Obedient, Raspy, Somber


Obedient to Nature’s call,
a raspy wind sweeps the landscape,
takes its breath away,
turns grasses from green to gold
in somber remembrance of rain. 


Written in response to two prompts—the three words that appear in the title, and this week’s photo challenge, Muse, in which we’re asked to consider and show a subject we keep returning to.  Besides lines and shadow, I most often return to leaves.  I never tire of the surprise I find in their variety—their shape, color, movement and what they “say” about time and season.  Leaves are my favorite muse.

I took this photo in my home state, California, still in its drought.  


Beautiful, desperate, hush

poem untitled

Closing light


Knock-knock. Who’s there?


. . . the American Bushtit !

I can now refer to its common name.  Notice minimus in its Latin name: Psaltriparus minimus.  I just saw one a minute ago—it looked like an adult—and its body was no larger than my thumb!

I don’t know the age of this one in the window, but several of these little birds appeared quite new to flying. Maybe they were just being acrobatic (as they are known to be).

One website referred to their coloring as “drab”!  Why use such a word? They more than make up for their monochrome coloring with their colorful personalities and antics—like playful tree monkeys leaping from branch to branch and hanging upside down.

I hope to post a mosaic of some of my favorite shots one of these days.

. . . 

Thanks to Julie, for identifying the bird.  She is studying bird photography in the field—very interesting!  I’m usually so far away to capture a clear shot of a bird. Being so near, just inches away, these little acrobats made it easier, except for how they were nearly always in motion. There were also many challenges to shooting through glass.

What’s your experience with bird (or through-the-glass) photography?




The little featherball is back—shown here today in the rain at my window.

In reply to my inquiry yesterday, one blogger suggested this may be a  young Mockingbird, while another amusingly suggested it’s a “Nockingbird”.

As a consequence, in this new video clip of our feathered friend, I call it a “Knockingbird”. 

 . . .

By the way, can anyone look at these photos and not recall a pet who looked like this while asking for something . . . showing a posture and face that reaches our heart as they earnestly wait for us to respond?



Knock-knock Bird

Who is this just outside my window, about to knock?

Until I know its real name, see why (on my  video clip)  I call this a Knock-knock bird

It may help birders to know when and where this is: early April, Northern California, in a California Pepper tree.

Do you have any idea “who” this little 2-inch (5-centimeter) winger may be?  




The blur of something flying past . . .

Wings in the Willow (I think it's a small wren launching off from a pepper tree branch)

The blur of speeding by . . .

The blur of something not quite seen . . . 

Gone in the blink of an eye.


The blur of a day, a week, a year . . .

Til stillness in the mind . . . 


Finds calming focus in the heart . . . 
And clarity . . .





Composed in response to the prompt “Blur” and to photos from today and earlier.


Colors and Light (Waters of March #3)

Another stanza from the lyrics of “Waters of March”. 

“. . . É um passo, é uma ponte, é um sapo, é uma rã
É um resto de mato, na luz da manhã
São as águas de março fechando o verão
É a promessa de vida no teu coração . . .

There is no translation, per se, of this stanza. The entire song, in fact, has a unique English version, written by the composer (Antônio Carlos Jobim) in trying to retain its lyrical qualities and theme.  

On the right I posted a modified “Google Translate” version, followed by one commonly sung.  The lyrics vary from artist to artist.  

a modified “Google Translate” literal translation:

“. . . It’s a step,  a bridge,  a sapo,  a frog
It’s the rest of the forest, in the morning light
As the waters of March closing the summer
It’s the promise of life in your heart . . .”

an English-language version often used:

“. . . It’s the wind blowing free, it’s the end of a slope
It’s a beam, it’s a void, it’s a hunch, it’s a hope
And the riverbank talks of the waters of March
It’s the end of all strain, it’s the joy in your heart.”  









Having excused myself from the a self-assigned trek into deep waters and woods, I ended up there anyway.  That can happen when you let your mind wander.  Here’s what I found (and jotted down in a notebook):

. mixing widely-assorted colors of paint turns into something dark, even black

. mixing assorted colors of light turns into something white

. one cannot put the paint into a spinner—a centrifuge—to somehow separate the colors again

. one can do this with pure light, by directing it into a prism!

One can find shared “poetry” in seeming contradictions.

Like the ambient sound of a gentle trickling creek
that we feel but don’t quite consciously hear,
the waters of March flow, sometimes splashing an awakening
to a feeling or thought, especially with the theme of 
loss and gain—
to finding a way to see it or feel it with a sense of  
acceptance and wonder, even joy.

