an ancient, magnetic language

1.31.19 ~ starling tracks and winter shadows on the balcony

Tracks are an ancient, magnetic language — pulling us in with possibility. The elusive poetry of a print, unlike the muscular certainty of a border line inked in an atlas, reveals details of a life being lived. A tracery of passing impressions, tracks can be as delicate as the brushstroke of a bird’s wings, as bold as a hunting fox. They speak a mutable tongue, transforming from the moment they appear before finally vanishing, to be eventually overlaid by another script. But if you happen upon a set of tracks in their brief and fragile time, they can tell you things you never knew. They can take you places you’ve never been, and lend form to a fleeting world.
~ Julian Hoffman
(The Small Heart of Things: Being at Home in a Beckoning World)

1.31.19 ~ 3°F (-16°C)

I’ve been waiting a long time to take a photograph to pair with this lovely quote. At first I imagined gull tracks in the sand at the beach. One day in North Carolina I found deer tracks in the mud on my way to the community compost pile, and then saw a deer enjoying some newly deposited vegetable scraps. No camera on me, though. But this morning we discovered these tracks on the balcony.

Starling tracks, no doubt. Not my favorite bird, but they spend a lot of time on the balcony, walking around, trying to figure out how to get to the woodpecker feeder. After a few hours of sunshine, the tracks and the thin layer of snow have now vanished.

This may be our winter of no snow. It snowed here in November when we were in North Carolina. It snowed in North Carolina in December when we were here in Connecticut. While we’ve had flurries now and then there has been nothing to shovel!

After nursing our terrible colds for more than a week we’re starting to get back to normal. I finally got a good start on the boxes of family history stuff and hope to keep going all winter and spring. Maybe things have settled down enough and I can actually get through this!!!


1.31.19 ~ wondering why for some step paths the feet are closer together

owl prowl

5.25.17 ~ twilight at Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, Mystic, Connecticut ~ photo by Timothy Rodgers

The pale stars were sliding into their places. The whispering of the leaves was almost hushed. All about them it was still and shadowy and sweet. It was that wonderful moment when, for lack of a visible horizon, the not yet darkened world seems infinitely greater — a moment when anything can happen, anything be believed in.
~ Olivia Howard Dunbar
(The Shell of Sense)

barred owl ~ photo by Mark Musselman, South Carolina

Last night, we took a magical evening walk in the woods, an owl prowl, offered by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. And something wonderful did happen! We saw and heard a family of barred owls, a mother and three fledglings!

Before the walk we listened to a lecture about the owls found in Connecticut, some common, like the barred owl, others rare, like the snowy owl. We met a little rescued screech owl who was blind in one eye. And there was a lab where we got to crack open a sterilized owl pellet and find the bones and teeth of swallowed rodents. A very informative and enchanting evening!

lure of life

"White House at Night" by Vincent van Gogh
“White House at Night” by Vincent van Gogh

Tonight, the moon came out, it was nearly full.
Way down here on earth, I could feel it’s pull.
The weight of gravity or just the lure of life,
Made me want to leave my only home tonight.

I’m just wondering how we know where we belong?
Is it in the arc of the moon, leaving shadows on the lawn?
In the path of fireflies and a single bird at dawn?
Singing in between here and gone?

~ Mary Chapin Carpenter
♫ (Between Here & Gone) ♫

Okefenokee Swamp III

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

To me, Okefenokee Swamp felt like a sacred place in the twilight, with Spanish moss hanging down like stalactites, and cypress knees rising up like stalagmites, like the ones often found in caves.  I grew up playing in Cedar Swamp, another mystical place, in the woods behind our house.  But this southern swamp is very different from, and much larger than, the swamps we have here in New England!

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

The swamp’s water is black, due to vegetation decaying in the water and leaching out tannin which stains the water in much the same way as the tannin in tea color the water in a teacup.  After the swamp exploration our skiff turned out into a marsh, where we could view the sun setting and see what wildlife might come near.

