Picking Wild Blueberries

August 10, 2020

There are lots of native lowbush blueberry plants growing in the nearby woods, owing to the abundant shade, however, few of these flower and form fruit. But if one takes the time to hike to the top of Bear Mountain, one can find plenty of berries ripened to sweetness in the August sun.

Mountain blueberries—
laughing toddler spots and tastes
bits of fallen sky

What Foraging Fawns Love Best

July 29, 2020

Hostas are attractive and hearty plants bred to offer a range of different sizes, shapes and leaf color.  Little wonder that they’re popular.  I’d guess just about every yard in Maine has a hosta or two (or three) planted along a walk or by a foundation.  Most Mainers also come to learn sooner or later that deer also love hostas.  Along with lilies, hostas seem to be their favorite summertime food.

Now that it’s mid-summer the fawns born in the spring are old enough to do a little foraging on their own.  The hostas are at their tastiest, and the does have already shown their young where to find them.

Hostas at bloom time—
this year too we watch shy fawns
nibble them to stumps

One of a pair of hosta-loving fawns.  The hostas had already been enjoyed–down to their stalk-stumps–and aren’t in the photo.

Needing Rain in the Days of Rapid Growth

June 6, 2020

We had gone two weeks without rain right at the time of most intense growth, when a heavy downpour broke the spell yesterday afternoon.  This was followed by a significant shower in the early evening. It was not just us humans who were feeling a sense of relief.

Early summer rain—
ten thousand times ten thousand
tender leaves rejoice.

What the Shadbush Trees Tell Us

May 19, 2020

Shad used to swim in large numbers up the coastal rivers of Maine.  This was before the heavy industrial pollution (prior to the Clean Water Act of 1972) and the building of large dams ended the large-scale seasonal migration of this anadromous fish. The rivers are cleaner now and efforts are being made to restore the runs, but dams still present a major barrier on most rivers.  (Fish ladders don’t seem to offer the fish much help.)

But even while the shad are gone or scarce, the land remembers them.  The shadbush  (a.k.a serviceberry) is a tree that, in a variety of species, is native to North America.  Here in Maine we mostly see the smooth shadbush whose leaves have a beautiful soft reddish color when they first unfold in spring.  Native Americans of the eastern coastal areas knew that these small, graceful trees came into flower when the bountiful runs of fish were heading up the rivers.

For ten thousand springs
copper leaves, white breaths return—
shadbush trees in bloom.

Spring Sun

April 20, 2020

As the Pandemic continues to wreak havoc in human society around the world, life in the non-human world goes on more or less on course.  In Maine, we are fortunate to be able to go outside and spend some time in the non-topsy-turvy natural world.  As many people report, it feels good.

Bathed in clean spring light
old trees too seem younger now—
slap of wave on stone.

Supermoon in Troubled Times

April 8, 2020

Last night was utterly cloudless.  The moon was full and close to the earth in its orbit, closer than any other full moon will be this year.  This made it a supermoon, larger and brighter than most, and, in last night’s clear air, exceptionally beautiful.

Sadness, worry, fear
touched by its keen light lose strength —
April’s supermoon.

Spring in the Time of the Pandemic

April 5, 2020

Today confirmed COVID-19 positive cases number 1,268,468 globally, the number of recorded deaths is 69,172.  In Maine as in most states in America we are under a stay-at-home order. People in the grocery store eye one another warily from above their cloth masks.

At the same time, a north country spring has arrived in central Maine.  The snow is gone, and ice out on our lake was yesterday.

Budded twigs wind tossed,
water’s slap, fresh beaver cuts—
These can ease our fear.

At a Time of Physical Distancing, Spring Snow

March 25, 2020

In the US and around the globe we are battling the COVID 19 pandemic.  Government measures to stop the spread rightly include social distancing mandates and stay-at-home orders.  Freedom to walk outside is now limited for many people, especially those in crowded urban settings.

In these times, I feel especially grateful to be living in central Maine surrounded by woods.  The new coronavirus is indeed present in the State, but it is not difficult to be outdoors in a safe way.

I would give to all
this path, these woods, this pure air—
morning of spring snow.

Warm Day in Early March

March 3, 2020

Today, with the sun shining on the lingering snowpack and temperatures climbing into the fifties, the bitter cold of a few days ago seems like a distant memory.

It is a beautiful, gentle day, as water, long-frozen, starts to flow, and trees everywhere extend their branches upward.

Soft air over snow—
day moon melts, wafer of ice
in a pool of sky.