The Day Before Halloween

 I was out in the garden today “putting it to bed “ for the winter.  It’s good work on a chilly autumn day.  I looked up at the sky and the colorful leaves and said to myself “this day deserves a poem- just do it” so I dashed off to the house in search of a notebook and pen.  Sometimes you just have to pause, be amazed, and write about it!

 

Putting the Garden to Bed

Under an intense blue sky

My garden disappearsimg_3033

with each whack of the machete

As I work I discover monstrous cucumbers

Submerged in dying vines like green submarines

And overlooked onions hiding below the straw

The parsnips pull out of the ground reluctantly as always

Sadly too mature to be good eating

As my armloads of spent foliage build up the compost pile

I sigh with memories of sweet tomatoes

And savory salads

I leave the dried heads of the sunflowers standing

For the chickadees’ delight

Pausing for Bumblebees

Covered in pollen in a zucchini flower
Bliss in a zucchini flower

It is the height of summer blooms. Bumblebees are to be found everywhere about my yard.  I find them in the cool of the morning sleeping in flowers, drunk from the previous day’s feeding.  As the day warms I pause to watch them at their work, mindfully probing into pistils within blooms sucking out nectar.

They are especially fond of compound flowers, those in the genus, Compositae, the daisy family, the largest example being a sunflower. These are flowers within flowers.  Look closely in the middle of a dahlia, zinnia, daisy, dandelion sunflower, etc. and you will find multitudes of tiny flowerets surrounded by showy petals. It’s like one-stop shopping for bees.

Bumblebees make up the genus Bombus with 255 different species.  Generally, they are black with varying stripes of yellow and sometime red. They make nests near the ground under logs, duff in small colonies.  They are honey producers but in smaller quantities.

Though bumblebees don’t get as much press as their smaller cousin, the honey bee, they are extremely important pollinators.  Bumblebees are particularly good at it. Their wings beat 130 times or more per second, and the beating combined with their large bodies

photo courtesy livescience.com
photo courtesy livescience.com

vibrate flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. Buzz pollination helps plants produce more fruit.  Bumblebees flap their wings back and forth rather than up and down like other bees. Researcher Michael Dickinson, a professor of biology and insect flight expert at the University of Washington likens wing sweeping like a partial spin of a “somewhat crappy” helicopter propeller,

They are gentle bees, single-minded in their work and rarely sting which is good because their sting can be particularly nasty.  I have never been stung even though I sometimes gently pet their fuzzy backs then they are immersed in feeding.  Such sweet bees.

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In Praise of Bumblebees

They probe dreamily in the center

Of pie sized yellow flowers that nod towards the east

Keeping me company

As I work in the garden

 

These tiny winged beasts do their work

Heads up down, up down

Placing in precision their needle-like proboscises

In a sea of stamen and pistil

 

Gentle black creatures

Intoxicated by pollen and nectar

So immersed in their work

My finger can stroke their furry backs

 

I find them in the morning exhausted

Dozing in the midst of flowers

Dusted with yellow

Dreaming bumblebee dreams

 

Buzz and bumble

Find purpose in my zinnias, my dahlias

And sleep until the warmth of a new day

Calls you to your tasks again

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Fun facts thanks to livescience.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of a Different Feather

daiga-ellaby-h43VqtlnV7U-unsplashA cup of steaming tea in hand

From my padded perch with propped up pillows

I gaze out the bay window

Observing morning activity at the feeder

 

Among the usual finches, chickadees, & nuthatches

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Author’s photo

Unusual activity catches my eye

A petite junco carefully feeds seeds to a juvenile robin

Three times its size

 

Wait, this cannot be!

This bird is of another feather

With no natural obligation

But my eyes do not lie

 

This little junco is clearly committedimage2977637_web1_shaw-1

To care for this young robin

As another to its own

From mindful feedings

To standing by at the edge of the concrete bath

As the youngster bathes and drinks

 

I wonder, what is the story of this orphaned robin

And how did it come under the junco’s care?

I would like to think mercy to save another not of its kind

2018_bird_week_15_dark-eyed_juncoI can only conjecture

But still, I find hope

In the actions of this tiny little bird

And its very big heart

 

*Note: According to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, “cross-species” feeding is a very rare thing to observe.  You can read more about it here.

 

 

A Walk Through Scotland With Friends

WALKING THROUGH SCOTLAND

In the company of friends

And the rhythm of sticks

I spy a blue fly on green fern

Sheep grazing in the distance

Tufts of wool dangling from fences

Bluebells line the path with yellow anenome,

Purple geranium, wild rose, ferns

and blossoms of which I have no name

Rain falls from heavy clouds

White water spills over the faces of dark rocks

Into bubbling pools

The land begs verse

We end each day foot weary but filled

Seeing more by seeing less

We end each day bedding at inns in quaint towns

Savoring warm bowls of soup

And cups of hot tea

The Art of Germination

Growth drawing

It’s the growing season and my garden is being planted in stages.  I marvel at the magic of seeds- how something so small can germinate to become a huge sunflower or a plant that offers juicy red tomatoes.IMG_2158

With the exceptions of weeds, seeds cannot manage successfully on their own in a garden.  The soil must be tilled and enriched.  Then once the seeds have been planted they must be nurtured with proper watering and attention lest they be eaten by some pest or choked by weeds.  It’s work to bring seeds to their full potential of flower or food.

