Sunday, December 22, 2013

Still, as Christmas-tide comes round,
They remember it again—
Echo still the joyful sound
"Peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
from "Christmas Greetings from a Fairy to a Child"

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)
from "Christmas and New Year Bells"

Friday, December 20, 2013


Whence comes this rush of wings afar,
Following straight the noël start?
Birds from the woods in wondrous flight,
Bethlehem seek this Holy Night.

Sixteenth Century Carol 
from Bas-Quercy Region of France

Thursday, December 19, 2013


For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space:
By that rose we may well see
There be one God in Persons Three.

Anonymous (1400s)
from "Rosa Mystica"

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Over Joseph's house the star stood still,
The Three Holy Kings entered in;
The oxen lowed, the little Child cried
And the Kings began to sing.

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)
from "Three Holy Kings from the Orient"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Angels above the shepherds high
Sing His bounteous praise.
Wise Men, guided by a start,
Pursue their eager way.

St. Romanos (c. 540) 
from "Him Who Dwells Beyond the Worlds"

Monday, December 16, 2013


The sky is black, the earth is white.
O bells, ring out in resonance!
Jesus is born! Towards Him the Virgin
Turns her Blessed countenance.

Théophile Gautier (1811-1872)

Sunday, December 15, 2013


All was soon to shepherds known.
In wonderment they came running
To Bethlehem and found there
To their joy the Infant fair.

Heinrich von Loufenberg (1390-1460)
from "A Child Lay in a Little Crib"

Saturday, December 14, 2013


It snowed all night last night, continued snowing this morning, is sorta snowing right now, and is supposed to keep on snowing until sometime this evening. All part of that vast storm that stretched from west of the Mississippi to the East Coast and had the weather-broadcasting fraternity practically beside themselves in on-the-air Chicken Little glee.

Okay, some folks probably did get seriously snowed on. We didn't. Maybe an inch or two at most has so far been added to our total—so call it six inches on the ground. And what we got was wet, fluffy stuff that temporarily stuck to limbs and twigs and the sides of trees, like a thick layer of whipped cream. However, much of the frothy topping you see in these photos—which I made from the cottage's deck when I first stepped out this morning—has flattened, melted, dropped, been blown or knocked off, and otherwise disappeared; there's now less build-up. And I expect we've seen the worst of things.

Still, it was pretty while it lasted, and I wanted to share a few shots.



Vainly we offer each ample oblation;
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure:
Richer by far is the heart's adoration;
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Reginald Heber (1783-1826)
from "Brightest and Best"

Friday, December 13, 2013


With joy approach, O Christian wight!
Do homage to thy king;
and highly praise this humble pomp
Which he from heaven doth bring.

Robert Southwell (1561-1595)
from "New Prince, New Pomp"

Thursday, December 12, 2013


O sing unto this glittering, glorious king,
O praise His name let every living thing;
Let lute, let shawm, with sound of sweet delight,
The joy of Christé's birth this day recite.

Francis Kinwelmersh (1538-c.1580)
from "For Christmas Day"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


For God was bound to human grief; 
In humans boundless joy had grown,
Which to one and to the other
Before this time was never known.

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)
from "On the Nativity" 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Come we shepherds whose blest sightHath met Love's noon in Nature's night;Come, lift we up our loftier song,And wake the sun that lies too long.
Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)from "A Hymn of the Nativity"

Monday, December 9, 2013


The earth was still, but knew not why;
The world was listening unawares.
How calm a moment may precede
One that shall thrill the world forever!

Alfred Domett (1811-1887)
from "The First Roman Christmas"

Sunday, December 8, 2013


In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone…

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Saturday, December 7, 2013


The Shepherds sang; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for thee?
The Pasture is thy word; the streams, thy grace
Enriching all the place.

George Herbert (1593-1633)

Friday, December 6, 2013


But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of light
His reign of peace upon the earth began.

John Milton (1606-1674)
from "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity"

Thursday, December 5, 2013


He brought light out of darkness,
not out of a lesser light;
He can bring thy summer out of winter,
though thou have no spring.

John Donne (1572-1631)
"Sermon for Christmas Day, 1624"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Wise men all ways of knowledge past,
To the shepherds' wonder come at last:
To know can only wonder breed,
And not to know is wonder's seed.

Sidney Godolphin (1610-1643)
"Lord when the Wise Men Came from Far"

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


O, like a tiny cradle,
Could thy heart become,
God would on earth again,
Be born an infant son.

