Saturday, June 29, 2019

Finding Beauty

Finding Beauty

" Our kinship with Earth must be maintained; otherwise, we will find ourselves 
trapped in the center of our own paved-over souls with no way out."

                                                       Terry Tempest Williams
                                                               Finding Beauty in a Broken World

I would never disagree.
I understand the world needs another weedy lot covered with satellite dishes,
signs extolling all you can eat lobster and 24-hour hamburgers. I know our cities
are sheltering atolls in the wilderness busily excreting their coral rings of big box 
stores, car lots, and airport hotels to welcome the weary traveller. And I know this 
is both proper and inevitable, who am I to stand in the way of the organic growth 
of the inorganic.

But when you have the asphalt ready for the next mini-mall. let me know so I can 
descend into the excavation past the condoms, cable lines and storm sewer 
pipes. There I will lie down among the grooves left over when the last glacier 
peeled clean the world. And let me take with me the unneeded, the unwanted, 
the dispossessed fox, the back porch skunk, fast food gulls and the crow with 
the broken beak. Cover us with the hot mess and let the world wake us
when you're done.


Friday, June 28, 2019

The slough at dawn.

"There were now and then, though rarely, the hours that brought the welcome shock, pulled down the walls and brought me back again from my wanderings to the living heart of the world."

Hesse, Hermann. Steppenwolf

Fot the last couple of years a group of Franklin Ground Squirrels has occupied the front yard some 12 feet or so from the porch. (They actually share it with Red Squirrels, Least Chipmunks and Snowshoe Hares, the dogs bark alot) They wander the whole property waddling from one bird feeder to another for whatever has spilled. They are renowen for getting habituated to humans and our pretty much ignore us. They also ignore the three yapping dogs in the run, feeding quietly despite the hysteria. This morning as we ate breakfast on the screened porch there was a shrill, piercing, almost mechanical squeal. Helen noticed the nearby Franklin had, after uttering it's alarm call, assumed a straight upright stance as it watched a raven fly by at the edge of the slough. Always something new around here.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

     “I farm a little plot of things to say, with not much frontage on the busy road.”
     —Ted Kooser journal entry, December 7, 1972

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


 "Spring here is at first so wary,   
 And then so spare that even the birds act like strangers,   
 Trying out the strange air with a hesitant chirp or two,   
 And then subsiding. "

from The Late Wisconsin Spring
by John Koethe

Monday, June 24, 2019

Hafford Road Trip Blue-Winged Teal

"And life seems smaller, placed against the background   
Of this story with the empty, moral quality of an expansive   
Gesture made up out of trees and clouds and air."

The Late Wisconsin Spring

Sunday, June 23, 2019

On the same trip, an American avocet.

The dominant feelings are the blue sky, and the year.   
—Memories of other seasons and the billowing wind;   
The light gradually altering from difficult to clear

from The Late Wisconsin Spring
by John Koethe

Saturday, June 22, 2019

One of a number of handsome Northern Shoveler ducks seen on the trip to Hafford.

And if you are near Hafford (even if you have to detour a bit) stop for soup and a sandwich at the A&M Bistro/Bakery, and get Cinnamon Buns to take home.

 "I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."

from The Peace of Wild Things
Wendell Berry

Friday, June 21, 2019

A bird I have never seen before the Great Crested Flycatcher.

"The trees will hear, farther than winter,
over the town a coming of birds. 
What great wild hands will reach for them?
-and for all who are here when those wanders come?"

from Summer Will Rise
by William Stafford

It is always nice to see a new bird. However, getting a very good look and photos of a very impressive bird is a real treat. I initially thought this was a Western Kingbird but a friend, who is a real bird expert pointed out it was a Great Crested Flycatcher, wow. I was able to get some nice shots from the porch when it stopped by to inspect the other birds at the feeder. I am also amazed that there are still birds here we have not seen after spending a number if summers here. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Yellow Lady Slipper (Bucket List item for both of us)

We have always wanted to see Lady Slippers but expected to see them 
in some ferny glen, not next to a gravel lane amid alkali sloughs 
while we were looking for shorebirds. But Helen spotted them there. 
Laying on the ground for the photo did result in me finding a tick later,
but it had not bitten me and now the answer is at hand. 
Please see the last photo.