Ideas are so much like seeds.  The soil of the mind must be fallow and fertile.  To have a fallow mind, one must be open and ready to receive the seeds of ideas.  Fertile means paying attention and being open.  Ideas often come when the mind is relaxed like when you’re taking a shower, on a walk or doing something innocuous like washing the dishes.  Having a head is full of earbuds and social media is not conducive to collecting seeds the muse has to offer.

IMG_2164When they come, catch them by writing or sketching them in a notebook less they blow away into someone else’s “garden”.  Then give them the attention they need to germinate.

Like seeds, not all ideas will manifest.  Some are not viable. Then others are past their shelf life.  Don’t be afraid to throw them out and get new ones.

I’ve had ideas like these artichoke plants that surprised me and grew into something much more than I expected.  I started these plants last year from tiny seeds and now they are 6-foot record-setting monsters!IMG_2146

You don’t have to plant a garden.  Just get a pot with healthy soil, some seeds, water them, and enjoy the magic of germination.

 

In Every Seed a Promise

A germ of possibility

Tucked into a tiny package

Waiting to unfurl its cotyledons

Up in the sunlight

From the depths of fertile ground

 

The sprout will grow vigorously

With the right conditions

Beneath the suns rays and the spring rains

With the breath of nature whispering

“grow, grow”

 

Tend it with care

Lest it be choked by weeds or eaten by pests

Then feast from your labors

and natures’ mystery

The wonder of a tiny bit of matter

That waited to reveal its purpose

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Conversation with the Universe

Recently I met for coffee with a friend that needed help starting a blog on WordPress. startup-594090_1920 (1)After building the “infrastructure” of the site we talked about content and posting.

This got me to thinking about the intent of my blog and how I go about finding ideas for my posts.  Originally I was motivated my blog was to promote my artwork but blogs tend to evolve on their own (see I Was Supposed to be Blogging about My Artwork).  After 2 1/2 years of blogging my posts range anywhere from the creative process to what is going on in my personal life.

When I was a young woman embarking on my life’s journeys I wrote pages of heartfelt letters to friends miles away (see  Letters to the Universe).  That process gave me so much mail-1923198_1920perspective on my life and the world at large. Letter writing in our busy digital age seems to have become a tradition of the past.  I miss them. Unconsciously, I think my blog has become a series of letters written to the universe. I have no idea who might read my posts. The important thing is that I write them and send them off.  It makes me pay attention to my life- a sort of a writing meditation. I’ve been a bit inconsistent as of late. We’ve had some health challenges in our house making blogging more difficult to fit in. Life happens.  You do what you can do.  Continue reading “A Conversation with the Universe”

The Nuthatch Society

Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.

James Cash Penney

nuthatch-915435_1920Last year during the local Terroir Creative Writing Festival I found that there were four of us in our rural proximity that shared a love of writing and poetry. We are all novices on a path to discovery.  Why not get together now and again?

Last October we did just that.  The first meeting took place on a Sunday afternoon at Patricia’s lovely greenhouse. We sat at a table nibbling a delicious homemade coffee cake and sipping tea while a tangle of tomatoes and other vegetables seemingly were our audience. Then we rotated to Linda’s, my farmhouse and next month it is Deb’s turn.

A sort of agenda has emerged.  The person hosting leads off with something they’ve read that they would like to share and then some of their personal writing.  I am working on a memoir piece.  The last two meetings I have read parts of it.  We discuss and offer feedback on pieces if requested and then take turns.  We all adore Mary Oliver. At her recent passing, there has been much to share.

At our last meeting, we suggested all purchasing Oliver’s book “A Poetry Handbook” as a tea-time-2resource that we all have in common.  For writing challenge we have suggested finding a poem we like, using it as a “pattern” and then writing a new poem with our own words to share.  With all of our so-called assignments we put in the qualifier “or not.”  There is no pressure here, just pleasure.

Since I have a penchant for naming things, the name “The Nuthatch Society” came into my mind for our group.  The four of us live on rural property and we are quite familiar with these quirky little birds that frequent the foliage and feeders about our homes.  They are busy creatures, quite chatty, cute, but fierce and have the ability to walk upside down on trees.  The name seemed to fit with us.

There is value in online community but it cannot compare with four souls coming together to share a common interest over tea.  I’m so looking forward to the next meeting of the Nuthatch Society and sharing my writing and all the fascinating things I’ve read this month as well as what my fellow Nuthatches have been up to in their busy lives.  Community is a powerful thing- no matter how small.

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