Familiar Bluets

July 10, 2019

There’s no question about it, a lot of insect species cause humans trouble and suffering.  In the midst of trying to avoid these pests (deer ticks and browntail moth caterpillars are at the top of my list) and, in ways safe for the rest of living world, do battle against them, it’s easy to forget about the non-noxious kinds.  These too are present, often in large numbers.  Many are doing things we humans appreciate—pollinating plants and feeding on harmful insects–and some are surprisingly beautiful.  Among the “good-guy” insects, I’m partial to the Familiar bluet.  It’s a damselfly that spends most of its life in larval form foraging on the beds of lakes and slow-moving streams, not attracting much human notice, but come the warm weather it takes to the air, all the while still voraciously consuming small pesky insects, and seeking a mate. The male of the species is brightly colored.  Coming across a crowd of these damselflies, hovering just inches above the warm lake water or perched on the leaves of a protruding water plant, sparks in me a feeling of insect joy.

Bodies light as air
bluer even than the sky—
sunlit damselflies.


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.