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iowa summer sunset

May 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Back in the midwest for my nephew Jake’s graduation, I had a chance to help Jeff and Dad move some of the planting equipment from one farm to another. From my position at the back of the convoy, I could ponder the old dog-sledding saying, “If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes”, which in this case means gravel dust :-).

20140518a convoy

I also got stay overnight at the old farm, and hang out with Mike and Kitty.

20140518b mike and kitty

Taking a walk around the farm, up on the hill behind where the old house used to be, I came across an odd valve handle. I’m sure it’s been there all along, but I don’t have any memory of it. Which is strange, since I don’t know how I would have overlooked it when I was making detailed maps of the farm as a kid! I decided to leave it alone, rather than inadvertently opening (or closing) something important.

20140518c main drain

I also visited Beth and Russ’ place, where Emily and Paul showed me their new kittens. Here’s one of the shy ones – knock knock, who’s there?

20140518d kitten

Whatchoo lookin at?

20140518e kitten

But of course, the main event was Jake’s graduation. Here he is with Jeff, keeping it real after the ceremony. Congratulations!

20140518f grad

Iowa summer
chattering house wrens
discuss the sunset

20140518g sunset

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that’ll do nicely

November 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Tom to me (via Twitter): Could you send some daylight back this way?

Me to Tom (via Twitter): Can’t send that, but will this help? http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2012/11/03

Tom: That’ll do nicely!

Here’s the actual poem, The Fall Almost Nobody Sees, by David Budbill. Click the link to hear it read by Garrison Keillor.

Everybody’s gone away.
They think there’s nothing left to see.
The garish colors’ flashy show is over.
Now those of us who stay
hunker down in sweet silence,
blessed emptiness among

red-orange shadblow
purple-red blueberry
copper-brown beech
gold tamarack, a few
remaining pale yellow
popple leaves,
sedge and fern in shades
from beige to darkening red
to brown to almost black,
and all this in front of, below,
among blue-green spruce and fir
and white pine,

all of it under gray skies,
chill air, all of us waiting
in the somber dank and rain,
waiting here in quiet, chill
November,
waiting for the snow.

poem: pondering

October 18, 2012 Leave a comment

old dog
pondering
the first fallen leaf…

the quiet world

September 24, 2012 Leave a comment

I was playing around with the Poetry Foundation‘s smartphone app, where you can search for poems by subject or mood, or even use a roulette-wheel style randomizer, and I found this lovely poem that seems very relevant to our Twitter-oriented culture. (Even though it predates Twitter by 8 years.)

I agree with Nancy’s observation that this poem reminds her of when she and I were first dating long-distance :-).

The Quiet World by Jeffrey McDaniel (1998)

In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

poem: still gets me home

April 27, 2012 Leave a comment

walking home

by the ugliest way

still gets me home

poem: tiny blue flowers

May 3, 2011 Leave a comment

two-inch deep moss,
a 2000 foot drop, and
tiny blue flowers

Out hiking the other day in the Columbia River Gorge, at one point the steep trail led up an exposed rocky face in a series of switchbacks. Before then, the trail had been going through the forest, but now it was clear just how high above the valley floor we really were, and my acrophobia would hit me in the face at each switchback. Now as it happens, on hikes I’m usually very interested in looking closely at what’s around me anyway, but suddenly it became very important for me to focus on the feel of the deep moss on the shaded side of the rocks, dry and slightly crunchy outside yet slightly damp inside and soft like a thick thick carpet, and on the quite interesting particular shade of intense blue of some tiny flowers on the rocks’ sunny sides.

Eventually we reached the summit and its spectacular views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams, but I think my memory of the feel of the moss and the color of the flowers will outlast that of the distant peaks.

Returning, we took the much longer, much less steep trail down the side of the slope. :-)

 

poem: fat robins

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

twelve fat robins
in a tall leafless aspen;
last snow of winter

Spring has already gotten itself underway around here, with early flowers blooming and songbirds beginning to return, and even a few early blossoms just starting to open on plum and cherry trees. But most of the trees are still bare.

Now today we’re having a rare late February snowfall, which will very likely be the last snow of the winter down here on the valley floor at least. This morning I was out taking the dogs for a walk, with everything coated in white and the sky a mix of steel grays and pale blues, when I saw a group of big fat robins sitting in an aspen tree in the schoolyard. They were like brightly colored blobs of scattered paint, or maybe strange Christmas lights in a pale bare tree, and were the funniest thing I’ve seen in quite a while! :-)