Archive for January, 2016

Yardly working.

What a difference a week makes.

We got about 14″ at the house a week ago
which revealed some usually invisible travel information.

Did this guy start from a hole in the ground
and make a run for the branch?
Or climb up from the branch to find the hole?IMG_20160124_115150876_TOP

Or this one come out from the porch,
or duck underneath?IMG_20160124_115213161

A hunter, naturalist, or gender-nonspecific scout
could tell if these were from the coming and going
of a narrow-footed mincing sasquatch,
or the launch marks of a rabbit leaping.IMG_20160124_115224884

Most intriguing are the ones that just stop
as if lifted by some racoon rapture.IMG_20160124_115445373

But by this week the snow has gone to ground and gone to air,
melted and sublimated down to traces,
and spring is getting busy.IMG_20160131_140238395

Freed from a foot of snow
clusters of lichen and fungus bloom on a broken birch stick.IMG_20160131_142031567

Rich loam-brown gills under
the dazzle-white caps.IMG_20160131_142016116

The English ivy is unperturbed, by the snow,
or by the mulch of birch, apple, maple, oak and hornbeam leaves
or by the broken sticks of inhabited birch.IMG_20160131_141953766

Spring is coming, or another, or several snows.

Life along the ground abides,
covered or not covered.

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20­°F — you still get hungry.

Winter is officially here when Garrison Keillor offers his annual celebration.

The weather, he says, is making a serious effort to kill you,
and that’s clarifying, it strips away non-essentials.

Your job is to stay alive.
You’re not a waitress or a plumber or a professor.
You’re a mammal.

There’s no distinction by class or talent,
there’s not even gender, if you’re dressed properly.

I found a warm blooded neighbor, well-dressed, a couple days ago,
emptying the birdfeeder on the back porch.
He didn’t mind the porch light, didn’t mind the bedroom overhead light,
not even the swivelling bedside lamp.

But my flashlight, and my presence,
just two 1/8″ sheets of glass and 1/4″ of inert gas between us,
that gave me enough light for a picture
and made him feel unwelcome.

He descended, backwards,
like a white bronco in a slow chase.


I told him he could stay,
if he’d just take off the mask.

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Sometimes a house, sometimes a bird feeding station.

The snow raises the stakes, if you’re a bird.
Most of what you’d eat is fourteen inches under a blanket
of the soft fluffy white stuff.

Birds of the north side.


















Eastward mobile.


 From a little distance the feeders look like aircraft carrier in battle.
At any approach near enough to shoot a picture
the birds scatter, nine out of ten,
leaving just the bravest, or the hungriest,
of the finches, nuthatches, mourning doves, siskins,
juncos, blue jays, cardinals, sparrows, robins and the rest.

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New Year’s special.

Exercise your natural curiosity,
and feed for free.


from the Ellen and Geoffrey Fletcher Mystery series

For five days in January 2016, the 7th to the 11th, Thursday through Monday


Free from (the cover pictures below are links), available only in Kindle format. If you haven’t got a Kindle Device, Amazon will send a drone to your home (when they know that you are sleeping) and upgrade your microwave, or install a Kindle-reader ap on your computer or your tablet or on any reasonably intelligent mobile telephone (totally free). You will be everafter able to access many hundred thousands of ebooks, not just mine.

Every three months Kindle Direct Publishing invites all authors who sell books on their platform to trade income for exposure and offer their books for free. It’s a worldwide deal on all the Amazon stores (US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, India, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Brazil). People who wouldn’t pay for a book from an author they’ve never heard of will take a chance on free stuff. So as the returns roll in, you get to see whether this will be the time there’s finally a bite from the Netherlands or Italy, or whether that firestorm in Japan (well, four books) will reignite. You take what fun you can find in the marketing process, and hope you pick up some new readers.

Let me know what you think: favorable comments warm the heart, unfavorable ones teach the necessary lessons. Comment here, or email



The Asheville Story.

Heart Attack

The Williamsburg Story.

Here are a few comments from old readers.

review snippets (good ones only)

    Fit to Curve is a skillfully written mystery with complex characters and such a fascinating plot that I’m way behind on my chores.

