Mary’s Prayer

The words of the mantra suddenly materialized in my mind and spilled out of my mouth as I drove home, exhausted from the days chores. Simultaneously a sharp pain lodged itself in my lower back. Astonished by hearing myself repeat the familiar words as the pain  intensified it took a moment for me to connect the two. I was experiencing family anguish and it was coming through my words and through my body. Although I am not a catholic I repeated Mary’s prayer opening my heart to the person that needed deep comfort. I could sense a door opening…a threshold being crossed.

I had already dreamed that my aunt had died the night she did. “The Queen is Dead”, the dream said. My aunt Terry, a very simple, religious, and loving woman lived her life surrounded by a light that was palpable. Calling her Queen was appropriate. I sent Billy, my cousin, six pure white roses attaching the words “Roses in the Snow” to the card after the phrase appeared out of thin air while I was sitting on the porch at twilight. 


 When I first fell in love with Mary it was in a grotto. Although I knew she was a statue she seemed like a living Presence in that lovely walled garden so fragrant with roses. My five year old self was still whole …

Mary was my first goddess.

In my house religion had no place, so I kept Mary and the secret garden to myself although Mary drew me back many times to be with her. A few kind nuns (I called them mums) told me stories about how Mary was the Mother of God – but god had no meaning. Mary, on the other hand became a kind of Muse. Is that where I learned the words “Hail Mary full of Grace, blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb…”? The Jesus part didn’t become part of the prayer for me until much later, and that’s another story.

When I was older ‘Hail Mary’ comforted me even after I learned more about Mary – that she wasn’t divine but bore a god – god remained scary but Mary grew into one of the Mothers of all Living Beings and so she remains today.


The phone was ringing as I entered the house. Billy was calling… I listened to heartbreak and a sea of tears that needed shedding, how his mother loved him as a child, held him in her arms comforting him… On and on. My aunt Terry was one of those remarkable women who seemed almost unearthly in temperament. I don’t mean that she wasn’t grounded. But there was that shining light around her that drew me to her as a child. I loved her, though I rarely saw my aunt because of family strife. Her life revolved around being a good mother to her sons and a good wife to my uncle. After my uncle Alex’s untimely death, my cousin Billy cared for his mother until dementia finally took her from him…Even then he continued to visit her regularly still caring for her in every possible way that mattered. Now, many  years after losing her in mind, he was finally losing her for the second time in body. She died September 8th. No wonder he was inconsolable (it doesn’t escape me that my father Billy’s uncle went through the very same thing with his mother – family patterns do repeat).

Billy and I are kindred souls, although apparently having very different religious perspectives. He is Catholic and I am an animist who finds the divine in Nature. What’s interesting about this difference is that Billy can’t reach across the chasm to experience my perspective as legitimate, yet mine encompasses his with ease. It took me awhile to understand that part of the reason for this split is that Billy does not live in his body – his religion tells him that his spiritual self is all that matters and he is presently struggling with the question around having a soul that survives death while being subsumed in mother grief.

Our bodies embody our emotions/feelings, senses, and intuition and without access to these parts of ourselves we live in a kind of intellectual desert that doesn’t allow other ways of knowing to seep in.

And this brings me back to what happened to me in the car. Something important was coming through both my mind and body; someone I loved needed my help. Thankfully, I have finally learned how to live in my body and to trust my senses to lead me, so I question nothing.  Most of the time. When mind and body come together with a message like the one I received I don’t have to understand the particulars. All I have to do is follow directions, and I did. By the time Billy and I got off the phone my backache was gone.

I will not be attending my aunt’s funeral today because I live too far away and have no place to leave my dogs. But as I told my cousin I will be with him. What I plan to do at 1:30PM is to be in a forest I love offering “Hail Mary” to my aunt and praying for Billy’s comfort as he navigates the difficult decent into grieving instead of running away from it, (something we have discussed at length and he understands and can feel the importance of doing), thankfully. I believe the forces of Nature will see to it that my heartfelt prayers and intentions will reach their destination…

“Hail Mary full of Grace, blessed are thou amongst women…”

Blessed is my Aunt Terry.

