worlds of difference

5.14.24 ~ Via Calimala, Florence, Italy
photo by Tim

Now we need a new definition of the self: I am not what I know but what I am willing to learn. Mystery waits in the mirror. Curiosity and learning begin before breakfast. Growing, we move through worlds of difference, the cycles and circles of a life, fulfilled by overlapping with the lives of others.
~ Mary Catherine Bateson
(Full Circles, Overlapping Lives: Culture & Generation in Transition)

to the small things hardly noticeable

3.7.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

Another lovely midday stroll through the botanical garden, noticing many small things. This has definitely become our go-to place, visited as often as we used to visit our little city beach back in Connecticut. We find ourselves checking out some regular spots, like the little patch of sandhills pyxie-moss, which is filling in nicely.

sandhills pyxie-moss with pine cone left after a prescribed burn
bloodroot
limestone bittercress aka purple cress

If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
(Letters to a Young Poet)

golden ragwort
little sweet Betsy (a trillium)
patch of little sweet Betsy
bottlebrush buckeye

It is always safe to dream of spring. For it is sure to come; and if it be not just as we have pictured it, it will be infinitely sweeter.
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery
(The Story Girl)

Red-shouldered Hawk, #86

We heard a hawk calling and Tim finally spotted it. These were the best pictures I managed to get of it before it flew away. Turns out it was another life bird for me, even though I’ve seen them in captivity before I’m counting this one because it was in the wild.

Whether wheeling over a swamp forest or whistling plaintively from a riverine park, a Red-shouldered Hawk is typically a sign of tall woods and water. It’s one of our most distinctively marked common hawks, with barred reddish-peachy underparts and a strongly banded tail. In flight, translucent crescents near the wingtips help to identify the species at a distance. These forest hawks hunt prey ranging from mice to frogs and snakes.
~ All About Birds website

‘lemon drop’ swamp azalea buds
(looking about the same as they did five weeks ago)
oakleaf hydrangea
tufted titmouse

After being delighted to finally get a photo of a titmouse closer to the earth and to my camera, another life bird suddenly came into the picture! What a sweet surprise and wonderful way to end this lovely spring walk.

White-breasted Nuthatch, #87

A common feeder bird with clean black, gray, and white markings, White-breasted Nuthatches are active, agile little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds. They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside. White-breasted Nuthatches may be small but their voices are loud, and often their insistent nasal yammering will lead you right to them.
~ All About Birds website

a good poem should smell of tea

“Tea on the Porch” by Willard Metcalf

I have three poems,
he said.
Who counts poems?
Emily tossed hers
in a trunk, I
doubt if she counted them,
she simply opened another tea bag
and wrote a new one.
That was right. A good poem
should smell of tea.
Or of raw earth and freshly cut wood.

~ Olav H. Hauge
(The Dream We Carry: Selected & Last Poems of Olav H. Hauge)

It’s 96°F (34°C) out there with a feels like temperature of 102°F (39°C). The weather folks tell us 85°F (29°C) is the average high for this week of September in this part of North Carolina. Sigh… So. Stuck. Inside. (Very grateful for air conditioning!) We’re unpacked and pretty settled now and more than ready to explore the world outside these walls. If only this oppressive heat and humidity would go away.

To help pass the time I’ve started binge watching an off-beat streaming series, Dickinson.

The show takes an unusual approach to depicting its protagonist’s coming-of-age in the 1800s: Characters speak in Millennial parlance, the soundtrack is populated with today’s hits, and more often than not scenes resemble fever dreams where what’s figurative in Emily’s poems gets depicted literally.
~ Shirley Li
(The Atlantic, December 24, 2021)

At first I thought I might not like it but it drew me in. The costumes and scenery are all 1800s but the language and music is modern. (Except for the words of the poems themselves.) It kind of reminds me of the times we saw Shakespeare-in-the-Park plays performed, twisted in the opposite way, with modern costumes and settings but with the original language intact.

It’s pretty exciting seeing her poems come to life visually.

I’ve also been reading a book of Olav H. Hauge’s poems. (I’ve posted a few of his poems here over the years.) When he mentioned Emily Dickinson in his poem at the top of this post it warmed my heart to know that a Norwegian poet appreciated her poetry, too.

I’m looking forward to the day when it will be cool enough for us to have tea on the porch in our new home!

nameless fathoms

Katie’s dragonfly

Contained in this short Life
Are magical extents
The soul returning soft at night
To steal securer thence
As Children strictest kept
Turn soonest to the sea
Whose nameless Fathoms slink away
Beside infinity

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1175)

Paradoxically, life is long and brief at the same time. The more we know, the more questions we have. At some point we come to accept that there will always be limits to what we know and that no matter how long we get to live so much will remain beyond our grasp. After many years of searching for something I couldn’t name, I am at peace with not knowing. Magic is everywhere, as all children know, and science keeps almost-finding explanations for it.

This week our granddaughter is going to a Woodland Fairies & Elves day camp and we get to pick her up every afternoon and hear all about it. Recently this delightful little eight-year old, formerly known as Kat, changed her nickname to Katie, the one I began calling her when she was born. (Longtime readers of this blog will remember this.) But, when she was about 2 years old, we noticed her parents were calling her Katherine so we followed suit. A couple of years ago Katherine started calling herself Kat and now she has chosen to go with Katie.

