Thursday, March 30, 2006

Meeting the Goldfinch

This morning
cold and snowy
I braved the wind
to put out seeds
for the birds.
A small goldfinch
huddled on the rail.
of the deck
protected from the storm.
He did not move
when I spread out the seeds
but cocked his head
and gazed at me
as if to say ---
“I know what you are doing.”
He did not fly away
when I moved toward
the door
but cocked his head again
I stretched out
one finger
stroked his silken head
before he flew
to the shelter
of the hemlock tree

oh the awe!

"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn."
- Henry David Thoreau

Monday, March 27, 2006

Morning Visitors

“When in the fresh mornings I go into
my garden before anyone is awake,
I go for the time being into perfect happiness.”
- Cecilia Thaxter
I recently discovered some of Cecilia Thaxter's poetry and writings are available on line. I have been enjoying An Island Garden by Cecilia Thaxter

Sunday, March 26, 2006


“Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God, nothing seems to me more surprising than the planting of a seed in the blank earth and the result thereof. Take that Poppy seed, for instance: it lies in your palm, the merest atom of matter, hardly visible, a speck, a pin's point in bulk, but within it is imprisoned a spirit of beauty ineffable, which will break its bonds and emerge from the dark ground and blossom in a splendor so dazzling as to baffle all powers of description.” - Celia Thaxter
The light stand for starting seeds is up and working. It is filled with newly planted seeds. I feel like a little kid who wants to dig up the seed to see if it has begun to sprout yet.

“This very act of planting a seed in the earth has in it to me something beautiful. I always do it with a joy that is largely mixed with awe.”- Celia Thaxter

To be able to walk out my kitchen door and gather fresh herbs is a special joy. One of my hopes is that I will be able to keep fresh herbs and lettuces during the winter in this seed-starting stand, which actually seems to me a bit, like an indoor greenhouse.

I look at the labels on the flats: Five kinds of lettuce, three different basils, two kinds of parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, borage, chives, summer savory, marjoram, oregano, foxglove, lavender, penstemon, larkspur, delphinium, rock cress, columbine, and butterfly flower. The vegetables need to wait for another ten days and all the seeds haven’t arrived yet.

The topmost shelf is filled with the flats I planted last week. Each little segment has tiny green leaves just beginning to unfold.

“When I see that first, minuscule, curled, pale green wisp of a sprout poking up between a couple of grains of vermiculite, I hear God speaking.” --- June Santon, "Miracle in a Dixie Cup," Greenprints #44

Saturday, March 25, 2006


This evening has been focused on seeds! A short time ago we ordered a light stand for starting seeds. I have wanted one for years and now it is here sitting in pieces all around the living room. On the deck waiting is a sack of soil and I am just waiting for all of these pieces to be assembled so I can set up the flats that have tiny green shoots beginning to show and fill more flats with seeds... So, my thoughts are on seeds again

I stand
gazing over the garden patch
laid bare of its blanket of snow
in this unseasonable winter weather.

Garlic and onion
think it is spring
and have put up
green shoots.

Small leaves
of mint and kale
have risen
above the dark earth.

The chipmunk has
ventured out of his cozy den
to gather seeds
fallen from the bird feeders.

noses twitching,
have ventured out
from under the rocks.

The ground hog has seen his shadow;
more winter is coming on
but I brought out the garden catalogue
and am blissfully ordering seeds.

(thoughts from a couple of weeks ago)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Artist's Date

Fluffy terry-cloth robe
laid across my bed
reminds me
I have a date
warm bubbles

soft music

I submerge


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tennyson on Spring

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Now fades the last long streak of snow,
Now burgeons every maze of quick
About the flowering squares, and thick
By ashen roots the violets blow.

Now rings the woodland loud and long.
The distance takes a lovelier hue,
And drowned in yonder living blue
The lark becomes a sightless song.

Now dances the lights on lawn and lea,
The flocks are whiter down the vale,
And milkier every milky sail,
On winding stream or distant sea;

Where now the seamew pipes, or dives
In yonder greening gleam, and fly
The happy birds, that change their sky
To build and brood, that live their lives.

From land to land; and in my breast
Spring wakens too; and my regret
Becomes an April violet,
And buds and blossoms like the rest.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Have been out of communication --- not only Blogger problems but phone and internet.
Hope they have all been resolved now.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Midnight Madness

While I was posting last night, we were taking pictures and somewhere in the back of my consciousness these words came together...

