March 2009

March 29, 2009 1:00 PM


Ten minutes sitting quietly in the rain.

Drips on my hood.

Roar of wind from the northwest.

Stripe of dry bark surrounded by dark wetness on white pine.

Raw, light scars of broken limbs from winter ice more evident.

Large flock of redwing black birds arrive in marsh singing.

Dried oak leaves and acorns revealed.


March 28, 2009 11 AM

Today’s observation is a little different in that I didn’t stop, sit and listen like I normally do.  Instead, I was working with a friend in the woods behind his house in Stratham.  We were cutting logs to be used to grow mushrooms at my ‘farm’.  Jim has 18 acres and we selected a tree far from site of his house and down a couple of hills – much too far to easily carry these logs, but we discovered that only after we cut the tree down.  Jim was on chainsaw duty while I carried the four-foot lengths over my shoulder to the truck.  Each walk up the hill and back took about ten minutes.

When Jim bought his house and land, all of the surrounding acres were all forest until one day a few years ago a developer suddenly started clearing the land.  Soon his house overlooked a subdivision of a dozen, cookie-cutter, bigger-than-reasonable houses.  My walk back and forth to the truck took me fairly close to the property line and I found myself examining several of these houses from the backside.  One family appeared to have kids as apparent from all of the plastic toys spread about the back yard.  Another family had a dog.  Another family liked to grill.  Each house looked the same save for the lonely items left out in the yard or on the porch.  I wondered to myself how much the backyards actually get used. 

The site of these houses troubled me.  Then, at once I realized what disturbed me (besides the obvious).  The forest was full of trees.  It had birds, broken branches, and leaves.  The entire forest floor was covered in leaves.  Abruptly, the forest ended at the subdivision as manicured lawns took over.  This stark demarcation between natural and cultivated struck me as absurd. Bleak houses seemed plopped onto the land with no relation to the landscape, surrounded by manicured lawns, pavement and stop signs and absent trees.  It reminded me of the surreal views from mountaintops where I’ve sat overlooking Phoenix, Arizona marked by green lawns and trees – a sea of green in a vast expanse of desert brown.  The brown and yellow representing fauna and flora that have evolved over millennia to thrive with little water against the green of humankind’s hubris, forcing a fashionable landscape into existence in a place it couldn’t survive without stealing the water from tributaries hundreds of miles away.

March 27, 2008 4:13 PM

I could hear them from a distance.  Loud.  Numerous.  But where?  Then swooping in, they nearly blot out the sky before landing in the red maple next to my house.  Chirping so vociferously all other noise was drowned out.  Hundreds of black, iridescent forms, as if a singing cloud drifted across the field to a willow.  The grackles have announced their return from winter.




March 22, 2009 11:00 AM


They say spring comes in like a lamb.
Today, I think, it comes as a kid seeing the world for the first time.
Spring is the shoots of lettuce breaking apart the seedpod.
It is the cold wind sneaking through cracks in the barn.
The smell of rotting earth coming to life.

March 20, 2:49 PM

We hiked up a bald near Camden, Maine on a warm, clear end of winter afternoon.  Immediately upon stopping on the peak, my exertion revealed itself in sweat.  I pealed layers until the wind pierced my t-shirt and the cold felt good against my hot skin.  Momentarily.  Winter is not gone yet and once resuming a normal temperature, I put my sweater back on.  I enjoyed surveying the landscape, the land meeting sea, before I began my ten minutes of meditation.  When I sat and focused, in a moment of clarity, I came to understand my struggle in these moments of connecting to nature.  First, I noticed the trees and scraggy bushes, and then the moss and lichen covered rock I sat on.  Vegetation struggles to survive in a harsh exposed climate in a cold, windswept landscape.  But, then I noticed the trucks passing over the road below, houses clustered into a village and the sounds of a wood chipper somewhere deeper into the woods.  It seems that no matter where I have looked since starting this project, it is difficult to observe nature without the constant intrusion of human industry.  I want to connect with nature, observe my landscape and surroundings in a private peace, yet it seems that in the moment that I have slowed to hear the birds and squirrels, I am quiet enough to see everything else.  I had hoped walking deeper into the forest and climbing a mountain would be enough.

March 19, 2009 11:50 AM                       


I stared across the yard into the gray woods bordering my property, trough gray clouds and gray drizzle, searching for hints of red buds and new growth peeking out that suggest the coming tipping point from gray to green.  I know it is early, but I am optimistic.  From the corner of my vision, I caught a flash of white contrast against gray.  Turning in that direction, I watched until I saw it again, barely making out the contours of a deer.  I squinted and looked while it moved through brush to an open area that provided me with a clearer view.  She nibbled at saplings – I suspect looking for and eating those very buds I long to see myself.  Soon another doe arriving to snack on that same tree joined her, then there were four; in a moment, it was a feeding frenzy. I watched one reach up onto her hind legs and sniff at something in a cedar.  By the time I grabbed my camera, most had wondered off deeper into the woods. One ventured closer into my yard and I am increasingly nervous about my peach tree with its promising red shoots and buds looking like a delicacy to a winter-starved deer.

March 17, 2009 6:09

(keep in mind that I only give myself ten minutes to write an observation… it’s what I can come up with for a poem that quickly)


Ground strewn with broken branches,

winter ice scars linger.

Grey birch tops down,

suckers reach skyward like new fingers

rising from mud, grass…

sleepy skunk awoken,

digs beneath moss



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