waves now wash
o’er winter’s shore,
laving away loose
cold and broken remnants:
ice-limned rock; skeletons of
shell; dune-weary grasses torn and
tossed to float amid the spume; frothy
intimations of summer’s vibrant blooms.


Comments always are welcome.
For more information on the Etheree, a syllabic poem that in its basic form contains ten lines and a total of fifty-five syllables, please click here.


132 thoughts on “Transition

    1. Maybe the wild onions I showed in the December Walden West post predisposed you to see scallions here: or, perhaps, you’ve recently visted a store’s produce section.

        1. Here’s an example of one thing leading to another. I woke up thinking of ‘rapping’ scallions. Rapping veggies? I couldn’t help myself, and went over to YouTube. Sure enough, there are multitudes of kids’ videos filled with vegetable rap songs. I found some dedicated to chard, sweet potatoes, and carrots, but none featuring a scallion. Who knew?

    1. Thank you, Lavinia. I’ve not written an Etheree in some time; I was pleased when this one presented itself and asked to be developed. It really is amusing that the first few lines were part of a comment I was leaving on another blog when I looked at them and thought, “That’s an Etheree!” I immediately changed my comment, and went to work on the poem.

    1. Funny that I never saw it that way, although now I can. I don’t have many clean-swept beach photos, so this one will have to do. Think of it as metaphorical grass!

    1. Some of my favorite places are along what we call the Blue Water Highway. It runs down a narrow strip of land from Galveston to Surfside, with the Gulf on one side and the bays on the other. Earth, sea, and sky are abundant there, to say the least.

        1. After I lived in Salt Lake City for a year, surrounded by the mountains and forests, I drove back to Texas to take a new position. When I hit West Texas, something akin to vertigo set in; it was disorienting to have a 360 degree horizon. I’ve read some interesting accounts of the experience written by women pioneers. Eventually, I came to love it: sometimes on the ocean, and sometimes on the prairies.

          1. The Great Salt Lake is drying up. Toxic dusts blow from the lake bed into Salt Lake City, etc.
            I was raised on a farm in Illinois. We had flat land with unobstructed 360˚ views. Driving through the Kansas Flint Hills and the Bazaar Cattle Pens reminds me of those expansive views.

            1. As it happens, I have some photos of the Bazaar Cemetery, and the graves of some of the Ingalls clan: people related to the Laura Ingalls Wilder whose stories I loved in grade school. And if you enjoy stories of the cattle pens in Bazaar, and that part of the state’s history, you’ll love this article. I’d love to go back.

    1. People make fun of our Gulf’s ‘ugly water’ because it’s usually brown. It’s true that waves stir up sand and rivers bring down mud, but when conditions are right and the water clears, it can become a beautiful blue or green, and shine like glass.

    2. After looking at the photo for a while, I decided that — sans the grass and the spume — it does tend toward something like a Rothko. The bands of color do it.

    1. It’s fascinating to watch that exchange. Winter’s an especially fine time for beach-combing here; strong north winds drive the water out beyond the first or second sandbar, and shelling’s great fun. In summer, when strong southerlies push the water toward the shore, it sometimes brings very interesting things with it. My best find ever was a wax figure carved with French ‘incantations’ that a Haitian friend said probably got tossed into the Gulf by a sailor on a freighter.

    1. I only learned about them a few years ago. It’s an interesting form. The trick is to move beyond syllable-counting alone to begin adding more traditional aspects of poetry: rhythm, rhyme, imagery, and so on. If you’re interested, you can do a search here on the blog for ‘etheree’ and find some older poems that I wrote. Some are better than others; I’ve thought about going back and re-working the ones that don’t please me so much!

  1. Lovely and evocative of this time; “…grasses torn and tossed…” I like that image. Growing up in Corpus, I always liked “the beach” November through February. It’s quieter and more serene than the summer crowds and harsh sun.

