Heavy Rain and the End of Lilac Season

June 11, 2019

Like a lot of people, I enjoy occasional rainy days towards the start of summer.  The green of the oaks, maples, ashes and birches is still new and in the diffused light of a rainy day it takes on a quiet radiance.

But we live in a time of climate change, brought about by us humans.  Extraordinary downpours–such as the one that came through last night and this morning–are increasingly common in Maine.  They are creating more problems for our already challenged lakes, occasioning heavy runoffs that contribute to algae blooms, and fish-threatening low oxygen levels.

In such a season, we feel the need for action and hope…and maybe  a little forgiveness.

Struck by too hard rain
last lilacs open, scatter
soft benedictions


An Equinox Eve Encounter

March 20, 2019

It is indeed a cold start to spring this year, as it was two years ago.  Despite the daily trickle of snowmelt, the ground is still covered in layers of crusted snow.

The light is, however, spring-like and bountiful.  The sun does not set until almost seven now, so yesterday I took advantage of the longer day to enjoy an early evening stroll.  The hard snowpack and a pair of snowshoes on my feet made moving through the woods without a groomed trail easy. It turned out there were things to see.

Equinox twilight—
a hare bounds: white woods, white fur,
hint of caramel.


I wasn’t skilled or quick enough to photograph the snowshoe hare I saw yesterday.  That individual had a tad more summer-coat, light-brown streaking in its fur than this beautiful “deep winter” hare captured in a public domain photo.  https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=212388&picture=snowshoe-hare

It Starts with a Sound

March 13, 2019

In Maine spring starts modestly, but beautifully, with the sound of water on the move.  It’s not that winter doesn’t have its days of thaw—opportunities for slush and black ice—but they’re not sustained. They don’t mark the start of transition into an entirely different landscape, one based on the liquid rather than the crystalline form of water, a landscape rich with the sound of flow.

Streaming from the eaves
splashing onto pools of ice—
snowmelt and sunlight.

The Last Day of Winter

March 7, 2019

While the official start of spring is still two weeks away, it seems only fair that there should be some signs of the easing off of winter: a thinning of the snowcover, some water dripping from the eaves.  Alas, we’ve seen precious few such encouraging indications of the change of season.  Apart from the more abundant light, it’s been looking—and feeling—a lot like the depths of winter.

According to the weather report, however, all of that is due to change tomorrow when more spring-like weather will move in.

Wishing for bare earth—
the squeak and flare of fresh snow
still tugs at the heart.

Increasing Light, Enduring Ice

February 10, 2019

The days are beginning to lengthen.  We have over ten hours of daylight now, and that gives a sense of coming spring.  While there is promise of new life and food ahead, those things are not here yet and it is a lean time for many of the animals.

Etched on planes of ice
tracks of raccoon, deer and fox—
Hunger diaries.

A raccoon, after washing at a pool of unfrozen water created by a sump pump, left muddy footprints on the icy snow crust.

A deer made its slow way up from the lake during a period of thaw.  The following day, its track was hardened ice.

Night Snow Storm

January 20, 2019

In terms of human life patterns, it is less disruptive to have a snow storm on the weekend rather than during the workweek, and at night rather than by day, particularly during the morning and evening commutes.  With that in mind, the timing of our first big snow storm of the season was in anthropocentric terms favorable indeed, arriving as it did last night on Saturday after dinnertime.

When the snow started to fly, the birds—chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and cardinals—had long since slipped away to where ever it is they roost…a pretty well-kept secret from what I can tell.  Given the recent spate of cold weather with heavy ice, it was little surprise that there was no sign either of other animals—from deer mice to coyotes—being out and about.  Even the trees seemed dormant, their lives contracted underground.

Night, all things asleep—
just ourselves to witness this
galaxy of snow.

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