The Mother Goddess is always listening.

Rite of Passage


seeds and pods


flower dust

shears away

summer madness

heat and humidity

 a holy rite


 sky stories

 cosmic patterns

golden light

 falling leaves.

Walking over

solid ground

 sturdy roots

 rise up beneath

my feet.

Each September just before the equinox I have my beautiful wildflower field shorn of her faded flowers, seeds and milkweed pods, opening a circle on bare ground… I invite the North -Eastern night sky to enter my body, and my awareness with intention. Even before nightfall I can sense The Great Bear  who circumnavigates the sky always staying above the horizon as she has since the beginning of humankind’s birth. She offers the discerning body-mind a glimpse into the Great Mystery of deep time…. 

 I sit in my chair –sometimes at sunset to watch the mountain catch fire, or later as night closes in… Stargazing as dusk falls earlier and earlier is an autumn ritual that I embrace that lasts until the first snow falls… For me this is a time to give thanks, and if my life patterns allow, a time to experience inner peace.

A Mossy Reflection

I spend a lot of time in forests that have not been logged for many years, and as a result, are recovering from being cut. Of course logging used to be selective, the logging machine had not yet become the norm so only some trees were taken and many stumps were left. These forests, and in particular old pine stumps support a fantastic amount of plant life. 

 Hidden behind old trees off one of my favorite trails there is a tree stump that is covered in pincushion moss (Leucobryum glaucum). I have not seen anything quite like this collection of moss that is piggy backing on itself and obviously thriving on its rich moist decaying substrate. I visit this tree stump every time I am in the area! 

Most folks are not aware that moss was the first living green being to leave the sea. At some point around five hundred million years to three hundred and fifty   million years ago an enterprising moss first attached its rhizoids (mosses don’t have roots) to bare rock and began the slow process of breaking down the surface to create soil for the plants and trees that would eventually populate the earth. 

What amazes me is that the structure of mosses remains almost the same as it was in the beginning giving me a window into deep time…Mosses reproduce sexually and in the fall (usually) you can see sporophyte capsules waving from the tops of mosses waiting for a breeze to free the seeds that will colonize just about anywhere including in between the cracks of city sidewalks! These amazing beings can also reproduce by cloning or branching – when a small piece is broken away from a cluster.

Mosses love lots of water so the best time to see them in all their glory is just after a rain when different species radiate emerald to lime to deep umber – we don’t have the words to describe the shades. All are photosynthesizing and will continue that process until a draught strikes. Then it’s as if they go to sleep. Crisp and desiccated they may look dead but are simply waiting for the next round of moisture to swell each cell.

There are somewhere around fifteen to twenty thousand species of mosses in the world today. Mosses not only retain water but act as filters. They are an important food source for beneficial organisms; they help with soil erosion and can clean the earth of toxins. Mosses are also one of the best air purifiers around, removing a massive amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. Combined, bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) unite with lichens and algae to take up about 14 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. This is a truly staggering figure when rising amounts of carbon dioxide comprise such a threat to all life on this planet.

 One caveat: most mosses will not tolerate heavy foot or machine traffic, so if you want to see a variety of different kinds visit the nearest wood or stream.

 And yet with that much said mosses grow where other plants cannot; they can survive on cliffs, rocks, steep hills, and tree trunks. Mosses colonize the barren rocks and exposed areas of hills, and make them suitable for growing larger vascular plants by depositing humus soil and plant debris. Even in winter under the snow, protected, they continue to photosynthesize.

Mosses also contribute to the environment by absorbing water from rainfall and runoff, then slowly releasing it to the ground or atmosphere. This reduces stream erosion and fluctuating water levels. Mosses inhabit every continent in the world.

Providing habitat on which many species ultimately depend, mosses underpin entire ecosystems providing shelter for other organisms such as small insects. The insects, in turn, provide food for frogs, which in turn provide food for snakes, which in turn provide food for carnivores like bobcats. 

Around here I have many kinds of mosses except on my paths. I prefer their soft spongy texture to grass, the plethora of greens. Ticks don’t like mosses, and the diminutive plants never need mowing!

