Today I Thought

..about Dad, young and married, on the homestead (640 acres, Idaho) trying to convert desert into farmland. An insurance salesman walked out to meet him in the field. Dad declined. The next day a grease fire destroyed the kitchen. Weeks later, too tired and dismayed to tackle the restoration he loaded the family up and went on a mini-vacation (fishing). When he returned a few days later he found his Father and Father in Law had finished the job. A gift. A relief.

Poems read at Claire’s Funeral

Sometimes I Am Startled Out of Myself

like this morning, when the wild geese came squawking,
flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek
across the sky made me think about my life, the places
of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief
has strung me out to dry. And then the geese come calling,
the leader falling back when tired, another taking her place.
Hope is borne on wings. Look at the trees. They turn to gold
for a brief while, then lose it all each November.
Through the cold months, they stand, take the worst
weather has to offer. And still, they put out shy green leaves
come April, come May. The geese glide over the cornfields,
land on the pond with its sedges and reeds.
You do not have to be wise. Even a goose knows how to find
shelter, where the corn still lies in the stubble and dried stalks.
All we do is pass through here, the best way we can.
They stitch up the sky, and it is whole again.

(Barbara Crooker)


It is possible, I suppose, that sometime
   we will learn everything
there is to learn: what the world is, for example,
   and what it means.  I think this as I am crossing
from one field to another, in summer, and the
   mockingbird is mocking me, as one who either
knows enough already or knows enough to be
   perfectly content not knowing. Song being born
of quest he knows this: he must turn silent
   were he suddenly assaulted with answers. Instead

oh hear his wild, caustic, tender warbling ceaselessly
   unanswered. At my feet the white-petaled daisies display
the small suns of their center-piece, their--if you don't
   mind my saying so--their hearts. Of course
I could be wrong, perhaps their hearts are pale and
   narrow and hidden in the roots. What do I know. 
But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given,
   to see what is plain; what the sun
lights up willingly; for example--I think this
   as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch--
the suitability of the field for the daisies, and the
   daisies for the field. 

                       (Mary Oliver)

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go

(Mary Oliver)

List of species seen on Yellowstone trip

May 3-5, 2013

If you click on the species listed below it will not take you to any photos of mine, but rather to an eNature, Wikipedia, or Cornell Lab or Ornithology page for the species.

Black-billed Magpie
Bald Eagle
Common Raven
Trumpeter Swan
Yellow-headed Blackbird
American Coot
Ring-necked Duck
Ruddy Duck
Red-winged Blackbird
Osprey (catching and flying with fish)
Common Merganser
American Bison
Canada Goose (small and large race)
Dark-eyed Junco
Uinta Ground Squirrel
Sandhill Cranes
Mountain Bluebird
Bighorn Sheep (my first time seeing one in the wild)
American Robin
Mule Deer
Clark’s Nutcracker
Barrows Goldeneye
Grizzly Bear
Red Squirrel
Yellow-bellied Marmot
Steller’s Jay
Red-tailed Hawk
Great Blue Heron


I wish the breeze could blow away the truth.
That reality could again be
cattle, snowdrift, and wildflowers.

From a clear blue sky news strikes
the mountain slope and burns.

My early descent startles fawns
who were sure they had more time to play.