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Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

Happy Valentine’s Day – to me!

Ah, Valentine’s Day – it is by far my favorite holiday, a day devoted to love! What could be better than that? And even though I am divorced and happily single, I am still able to celebrate this holiday by showering myself with gifts of love. Because is it said, and I have learned this firsthand, that if we cannot first find love for ourselves, how can we truly love another?

So today I made a stop at Trader Joe’s, to buy a couple of Valentine’s gifts from me to me! First, a bottle of wine, something I have not splurged on for quite some time. Then I bought a bunch of tulips, one of my favorite flowers, to bring some color to my home during the grey Portland days we have been having. I was going to buy myself a treat of the very sugary type, a mini carrot cake I had seen there before, but sadly they were all out. No worries, as we say here in Portland, I’ll just eat up the chocolates my dear friend from Minnesota sent.

And the chocolates made me think of my wonderful friends, and friendship, just another flavor of love that is often overlooked on this day we tend to equate with romantic love only. But love is a many splendored thing, to borrow a line, and I am going to make sure today that part of that splendor on this holiday of love is loving who I am.

My pretty tulips

My pretty tulips

 

 

Hunting season, with my car instead of a gun

My newly married daughter is already a widow; a hunting widow that is. Her beloved is deep in the throes of hunting season, leaving her alone on recent weekends to traipse after the ever elusive deer with his trusty bow and arrows in hand. And the beauty of hunting with a bow rather than a gun is the extended season offered to the bow hunters. They can keep trying and trying long after the regular deer season has come and gone. And try and try he did, coming home an unhappy hunter in his first few attempts, with no trophy to show for his efforts. That is until last weekend, when he shot an eight point buck (the number having to do with the size of Bambi’s antlers) and he finally comes back home a happy hunter. But fear not, hunting season does not end just because of a successful hunt. No, my son-in-law is leaving right after Thanksgiving dinner to try for more; afflicted with the hunting fever.

And all this talk about hunting and deer brought back the memory of my first deer; that is, the first (and thankfully only) deer I ever hit with my car. I was so unprepared, as I drove home one night after aerobics class, oblivious to the suburban deer that decided to cross the road right in front of my car. And unlike my happy hunter son-in-law, I did not celebrate my first kill. Instead I felt sick inside – I had taken down one of God’s beautiful creatures, and a baby at that! Oh, the horror! Luckily for me, my big boat of a 1977 Impala just ran right over the poor creature, sustaining not a lick of damage except for the deer hide underneath my car that smelled worse and worse as I drove home. After I got home I called the police to tell them what happened, said a prayer so I would be forgiven, and swore that I would always scan the sides of the nighttime road with my “deer eyes”.

But as the years went by, I found that the best laid plans sometimes falter, and I had a few other run-ins with my car vs. nature. There was the goose I hit as it tried to cross the highway with what I’m assuming was its mate; I just wanted to pull the car over and cry. And to add insult to injury, after I got to work and told a co-worker about what happened with the goose, she proceeded to tell me that geese mate for life. Now all I could think about was the widowed goose, the poor little goslings I left without a mother or father, and how I managed to tear a lovely goose family apart.

Then there was the raccoon I almost managed to avoid. I swerved to avoid him on the two lane road in the way that they always tell you not to, but it was late and there was only me on the road at the time. But this poor guy must have been old and he was a bit overweight, even for raccoon standards, and his last minute decision to try and make it across landed him right into my front bumper. And unlike my old Impala, my newer Honda Civic didn’t do so well, and pieces of plastic went flying down the road along with the now very dead raccoon.

But by far the worst roadkill for me was when I hit a hawk. Yes, I hit a hawk that was sitting on the road in the middle of the night eating roadkill. What the hell was he doing there, eating food that was usually left for the crows to pick up, and what happened to his super sharp reflexes that should have had him flying away at the last second, like the crows always did? Maybe he had eaten some tainted meat and was brain addled, but I’ll never know because I killed him! And this really broke my heart, as I have a strong affinity for the raptors. I love to watch them soar in the sky, riding the unseen currents of air. I would always seemed to spot them when I was out walking or even driving, as if we had some sort of connection. And now, I had destroyed one, never to soar again.