 Pincushion moss is one of my favorites perhaps because I first noticed a small perfectly round dime sized clump on the way to the brook almost 40 years ago. This round being is now the size of a basketball! I almost always pat it when I walk by.

my pincushion moss right after a rain

This is a common moss that occurs throughout Europe and eastern North America stretching as far west as Minnesota. It likes filtered sun but will grow in deep shade. Pincushion moss grows in a variety of habitats including boreal, mixed wood, deciduous forests and wooded swamps It grows in acidic soils, on rotting logs, and around the base of trees. Pincushion moss even grows on rock ledges. Like all mosses it has leaves and stems that are tightly packed together. If you carry a hand lens as I often do, use it to peer into this miniature forest. You won’t believe what you will find there! The inner cellsare small and green because they contain chlorophyll. The outer cells are large, thin-walled, translucent and whitish. They are filled with water when moist, with air when dry. Male and female reproductive organs will appear on the same sea foam greenish gray domed cushion.

The tree stump pictured is a perfect example of what happens in a forest that is allowed to re-wild itself. Not only is the rotting trunk covered with fantastic clumps of pincushion moss, but it supports wintergreen, blue bead lilies, young trees, mushrooms and about ten other species of plants. But it is the piggy-back aspect of the pincushion moss that keeps me riveted to this particular ecosystem because I have not seen it elsewhere.

I confess there is another reason I am so drawn to pincushion moss. It has a common name that actually describes what this moss looks like making identification simple. Leucobryum glaucum tells me nothing about what I am actually seeing. (Linneas’s classification system works for those who know Latin but because of my dyslexia I cannot use it).

In the woods I have a tendency to make up names for the mosses I meet, and then I have a picture in my mind to help me identify the moss by it’s correct Latin name if I am not familiar with the species. Curiously, Indigenous peoples always identified plants by characteristics that defined them often using a verb to describe a plant’s process. For example Robin Wall Kimmerer explains that in her Indigenous language the word for mushroom is ‘the force that brings the mushroom to life’. 

 There is a second reason I use made up names that’s a little more difficult to articulate. Because I feel as if I am a part of all nature I am keenly aware that I am in relationship with every plant I meet, so it’s important to me to be on a first name basis!  If mosses intrigue you on any level, the next time it rains don’t wait. Give yourself a treat and visit the nearest forest. The mosses that hug the ground will astonish you! And if you are anything like me you will see them as a window into deep time.

Reflections on Butterfly Tagging

Reflections on Butterfly tagging

MLT Land Trust Tagged Monarch

The Center for Biological Diversity states that 80 – 85 percent of monarchs have declined over the past twenty years. The IUCN estimates that the native populations of Monarch butterflies has shrunk by between 22 percent and 72 percent over the past decade, and the western population has declined by 99.9 percent between the 1989’s and 2021, putting these butterflies at the greatest risk of extinction. Yet the monarch has only been put on the endangered species list this year. Why such a discrepancy?

Meanwhile scientists (and now just about anyone including children) have been tagging monarchs for many years so that folks could find out more about migration.

Nowhere do I see mention about the possibly destructive relationship between tagging and monarch survival. The loss of milkweed, the continued destructive use of pesticides, weather changes etc are all attributed to the decline of this iconic butterfly.

One salient point is made by some scientists: While touching a butterfly’s wings may not kill it immediately, it could potentially speed up the fading of the colors on the butterfly’s wings, wiping out patterns that are used to protect the butterfly from predators.  Thus handling a butterfly could potentially result in a shorter life expectancy.

Do we really need studies to tell us that monarchs that are captured in nets and then tagged undergo trauma and stress that might interfere with the insect’s ability to make a perilous 2000 mile trip to the mountains of Mexico for the winter? Some studies are in and more are being done, but common sense tells me that stress weakens immune systems leaving the insect more vulnerable.

