Friday, November 30, 2012

fiery cloud dragon

fiery cloud dragon
chasing the setting sun
into the maw of earth

Amazing sunset cloud dioramas during these late autumn days. One looks like a dragon with wings of fire chasing the golden orb. Another looks like a river of vermilion fire, while yet another looks like little wavelets on the ocean. Nature-made and man-made clouds combine to create an effect like the streaks and squiggles in stained glass. And in another scene, one layer of inky clouds is raining wispy virgas, while the layer below it is sending streaks of rain upwards. How strange is that?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

red-tailed hawk perching

red-tailed hawk perching
on an old wooden tailgate,
scanning for a meal

The red-tailed hawk doesn't immediately fly away when I stop the truck, posing just long enough for me to go from landscape to closeup. It looks like someone set up a perfect still life, the triangular red and white slow-moving-vehicle sign, the weathered wooden boards of the old tailgate, the stripes of the gray metal shed and the roundness of the turquoise disk, all contrasting with the soft curves and vibrant aliveness of the hawk. I'm still in zoom mode and not fast enough to follow when my model finally takes flight, displaying its distinctive red-orange tail.
          Red-tailed hawks will perch on anything that gives them an elevated view as they scan for prey, whether it's a bare treetop, a signpost or a telephone pole. Usually they prefer open fields, but last spring, a red-tailed hawk built a nest in a tree by a creek on campus and began attacking pedestrians who crossed the nearby foot bridge, dive bombing and pecking heads. Soon an urgent email went out warning students to avoid the bridge while she was nesting. 
          Then this fall, a red-tailed hawk, perhaps the same one, bashed into one of the glass windows of the golden dome while a group of us were meditating inside. I jumped at the sound and ran to the window to see a very large bird standing on the ground, looking a bit dazed, but she quickly flew off. Then a week ago she was perched on the low fence outside the student center, peering into the bushes. Bunny rabbits, beware!
          Must be tough to raise a family and hunt for food with so many humans around, but she seems to be prospering. A good sign, when wild creatures and tame ones can live together in relative peace.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

frost moon, alone again

frost moon, alone again,
the little black horse wandering
the empty pasture

Frost this morning and a full Frost Moon tonight. Furry animals are putting on more fur while those that live on plants have to graze or gather longer. Americans have just celebrated Thanksgiving, packing on extra calories in one day of feasting, an ancient practice designed to store fat for winter.
          As the grass dries up in the fields, farmers are bringing in big round bales of hay for their livestock. I drive by the horse pasture with four apples, hoping to find the four horses near the fence so I can give them a treat. But I am shocked to see only the little black horse, grazing close to the red shed at the far end of the field. The three big horses have vanished, leaving Cocoa Bean alone again.
          What happened? I can only guess. The farmer's actions are a mystery. One winter, the little black horse has a big black bull as a companion, but he disappears before spring. The next winter, Cocoa Bean shares the pasture with a pair of Jersey cows, but they, too, are gone by spring. And now this year, the two American Quarter horses and the Clydesdale have suddenly been spirited away. I feel very sad for my little friend, facing another winter without a single companion.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

face on the blue boulder

face on the blue boulder
overlooking the dry creek,
eyes closed, smiling

Walking the path along Pilgrim Creek, dry as the dead leaves lining its bed, I pass the blue boulder overlooking the creek. As always, I stop to marvel at its presence. It looks like the serene face of a meditating Buddha wrapped in a shawl of moss. From what far region did this erratic hunk of granite hail? When did it hitch a ride on a glacier to this spot on the steep side of a little stream feeding into the creek? How many eons has it been lying there, witnessing the cycle of seasons? The blue Buddha holds enigmatic memories behind closed eyelids. But its small smile seems to say, why worry your head over such questions? Relax, be still, enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

pressed between two boards

pressed between two boards
a nest of black ants guarding
white eggs through winter

Saturday, it's summer again and I'm down on my knees, digging holes between the still-green musk strawberries to plant daffodils, 125 bulbs, more if you count the little ones clinging to their mother's sides.
          Sunday, it's back to autumn with a cold rain that hangs on all day. Most of the daffodils are still hanging out in their little mesh bags, but it's too cold and wet to plant bulbs. 
          Monday, it's early winter with a hard frost. I plant a few more bulbs until my hands and knees get too cold and wet, so I do a little yard clean up. 
          When I pick up some loose boards, I uncover a nest of black ants pressed between two boards toward the bottom of the stack. They have made a wall out of bits of bark, shaped like a shield, to guard them from the cold. When the boards separate, half of the ants remain on the bottom board, the other half cling to the top board, as if they have been hibernating upside down. Their shiny black bodies are packed together in an elongated heart shape, interspersed among a scattering of white eggs stuck to the bottom board.
          At first the ants don't move when exposed to the cold and light, but slowly some of them stir and begin to crawl away toward the edge of the board. However, they are not carrying their eggs to safety, as ants usually do when their nest is disturbed. Perhaps they're too cold to do anything except move away from the cold. 
          Carefully, I replace the top board on the bottom board, hoping I haven't smashed any ants or destroyed their little bark barrier, and that they can find their way back to their long winter's sleep.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

signs of celebration

signs of celebration
on the lawn of a blue house 
after the election

Iowa, a swing state in presidential elections, swung blue again on 6 November 2012. The following morning, a proliferation of blue and white Obama-Biden election signs sprang up on the lawn of a blue and white house, signs of celebration for those who campaigned for the incumbents.