Greetings from a rainy day in Colorado where the landscape has become intensely green! The moisture is very welcome here and in addition to this positive development, I have a few more things to share:
- My mid-April wish came true and two pairs of House Wrens are nesting in our neighbors’ nest box AND in the box we put up this spring. Here’s one photographed a few minutes ago as it sat in the rain, surveying the landscape and occasionally breaking into that song I just love-love-love.
The wren’s coloration is off and I’m not sure whether that’s due to wet feathers or molting or both factors. But there’s no mistaking that profile and song.
- As mentioned here, last summer I parted ways with my (wonderful) former agent and in the fall began the querying process. I’m so happy to now share that last month I signed with a new stellar agent (Wendi Gu of Sandford J. Greenburger Associates) and am now waiting for her editorial letter on my middle grade novel. We’ve had really good conversations about the manuscript and Wendi offered insightful suggestions for strengthening the story, so I can’t wait to dig in again and make GRAPPLE the best it can be before it goes out on submission. Hooray!
- I’m using this waiting time to my advantage (rather than nervously twiddling my thumbs) and am drafting my new middle grade. I’d been working on it, off and on, while querying agents before realizing the uncertainty of the querying process was having such a negative impact on my work that I’d pretty much stopped. But now I have an incredible partner in my career and am motivated to write more stories–lots of stories!–and have been making good progress. My secret? This week I packed up my laptop, notebook, snacks, etc. and headed out in Moby to nearby parks where I am away from the distraction of home and social media. On Wednesday, I parked at the edge of one of the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater parking lots where a beautiful bird serenaded me as I added words to my story. A couple days this week I worked in the parking lot of a neighboring park, but yesterday I almost abandoned my session there because someone flew a BUZZING drone all around Moby for about 15-20 minutes before finally giving up on the harassment.
- And now I’m headed out again in Moby as soon as I post this. The really good news? I don’t have to worry about finding shade because it’s raining!
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend filled with weather of your choice and lots of singing birds!
These are views from our campsite at Vega State Park last week. It’d rained all day and when it finally stopped, we emerged from Moby to do a little exploring in the calm, freshly-scrubbed air. The water’s surface was the perfect palette.
May 11, 2023
The peaceful quiet was only disturbed by the sound of Emma chomping on a crayfish claw shell she’d found and then refused to let me remove from her mouth. Naughty little dog.
Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance. ~ Morgan Freeman
In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you. ~ Deepak Chopra
Out my window. July 30, 2021
with long slender toes
walks atop vegetation
Does this Common Gallinule inspire your own haiku? If so, please leave one in the comments.
My heart is heavy after watching today’s session of Montana’s state House vote to censure trans Representative Zooey Zephyr. The vote was along party lines, 68-32. She is now banned from the House floor and not allowed to speak on legislation, and will only be allowed to vote remotely. Zephyr’s speech in her defense was powerful and brought me to tears. She’s on the right side of history. Those who silence the voices of those speaking on behalf of the oppressed? Nasty, small-minded fascists.
So here is a Bushtit photographed in September of 2021:
This darling wee bird was accompanied by a whole bunch of other Bushtits that day and I post its photo in honor of the lone Bushtit that briefly visited the feeder as I hoop-danced this morning. It’s exceedingly rare for a Bushtit to travel alone, and I’m hoping it’s only because the rest of the gang was nearby taking cover from the rain.
I receive the gift of this bird’s beautiful presence and now share it with you.
I went exploring through photo folders in search of something to post on this rainy (yes, rain! 😀) afternoon and started looking at images from my visit to the Chatfield Audubon Center last May. This one caught my eye because, well, blooms and bees!
I was fairly confident that photo showed a honey bee feasting on Wild Plum blossoms. And I knew for sure the bird on the left was a Common Grackle.
But then I looked some more and came across the photo below and had no idea what I was seeing. The image is poor quality, but I figured there were enough identifying features to make an identification. Sure enough, this is a type of whiptail lizard, specifically, a Six-lined Racerunner (the third photo is the best match). Woot woot!
That research victory got me looking more closely at other photos in the folder and I came across one which proved more difficult to identify. How would you describe this plant? I tried double leaves, spade-shaped leaves, double blooms, and then just searched “colorado wildflower yellow” and there it was: Leafy Spurge.
People keep telling me about cool apps they have on their phones for identifying flora and fauna, but I never remember them in the moment. How about you? Do you use apps? If so, what’s your recommendation?
I’m happy to say we received much-needed moisture in the last 48 hours! Yesterday, I woke to about 4 inches of snow on the railing and it continued to lightly snow for several hours more. After it’d stopped, I glanced out the kitchen window and saw a squirrel in the plum bushes behind the fence which is a common sight. But when I looked again a few minutes later, that squirrel was in the same position. Could it be asleep?
Indeed it was. There were several squirrels eating from the two nut munch cylinders we hang on the back fence and they’d been busy as the snow fell, and I wondered if this one was just tuckered out from all the food foraging in the cold. While finches and towhees hopped around the nearby branches, the squirrel slightly opened her eyes while keeping her head down on the branch, and then appeared to go back to sleep.
It wasn’t until other squirrels began chasing each other on top of the fence that this one abandoned its rest. If this squirrel is the same that brazenly ate peanuts from the bird feeder this morning as I watched from just feet away, I’d say the powernap did her good.
