About Me

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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


What is it about potentiality?  The rose garden and wildflower bed are muddy messes at this point, but I came in last evening (reminded by my long-suffering husband, who barely knows spinach from spirea, that it was 7:30 and we might at some point want dinner, which I had promised to fix) filled with the sense of well-being that (sorry, wonderful students) grading papers rarely gives.  Neither garden is anything to look at right now: the paths are laid out with cardboard and bags of Black Cow, the shrubs and daylilies are barely leafing out, the ornamental grasses are recognizable only from the last year's remnants, and the only bloom is one sorry daffodil that managed to hitch a ride on rose roots. The wildflower bed in particular is likely to need a couple of years to look like anything much as I'm starting little bluestem and blue fescue from seed (let's hear it for the single stems of baby grasses, which look like green thread in their little peat pots), so they may not even bloom this year.  But the garden of the imagination is in full bloom: in August, tall, sultry Madame Isaac Pereire will waft her perfume across the garden, accompanied by her entourage of magic lilies and "Mystic Merlin" malva.  The burgundy leaves of "Black Lace" elderberry will complement the smoky salmon and plum tones of rosa "Cinco de Mayo" while the clear green of daylily foliage keeps the various pinks from competing with each other.  Across the path, in the wildflower bed, purple coneflower and black-eyed susans will bloom happily amidst the pink sprays of muhly grass, while the gardener sits in Adirondack chair with a glass of chilled chardonnay and enjoys the view....

In the real world, the green bean seedlings on the dining room bookcase have been decapitated by one of the cats.  We suspect Mittsy the mutant, hurling champion of greater Parkersburg.

(Image credit: http://www.public-domain-image.com/)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

They're back

Today I saw the first grackles of the season.  There were two of the yellow-eyed bullies on the dome feeder, seemingly daring any other birds to come near. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says that the common grackle is a year-round resident in our area, but that's not been my experience.  One day, they're just gone, though grackles aren't birds whose absence I generally notice. When the robins leave and the goldfinches lose their color, I'm aware that winter is on its way, and the first junco is always cause for quiet joy, but I can go for months without thinking of grackles. I'm not sure why this is, given that they're such handsome birds, and when they'e around, they tend to come in groups.

One of life's little mysteries.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A meditation on noise

Walking around nearby residential neighborhoods yesterday, I was stunned by how noisy Parkersburg is. Maybe because winter has been so long and so cold that being outside for any length of time has been difficult, I hadn’t processed what life in an urban (well, okay, maybe semi-urban) environment is like. Our immediate neighborhood (where I spend most of my alone-outside time) isn’t on the direct route to anywhere except two schools, and the traffic there is confined to particular hours of the day. We get periodic traffic noise, but the noise is so periodic that it’s noticeable, not the norm. Working in the back yard, I can actually hear the last of the oak leaves rattling on the tree whenever the wind blows.

Visually, the neighborhoods where I walked yesterday are mid-American paradise: blocks of mostly smallish mid-century houses, set back from the street with a reasonable number of trees and shrubs giving living interest to the scene. This time of year, squirrels are everywhere, and the birds are getting active. But what struck me was the noise: the constant hum of cars, trucks making deliveries to Kroger, several blocks away, the incessant muffled roar from the interstate, over a mile distant. For a while it was hard to block out the traffic sounds to concentrate on anything else, a shame on a day as beautiful as yesterday was. My mood began spiraling into serious annoyance at the constant overwhelming presence of so many unseen motor vehicles. There seemed no escape from the omnipresent noise pollution.

Then, there it was: birdsong to “rinse and wring the ear,” as Hopkins said, sound so piercingly beautiful that it made all other noises temporarily meaningless. The song came from a tree in front of a small nondescript house on the busiest street on yesterday’s route: a wren, perched high and hurling repeated, joyous-sounding notes out over the neighborhood. I had to stop, and when I did, my ear focused on other sounds despite the cars going past only a few feet away: crows nearby, calling to each other, the buzz of chickadees not too far away, assorted unidentifiable (to me) chirps, twitters, and burbles. The realization of so many other lives being carried on, seemingly unbothered by all our busyness, brought joy.

My task for the upcoming spring break is to listen for the sounds of the world, the ones that exist apart from and underneath the machine noises that make up so much of the human world.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Today's post is inspired by Shelley:  "if winter comes, can spring be far behind?"

Today, I think not.  After what has felt like months of grey weather, we have enjoyed two days of sun with the promise of more to come, and at last, the temperatures have risen enough for the parka to be left in the closet (for now).  The daffodil leaves are up in various parts of the yard, so yes, spring must finally be on its way.