping bag”). I considered buying eggplant and pickling cucumbers as well, but knew better. There would be a challenging pedaling home the two miles to my house, a good portion of it up a pair of challenging hills–the cost of buying at a farm market at river’s edge and living in “the highlands” of my city. The name is accurate, the ride home from anywhere local is some amount of up hill.

Anyway, I was waiting to pay for my four pack of tomatoes, when a neighbor appeared beside me and seeing me holding them and my bicycle helmet, said to me, “I will take your plants home for you.” You can’t beat that. What a kindness. So I got to meander home along the river and watch it fall over the Pawtucket falls, and listen to and spot the myriad warblers, some passing through and some hanging out for the summer, and the song sparrows, and the warbling vireos, and the redwing blackbirds, and the robins, and etc. It was a lovely, leisurely pedal and for the uphill parts I didn’t have to be conscious of any items on the back of me or under my arm.

And!! The clouds held out as merely clouds until I was two blocks from home, and then only released some drizzle until I was able to put away the bicycle, prepare the soil for the four arriving plants, then receive the plants, visit with my neighbor for awhile, and plant the plants! Only as I was patting down the dirt around the final tomato plant did the rain kick into a downpour. You can’t beat that!

What a day.

And!! I am counting herrings at the fish ladder again this year. And by happenstance, three weeks ago when I set up my schedule, I didn’t choose today as a day to stand at water’s edge and count! So far, my days have involved only sunny/clear or 3%/25% cloudy (two of the options we have for reporting weather conditions on the phoneapp that we report our sightings on). Two recent ones incorporated a bit of a chill, actually a big chill, but, really, complain? Not I.

And the rain falling steadily outside my window. NEEDED!! And beautiful. I did dawdle outdoors after finishing the tomato plant placing, and did get very wet. But, it was my choice. And indoors was 7 feet away from where I stood.

What a day.

You can barely see them, but there are two ducks–male mallard on the horizontal log, female mallard kicking up a storm to stay on top of the falls, and join the male on the log. The male had just achieved the log, as he, too, had been kicking against the falls. It as fascinating to watch, and their legs don’t even burst with muscles.

The other day, one full of sun, in a very small space of a pretty small bog/pond, we spotted a very long but tightly wound around itself water snake, gorgeous wet brown skin glinting in the sun, two notable frogs noses and backs above water line, two substantial turtles noses above the waterline, so many water happy plants, a fish or four, a party of red wing blackbirds, robins, chickadees, titmice, warblers, an oriole. What a day.

See the frog?
Can you name this water grass?
Cinnamon fern–seed bearing, and non-seed bearing shoots
Bog walk to the pond

May your day be one that is.

It is morning. It is morning!

I sit at my desk watching the weeping birch, which seems to have finished leafing out overnight, whisper and wiggle in the morning breeze. It is a lovely sight. An occasional gust shoving through tells me that my bicycle ride later this morning may require some periodic pedal pushing (like that alliteration?) but I am up for it.

The other day traveling the local rail trail, I heard and, with a persistence I don’t always put forth, saw an orchard oriole! My first. What is an orchard oriole, you might ask? It is a slightly smaller version of a baltimore oriole, and with a deeper orange, rust-toned, ranging on robin red breast. And the one I saw and another higher in a second tree somewhere to my left, called back and forth “chirrup, chirrup”. When I got home, I pored through my various bird books, and the electronic sources to verify my sighting. No one mentioned the chirrup, but indeed, that is the word they both were speaking to me, to each other.

If you have a loupe, scan this photograph millimeter by millimeter. The orchard oriole is in it, somewhere!

So then I started to look for, and find, birds’ nests. Periodically, perhaps annually, but I think not that often, I think to myself that I am going to study and be able to identify birds’ nests with their creators. I don’t seem to follow through on that self-imposed study subject. Here are two. Can any one of you identify the maker?

Perhaps I will take up the study, once again. Perhaps I will follow through this time.

You know, if I don’t see the bird making the nest, I am lost. And this is exacerbated by the size of the bird vs. the size of the nest. The mourning dove nest I saw in my neighbor’s tree a year or so ago looked only sized for a sparrow, yet it comfortably seated two doves and eggs. It gives me pause about how much space we seem to think we need for our own selves. We do take up a lot of room, and a great deal of new material for our structures, whereas birds and ground fauna make such effective use of fallen twigs, catkins, dirt, grasses, feathers, trash!, fur, hair, leaves (in my neighborhood, and probably anywhere, squirrels make very effective use of oak leaves, those tenacious oak leaves, which I use as winter cover for my flower and vegetable and shrub beds).