"I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?"

from At Blackwater Pond
by Mary Oliver

Having hauled me to the Shellbrook Medical Clinic
for infected tick bites two years running, Helen got me
 an anti-tick outfit, because she is a wonderful person. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Moose and Calf

"in the natural world there are no kings.
I will also leave office and return, an old farmhand, plowing the fields."

from Seeing Off Prefect Ji Mu as He Leaves Office and Goes East of the River
by Wang Wei

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Rose Breasted Grosbeck

"Your spirit comes through green maple woods,
slips home past darkening border fortresses.
You are caught in the law's net,
so how can your spirit have wings?"

from Dreaming of Li Bai
by  Du Fu

"There is a heaven and earth beyond the crowded town below."

from Questioning in the Mountans
by Li Bai

Friday, June 14, 2019

Road Trip #1 Ducks in a row

We are really enjoying all the beautiful ducks this year. 
Lots of Canvasbacks, Scaups and Redheads, among others.

"The secret wish of poetry is to stop time." Charles Simic

Thursday, June 13, 2019

I got a new squirrel proof feeder for Father's Day (the chipmunk likes it as well)

"There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees,

A quiet house, some green and modest acres
A little way from every troubling town,
A little way from factories, schools, laments."

from A Dream of Trees
by Mary Oliver

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Photos of beavers taken from the porch while talking to my brother on the phone - Nature's Little Wonders

Last night I stepped out on the porch while talking to my brother on the phone and noticed this tranquil domestic scene directly below me at the edge of the slough. Four beavers have dug their version of the Erie Canel just below the cabin to better access the tress on this side.

Another group from the back slough has begun working the way up the lane from the other end. One thing I wonder about is that they ignore smaller trees that are a few years old and seem perfect for transport. Instead, they spend several nights taking down on a massive tree that then gets hung up on the surrounding and does not fall to the ground, creating an ongoing hazard for everyone. I guess they know their business, but maybe they could use an MBA to help them reorganize their processes. That would at least ensure that no more trees would get taken down, and they could learn all about the joys of focus groups and powerpoint presentations.

The deprivations of the Back Slough Gang from last year are recorded here.

"We haul'd some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal and hay
We know every inch of the way
From Albany to Bufallo
Low bridge, ev'rybody down
Low bridge, we're coming to a town
You'll always know your neighbour
And you'll always know your pal
If ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal"

from Low Bridge
by Thomas Allen

Monday, June 10, 2019

Trip to Shellbrook for drinking water pump ( & breakfast) deer, hawk, blackbird amid blue sky day. Hawk and Blackbird.

"Snow melts into the earth and a gentle breeze 
Loosens the damp gum wrappers, the stale leaves 
Left over from autumn, and the dead brown grass. 
The sky shakes itself out. And the invisible birds 
Winter put away somewhere return, the air relaxes,"

Taking the gravel shortcut back to the cabin we stopped to look at ducks. Instead, my attention was attracted by the drama above the slough. Most of the hawks we see on our trips are Red-Tailed Hawks, and this spring they are often being harassed by smaller birds, in this, case a maile Red-Winged Blackbird. I am always impressed that birds can shed so many feathers, as this hawk has and remain airworthy. 

"Moments go when summer comes and turns this all into a garden? 
Spring here is too subdued: the air is clear with anticipation, 
But its real strength lies in the quiet tension of isolation 
And living patiently, without atonement or regret, 
In the eternity of the plain moments, the nest of care 
—Until suddenly, all alone, the mind is lifted upward into 
Light and air and the nothingness of the sky, 
Held there in that vacant, circumstantial blue until, 
In the vehemence of a landscape where all the colors disappear, 
The quiet absolution of the spirit quickens into fact, 
And then, into death."

both quotes from The Late Wisconsin Spring
by John Koethe

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Trip to Shellbrook for drinking water pump ( & breakfast) deer, hawk, blackbird amid blue sky day. Deer Crossing Hwy.

Faithful Readers will see my title as a clumsy homage to the Billy Collins poem of my previous post.

This young deer took its time in crossing the highways but the vehicles in both lanes had time to stop.  It did look a bit seedy, possibly it is still shedding, it has been cool the last few nights.

"But that beneath my life lies something intricate and real and 
Nearly close enough to touch. I live it, and I know I should explain it, 
Only I know I can't—it's just an image of my life that came to me one day, 
And which remained long after the delight it brought had ended." 

from Early Morning in Milwaukee
by John Koethe

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Purple Finch Feeding

"It seems these poets have nothing
up their ample sleeves
they turn over so many cards so early,
telling us before the first line
whether it is wet or dry,
night or day, the season the man is standing in,
even how much he has had to drink.

Maybe it is autumn and he is looking at a sparrow.
Maybe it is snowing on a town with a beautiful name."

from Reading An Anthology Of Chinese Poems Of The Sung Dynasty,
I Pause To Admire The Length And Clarity Of Their Titles

by Billy Collins