Monday, April 26, 2010

Ave querida, amada peregrina

¿A dónde irá veloz y fatigada
la golondrina que de aquí se va?

Por si en el viento se hallará extraviada
buscando abrigo y no lo encontraré...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Where are you going, swift and weary
swallow, why are you leaving here?

And what if you lose your way in
the wind, looking for a home you'll never find...

A snippet of a traditional Mexican song, "La golondrina" is often sung as a farewell at funerals for those who've died far from home. I was reminded of it this afternoon watching the swallows feed low over the lake in the rain.

*Lyrics from "La golondrina" by Narciso Serradel Sevilla. The translation to English is mine and is far from precise.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

One swallow

One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the Spring. - Aldo Leopold

Early spring is a season of small flowers, of course, and one Spring Beauty or one Violet is of no consequence...

but a carpet of them, sneaking up through the blanket of last year's leaves or the first green grass where the sun beckons...

that's the Spring!

*the Violet is Viola brittoniana,a South Jersey specialty.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A reminder

You're writing your story everyday; you just need to decide what happens next...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pine Barren Beauty

Pyxidanthera barbulata and False Reindeer Lichen

This pretty little creeping plant is found only in the pine barrens of New Jersey and North Carolina; it creeps like a vine, looks like a moss and flowers like an herb, but is really a shrub; that is, its stems are woody. It forms small evergreen mats resembling mossy cushions and blooms in early Spring.

The name, shortened to Pyxie, delightfully suggests the fairy folk to whom the name belongs. Smiling upward from the sandy soil in the April sunshine, this tiny plant wields an incredible charm; especially so because I went out today not expecting to find much of note. As is so often the case with the Pine Barrens, I was pleasantly rewarded!

Botanical info from Our Early Wildflowers by Harriet Keeler, 1916 and Wildflowers of the Pine Barrens of NJ by Howard Boyd, 2001

Friday, April 16, 2010


to a moonlit September beach

crab traps, fishing poles and the little compartments of a tackle box

to wildflower-strewn hillsides in W. Virginia

toasting marshmallows on a stick and waiting for the whippoorwills to call

to the smooth path of a wake behind the boat

night walks with Luka, the warm lights of other people's lives as we pass outside

to the first breath of salty air coming home over the bridge

the enchanted fairy-tale scent of beach plum in the dunes

to the places and people that don't change

the rumbling happy tone of your voice

to lingering can't-say-goodbye sunsets

the echoes of footsteps, no words between us

to winnowing snipe, pasture horses and more ticks than I've had on me in my life in N. Dakota

the stars and darkness gathered all around us, mixed with the sound of the ocean

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Where does your mind wander to?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We won't pay you, but we'll feed you!

We said goodbye to our student-intern today... Brian is working on his MSW at the school where I did my graduate work and has been with us since September for his first "field experience".

Mainly he worked with Mo, who was responsible for supervising him, but the rest of us had the chance to work with him in the office or on field days... a great guy, but sooo young!

He did a couple home visits with me when my coworkers insisted I have an escort in the bad neighborhoods I visit... we both laughed at the silliness of that, but it was nice to see this shy and soft-spoken guy come into his own with clients. I let him do the work of the visit, be it interviewing the client or negotiating repairs with a landlord, very curious to see if his timidity and lack of confidence would come across so obviously with others...

It didn't! He did really well I think and seemed serious and aloof, instead. There was a good lesson for me in that experience because I often tend to be uncomfortable with playing particular roles in my job; with landlords especially. Rather than laughing and "making nice" like I'm inclined to do in an uncomfortable situation, I could see the benefit of not saying much and just letting the client or landlord squirm and wonder...


Field experience is so very important in many professions... social work, teaching, nursing. Those of us inclined to that type of work are idealists and dreamers, I think, and the realities of the work can hit hard if you're not prepared for it this way.

Anyway, we sent Brian off with our best wishes and a day filled with food... a spread for breakfast and lunch and finally dessert with cake and ice-cream. We'll miss him!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Sandy Hook...

where every platform

and every chimney is occupied!

A couple hours this afternoon at the SHBO Migration Watch platform provided plenty of close looks at osprey - there are four active nests visible from the watch site alone - plus nice looks at some merlins and a couple sharpies. Turkey vultures were circling, hesitant to cross the bay. Plenty of gannets were flying close to the beach, as well. Some early butterflies were out, which along with airplanes overhead, provided ID challenges when the birds were slow.


Our counter this year, John VanDort, maintains a well-written blog about his sightings at the Hook (and elsewhere) that I've enjoyed reading since discovering it. Have a look!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

An old favorite

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size. ~Gertrude S. Wister

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I've been

looking at cherry blossoms as a bumblebee might

divining the cryptic patterns of moths

wandering along creeks

practising my snake-charming skills*

resisting the urge to walk barefoot among the violets and bluets

letting the sun kiss my shoulders

imagining a visit to the Grand Canyon and deciding other places call to me more

watching bats weave their twilight magic across Venus and a sinking Orion

debating my future

feeling like the fifth wheel on a car gone crazily off course

cheering for a rookie

muddying my bare feet to save my shoes

discovering a pair of eagles soaring among dogwood flowers

hyperventilating on a train trestle

the scope's okay despite its crazy cartwheel into the river below!

eating s'mores

watching Spring spread across the treetops

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything fun for you lately?

*If someone can help on the snake, I'd appreciate it... it tried very hard to convince silly me that it was a fierce rattlesnake, using its tail to rattle the dried leaves (and the worried man standing behind me.)


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter

Did you wear your bonnet?


Image from The Asbury Park Press

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Google search

The most popular search term that directs readers to this blog relates to bunny poop.

This, as you might imagine, is pretty humbling to me.


(Hope your Easter's happy!)