Posts Tagged ‘fall’

The View from Mattie’s Pillow

September 22, 2010


Today was the fall equinox, the balance point between our season of extravagant light and the introspective dark of winter. Tonight, as I write this, the moon hangs full in the southern sky over the Tanana Flats, just above a bright speck of planet low to the horizon. For the last few weeks, we’ve had warm, even hot days, gradually cooling to the high 60s during the day, chillier at night. Today, however, the forecast is for colder air to move in from Canada, bringing the chance of frost, even here on the ridge.

This evening, around 7, I went out to feed the horses and felt the deepening chill in the air. It was still pretty light, and I noticed my surprise at this fact—more evidence that deep down, I’m preparing myself to accept winter. I’ve been delaying dealing with the garden, though we’ve been eating from it every day, but tonight I knew I couldn’t delay any more. I brought out some woven grocery bags and picked the pole beans, the yellow French beans curled into Cs and the purple and green Rattlesnake beans—new this year—hanging straight and full. I put the squash into separate bags—small yellow crookneck, golden patty pan, a few small delicata, and three huge zucchini. I went to the greenhouse and moved all the tomato plants that I had left around the outside of the greenhouse into the greenhouse with the more privileged plants, then went back to the house and ran three five-gallon buckets full of hot water to keep the edge off the chill in the greenhouse. Then I went up on the deck and brought in the pots of herbs and the still-flowering geraniums and covered the tomato plants I had to leave outside with a large sheet of clear plastic. I looked around at the pots of flowers on the deck: deep purple and pale yellow petunias, marigolds, orange and pale blue and purple and yellow pansies, lobelia, verbena, lupine. Some of it will take a light frost. Maybe it won’t frost at all—we’ve been lucky so far. But there was frost on the grass in places at the university this morning as I made my way to class, and my toes were cool in my sandals.

We are nearly ready after this lovely reprise of summer. Yesterday we picked up the last of our year’s supply of hay from the Mayo fields. The bales were paper-dry and light enough to make the job of stacking easy. The sun slanted on the field, we saw a family walking along the farm road with a stroller, and Jeter the poodle had a grand time running through the open space to greet the walkers, the other trucks, and us in our separate trucks. Tonight, the new hay gave off a bittersweet scent, rich with the stored sunlight in each blade that will warm Mattie and Sam’s bellies through the coldest season.

Later tonight, we watched a short film on PBS about the poet William Stafford. I don’t know how this all fits together, except to see Stafford’s face in the film and to hear his voice and the voices of others reading his poems reminded me of how much his poems have worked their way into my sensibility. He had a way of looking sideways that included rather than excluded the viewer, and he was one who proved Dickinson’s point that “the mind is wider than the sky.” In this balance point of the seasons, finding Stafford seemed both reassuring and invigorating. He was the teacher, after all, who told student writers that if they didn’t like what they had written, to “lower your standards.” He was one who wrote poems at conferences and gave them away. I remember years ago meeting him on a path at the university when he was staying in student apartments as a visiting writer. I was a graduate student, and somehow our schedules dovetailed so that he would be returning at the same time I was headed to class. The path to the center of campus led through a small grove of birch trees, and that is the point where our paths would cross. He would nod and smile as if he knew me and wanted to share in that nod and the twinkle of his glance the secret of joy in that moment. I don’t remember if we spoke. It may have been this time of year—at least I imagine there were yellow birch leaves making the path golden.

So now we head into the reflective time of year. By the weekend, I will have given up all resistance and will have picked the tomatoes. We will pull the carrots and dig the potatoes and decide the best way to store the three purple cabbages we have left in the garden. I will be sad that these beautiful plants that I have tended from seeds will freeze. Mattie and Sam will get in a few more rides, or Mattie will; Sam is on rest while he heals from his foot and back soreness (more on that in another post).