Angelus Silesius (1624-1677)

Monday, December 2, 2013


Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span,
Summer in winter, day in night,
Heaven in Earth, and God in Man…

Richard Crashaw (1612-1649)
from "In the Holy Nativity of Our Lord God"  

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Nature's decorations glisten
Far above their usual trim;
Birds of box and laurels listen,
As so near the cherubs hymn.

—Christopher Smart (1722-1771) 
The Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Monday, November 25, 2013


Thanksgiving looms. I'm getting ready to head out for a three-store groceries and incidentals run to Meijer's, Sam's, and Tractor Supply. Several hours of traffic, parking lots, and retail insanity to insure everyone who shares our holiday meal on Thursday—people, pooches, and those feathered feeder guests dropping by outdoors—will feel warmly welcomed and be abundantly fed.

I love doing this, providing and preparing these annual feasts. Depending on who has to go where for a particular holiday on a given year within the interconnected family circles, we may have a dozen, or only the two of us at the table—though others might make the rounds and drop by later on. No matter. In my experience, two—the right two, anyway—can celebrate and feast as well as twenty, if perhaps less noisily. 

Regardless of how many or how few are expected, I don't par down the menu, only the quantity of food—and often not all that much. The way I view a twenty pound turkey is not as ridiculously excessive for two…merely as having the potential to afford a bonus of delicious leftovers for meals ahead. Therefore, all the venerated dishes, the laden table's familiar tasty touchstones, are fixed and served, brought out to play their parts. I side with Irving's old Squire of Bracebridge Hall when it comes to the keeping of traditions.

Finally, in case you're wondering, the photo above was made this morning, not long after sunup. The temperature was 18˚F. As you can see, except for a bit of green honeysuckle, the riverside is looking decidedly wintry, though there's little ice yet on even the slowest-moving pools. 

Friday, November 22, 2013


Yes, indeed, that's a forsythia, in bloom, in my yard, today. Honest! Southwestern-Ohio, a week before Thanksgiving! An entire head-high bush bedecked in bright yellow flowers. And looking about as out of place as a nudist at a Baptist pie-social. 

In case you're wondering, when I snapped this mid-afternoon portrait, the temperature under a dim, dirty-wool November sky, was a chilly 41˚F, though the wind and dampness made it feel more like the low-30˚s.

I have no idea what prompted such an unseasonable action. Temperatures lately have been up and down, but no more than during most such late-autumn periods. We've had nights in the upper-20˚s, too, several frosts, and one light snow that lingered a day or so on the ground. Our woodstove has been going, day and night—when I remembered to feed in another log—for the most part of several weeks. 

Moreover, my forsythias are decidedly not of a jump-the-gun disposition. They are always laggards, the last around to bloom. Each spring, when other area forsythias are heralding the season with their jaunty golden boughs, mine are huddled beside the driveway like clumps of dead sticks. Embarrassing. Sometimes to the point that, in a fit of pique, I stomp out and threaten them: If you continue acting this way, I swear I'll prune you so low you'll look like a ground cover!  

Of course my commination has absolutely no effect. They might bloom the next day…or the next week, but not until the spirit moves them. Which it has obviously done recently.

So what's next? Lilacs for Christmas?          

Saturday, November 16, 2013


In the myth-world of the Ojibway, Michabo was the Great Spirit, grandson of the Moon and son of the West Wind—a beneficent culture hero, inventor and creator, bringer of day and light. Come November, before taking his long winter's sleep, it was said Michabo filled his pipe for a final smoke, puffing out those clouds which rise to fill the autumn air with the haze we recognize as one of the characteristics of the period we call Indian Summer.

Next week's weather is supposed to be in the 60s˚F. Whether this qualifies as true Indian Summer, a second Indian Summer, or just a late-autumn warm spell is a debate I'll leave for another time. But whatever the final call on that question, when Moon-the-Dog and I stepped outside for a final short amble before turning to our beds late yesterday evening, there was no doubt of a warming trend already underway, or a night sky filled with misty haze and scudding clouds.

An all-but-full moon hung high in the dark sky above the sycamores; the fabled Beaver Moon of the Algonquin tribes. A reddish-tinged moon, glowing bright, surrounded by a swirling gauze of clouds which caught and diffused the light, refracting its pale colors into irregular surrounding bands of blue and gold and orange.

A lovely November moon of wonder and mystery…as timeless as land and season and ancient stories told round a warming fire, when winds soughed softly in the pines and Orion's Great Bear began making his was down from the dark night sky to wash his paws in the cold waters of Gitche Gumee's inland sea. 