Just imagine for a moment that you are a butterfly. You are caught fluttering in fright in a net and then held firmly by the wings by a human who places a tag on your lower wing removing precious scales in the process (I have also read that in some cases the scales have been scraped away before attaching the tags). This tag is supposed to be close enough to the butterfly’s center of gravity so that it won’t upset the insect’s balance. But do we know this for fact? Any weight that is not at the butterfly’s center is going to create some imbalance. Again, common sense.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a couple of scientist friends of mine who confirmed my hypothesis – namely that tagging obviously creates an imbalance. 

 MonarchWatch, an organization based at the University of Kansas has tagged approximately two million monarchs over the past 30 years. Out of those two million 19,000 monarchs have been documented to have made a ‘successful’ flight to Mexico meaning that when the tagged monarch was found the monarch was DEAD and would not be returning north in the spring. Death means that the butterfly’s natural cycle was interrupted. We don’t know what happened to the others but new research is indicating that there is an increasing mortality occurring during monarch fall migration. Are we going to attribute those missing in action to the use of pesticides etc without including tagging as one of the reasons these monarchs haven’t been seen again?

Why are we tagging monarchs in the first place? Historically scientists and now citizen scientists are “trying to help the monarchs” and learn more by documenting migration of the species. Obviously the intent is laudable but no one mentions how the monarch might be actually be faring.

Is this practice helping the monarchs survive? Is it beneficial to these insects in any way, or is it occurring because humans routinely sacrifice animals to acquire new information for themselves? Science prides itself on being ‘value free’ meaning that emotion and feeling are not part of the process, so who is left to care about how a butterfly might feel? Or ultimately whether an individual lives or dies.

I leave it to the reader to answer this very important question. 

Please see: for an informed discussion on this topic.

Butterfly Transformation: Miracle of Becoming

When the extraordinary creature emerged from a split translucent capsule I could hardly believe my eyes. Although I have witnessed butterfly transformation many times over the course of my life none have moved me like this butterfly birth did. 

For more than a week I had been eyeing the lime green capsule with its golden rim and specks imagining I could even see the butterfly inside! Patiently I waited and hoped. Anything could happen. Once about 45 years ago I raised a monarch whose wings were disfigured. S/he could not fly; so I knew what could go wrong…

Yesterday morning the capsule was black – too black I thought – I could barely see the outline of the monarch. Black capsules that are not translucent usually contain dead butterflies. No one knows why.

The miracle occurred while my back was turned! The next time I looked there was a perfect pale butterfly hanging next to the  split capsule. S/he hung on the tree for hours moving deeper under cover of some nearby leaves. Camouflaged as a leaf. I worried about the cool weather. Insects need warmth; butterflies are coldblooded creatures.

I took pictures of exquisite markings talking to the butterfly softly. Wishing her well. I was astonished when s/he moved up the twig and clasped my finger. Some inexplicable life force passed between us…Moments later the butterfly resumed her place under a leaf, her shiny black legs moving so deftly for one so young.

By mid afternoon the monarch was flexing her beautiful deep orange wings now filled with the fluid that had been stored in her abdomen, and I finally noticed that she was a he! Two black spots told the tale. I picked a bouquet of some of the monarch’s favorite flowers and left it clipped to a branch nearby and placed another bouquet on the ground as the dusky cloak of night closed in. The temperature had dropped so I wasn’t surprised that the butterfly stayed hidden in her bower for the night.

 This morning dawned a magnificent blue and gold September day. When I opened the door the butterfly was gone. No wind and mild temperatures will make ‘my’ monarch’s first flight to seek food more pleasurable. This monarch will be the one that makes the perilous 2000 mile flight to central Mexico. If he survives he will spend the winter with many others roosting in mountain trees until early spring when he will begin the journey north, mate with a female who will lay eggs, and then both will die. The next generation continues the flight. Others of their kind will finish the trip repeating the scenario again, some arriving here in western Maine around mid July. Most monarchs live only long enough to mate and lay eggs but this last instar lives about nine months. An extraordinary story.

two butterfly bouquets for my friend….


This summer has been an amazing one because I have seen more monarch caterpillars than I ever have seen in my entire life, although I live in an area surrounded by fragrant milkweed. I started seeing monarchs here at the beginning of August. Some days I counted two or three caterpillars on one leaf. Some were less than an inch, others larger. Every morning I examined the milkweed and found more! I was thrilled yet baffled. What was going on here? Most folks know that monarchs are in steep decline – 80 percent are gone. 