And winter, for me, is the time for writing, as Stafford reminds me. I like to think he would have appreciated how much growing plants, building the soil, tending and riding the horses stand in for poetry in the summer months. Or even more, how poetry stands in for and can barely show the surface of the richness of these things.

I hear the clatter of the wind chimes outside on the deck. The window is dark. The season has turned, just like that.

The View from Mattie’s Pillow

September 18, 2010

After a three-week rainy period in August, we have been enjoying a long sunny fall these past few weeks. The leaves turned so gradually from green to gold to tawny orange, that it’s been hard to note the time when the turn began or shifted from one phase to another. The temperatures have gone up to the seventies every day, at least in some places. And, knock on wood, there has been no frost in the garden yet.

We are scrambling with winter chores, but the bright days and warm air make it hard to keep the sense of urgency we get when we are haying or cutting wood after a bite of frost. Today we had our friend Steve Sayer come out to wire the back Arctic entry, which will double as a tack room once we finish the insulation and inner walls. I spent time in the corral, working on my new manure composting bins, based on a design I found on the Horses for Clean Water website.

The tomato plants in the greenhouse are still green and putting out flowers. The vines are heavy with green tomatoes, still ripening. If I can time it right, I’ll leave them out there till just before the first hard frost—lengthening the season with a space heater for a week if need be. Then I’ll pick the tomatoes and store them in newspaper in a dark place to ripen. We may have them till November, if we’re lucky. The lemon cukes are still producing fuzzy, pale yellow round cucumbers that taste so delicate and faintly of lemon. The peppers, all the varieties we grew this year, are turning a hot red, long commas and parentheses of them dangling from arrowhead shaped leaves.

So much to do, but I feel the season in pause. I long for it to stay into November—as if I were longing for the place I live to shift and become central California or Provence. I often feel as if the change of seasons here in the Interior is not so much a change of light—though it very much is—as a slippage of geography. In summer, we slip south, so that Alaska may actually be where it appears on some maps—somewhere west of Catalina Island. And by fall, we’re chugging steadily back north again to nestle in under the Arctic Circle in time for snow, the aurora, ice fog—I’ll stop at that. It doesn’t bear too much thinking about, though it does bear preparation.

The horses are growing in winter coats. Sam’s coat is an inch long or more by now. Mattie’s is shorter, but velvety and dark, almost dappled. They approve of trucks turning up the driveway with loads of hay.

As for me, I am tired after a day shoveling manure and loading hay. The moon is a pale oval, like a smooth oyster shell dangling over the mountains to the south. After the long summer of gardening and riding, I have plenty to think about and write here. But the moon coaxes my sleepiness. It will have to wait till tomorrow.

The Post of Don Sam Incognito

August 27, 2010

Trickster Horse and Trickster Season

Today Trish and I went on a late afternoon trail ride.  It’s late summer—early fall, actually, but who wants to mention that—and the weather is changing.  We’re having cooler nights now that it’s getting dark, not just dusky, and the light has a bit more of a slant to it.  There’s less heat in the sun, though mid-day can get up to the 70s if it’s a cloudless day.   But the light shifts quickly in the sky now.  When we began grooming and tacking up, there was sun across the length of the corral.  By the time we were on the horses, the sun had slipped behind the crest of the ridge above us and we were in shadow and in cooler air.  We could see the sun bright on the valley below, even on the houses and treetops down the road.  We decided to follow the sun to see if we could catch up to it.

In other places, the location of the sun is easy to judge if you know the time of day.  Noon equals straight overhead.  Morning means sun in the east.  Evening, sun in the west.  But here in the northern interior, the sun is on a circular path.  In midsummer, it circles from northeast to northwest—roughly rising and setting in the north with a long swing around to the south.  In winter it blips over the horizon from south-southeast to south-southwest.   On any day between those two extremes, it can rise on any degree of the circle between those summer and winter rising points, depending on the progress of the seasons.  It’s orderly, but constantly shifting along the horizon.  It can be confusing to anyone not used to the place, and it makes any temperate zone understanding of the path of the sun useless.

