Wednesday, August 27, 2014

mother of pearl

As we headed back over the crushed shell and pebbles towards the parking lot, my grandson dashed to catch up, a shell in his outstretched hand.
"Look," he called. "Holy Mother of Pearl."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Our pumpkin plant produced three pumpkins which I think was amazingly diplomatic of it.
We had grandchildren in mind when we pressed little roots into the soft soil of early summer.
I hadn't been sure our growing season was long enough to grow pumpkins from seed and so I got a little starter plant. I thought a bit of a head start might not be a bad idea so I brought home a flimsy black pot with a healthy, hefty little toddler pumpkin plant.
It loved the spot it was planted in.
It loved the extra sunshine we've had baking down all summer.
It took off like a shot and never looked back.
It wound up and over the hydrangea, and through the corn and around the spirea. It grew and waxed great and green.
Soon there were giant peachy-orange flowers that smelled thickly of squash and pumpkin sweet.
Before long, three pumpkins 'set' and began to swell.
They were as amazing as time lapse photography to watch.
They seemed to inhale water and plumped up ever so nicely.
At first, there was just a hint of orange, but each day the brightness crept down over the pumpkins and soon they could be seen from afar, glowing orbs amongst the leaves.
Now in late August, the plant has clearly passed its Best Before Date. The leaves have yellowed and dropped away.
The pumpkins sit in the slanting afternoon sunshine and glow.
Neon orange.
They look ripe.
They look ready.
It's just that the Season of Pumpkin hasn't arrived yet.
They shouldn't really take center stage for a couple months yet.
Guess we didn't need the head start.
Pumpkin pie anyone?

anything else

"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else."
Emily Dickinson

dead or alive

I've wandered past my blog a few times and averted my gaze. Not writing for several days causes a mild case of mental arthritis to set in. A stiffness. A wary, cautious feeling.
It seems funny to me that my last post, days ago, was about the discovery of a rat..........a rat, and I was never heard from again.
Well, no, not really.
I'm still here.
But so is the rat.

As my grandchildren headed out the door, homeward bound, my grandson suddenly knelt down.
"There's a mouse," he exclaimed.
I stepped out into the sunshine and peered into the light.
My eyes focused.
Two beady eyes locked with mine.
"It's not a mouse," I said, ominously.
A small black rat paused just long enough to stare me down before dashing headlong into the log retaining wall several times.
Not a smart rat.
Young and frightened and....
Can a rat be cute?
This one was.
It ran in circles like a wind up toy.
For some, the wind up toy of nightmares, but I'm not afraid of that sort of thing.
Still, after consulting the government webpage on rodents, we formed a plan. It involved some skulking about the yard and perimeter of the house. it involved a garbage bag and a hose and a broom.
We will do what must be done.
It is as though we have posted signs all around the yard.
Rats Not Wanted, Dead or Alive.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

rat a tat tat

A movement at the bird feeder caught our eye.
A silhouette against the evening sky.
Our eye traced the shape and compared it to the file in our brain marked, Silhouettes Of Things That Should Be In A Bird Feeder and there was the sound of screeching brakes and screams of terror.
Well maybe not really.
But my husband and I both leapt to our feet in unison with the same word on our lip.
Ten years ago, we moved to this house, here in the heart of town.
We brought our boxes and our bric a brac and even a few plants from the garden.
And we brought our bird feeding ways.
We were horrified when rats promptly arrived with napkins tucked under the stubble on their chins.
We reluctantly gave up our feeders.
The years rolled by and we settled for life without.....
Without the constant flutter of birds at the window elbowing each other out of the way for prime sunflower seeds.
Rosy house finch, sparrow, pine siskin.
We've had robins of course, they've kept the worm population terrorized.
And we've had jays. They sweep through like an unruly gang from time to time, stirring up unrest.
And of course we've had crows.
We've really missed the little birds though.
The little bright, busy, bossy birds.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast doesn't it?
A rat free decade lulled us onto the slippery slope of self deception.
My husband built a marvelous bird feeder.
He installed it on the deck railing so that we could have front row seats.
If you build it, they will come.
They did.
But I guess the word got out.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

eager hands

We've had rain at last.
The forests have inhaled and are cool and damply green.
The paths, thickly carpeted and spongy.
My daughter suggested Campbell Valley Park.
We wandered past moss slung trees and towering fern.
Acorns, wild huckleberry, mushroom.
A flash of squirrel and bird call on the wind.
The branches rustling with chickadees.
We filled cupped hands with almond slices and raisins and held them aloft.
Like offerings.
Bright eyes watched.
A whirr of wings.
Tiny feet clutched finger tips as the chickadees came, one after another.
Chestnut-Backed, Black-Capped, Mountain.
I can still see my daughter, my grandson and granddaughter standing in the dappled light, hands aloft, faces rapt.
And chickadees dropping from the branches onto eager hands.