I only hope that all those poor creatures I inadvertently killed with my innocent car can forgive me, as they reside in animal Heaven now, safe and sound from the perils of the roadways. And I am happy to be car-free now, no longer driving a weapon of destruction against nature. My hunting season has now ended.

My son-in-law, the happy hunter

A rhumba of rattlesnakes? The idiosyncratic world of animal & bird group names

Because I love to write, I love words. I love putting words together to form thoughts or a story, but sometimes I love words in and of themselves, just enjoying how they look and sound. Words like cacophony, plethora and gallivant have a quaint look and rhythm all their own, making them fun to say as well as making me appear well spoken when I can actually use them in the proper context. That may be a bit pretentious though, don’t you think? Do I want to be one of those people trying to impress others with my extensive and unique vocabulary? Well, obviously I am not the only one who wishes to be noticed by using interesting words. I recently discovered a list of group names of various animals & birds, and I’d have to say that the biologists or ornithologists or whoever appointed themselves to the task of naming these groups must have been either drunk or trying to impress fellow colleagues as they came up with some rather peculiar pairings.

As I read through the list, I realized how clever some of the names are. I could certainly attest to a prickle of porcupines, a shiver of sharks (and they do make me shiver!), a quiver of cobras (another creature that yes, makes me quiver!), and a tower of giraffes. There are some group names that imply a character trait: an implausibility of gnus, a mischief of mice (and isn’t that one so very true?), a wisdom of wombats (who knew they were wise?), and a pitying of turtle doves. I found that some groups were named on the basis of their actions: a leap of leopards, a lounge of lizards, a romp of otters, a cackle of hyenas, and a crash of rhinoceroses. But the ones I enjoyed the most were the totally off the wall labels that had to have been chosen by those in a mind-altered state, or perhaps on a dare, or maybe just for the hell of it, because they could! : a kettle of vultures, a consortium of octopuses, a charm of hummingbirds, a bloat of hippopotamuses, and my personal favorite, a murder of crows.

I am envious of those who were given permission to label the creatures of the earth and their groups with such creative license.  So the next time you go to the zoo, remember the zeal of zebras, the streak of tigers, and the coalition of cheetahs, and say “thank you” to those who sprinkled a bit of levity into the animal kingdom.

A flamboyance of flamingos

A barrel of monkeys

A flock of seagulls
(also the name of a popular 80’s musical group)

A morning walk

I try to get out and walk every day, which is usually sometime after lunch. In the mornings I have my routine of prayer and meditation, followed by coffee or tea while I journal or read something spiritually uplifting. This little routine I have can sometimes go on for three to four hours, so there goes the morning most days! But I do find it a lovely way to start my day. The other morning though, something in me whispered, “Let’s go for a walk, before the day becomes warm and full of people.” So at 7 a.m. (gasp!) I was up and out of bed, and headed up the steep climb to Washington Park, which is the home of the International Rose Test Garden here in Portland. What a wonderful treat it turned out to be, as I cleared the morning cobwebs from my head and took in the beauty of a place that is so deliciously close to my home, available to me at any time. And the writer in me found inspiration in a few words I journaled about my experience, how it just felt so good – and the words come out in a poem.

It Felt So Good

 

At the top of the hill I stopped

And looked out over the city draped in haze

Sitting on the soft green grass I rested

In a meditative pose

I opened to all the earth’s gentle energies

It felt so good!

Walking through the playground I stopped

To sit on the swing

Slowly moving, to and fro

I gathered my strength and flew above the earth

Gliding through the cool morning air

It felt so good!

Meandering onward I came to the singing fountain

I stopped to sit on the stony edge

And listen to the lovely melodies

Of the water chime as it played on metal

Tantalizing my sense of sound

It felt so good!

I walked along until I spied the splash of colors

Roses in full bloom, roses in the fullness of being

I noticed the brilliant shades and hues

I breathed in the familiar fragrance

I brushed the soft silk of a petal against my skin

It felt so good!

