And September progresses

Although is not too far along, as I write this, on a sleepless night-September4th/5th. The quiet outside is larger than the tinnitus that constantly serenades me in each ear (since 1995, caused, I clearly remember by the opening amplifier-heavy wham!! from the local band that served as lead-in to Men At Work in a concert in the Middle Eastern restaurant downstairs in Central Square). I can hear the silence over it, and am glad. Beside me, Maria sleeps in level two of the three tier cat tower. I can feel behind me down the hall Stella’s gaze boring through my back. She is curled on a reusable shopping bag that she has commandeered. Petey purrs in the bedroom beside Mark. It is 3:44AM right now. Hopefully you are in dreams at your 3:44AM wherever you are. Good dreams.

How do we choose what next we do in our lives? In our days? Where do we turn to see what will be? Do we? How much of our attention collapses back to what was, or too often, what might have been, if… What can we do with what was or was not other than learn and, standing on, push off to next, to now followed by next based on now. Have you ever tried to count how many choices you make in a day? In an hour? In a minute? It is impossible. Each choice impacts the next one.

Each branch, each twig, a choice. An oriole chose to build a nest on one.

Impacts. Impact and intention. I had a conversation with a friend about this today. Your word; your action; your look; your shrug; your smile; your absence of word, response impacted me in this particular way. My intention, you say, was just that. Or, you might say, my intention was not that at all. If the latter. Do I give you room to explain what it was? Do you give me space to try to link up your intention and the impact on me? The concept of stating and discussing impact and intention is laudable. The intent too.

How do we step to the side of our own predisposition and study the disposition of that to whom we are speaking, with whom we may be at odds?

How can we not? There is no silence in our minds nor in the seat of our emotions, in my experience; not ever. But can we still the eddys, baffle the breezes, settle the dust, quiet the winds, swallow the roar, and take that choice and turn it toward trust–given and earned? Oh, that we lived to offer that–trust and the love that firmly-gently seats it.

For you.

With love.

It Being September 1st

And the day being drizzly, way earlier than predicted by the weather forecasters last night, I am at my desk, not, as planned when I awoke, on my bicycle, and not, additionally, checking in the beehive. Instead, writing notes to myself, reminders of tasks to accomplish and friends to reach out to.erDo you know what is amazing? Almost anything can occur almost anywhere. I wonder if the word “never” has any validity. Can never ever beOn Saturday, walking to the downtown along one of the multiple canals that traverse and once powered this city, which now accumulate discarded shopping carts, bicycles, pillows, bags-plastic and otherwise, paint cans, plastic toys, and which, periodically, are drained and emptied of such debris, and currently are running pretty nicely full of water, we saw a vulture. Not high atop a giant oak, nor, as they seem usually to be, among fellow vultures on a slanted surface such as a house roof or a sand dune, no, plonked in a medium tree along the canal, then flying a narrow circle out from and back to the tree, and resettled in that tree. Be careful small urban scutterers!! The vulture has an eye out for you.

We, way larger than the vulture, continued fearlessly on our way toward that gold dome in the background and then well beyond.

I had no more expected to see a vulture in this vicinity than I would expect to see a saguaro cactus growing. (But the way of the earth’s weather, that, too may in the near future occur, or water ever overflowing the barriers, or ice forming and melting on alternating days.)

One day last week, I watched a Cooper’s hawk in a swoop and one call, capture a blue jay, on my front porch. I watched and could not look away. Then I looked away and could not watch, nor stand to hear anymore. I walked to the back of the house. This, too, I had not ever witnessed before. This, I did NOT photograph.

So, never. I believe I have just shown to myself that never is a word with a raison d’etre. It is for negating the non-likelihood of an event, for saying instead, “you will never not have experienced this” again.

Here it is!! A dreary day, and Kate sending out a dreary message. May it not continue so.

So, I angle off and finish this way, toward the northwest of the backyard. And now and again in the course of the day these past few weeks, have had the joy of listening to a rooster crow!! Ugh, you may say. But not I. It is new in this neighborhood, and it is, each time, a call for me of morning. A new day beginning. A new day.

Someone else took this picture. No credit to me!

in just summer when the world is not so luscious

Sorry, this is a poor adaptation of an e.e. cummings poem, that begins “in just spring, when the world is mud luscious”…

Is it a love poem?