So on our ride, we took a turn up a hill and were in bright sun again.  And there Sam decided to turn around.

Trish has been riding Sam most of the summer and they have become good partners.  Casey, who rode Sam last summer, has been riding other horses, looking for greater challenges and hoping to get some jumping in.  But Trish and Sam have come a long way—or had until she needed to take a break to travel and then move.  Now she’s back and Sam is testing her all over again to see if she is a rider he can trust.

When the light hit us face on, Sam stopped.  Mattie, the good trail horse, kept walking on, though she cocked an ear back to keep track of what her corral buddy was up to.  Sam had been pushing it—walking close to the edge of the ditch by the road or turning about suddenly as if he had decided to head back—the way I do when I suddenly realize, driving to school, that I’ve left my glasses on the kitchen table.  Trish had maneuvered him out of it.  She had the riding bat, after all, and Sam usually respects its mere presence in her hand.

This time he refused to go up the sunny road, and in their maneuvering back and forth—Trish trying to back him and he refusing to go—they ended up working their way up the road we had turned off of.   I turned Mattie to join them and we walked to the end of the road to the ridge road, as if it were our intention all along.  Sam walked peacefully along and kept pretty calm as we turned around and headed for the road we had tried to turn up.  We turned, he seemed OK, and then he stopped again, and backed precariously close to the edge of a steep hill that sloped sharply down from the side of the road.   Finally, I suggested that Trish get off and lead Sam for a ways—she showing him that there’s nothing to be afraid of and he complying by going in the direction he was trying to avoid.  It seemed to work.  He calmed down and walked along till she got back on again.  We did this once or twice more, Trish staying calm with him and not letting him go the way he wanted.

It’s frustrating to work with a horse as smart and as world-weary as Sam.  He knows so much and much of it is not productive to a smooth partnership with humans.  We have been trail riding many times before, but two rides ago, Trish moved him to the side of the road as a car was passing and his foot slipped a little on the loose gravel under some tall grass and he could feel the edge of the hill behind him.  It was scary for both of them and he refused to go where Trish told him immediately after that.  That’s when we finally resorted to leading him back past the spot then mounting to ride him back again.  It seemed to work, and Trish speculated that Sam had lost confidence in her at the moment his foot slipped.

It seems possible to me.   Sam has known a lot of good and bad riders and, while he respects the good and fair riders, he has no time for bad ones.  My reading of Sam is that he’s taking our measure all the time—measuring us against some ideal human of his past, and measuring us without much faith that we will live up to that ideal.  When he first came to us, his eye was dull, untrusting, doubtful.  Now, mostly, it’s humorous, mischievous, and soft.  He doesn’t mean us any harm, but he can’t help playing his tricks on us. In my imagined inner world of Sam, he’s testing Trish all over again to see how she’ll deal with him.  Can he count on her not to lead him off the cliff?  If he decides that he can, she’ll be able to ride him however she wants to.  Till then, he’s going to challenge her every step of the way.

When we finally rode back down our road, the sun was gone, but, in the way of light here in the north, we were just at the beginning of a few hours of gradual lingering dusk and twilight.  In the birches and aspens, we spotted a few yellow leaves, clearly yellow, not the result of disease or leaf miners.  The F word that no one wants to say.  Late summer, that is.

We untacked the horses and gave them hay.  They were glad to eat, glad to be back in the corral.  Sam stood quietly while Trish untacked him, then she stood watching him while he munched his hay.  He’s a special horse, and all of us who spend time with him feel his tricksterish magic.

The View from Mattie’s Pillow

December 31, 2009

A New Year

And I’m ready.  This has been a year of great promise: on the national scene, a new president who represents a true turning point in American politics; on the local scene, a new mayor, a growing interest in gardening and energy efficiency, and a turn toward inventiveness and ingenuity in dealing with living well and close to the earth in our difficult climate.

