Tuesday, February 27, 2007


One of my favorite childhood memories is listening to an album of poetry by famous poets. I no longer remember the people who did such a compelling job of reading the poetry – yet the words linger in the recesses of my mind and come to my consciousness when I see the beauty recorded in the words of those poets.
Today is the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of one of my favorite poets Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born on February 27, 1807, in Portland, Maine. His father, Stephen Longfellow, was a Portland lawyer and congressman, and mother Zilpah, was a descendant of John Alden of the Mayflower. Longfellow was fond of reading and at thirteen he wrote his first poem, "The Battle of Lovell's Pond," which appeared in the Portland Gazette.

In celebration of his birth share with me:


When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O'er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river's gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater's iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


It is snowing outside and I am thinking of spring. Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.- Victor Hugo
The gray day has left me without much inspiration s0...
A long long time ago, I was tagged for a meme that suggests I tell you six things about myself. I put my answers in my draft box for a time when blogger would let me post... Guess this is the day. I was tagged by my good blogging friend Kathryn of Knit Together and A Mindful Life so I am going to give it a try...
  • I can write legibly backwards - I don't remember how or why I learned this skill but none-the-less I still can write backwards.
  • I own a doll that is five feet tall and another one that is half an inch tall. There are also a lot of dolls that live here with me of various sizes in-between
  • The top of Mount Ranier is in my dresser drawer (now that is a very long story) but the short version is that my husband brought back a rock from the very top of Mt. Ranier and it is in my treasure drawer.
  • I collect fashion plates from the 1800's.
  • I have a miniature (one inch to a foot scale) sheriff's office and jail.
  • I have climbed to the top of Mount Shasta in Northern California.

So --- I have written out my responses but I am not certain you know much more than you did before. I am not going to tag anyone but I would love to have you let me know if you decide to post your answers on your blog :)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cloudy Morning

“Don't knock the weather, nine-tenths of the
people couldn't start a conversation if it
didn't change once in a while.”
- Kin Hubbard

Winter Sky
Blue upon gray, white on blue, more gray
Clouds layered upon cloud layer
– darker still
Tone upon tone
Accented grays and blues
Rapidly moving
Faster and faster still
Before the winter wind.

Storm is coming
Wind carries the word
Clouds post the warning
Here come the dark gray morning blues
Time to stoke up the fire
Heat up the tea
And find a good book.

We got out early for a walk along the D & H (Delaware and Hudson) Canal. We followed the levee from the outskirts of Port Jervis back toward Sparrowbush. The levee was covered with about six inches of crusty packed snow. The trail is seldom used in the wintertime but we could see that before the snow had crusted over a number of other feet had passed along the trail before us. Both sides of the path are lined with tall deciduous trees lifting their barren branches high over our heads. Old wooden power poles have begun to topple. They lie abandoned where they have fallen. The uphill side of the trail still sports bits and pieces of old rock canal wall. We startle a white-tailed deer that bounds up the side hill then stands (as though he thinks we can’t see him) and watches as we pass by below.

Our path seems almost stark as we wander through the trees. As we walk, I realize one of the reasons the landscape seems so stark is that there are no evergreens here. Our yard at home is filled with evergreens, the pines, hemlocks, rhododendrons; even the small evergreen ground cover brings beautiful contrast against the white snow.

Gray squirrels have been digging in the snow. I wonder how they can break through this thick crust to reach down to the acorns and seeds they buried last fall.

The sun only manages to break through the clouds for very short periods of time. A flash of movement draws our eyes and we discover some golden-crowned kinglets flitting through the trees. These active little birds are seldom in one place for more than a moment and they are always a challenge and a joy to watch. I have yet to capture their photo with my camera.
As we head home the storm arrives and flurries of snow begin. By noon it is actively raining. The rain is on again, off again all afternoon. A good day for that warm fire, tea and a book

