Standing in a Slightly Better Place, or am I?

Not necessarily a great one, I am sorry to say. But outside and investigative, and receptive to the good that is.

Recently I took a walk that included wandering the not yet complete, but fully designated, demarcated, and delineated extension of the local rail trail. At one point along it, it is adjacent to a local brook. The path and brook also, at this juncture, are running alongside a parking lot to a small industrial complex on one side, and a parking and holding lot within a car dealership on the other side. Masking these two businesses from the brook are slender stands of trees–beeches, birches, oaks, and maples, an ash or two, and a willow. At one point, shortly off the cross street by which I entered the trail, I chose to clamber down from the trail to the water’s edge. Imagine my surprise when I saw :

These are the work of very busy, but while I was there, very absent beavers. Should I be delighted? They are doing what they do year in year out, preparing for the winter, building a home that will be warm(ish), dry(ish), and safe(ish). I am delighted. Should I be concerned? (1) They are taking down several of the not-very-many trees that stand between asphalt and water, and since the area is so built up the protections are limited and precious. (But in time some of the trees adjacent will grow and the natural cycle continue.) (2)A darker thought is that some public employee or private one may choose to or be ordered to prevent this lodge and dam complex from being built. The possibility is real: https: //www.mass.gov/service-details/prevent-conflicts-with-beavers

Why do we each take up/use up so much space relative to our individual physical size?

I am thankful for the sun that is goldening the birch leaves in front of me right now. May it, may it.

And, oh, may December bring light.

Thank you for reading.

We Try and We Don’t

This morning, late morning, atypical for my lifelong image and sensory memory of November. It is beautiful. It is 53 degrees fahrenheit and it is November.

What will we on earth lean towards? As it warms up steadily. Will we reduce our consumption, slow down the frenzy that is our world’s economies (either actual or dreamed of/sought depending in which place you are on this globe), and slowly, reasonably reduce the emission of carbon and the destruction of natural resources, until one day a future grateful generation will see what generations well before our own saw–a planet that can breathe, that has and can sustain remarkable biodiversity, trees aging gracefully some hundred feet tall some curled in an embrace of hundreds of years of miniscule life forms living within/because of them and delivering sustenance to them, flora–trefoils and queen’s lace and bluebells, remarkably brilliant hues reflecting and floating in free flowing waters and deep blues in the tall ices, sea dwellers finning their routes north to south and back, avians coursing and calling and touching down at will and lifting off in song, human species willing to trust and assist each other?

Or will we try to shoot bullets into clouds to make it rain more in the desert and hoist massive mileswide tarpaulins over rain sinks, tarpaulins somehow treated to bounce the rains back up before the can fall and satellite fans littering the atmosphere to blow them east or west or south toward the bullet laden clouds to “enhance” the cloud shooting activities?

I.e., will we continue to consume massively and meanwhile try to invent our way out of the outcome of our greed? Or will we charge the victims (of all zoological and biological stripe), ultimately pricing everything and everyone to extinction, and then, finally enable the earth to heal in our (at last, it breathes, phew) absence?

I have no photographs for this.

I have no hope.

Just Another Magic Morning

Well, I know that there was a song sometime in the past four decades that began with almost this title. I think the last word was Monday not morning. I also know, that once again, it is morning. And that is magic. It is morning, early, before the earth has tilted sunward in this hemisphere, thus it is night-dark. We are in the delicate privacy of predawn.

Yesterday, bicycling on yet another surprisingly warm (“record breaking” again, as so many weather events these days, these years) day, I was trying to count Herring Gulls perched on rock outcrops that line the Merrimack River both ahead of and after the dam at the Mammoth Street bridge. The number and, indeed, the girth of these rock outcrops varies depending on two major factors–weather (rain abundance or dearth), and humans (builders of dams and water-powered “power” stations and, of necessity because of the dams that have reconfigured the shape of the watercourse, fish ladders). I finally estimated 50 and left it at that. Fifty Herring Gulls and one Great Black Backed Gull. Eight Double-crested Cormorants-two of which sat body still but heads turning now left now right, in unison, in opposition, nonstop. Twenty Mallards, quacking, floating, or perching, the males with particularly deep purple heads, the females regal in their multi-shades of brown with a purple patch peeking out of their folded wings. A family of nine Canada Geese cruising east to west against the water flow in the center lane of the river.