But on the ground here in the Interior and at Mattie’s Pillow, it was a year that gradually accumulated small disappointments, local disasters, and a bushel of griefs.  On this blog, I’ve focused on the beauty of life in the Interior and on the challenges those of us who live here face.  In general, I’m an optimist—and living with horses, an exuberantly fun-loving dog, a garden, and all the wild and human creatures that surround us here gives me a lift and a bounce back to the optimistic when  things get rough.

But each fall, as we begin the slide into the dark days of winter, we look at those around us and wonder who will be with us in the light of spring.  Already some have slipped away: Roy Bird, Marjorie Cole—and others have taken a more dire route off the planet, something which leaves those of us who knew them still tumbled in their wake.   And, since I mentioned politics in the first paragraph, the politics has been surreal, both nationally and in-state.  But I’ll leave that to other blogs to detail.  Check the Missing Links section for more on this.

Now, on New Year’s Eve, I’m once again in New Jersey assisting my brother.  It feels odd to be far from Fairbanks.  On New Year’s, we usually go to the fireworks on campus, standing out in the cold, bundled, booted, mittened, scarved, and even wrapped in sleeping bags, lying back warm in the snow and below zero air as the fireworks sizz and burst and sparkle above us and shake the ground beneath us.  Then we spend the evening with friends in the Farmer’s Loop valley, sitting around a bonfire and watching the neighbors’ fireworks light up each hour’s passing of the year in some time zone.  I miss it, but we’re planning a red beans and rice dinner with sparkling cranberry juice, some balloons, and some poppers.

Though I miss my usual celebration, it feels right that I start the year doing some good—such as it is—for my oh-so-stoic brother, helping him get his life back after a long healing that’s not quite over yet.  Perhaps this beginning foreshadows a better year ahead.  Perhaps, instead of the euphoric celebration of (and projection onto) the election of Obama we experienced last year, this year we should each do what Obama knew he needed to do all along: roll up our sleeves, wade in, and do the dirty, tiring, sometimes thankless work of making our world, or the part of it in which we live, a better place than we found it.

I’m starting with my brother’s kitchen.  What about you?

Happy New Year to all of you who read this blog.  Thanks for your readership, your comments and poems, your willingness to stop by from time to time.  I’ll be back to Mattie and Sam in the next entry.

The View from Mattie’s Pillow

November 28, 2009

The day after Thanksgiving.  The weather has warmed so that going outside is comfortable again, though the paths and roads are slick.  All day yesterday, we could hear the snow sliding off the roof.   We sat and ate turkey and pie and talked about the sorrows that have come into our community lately—too soon in winter for so much inexplicable pain.

It’s hard to write about, so here’s a poem.

The way “November”

settles in the mouth:

the dark “n” and “v”, the chilly

“b” and “r”, the hum of “m”

at the heart.  The name of the month

rumbles through our days,

dragging the shadowed season

with it.  Snow falls and packs

beneath our feet.   The moon hangs

half-hearted in the dark afternoon

sky; the night a tunnel we

plunge into with hope

that when daylight comes,

we all wake from darkness

to morning, rich with coffee,

the air tart with cut oranges,

with deep umber light

spreading to pink in the sky.

The View from Mattie’s Pillow

November 18, 2009

Twenty-plus below

Deep cold sets in once again.  I am back in Ed’s chair, blanket and laptop on my lap, listening to the hiss of the teakettle on the woodstove.  Outside, it’s twenty-five below under a flat black sky, glittering with stars.  To the south, Orion hangs drunkenly from his belt, leaning precariously over the river and the flats beyond.