Midnight Madness
And here we are
two tired people
one reading the manual
the other setting the camera

heads poked awkwardly
through the skylight

setting up
and tripod

All for a picture

of a golden
Winter moon.


To behold the wandering Moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that has been led astray
Through the heav'n's wide pathless way.
--- John Milton

In the middle of the night,
My bedroom washed in moonlight
And outside
The faint hush-hushing
Of an ebbing tide,
I see Venus
Close to
The waning moon.
I hear the bubbling hoot
Of a playful owl.
Pierrot's purrs
Ripple under my hand,
And all this is bathed
In the scent of roses
By my bed
Where there are always
Books and flowers.
In the middle of the night
The bliss of being alive!

--- May Sarton

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Thoughts of Spring

charcoal sketch

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth
find reserves of strength
that will endure as long as life lasts.
There is something
infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—
the assurance
that dawn comes after night,
and spring after winter. "
- Rachel Carson

Friday, March 17, 2006

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage Sumplocarpus foetidus Arum family
We went out searching for the skunk-cabbage, there is a swampy area where they are prevalent and we discover them just beginning to push their heads up above the boggy earth.
24” Shell-like 6” spathe, mottled brownish purple and green encloses knob-like spadix covered with tiny flowers. Leaves very large, cabbage-like, veined; unfurl from tight roll after flowering. Smells like decaying meat, attracts pollinating insects. From Audubon Society Field Guide to New England.
The first plant that shows the influence of the changing season in this part of the country is very little like the delicate snow-drop, or the fragrant violet of other lands. Long before the earliest trees are in bud, or the grass shows the faintest tinge of green, the dark spathe of the skunk-cabbage makes its way in the midst of snow and ice. It is singular that at a moment when the snow is generally frost-bound, any plant should find out that spring is at hand; but toward the close of February, or beginning of March, the skunk-cabbage makes a good guess at the time of the year, and comes up in marshy spots, on the banks of ponds and streams. With us it is almost a winter plant. The dark spathe or sheath is quite handsome, variegated, when young, with purple, light green, and yellow; within it grows the spadix, not unlike a miniature pineapple in shape and color, and covered with little protuberances, from each of which opens a purple flower. Although a very common plant, many persons familiar with its broad glossy leaves in summer have never seen the flower, and have no idea how early it blossoms. Its strong, offensive odor is better known; an American botanist has observed that “it is exceedingly meritorious of the name it bears; “ but this seems too severs, since a harsher thing could not well be said of a plant. – Susan Fenimore Cooper "Rural Hours", entry for March 24,

I am greatly enjoying Rural Hours which is a journal from the late 1840's.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Fox Sparrow

Fox sparrow Passerella iliaca
One of the signs of spring is heard at dawn and dusk in elegant vocalizations of the Fox sparrow with its rising clear notes and melodic descending whistles. These sounds are frequently combined with strong rustling of the leaves and grasses as the Fox sparrow scratches vigorously for seeds and insects.
This morning a flock of perhaps a dozen Fox sparrows began their morning concert and now they are working through the layer of leaves under the trees and around the edges of the clearing. I discovered two of them working through the sunflower seed hulls dropped beneath feeders.

The Fox sparrow is identified by his Gray eyebrow, crown, nape and back; bright rufous rump and long rufous tail; rufous cheeks, malar streak, streaks on back, wings and spotting below

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Speaking of Books

Got this meme from Somewhere in NJ

Name 5 of your favorite books:
1. The Williamsburg Series by Elswith Thane
2. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
3. Poems for Enjoyment edited by Elias Lieberman
4. Travels in Canoe Country by Paul Gruchow
5. I am certain there are more but favorite seems to me that I read it over and over again so I guess the slot is still open

Name 5 of your favorite authors:
1. Elswyth Thane
2. Sam Campbell
3. David McCullough
4. Paul Gruchow
5. Aaron Sorkin

Name of the last book you bought?
Spinning Words into Gold by Maureen Ryan Griffin (see post )
Tell it Slant by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola

Name of the last book you read?
The Heart Speaks by Mimi Guarneri, M.D., FACC

Name of five books that are particularly meaningful for you:
1. Mountains of California by John Muir
2. La Saison (French publication of the 1800’s)
3. Getting Past No by William Ury
4. Grapes by Morris Venden
5. Wintering by Diana Kappel-Smith

Name of three books you are dying to read but just haven’t yet:
1. The next book by David McCullough
2. A walker in the City by Alfred Kazin
3. Brook Trout and the Writing Life by Craig Nova

Would anyone care to self-tag?

