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



March 16, 2009 5:44 PM


Cedar splits in two

Dry leaf scrapes pavement…

Winter chilled wind


This afternoon, curious about my impression of the same place in daylight versus darkness, I sat in about the same spot that I did last night.  Once again, I am surprised at my auditory response to the landscape – I feel like I am seeing the forest with my ears. Once I become still, settle my mind, I begin to hear.  The layers peel back.  Beneath the breeze wisping my ears and teasing trees, I hear a small airplane. Then I hear the chickadees. A redwing blackbird.  A mourning dove joins the chorus.  A chain saw. There, a nuthatch and cardinal.  I keep listening. Beneath the birds, wood frogs in the vernal pool and children across the street chime in, rounding out my sense of place.