Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stranger With No Name -- now has a name!

Late November, early December we found a few of these strangers in the house. Some green/brown on the back. a few spots on the sides. Flat. Fairly hard-shelled. diamond pattern. This particular one is more brown than green (maybe from living in the house?) and apparently reads music.
I wrote to What's that Bug <>and here's the result: Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis,
Very helpful~

Hunker Down, Keep Warm after Snowfall

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Pheasant that Stayed

Pheasant is happy to stay it seems. He has a bit of woods to hide in and now that the leaves are down he dissappears in the brown foliage except for his white collar and very red eye. Today I saw him pecking away at a little moss bed where I'd thrown millet for the sparrows. He has come by to gather millet at least two mornings that I've spotted. So today I added a little water bowl and some cracked corn. I hope he stays. I hope his mate is safe and blended somewhere back in those trees. I wonder how long it will be before someone decides to follow him and scare him off. I've seen him walking down the road like an old English country gentleman.
   I heard a story today that I don't want to lose: Well, I suppose you just need to know this dog -- an old English bulldog (speaking of things old and english for some reason) that since passed by the name of Winston. He scared a female pheasant off her nest but was sure to go back and investigate. He wedged himself onto the eggs by carefully backing up and then squatting. This was a dog known for his ram-like attacks on the world he loved. He was a regular at the nest,  sitting for a few days until the eggs disappeared (coyotes apparently). That Winston. What are they feeling? There is more and more evidence of animals like us but furrier and using four feet instead of two having a rich emotional life and perhaps an ethical one. They certainly demonstrate authentic caring. Thank you, Winston!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving visitor. The Pheasant.Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus

We have a local celebrity, a large male ringnecked pheasant. Quite pleasant.

Monday, November 9, 2009

barred owl 002

barred owl 002
Originally uploaded by garagesoap

This was a beautiful day (nearly 70 degrees), too beautiful to go to work so I stayed home knowing that I'd be raking up oak leaves and shoveling acorns (this year there are so many!) half the day. I went out back to change the water for the birds, looked up into the empty trees and saw this owl looking back at me, calm as could be. I watched him or her, on and off for a few hours. It was obviously hunting for small rodents in the ground which I think there must be many, especially mice. Later, i thought I saw two owls soaring in the sky, but so far off I might have mistaken the hawks for owls.

barred owl 005

barred owl 005
Originally uploaded by garagesoap
Nicely camouflaged barred owl out back in this cherry tree. All of the leaves are gone from this tree as it's often in the 30s at night now. Still waiting for a red oak to drop them, the pear tree and the plum. I hate winter wind, but right now, the windy days bring a very musical look to the sky with leaves flying every which way.

No wind on owl day.

fall comforts

Originally uploaded by garagesoap

Beautiful colors this year

Originally uploaded by garagesoap

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dawn Redwood and Flowering Plum

My Dawn Redwood lives and grows in Western Massachusetts. I was told thatliving beside me is an ancient species, sometimes called " a living fossil." One can't help but feel proud in its presence. Its movements swanlike, gliding like a woman in a kimono waving across the sky. Its leaves soft and silky to touch. The flowering plum is a great contrast to this pyramid of wondrous summer green.
Click on the photo for the large view.

See also the blog Rock, Paper, Lizard for more information about the Dawn Redwood.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Catbird Found

I found this catbird this morning not far from the house, not far from a window where it may have flown too fast and collided with the glass. The camera has a better eye than I do; when I look at the enlarged image, I'm able to see the intricate lines of the catbird's feathers. We have many catbirds here. Courageous birds all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


After doing a bit of reading on fungus and oak trees, I discovered that the fungus may precipitate butt rot. My hypothesis may not be exactly correct because I am such a newbie discovering the life of trees, but I couldn't leave the lovely, shell-like parasite to weaken this incredibly tall, large, old, oak tree (the tree is not on my property--bank owned property?). Today I walked down the road, knife in back pocket, ready to rescue the mighty oak by severing the bond between parasite and host. Even if I incorrectly identified this fungus which is more peach than brown, layered like 1950'2 petticoat, I feel it must be malignant and not benign. I know it is not bracket fungus. So far, I've found it at the base of two local oaks after weeks of rain. The first one I found, crumbled after a week and it doesn't appear that the tree is any worse for wear; however there are a few limbs without leaves that won't sustain the weight of snow this winter.
So back to my rescue effort: I found the root of the fungus and cut it with my knife. Underneath there was a jelly-like substance and many beetles that were iridescent, like earwigs but not brown, rather blue/green and fast! I so hope they weren't the emerald borers --an import threat to ash.
I scraped as much fungus and beetle life as possible away from the tree.
I also found, on the bark of the tree, some clear spit that looked like an alien may have coughed up on the tree -- cellophane looking with blues and greens but transparent. Perhaps slugs, dominant due to this rain, have created these iridescent panes along the sides of the trees.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Miraculous Fungus

There's a house below me that sits vacant and unchanging except the concrete that continues to crumble around it and the vines that grow across its face.
In the back is an old pool I like to stand by late at night with a friend who's willing to walk down there with me after dark. The pool is a deep green now, at night its black and the frogs have taken over. The decay of something that once was so spendid, opulent, and majestic -- leaded glass, grand piano, four stories, large, winding in ground pool -- is lovely at night. The gardens are all overgrown and will need much care once a new owner comes. I call it my little Sunset Boulevard. A few days after it rained (the rain is bringing lots of surprises) I found a beautiful fungus on one of the trees in front of this forlorn old home. I imagine that there is a pink coral that looks something like this, and a necklace that someone might have worn that looked something like this. Soft, apricot shades with peach and grey pinks. Velvet to touch. Beautiful for a few days and then it will wither to grays and slowly vanish. In time, the tree itself may die if the fungus is a signal that its roots are rotting. A beautiful visitor with a dark message.

