Thursday, June 25, 2009
Ramblingwoods.com has a Nature Notes meme that challenges us to find something interesting in nature and post about our impressions. Click on the link above or on the badge to the side of this post to find what other nature lovers have seen and written about this week. I found my small contribution to the meme pinching parsley in my garden. It's a late-stage caterpillar form of Papilio polyxenes asterius. I resisted the temptation to pinch it back. Hey, I love my parsley, and it's taking more than its fair share! I know that I should be more hospitable to something with a name like polyxenes (meaning "very foreign"). And I will be. It will soon change into something quite beautiful, quite powerful, quite majestic. It has a built-in, fool-proof capacity for change--and wings to fly.
"My Cocoon tightens--Colors teaze--
I'm feeling for the Air
A dim capacity for Wings
Demeans the Dress I wear--
A power of Butterfly must be--
The Aptitude to fly
Meadows of Majesty implies
And easy Sweeps of Sky--
So I must baffle at the Hint
And cipher at the Sign
And make much blunder, if at last
I take the clue divine--
--a poem by Emily Dickinson, c. 1866--
Sunday, June 21, 2009
"The Brain--is wider than the Sky--
For--put them side by side--
The one the other will contain
With ease--and You--beside..."
The temperature yesterday afternoon soared into the upper 90s (Fahrenheit), but this intrepid family--well, four of us, anyway--decided to visit an unusual park in Pensacola. Dinosaur Adventure Land promises on its website to be an "amazement park," sure to make you use your brain and not just entertain. I'm sure Micah's brain wheels were spinning like crazy as he explored the nearly empty place. Only a handful of people wandered about the place, as hot as the day was. Two-year-old Micah was nearly unstoppable. On the day before Vatertag, two generations of dads and this "Jam-ah" followed him around, urging him to slow down and take frequent water breaks. He calls SAM "Jap-ah," but his Aunt, that naughty Daughter-mine, thinks it's funny to have him call me Shamu, and SAM is aka "Chubba." I hope that as his reason evolves he will reckon Auntie's lesson as foolishness. We have to be careful with what we say around the little guy. I won't tell him anything yet about our family's Vatertag joke. It's a bit crude and has to do with eating beans and making some noise. At this age, he soaks things up and pays little attention to consequences. Sometimes he even goes the wrong way.
For--hold them--Blue to Blue--
The one the other will absorb--
For--Heft them--Pound for Pound--
And they will differ--if they do--
As Syllable from Sound--"
--Emily Dickinson, c. 1862--
--Emily Dickinson, c. 1862--
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Peanut, also known as OPP, the One-Pink-Paw cat, joins me on the sofa sometimes while I watch the early morning news. I just love the cutesy terms media people come up with to dispel fear and anxiety. They do such a good job of fomenting crises, I suppose an equal measure of ratcheting those crises down has to be considered from time to time. People with short fuses seem to be going off with great regularity these days. I've been hearing a lot lately about "The New Normal." According to the wise folks at ABC News, we as good citizens should be investigating what implications that term might have for us personally. What will we do when the recession is over and things return to new-normal? I guess some of us will not have to sell our homes and belongings for pennies on the dollar or send our pets packing. We might even be able to retire with some dignity and see some of the world before we die. I hope so. Some nice travel agents from India have been commenting here lately, and I, for one, would like to help them increase their business. Of course, beautiful places exist right here in these United States, in Florida even, and I never get tired of revisiting them. Sights like Mimosa trees in bloom along the Blackwater Heritage State Trail evoke a simpler time brought to life by Mark Twain's rosy descriptions of small-town life in his novel Pudd'nhead Wilson. Things are not quite what they seem, though, in his idyllic setting, and it pays to remember that Twain paints a pretty-in-pink picture of tranquil living just so he can tease out the tangled mess he finds in human nature. If you look closely enough, it's easy to detect how gullible we humans are when the social structure du jour has its way with us. I really like his style.