    This series is a favorite with interesting plots and wonderfully drawn characters. Wish the author would write more of them. The type of book you don’t want to end.

    A bed and breakfast mystery. Super characters, well developed. You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. A mouth-watering, good read. Love the old lady with the sharp wit. I’d like the recipes, too.

    The plot builds very slowly. But once I got into it, I was hooked. I liked the characters, and you get a lot of insight into them.

    This is too fine a novel to be mired in the mystery/suspense ghetto. It’s a good mystery, with a complex plot, all the mystery trappings, but the characters are rounded and attractive. The theme seems to me to be a consideration of morality – not just sexual morality (or immorality), though there’s some of that too, for those who like to read such descriptions, but all kinds of morality: for how high a price might you sell your soul?

    Heart Attack is a great read!

    This couple are a great addition to the mystery genre. Sharp and interesting with a bit of humor and spice.

    Snappy dialog. Geoff and Ellen are a great team. He has a definite intuitive method of assessing info and arriving at conclusions that baffle and irk his cohorts. Ellen is more conventional and together are a great team. Unusual mystery not easily solved.


Ghost Walk sample                                                                                                             Little Fishes sample


The Charleston Story: seeking agent

Little Fishes

The Atlanta Story, editor ready

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New year walkabout.

Doesn’t matter what I think,
some bear’s been shredding them.


Peck and peck. Repeat.
How much wood? You cannot imagine.


Several layers interlaced living on decay.


More and more, the moss beats back the grass.
The extent of it is new and puzzling.


Evergreen mountain laurel leaves are the thermometer of the woods.
At 43°F they look like this; warmer they lift and flatten;
colder they curl, tighter and tighter, into little tubes at zero.


And here is 25°F, this morning.


Walkabout in wonderland this afternoon.

Happy New Year!

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Seeing long and short.

I told the pretty little hornbeam, forty years ago,
that little maple sapling will not bother you,
I’ll keep it lifted and away.
There’s room for both, I said.


The spruce looming at the bottom of the orchard was a seedling then,
its siblings all harvested for Christmas trees,
except one pine also grown too big for Christmas.
They’ve grown up entwined a quarter century since.


Good year for cones on the high branches.

The trees are transparent now
to the sky and the ridge across the valley
for half the year a solid mass of green.


See through down to the branch.


See right through the unending woods, almost.

In every quarter see the horizon of ridgetop and sky.


The leaves will be beautiful when they return.
But we’ll miss the long view through the silver trunks
just as much as we miss their dense green cloak.

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And lay the maple low.

The downhill trunk from a clump of maples
just let go during a storm a couple of weeks ago.

The fallen trunk stretched almost 70 feet
shattering a lot of the crown.

But the main body, including the lowest segment
looking like a rotten tooth
had to be chain-sawed into 4-5 foot sections.

Excellent firewood,
after a spell of curing.

It was a pretty good long healthy life,
but for the rotten tooth.

Can’t blame bugs for this one,
this tree was woodpecker-certified bug-free,

A tree on the ground
passes to other uses
as brush habitat, compost, lumber, stovewood.

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Little bear, bandit in the dark.

The porch light did not bother him,
nor my flashlight, not the camera flash.

He was on a mission to feed,
having already eaten, it seemed, his entire family
and become fat as a bear cub.

The technique is, to spare himself acrobatics: tilt and spill.

Tilt a little, spill a little more,


then dine at ease along the rail.

I slammed the back door, four feet from him,
and he dove over the rail, to hide under the house,
for almost three minutes.

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Centrality of the Nutcracker tree.

Final stage dressing for our Nutcracker tree.
It’s been assembled, lighted, be-ribboned, and be-candy-caned.
The present boxes, filled with many-year-old air,
are set carefully — we try for artfully — around the base.

If you magnify you can just see
the head of the Nutcracker
peeking up from behind the gingerbread house,
waiting for his reveal and Clara’s delight.

It’s easier to spot him from the side.


Ultimately, the curtain rises
and the tree becomes the backdrop for the dances.


The outrageously inebriated maid
has just begun her wobbly dance.
Scandalized, we are.

Three weeks ago, on the stage of the Diana Wortham Theatre.

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