I turned to go home

Along the shaded dirt path

My body swinging with the rhythm of life

My heart open wide like the roses

My soul singing like the fountain

And it felt so good

Some call them pigeons, I call them doves

I feel a kinship with these birds, the ones so many proclaim as “dirty”, my avian friends that seem to love the city life as much as I do. Most people call them pigeons, but I prefer to call them by the more lovely nom de plume of doves. The word dove conjures up images of peace and serenity, and this is what they bring to me as I hear them cooing outside my window and up on the roof. They are much shyer than the crows, with their loud and raucous caws, bold enough to walk across my skylight and look in on me. The lovely doves are hesitant about presenting themselves; gingerly stepping onto the skylight almost as if it were a dare. In the early morning I hear them fly about with harried activity, as their wings whistle while they fly from building to building. Sometimes they land on my windowsill for a brief rest, but they are much too introverted to respond to my attempts at conversation. So I listen carefully to their silent message of peace, and rejoice every morning as I wake to their gentle songs.

Shadows of the doves

Their beating wings spreading peace

Cooing songs of love

The pull of the waves

Summer is here, and with it comes the talk of summer plans; vacations, adventures, travel to places near and far. My budget these days does not allow for a true vacation, only the trip back to Minnesota in September for my daughter’s wedding, which as lovely as that will be does not count as a vacation. So I have set my sights on a day trip to the Oregon coast. It will involve renting a car, since I sold my car seven months ago and have not been behind the wheel since then. But I’m willing to brave the roads and traffic to experience the ocean once more. Being only an hour and a half from the Pacific Ocean still takes my breath away. And the Oregon coast is full of massive waves and wind, with a rocky, seaweed cluttered shore that calls to my heart. I had a vision of my ocean before I even saw her, and wrote a poem about what I saw in my heart from miles away in Minnesota. And when I finally came to meet my ocean, she was even lovelier than I could imagine.

My Ocean

 

My ocean is not a beauty queen

With perfectly coiffed beaches of white sugar sand and a sparkling smile from the sun’s dazzling rays

 

My ocean is not a party girl

Inviting everyone to frolic in her waters and gyrate on her sand

 

My ocean is not a crowd pleaser

Offering up temperate waters to swim in and perfect waves to ride upon

 

 

My ocean dresses plainly

She wears weathered chunks of wood and slimy emerald green seaweed around her neck

Her shore is tangled wet tresses of gray and brown

 

My ocean seldom entertains guests

Her close companions are the rain, who touches her with drops of adoration

And the wind who dances with her in a passionate frenzy, spinning her into a whirling dervish

 

My ocean’s palette of colors is not bright and perky

Her color wheel contains the muted tones of the earth

Pallid shades of oyster gray, of muddy brown, of tarnished silver, of sun deprived green

 

My ocean is not the prettiest girl in the room

 

My ocean is not the most graceful dancer on the dance floor

 

My ocean is a natural beauty

A goddess unadorned

 

Her shores are cluttered with treasures from her toy chest

Her demeanor is solemn and stern

She languishes under a sky of heavy, sated clouds full of moisture

 

My feet sink into the putty of her sands

And I gaze out at her, captivated by the truthful declaration of her waves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hallmark moment in the coffeehouse

There are certain places that inspire me more than others; the local coffeehouse around the corner, the park so close to my home with the massive trees dotted throughout, and a teahouse that is like hanging out in a friend’s house, sitting on well worn sofas and chairs. My muse loves these places and pops in for a visit as I visit these favorite places in my lovely Portland. It happened again as I stared across busy Burnside Street from the coffeehouse window, spying greeting cards in the window of the dollar store. This is how it happens at times, so simple, a gentle nudge – and the words build around one small thought.

Greeting Card to a Writer

          (on the cover)

Don’t despair…

Hang in there!

(inside)

Even though the well is dry

The rain shower of words will fall

Soaking the parched paper

Ink flowing once more

The desert of writer’s block

Transformed into literary lushness


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