Is it a delight poem?

Is it a caring poem?

Is it a mean poem?

Is it a deep fear poem?

Is it a game? Is it a warning? Is it all of these?

This poem has wandered, or stepped, or fallen, or snuck, or danced, or laughed, or snarled, or hopped, or limped through my thoughts at will for years, actually decades. And perhaps this is the thing of a poem–it incurs a different response in me each time I read it. It is not prescriptive. It is also not proscriptive. It is also not simply descriptive.

It just is. It just “be’s” (To is or not to is, that is the question-another respoken quote of another accomplished poet).

What I take from it depends on what I am thinking about at the time it appears in my mind. It may depend on if I read something about e.e. cummings of late. It may listen to, but not necessarily buy into an analysis of, a lecture on it by anyone else, because, first of all, as I have mentioned at other times, I am an unwilling student–point me in a direction, give me something to consider and let me do so, but do not try to instruct me…

Enter the dialectic? Except, is there a certainly “right way” to see e.e. cummings’s poem? For that matter, based on what I noted before about poetry, is there a “right way” to see any poem? What do you think?

Is there a poet who gives you pause? Who? Why?

Is there a poem that gives you pause? Which? What about it catches you?

And so I finish my summer’s day thoughts, August 14, 2021. On a day when, as the title hinted, I don’t find much around on earth as humans have it, that is luscious these days.

So now I stop.

Almost.

“Do not rebuke mockers or
they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.

Instruct the wise and
they will be wiser still;
teach the righteous and
they will add to their
learning.”

Proverbs 9:8-9

How on Earth do we Discover Each Other?

How do we become friends with whom we become friends? How do we mill through a plethora of faces on a single block, or one or two to the mile, and voices, and shrugs of shoulders, and glides of step, and find ourself attached like sap to a fingertip, feather to wool, wind to a willow, dew to a grassblade, toad to a tree trunk, for a duration–a year, two, a lifetime–with whom we find ourself unafraid to think out loud, or hope, cheer the opposition, or cry helplessly?

How is it I link up with X and Y, and X links up with me and with Z, but not Y? Z and I say hi in passing, in crowds, at events. We could, any three of us, sip coffee together, attend a movie together, share a meal, discuss the fourth’s current troubles about which we each and all are privy, but Y shares some of life’s depth just with me, not X, and Z with X but not me. Because of the wonder of connection.

Certainly, none of us shares all the same cares, none of us cares as deeply, learns as fully, wonders as profoundly about any of those matters that bury their matter in our skin as each other does. And yet to certain one(s) we can say: My friend, I trust you as deeply as I do my closely held journal. My friend, you have my heart.

Nest, Sunnyside, NYC
Nest, Franklin Square, LI, NY

One could say commonalities of thought, of response to thoughts, of experience, but how much more often are these the outcomes of the original connection; we share thoughts and experiences because we are friends, because we are close. But the buzz that originally says this person, this person, seems more often than not to not have markable origins. It began at a time. It began at a time in space. And crossing that space was, is, what? a wave? a scent? a thought? which paired with the one on the other side of that space in that time.

And, by where we were born, and where our lives take us or keep us, this, too, determines who we even pass, see, meet, know. And it plays, I think, into who we even notice. But does it do so only by dint of geography? Is not attention involved? There is a raft of questions I can assemble here, but I will not. That is yours to ponder, and mine, on our own.

Tulip poplar, spring 2020, softening the line of sight that includes power lines.

I think there is no good reason to not to care about everyone. We are all from the same basic elements, the same elements that every living structure is built from. We can and why would we not, respect the importance of every element, and live knowing that and being that, but we can and do immerse ourself only in some. At the expense of no one, of no thing.

A bicyclist just pedaled by, a balding man on a pale blue city bike. A Carolina Wren just sang while perched out front on the elbow of my weeping birch. Haydn’s Surprise Symphony just came to a close on my radio/CD player/MP3 player. The Rose of Sharon tree outside my west window, half dead, is also half alive and blooming hundreds, thousands of while roses of sharon with rosered centers. The bees are visiting them. A card sporting a painting of a cottage on the island of Vinalhaven, Maine by Mildred Moss Cheney (1910-2002) sent to me by my friend Jane is tacked for my viewing pleasure to the crossbar on my desk lamp.

