Springtime Animation

Spring appears at foot level in these high hills, welcoming the observant hiker. The starred chickweed at the lowest levels was the first to catch my eye; white and purple trillium, the delicate purples of wild geraniums, showy orchid, dwarf iris, trillium, I discovered the umbrella leaves of the may apple (not a tree though); the perfect white flower of bloodroot was at every section of the switchbacks; several leafy plants included the Virginia Pennywort, which is a rarity, and the Canadian waterleaf. One of our newest finds was bear corn (also called squaw root). After a winter of hibernation the bears are constipated, and they are eager to chew on bear corn, their spring laxative!

Spring has edged her way in, sprinkled with generous layers of snow and chilling the winds of change. Teased by an occasional unseasonably warm sun day, the earliest of azalea buds were among those caught by surprise. I daily reminded myself to keep watching; I wanted to see how nature unfolds in slow motion. I caught the neighbor’s aging maple gracing my window view with just the hint of red tipped buds; an incremental opening, delicate fan of new leaves – and now in a blink that tree is full, shutting out much of the mountain horizon. How I know that feeling – changes made in the blink of an eye. The rhododendron blooming bold and pink outside the guest room window draws the robins’ attention, and the robins’ draw the cats, Simone and Sinclair perched on the bedside table. They too keep eager watch. The lilac blooms and irises make a standing ovation. Another spring claims its space in my ever turning universe. The maple and I, we share another glorious season, a few more creaks in our limbs, as we bow to the welcomed applause.

spring stream side


Listening for the Sound

My granddaughter awakens in me a sensibility to the wonders of nature. When she was very young, she called me to stop on an afternoon walk in the neighborhood while she pulled up some stalks of timothy grass – to feed the sheep we might encounter around the corner. Our 1960’s neighborhood was tree lined with manicured lawns and a nearby greenway. We indeed encountered the occasional deer or fox; I have not yet seen the Easter lambs she wanted to feed. Yet just the wonder of it all, the anticipation, opens my heart.

She’s older now, nearly a teen, sharing with me what she learns in school. Speaking of a chorus class, she remarked that her teacher asked the question “What is your favorite sound?” Her answer, “Hi, Sam,” produced confusing stares among classmates. “And why?” “When I open the door to my mom’s house, I call “Hi, Sam”, and I hear the two cats, Sam and Dean, and two dogs, Malcolm and Hannah, running to greet me. I know I am home.”

I told her I wanted to write that question in my journal and think for awhile. What is my favorite sound? The rush of water, the splash of waves, the songbird, the humming in my heart when things are going right, coffee percolating in the early morning, the greeting of a friend or stranger that says I am not alone, the heartbeat of a drum, singing bowl, the sound of silence as the sun sets on the day?

An unavoidable cacophony of sounds creates the backdrop of any day – the flow of traffic, screech of tires, sirens, horns, hums of generators, clicking of keys. Without an intentional awareness, nature’s soothing intonations can be dismissed. Listen. Waves undulating all around with messages intended to alert, comfort, create anticipation, start a conversation or make a joy noise. What is your favorite sound?

sounds drum

What’s Your Winter Story?

A break in winter’s indisposition,
my boots back on the trail, slow
steady climb to Rattlesnake Lodge.
Satisfaction ripples through my body,
easing the stress of everyday worry.

I pause and lean into the warmth
of ancient boulders surrounded
by a forest of silent  sentinels –

unbending hardwoods, scattered
stands of pines, snarled branches
of mountain laurel, rhododendron green,
snapped limbs,  ample reminders
of the power of wind, plight of rock falls,
telling marks of splintered bark
what’s your winter story?

Dormant stillness belies determination;
even the resting roots are reaching for
nourishment before spring buds open.

winter trees

Reminders of a Heart’s Delight


I watched love rise over the mountain,
sing from the branches of the aging maple,
course its way from mountain top to ocean.
I saw love sprouting in tights buds
and daffodil promises.
love will bloom on the hillside,
rain from the heavens with a gentle touch,
green winter’s lawn with clover leaves of three.
I wake and walk in circles of love,
cherished words, human embrace,
memories shared, heart-to

daffodil heart


Weaving a Spider’s Tale

Fall Showing: Yellow mums, scarecrows with smiles,
pumpkins positioned at the welcoming corner of my lawn.
Two identical spiders with silken thread, spun protein,
tensile strength greater than my bones and half the
strength of steel, strategically placed for the fall showing,
one hanging by the front steps, the other on the back deck,
identical twins as far  as I can tell. Uninvited guests.

From my memory template of scary spiders, Arachnids that catch
all the attention in the news, there’s the hobo, the wolf and its
oversized variant the tarantula, brown recluse, black widow,
and the orb with yellow stripes – the writing spider. Daddy said
that if this spider wrote a name on its web, the person was
doomed. Daddy also told me that Farmer McGreggor lived
across the railroad tracks near my house and if I ventured
in that direction I would suffer the same fate as Peter Rabbit,
I would be an unsuspecting fly caught in a spider’s web.

These rather ordinary house guests camping on my posts
wove their way into my days in an untidy, cob web fashion;
brown with a bit of a striped effect; in a species of 50,000
these are regarded simply as domestic house spiders.
Despite my love for E. B. White’s Charlotte Web and the itsy
bitsy spider who did not learn his lesson well, repeatedly
climbing the spout despite the warnings about rain,
I do have not a familial relationship with spiders.

Cool webs, threatening fangs and creepy legs.
My rocker becomes an observation post as the porch
dweller grows bolder with daytime appearance,
and bigger with the insect feasts. Much of the time
the acrobat curls into a ball, eight legs tucked tight,
swaying in mid-air, all head/mouthpiece, and abdomen,
until the invisible web quivers  and legs spread in every
direction; an unsuspecting prey is nabbed, stuck tight,
wrapped in silken thread. An occasional lucky wasp touches
the steely stickiness and escapes with a forceful thrust.
Then brown spider whispers dag nabit, – missed this time

Nights are growing colder, the food supply source diminishes
with the approach of  all-hallowed- eve. I grow faintly wistful
knowing that soon my house guests will complete their task,
leaving a nest-full of eggs, offspring to take over the world
when spring arrives once again, spiderlings instinctively
knowing how to survive the cold, finding crevices for shelter,
and warmth wrapped in their egg sacs. Not so scary then.

explore more at http://www.explorit.org/science/spider.html

spider guest