What Type of Writer Should You Be?

Harmony in line another one of these interesting exercises on her site today
Had to go take the test myself:
You Should Be A Poet

You craft words well, in creative and unexpected ways.
And you have a great talent for evoking beautiful imagery...
Or describing the most intense heartbreak ever.
You're already naturally a poet, even if you've never written a poem.
So now that you have taken the test ----
We want to know -
What type of writer should you be?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Signs of Spring

Even the calendar’s statement that it is March cannot quite convince me that this is not one of the first days of Spring. There are tiny catkins on the birch trees; barren branches are surrounded with the faint hint of red, gold and green. Here there is no sound of busy traffic; only the cooing of the morning dove, the liquid call of the first robin, songs of the birds. The only movement is of the breeze through the trees and the unfolding of the grasses; tiny shoots pushing their way up through the moist earth. Crocus and daffodils open their blossoms; radiant jewels in the crisp morning sunlight. Deep from the heart of nature wells the music of promised spring.

Monday, March 13, 2006

New Things

Trying new things is suppose to keep us young --- isn’t it?

Today was one of those times when I broke out of the mold and tried something new… I can’t say that it was dangerous our exciting, simply new to me.

As you may have noticed from my comments during the Artist’s Way reading deprivation week--when I ranted and raved about the idea of not being able to read for a week-- books and reading are a very valued and appreciated part of my life. I buy books, trade books, borrow books from the library. I buy new books and used books. If you ask me what kind of books are my favorite, it is nearly impossible to answer; my tastes are very eclectic. At any rate, it is hard to keep me in books -which makes the library a valuable part of my world. Not only the books but the wonderful people I have met there enrich my life.

To get on with my post…
When I got books from the library last time they gave me information about a program where I can download digital books from the library to my computer…

We have a great library system but for some reason I don’t seem to fit with the average local reader; often the books I want to read aren’t available at my branch. This new program will open new opportunities for me to have access to many of the books that I want to check out for a test run

The books have to be ordered through my local library system and then they are downloaded. For audio books, I download through a program called “Overdrive.” Even with a DSL internet connection it takes about an hour to download a book. I guess that isn’t too bad since there will be about fifteen hours of listening.

Have you tried any of the on-line book programs? How do you feel about them?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Very Quiet Day

Fog drifted in and out of the woods and temperatures climbed up toward 60 again.

Planted a number of flats of herbs and wild flowers. I am really looking forward to spring when I can walk out my door and pick herbs from the pots on my deck.

Photo from last summer before we set plants out

"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."- Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, March 11, 2006

What Color Green Are You?

You Are Teal Green

You are a one of a kind, original person. There's no one even close to being like you.
Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.
While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.
Your warm personality nicely counteracts and strange habits you may have.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Unwelcome Visitor

However this flu bug arrived,
he has certainally made a pest of himself.
Perhaps now "Insect Friday" is past ---
he will go on his way?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk Acipiter striatus

The sharp-shinned hawk is the smallest North American accipiter. Its short wings and body design allow it to capture other birds while flying through thick woodlands.

The slender, long-bodied sharp-shinned hawk has short, rounded wings and a long, narrow tail. The adult has a dark, blue-gray back and a rusty-barred breast; immature hawks have more brown, with streaking on the underparts. The sexes are similar in appearance, but the female is about one-third larger than the male. Like all accipiters (a genus of small hawks with short wings and long tails), the sharp-shinned flies with several quick wing beats and a glide. The species is easily confused with the Cooper’s hawk, although it is much smaller. Whereas the tail of the Cooper’s hawk is well rounded, the tail of the sharp-shinned hawk is nearly square or slightly forked and the tip is not sharply defined, appearing dirty gray.

In the Northeast, the sharp-shinned hawk is the most common accipiter seen during migration. In Connecticut, sharp-shinned hawks are seldom seen except during fall migration, when they frequent open country, woodland edges and shorelines.

The hawks usually bring their prey to a feeding perch or log. Such logs, and the feathers, fur or animal parts near them, are characteristic of the territory of sharp-shinned hawks and other accipiters.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sun & Grass and ? --- Spring?

