Archive for February, 2016

On the cusp.

The bulbs push shoots up, invisible until they blow apart.

The lichen population is not impressed by spring stirrings.

Boiling, freezing, drought or flood, they’re good, they’re perpetual.

On the shadow side, north facing, the last snow patch lingers.

The branch roars, swollen from the recent rain and the recent snow.

Passing cataracts and icicles,

from the twin springs just below the ridge, down this far,
down to the branch, on to the Mississippi, to the Gulf.

The crocus bulbs have called spring!


The light stripey ones,

delicate and bright,

already sticking to the bee’s knees as she crawls inside

to work, drunk on the golden pollen.

The deep purple clump

And the grandest bloom of all,

serene, imperial,
except for the pollen knocked around her ankles.

Rapture and ravishing.

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The oath sworn by Shakepeare’s dad.

Chugging along through a new biography of Wm Shkspr the other night
(a neat concept, speculative essays by serious scholars
going beyond what little is really known and filling in the blanks imaginatively
using the most recent discoveries
about his life and times)
I was struck by this paragraph,
in the chapter about William’s father, John,
the last line.


A phone photo of a Kindle page, it’s a little fuzzy.

It’s about the oath of office for the office of Bailiff
that John was required to swear.

The line that got me reads:

“His oath of office was ‘to the uttermost of your cunning,
wit and power to maintain and defend  the liberties
of the same borough and shall do
equal right as well to the poor as to the rich.'”

Let’s bring this back.

cunning, wit and power
equal right as well to the poor as to the rich

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That one plant.

Most of the year an amaryllis is dormant,
doesn’t need water, doesn’t need light.
One by one they wake
of a sudden thirsty for water and for light.

They push out a leaf, or a few leaves,
and push up a center stalk absurdly tall
with a bulb the size of a human fist.


Sometimes there are two bulbs and two huge showy flowers open.


Just for kitchen company,
a rare blue Valentine’s Day orchid.


This plant flowered two weeks
before any of the others woke up,
in defiance of last week’s snow.
Necessarily one of them has to be first,
not infrequently way before the rest.

Like the dove let loose from the ark,
looking for enough muddy ground to build a nest;
or, for the amaryllis, sufficiency of sunshine.

Orchid blooms blue and precious beyond imagining

unless it’s from food coloring.

The little buds will tell.

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Direct links.

Testing a new Amazon option, straight (er?) to them:




Just hit the back arrow to return here.

Racoon redux.

“I keep giving her food,
why doesn’t she go away?”

Turns out that is not how you get rid of a stray cat.

Or a resident racoon.IMG_20160131_230254438

There’s feed on the rail, lots of food.IMG_20160131_230241623_TOP

You just reach up and pull. Tilt and spill.

I’m getting way too wonderfully plump
to slither away in escape like this.

Why do you keep interrupting my dinner?
Eating is an every day business.
It’s a mammal thing.

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Great Smokin’ Park.

The Great Smokies National Park
is a smushed oval, about three times as wide (E-W) as high (N-S),
half in North Carolina and half in Tennessee.

Also the oldest and most visited of all the parks,
and the largest one, east of the Mississippi.
There’s no charge to enter.

Highway 441 cuts up the middle,
running 35 miles from Cherokee, North Carolina to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Newfound Gap is the high point of Highway 441
and also the lowest mountain pass through the Smokies (5046 feet).
A goodly part of the upper section of 441 is a ridge road
that switches back and forth from views to the west and views to the east
just as the Blue Ridge Parkway does (from north to south).

It snowed in the park last week, between one foot and two,
judging from what’s left on the ground.


It’s only 40 minutes driving time from my house to Cherokee,
we discovered yesterday
(about the same from Asheville).
And about that much again to get up to Newfound Gap,
after lunch in Cherokee.


We knew this, and it’s always been true,


but one forgets, with the business of the days
how near this wonder is to us.


The vistas stun, 50 miles across half a dozen rippling ridges.


As you get higher you reach the deciduous tree line;


after a transitional zone of both coniferous and deciduous,
it turns all coniferous.


Some of the parking areas had room for more cars,
some were packed out into the highway,
especially at the popular trail-heads.
Many hundred hikers climbed to the chimneys.


After a couple hours of wallowing
in the weird wondrous streetscape of Gatlinburg,
and all the people passing,


back up to the gap, as night’s shade begins
pulling shadow blankets over the slumbering mountains


and the traffic descends single file back to Cherokee,
going south, or going north to Gatlinburg.


I grabbed a keystoned capture of the patinated plaque whereon


the people of North Carolina, South Carolina, the United States
and the memory of John D. Rockefeller’s wife, Laura, share credit for the park.


The ice and packed snow softened in the sun, and the 55­° temperature.


but firmed up as dusky dark settled.


Where the big trees (still) are,
a trip for another day.

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