When I started this blog, it was January, the heart of winter.  Ever so slightly the days were getting longer, and I had the luxury of a semester’s sabbatical to watch its progress and write it here.  Now, it’s fall, and we are sliding deeper into winter.   Earlier in fall, when we had an unusually long run of warm sunny weather, I kept meaning to dig out my winter boots and mittens.  Somehow, each  time the temperature dropped a bit more, I would run across just the item I needed—my warm fleece mittens from Apocalypse Design, my fleece-lined boots, the down liner for my coat, the flat, circular fleece hat made for me years ago by my friend Kelly, who traced the pattern from a pie plate.   I’m ready.  I plug the car in at night and when I get to the university, and it runs faithfully.   I haul water to the horses to keep the water level in their tank above the heating element in the bottom, so it doesn’t freeze.  I soak their beet pellets and some extra brome pellets in warm water for a warming mash at night.

Last night, around eleven, I decided that the temperature was really going to drop, as predicted, and I went out to blanket the horses.  Mattie and Sam grow thick warm coats in winter.  Sam’s gets nearly four inches long by late spring and grows in dense like a caribou’s.  Mattie’s coat develops longer guard hairs like a dog’s, with a fluff of undercoat.   She glistens in the sun, looks velvety in flat light.   Sam, despite his trickster nature, invites hugs with his teddy-bear coat.

Still, I know their coats will continue to thicken and grow in with the cold and dark, but this is the first deep cold.  I have brought the thick winter blankets inside to stay warm and, last night, spread them out on the kitchen floor and folded them so that the withers end was down and could I could drape them and unfold them from their shoulders back.

But going out in these temperatures is not as graceful as going out to the corral in summer.  I wear my Muck boots—Arctic Sports, lined with the same neoprene that divers use in cold water—my lined Carhartts, a down vest, wool sweater, lined jacket, fleece hat and smoke ring, insulated gloves.  When it gets colder—thirty or forty below—I’ll layer up even more, but this is enough to make walking slow and to increase my dimensions just enough to make me bump into things as I move around in the house with the heavy blanket in my arms.

I had the floodlight on, shining into the corral.  Out above the corral fence, the stars glittered.  Mattie came out of the dark—a darker shadow, nickering for hay.  I let her smell the blanket, then haltered her and draped it over her shoulders.  It had come a bit unfolded in my messing around carrying it out of the house, and parts of it were folded under on her back at first.   I unfolded the blanket, smoothed it back over her rump, then reached under her belly for the straps to fasten it to her.  She moved away a little, suspicious, as if I had lost my mind to be out putting anything on her back at that time of night, but, as usual, she seemed to relax into the warmth of the blanket and let me reach under her belly and run the leg straps around her hind legs to keep the blanket from slipping.  For a moment, I leaned into her flank as I reached under her stifle for the strap.  Her coat is soft, and she was calm.  We had a quiet moment in the cold and dark.

Sam was a different matter.  He snorted when I came into his side of the corral, and walked away from me, even though he had sniffed the blanket.  He walked around the corral and I walked with him, swinging the lead rope in lazy circles as if I were driving him along.  From time to time I flicked him in the rump, just so he shared my illusion.  Finally he got tired of that game—I had beet pellets in my pocket, after all—and he turned to face me.  I draped the rope around his neck and tied on the rope halter.  Sam has been bored since school started—particularly now that I am coming home in the dark—and he teased me, bumping me with his nose or draping his head over me while I was trying to buckle the front of his blanket and keep my hands warm at the same time.  Once it warms up enough, we’ll be back to clicker training on weekends.  Last night, I just wanted to get his blanket on.

Now they look like medieval horses, draped in their royal blue and Black Watch plaid blankets.   They are hungry with cold, and I’m giving them a little extra hay, but not too much.  This is our first cold, but not our last, and they have to toughen for forty below at some point, maybe colder.   We all do, and like blanketing horses, we all will do what we can to help each other through to spring.


Poetry Challenge 32

November 8, 2009

Darker mornings now, the moon hovering above the hills like a scoop of snow waiting to tip and spill down on us.