    1. I completely agree. It’s been so warm that the crowds didn’t diminish much in December, but now that the holidays are over and school’s back in session, things are much quieter. I noticed last weekend that new growth is appearing on the dunes; it’s still winter, for sure, but it’s fun to see some of the most familiar beach plants as ‘babies.’

        1. Meant to write that I attended King, but I have four older brothers and over the course of the years, Ray, Carroll, and King were “our” schools due to boundary changes, etc.

          1. Isn’t it fun when these unexpected connections pop up? My sense is that you and Belle are about the same age. It would be amazing if you were in school at the same time.

          2. Hi Tina, so cool! I actually finished my junior/senior years at Calhoun County High School in Port Lavaca. But both of my younger brothers went to Rockport HS, and my middle brother played football. So, all of the schools you mentioned are familiar since they were basically local and I think Rockport played a few in either scrimmages or actual games-can’t remember. But I did a year at Del Mar College then finished at what used to be Corpus Christi State University, now Texas A&M U CC.

            1. I still remember the first time I drove through that area, and saw the “Fighting Sandcrabs” signs at the stadium. I knew I was in a different world then!

    1. Thanks, Alessandra. One of the things I enjoy about the form is being forced to work within a defined structure. I’m not sure I’m ready to take on a sonnet, but the minimalism of Etherees pleases me. My early ones weren’t so good, but I’ve gotten a bit more daring with them, and discovered they can be more ‘poetic’ than I’d imagined.

    1. Thanks, John. Do you miss your beach town now and then? Your new place is great, but there’s just something about the salt air — and even the sand! — that can be so satisfying.

        1. It’s true, isn’t it? There’s a certain permanence there, but there’s also constant change. Watching the ocean’s like watching a fire; it’s always the fire, or always the ocean, but there’s no predicting exactly what form it will take.

    1. The shape of the poem on the page is interesting, Peter. The first ones I bumped into had everything aligned on the left, but when I started centering the lines, there were some surprises. As you might imagine, a Christmas Etheree in the shape of a Christmas tree can be quite fun!

  2. I like the image – the combination of grass, waves, and sky is winning. Nice light as well. And your verses are always welcome. The grass is a dune child, not something tossed from the scullery.

    1. It’s not the Cape, but we do what we can. We’re heading into the time of year when there can be some really nice light along the coast; I’ve found a couple of spots to try some of that landscape photography you do so well. It’s always good when grasses, waves, and sky come with decent parking; getting stuck in the sand isn’t high on my list of priorities.

      1. A long time ago I got stuck in the sand on Cape Cod, along a one-lane road near a beautiful glacial kettle pond. I didn’t have a cell phone, but someone called AAA for me. The tow truck went to Wellesley, not Wellfleet where my car was stuck. Four hours later…
        I wish I could do landscape photography better – it’s challenging.

        1. The last time I got stuck, it was in prairie mud rather than sand. That was the day I learned that roadsides often mimic what’s in the fields next to them. Two guys happened by in an F250 with tow straps, and lickety-split, I was back on the road. Not long after, I added a tow strap to my cache of photographic supplies: carry it in the trunk all the time.

  3. Love the image and the words. It looks like quite a pleasant day down the beach. Not winter at all, but I suppose its very cold?

    1. Even though it can be bitterly cold when a ‘norther’ is blowing through, most of the time our winter beach weather is quite pleasant: cool enough for long pants and jackets — or even a layer or two — but warm enough if there’s sun. It can be quite windy: so much so that visitors soon understand the signs that say, “Watch for sand on the roads.” If the sand begins drifting, the camera stays in the car. Some day I may have a weather-sealed camera, but for now I’m especially cautious around the salt and sand.

      1. That’s one of the reasons why I bought a second Canon camera body about 7 years ago. I didn’t want sand getting in the camera when I changed lenses down at the beach.

        Yes, I was always very wary of sand and seawater when photographing gulls and other birds.

          1. It’s worth the effort if you can carry both. I no longer have a beach close enough via public transport, but I’m actually only about 25 minutes from the coast via car. (if I had a car that is).