The Moon of Michabo.

[ The image above is the best of several attempts to capture last night's marvelous moon on digital. Alas, my photo is not all that great, though it's the best of the lot. I had to resort to a high ISO 3200. The shot also fails to show the intensity and full halo effect of the colors. I just hope it gives you some idea of what I saw. ]             

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


We were treated to our first snow last night. Not merely a skift, either, but what folks I grew up among would call a tracking snow. Meaning enough snow down that a hunter could follow the tell-tale tracks of his intended prey, be it bunny or buck. A real boon when you're hunting to put food on the table.

However, a tracking snow can also be employed by those who simply want to follow the marks and learn more about the nighttime peregrinations of a gray fox on the prowl, or clear up the mystery of who's been recently using a particular den hole or hollow tree. Tracking snows are like pages to be read and deciphered—both map and text, waiting to expose hidden lives and reveal uncountable insights and secrets.

This inaugural snowfall won't last long. Not with this morning's bright sun, plus the fact there's still more than five weeks to go before autumn runs its course. Last night's white dressing was just a prelude, an intimation of things to come…delightful or depressing, depending on your feelings regarding winter.

I'm of the first camp. I like winter—all the icy, snowy, blowy, chilly, wind-howling, sleet-pinging-off-the-windowpanes whiteness. No, I'm not a masochist. Just a fellow with a boreal streak in his DNA. And right now, I couldn't be happier!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I didn't sleep well or much last night. As a result, I've felt tired all day, lacking in energy and desire, useless, though there were certainly chores aplenty that needed doing. The best I managed was to run a few necessary errands late this afternoon. 

I got home intending to put on some music, have a bite to eat, kick back by the fire, and read awhile before turning in early. The day had been pretty enough, if a bit on the chilly side. Sunny, a bright blue sky with puffy white clouds. Now twilight was fast claiming the land. Soon my riverbank world would be in deep shadow—and not long after that, full dark.

Then I looked up and saw the waxing half moon all tangled up in the high top of the big sycamore tree at the end of the drive. That could make a picture, I thought—an idea which meant I'd have to go inside, dig out my camera, return and make the shot. 

Thirty feet each way, and, oh, maybe thirty seconds of very slight effort. Hummm… 

At which point I remembered my iPhone's camera. A device which resided in my shirt pocket. Sometimes the lazy road is a road worth taking. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I've just edited and sent off a column which I wrote this morning—a piece on November. I know I'm in the minority here, but I love November, counting it among my favorite months. And no, I don't expect my column will sway many hearts. 

Between the writing and the sending I made a brief trip, driving a few miles to the village where Myladylove works. She's shorthanded on employees today and couldn't get out for lunch, so I took her a sandwich and soft drink which I purchased along the way. After that I stopped at the grocery for a few things before returning home.

The photo above was taken just up the road—snapped between wiper swipes through the truck's windshield via my iPhone. As you can see, it's raining here—a damp, dim day, but at 60˚F, quite mild for the season. Some color remains; a fair bit of green, too, though a lot of that is, alas, honeysuckle. Moreover, what you see is about as good as it ever got this year—golds and yellows and rusty-browns, a few oranges, and even fewer reds. Not as spectacular as usual, but still pretty. 

My yard is awash in sycamore leaves, some the size of dinner plates. A few are still clinging to the trees. I'll probably wait to start raking.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Halloween, October 31, "hallowed" or "holy evening." More properly, All Hallows Eve, the day before All Hallows Day on November 1, and All Saints Day on November 2. Thus today is the first of a trio of Christian holy days which were once recognized collectively as Hallowmas or Hallowtide, three successive days of feast and celebration—holy days of obligation—and the time in the liturgical year dedicated to honoring the dead…recognized saints (hallows), martyrs, and departed believers.

Of course our modern Halloween bears little resemblance to this ancient observance, having during its many-centuries-long metamorphosis picked up traditions and influences from various sources—particularly those found throughout Scotland and Ireland—especially encompassing aspects of the old Celtic harvest festivals and the Gaelic Samhain. Over the last half-century the media—Hollywood, the movies and T.V.—have so reinvented and transformed Halloween that there's scarcely a single original recognizable aspect remaining.

Ahh-h, well…

Trick or treat. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Yesterday evening I made a quick run to the grocery section of the big-box retailer across the river. My mission was a sack of White Lily flour for the extraordinarily toothsome—if admittedly somewhat peculiar sounding—apple-pie-in-a-bag Myladylove was busy preparing. Flour and some French vanilla ice cream to go with the pie. 