I visited our local land trust whose pollinator garden attracts a multitude of monarchs. I spoke to the woman who runs the land trust. She told me people were seeing them everywhere, so I wasn’t alone. I also have a friend who has some milkweed in his garden and he was finding caterpillars daily – up to 40 in one day. I had less but enough, so I thought, until in mid – August mine began to disappear. At first I assumed chrysalids were forming. Then I discovered that caterpillars of all ages were being cut in two and left for dead on the leaves they had been eating. Next came some black insect I was unable to identify because after sucking the life out of the chrysalis or capsule that the caterpillar spun to transform; only a black oozing blob remained. This destructive predator pattern eventually divested almost all of the caterpillars on my milkweed. Chrysalids too.

Researching Monarch predators in some depth I learned there were just too many, and it seemed that all of them lived here. Even the tiny caterpillars on my butterfly weed only lasted a day before vanishing.

I re-visited the land trust and saw many caterpillars, some chrysalids and many monarchs, but also learned that some of their capsules weren’t hatching. It was hard to draw any conclusion from the multitudes that floated over the masses of Mexican sunflowers. The magnificent abundance of pollinators in such a small area was not the norm for most. I didn’t know how inflated the monarch population might be as a result.

 On the other hand my friend only had a small vegetable garden with milkweed growing here and there and a few Mexican sunflowers. Monarchs were in flight all day long and there were so many of them. Happily, he was also having much better luck with his caterpillars who continued to appear throughout August. Only in the last week have most disappeared, although he is apparently still finding a few. He did discover one black blob and that chrysalis didn’t hatch, nor did another black one. Birds swooped down and made away with another capsule. The last time I spoke to him he had four chrysalids left that he knew of. 

I am using his garden to compare what might be happening elsewhere in this area or in Maine, but in truth I do not know. There is one difference between my area and his. My friend’s garden borders on wilderness and I wondered if a healthier natural environment might have something to do with predator control?

The decline of caterpillars here was sudden and dramatic. Although my small property has been left wild it is sandwiched in between clear cuts, mutilated trees/piles of slash, open fields, and other ‘managed’ lands. Around here the remains of what once was forest have an abundance of predators attacking leaves etc. About 10 days ago I stopped looking for caterpillars or chrysalids. Too many dead bodies.

 Except for one.

 When my young butterfly emerged from the split chrysalis whole and healthy I was overjoyed. Although I didn’t witness his first flight I didn’t mind. All that mattered was that against all odds this butterfly had survived.

I had witnessed a miracle.

 I stood under the butterfly tree with blue -gold light streaming through her crabapple leaves.

“Thank you.” The words of my prayer floated up through the tree’s gray trunk and branches.

As scientist and author Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds us,  gratitude is the way we reciprocate. By giving thanks to Nature for what has been given we are participating in the Circle of Life.  

And Reciprocity closes the Circle.


 As I finished this essay I immediately went outdoors and lo – a large monarch butterfly was sipping nectar from the bouquet I left him. I stood there stupefied; he was a male. I watched him fly to the bee balm and white phlox before he disappeared down a woodland path. So yet one more gift had been given…

 A second miraculous ending to this story.

Betwixt and Between Two

Betwixt and Between; Hobblebush Bridges the Seasons.

A sea of green ranging from lime, deep green hemlock, balsam and fir, a few splashes of crimson, pale yellow birch, moose maple, ash and beech fading to ochre, characterize the trees in a healthy late summer forest. The discerning eye will experience a sense of being ‘betwixt and between’- the forest is a complex living organism that is heralding the coming of autumn. Every species tells the same story in his/her own way. All we have to do is to pay attention. The whole forest is seeding up – there is a quality of silence that permeates the air this time of year… For me at least, this quiet emanates presence, not absence. The forest is preparing for the future…

Labor Day weekend I visited some of my favorite forest haunts, places so familiar, so dear to my heart that they seem part of me. And yet there are always endless surprises. Hobblebush being one. This wild Viburnum  (Viburnum lantanoides) is a harbinger of spring and fall. In May the early blooming shrub startles me with its large pearl white clusters appearing at the forest edges. This is a remarkable plant, seeking the shade of the understory it is often found in abundance under hemlocks. These clusters are actually clones that develop from underground roots of a single bush (many wild viburnum species form their own clonal thickets). 