    1. I’m glad I saw your comment before trundling off to bed. No matter how many times I’m reminded that we can communicate in real time with people all around the globe, it still amazes me. I’m glad you enjoyed the post — I certainly enjoyed your current reminder about the Egyptian geese. Such funny birds!

    1. That’s getting close to temperatures I consider perfect. It’s certainly good walking weather, and if there’s anyone who can put it to good use, it’s you. If the rain holds off, I’m looking forward to doing a bit of it myself this weekend; we’ll see.

    1. At this point, it might as well be an onion. When I found it, I thought ‘grass,’ and when I posted the photo I thought ‘grass,’ but things seem to have gone a different direction. Some day I may post the poem again, with a different photo — I almost changed photos in midstream as it was. It’s a great example of how any artist can ‘lose control’ of a painting, photo, or poem once it goes public. It’s been instructive, and fun.

    1. The poem turned out to be a variation on your own beach walk reflections. I do love the beach: especially when it’s been washed clean by a storm or seasonal tides. I’m glad you enjoyed this reflection on a special little stretch of beach in my neighborhood.

    1. There are plenty of people here who are on your side when it comes to this one. Once spring’s gone, we’re into hurricane season, and no one’s eager for that. To be honest, it seems like only a week ago that we came to the end of hurricane season. I guess what they say about time speeding up as we get older is true.

    1. I’ve always associate ‘limned’ with light, but once the phrase occurred to me, I looked up the word and found it would be perfectly acceptable in this different context. I’m glad — I like it, too!

    1. Springtime is a season of hope and renewal. As much as I love autumn, spring has its own color and its own excitement. Watching the dingy winter get washed away is a wonderful experience.

  4. I’ve learned so much about poetic forms from other bloggers. This Etheree is really interesting. Also, so many others have said what you did–that working within a form is satisfying. That grass made me think onion as well, but I doubted my vision given the context.

    1. I actually made pilgrimage to the spot in Arkansas where Etheree lived, hoping to find more information about her. I never got a photo of her grave, because some dogs chased me out of the cemetery, but I did learn that her brother played Santa Claus for the town every year. One of these days, I want to go back, and fill out some of the details. I already have an etheree written for Etheree, but I’d like to be able to tell the story more completely; ‘her’ poem would be far cooler in context.

    1. I can’t believe I never saw a scallion in that photo. I suppose it’s because I knew it was grass. In any event, I amused myself at work today by pondering another poem: perhaps an “Ode to an Accidental Onion”!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Sheryl. In a way, I think of etherees as verbal jigsaw puzzles. I usually start one when a phrase catches my attention, and go from there. In this case, I had written “spring’s rising waves” in a comment on another blog, and as soon as I did, I recognized that it could be the beginning of an etheree. I don’t so much write them as fiddle with them; this one had sixty-five revisions, most of which involved just moving words and phrases here and there. For me, they take time. When I get stuck, I set the poem aside and let my unconscious keep playing around with them until I realize it’s finally done.

          1. Thank you for your nice comment on Hat. I was hoping you would like it. I had a nice reply to send back to you, but my fumbly old fingers somehow deleted it and your comment as well. Just wanted to let you know I didn’t do it on purpose. I appreciate all your encouragement. Sherry

            1. As someone who occasionally deletes things I didn’t mean to delete, I understand completely. I’ll stop by and leave another comment, just because I want people to know how good I think your work was! Thanks for letting me know, Sherry.

  5. Another fine Etheree, Linda! I can almost stare at your photo long enough to convince myself it’s warm there on the beach, but I know better. Those waves aren’t kicking up for nothing, ha!

    1. Actually, it has been warm here. The photo’s from summer, but even now we’re in the 60s and 70s, and the water temperature’s 65. Nice. We’ll cool down now for the rest of the month, but that’s all to the good. It means the beaches won’t be so full of tourists. Tourists are good, of course — especially the money they bring — but the peacefulness of the empty beaches is wonderful. I enjoyed capturing a bit of the ‘feel’ in this Etheree; I’m glad you, as a fellow Etheree writer, liked it.