Cormorants near bottom right of picture, at this point coordinated in their looking left
But here, near bottom center, one cormorant looks right and one looks left

Overhead and a little to the north of the river, four Turkey Vultures wheeled. Oh, who had they in their sights? I did not, I could not have, nor would have wanted to, pedal fast enough to reach the location to see. Had I want to I would have had to become airborne like the witch who frightened Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Or, these days, launched a drone.

Two of four Turkey Vultures

I would not mind having wings, at will, maybe not to carry about all day and night every day and night, maybe portable and stowable, but ever available and easy to don because I would not mind riding the air.

As I headed southeast from the river, on the way home, fairly low overhead a Northern Harrier flew; he was working, glide, pump, pump, pump, glide, angle downward a bit, soar, pump, pump, pump, glide. I did not follow him either. Nor did I photograph him, as I was pedaling alongside a heavily traveled street by then. I think I was passing Dunkin on one side and Taco Bell on the other at that moment.

And as I released my pedals and coasted into our driveway, a Coopers Hawk, caught in the act of perching on the back fence and casing out the songbird haven of the backyard, saw me, gasped-eyes widening measurably, and lifted up and off.

Within three minutes, after I had taken off my helmet, stowed my bicycle, and stepped up onto the back porch, two Mourning Doves, three House Sparrows, and a Hairy Woodpecker returned to the feeders and the grass filled with myriad tasty morsels. Even before I had the back door open, I heard a White Breasted Nuthatch announcing his imminent arrival from the west, and a Northern Cardinal called out from the arborvitae on the east.

My avian day. Yesterday.

May your today be bright.

On Another September Day-Rained In. Briefly.

He (there is a red spot on the back of his head that says, male!) toggles between the nyger seed (where he is perched) and the suet (the green house behind him)

Have you ever watched a woodpecker bop? Have you ever listened to a nuthatch crank? Watched a cardinal glimmer? Heard a titmouse scold? Seen a chickadee flit? Listened to a mourning dove chuckle? Watched a blue jay helicopter down to grass? Have you sat back in low morning sun and been serenaded by a finch high in the arbor vitae? Have you watched a community of sparrows emerge, dive down, zip up, burrow; emerge, dive down, zip up, burrow….?

Many is the bicycle ride I have delayed starting because I cannot bring myself away from the avian community that dwells with us.

But also, I am brought to mind the many table tops, laden table tops, that a tree comprises. The dogwood, for instance, from dawn to dusk hosts families of the above birds as well as chipmunks, squirrels, occasional cackling grackles and clucking starlings, all of whom store, stash, unearth, and consume seeds provided by the grass below, the multi-member vegetable/wild things garden also below, the neighboring fruit trees, the broadleaf and needle evergreen shrubs, the azaleas, the wildflowers, the very fruit of the dogwood, the grey birches out front, the neighboring mostly maples and oaks. I watch the chickadee tirelessly pull one nyger seed at a time from the feeder and tuck it under a fold in the dogwood bark, the nuthatch skewer a sunflower seed and find a larger fold in the dogwood for a safe, the wren, the titmouse, robins, once a family of cedar waxwings, once, and only once, just a couple of weeks ago, a blackburnian warbler! And on and on. I have also locked eyes with a cooper’s hawk, more than once, paused and still within the dogwood branches, undoubtedly sitting right on a chickadee’s breakfast table.

The cardinals, I notice, and the sparrows (oh the sparrows!) sit and eat their fill on the feeder perches. The cardinals, and only the cardinals, succeed in shoving the sparrows out of their way. Everyone else ducks around them or flutters nearby awaiting an opening.

Let me jump to another topic. (Note a word in this sentence is a hint.) Briefly, can you see what is in this photograph besides the pine tree trunk and needles?

Would you have seen it without the hint? I am so glad that there are means and methods to hide in plain sight.

The mystery. The beauty. The unfathomable structure of creation.

We may imitate. We may copy. We may replicate. But…..

“My heart is not proud,
O Lord
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with
great matters
or things too wonderful for
me.
But I have stilled and quieted
my soul;
like a weaned child with its
mother,
like a weaned child is my
soul within me.”

Psalm 131:1-2

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!!