There are many, many things I wish would come to pass on behalf of people and planet, but I’m focusing on the personal right now. My wish is for House Wrens to nest in the neighbor’s nest box as they did last year so that I may drink up all that beautiful song* again.
July 3, 2022
Or maybe I’ll be really greedy and wish for wrens to nest at the neighbors’ AND for another pair to come stay in the nest box we hung beneath our deck. Wouldn’t that be something? 💚
*From Cornell’s All About Birds:
Both males and females sing. Males often sing 9-11 times per minute during breeding season. Songs are a long, jumbled bubbling introduced by abrupt churrs and scolds and made up of 12-16 recognizable syllables. Females sing mainly in answer to their mates shortly after pairing up; their songs can include high-pitched squeals unlike any sounds males make.
As I often do on Fridays, I went in search of a photo to use as a haiku prompt and landed on one from a visit to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in August of 2021. This image reminded me of childhood when our mother tried to wrangle the five kids for a decent photo that was inevitably ruined by someone flashing bunny ears behind a sibling or making a face or turning away from the camera. Clearly, these cormorants couldn’t care less about me getting a good shot.
And so I wrote this haiku:
but majority headless
group photo challenge
Before posting it I took a closer look, zooming in on the birds nearest the center of the photo, and decided to crop the image to only show those four cormorants. And that’s when I discovered something I’d missed. Do you see it?
Holy guacamole. This calls for a whole new haiku:
glossy birds sunbathe
pronghorn antelope keeps watch
sprinting days over
Please join in the fun and comment with your own haiku for this photo!
Not a high-quality photo, but there’s some drama and intrigue here:
Barr Lake State Park April 8, 2021
I get the sense these two are working hard at ignoring each other because they’re already acquainted. Like, maybe they’ve had prior run-ins and now carry grudges. Or maybe they’ve never met, but that pelican with the stabby, knobby bill scares the bejesus out of the cormorant and beneath the surface it’s paddling like mad to get away.
Maybe they’re both new in town and too shy to strike up a friendship. Or maybe that cormorant’s haughty tilt of the beak is designed to keep other birds at a distance.
Maybe it’s really a well-choreographed water ballet that’s supposed to make us think these two dancers are on a collision course when really they end up executing an elegant near-miss.
More likely, the photo is just a fun little image from two years ago that makes me nostalgic for that day.
Today I joined a new friend from Barnraisers and his family for a visit to the Botanic Gardens in Denver. They live out of state and while we’d only met via zoom, he and I connected through the screen. Happily, his spouse and son were equally fun to talk with. I purposely left my camera at home so as not to be rude about interrupting conversations to take photos, but these beauties were too hard to resist and I used my camera phone to capture their essence.
Here’s another clump highlighting the stems which resemble fluffy evening gowns:
Hooray for the beauty of Pasque Flowers!
ancient river creation
hit me with a haiku
Things can fall apart, or threaten to, for many reasons, and then there’s got to be a leap of faith. Ultimately, when you’re at the edge, you have to go forward or backward; if you go forward, you have to jump together. ~ Yo-Yo Ma
Okay, mourning dove.
It’s just you and me.
One . . . two . . . three . . . JUMP!
The wind is BLOWING right now. (Per my phone, weather is currently: “62 degrees and blowing widespread dust.”) It’s warm and very dry here in Colorado and one wildfire’s already burning in Park County. My wildfire anxiety is HIGH. Emma’s pressed up against my feet right now because the house shakes and the roof creaks with each particularly strong gust of wind. Making matters worse, tomorrow’s supposed to be even windier than today. Ugh.
I’m going to abort my writing plans and instead play loud music to drown out the nightmare outside while I create some art. Before I go, here’s a tree I photographed yesterday when we hiked at Castlewood Canyon State Park (where the wind had already started). We still had a lovely time.
I went searching for a wind-related quote and found this which feels like a good antidote to my current windy reality and a good match for this photo. Enjoy.
We never look deeply into the quality of a tree; we never really touch it, feel its solidity, its rough bark, and hear the sound that is part of the tree. Not the sound of wind through the leaves, not the breeze of a morning that flutters the leaves, but its own sound, the sound of the trunk and the silent sound of the roots.
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
profile in courage
confident outside burrow
until whistle blows
South Boulder Creek Trail. March 1, 2022
hit me with a haiku
It seems everywhere I look, people and planet are suffering because the powerful are making decisions that benefit a select few. Sometimes (okay, frequently) I’m overwhelmed by the feel of this Whack-a-Mole reality in which it’s one awful thing after another being inflicted on us in the name of capitalism and Christofascism. However, nature always brings me back to myself and while this photo is from another year and another season, its beauty centers me today.
View from Eaglesmere Lake Trail. Sept 28, 2021
Today I am grateful for the many, many people putting themselves on the line for a better world. And today I vow to remain in the fight because this planet and all its inhabitants are worth fighting for.
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I photographed these two Rocky Mountain Columbine last July while camping.
And now I want to go back and sit with their delicate beauty. Instead, I must put on my running shoes and pound out a few miles before tuning into my Barnraisers Project cohort Zoom meeting.
Soon, though, I will be back amongst the blooming wildflowers.
swiveling for sound
lucky rabbit ears hear all
hold your secrets close
July 3, 2022
hit me with a haiku