*Photographs are inserted just because.

A Friday in July

And like much of the eastern seaboard here in USA on the continent of North America, it is raining and has been for nigh onto 24 hours. Less up here in northerly Massachusetts than even NYC-Connecticut, but more than on Cape Cod, all because two weathers are paralleling each other heading to the northeast and a front between them causes them to meet then part and meet then part like a line dance, and the partner dancer northerly pours rain and partner dancer southerly whistles wind. Poor locals here in our plot show some misery.

wet child sparrow on the window ledge captured my attention from three rooms away by shouting with all its might at me through the open window
blue jay, generally so robust and in-your-face looking quite miserable in the rain on the porch railing

Always, though, we are in so much better shape than myriad other locations of late on this beautiful creation earth. And, even as I type this, the rain is stopping (although our basement sump pump is working hard, hard, hard, and our dehumidifier is doing its best to assist down in the basement of our 106 year old house). Tomorrow I will get to bicycle ride. May I tell you, I am so looking forward to that!

Petey is perched on the counter, once again! He is squeaking — “dinner, dinner, Kate, dinner, dinner” accompanying Stella stalking me by pitter pattering from room to room and Maria strategically reclined between my room and the hallway that leads to the kitchen. I need only inch the chair from my desk and she is up and poised to dart to the stacked cans of catfood, and, should I take a few seconds too long, to shove the top can toward tilt position, because, you know, one can be alerted by more than one sense to the importance of another’s beckoning. But I am having too much fun listening to a mix CD I compiled 10 years ago from samples of even older CDs and downloads from oh so long ago, from pre- pre-what? pre- just about everything that is younger than 50– a few Cat Stevens, a couple of Lovin’ Spoonful, and even two early Rod Stewart cuts, and even Ike & Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High, a song I admit grabs me, partly because of the musical drama introduced by the deservedly infamous Phil Spector. (And while these are down loads, do not doubt that I also own the vinyl versions of each, do not doubt, because I do — however, I have given away my turntable, wisely, because I know myself, I know I would not have created a space for it, nor repurchased the necessary electronics and mechanics to make it run and make its output audible.)

Well, after my last blog post, a friend noted she was entertained by my long sentences. Hmm, what will she think now after this spewing words connected by comma, space, and only occasionally interrupted by period? I wait to hear!!

It is time to feed the mewers.

Until next time!!

Thanks for reminiscing with me. May all be well with you.

What a Beauty This Day Has Become

As I sit here, beginning this post late in the day, July 5th, the western sun streams over my neighbors’ roof and into the window to my right, turning my tuxedo cat’s mostly black fur into velvet black, and lovely. She, Maria, has tucked herself into the crook of the futon-couch that serves as a perch for her and Petey many days and evenings so to cautiously watch (read: stalk) the robins, the wrens, and sometimes the chipmunk, all of who seem to like to hang out in either the Rose of Sharon that grows beside this window, or the fence post that demarcates my neighbors’ section of the stockade fence that borders two sides of my property. (I constantly think of Robert Frost when I think of the fence–his tongue-in-cheek, “good fences make good neighbors” line in his poem of “Mending Wall”).

My neighbors are a husband and wife whose ages bracket ours (he older than we, she just younger). She is teaching herself to play the ukulele, and it is a pleasant plucking to which I am listening as I type here. Happily, unlike Tiny Tim, she doesn’t feel compelled to sing the songs she is accompanying with her 14″ (nut to saddle dimension–look it up!!) soprano ukulele.

It’s sweet, this day, here in Massachusetts. It’s the kind of summer day that removes regrets, stills sorrows, dresses gardens in light, and front stoops in satisfying shadows; that shares bird songs, tree limbs sighs, bee hums, and childrens’ giggles; that captures light and carries it through shrubs, porch railings, leaf flutter, and even leaves of grass. Today I am content and grateful.

Today I wish you joy. I wish balm on the many who are not so graced as I feel today.

And that is all I will say for today, and with it I bid you, until next time!!

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.

InciWeb is an interagency all-risk incident information management system. The web-based program provides information for wildland fire emergencies and prescribed fires, but can also be used for other natural disasters and emergency incidents such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc

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.