Write about anticipation–what it’s like to wait, not knowing how the waited-for moment will turn out.  Write about what you do in the meantime.  What objects occupy your attention during the wait?  How do you move through the time?

Post your poem as a comment and I’ll post it here.


Here’s one from biker poet Tim (AKA Mr Murphrey):

Stealing Pynchon

I picked him up from where he lay
because he needed me;
small and unassuming,
curled and packed so tightly
with paranoia.
I picked him up because he needed help
talking over people’s heads
from the desk where I found him
laying prone and alone.
Do I believe there are mysteries hidden
in symbols and allusions,
or patterns behind the rainbow of medications
that I imagine he takes, or is given,
in small dose cups?
I picked him up because I wanted to believe
that words weave just so,
and that there is more to everything
than nothing.
I put him back where I found him, bound,
and continued to rifle through
the desk, with leather gloves and flashlight,
because I didn’t understand a damned word
he was saying.


And one from Glow:

my nerves shiver
waiting for the nanosecond
when the coating of pure rosin
ridging the horsehair of the bow
twinges the golden E string
of the fiddle
a note pure as cantaloup dawn
sweet like spruce sap
piercing like twenty below
shimmers and hums
in the spaces among us
can there be a more perfect note
than an F on a golden E?
We must wait to see if there is more.


And this from Mikey, visiting New York, found in some graffiti on a wall.  He’s looking for the source.  Does anyone know?

Found poem on anticipation:

On the beaches of hesitation
Bleach the bones of millions

Upon the dawn of victory
Sat and waited
And while waiting


The View from Mattie’s Pillow

October 25, 2009

Lingering fall.  Yesterday, driving home on a long westward stretch of road, I saw a half moon, burnt orange, resting on the mountains at the horizon, as if too reluctant or too tired to slip down below the rim to what lay beyond.  As I drove the road’s few turns, the moon seemed to duck out of sight then reappear through the spruces, as if it were playing with me as I drove through the deep darkness of a snowless fall night.  This reluctant moon, the lingering fall, all set an odd tone for the end of October here.

It’s global warming, perhaps.  We’ve seen other effects here in the Interior: the million-acre wildfires and the smoke that settles across the valley and flats in summer; the spruce-bark beetle and leaf miners that feed on our native trees; the early planting and late harvest; and on the Arctic Coast, the melting ice pack, stranding seals, walrus, polar bears.  Much of this is in the range of normal.  For every, “This is strange weather,” there’s a sourdough, “I remember when…” to top it all.  Those of us who have lived in Interior Alaska for many years, hesitate to generalize about the weather here, except to say that there’s no predicting one year by the other.

And we’re not complaining, really—even the dog mushers and skiers.  The skies are clear and sunny by day, warming to the high 30s and 40s, which is warm enough to take off gloves and hats to work with horses.  And though we have less light every day, it’s still light enough at 6:30 or 7 to do a few outdoor things, like groom a horse or roll up the hose for the second time this fall.

Today, I went out to work with Mattie, to reinforce the progress we made with longeing this summer.  She went out on the line fine, then stopped and turned towards me, ears back.  She no longer intimidates me with this–perhaps because I’ve learned to read when to back off with her.  We tried a few more starts in that direction, and I turned her to trot to the other direction.  She went a little, but I let us end with walk and whoa and stand and back, things she does automatically.  I haven’t worked with her much in the past two weeks—teaching and all that goes into it fills my days, and the weekends pass so quickly.  But it was good to run a brush and my bare hands over the deepening plush of her coat and to walk alongside her as she walked and trotted, however reluctantly.  Like the moon.

We are reluctant to give up what’s left of good weather, but we know we’re on borrowed time.  There are still green blades of grass, and a few hardy plants on the hillside perk up again at mid day.  The first real snow will be a sharp wake up to winter for us, but perhaps not so bad, because we’ve had so much time to prepare.