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

To love a swamp, however, is to love what is muted and marginal, what exists in the shadows, what shoulders its way out of mud and scurries along the damp edges of what is most commonly praised. And sometimes its invisibility is a blessing. Swamps and bogs are places of transition and wild growth, breeding grounds, experimental labs where organisms and ideas have the luxury of being out of the spotlight, where the imagination can mutate and mate, send tendrils into and out of the water.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs & Human Imagination)

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
alligator ~ 4.6.12 ~ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

One last batch of pictures from Okefenokee Swamp tomorrow!

photos by Tim Rodgers

O Christmas Tree

12.16.11 ~ Old Mystic, Connecticut
Christmas Trees at *Somewhere in Time* (our favorite restaurant) ~ 12.16.11 ~ Old Mystic, Connecticut

Christmas trees are like the moon, best enjoyed with the naked eye. After failing to capture an image on camera that came close to representing what our tree looks like to me, I realized that Christmas trees posses the same mystery and aura as the moon. Lovely Luna is one huge light-reflecting orb who never shows up on the camera the way she looks to us here on the earth. And evergreens brought in for decorating hold in their arms many small lights and orbs (and birds and garlands), radiating an enchanting glow which also never shows up well on the camera. Sigh………. A gentle reminder to stay in the moment and put down the camera… I can’t help wondering if painters have better luck capturing the magic of it all!

12.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
12.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How lovely are your branches!
Your boughs are green in summer’s clime
And through the snows of wintertime.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
How lovely are your branches!

We had a delightful winter solstice party here, eight of us around the dinner table for hours enjoying the tree, the candlelight, the food and music, the conversation of friends and story-telling.

Christmas day we went up to my father’s home. Every time we see Dad (89), Auntie (96), and Bernie (the cat) they seem to be shrinking in old age still more, if that’s even possible. Dad and I had a few quiet moments sharing a few clementines for a snack. I brought them because I know he loves them. Simple precious moments I will cherish forever. Bernie didn’t want to take a walk with me, so I sat with him at the top of the stairs for a while, petting his thin and bony body, talking to him. Then I went out for a walk in the woods by myself before it got dark.

12.25.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
long midwinter shadows on the moss ~ 12.25.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

12.25.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
somehow we managed to ice-skate in this swamp when we were kids ~ 12.25.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

12.25.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
shortly before sunset ~ 12.25.11 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

If the weather cooperates we’ll go to Massachusetts this weekend for still another gathering, this time with Tim’s aunt, three cousins and all their children and grandchildren. It will no doubt be a lively day. How different holiday celebrations can be from one place to the another!

Hope your holidays were merry and bright!

winter solstice

“Yule Goat” by John Bauer (1882-1918) Swedish Illustrator
“Yule Goat” by John Bauer

Keep me safe and hold me tight 
Let the candle burn all night 
Tomorrow welcome back the light 
It was longest night of the year 

We press our faces to the glass 
And see our little lives go past 
Wave to shadows that we cast 
On the longest night of the year 

Make a vow when Solstice comes 
To find the Light in everyone 
Keep the faith and bang the drum 
On the longest night of the year 

~ Mary Chapin Carpenter
♫ (Longest Night of the Year) ♫

LADY dear, if Fairies may
For a moment lay aside
Cunning tricks and elfish play,
‘Tis at happy Christmas-tide.

We have heard the children say –
Gentle children, whom we love –
Long ago, on Christmas Day,
Came a message from above.

Still, as Christmas-tide comes round,
They remember it again –
Echo still the joyful sound,
‘Peace on earth, good-will to men.’

Yet the hearts must child-like be
Where such heavenly guests abide.
Unto children, in their glee,
All the year is Christmas-tide.

Thus, forgetting tricks and play
For a moment, Lady dear,
We would wish you, if we may,
Merry Christmas, glad New Year.

~ Lewis Carroll
(From a Fairy to a Child, Christmas, 1887)

God Jul!

Winter Solstice: December 22, 2011, 12:30 a.m.

December 21, 2012, 6:12 a.m.

Christmas ~ Midwinter ~ Yule

Movement ~ Rebirth ~ Renewal

Seasonal movies:
Three Wishes for Cinderella
Christmas Story

Merry Christmas!

by moonlight harder still

12.12.08 ~ Groton, Connecticut
biggest, brightest full moon of 2008 ~ 12.12.08 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Should at that moment the full moon
Step forth upon the hill,
And memories hard to bear at noon,
By moonlight harder still,
Form in the shadows of the trees, –
Things that you could not spare
And live, or so you thought, yet these
All gone, and you still there,
A man no longer what he was,
Not yet the thing he planned…
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
(Wine from These Grapes)

summer tales and dreams

"Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" by John Singer Sargent
“Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” by John Singer Sargent

Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.
~ William Shakespeare
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

words as hard as cannon balls

charcoal portrait of Emerson by Eastman Johnson
charcoal portrait of Emerson by Eastman Johnson

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Out upon your guarded lips! Sew them up with packthread, do. Else if you would be a man speak what you think to-day in words as hard as cannon balls, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. Ah, then, exclaim the aged ladies, you shall be sure to be misunderstood! Misunderstood! It is a right fool’s word. Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Self-Reliance)