"In 1830 it was a snug little collection of modest one- and two-storey frame dwellings whose white-washed exteriors were almost concealed from sight by climbing tangles of rose-vines, honeysuckles, and morning-glories. Each of these pretty homes had a garden in front, fenced with white palings and opulently stocked with hollyhocks, marigolds, touch-me-nots, prince's-feathers, and other old-fashioned flowers; while on the window-sills of the houses stood wooden boxes containing moss-rose plants and terra-cotta pots in which grew a breed of geranium whose spread of intensely red blossoms accented the prevailing pink tint of the rose-clad house-front like an explosion of flame. When there was room on the ledge outside of the pots and boxes for a cat, the cat was there--in sunny weather--stretched at full length, asleep and blissful, with her furry belly to the sun and a paw curved over her nose. Then that house was complete, and its contentment and peace were made manifest to the world by this symbol, whose testimony is infallible. A home without a cat--and a well-fed, well-petted, and properly revered cat--may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?" (from Chapter 1 of Pudd'nhead Wilson)
Monday, June 8, 2009
"But with the word the time will bring on summer,
When briers shall have leaves as well as thorns,
And be as sweet as sharp. We must away;
Our wagon is prepared, and time revives us.
All's well that ends well. Still the fine's the crown;
Whate'er the course, the end is the renown."
--from William Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well, Act 4, Scene 4--
Time in a garden/blog has taught me:
- Patience. I have planted several Clematis vines here in the last five years we have lived in this house. Only one variety, Nelly Moser, (thanks to Prairie Rose, I remember its name now) has survived hurricanes and hot summers. It thwarts even my best efforts to doom its existence by planting it on the southwest corner of a brick house in the northwest corner of Florida.
- Joy. I had some doubts that anything would thrive with my lack of experience gardening in a southern climate. The soil here still needs a lot of help, and the fire ants are a daily nuisance.
- Peace. Commonly accepted mind-numbing methods (take your pick--there are more than ever to choose from these days) are losing their appeal for this gardener. I have found a place where troubled times freeze in place like a photograph or words on a page, never ignored but ready at a moment's notice to be cooly examined and discussed from a variety of perspectives.
- Love. SAM puts up with a lot of manure from me and always has. I come from a long line of strong-willed (bull-headed?) people who don't slip easily into someone else's yoke and pull in the desired direction.
- Kindness. Still in the developing stages.
- Goodness. Same as above.
- Faithfulness. Same as above.
- Gentleness. Same as above.
- Self-control. Same as above. Just read some of my previous posts, and you'll understand what I mean.
After about an hour or so in the kayak, the old backsides get a little sore, so we head for shore and walk about on the empty beach for a while. It's still early in the morning, and we have a long stretch of the beach all to ourselves. I love to be on the water, but using my feet on land helps me to think more clearly. And tipping over doesn't usually concern me when I'm standing on my own two feet. I have lots of things to think about.
Before we reach the shore, we notice the water there seeming to boil with some sort of activity. (I took a couple of videos but wasn't satisfied with the quality so a picture will have to suffice.) The "boiling" lasts for quite a while even after we beach the kayak. Some sort of jackfish (judging by the shape of the tails) are chasing tiny minnows, and the gulls and other shorebirds are feasting on them as well. But the action drifts off farther down the beach, and even disconcerting news that finds its way into my thoughts simmers down eventually. Son's cool acceptance of a 25% pay cut to keep his job makes me wonder at how silly I am to lose my temper over trivial things. And at the end of the day, daughter's life and limbs are spared when her tire explodes. It does not happen on the Interstate, which is part of her drive home from work, but on Highway 90, not far from home. She is in the left lane and manages to bring the car to a stop in a grassy portion of the median. I am home to pick her up, SAM is summoned, and the tire is changed. The day ends well.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Ramblingwoods.com has a Nature Notes meme that challenges us to find something interesting in nature and then post our impressions about it. Here is my contribution for this week from my garden:
from "The Vision of Sir Launfal"
by James Russel Lowell (1819-1891)
"...Earth gets its prize for what Earth gives us;
The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,
We bargain for the graves we lie in;
At the devil's booth are all things sold,
Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
Bubbles we buy with a whole soul's tasking;
'Tis heaven alone that is given away,
'Tis only God may be had for the asking;
No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer..."