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IMG_6044The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.

– From the poem Two Tramps in Mudtime”  by Robert Frost

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Some Billy Collins on Snow Moon Night

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Moon by Billy Collins

The moon is full tonight
an illustration for sheet music,
an image in Matthew Arnold
glimmering on the English Channel,
or a ghost over a smoldering battlefield
in one of the history plays.

It’s as full as it was
in that poem by Coleridge
where he carries his year-old son
into the orchard behind the cottage
and turns the baby’s face to the sky
to see for the first time
the earth’s bright companion,
something amazing to make his crying seem small.

And if you wanted to follow this example,
tonight would be the night
to carry some tiny creature outside
and introduce him to the moon.

And if your house has no child,
you can always gather into your arms
the sleeping infant of yourself,
as I have done tonight,
and carry him outdoors,
all limp in his tattered blanket,
making sure to steady his lolling head
with the palm of your hand.

And while the wind ruffles the pear trees
in the corner of the orchard
and dark roses wave against a stone wall,
you can turn him on your shoulder
and walk in circles on the lawn
drunk with the light.
You can lift him up into the sky,
your eyes nearly as wide as his,
as the moon climbs high into the night.

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We exchanged pleasantries, sitting in a cozy room that was flush with ambiance and age; names, information, insights. The room was more a parlor than a 515bzkkRXyL._SX369_BO1,204,203,200_lobby, with a bowed window looking out toward the river and the muted tones of music gathering us in.

After a time of conversation, we gathered in a row, like schoolgirls heading to English class. We walked down the hall to the room of the woman I would be visiting with, a centenarian named Virginia.

I will tell you about Virginia one day. For now, however, I will tell you about where my short conversation with a remarkable woman in her 106th year steered my thoughts as I travelled along the road back home, in a pouring winter rain.

Virginia was a gardener of some renown. She still recalls the lines of poetry she learned as a student some ninety years ago.  Though frail and unable to see, her mind is sharp and her words well spoken. I thought about them as I drove.  Once home, I settled in, wrapped in a blanket against the damp, chilling day, a hot cup of tea in hand, and I spent some time with another centenarian, Stanley Kunitz.

Mr. Kunitz’s book, “The Wild Braid”, is a though-provoking  journey through his gardens, his poetry, his prose. It is a small volume of conversations, thoughts, and a generous sprinkling of his poetry.

The book was a gift to me, some years ago. Debra, who knows my love of gardening and appreciation of poetry, sent it to me. A kind and thoughtful gesture from a special friend. I was not familiar with Stanley Kunitz. The book was an awakening to yet another U. S. Poet Laureate and weaver of words.

As I re-read passages from “The Wild Braid”, I thought of lives well led, and led well. Of men and of women who live life to the fullest, in good times and in bad, who garden and write and do a myriad of other things, throughout their lives.  They take their places here on earth and they make it a better place.

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.

From “The Round”,  Stanley Kunitz

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A little Emily

DSCN5923Poem 28. Autumn

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

Emily Dickinson

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It was one of those mornings.

I wandered around the grounds checking for blossoms, deer damage, and caterpillars, a cup of coffee in one hand, a camera in the other. I enjoy the quiet of early morning with hazy hints of the day ahead.

The swallowtail caterpillars have vanished. Day-by-day, one-by-one they disappeared, having grown as large as my thumb.  I was surprised by a Swallowtail butterfly that flitted out of the meadow rue; exactly where the caterpillars had been munching. The Monarch caterpillars have also disappeared, though I can find no cocoons, I’m hopeful for a few more butterflies this summer.

I sipped my morning brew while the bees sipped the Echinacea and dipped into the August Lily, dusted in pollen and sated with nectar.

Early mornings are like this, here on the Cutoff. A buck roaming from yard to yard, his proud demeanor and growing rack leading his confident stride. Chipmunks and squirrels, telling one another off.  A yellow wooly caterpillar making its way toward colder weather as a wren scolds me for being too close to her nest.

The sun was inching toward the purpose of this day, sending its golden rays through the nooks and crannies of our little acreage. As I looked toward its  rising, in between the branches and brambles of the boundaries between our little acreage and the clear-cut lot next door, I saw a few strings of silk glistening.

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There. Between a branch and thicket was the weaving of a web.

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As I aimed my camera, shooting at different angles, at times not even sure I was capturing the handiwork of an industrious spider, a hint of red caught my eye. He moved quickly, so assuredly, that before I could aim my camera’s lens he was across two acres and out of view.

So goes a red fox on a sunny August morning whilst I was webbing.

I’m sure there is a fable in here somewhere, but, I have not as yet learned how to knit one on my web.

 

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She emerged from the lush greens on our Saturday stroll in the Rotary Gardens.

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On Tuesday, Yeats appeared on my daily feed from The Writer’s Almanac . . .

Down By the Salley Gardens
by William Butler Yeats

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.

Then Maura O’Connell showed up today.

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Turnings

dscn66135-e1269782576184She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
 A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

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Juliet Batten

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