I need to admit, if I haven’t before, one year, many, many years ago I was stashing combed cat fur in an accessible place out, thinking to offer the backyard friends nice, warm nest material. Well they never took it. Well, of course!! Cats are a menace. Smell cat fur, know threat. So I stopped that practice. Now, as I know I have mentioned before, I just grow vegetables that many flighted and grounded backyard friends consume with and for me.

So what are you noticing this spring? What is local and a bringer of joy? Maybe touch a tree today. It’s grounding. It’s pleasant.

Oh, and just because, here is a photograph of a constructed owl, overtopping a newly completed trail crossing of the Concord River. The story provided was that when the mills were everywhere in Lowell, clanking, lurching, huffing, clinching, puffing, reeking, creaking, creating and destroying simultaneously, and using the talents and lives of mill workers, the mill girls who used to stay in boarding houses were “watched over” a watcherwoman per house. Also resident in many of the the boarding houses, up in the attics, and their environs, were barn owls. They provided their own type of watching over and protection against unwanted beings. So, to denote these “protectors” this fragile, yet imposing watcherwoman owl has been constructed. This owl has solar panel eyes, so at night they light up, which is pretty cool albeit a bit eerie.

I’m going out now. Maybe I’ll see you in my wanderings as I do in my wonderings.

May all be well. May it be so.

Simultaneity of death and birth

The idea of this title came to me as I ambled through a woods named for, most likely, the last private “owner” of the property before it was let to lie fallow, to grow a forest of its own, and to become a Conservation Land of the town it is within the bounds of. I am grateful to this donator. This last owner’s death enabled the birth of this space of white and red pines, white, red, and black oaks, big tooth aspens, some hickories and a black walnut or two, some red and silver and sugar maples (the sugars, by the way, are probably in their last stand, being, as they are, trees in need a colder climate than is now provided in northeastern Massachusetts.), of flowering shrubs perhaps remaindered from the once groomed property, of skunk cabbage and small meandering waterways all leading to a nicely misshapen pond on which today floated, dabbled and dipped canada geese, mallards, and common goldeneyes.

I took pictures, some, which brought the idea to me, and some because the idea was now with me.

On this, I think rhododendron, on the same branch last year’s flower-seed pouch deflated and this year’s burgeoning

I thought of it some more and understood something, death is not only simultaneous with birth; death, readily when untrammeled, effortfully when bound, supports birth.

Rootball of fallen tree, grasses, new and past deckle it, skunk cabbage sprouting beside it in its offal, deep rich dirt plastered within the aimless roots, seeding who knows how many flora and feeding who knows how many fauna?
In the midst of new forest–pines, cabbages, shrubs, oaks, aspens–old–years of oak leaves and pine needles, and resting on the nest it is creating, a fallen tree, likely oak
Lichen, moss, ferns, pine–I think red based on needle per bunch count– emerge from and merge with once oak, once pine.

And. To live is to dance. This aged balletic elm, dipping back to the water alive with new growth, awes me with her flexion.

Then this Camperdown Scotch Elm below, cobbled, hobbled in the Boston Public Garden; God knows her history–perhaps intentionally imported, perhaps rode in on the boot of an intruder; sits reborn within herself, and that reborn self well aged, but never, I just read, grown tall. She is a wych elm cultivar, and known for being short and offering twisty, weeping branches….

Then there is the Beech, ah the Beech. Look how she reaches for sustenance and for places to root again and again, so abundant in the woods, so diligently sought and exposed to possibly deadly abuse and absent natural protectors in the manicure of a manmade space.
And yes, the bald cypress, doing what she does — popping baby cypressii around her circumference.

Psalm 57:5-6
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

They have set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my path
but they have fallen into it

Before March marches away

How beautiful is the murmur of a cluster sparrows crowded in a shrub. I often pause to listen. I also try to see them, the so many of them, seems like hundreds of voices at one time. Usually I only can glimpse 10 or 20. Somehow they become the branches, twigs, and last year’s brown and this year’s deep green leaves. Hundreds and they are mostly only voices confusing my scanning eyes, delighting my attendant ears.

How beautiful is the roof peak song of a robin; the tree top trill of a house sparrow, and a competing purple sparrow; the clear, high in the maple song of a cardinal. How exciting is the first of the season pronounced song of a song sparrow; the crik crik awwwk, weezoo of a redwing blackbird; the sweet phoebe of a chickadee, who has spent the winter chattering and scolding; the alto and alternately accented phoebe of an eastern phoebe.

