That Haunting Autumn Sky

willowscurlsSky Over Clouds Over Arkansas Prairie
Willow the Wisp — such a wisp of a girl —
once whispered to clouds that she longed for some curls.
The clouds came together, and on one bright night
they curled ’round her head — what a beautiful sight!


Ground fog; mountain-hugging clouds; tendrils of darkness enveloping the sunlight — all have given rise to Will-o-the-wisp legends beloved of those who dwell far, far away from the city’s constant light.

When Steve Schwartzman wrote about “Will-o-the-Wisp” on his etymology blog, “Spanish-English Word Connections”, I not only enjoyed the history, I transformed Will into Willow, and composed my little verse.  With Halloween approaching, pumpkins piling up, and leaves beginning to show a bit of color, it seems that even the sky wants to share in the autumn fun.

Comments always are welcome. Because I’m traveling, it may take a bit of time for me to respond.
Published in: on October 18, 2016 at 7:08 am  Comments (79)  

Riding the Concrete River

Everyone has their quirks. Mine include sensing a rising, inexorable excitement when interstate highway signs signal a choice between Dallas and Little Rock, or point the way to Tucumcari, or suggest, at the Louisiana-Texas border, that El Paso lies only 873 miles to the west. It makes me want to get rolling. (more…)

Published in: on October 10, 2016 at 11:44 am  Comments (120)  

Reconsidering The Lilies

Egg dyeing; a surfeit of candy; patent leather shoes; fancy dresses in pastel colors; white gloves, and hats decorated with straw flowers: such were the traditions of Easter during my childhood, and I loved them all.

Only one aspect of our celebrations held no appeal: the appearance of the ubiquitous Easter lily. Its image adorned greeting cards, church bulletins, and the Easter Seals we affixed to letters and bill payments, while live plants filled store aisles, appeared at the front door in the hands of well-meaning neighbors, and nearly outnumbered worshippers on Easter Sunday.

Everyone said they were beautiful. It’s true that they were pretty enough, but what others called their fragrance, I thought of as their odor. In my twelve-year-old opinion, eau de skunk would have been preferable.

Life’s Little Imperfections

It began with the left arm. The sweater-in-process, the color of wild young asparagus, lay in pieces on the dining room table: its back, right arm, and cabled, vee-necked front ready to be assembled into the shape of loving, hand-knit warmth. But within that left arm, a fault had been introduced into the pattern — a slight irregularity in the smooth, sweet rhythm of the yarn — and it was causing consternation.

Halfway up the sleeve, it would have nestled into the bend of an elbow, barely detectable and probably unseen even to well-trained eyes.  But the knitter — proficient, quick, and given to knitting in places like darkened movie theatres – spotted it, and felt it looming like an accusation.  “I’ll just unravel that sleeve and do it over,” she said. “It won’t take very much time, and after all – we want it to be perfect.” (more…)

Published in: on September 17, 2016 at 9:17 pm  Comments (119)  
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Sometimes, Once Is Enough

Roseate spoonbill at Olney Pond
(click for greater clarity)

The morning seemed unusually quiet. At the edge of Olney Pond, a single spoonbill stirred the water, swinging its bill with a pendulum-like rhythm: shrimp, fish; shrimp, fish; shrimp, fish. Glossy ibis, long-billed and svelte, picked over their sandbar like latecomers to brunch. Only the stilts, hidden among the rushes and reeds, shredded the silence with their sharp, clean yips of warning and complaint.

In the rising heat, clouds bubbled and built before bending to the will of the winds. Distracted by their shifting shapes, I barely noted the soft, muted sound behind me. Then, I heard it again: the sound of a pillowcase being snapped and shaken out before being pinned to a clothesline.

While considering the possibilities — Alligator? Hunter? Frogs? — I heard the sound again: closer this time, and more resonant. Suddenly, with a fluttering of wings and loud, croaking cries, a great egret dressed in breeding plumage landed at the edge of the pond.