After after a day spent working in the yard, we'd decided this wonderful pie, à la mode, would constitute our supper. Not merely dessert; the meal in its entirety. I figured, in order to make sure of covering my nutritional needs, I'd better count on partaking of seconds…possibly thirds.

Oh, I also needed to pick up a brown paper bag. Can't bake an apple-pie-in-a-bag if you always carry your groceries home in plastic.     

I will admit it is indeed handy, when such moods strike and you realize you're missing several critical ingredients, to have such a modern emporium nearby. Everything from dog treats to motor oil to a wedge of sharp cheddar available for the effort of a brief drive. Downstream, across the bridge, back upstream along the main thoroughfare which parallels the stream—though at a blessedly fair distance from the water. Perhaps a mile-and-a-half by road, or a third that from here as the crow flies.  

A short trip which takes you from our practically rural setting to garish, congested suburbia. Yet two worlds which remain unreservedly separated by a dense, hundred-yard band of old riparian woods along each bank. Plus, on the far side, a wide park beyond the trees, additionally bordered by a tangled weedfield, and finally an intervening hill that cuts off any sight or sound of highway traffic, businesses and their parking lots.

I do sometimes feel like Pa, on Little House on the Prairie, taking the buckboard and making the monthly, day-long journey to town for supplies. Except for me, it's three minutes each way.  

The sun was long down, light fast giving way to darkness. A waxing Hunter's Moon, nearing three-quarters full and bright as new silver, had rolled high above the trees. To the west, a painted sky was done up in autumnal oranges, reds, pinks, and yellows, decorated with hints of purple and blue. An undulating vee of geese, so far off they looked like a wavering cross-stitch on luminescent silk, appeared to be heading for the river beyond the hill.

When I reached the store's concrete façade, I was surprised by the sudden feel of it's radiated heat. Like walking close to an oven. Which reminded of the delectable pie soon to come and thus the necessity to hustle at my errand. 

In case the notion of baking your own apple-pie-in-a-bag strikes you as eminently worthwhile—and I assure you, your time will be well spent—here's Myladylove's recipe: 

6 or 7 medium apples, peeled and sliced (We used Winesap, but Granny Smith or your favorite baking variety works just as well.)
2 Tbs. flour
1/2 c. cane sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

Mix flour, sugar, and cinnamon, then toss together with the readied apples. Place in 9-inch unbaked pie shell. (A little heaping is fine.)    

1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. cane sugar
1/2 c. flour

Spread over apples on top, coating evenly. This becomes the pie's top shell. Using a baking sheet in case of over-bubbles, insert pie into brown paper bag. (Myladylove always places the bag on its side—horizontal instead of sitting upright.) Fold bag top closed and secure with paper clips or staples. Put on rack in the center of pre-heated 400˚ oven, taking care the paper bag doesn't come in contact with the oven's interior surface. Bake for 1 hour. Remove, cut away bag. Allow to cool to the level of your lip-pain tolerance…add whipped cream, ice cream, or nothing whatsoever should you prefer yours straight. Enjoy. Repeat as necessary.

And before you worry and ask…

No, the bag won't catch on fire.

No, baking in a brown paper bag doesn't give the pie a "funny" taste.

No, I haven't a clue who might have come up with such an odd baking method in the first place—or why—but it works, and scrumptiously well.                                         

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Morning sun lights up a dew drop on the tip of a bamboo leaf.

Thick clouds of mist hung over the water early this morning when I took Moon-the-Dog out. Now the sun has dissipated those rather mysterious swirling blankets of river fog—and much of the dew, which sparkled like bits of diamonds on everything from leaves to grass, has also all but vanished.

I was glad to see that sometime during night the river peaked. I'm always surprised how quickly this reversal can occur. Yet that's the usual drill…slow to rise, fast to recover. Now the water is almost back down to normal pool. And while not clear, murky rather than muddy. 

For the past few days I've been working on sorting through various boxes of cards, manuscripts, photos, notes, business cards, brochures, ticket stubs, clippings, magazines, booklets. The paper detritus of several decades of work. At last half the stuff can be tossed into the trash without a second glance. But a lot of things deserve saving—or at least a final, closer look before discarding. And this winnowing is not without a rather hefty emotional toll. 