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Beautiful Things

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.
- Christina Rossetti

Gray winter days are often depressing for me. It is not that I mind the snow. In fact I enjoy watching the snow fall and even delight in the pristine blanket covering the woods and clearing. But there are days when the sun doesn't get a chance to break through the dark clouds. When my loft retreat is dark and gloomy even the electric lights can't seem to chase away the gloom. During these dark days it is tempting to allow dark and gloomy thoughts to fill my mind. On one gloomy gray dark day I found inspiration from a warm steaming cup of tea and a post by Laura at Somewhere In New Jersey
Her list of beautiful things got me to thinking about beautiful things that I see.
A list of some of the beautiful things I saw today:
- My daughter leaning back in her recliner, her face at rest as she contemplates the next steps of her painting
- Ice crystals patterning the windows as the diffused sunlight catches them and sets them to sparkling against a background of dark evergreens or dark gray clouds.
- The chickadee at my window. Always the chickadee brings a smile to my heart as well as to my lips. He is not our most colorful avian visitor but I am attracted to his elegant black and white attire. His sprightly nature and his inquisitive eye watching me warms me as does a visit from a friend. I love sketching the little fellow. Much as I enjoy the Chickadee, it is difficult for me to choose a favorite from the variety of birds that visit each day. Actually it is impossible to choose; each has their own special beauty. The closer we get, the closer I look, the more beauty I see, the more I treasure the daily gift of their presence here outside my window.
- The cream and red stripped amaryllis just opening its first blossom of the year. It has a beauty of its own. There is beauty in its unique blossoms but there is also beauty in that it has returned in my life to bloom for this second year and beauty in its reminder that it came as a gift of love and friendship.
- The sound of water moving through this small canyon, bouncing and splashing over the rocks, foaming its way into pools, lapping against moss and fern covered banks, even the sounds it makes when moving slowing under winter ice and snow. The peaceful soothing sounds, sometimes whispering, other times roaring past, but always bringing new melodies to nurture my soul.

"May the sun bring you new energies by day, may the moon softly restore you by night,
may the rain wash away any worries you may have. May gentle breezes refresh your soul
and all the days of your life, may you walk gently through the world and know its beauty."
- Unknown

Sorry blogger isn't letting me post a photo today

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Winter on My Mind

Morning light is filled with an apricot glow. An elegant morning. As the gray clouds are touched with the light, I find myself longing to be able to capture their beauty on paper.
The filtered sunlight is comforting. Last night’s promised snow did not arrive. Perhaps this afternoon.

Birds are congregating on the deck out of the wind or in sunny places. Their feathers are so fluffed they look like little round balls and twice their normal size. Suet is the food of choice today. There are not a few squabbles for control of the suet feeders. Two tiny chickadees chasing or bluffing away a downy woodpecker.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Finding Water

Walking through this desert
baren reaches
of my mind

Before me
on my desk
a sharp fat pencil
an open notebook
its blank pages staring up at me.

My chair is comfortable
the winter sun
floods my room
with sunlight

No words
come through
these empty places
in my mind
Buried deep
waiting for spring rain
to blossom
and flourish

Those unspoken dreams
the unmet expectations
the deepest longings
of my soul

I squirm
and wiggle
waiting for

Looking out the window
I search the sky for clouds
for rain clouds

Rain with healing moisture
longed for moisture
rain to heal this thirsty soil

The landscape all around
is baren
where are the drops
of morning dew

streams of water
flowing fresh
with inspiration

I am searching
Is it there?

the hope
the dream of
Finding Water

CEM 2/17/2007 © all rights reserved

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Winter Rambling

Hints of gold and persimmon touch rapidly moving clouds as the sun rises very slowly from behind the snow covered hillside. Soon bright sunlight melts ice patterns from my windows. Clear blue sky – only a cloud here and there. Canada Geese pass in formation overhead. A Bald Eagle Soars on some thermal, drifting slowly above the house. I stand at the skylight watching him until he drifts out of sight over the hills.
When I think of blue sky and clear sunny days the first images and words that come to mind are all of warmth and relaxation but today is frigid and brisk – sharp penetrating winds push and bite when I venture to even stick my head out the door.

All through the woods and clearing different objects capture the sun’s light --- ice on trees, snow hoods on bird feeders, something on the ground… the wind sets them into motion and light beams dance through the loft. Even the metal trim on my pencil sends circles of light moving across the page and up to the ceiling. Bouncing, swaying moving with every letter I write.

Looking up from my writing I discover the Carolina Wren is back today. I watched as he hopped from tree to tree in the side yard, finally alighting on the witch hazel. Moving cautiously to the birdhouse hanging in its barren branches, he poked his head inside, pulled out some bits and pieces --- a little grass, some fluff that could have been some feathers. Eventually he popped through the opening. Then he reappeared and dropped more debris from the open entry. I wonder if this is just a house inspection or if he is planning to move in.
I have been reading all the news about global warming and the comments on the blogs about ways to make a minute contribution…We have the thermostat set low – this is to keep the loft, where I spend most of my time, at a comfortable temperature. So much of the heat rises that it is difficult to find a good balance. Either I have to put on summer clothing when I go up to the loft or the living room and bedroom are so cold I have to grab a coat to stay in them for more than a passing moment… Have to find a solution…
I found a way to put a lot of plastic grocery bags to good use. (They have been filling up a shelf, which I would rather use for storage) Today I took a good portion of them to stuff into tiny cracks along the doors. After folding the bags into quarters lengthwise – I used a table knife to stuff the bags into any crack around the door. Some of the doors are tight. I could only slip the knife into part of the cracks - but any crack at all is letting cold air in today. The back door has a bit larger space and it took fourteen bags to fill all of its cracks.

It is a bit warmer downstairs now but I still put a heating pad into my bed – turned it on about half an hour before I was ready for bed - Toasty!

Chill wind – moon is partly hidden by the clouds as it makes its journey through the sky. All this day I spend much of my time very aware of the weather. I check the thermometers, watch the sun and clouds the ice and snow, and listen to the wind banging the feeders against the house as I turn to sleep.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Midnight Shadows

Ring around the moon
midnight shadows beaten back
deer in my garden.

Just before eleven, I discovered a small raccoon under the large pole feeders in my back yard. He was licking up sunflower seeds and bits of suet that had fallen from the feeders onto the snow. With such vigorous licking I doubt anything with any food value is left – other than soil.

The moon is nearly full. At moonrise clouds veiled its face; as the clouds open there is a rainbow and a green/gold ring around the moon. At times I see brilliant stars then minutes later the sky is filled with fast moving clouds.

The raccoon has moved to the feeders in the front yard – meandering from one place to another licking up every scrap of suet and seeds to be found. The gray squirrels will be disappointed in the morning!

The moonlight is music to my eyes; it is calling to me to come out and follow its path through the woods. One could easily go for a long walk in this wonderful light. How I wish I could answer its siren call!

Two does wander past the raccoon but he ignores them and they walk on up the hill. I guess they can tell he has already cleaned out the fast food stop.

The clouds cover the moon and I am reminded of a haiku by Matsuo Bashō:

“The clouds
are giving these moon-watchers
a little break.”

more haiku at One Deep Breath Sorry for being the wrong time of day but this is what came out when I began to write.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

While Sailing Along and Waiting ...

While waiting and letting time pass - I have been writing and sketching in a lovely journal that I got while I was ill... Thought I would share some pages with you
The sun doesn't even enter into battle today - even the soft light is slow in coming and so weak that it sill seems like the earth is waiting for the dawn at eight this morning.

The first bird of the day is the inquisitive white-breasted nuthatch --- for a few moments he clings to the side of the windows --- he gives a "yonk" then flies to the feeder. Dropping the first few sunflower seeds to the ground, he continues to sort through the seeds on the tray. Finally, finding a seed that passes his inspection, he flies to a white pine branch where he proceeds to shell and eat his seed.

The gray squirrels are very aggressive again today --- one small chubby squirrel (yes chubby) jumped from the railing of the deck to the front door in an attempt to reach the birdfeeder he saw reflected in the window. He is very persistent--- trying over and over again. I finally had to go outside and look back at the door to see why he continued in what seemed to me a futile exercise --- The heavy cloud cover creates a perfect environment for clear reflections --- no wonder he is persistent - the reflection is so sharp I can see each sunflower seed.

It is so silent! The trees are still - no rain. I can hear the beating of the bird's wings as they pass over my head, and the sounds of their feet as they clutch a branch when coming in to land.

Silently waiting, listening, I hear a chickadee crack and munch a sunflower seed.

As day ends and darkness arrives - the night appears deeper and more impenetrable than usual. Again the influence of the heavy cover of clouds. No glimmer of light from moon or stars. It is only the light crossing the clearing from the headlights of an occasional passing car that breaks the complete darkness.