With its large deep green oval –heart shaped leaves and low growing habit the bush spreads over moist (but not waterlogged) forest floor. The shrub ranges from Nova Scotia to Michigan and south to the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. It prefers cool, moist habitat.

Maine has seven viburnum species (and four subspecies) that comprise an important portion of our forests’ understory. Generally the viburnums range from three to eight feet in height with loose branching and slender stems. Hobblebush branches extend outward, arch and descend, re-rooting where they touch the ground. This curious tangling habit is what gives this viburnum its common name. This characteristic is most evident in winter when the hobblebush is leafless and the shrub’s skeletal structure is highlighted. 

Hobblebush is easy to identify at any time of the year. It is one of the earliest shrubs to flower in spring as already mentioned; buds open around the same time as red maples begin to flower and the poplars are shedding catkins. Hobblebush blooms can persist several weeks at least, from early May, sometimes into  June depending upon location. Their flowers look like creamy saucers and attract many pollinators, bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and wasps among others. The large showy flowers along the edge of the cluster are sterile while the small inner flowers have both male and female parts. 

The flowers although fragrant do not produce much nectar but ruby throated hummingbirds and the beguiling clearwing or hummingbird moth visit hobblebush flowers frequently. The hummingbird moth larva is a hornworm caterpillar that feeds on viburnum leaves.

It seems to me that a pearled light (like that of a white moon) has been extinguished in the forest when the hobblebush drops her petals in the spring, but the leaf display that follows is spectacular. 

The size and breadth of hobblebush’s somewhat heart-shaped leaves makes the shrub seem more leafy than it is. Each leaf is deeply veined and in the forest most grow low to the ground. The fruits are formed by mid – summer appearing as bright green clusters. Each fruit contains one seed. By late August the clusters have turned crimson startling me with their brilliance.  Although still unripe, some forest creatures break open the fruits and eat the seeds. When autumn arrives the berries ripen, turning a deep blue black or purple. Try the fruits – you might find them quite tasty!

Even before the berries are ripe some leaves begin to blush a warm burgundy. A few turn orange or yellow. Bare winter branches look fawn-brown and are radiant when set against a background of dark conifers in the deepest shade.

Hobblebush’s winter buds make the greatest display. There are no protective bud scales. Miniature pairs of leaves, exquisitely clasped together like moth wings, can be seen clearly. Some leaf pairs enfold a tiny, but perfectly formed flower bud, ready to grow in the earliest spring warmth.

The fruit is low in fat so it is not a first choice for songbirds. However, the black throated green warbler nests in hobblebush in the spring. Grouse love the fruit and twigs as do turkeys. Chipmunks and red squirrels also harvest hobblebush seeds. Deer, moose, snowshoe hares and cottontails nip the branches as they browse hobblebush in winter. Thank goodness this plant spreads by re –rooting itself underground! Here, every winter my hobblebush is denuded of next year’s flowers, but because I know where to go to find these beloved spring blossoms I don’t mind. 

In the 1940’s a European beetle arrived in Canada brought in by humans (of course). It was discovered in Maine in 1994. The infestation has ebbed and flowed. Because viburnum beetles eggs require a period of cold to gestate, New England and northern New York have seen the worst damage. Fortunately, throughout the infestation, Viburnum lantanoides has shown resistance to the beetles perhaps because of its somewhat fuzzy leaf surfaces (pure speculation). It may also be true that some predators, birds or insects, have developed a taste for the adult beetles. Warmer winter temperatures and shorter winters may reduce egg viability.  In any event these infestations are cyclical. Patience and biodiversity are the antidotes. Healthy forests left to re -wild like those I visit take care of their own. Virtually all the hobblebush I find in these places are gloriously green in summer and all are clearly healthy.

