View Feb 22

February’s annual malaise has set in. My mood reflects the sky’s gray clouds. My joints ache, brittle with frost. Each morning is more reluctant than the last, and each evening more welcome.

My instinct is to hide from February. To find a dry den, line it with blankets, and retreat into sleep’s warm sanctuary.

View Feb 22

But then, when I woke to the storm-scented gusts of spring, I would regret my weeks of sleep. I would wonder what I had missed, while hibernating…

Merganser Feb 22

Squirrel Feb 22

Unknown Bird Feb 22

Mallards Feb 22

Another Award Tag!

Late in January, Diane at bardessdmdenton tagged me with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:


Here are the rules:

* Display the award logo on your blog

* Link back to the person who nominated you

* State seven things about yourself

* Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them

* Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements

Heron Feb 5

As before, I’ve been struggling with the first rule. (Is it normal that my words dissolve into a mist of confusion and dismay when I try to describe myself?) Last time I talked more about cars than about myself, and this time I’m going to talk about furniture.

1. My favorite pieces of furniture are bookshelves. I have five sets of shelves in my office, one in the living room, and two in the guest room.

2. I keep my grandmother’s sewing machine in our living room, where it makes an excellent end table.

3. When I was about nine years old, Mother moved my great aunt’s antique vanity into my room. She told me to take very good care of it. Then, because I was nine, I put stickers on the mirror. I also broke a section of the trim. After Mother died in 2011, I brought the battered vanity to Virginia, scraped off the stickers, and repaired the trim. Now I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t need an antique vanity, but I can’t quite let go of it.

4. The first piece of furniture that my husband and I bought together was a very heavy coffee table. Every few years we move it from one side of the living room to the other, and somehow the simple act of moving it makes it look like an entirely new table.

5. After we bought our house, we spent the entire first summer staining and finishing a kitchen table, six chairs, an enormous chest of drawers, and a storage bench. I will never again buy unfinished furniture.

6. It took the cats eight years to destroy our first couch. They perfected their technique near the end, and our next couch lasted less than three years.

7. When selecting new furniture, bedspreads, or blankets, my primary concern is whether or not the cats will approve.

Hawk Feb 5

As for the final two rules, many of the blogs I follow do not participate in awards. So, instead of continuing the chain of tags and notifications, here are links to a few of my favorite recent posts:

“Poetry in Prose” – Delancey Stewart

“A Walk with Gratitude” – Life in the Bogs

“Murmurations” – Jean Ryan

“A Bald Eagle Hunts a Duck” – For the Love of Clouds and Nature

“Deer tracks” – Wood and Field

“Still” – Lynn’s Creativity Post

“February Photo Theme: Waterfalls” – Walter H. Smith

Goose Feb 5

I’m delighted that Diane tagged me with this award, in part because it gives me another chance to recommend her wonderfully lyrical book. I reviewed A House Near Luccoli here, and you can read more about it here.

Humpback Whales

Whale Feb 3

Atlantic populations of Humpback Whales migrate past the Virginia coast each winter, but I’ve never been fortunate enough to see one of these marvelous animals. Until yesterday.

Whale Feb 3

I’ve been promising myself a whale watching cruise for years, then finding excuses to put it off. Too expensive. Too cold. Too nervous around crowds and boats. Yesterday, a group of friends helped me overcome excuses and nerves.

We met at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, where we boarded a boat for one of the Virginia Aquarium’s Winter Wildlife Boat Trips.

Feb 3

Crow Feb 3

Merganser Feb 3

Seagull Feb 3

Feb 3

Oceanfront Feb 3

A short time later… whales!

Whale Feb 3

Whale Feb 3

Whale Feb 3

I don’t know how many whales we saw during our two hour boat ride. Maybe two, maybe six. Maybe more?

Whale Feb 3

Whale Feb 3

Whale Feb 3

Whale Feb 3

Whale Feb 3

I can’t imagine a more thrilling adventure. Treasured friends; a mesmerizing, constantly changing horizon; and these magnificent, mysterious creatures.

Horizon Feb 3

Horizon Feb 3

Once again, I find myself adrift in happiness. There are no words complex enough to express this joy, no photos real enough. There is only this middle-aged flesh and quickened breath, this tempest of unfocused inspiration. Some quiet day in the future there may be a poem, but for now there is only euphoria.

Whale Feb 3

Sunshine and a Blog Award

Sunshine Jan 29


I’m embarrassed by how long it has taken to acknowledge this Leibster Blog Award. Earlier in January, Linda at May and September tagged me, and I’ve been procrastinating as usual.

I’m delighted that Linda tagged me with this award, and I hope no one is offended that my very first move is to ignore a major technical point. The award is meant for blogs with less than 200 followers, which means I probably should disqualify myself. Instead, I’m going to hide in the irises and pretend no one will notice…

Sunshine Jan 29

Here are the other rules (I am planning to break more of them…):

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you, plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people to receive the award and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

My prolonged delay isn’t completely due to procrastination. I’ve begun this post a number of times, but each time I stumbled over the first task. I couldn’t think of eleven things to say about myself! Which is exactly where I should start…

  1. I have trouble describing myself because I feel that I don’t know myself very well.
  2. I am the youngest of five children, but I dislike being called “the baby.”
  3. I was born in Alabama but have no memory of living there. We moved to Tennessee when I was three.
  4. My parents separated while I was in junior high, and my father died while I was in high school.
  5. I didn’t take Driver’s Education in high school (I can’t remember why), and Mother refused to teach me to drive. When I graduated without license or job, I emptied my bank account ($600) and bought a mustard yellow Dodge Omni. My sister’s boyfriend was a mechanic, and he helped find the car. Then my other sister taught me to drive.
  6. I am convinced, due to personal experience, that wasps are attracted to the color yellow. Whenever I left my Omni’s windows down during the summer, it became rather dangerous to drive.
  7. Two years after I bought it, the Omni wheezed through its last mile. My next car was a silver five-speed Toyota Tercel, which I got for $2300. I taught myself to shift gears by lurching up and down our sloped gravel drive. Both of my sisters declined to ride along during this phase.
  8. I lived at home during my college years. I also had two jobs (sometimes three).
  9. My undergraduate studies concentrated on biology and ecology. I dreamed of doing field research, even though I suspected my attention span was too short to get me through a PhD program. I was right.
  10. I was the last of my siblings to leave home, and I felt guilty for being the one who left Mother alone. Our relationship had been fragile for years, frayed by stress and growing resentments. After I moved out, the bond between us snapped and didn’t heal for nearly a decade.
  11. When the bond did heal, it healed stronger and different than what we had known before. We were friends, instead of mother and daughter, and the new relationship felt healthier and more natural than our earlier, forced connection.

Sunshine Jan 29

Now, for Linda’s eleven questions:

1. If someone commissioned you to live in another country for six months and blog about it, where would you go and why?

Most likely, I would decline the commission. I don’t travel well!

2. Briefly describe a travel experience that you learned a lot from.

Hm… As above, I don’t travel well. Even so, each and every trip opens new worlds to me.

3. Name three books that have made a big impact on you.

Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls; Night, by Elie Wiesel; and A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking

4. Do you watch TV and if so, what do you like to watch?

Unfortunately, I do watch TV. More than I should. My current favorites are Downton Abbey, The Big Bang Theory, and almost any nature or science show.

5. What surprised you most about the blogging experience?

The exuberance with which the blogging community welcomed me.

6. What do you like to do for exercise?

Walk and work with free weights.

7. If you could have any job, what would it be?


8. If you could meet three famous people, who would they be and why?

E. O. Wilson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bernd Heinrich. Their writings contain intriguing combinations of wisdom, enthusiasm, and curiosity.

9. Minimise or collect?

I confess to both. It’s an impossible balance.

10. What would you tell your 13 year old self that you wish you had known back then.

Slow down. You’ll make fewer mistakes, and have less to regret, if you let life come to you rather than racing so ravenously after it.

11. What is one goal that you would like to achieve in the next year.

Finish and submit at least one of my current works-in-progress.

Sunshine Jan 29

Now, for my next breach of the rules. Many of the blogs I follow do not participate in awards, so I’m breaking the chain of tags and notifications. Instead, here are eleven recent posts that I enjoyed:

“2013 Marsh Fox Cubs” – Wilden Marsh: Another Year Living With Nature at Hoo Wood and Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve

“A Raven in the Grass” – For the Love of Clouds and Nature

“Voyager” – Hands on Bowie

“Birth/Death” – Sara & the 8 Million Strangers

“The January Birding Blues” – The Pathless Wood

“The Sap Rises” – soul-in-progress

“When Death Comes” – Flowers, Trees, & Other Such Gifts of Nature

“Colors of the East” – The Iris and The Lily

“The Day Our Dog Lost His Mind” – Boomie Bol

“Hello Again” – Simone Lipscomb

“Dynamos” – Seasonings

Many thanks to Linda for including me in her links!

Sunshine Jan 29

Tomorrow’s forecast calls for more warm weather, so I may not get to my other pending award tag for a few more days. Sunshine calls…

Snow at the Beach

Beach Snow Jan 25

It snowed at the beach on Friday, just in time for my annual weekend with the writers.

Beach Snow Jan 26

We stayed at a hotel on the Virginia Beach oceanfront, where we laughed and ate and sat around in our pajamas as we read to each other and critiqued chapters from works-in-progress.

Beach Snow Jan 26

All the while, it was so cold outside that Friday’s snow couldn’t melt.

Beach Snow Jan 26

Beach Snow Jan 26

Saturday afternoon I spent some time on our icy balcony, trying to photograph cormorants, seagulls, and dolphins.

Birds Jan 26

Birds Jan 26

Birds Jan 26

Birds Jan 26

Birds Jan 26

Dolphins Jan 26

Clouds raveled and gathered again, the sun came and went, and the ocean flickered from gray to green to blue.

Beach Snow Jan 26

Beach Snow Jan 26

All day Saturday the surface looked silky and smooth, but Sunday morning’s high tide rumpled it into restless wrinkles.

Beach Snow Jan 27

After I got home, I felt restless, too. Uncertain of how to proceed from here. The weekend was so perfect, and the house was so warm, and I was indescribably happy.

How could I ever want more than what I have right now? More than these comforts and luxuries I am so grateful to have known?