After five or six hours of it yesterday, I had to quit—overpowered by memories. Letters from family and friends no longer around. A mirror in accumulated bits and pieces reflecting both good and bad of a great portion of my life. Reminders of times and places and people forever gone, decisions wrongly made, roads not taken—and overall, of time's relentless passage. 

You can only take so much of this depressing déjà vu in a given dose; at least that's my case. A box, maybe two, per day…that's my limit. And there are a lot of boxes.             

Monday, October 7, 2013


Yesterday's rain ended during the night. The river is muddy and still rising, albeit slowly, and thankfully doesn't appear headed to crest much higher than halfway up the bank. Not in the least worrisome. Moreover, it's been sunny all day…and while cooler, still a weather change more in keeping with the season.

As is the norm hereabouts when it comes to the donning of the annual autumnal colors, scads of maples up the road are proudly showing their fancy hues. Oranges, reds, yellows, golds.

Meanwhile, streamside views remain mostly green. A few yellowish hackberry leaves. A treetop patch of brown sycamore leaves exquisitely backlit by the westering sun. And most eye-catching of all, the scarlet flames of Virginia creeper spiraling up the trunk of the massive sycamore which leans over the pool across from the cottage. 

Which makes me wonder—are the trees and shrubs, vines and bushes of this floodplain corridor woods just being slow or are they turning stubborn? Do they feel, deep in their photosynthesizing hearts a reluctance to let go, an opposition to giving into the pull of change? Are they so accustomed to resisting the flow of the river, they can't help but resist the flow of the season? 

Well, I understand, not being a fan of change myself. But maybe it's not so much about resisting the change—merely about bucking the schedule. 

Change? Sure…when I get ready to change. But not a minute sooner! 

As a contrary Irishman, with a bullheaded streak a mile wide—just ask anyone!—I understand that, too. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013


As I write this, at the moment exactly 4:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of October, the rain is pouring down. It has been raining off and on all day—in fact, most of the night—though not nearly so hard. Thunder is rumbling off in the distance. Between the rain and dense cloud cover, the world beyond is only dimly lit. Looking outside, you'd think it was at least a couple hours later.

This is our first heavy rain in some months. The river is up and rising…though where it will mark its highpoint depends on how much rain is coming down throughout the upper reaches of the watershed. A fact that remains out of our awareness and control, though not out of our mind. But a condition of the riverside life that doubtless strikes many as foolish, reckless, naïve, or some such similar negative adjective, depending on their philosophical view of a life lived where Big Government isn't expected—or desired—to be in control of every aspect of life—including the freedom to get washed away, should it come to that.

Not that I expect such a fate this time around. Already, the rain has ceased. Here. Of course it may still be pouring upstream…or dry as bone. 

I have a big pot of just-made vegetable soup cooling on the stove. I used ham, onions, garlic, celery, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and three kinds of beans—green, cannellini, black. Plus a fat parsnip for a touch more sweetness. I also did some croutons—deli-baked multigrain bread, cubed, spritzed with olive oil, salted and seasoned, toasted, then afterwards, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Homemade soup and slices of the just-picked apples—tart, crispy, juicy—I bought at the farm market yesterday will make us a fine supper.

Yes, I know this post is mostly about nothing, while the photo doesn't seem to fit. But I made the shot just down the road from the cottage this past Wednesday, using my iPhone, on the way to the viewing for the husband of one of Myladylove's favorite co-workers—killed when hit by a truck as he crossed the road to check the mailbox.

The funeral home was packed. More than a thousand friends and family members filing through, paying their respects. And like us, everyone seemed in a state of shock from the unexpected suddenness. The couple had just bought their dream retirement place—a little farm in a nearby county. He'd recently taken early retirement. Their future appeared golden. It all seemed so unfair.

Alas, the only good I know that can come from such a heartbreaking and depressing tragedy is an unambiguous reminder that life is a precious gift, one we should never take for granted, but must always strive to live as best we can—in grace and courage, joy and love—every single moment.

So today I've made soup—because both Myladylove and I needed a bit of uplifting…not so much from the dreariness of the day's weather, but from the dreariness and sorrow of the week's circumstances.  

Monday, September 30, 2013


The weatherman promised an overcast morning with sun this afternoon. It has taken all day for that forecast to come true, but ten minutes ago, just for a moment or two, the sun briefly appeared.

No matter. In spite of the persistent cloud cover, through some rare trickery of light and season I don't pretend to understand, this has been a day filled with magical golden illumination. Not overpoweringly yellow-gold…just a tinge, a delicate over-wash that seemed to suffuse the very air itself. 

