Poems with Backbone

April 8, 2016

Watercolor painting of daisies with rock pile

Watercolor painting of daisies with rock pile

“A poem should consist of two parts rocks, one part daisy. . . . If the rocks aren’t in the poem, you won’t be able to appreciate the daisy.  And if you take out the rocks, so all that’s left is daisy, well, that’s all that’s left.  It’s not so yellow anymore.  It wilts.  You want hard language to convey soft thought, because in the end all poetry is about love, and no one wants love without backbone.”
— Roger Rosenblatt, from Thomas Murphy


Foretelling Summer

July 8, 2014

“When you can put your foot on seven daisies, summer is come.”
— Traditional proverb

The true signs of summer:  bare feet and seven daisies

The true signs of summer: bare feet and seven daisies

Another icon of summer:  the lawnmower

Another icon of summer: the lawnmower

Summer is really and truly here.  These daisies tell all.

I really prefer those other daisies, the tall ones, so common and taken for granted.  I try to make them look especially pretty in my photos.





Handsome Paths

June 12, 2014

“And what a dynamic, handsome object is a path!”
— Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space:  The Classical Look at How We Experience Places

Path in Winslow down to the marina

Path in Winslow down to the marina


I haven’t been out for a wilderness hike yet this year, but I have been enjoying some urban walks.  I love to go out with an open outlook and see what interesting things cross my path.  These pictures were taken on a recent outing to Bainbridge Island.  I couldn’t resist following this enticing green path down from the commercial center to the water.  And I was rewarded with a rare glimpse of a hummingbird!





Hummingbird and clover

Hummingbird and clover


Trustworthy May

May 1, 2014

Daisies on my lawn

Daisies on my lawn


“However erratic April’s behavior, May is a month to be trusted.  To remain indoors for a few days is to fall behind the news.”
— Hazel Heckman, Island Year


The Daisy as Crone

August 5, 2013

“But an August daisy is a sorry affair; it is little more than an empty, or partly empty seed-vessel.”
— John Burroughs, from “August Days,”  The Writings of John Burroughs, XI, Far and Near

Daisies in August

Daisies in August



“In the Northern States the daisy is in her girlhood and maidenhood in June, she becomes very matronly in July, — fat, faded, prosaic, — and by or before August she is practically defunct.  I recall no flower whose career is more typical of the life . . .  How positively girlish . . .  is the daisy during the first few days of its blooming, while its snow-white rays yet stand straight up and shield its tender centre somewhat as a hood shields a girl’s face!  Presently it becomes a perfect disk and bares its face to the sun; this is the stage of its young womanhood.  Then its yellow centre — its body — begins to swell and become gross, the rays slowly turn brown, and finally wither up and drop. It is a flower no longer . . .”
— John Burroughs, from “August Days,”  The Writings of John Burroughs, XI, Far and Near

Well, isn’t this a dire look at growing old!!  Gross and withered.  Oh well.  I hope to retain just a bit of humor about the natural process of ageing.  I like this description by Margaret Drabble in The Pattern in the Carpet:  A Personal History with Jigsaws:  “A waistless stoutness lay in wait for all of us.”

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
— John Muir

Looking out at the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Looking out at the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

My niece is visiting from Israel, and her top sightseeing priorities are some of the American national parks.  So we took a two-day, 500-mile road trip circumnavigating Olympic National Park in Washington State.  You can get to different parts of the park from inroads along Hwy 101, and our destinations offered extraordinary natural diversity, from mountains, to rain forests, to ocean beaches.

Our first stop was Hurricane Ridge high in the Olympic Mountains.  But first we crossed the Sound in a ferry, and then drove through some pretty amazing scenery just to get to the winding road that would take us from sea level to nearly a mile in elevation at Hurricane Ridge.

Field of daisies near Sequim, WA

Field of daisies near Sequim, WA

"I see the wild flowers, in their/summer morn/Of beauty, feeding on joy's/lucious hours."  -- John Clare, from "Summer Images"

“I see the wild flowers, in their/summer morn/Of beauty, feeding on joy’s/luscious hours.” — John Clare, from “Summer Images”

Old ruin along Hwy 101 near Sequim

Old ruin along Hwy 101 near Sequim

The winding road to Hurricane Ridge

The winding road to Hurricane Ridge

The view from Hurricane Ridge is awesome, with majestic, snow-capped peaks as far as the eye could see.  We ate a picnic breakfast amidst some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere, joined by a curious (and smart, crumb-seeking) bird.  The meadows at the top were beginning to emerge from snowfields, and they were covered with tiny yellow flowers.

