A family of wrens is nesting inside our garage on top of some exposed insulation. We are learning to share space, but sometimes there are little surprises – like last week when the surprise of an open door became an adventure.
An open door, an invitation. But this is not home, This is not where she belongs. My cupped hands scoop her warm body, feel the flutter, like holding a miracle. Together we make our way back to the open door. Hands unfold, a moment’s pause that says so much, then home.
Mary Lee has today’s roundup here. Visit to learn about the poet Marilyn Chin and read some great poetry.
Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for supporting this community of writers.
In the winter, I pad my way into my office, often before the sun comes up, and start my day with a poem, a reflection, a bit of writing. But now, as summer sneaks up on spring, the sun almost always beats me to rise. I still wake early, but now I share my first cup of coffee with my backyard friends.
This morning the fog was rising as I filled the feeders. I settled down, warmed my hands with the steaming mug, and waited. First to arrive was a grackle. I admired his iridescent feathers and yellow-ringed eye, but his large body seemed out of place on the feeder. I must admit I was glad when he left, and the bluebirds took his place. Their babies have fledged, but they are still backyard residents and may be starting a new brood. Next to arrive was a woodpecker, followed by a few finches, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal, and a jay. The tree swallows don’t visit the feeders, but they said good morning from the roof of their nesting house, content to stay guarding their eggs.
This season there is a large contingent of wrens in residence. Right now they are occupying two of the houses, and one couple has built a nest on top of the exposed insulation inside the garage. We are learning to share space.
In a time when each day blends into the next, I’m glad for this change in routine, conversing with friends of the feathered variety.
Today I’m participating in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday. Be sure to check it out here.
Title: Down Under the Pier
Author: Nell Cross Beckerman
Illustrator: Rachell Sumpter
Publisher: Cameron Kids, 2020
Audience: Ages 4-8
Themes: Marine life, curiosity
Opening lines: Up on the pier, we ride the giant Ferris wheel, we scream on the roller coaster, we gobble clouds of cotton candy. Wood planks creak as we walk in the sun.
Synopsis: (from Nell Cross Beckerman’s website) There’s lots of fun to be had up on the pier—the Ferris wheel, cotton candy, the carousel—but it’s down under the pier, at low tide, where the real magic can be found. Children are invited to experience the fantastical realm of the natural world, from mussels and barnacles to kelp and seashells, all hiding mere steps away from the lights and games of the pier.
Why I Like This Book: The lyrical text of this book is the perfect vehicle for bringing to life the magical world of marine life under the pier. Nell Cross Beckerman captures the natural curiosity of children in words (We look and wonder…Is it alive? Will it bite? Will it pinch?...) while the rich tones of the illustrations make their actions and discoveries irresistible. The back matter offers just the right amount of information to satisfy a curious mind while offering suggestions for engaging with the intertidal community. Children as well as adults will enjoy taking this journey of exploration under the pier many times. The author also offers an important lesson in environmentalism for future generations by generously donating part of the proceeds from the book to Heal the Bay Aquarium in Santa Monica.
If you know me, you might know that I am a big fan of Mary Oliver. One of my favorite poems of hers is “Freshen the Flowers, She Said” that appears in Why I Wake Early. That poem inspired the following which I am also using for #PoemsofPresence on Twitter.
While Making the Muffins
I slice through the waxy lemon rind, releasing a burst of pungent perfume. Squeezing goodness into the dough, a drop of sweet-tart nectar falls on my finger – a taste of summer.
The picture said it all. Instead of standing guard as she had for almost 200 years, the massive yellow cucumber magnolia lay stretched across the lawn near the Peirce Dupont House in Longwood Gardens. Tearful arborists gathered to say goodbye, embraced her, remembered.
I first learned about this magnificent state champion tree a few years ago as a volunteer for Founders’ Day activities. I marveled at her strength and beauty, and after learning about her history, always made it a point to say hello when walking by on a visit to the Gardens. I learned just last week that she fell during a windstorm that swept through the region. Imagine wind gusts strong enough to bring down an 86-foot tall tree! Imagine the secrets she shared and the stories she whispered through the wind!
This story reminded of another beloved champion tree, Herbie, I first read about in 2012. Herbie was a mighty elm who stood for 200 years in Yarmouth, Maine, that finally succumbed to disease and had to be taken down. Nature provides many lessons in perseverance, strength, loyalty, and love if we are open to learning them.
Longwood’s magnolia may be gone, but she lives on. From the Longwood Gardens blog:
Happily, in recent years we have propagated this beloved tree and planted resulting trees throughout the Gardens—meaning these new trees will honor their fallen ancestor in the form of new growth and a strong future.
Opening lines: On a breeze, through the trees, a wind current carried him out to the sea. WHOOSH! Now he was farther than he meant to be.
Synopsis: (from the book jacket) One evening at dusk a wind current carries a lone firefly out over the sea. Glancing down into the water, the insect is mesmerized by the glowing bioluminescence, mistaking it for other fireflies. Seeking company, the firefly plunges into the waves. Luckily, there are human bystanders who can lend a hand. Back matter includes science facts about fireflies and bioluminescence, as well as information about Carson’s life.
Why I Like This Book: I have long been an admirer of environmentalist, Rachel Carson, who encouraged the nurturing of wonder and curiosity in children. I am also curious about fireflies. So, this book, based on an event Rachel Carson witnessed with her niece, was a definite “wow” for me. Told in lyrical verse and beautifully illustrated, it is a delight for the eyes, ears, and soul. The back matter is an added layer that extends the wonder.
Resources: Shana Keller offer wonderful resources including links to information about Rachel Carson, fireflies, bioluminescence, and lesson plans on her website www.shanakeller.com.
Several years ago Allan and I purchased a grandfather clock. We had talked about having one in our home for years, but then came the rhythms of growing into a marriage that put the clock into that “someday” category.
Now it proudly stands at the foot of the stairs, welcoming us each morning, wishing us sweet dreams each night. It ticks the seconds, chimes the quarter hours, and bongs the hour. It is a constant in our world, a comfort in a time when many things aren’t.
One of my goals for poetry month was to experiment with some new poetry forms. So on this last Tuesday in April, I’m offering up an Etheree, a ten line non-rhyming form with ascending syllable count, inspired by the clock.
Time goes on signaled by the soft chiming, echoed by the beats of my life-pumping heart and the rhythms of my life – a comfort during sleepless nights, a guardian of all who dwell here, a constant at the start and end of day.