The View from Mattie’s Pillow

October 12, 2009

Thinking of the Beatles’ song with the words, “marmalade skies”. As I head out mornings to feed the horses, I step out of the house to face the sunrise over the hills beyond the corral. The other day, the clouds were orange, smudged with a smoky purple, and the light in the sky shaded from a deep yellow below the clouds to a watery aqua where the sky met the hills of the Alaska Range. I searched for a word for what I was seeing and thought of marmalade—my favorite on toast—then remembered and understood the words to the song.

We are having an unusually warm October. The last bit of tomato vine abandoned in the greenhouse when we had the hard frost weeks ago is still alive, though a bit pale in its five-gallon planter. The pansies have started blooming again, and even the small white petunias, the bells, are putting out new white flowers. I want to re-plant the garden, but it’s an illusion. Night comes on earlier each day, and with the clear weather we’re having, there’s a splash of Milky Way across the black sky, with occasional meteorites streaking down. The moon’s a thumbnail now, a shaving of its former self. It rises later and spends more time at the horizon, flame colored through the dense air.

We spent the weekend pulling out moldy bales from our hay pile. I did some research on line and found that we had the perfect conjunction of events to make our pile mold—a later cutting with more sugars in the leaf; cut and cured on ground that had had lots of rain previously, taking more time to dry; baled as the weather was getting cooler, which meant not enough hot sun to dry thoroughly; then our hay crew stacking the bales too tightly in our barn; then the unexpectedly long warm spell so that the mold kept on spreading. The mold is already on the grass leaf. One source I found said that the mold counteracts bacteria on the living plant, but grows and spreads on the cut and wilting leaf, which is why the best hay weather is hot and dry so the hay dries before the mold can start growing. We found a cow farmer who could feed the hay to his cows—cows don’t get respiratory diseases from mold, it seems, and they have all those stomachs and tongues long enough to lick their own noses.

It could have been an unpleasant task, and the discovery of the mold and figuring out what to do were no fun. But my son and I and Peter from our horse club (and his mother Marina) and the two sons of our Nepali friend put on dust masks and went at it. The weather was clear and warm, the company pleasant and playful, and we had three trucks to carry the load. Mattie grabbed a few mouthfuls as we maneuvered the trucks past the corral fence, and it was gone. Now there’s a big empty space to fill—another puzzle, as the haying season is over here—and I’m getting plenty of suggestions from horse friends about where to find replacement hay. As for me, I’m mostly relieved not to be risking giving Mattie and Sam hay that’s a noseful of spores. We didn’t lose as many bales as I at first feared.

The weather won’t last, but no one’s complaining except the skiers. Even the dog mushers are enjoying exercising their teams harnessed to four-wheelers, running down the trails. The leaves are nearly all gone, though. It won’t be long.

Poetry Challenge 28

August 28, 2009

Today, walking to a meeting on campus, I heard a ruckus of cranes, but looked up and saw only blue sky.  I waited, and one V after another crested the hill.  I hollered, “Wrong way!  Go back!” as if that could stem the inevitable pull of dwindling light and creeping chill that is drawing them south.  As I walked by each building on campus, I saw small groups of people standing there, looking up, awed by the force of their collective calls, and each longing to reverse the day and leap back through time to spring.

So write about a sound you’ve heard that let you know something was about to change.  Or about a good-bye that was somehow mixed with a natural event,  such as the southern migration of sandhill cranes.


This is from Cast of Thousands by way of Glow:

the night she left me
August fireflies lay in the dew
too cold and heavy to fly,
scattered like sparks from a fire
in the damp grass.
they lay glowing,
pulsing with light,
piteously sending love signals
to each other
but none could fly.
i assume their tiny insect hearts swelled
their fiery fly emotions surged
hopelessly mired
in wet, chill desire.
i watched her headlights
fill the night, then vanish
as she turned the corner.
the dark rolled around me
while tiny desperate lights
blinked and blinked and blinked.

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