Parking lot at Hurricane Ridge

Parking lot at Hurricane Ridge

Mountain view

Mountain view

Picnic breakfast

Picnic breakfast

Avian friend

Avian friend

Snow-capped peaks

Snow-capped peaks

Melting snow

Melting snow

Scavenging raven (lovely feathers)

Scavenging raven (lovely feathers)

Motorcycle riders (I rarely go to a national park without seeking motocyclists)

Motorcycle riders (I rarely go to a national park without seeing motorcyclists)

My next post will be a continuation of our road trip. . . stay tuned!

“We can make a small occasion large by the focus of our attention, by the reverence and excitement we bring to it.”
— Susan G. Wooldridge, Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words

Coneflower with bee

This is a summer of mostly small occasions for me — no big vacations, no weekend getaways, just the routines of work and home.  So I find solace in today’s quote.  It’s a reminder that happiness comes from within and can be found in the ordinary things in my life. . . as long as I turn my eyes and heart to appreciating the little, local pleasures.

“It is natural to look for the things you want outside of where you are now.  That is the whole point of a journey.  Yet this moment is all anyone has.”
— John Tarrant, Bring Me the Rhinoceros and Other Zen Koans to Bring You Joy

“I admire a contented mind.  I revere enjoyment of simple things.”
–Florida Scott Maxwell, The Measure of My Days

“I omit the unusual — the hurricanes and earthquakes — and describe the common.  This has the greatest charm and is the true theme of poetry.  You may have the extraordinary for your province, if you will let me have the ordinary.  Give me the obscure life, the cottage of the poor and humble, the workdays of the world, the barren fields, the smallest share of all things, but poetic perception.  Give me but the eyes to see the things which you possess.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journals, August 28, 1851

The ordinary daisy — quite magnificent

Challenging myself to look with poetic perception

Jon B Dove garden cottage, Georgetown Garden Walk

Yesterday was the 2012 Georgetown Garden Walk.  My friend Carol and I strolled around, map in hand, enjoying the garden ramble.  We re-visited old favorites from last year’s Walk, and eyed a few new surprises.  This year the Garden Walk was made extra special by art in the gardens, a co-event called “Cross Pollinate.”

My absolute favorite part of the Georgetown Garden Walk was Jon B. Dove’s garden cottage.  I would love to have a garden retreat like this to write, paint, and work on my blog. Here are some photos:

The Jon B. Dove garden cottage interior

A relaxing spot to read a book

Dove garden cottage, another view

A profusion of clematis, Dove garden

Honeysuckle blossom, Dove garden

Another garden shed being made over into an extra living space

Red poppy

A small backyard space converted into a magical oasis, lined by votive candles


Garden gate, Georgetown Garden Walk

Garden arch, a cool, green spot

Many gardens sported interesting art objects, like this vintage toy airplane

Foliage from Solomon seal

Purple and green grape leaves

We saw borders lined with hubcaps, bowling balls, and this one with bottles

A gardener and her passion flower

Pink hollyhocks

Old-fashioned flowers — hollyhocks

Tea in the garden

Carol resting on a bench in Oxbow Park

Parasol and long braid

This woman with her parasol was perfectly attired for the garden walk.

Plein air painter in a garden

Budding artist, Piper, painting in her garden

Poster for 2012 Georgetown Garden Walk

“And that’s why birds do it, bees do it
Even educated fleas do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.”
— Cole Porter

Could these really be copulating bees?

Bees on daisy

Bee sex?

These photos capture an unusual encounter with Nature on an ordinary walk around the block.  Could these bees really be copulating?

Alone again

Post-coital bliss?



“Summer always comes in the person of June, with a bunch of daisies on her breast and clover blossoms in her hands.”
— John Burroughs, Leaf and Tendril

Everything is coming up daisies!

A daisy in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Daisy shadows on the sidewalk

Posterized photo of daisies