"There are two seasonal diversions
that can ease the bite of any winter.
One is the January thaw.
The other is the seed catalogues."
Hal Borland

"As I write, snow is falling outside my Maine window,
and indoors all around me
half a hundred garden catalogues are in bloom."

- Katharine S. White

The first packet of seeds arrived in the mail today...

Now I am ready for Spring

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


by: Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

OPPOSITE my chamber window,
On the sunny roof, at play,
High above the city's tumult,
Flocks of doves sit day by day.
Shining necks and snowy bosoms,
Little rosy, tripping feet,
Twinkling eyes and fluttering wings,
Cooing voices, low and sweet,--

Graceful games and friendly meetings,
Do I daily watch and see.
For these happy little neighbors
Always seem at peace to be.
On my window-ledge, to lure them,
Crumbs of bread I often strew,
And, behind the curtain hiding,
Watch them flutter to and fro.

Soon they cease to fear the giver,
Quick are they to feel my love,
And my alms are freely taken
By the shyest little dove.
In soft flight, they circle downward,
Peep in through the window-pane;
Stretch their gleaming necks to greet me,
Peck and coo, and come again.

Faithful little friends and neighbors,
For no wintry wind or rain,
Household cares or airy pastimes,
Can my loving birds restrain.
Other friends forget, or linger,
But each day I surely know
That my doves will come and leave here
Little footprints in the snow.

So, they teach me the sweet lesson,
That the humblest may give
Help and hope, and in so doing,
Learn the truth by which we live;
For the heart that freely scatters
Simple charities and loves,
Lures home content, and joy, and peace,
Like a soft-winged flock of doves.
"My Doves" is reprinted from Merry's Museum, March 1868.
Perhaps a synchronicity?
--- The doves posed for their photos
and I found this little known poem by Louisa May Alcott today.

Monday, March 06, 2006


for immediate occupancy

Two delightful homes
Scenic location
Hidden retreat
off quiet country road
Small comfortable dwelling
surrounded by mature woods

Perfect for installing your own nest
and raising a family
Close to services:
water, food, and other amenities

Sunday, March 05, 2006

More Photos from Maine

Embden Pond - view to the east
Red Squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
Embden Pond - view to the east

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I am gray

I am gray
     the softest gray
gray of the morning dove’s wing
     gray as the misty morning fog
          kissed by the rising sun
I am gray
     of a frozen winter lake
     of a shadowed distant hill

I am the gray of
     of the stones of the hearth
          where bread cools at the end of day
     the gray of a woman’s  fine silk dress
catching the evening’s glow
I am
     the gray of goose down
          plucked to line her nest
     gray as the fluffy tail of a squirrel
racing against the wind
I am gray
     as milkweed fluff
          bursting from the pod
I am the gray
     of the sail of the yacht
          far out across the bay
     the gray of the weathered barn
          shelter at end of day
I am the gray
     of the soft woolen scarf
          that shuts out winter’s wind
the gray of a hand thrown cup
          made from the finest clay
     like the blowing bark of the birch
          strewn across the snow
     or strings of a violin’s bow
     as the comforter
          draped over the foot of the bed
     Yes gray
     Its gray I am!
      Gray as the hairs
of the wise woman’s head.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Barred Owl - Strix varia

After a day of exploration we were returning to the cabin along a little traveled back road through New Portland, Maine when a large dark streak swooped down the roadway ahead of us and off to the side into the trees.
We pulled to a stop quickly and peered through the branches to see the back of a beautiful Barred owl.
As we eased back a few feet for a better angle of view, it turned and stared back at us.

I scarcely got the camera out when he flew back down the road. As quickly as possible we got into position again but he only posed for one last photo before heading off into the dusk.
The Barred Owl is a medium-sized gray-brown Owl streaked with white horizontal barring on the chest and vertical barring on the belly. They are round-headed with a whitish/brown facial disk with dark brown trim. The eyes are brown, and the beak is yellow and almost covered by feathers. They have a long tail. There is no difference in plumage between males and the larger females.

The Barred Owl is highly vocal giving a loud and resounding "hoo, hoo, too-HOO; hoo, hoo, too-HOO, ooo" frequentely suggested to query "Who, cooks, for-you? Who, cooks, for-you, all?" - The last syllable drops off noticeably. Like some other Owl species, they will call in the daytime as well as at night.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

First Views - Vacation in Maine

No time to see much our first night, simply put our things away, eat and crash so our first real look outside the front door comes with morning light.

View through the livingroom window. #126722