Friday, March 29, 2013

signs of spring -- one bluebird

signs of spring -- one bluebird,
two fishermen by the lake,
five lambs gamboling

Spring is here at long last. On a walk around the lake, I spot a bluebird sitting on a branch, red breast and white belly as bright as the sky blue head and back. When the bird takes flight, it's blue and all blue. By the shore a little boy watches as his father sets out two fishing poles. "Any bites?" I ask. "Not yet!" the man replies. In a nearby pasture, five lambs race around -- two white, two black, one brown -- while the staid sheep, still in their long winter wool, placidly graze on the greening grass.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

after the apple

after the apple
is gone, the little black horse
seems to say, don't go

Except for a few patches, the snow is gone, so Cocoa Bean has ventured out into the pasture. When I stop the truck, the little black horse looks up from grazing and walks up to the fence. I give him an apple, cut in half for easier eating, which he grabs and consumes in a few bites. 
          I notice that his forelock is now so matted with burrs that it stands out like some kind of bizarre unicorn's horn. 
          Scratching him behind his ears, I say, "Cocoa Bean, you look like you're having a bad hair day." 
          "These burrs?" he snorts. "Nah, they just keep the hair out of my eyes."
          But when I turn to leave, his liquid chocolate eyes plead, "Don't go!"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

surprise spring snowstorm

surprise spring snowstorm --
the little black horse plods to the fence
for a handful of grass

Cocoa Bean, as I call the little black horse, has been alone in the little pasture next to the little red barn for several months. I found out that he lost his companions of last year, the big Clydesdale and two American Quarter horses, to a divorce, and that he belongs to a boy, though I've never seen the two together. From the looks of the burrs in Cocoa Bean's mane, it doesn't look like he gets much grooming. He spends his days, from early morning to late evening, grazing. But this surprise Spring snowstorm has covered the low grass, so when I appear with a handful of long grass from the other side of the fence, he plods through the snow to eat from my hand, clearly grateful for both the grass and the attention.

a white cap slides off

a white cap slides off
a copper-top solar light
in the spring snowstorm

The Spring snowstorm that started last night continues all day, tiny flakes falling steadily, but with the temperature hovering just at freezing, not much accumulation. The blacktop highway glistens with snow melt, while our gravel road is white only on the hill sheltered by a tunnel of trees. Walking to the house, my footprints in the fresh snow quickly turn into puddles. At the gate, a cap of snow has slid off the copper top of a solar light, one frozen teardrop clinging to the edge. Weird mixture of Winter and Spring. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

end of winter wind

end of winter wind
roars through the woods, blowing blanched
hazel leaves flat out

A light dusting of snow during the night vanishes when a March wind roars in. The cold gale roars through the trees in the woods, blowing the blanched leaves still clinging to hazel trees sideways.
          Pilgrim Creek, like a shiny silver snake that has just shed its winter skin of ice, slithers around its serpentine bed. Clay from the high bank leaks into the water, making orange tabby cat masks. 
          The erratic glacial boulder seems to be squeezing its eyes shut against the wind, or perhaps it's just smiling at the hubbub of hastiness whirling around it. 
          Something oddly rectangular on the bark of a buckeye tree stops me. It looks like a secret door. Perhaps this is entrance to the Land of the Little Ones, but the sun has already sunk behind the hill, taking its shining keys with it for another day.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

everything hidden

everything hidden
now out in the open as
winter turns to spring

On St. Patrick's Day, surprise lilies are piercing dead leaves with their chartreuse fingers, reaching for the sunlight that will turn them dark green. Everything hidden emerging from winter's stillness. Five wild turkeys leave the protection of the woods to forage in a cornfield. A herd of whitetail deer, veiled in mist, rummage for last year's corn in the same field. Canada geese stop at the thawing farm ponds, standing on thin ice, swimming in the open water, pecking corn in the nearby field. 
          One day I emerged from the dining hall just as an enormous flock flew over, heading north by west. There must have been hundreds of birds in layers of wavering lines weaving in and out, spanning half the sky. Of course, the thing that remained hidden that day was my camera, unfortunately left at home. But I don't think I could have captured the enormity of that migrating mass of geese with anything other than my wondering eyes. I stood on the steps, mouth open, pointing up with my right hand, amazed that no one joined me.

yearling in the yard

yearling in the yard
munching last year's iris leaves
molting winter's coat

St. Patrick's Day, early morning. Right after I get in the truck, I look up to see a yearling high-stepping across the yard. The young one stops at the little border garden beside the driveway and begins pulling up and munching last year's Siberian Iris leaves. I thought deer were not supposed to like iris, but in late winter maybe anything tastes good. I'm charmed to find a deer this close, looking straight at me, but she neither sees nor smells me, dressed all in green, sitting behind glass just a few feet away. When I finally turn on the engine, the deer turns up her white tail and bolts, but only as far as the mother doe and yearling twin on the other side of the yard. The three deer watch me slowly drive away, then return to browsing. Minutes later I get another surprise: a pair of pheasants on either side of the highway who fly off in opposite directions.

Friday, March 8, 2013

lavender spirals

lavender spirals
fan outwards, casting captured
sunlight on the snow

The little pillar solar lights along the path to the house make delicate lavender spiral patterns on the snow, the spokes growing longer as they curve outwards. I do not know why the pattern forms a spiral -- some mysterious love of beauty. A whitetail deer has stepped near one of the lamps, breaking the perfect symmetry, creating an intriguing interplay between organic and inorganic forms. The small goblet-shaped light near the door got buried during the last snow storm. When I dig down through the snow, I am guided by the glow of the still weakly glimmering lamp. The liberated light eater radiates its rays around a little bowl carved into the snow by cold fingers.

wild tracks in the snow

wild tracks in the snow
along the creek -- whitetail deer,
wild turkey, rabbit, squirrel

Lozenges of dark water murmur through duvets of snow still blanketing Pilgrim Creek. The calligraphy of wild animal tracks punctuates the pristine canvas -- whitetail deer cutting heart shape prints in the snow as they come down to drink, the curvilinear script punched into the snow by the three-pronged feet of wild turkey, blossoms of cottontail rabbit toes meandering like wild rose vines along the banks, and the funny squiggles of a squirrel snuffling through the snow in search of seeds.

wings of snow fallen

wings of snow fallen
on the steps, melting under
a moment of sun

Descending the steps from the Argiro Student Center to the parking lot, I look up when the sun makes a momentary appearance between clouds. The dark wet pavement and angular lines of the stairs and railings contrast beautifully with the soft, curvaceous white snow. And then I notice the tiny rust-red highlights at the base of the white railings, contrasting with the blue sky. Funny how entropy, in the form of rust, appears like a beauty mark on a pristine face.

Monday, March 4, 2013

encased in ice fingers

encased in ice fingers
buds on frail branches suspended
in cold storage

Early March, more snow and ice than we've seen all winter. Snow melt on the roof during a sunny day freezes overnight into fantastic fingers of ice. Thick and heavy, the ice bedecks the wisteria vine with glistening swags and pennants, while the fragile branches of flowering cherry bend under the weight until the icicles hang sideways. The next day, only broken shards of ice pockmark the snow.