You may sense that feeling when you see and hear composer “Tom” Jobim and Elis Regina (considered the best-ever performer of the song) during this studio recording.



More or less (or nothing) tomorrow . . .
perhaps again . . .
until then . . . 



Note: Viewing this page on a PC displays the lyrics (top of page) full-size (tiny on mobile devices). I apologize for any inconvenience.


The “tent” of intention (Waters of March #2)


“A stick, a stone, It’s the end of the road,
It’s the rest of a stump, It’s a little alone . . . “

“É pau, é pedra, é o fim do caminho
É um resto de toco, é um pouco sozinho . . .”



Those are the opening lines of “Waters of March”,  a song I adopted as a prompt to respond to in writing during my time “camping along its waters”.

That was my intention.


I’m now checking my “tent”—something I thought I could imagine myself into—the state of mind of a camper or hiker—
someone who has packed lightly, only with provisions for survival and maybe a notebook, sketchbook or something to read,
free from distractions and excessive input that distance one from their internal springs of energy.

I look forward to this but . . . I may leave it aside for another time and just go take a walk with my camera . . . right where I am.


It turns out that one’s plans are often like the weather—clouds in the sky that don’t necessarily bring rain.

Incidentally, those rains, so much part of the inspiration for “Waters of March” have not been showing up—there’s a drought in Brazil (like here in California)!


Rain, drought, whatever the season brings . . . I will keep my plans packed and ready to go (some other time).





Did any of this make sense or sound familiar to you?  I don’t often reveal the tosses and turns of my own life, but I do want to explore, as “Waters of March” does in a down-to-earth listing way, life’s wide range of everyday: stick, stone, thorn in the hand, on and on, all that it is—loss and gain—when seen in its entirety, taken with a sense of  C’est la vie*, acceptance, wonder and joy.


*C’est la vie is a way of acknowledging something less than ideal that has to be accepted because “that’s just the way life is.”

 . . .


Until next time,


(Coincidentally,  “March” or “Março” in Portuguese is pronounced “marso”)





Camping along the “Waters of March”



On this last day of March I wish to share my plan for a series of posts dedicated to the song “Waters of March”, or “Águas de Março” in its original Portuguese, a well-loved Brazilian song composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim. 

I’m calling this little excursion “Camping along the Waters of March”.

More tomorrow. 






The show must go on . . .


“All the world’s a stage”

Today’s writing prompt invites us to imagine—in the making of a film would you rather be a director, producer or lead performer.

“And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts”

Yes—many parts—as director, producer, performer (and writer) . . .  ticket taker . . . popcorn maker . . . on and on.
Though the prompt is multiple-choice question, it inspires me to answer in another way—a way that acknowledges how we are at different capacities throughout our days . .  . our lifetime.

We often have to serve several roles  at the same time.

For example, as I sit here writing, I realize
the show  (the rest of this day) must go on . . .
which means I must accommodate my other roles
and like a Medieval  Shakespearean jester, juggle them!



.        .        .        . 

Thinking about it further: 

One may hear an urgency and tenacity in “the show must go on” that says “Rise to the occasion. The curtain is going up! Never mind that you’ve never juggled those many hoops and balls—here’s another.  And another.”

It’s surprising how many stay aloft for as long as they do.

Here is the complete passage from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.





Nothing for granted

We know an ephemeral raindrop won’t last . . . 

but we somehow expect . . . take for granted . . . 

the lake will remain.



Photos taken last year when Lagoon Valley Lake went dry. It came partially back during the late fall and winter rains, but we expect it to disappear again this summer. Will it come back in the fall? California is experiencing a drought. No one is taking it for granted.




In the water of what we are
from the vapor of our breath
to memory’s deep sea that we call self,
a fluid mix of currents warm and cold,
north, south, east and west of who we are,
we wonder . . .
what remains the same
in our vessel-ever-changing.

The photograph above: an ephemeral moment of movement—posted “as is” straight from the camera.

Chilly, glorious, petite

“My petite little sweet,” he said to his young daughter, checking her gear. “A chilly good morning, my glorious snowflake!” he called out as she feathered down the ski slope through powder snow, cold air and hot tears streaking across her face,  a smile as wide as the hills. 



Written in response to this Three Word Wednesday  prompt. 