The mourning doves pick up the frequency of their moans. The mockingbird has added at least seven more mimics to its repertoire. The goldfinch chuckles as it flits branch to branch, tree to tree. The nuthatch notifies me that it is zooming into its target. The downy woodpecker kind of chortles as it bobs from branch to branch. I imagine the titmouse balancing sturdily while calling teeter teeter teeter. The blue jay’s call is lost in the raucous ruckus.

How ominous is the red tail hawk’s creeeeel; the rush of the cooper’s wings through the underbrush; the grackle’s crackle; the visible music of seven vultures wheeling above our streets, our tallest trees, our ominous office towers.

A near susurration of starlings briefly disrupts the cloudless blue sky light.

I ask you to envision these things. I am providing no photographs for them. I know you can. In some combination, some accumulation, they are our neighbors, whether we live deep urbanly, semiurbanly, suburbanly, rurally. They thrive with us and despite us. They are another of the gifts on this place called earth, in this case the place on earth called eastern Massachusetts.

But I provide this photograph. I happened upon this pair just walking along during one of my meanders.

I don’t know. I’m pretty sure they’re raccoons. They were a golden brown in my line of vision. But I have seen a picture of a brown skunk. But!! Do skunks nest up in trees? I think not. I’m going with raccoons.

As I am sitting here, the wind is picking up, clouds are moving in. Oh dear. I had intended on another walk today, with a goal in mind. But after a cup of coffee (which is brewing as I type right now). Not sure the weather will be so patient. Perhaps I will put my coffee in a to-go cup, I have plenty!! You know, when the legs want to walk, how can the head say no?

Maybe I’ll just put in a row of arugula seeds. And a row of pea seeds. It’s almost April. Why not?

When I Wonder

When I wonder, I find myself popping up in such diverse thought sources, all at once in a jumble sometimes; in sequence other times. I have yet to understand the decision process in me that attends to which, when, and why.

This is the corner of my room, beside my desk. Often I stare here, when thinking, or not.

Where do thoughts come from? What is the reason we focus on this one, and allow that one to slip away?

Right now a mourning dove is poking her head up from the evergreen shrub in front of my house. She seems to be looking at me. With concern, I would say. A little bit ago a second mourning dove sat on the porch railing doing the same, while she, the one poking her head out and facing me was flittering around within the shrub. Most likely, as you probably already surmised, they are planning a nest in there. I meant to trim that shrub back, and the other three, at the end of February. I didn’t get to it and so now likely will have to forego the trimming once again, and these four shrubs will continue ungainly in their shape. So it goes. As I type these words I can hear the “mourning” call of the dove out on the side of my house. The one in the shrub left and the other one as well. I think they are awaiting my departure from the desk in front of the window.

I wish I had a naturecam (or whatever they are called) to watch for me while I go away and give them their privacy.

The snow is melting rapidly in this morning’s bright sun such that I have several single-strand waterfalls from roof to shrubs. Like streams of diamonds falling, falling.

Well, I hear them both mourning now, and one just did a low flyby probably to check on whether that large, bespectacled face remains behind that window, and those fingers are still flying across the keyboard. Yup, I am here.

I think I will leave them be. I’ll be back to you. Right now, closing in on 10:00 AM, Monday, March 6th, 2023, I will take a walk. There are errands to accomplish, and what finer way to do them than walk! (Well there is bicycle, but not with the level of roadway encroachment by snow right now. I have a modicum of common sense.)

And now it is 1:00PM. The walk was ideal. The sparkle in the air, in the sunlight, on the snow, even on the bare branches.

This late season snow, for which I am grateful, if only because we’re in the climate that expects it, and it’s the season for it, and it hasn’t noticeably undermined the seasonal bodies and activities of local flora and fauna. It does keep me more local, but only because I really do not like to drive in snow. (Why, you ask, do I live where I do, then? I ask and answer, it is beautiful. And driving is not the end all and be all of my life, thankfully.)

May I share who the snow has enabled me to discover have visited me in several overnights. These are from left to right rabbit and cat, (and me), raccoon, junco. Yet another gift from the snow-a natural naturecam.

Thanks for reading. May you this day delight in something new to you.

The Day After Lincoln’s Birthday

I had thought that yesterday, February 12th, the 214th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, I would write a blog post having in some way to do with him, as I hold much admiration for him. I did not. What I did do was clear out an old desk that I am giving away, in anticipation of the recipient coming to take it. She did not. What I then did was watch the NFL super bowl game. It was an exciting game. Two talented, well coached teams; two incredible quarterbacks.

Lincoln’s farewell address at Great Western Depot, Springfield, IL on February 11, 1861, as he departed for his Presidential role: My friends-No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe every thing. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man…I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return…I bid you an affectionate farewell.

Abraham Lincoln’s birthdate completed its 24 hour course while I slept, Maria, my tuxedo cat, curled beside me.

Maria beside me on the couch, Stella, well fed!, at the top of the picture

Well, I just reread one of my posts, one from November 2021. And I fear I have not moved from the position of ecological concern toward despair that it spoke of. I do not want to repeat that post verbatim. I know I have repeated the thoughts and will again, because it is the base, I think, of our vulnerability–it is due to us, and it is doing to us–why do we? At worst, I think greed drives us. And here I will stop on that course of thought for today. Another unseasonably warm day, during which robins and finches are already singing their spring tunes.

I shift course. It seems I have no words to toss at you today. So I will just regale you with the following picture story:

And here we come to the conclusion of today’s post. May your day be of peace. Well, and of concern and remembrance, it being now nearly 40,000 persons engulfed in the ruin of an earthquake in the heart of our earth.

To stand below an oak and find peace

We Begin

How is your January?

January is the first month in the Gregorian calendar and has 31 days. The name January comes from Janus or Ianus, the Roman god of passage and new beginningsIānus is Latin and means arched gateway. It is related to the word Janitor, which initially meant “Keeper of the Gate.” I would argue that janitor still does mean that–keeper of the gate. I invite you to think that through. Where would public spaces, commercial and office buildings, entertainment centers, etc. be without someone(s) keeping them up, thus accessible, thus enterable and exitable? And, more often than not, that same janitor(s) can fix things, can rebuild things, can, by experience or reasoning, do.

I am born in January, would that it defined my mechanical and reasoning self-sufficiency. It does not. Could it? Could I do? Do you reflect the meaning of the name of your birth month? Could you? Would you?

Funny, my fingers touch the keys, and I do not know where they will travel. Today the trip began with January.

This morning I walked around the mighty river that flows through our city, well not the entire river, as I would still be walking to the Atlantic and then back up to somewhere in mid-northerly New Hampshire. I walked from my house to the river, across on Mammoth Street bridge, along the river’s north bank, and back across to the south bank on the 40-year old bailey (viz–temporary) bridge. It being a metal bridge, I mini-stepped along the walkway, touching the pedestrian-protective grating all the time so as to grab should my feet slide out from under me. I talked to myself the entire length.

These two views are from the Mammoth Street Bridge. I did not stop to photograph on the bailey bridge, which if you squint you might be able to see way back in center back of the bottom photo

What a gift it is to live walking distance from waterways. We have two. Two natural and oh, 5 or 7 dug canals that grabbed the power of this river and fed mills, mills, mills. About half of which remain standing, and most of these serving now as residential, museum, retail, and business spaces.

What a gift it is that trees persist along the river’s banks and birds ply its waters.

I think it’s a hackberry? Behind it you can see the river flowing
A Hooded Merganser couple

What a gift it is that one can stand at the lip of the bank and sense the river’s conversation as it passes by. And that no one has yet cleared away a recently fallen old birch, so that it can be extra sustenance for the myriad medium, small, and microscopic entities whose lifecycles are disrupted by the unpredictable, unseasonable, disruptive weather patterns that are life these days.

Fallen, ancient birch on the northside esplanade. The birch’s feet were toed into the tilting riverbank.

And the gifts of being able to walk along the river, among what reside beside it, and to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste, and walk home patting passing dogs, greeting occasional neighbors and numerous non-neighbors, and enter my heated house, and haul out my laptop, and type this letter to you. And the gift of you reading it. I am thankful, and I thank you.

Good Afternoon

This Saturday, last day of the year 2022. To be celebrated, down in Boston, amid ice sculptures quickly de-shaping in this day that here has reached 56 degrees farenheit. Easy walking, but also easy melting of a slew of annual winter festival celebratory pieces, including homage to the penguins housed in the aquarium behind which the carvings took shape. Lovingly housed, I understand.

Disturbingly, while walking my neighborhood earlier today I saw a silver maple with swelling buds. Not now!! Shut down! Go back inside your hard carapaces flush against the limbs, the branches, the twigs. Take cover!

And I call that to all the beings that are hibernating, or should be. Do so!! Do not come out. Stay in and sleep. This seems to be my December mantra. It is. It matters. Have you noticed the plethora of raptors trolling the ground from high in the sky, from high in trees, from low on tough shrubs, some flying across highways just above car roof level having captured with their incredible eyes, maybe incredibler ears (given the traffic noise interference) prey who came out for breath, snack, or from confusion, and …..

Okay! So I bring you down on this December 31st, this last Saturday, last day of 2022. And how do I bring you down? Moaning about warmth. It is warm enough that my dehumidifier is necessarily operating in the basement. And yet, here we were on Tuesday, December 28th

a pair of ice necklaced trees amid their cloths of ice
A parade of ice-necklaced trees traverse the shoreline of the Merrimack River
tree roots draped in ice gowns

Good afternoon may this be, of its own right.(or write?)