on the sand

Tiny pink shells like butterfly wings on the sand,
barnacle encrusted oyster,
indigo and mauve mussel,
thick cupped, heavy ridged, speckled and freckled,
and here and there, shells the color of polished horse hoof,
shades of varnished brown.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

adventurous times

A world of wonders is beneath your feet.
An entire civilization lies hidden.
When you walk a sandy stretch of beach they are all around you.
Sometimes you can hear them.
A hissing sound as you walk over the hard, wet, gray sand.
Sometimes a stream of water shoots up and marks a spot, like an x on a treasure map.
Dig here.
All you need to do is look down.
Down at your feet and as far as eye can see.
Under every hole in the sand are clams, clams, clams; Manila, Littleneck, Butter, Razor, and the giant Geoduck.
It's fun to dig for clams.
To pounce on a waterspout, and scoop up the sand until your fingers close upon the prize.
Geoducks are the most fun of all though.
Their siphons are often just at the surface.
Clam lips.
It can be a foot or more to where the giant clam lies smugly safe.
But mollusks are nobodies fool.
They feel the sand being thrust aside and retreat in a rush of water.
Sand is heavy and filled with broken fragments of shell.
Digging by hand can be perilous.
It's a sport of fools apparently.
Spurred on as I was by a reckless desire to show my grandchildren a giant clam, I plunged my hands into an ever deepening hole in the sand.
I could tell right away that the cut was deep.
By the time I pulled my hand to the surface, up through the slurry of sand, blood was everywhere.
I held my hand aloft and stared in amazement as red flowed down my finger and hand and began to drip onto the sand.
Good grief.
I was a bio-hazard.
You never have a hankie when you need one.
Have you noticed that?
I didn't have anything I could wrap around the cut, so I pressed on it with my thumb as we hastened towards shore.
It was low tide and we were at the waterline.
Of course.
A clean bottle of water was sacrificed and a kleenex pressed into service.
Then back to the beach we went.
The children and I disrupted the eco-system by feeding pretzels to the seagulls.
We gamboled and rambled and roamed and roiled.
Then raced for the truck and the parking meter.
We arrived breathless with two minutes to spare.
Adventurous times.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

into summer

There it was, its wings white against the dark wet sand.
A small butterfly.
Somehow it had fallen and now had wings heavy with water.
I bent and placed my finger against feet waving in the air.
They instantly grasped hold and the little butterfly was soon upright on my hand, opening and closing gossamer wings in the afternoon sunshine.
I do think time stands still.
Just for a moment I think it did.
I can still see those wings so delicately patterned.
Feel the grip of tiny feet.
The breeze always blows at the beach and my granddaughter's hair was being styled by the wind.
I transferred the little feet gripping my finger to my blouse to free my hands so I could corral her hair into an elastic.
When I was finished, I remembered the little butterfly but it had caught a friendly current and sailed away into summer.


We've been taking a run at summer, my grandchildren and I.
Who will drop first?

"What should we do today?" I asked my grandchildren. "The pool? The beach? The park?
"I'd like to have a fiesta," my granddaughter stated, as quick as a wink.
"She means, siesta, Grandma," her brother explained.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


It seems like only yesterday that they were babies and now they have flown the coop.
They have.
Our family of robins has taken the leap.
When my grandson knelt on the deck, his forehead pressed to the boards, his eyes peering into the shadows below, he confirmed what we had suspected.
A whole lifetime in robin years had flashed by.

Here is the timeline:
Amazingly beautiful eggs appear.
Mother incubates them endlessly.
This takes two weeks.
Amazingly homely babies hatch.
Mother feeds them endlessly.
This takes two weeks.
Amazingly grown up looking young leap from the nest.
Mother coaches them endlessly.
This takes two weeks.
Worm population drops dramatically in yard.
Ta da.
Full grown robins.

mixed blessing

I like sunshine.
And I like summer.
I like splashing about in water and hearing the drone of distant lawnmowers.
I like summer gardens, vegetables magically doubling in size over night.
I like wearing skirts and fluttery calico blouses.
I like it all.
All except the heat.
All except the blazing, scorching, parching, wilting heat.
A glass of something cold might save my life.
A cup, dripping with condensed refreshment.
A walk in the dappled light, down over the pebbled shore into the icy water of a creek.
Or maybe watermelon crisply cold, or blueberries.
There are plenty of chances to feel the joy of relief.

Just give me the sound of wind chimes, floating in an open window on the wings of eventide.
A scarlet sunset over silver water.
Sun drunk bees in the roses.
Summer is a mixed blessing.

poor elvis

I flicked on the radio, my eyes on the traffic light.
Elvis was in full cry.
He sang about being caught in a trap and at first, I felt kind of sorry for him. By the third chorus my sympathies had dried up like a hot August afternoon.
Suspicious Minds has a nice be-boppy rhythm that is surprising happy sounding considering the lyrics. I did consider the lyrics though, and decided that blazing heat and heavy traffic were enough all by themselves to give me a bluesy feeling without Elvis.
The miles flashed by.
The air-conditioner did what it could and I soon stumbled up the stairs of home.
A fan, a cold drink and supper fresh and summery were there.
And company blithe and bonnie.
Poor Elvis.