    1. Thanks, Curt. You certainly have sand in your future; it will be interesting to see how you interpret your experiences in that quite different world. I forgot to ask — will you be visiting Alexandria? That may be the one foreign place I’d visit in a minute, but of course I’m smart enough to realize it never would equal the image I have in my mind from reading Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. In any event, there surely will be a card produced from your experiences with ‘de-nile’! Let the puns begin!

      1. Our trip didn’t include Alexandria, Linda, but I noted a couple of days ago we could add it. I told Peggy immediately, “We have to do it. I have to go see the setting of the “Alexandria Quartet!” We are of like minds, my friend.

        1. In honor of your trip, I’m going to re-post my entry that combines West Africa and the Quartet. It won’t be for a couple of days, but it will be next. I’d forgotten it, but I really like it, and I think you will, too.

          1. Looking forward to it, Linda. I encountered the Quartet as a 17 year old in high school. As you might imagine, it gave me a different perspective on the world. Over the last couple of years, I’ve resisted the books. A different perspective, but still impressive.

  6. The visual and written images blend together well. I have never tried this form of poem – yours is lovely. The photo beckons one to walk on the beach before the spring breakers arrive.

    1. I’ve had to smile at the number of commenters with coastal Texas experience who’ve mentioned how pleasant the beaches are absent the tourists and spring breakers. It’s a quieter, simpler time, which may be why the Etheree’s a good form for describing it.

      I do enjoy working with the structure, but I’ve never thought, “Now, I will write an Etheree.” Instead, a phrase will come to mind that piques my interest, and I start from there.

  7. I saw a scallion, too, but because I’ve seen similar sea grasses on our beaches, I accepted it as grass! I like your poem, and very much appreciate the work you do of writing, prose and poetry.

    1. I know this: whenever I post a poem again, I’m going to be much more attentive to the accompanying image — if I include any. After working so hard on the poem, it was a little disappointing to see so much attention focused on the photo; I never expected my poem to play second fiddle to an onion! That said, the experience brought into focus something Annie Dillard mentioned in her wonderful book The Writing Life — something I think you’ll appreciate, and which I had forgotten until now:

      “The written word is weak. Many people prefer life to it. Life gets your blood going, and it smells good. Writing is mere writing; literature is mere. It appeals only to the subtlest sense — the imagination’s vision, and the imagination’s hearing — and the moral sense, and the intellect. This writing that you do, that so thrills you…is barely audible to anyone else. The reader’s ear must adjust down from loud life to the subtle, imaginary sounds of the written word.”

      I think it’s time to re-read her entire book!

      1. Oh my – “loud life” is exactly it, and often it’s a positive thing, a more primal engagement with reality; I was just thinking about this last night after a lot of talking about books with friends.

        I have read Dillard’s book but I had completely forgotten that passage. I think I also need to read it again, along with The Gutenberg Elegies… a swirl of “subtle, imaginary sounds” are swirling in my brain now.

  8. I have learnt something new. I had to research an Etheree, and I find yours to be very beautiful. Not an easy thing to construct, I imagine.

    1. One thing I’ve learned about Etherees is that they’re great for stimulating my vocabulary. Sometimes, casting about for a word that will both fit the structure and be at least vaguely poetic, I have to stretch my mind a bit. For this one, ‘laved’ and ‘limn’ had be checked out for appropriateness! And of course there’s that ‘o’er.’ Even an old-fashioned construction can work in a poem.

      Once one of these begins to form, bits and pieces can emerge even at traffic lights! It’s an advantage of shorter forms: not only etherees, but limericks and haiku, as well.

    1. At least we can reassure you that spring will happen! Of course, everyone here is keeping one eye on the calendar while we remember the great freeze of 2021. Now and then I have to remind myself of the date; while it was two years ago, everyone feels as though it was yesterday. Here’s hoping neither of us has to put up with something like that again.