Good afternoon for you, for your neighbors composed of the same elements, but in different orders becoming/having become elms, maples, oaks, squirrels, nuthatches, yews, dreamers, doers, ants, ground worms, goldfinch nests, hyacinths, coyotes, sisters, nephews, clouds, snowflakes, rye, chia, pecans, hippopotami, trout, orcas, manta rays, guppies, panthers, me.

May your year begin well, and follow that thought for all its days.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26


This is that time when most of us remember someone we have meant to think about for months, maybe 12 of them. We remember then we act on it, or shrug, or think about it, or wonder honestly if there was a reason for it, or if there was not and we should reach out, or should we? Should they?

I think if I am doing thinking then there is something I have left undone, and need to tie that bow, snap that snap, zip that zipper, loosen that knot–make the call, write the letter, jot the note, tap the text. Oh my, how many colloquialisms are there per language for completing an undone?

Anyhow, while many species have burrowed and will stay so through, say February (or August in places in the upside down hemisphere of this earth, e.g. New Zealand), humans fight that natural weather avoider and don layers so to accomplish, “play” (like skiing–is that play? Does play by definition avoid effort? What is play? What is effort? Is it effort when push and shove may be involved but are not minded, may even be enjoyed?

does the beaver mind the effort it takes to gnaw through these trees?

Admittedly, cocooning though I desire, I also, when I do so too long, desire–need to–emerge and move, move in the weather whatever it is. I tell myself I could curl up and read all winter. I cannot.

It is cold, and others of other feathers are walking, so am I

In fact, neither can most hibernating entities. Most, for instance chipmunks, oppossums, groundhogs, bats, have to rise and stretch their appendages occasionally, take a snack, warm their physical selves a bit, and get away from that recurrent dream that loses its allure once dreamed too often. Myself, I sleep so deeply, that if I awaken from a dream that I would like to record, I usually can’t. I take way too long to awaken, and the dream, by then, has flitted to behind its hatch. I know it’s there somewhere, because 10 or 15 years later it will send me a capsule of it and I will want the full dream, but I have only been teased. Nevertheless, I know it is there!! I know I still have it. If only my mind knew what my mind does with things.

I am thinking of thinking. I am thinking of the amount of time a thought takes to assemble, rise, and talk. And then I always collapse back to that question(s)–what is time? Is time?

Time is the component quantity of various measurements. A construct. Absent a personality, a self. A way to shove space around like we control it.


We named it and it owns us.


Ha! What is space?

What is a name?

Greetings!! Stay in. Go out. Dance. Watch, as I am while I type here, the sunset. Listen to the neighbor rolling his trash barrel closer to the intended contents. Touch the smmoooth that is my cats’ fur. Smell the coffee I have just finished a cup of. Greetings!!

Let Me

Good afternoon, this November 1st, 2022. It may be a bleak day, in keeping with the reputation November holds, but I am not bleak today. I hope you, too, are on the upside of down.

October closed out so beautifully, there was no down to sink into. Yesterday, October 31st, I walked the beaches and cliff walks of Ogunquit, Maine. It was an unmatchable beauty of a day.

Perhaps you can tell, perhaps not–the various mollusks are underwater. I lucked out, and arrived at lowest tide. So they were in puddles, and I could be close. A couple of hours later and these would have been inaccessible to me and the hovering seagulls, until, of course, they became accessible again in the next cycle. This thought brought me to the thought of the cyclicality. Is there such a thing as a straight line in the created universe? So, two divergent thought streams flow out of my brain simultaneously: Is anything as it seems? And, is anything irredeemable?

I wanted to categorize these two questions: One physical and the second philosophical. But it quickly became obvious that I could not. To limit them to these categories limits them to the realm of human intellect, and human intellect is only an element in the physical; and the philosophical search of any thought is incomplete, as incomplete as the scientific, as the mathematic, as….

And, to, say, delight in a place, a person, or a thought experienced or observed, I don’t have to know the complete. Which is good, because if I thought I had to, I would never be able to delight in.

I delight in the fact that, for instance, Gingko trees are ancient, pre-ancient in their origin, and they prevail. And in the realization that the elements from which they arose, so did I. Everything in its time out of the same stuff. And everything redeemable. These are pat sentences that say everything or that say nothing, depending on the hearer’s receptiveness. The delight of creation: He who began a good work in you…

As a final word. If you are of a mind, sit down and read Job 38 & 39.

It’s fascinating.