Still, I noticed it this morning the moment I stepped out with the dog for her early amble. Lovely, though I thought it due to the sunrise invisible somewhere to the east beyond the clouds. Yet the colored light was still golden-tinged come midmorning, remained unabated at noon, and continued adding it honeyed luster to my riverbank world later in the afternoon when I made a snap of a sulphur butterfly investigating the few remaining zinnias along the walkway. 

I can offer no logical explanation, except it doesn't seem directly related to season—at least not as a reflected effect of changing leaf color, most of which are still unchanged and decidedly green. However, it sure feels and appears autumnal…an October investiture, maybe; a sort of luminous compliment in pure, pale gold.

For me—and most surely today—a much appreciated gift of wonder and delight. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013


The other night, a few minutes after 3:00 a.m., I woke up, shoulder and lower back aching, and decided to adjourn the bed for a session in the living room recliner. Unfortunately, between creeping time, the arthritis that runs through my paternal family line like a blood curse, and several decades of self-inflicted though mostly accidental abuse, getting what now amounts to a good night's sleep regularly entails such moves.

I have gotten pretty adapt at managing to shuffle at fair speed, without a light, from the bedroom, through the kitchen, to the living room in the post-midnight darkness—without whacking my hip on the cookstove, taking out a kneecap on the media table, or tripping over the dog. It helps that Moon-the-Dog is predominately white; I've learned to avoid the furniture through painful trial and error.

I can make it from bed to chair, grab a blanket and pillow from the couch, and be comfortably kicked back and returning to sleep in maybe 90 seconds…except when there's a demented cricket or katydid sharing the room and frantically repeating its monotone rhapsody at a volume capable of shattering tooth enamel! 

This happens more often than you might think. At least twice in the past ten days…er, nights.

After a few minutes of such torturous screeching I'm usually thinking of retrieving the thirty-aught-six and firing off a few rounds in the critter's direction—until it occurs that unleashing 180 grains of high-powered lead to possibly go pinging around inside a stone cottage, probably isn't an appropriate response. Certainly not the safest, anyway. Not to mention the fact that, if a ricochet didn't get me, Myladylove—apoplectically startled from her enviable deep sleep—just might.  

Hey, don't get me wrong. I enjoy a good insect fiddler as much as the next guy. Like my fellow Boomers, I grew up singing along with Jiminy Cricket on When You Wish Upon A Star. But Disney's debonaire fellow knew where and when to sing! 

The common meadow katydid I shared the room with the other night didn't know to shut up. A sweep of the flashlight, and later a hurled cushion, provided only a temporary fix. In the end I buried my head under the blanket, tried to ignore the barely muffled intrusion, and somehow, eventually, managed to get back to sleep—admittedly taking a sort of perverse glee knowing a few more weeks of chilly nights will put the quietus on such disruptions. 

His engagement is blessedly limited.

Then, I'll have only Moon's snoring, those noisy stars twinkling beyond the clerestory windows, and my own aches and thoughts to keep me awake.     

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Autumn's here. Are the hummers gone?

I made the two photos in this post, of a ruby-throat hummingbird checking out a canna lily near my workroom window, a couple of days ago. Yet even as I captured the moment, I couldn't help but wonder whether they won't turn out to be the last shots I'll make this year of summer's delightful little hummers? 

Perhaps not, though last night's low dipped into the mid-40˚s, and it's now coming up on noon and the temperature is still only 58˚F. Not exactly hummingbird weather. Most, I suspect, have already deserted these parts, heading southward toward Central America where they'll spend the winter. 

I'll certainly miss their zippy antics, whirring wings, and living jewel flashes of iridescent emerald. But procrastination in commencing this long migration can prove fatal. Everything has its season—and for the tiny hummer, that time hereabouts has probably drawn to a close. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013


The first splash of sunlight on the riverbank across and just downstream from the cottage. 

We've had clouds and a bit of light rain this morning. Yesterday afternoon and last night, the rain was much heavier and included thunderstorms. Now, though, it looks like the sun is coming out. 

Sycamores & woodbine.
Walkway looking east.
We needed the rain. Plus the fact is, I like these cooler temperatures, none of this is offered as a complaint.

A couple of mornings ago I took a few photos around the cottage. The early light was warm and soft, no doubt diffused by humidity—a harbinger of those above-mentioned storms. 

Dew on bamboo.
Since it's been awhile, I thought you might like to see a few recent stream and yard views. 

View from cottage, looking upstream.