      1. OH, so glad you reminded me! Yes, I found a group of 8-12, gathering for the evening. I got to hear them calling their flock in – have a really faint phone recording, very cool. They are on private property along the north side of Homreghast Rd, not far from 8 Mile Rd. There is a little used-to-be driveway that allows you to pull off the road and look through a very large wrought iron fence, with a sign saying “Sullivan Ranch” hanging from the top. When I first spotted them, they were within 30 feet of the road – they quickly moved away – very wary – so you have to be sneaky. Talked to Linda M, she said Oh yes, that’s where we used to see them all the time, glad they’re back! How cool is that!!

  9. You’ve written a lovely poem in a form I’ve never heard of. Well done. Your winter is much milder than ours, but does remind that spring is on the horizon here, eventually.

    1. Etherees are great fun to work with, although I seem to have to be moved to try one. I’ve never thought, “I believe I’ll write an etheree.” Instead, something will click, and I’ll think, “That might fit as an etheree.” Odd. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Even down here, where things do tend to be milder, there’s often a longing for spring. On the other hand, I’m already hearing people say, “Don’t wish too hard for spring. You know what comes after it — unholy heat and humidity.”

  10. This is such a lovely vision of my favorite time of year. The photograph and the word image combine to illustrate nature’s transition to the next season.

    Thank you for another example of Etherees. A sort of Haiku on steroids. I intend to experiment with the form. You have been warned.

    All this talk of scallions. I recognized the image as a familiar grass of dune and beach. The scallion battalion may be interested to know I bought a bag of veggies the other day which included a bundle of scallions. Arriving home, all the veggies were missing! Apparently, there was a — leek in the bag.

    I am woefully ignorant about the “music” genre known as rap, so cannot comment on rap as it relates to scallions. I do, however, know what I like. And Green Onions, as everyone near my age knows, is for listening to!

    1. I laughed at your ‘haiku on steroids,’ but then I came across your leeking bag and real laughter ensued. I enjoyed ‘scallion battalion,’ as well. Anyone who can come up with that has everything needed to write an etheree. I’ll look forward to that.

      What I can’t believe is that Booker T and that classic song didn’t come to mind! That needs to go into my road song rotation. It’s perfect for back road prowling: just the right tempo.

  11. It’s a nice comfortable image. I also saw a scallion or wild onion although the root is not all that bulbous. Maybe I am seeing food in your images now too. I enjoyed your etheree and the shape it takes.

    1. I was glad that Wally added that the grass is of a sort he’s familiar with on the Florida beaches, so grass is my story, and I’m sticking with it. That said, it certainly has that green onion ‘flavor’ to it. In any event, the transition is coming. Even the rough weather we’re expecting tomorrow is more spring-like than wintery. It’s been a while since thunderstorms and tornados have been on the menu.

  12. Thanks for this Linda. I love the etheree and photo both. I especially like how they remind me that spring has started its journey, and although it will be awhile before it makes its way to our winter’s shore, there is hope.

    1. Just so you know, the robins are everywhere here now, and they’re headed your way. They were the traditional sign of true spring when I lived in Iowa, and they still stir something when I see them. A couple of years ago, rather than just passing through, flocks of them lingered for a while, and I was able to listen to them sing the day to sleep. I hope yours ‘sing spring’ to you sooner rather than later.

  13. You did it again! A post where I do not know if I prefer the words or the image!
    I like the beaches in winter, far from the mad crowd, the music of the wind around my head (I should write in the hair but my hair …gone!) , the light…

    1. Not knowing whether you preferred the words or image is wonderful! It means they’re balanced in just the way I hoped — and that makes me happy! Like you, I prefer the beach in winter. Here, the summer beaches are full of people and noise: mostly quite young, and sometimes quite drunk! But there still are spots where they can be enjoyed: especially in the early morning, when fewer people are up and about.

    1. Gentle rains are good rains. Like a slowly melting snowpack, they’re restorative in any number of ways. Some of my friends dislike rainy days, but I love them — especially if it rains hard enough that I know I can’t go to work, and don’t have to waffle over the decision!

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