Katie showing us the location of a future fairy amusement park right next to her fairy house, featuring a fairy landing pad near the front of the stump

At camp the children got to choose a moniker, too, so when we go to pick her up, “Snail” is called on a walkie-talkie to come to the pavilion to collect her belongings and then Katie/Snail shows us around the fairy village the kids are creating. Katie was very excited about an exoskeleton she had found and incorporated into her fairy house design. In my clumsy attempt to get a picture of it I accidently knocked over one of the little structures! But my granddaughter was very gracious and reassured me that no harm was done as she carefully reassembled it. Phew!

heading for the garden gate to look inside for fairy cucumbers

One day we got a tour of the garden where Katie picked a fairy cucumber for us. It took her a while to find one because most of them had already been harvested. That day a counselor had brought in homemade fairy pickles for the campers to enjoy.

tiny fairy cucumber
aka cucamelon (thanks to Katie for the identification)

We’ve been so busy that keeping up with blogging has proven almost impossible. I am happy to report that we now have North Carolina drivers licenses and the car is registered with a NC plate. There are still things left to take care of on the “to-do” list but I am hoping by the time the hot weather relents we will have settled enough to get outside for our nature walks once again. Even the small amount of time we spend outside picking Katie up is very taxing for Tim. One day the “feels like” temperature was 98°F. Tomorrow the forecasters are calling for the hottest day of the year so far…

our four dozen anniversary

May 10, 1975 ~ Tim & Barbara
Ashford, Connecticut

Today we’ve been married for 48 years, or as Tim is saying, it is our four dozen anniversary. 🎕 It was a small, down-to-earth and unpretentious wedding, outside, of course, in the garden of a justice of the peace.

Beverly & Barbara

My sister was my maid-of-honor, shown here at the small reception my parents hosted in their back yard. As I’ve mentioned before, my little sister grew up to be taller than me. For a couple of years we were the same height and were often mistaken for twins.

I found it!

While sorting through all our stuff last month I came across my mini wedding album. I hadn’t seen it for years and was happy to discover that it hadn’t been lost as I had assumed.

Tim often introduces me as his first wife, which still makes me smile. His sense of humor is one of the many things I still love about him, after all these dozens of years. 💕

the dust has settled

“Mama Kangaroo & Her Joey” by Kat, age 8

The appearance of my New Year’s post surprised me because I had put it together a long time ago, when the inspiration had hit, and then scheduled it and forgot all about it. But it’s been fun catching up with all my blogging friends as life gets back to normal.

I am happily and thoroughly exhausted from the intensely exciting visit from Larisa, Dima, Kat and Finn over the holidays. Kat brought me this beautiful painting! They all pitched in and painted our staircase walls. Dima cooked some fabulous meals, incorporating my special dietary needs — he enjoys the challenge. Larisa took me out to buy yarn for a shawl she started knitting for me. (I get so cold while sitting these days!) Finn kept balsa wood and paper airplanes flying through the air. Kat and I had an fascinating conversation while we were peeling carrots together. We baked cookies for Santa, worked on puzzles, drew lots of pictures, and fed peanuts to the squirrels and blue jays on the balcony. We went to the beach to feed clams from the grocery store to the gulls but could only watch for a few minutes due to the bitter cold.

So much joyful chaos! It’s a bit too quiet around here now but I’ve got plenty of wonderful memories to cherish until we see them all again! Now I can turn my attention to explaining my project and the other projects it has led to.

outdoor sculpture exhibition

9.3.22 ~ Avery Point
“Chameleon” by Helena Chastel

Saturday morning we visited Open Air 2022, an outdoor sculpture exhibit hosted by the Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art on the beautiful UConn Avery Point campus from July 14-September 29. This idea started in 2020 because of the pandemic, when the gallery had to remain closed. It was so popular with the public that they plan to continue with a new installation every summer.

“Noon” by Myles Nurse
“Piles” by Jack Henry

Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its own focus.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Experience)

“Stand Up” by Margaret Roleke
herring gull with feathers ruffled in the breeze
“Silent Vanishing” by CoyWolf Collective
(Elizabeth Knowles, Steven Phillip Harris, Debra Vilen)

Silent Vanishing was my favorite sculpture, depicting melting icebergs and the snowy owls who breed in the treeless arctic tundra. Where will they go if/when the environment changes too fast for them to adapt?

one of many cairns on top of the seawall
northern mockingbird

I stopped by my beach rosebushes to see if the song sparrow was still there but a mockingbird came out to greet me instead. He posed for quite a while and I took many pictures of him.

beach rose hips
lonely little beach rose
“Movement Study: Wave” by Margaret Parsons
purple coneflowers and stone wall
“Bubbles” by Brian Walters
“And Only Its Hands Are Left Pleading for Life”
by Thomas Pilnik

For an interesting explanation of Pilnik’s crumbling sculpture (above) and a picture of what it looked like when he first created it in July follow this link: Thomas Pilnik

And now we’re getting some much needed rain!

an everyday sort of magic

“Blue Calyx” by Sulamith Wülfing

I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.
~ Charles de Lint
(Grief One Day at a Time: 365 Meditations to Help You Heal After Loss)