Every year I look forward to seeing the hobblebush in all her splendor when I enter the woods I love so well. These seasonal offerings are a gift without price and I encourage anyone who loves this “in between” season (in either spring or fall) to visit a forest that has been loved and left to care for itself.  

Hobblebush will find you there! 

Betwixt and Between

When tired leaves
crisp and wrinkle
drip old
summer’s humidity
bathing stems in steam
acorns hit the ground.
Tightly wrapped hemlock cones
sticky and green

fall like rain
Slanted sun

the tale 
 light spun
 blue and gold
filaments tip
wet forest ground.
Bluejays screech
Autumn calling.

 Pods and seeds abound

limed partridgeberries,
Chrysalids too

Purple elderberry fruits
bruise winnowing hands….

A walk through
needle and leaf
 calms me
 willowy river
wends her way
around cobbled stones
pools of water ripple –
a fish or two

cast circles

of becoming.
ablaze with ripening berries
bittersweet to crimson
 gift food for all

Nuts and seeds precede 
flames of falling leaves.
Turkey and partridge
astonished by 
 seasonal abundance
I pick a branch

of hobblebush
Remind myself:
 ‘always ask permission’.
oval leaves
sharply veined

 hearts wining
 rose and red.

The most delicate
of wild viburnums
generous to a fault

 still trip the unwary!
Pearl blossoms
reflect white moon in May
Now swell with seed

 rubied brilliance…

Cool mornings betray
the shift
Night casts her veil
an hour early

  a slanted eye

rises over the


half asleep.

 Fragrant orchids,

Ladies Tresses,
open stark white throats
seducing bees
as waxing harvest moon

Illuminates coming darkness. 
Love has many seasons.

Refuge: Water Guardian

Refuge: Water Guardian:

I am watching pale ochre decaying leaves drifting to the ground, even as others shiver with dew. The air is fragrant. After all the rain it cleared last night and temperatures plunged. It is the first day of September and it is so cool that I am wearing a sweater…. Last night, dusk shadowed the forest protecting all the wild creatures that began to stir as darkness approached. Red deer munched on golden apples beneath my open window. Just beyond her I could still see my wild apple … only upper branches, leaves, and apples touch the sky as the first evening star appears. Leaf predation has been extreme this year with fruit trees everywhere; I worry that I will lose her. This little cabin, forest and field is an island in a sea of clear cuts, piles of now well hidden slash (thanks to miracle trees), open fields, and manicured lawns. Only one neighbor logs his land sustainably …thankfully this well cared for parcel borders my own.

I drift back to the Turning of the Wheel (from July to August) and a perfect day spent on a forest pond so well hidden that only a chance encounter might reveal the presence of this jewel. With only the slightest breeze the boat slides into glassy water; water so pristine I can see all the way to the bottom. Still water mirrors deep blue sky. I spy a giant bull frog with a brilliant buttercup throat. He’s peering at us through bulging gold-rimmed eyes as we paddle into deeper water.

Now frogs appear to be watching us from every protected nook at the edge of the pond! Oval lily pads float on silver mica, their stems creating intricate patterns. Fish swim by. Lifting my gaze to take in my surroundings forest greens craft their own horizon by painting delicate branches and evergreen spires on the surface of the water. A painted turtle is sunning himself on a floating log.

 The rich fragrance of deep forest permeates the air. A protruding cliff hangs over one side of the pond creating a permanent shadow. A guardian made of stone.

Two loons appear nearby, swimming around us before they dive again for food. I am listening to the sound of the paddle dipping into pristine waters as I begin to lose all sense of time. I gasp in wonder as we enter a sea of blue pickerel weed. Surrounded by cobalt blue and emerald green, leaves and flowers, a multitude of bees humming as they work the blossoms I am enchanted by impossible beauty before all thought ceases. My body becomes part of all there is – blue sky and water, bees and loons, all singing the same song. 


Our Love for Earth stops Time…

As we approach the shore I spy the most astonishing wooden log. Once submerged, the hemlock has become a stunning piece of Nature’s art. Now it stands as sentry marking the entrance of Refuge as Guardian of the Waters, and each time I pass by I remember that magical summer day.