Annoyed, hushed, pain (a poem)

Fences (three poems)


Like early motion pictures,
slits of light through slats of fencing—
passing bicycle seen as if through glass.



Persistent memories
press through planks,
and let one’s life appear intact.



Always in disrepair, this fence,
warped or in need of hammer
and nail.
Tree branches growing through
splits and cracks—
living woods mingling with
once-living boards.




Drafted in response to a prompt described here, seeking a “common thread”  running through three separate pieces. 




Answers Through the Looking Glass (poem in nursery rhyme style)


When a mirror reflects in a mirror,
does it see itself any clearer?

Reflecting on a search for answers.


Looking through layers, glass and light
one sees a pattern,  presumes it right.

In checking the answer, one finds a curve
and wonders how it may serve or swerve.

Checking again, there’s an outline revealed,
something in front and something concealed.

Hold it, move it, turn it around,
will it then mean that the answer is found?

Lift it, shift it, does it then mean
one alters the answer to change what is seen?




A poem in nursery rhyme style, written in response to a prompt described here

Every Morning a Spring (a poem)

Every morning a spring,
its budding light says
“Pull back the curtain”!

Clear sky or hazy, look!
Horizons hinting of hopes

written by heart,
beating anew with every step

through scented scenery
and blossom clouds

that promise spring rain
or just spring,

fragility softly nestled
on rugged shoulders

as one looks for home . . .

feeling at home all the while.

Post written in response to the prompt “Fresh” and the photos taken March 14, 2015.

A Place Called “Awe”


A Place for Awe

A walk through trees in blossom and a writing prompt has me on a writer’s spree about nature, science and awe—its place in our lives.

I’m daydreaming an approach to teaching . . . about “Wizards of Awe”, bringing excitement into students’ minds, hearts, imagination . . . and dinner table conversations alight with sharing things newly noted as amazing about nature and science.


The Wow

We are beguiled by technology, whether it’s in the form of medical advances or entertainment enhancers. Even if it’s simply an app, we have a how’d-they-do-that appreciation.

Yes, science is one place we can still find cheer, hope, even high expectations that we long for.  Why, then, when discussing sciences must we segregate emotive language?  After all, one hears mathematicians describe equations as “beautiful”.  Why not?

Isn’t it beautiful  how little pieces of metal  soldered together became an integrated circuit?  Here’s the first working one created by Jack Kilby in 1958.


"Kilby solid circuit" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kilby_solid_circuit.jpg#/media/File:Kilby_solid_circuit.jpg

“Kilby solid circuit” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kilby_solid_circuit.jpg#/media/File:Kilby_solid_circuit.jpg

Here’s an example of an integrated circuit manufactured these days.  Who can look at this and not find it beautiful?


“Siliconchip by shapeshifter” by David Carron at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Siliconchip_by_shapeshifter.png#/media/ File:Siliconchip_by_shapeshifter.png

Imagine establishing a place for “awe” in classrooms and everyday life. Imagine hearing “Today class, we’re going to study lightning, lightning bugs and light bulbs. Isn’t it awesome how they all came to be”?

It may be a stretch of imagination to include the light bulb with things of nature, yet it’s the study and application of nature’s laws and components that brought us this and other inventions. As such, one could say that inventions come to us through nature, because inventors—we, biological beings—are things of nature!


Sense and Explanation

When people  look at something man-made—a gadget, app, high rise or work of art—and say “Wow, what’s that—how is that?” they don’t really want an explanation regarding the manufacturing or artistic process.  They are more likely expressing their delight.

What would it mean to hear this emotion expressed in classrooms, in the company of friends and family, and in our own minds when noting something of science or nature that lights a beacon of curiosity?

Imagine finding wonder even in things often taken for granted. Imagine people pausing to consider nature with a kind of awe in their facial and vocal expressions that’s usually given to the latest man-made gadget. Consider flowers, consider one’s own fingerprints!  Will we express awe, even with a simple expression of “wow”? Or will we turn to dry textbook descriptions and explanations?

A culture that supports integrating wonderment with pursuit of knowledge will enrich itself and enhance individuals’ sense of beauty even in pages of a textbook.

Recently, while I was waiting in my orthopedic surgeon’s office, I studied a wall poster of the human hand. It struck me how perfect it was. Perfect! “How is that”? No need to  send me an explanation—I’m only sharing a sense of awe.  May there be a place for it in everyday life. Every day.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 367 other followers

%d bloggers like this: