Warm and Cold and Warm Again

Weed Feb 27

The yard is warm and sunny today, sprinkled with blossoming weeds. A few weeks ago it was frozen and snowy.

Snow Feb 12

This year January and February saw days warm enough for house repairs (replacing wood damaged by carpenter bees), followed closely by days too cold for anything but reading and sleeping.

Damage 3


Ice January 18

Snow January 23

Some days were strangely confused, cold with bright sunshine or warm with dreary skies.

Vulture Feb 14

Seagull Jan 8

Bird Feb 20

Squirrel Feb 20

Sapsucker Jan 12

Robin Jan 20

Robin Jan 18

Our annual writers’ weekend at the beach brought a little bit of everything.

Beach Feb 1

Beach Feb 1

Beach Feb 4

Beach Feb 4

March will likely bring a little bit more of everything, but hopefully it won’t get fountain-freezing cold again.

Town Center Feb 11


Summer’s Last Swallowtails

In the final weeks of September, one of the butterflies emerged with damaged wings. She couldn’t fly, so I kept her in the caterpillar habitat and gave her fresh clippings from the butterfly bush every day.

Swallowtail Sept 21

Sometimes I took her out of the enclosure and carried her around the yard, letting her sample marigolds and lantana and salvia.

Swallowtail Sept 27

When she died, a day or two before her two-week birthday, she had undeniably lived longer than she would have lived in the yard. But was it enough?

Swallowtail Sept 21

Was nectar enough, or did my butterfly regret her flightless wings and unfertilized eggs?

What does a butterfly, or a caterpillar, need from life?

Caterpillar Sept 28

Do they yearn for sunshine and plentiful food? Do they crave happiness? Do they grieve?

Caterpillars August 27

There’s a poem hiding in these questions, but it’s so well hidden that I can’t find where it starts. Not today, anyway. Not with a rainy cold front outside and a miserable cough inside.

Caterpillar Sept 21

My last swallowtail caterpillar molted into a chrysalis yesterday. Now I have twenty-five chrysalises ready for winter.

Caterpillar Oct 15

It’s an interesting idea, sleeping through winter. What if I could simply set my alarm for “spring” and call my blankets a chrysalis? On days like today, cough and all, it seems like a good idea. But what about snow? And holidays? Would I be sad, in the spring, that I had missed them? Would you?

Chrysalis Oct 16


Cosmos May 7

I can’t remember noticing, before, how the light changes as spring progresses.

Cosmos May 7

The yard’s surfaces absorb and reflect, soften and sharpen the sun’s new angle.

Iris May

Bees appear to fly through light, not air.

Bee April 29

Bee April 29

And birds strike silhouette poses, as if eager to be photographed.

Warbler April 29

Robin May 6

Is it all in my head, a side effect of spring euphoria? Or is it happening where you live, too?

Warbler May 3

If you live in the southern hemisphere, is it happening in reverse? Light reverting back to air, flattening against fall’s advance as bees and birds prepare for winter?

A Few Steps Closer to Spring

Weeds March 16

I usually count the first open-windows day as the first day of spring, but this year I confused the issue by cheating. One day last week, desperate for fresh air, I opened the windows and wore a coat in the house for a few hours. Which means I can’t count yesterday as the first.

Cat March 10

February is always a tough month for me. Its cold, sun-starved days routinely trigger new bouts of depression and anxiety. March, on the other hand, is usually a month of recovery.

Yard March 16

Yard March 16

And if this year’s recovery has been slower to start and harder to sustain than previous years, it has at least begun.

Hyacinth March 16

Hyacinth March 16

Honeysuckle March 16

Honeysuckle March 16

The weather forecast promises a return of winter before the week is finished, but the lengthening days will not allow it to stay.

Hydrangea March 16

Soon the yard will be overrun and winter will fall away into memory, as it does every year.

Brown Thrasher March 16

Robin March 17

Rabbit March 17

Before and After

Three days ago the yard was leafing out in anticipation of spring.

Honeysuckle Feb 14

That was before winter tightened its icy grip.

Honeysuckle Feb 17

I don’t expect the honeysuckle will sustain any permanent damage.

Honeysuckle Feb 14

Honeysuckle Feb 17

The hydrangea should also survive.

Hydrangea Feb 14

Hydrangea Feb 17

Because winter can’t hold on forever. The ice and snow will melt.

Stonecrop Feb 14

Stonecrop Feb 17

Soon I’ll be able to pry open the frozen gate and let spring edge a few steps further into the yard.

Gate Feb 17