Indian Pipe Monotropa Uniflora

I'm so dissappointed that I missed photographing all of the Indian Pipe, the ghosts growing out of the damp leaves after the July rains, when they were white and translucent. Maybe next year?

Went back, maybe three weeks too late and took this pic of the flowers, dried and brown.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Claude Monet's Beans and Nature Writing

I've been away from this space because of the demands I set up: one I wanted photos, then I wanted well crafted poems; and then I was busy with other blogs -- writing for children , and writing professionally, and then writing, all the writing I do as a librarian --book reviews, blogs for school, etc.
And a brief stint at graffiti musings so I am overwhelmed! This blogging enterprise is like a potato chip, one is never...

The graffiti blog wasn't ever intended to be more than 10 posts, but this blog has every intention of coming back to life with a new theme. Straight out nature writing with photos from my natural life! Each post should be a record of something from the natural world that future generations can see and note how these observations were a part of my life -- not as a botanist or naturalist but as a person observing the world. What is more important than the natural world, I ask?
So there it is. My introduction. Here's my first observation:

I was so fortunate to visit a friend in Ashfield, MA where he'd planted beans that were out of this world. These beans were made for Claude Monet. I invite you to click on the photo to see these beans more clearly.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Swan wings.
Originally uploaded by hegarty_david

Swans, those seasonal birds,
are for family on my golden compass.
In the 1940s, in Amsterdam,
Your grandmother ate one.
Imagine, in the dark bowl of your belly,
A creature from a fairy tale!
They are from the sea life
I led (did I mean fled?).
The empty rowboat on the shore,
The ocean sloshing its sides,
That’s for loss of a parent.
And then another.
And on shore there’s the chicken named Gertrude,
Wandering in and out between my feet,
Leaving a sad, small egg -- the best she could do --
one Saturday morning
Before Mr. Miller took her away.
Gertrude, she is for an unexpected guest.
Mr. Miller, for a kiss.

The frost covered window for loneliness --
unseen --
The greyhound for making paths to nowhere.
Why need such a compass
If one were never leaving?
Or what need one of lilac bushes? For asking when?

Monday, April 6, 2009

black and white pics winter 036

Watching Old Believers. The stark black and white is so dreamlike and enchanting. The grainy quality. The horses near the swamps, the fiddler, the women all in scarves, and the ecstatic bell ringer. Mostly the horses. They were a dream. I could nearly hear their breath. I could gaze at that image forever. So winter reminds me of this kind of quiet loveliness. The warmth of black and white. The lyrical quality of the absence of color.

Friday, April 3, 2009

for Vincent

Teach Me to Look

What is this spell you cast?
I want to ask, how can the moon’s gold last?
Rolling waves of stars and sky?
Their light multiplied by the iris of your eye!
You spun their orbit on a wheel of water,
And wound the cypress to a blackened spire.
The little village you put to sleep
Beneath a blue haze,
While men and women slept,
Some cold, more hungry,
But none so full of your praise --
A blanket of paint, cool and quiet,
Under the stars eternal riot.
That night, and there were many,
When you turned your gaze to the sky,
To the canvas above calling you,
Calling you, goodbye.

Someday I Must Sing a Song of Praise

Someday I must sing a song of praise:

to the bricks, their reds

and browns reflected on the river,

and to the immigrant faces that roam my city

long after the mills have closed,

the imprint on my child's face --

a man in the wheat field with a scythe--

the field all brown and gold!

And somewhere in that painting is a castle,

perhaps behind the hill, and in the castle

a tapestry containing all things--

above all, the explanation why

men are old when they are born.

Someday I must sing a song of praise

to the small white petals bred

from the heartache of winter's loneliest

peasants (apple trees),

to the fireflies’ light,

the songs of children praising mud in summer;

their knees bruised like the bows of rowboats.

To their skin rubied and leathered,

And dressed in a room of pressed white curtains

with little balls begged from each knot.

To the leaves curling up from the cool river air,

a woodpecker, and the voices of chimneys:

Lucinda, Lucinda, over here, I'm over here--

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Paul and Chloe

Paul and Chloe
Originally uploaded by garagesoap
Friends forever

I lost Paul in December. He spent the first part of his life on a race track. When I adopted him he was turning two. He was thirteen when his legs finally gave out and his spine could no longer hold him. He was brave and beautiful and the kindest soul. Gentle was his essence. Gentle, gentle dog.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Moody poems

This blog has, as of late, taken a dark turn. I am not a morose person at all; in fact, I am very happy. But the poems come anyway they like. This blog seems like the alter-ego of my other blog:
Perhaps this is the Yin to my Yang at the moment.


In the dead of night I snow-shoed
through the moonlit trees -- birch, pine, oak --
their trunks prison bars on my path
an owl above asked who's there?
the forest was full of absence
the bright moon full of strange mercy

Sunday, February 1, 2009

After the Sky Spoke of a Painting Faintly Remembered

As the day ends
The sky fills with crows

On go my duskdark thoughts
that roost in clusters

like black fruit
On winter’s bare limbs.

Across the city
the weight would make
some break.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Honey Bee

Honey Bee
Originally uploaded by garagesoap

I look out at the roses and see them encased in ice! Birds from grackles, morning doves, pigeons, cardinal, junco, wood thrush, sparrow, etc.... oh , don't forget the peanut loving bluejay, gather around the feeder under the frozen roses bushes. Just six months ago this was shock of color where bees gathered. The ice has a silence that teaches me to be still but summer's music is sorely missed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009



They stop by the water and scatter the bees;
walk through the woods,
And swat at the fleas.
They take cameras to catch deer
As they gnaw bark from the trees.
They eat cheese and bread on the forest floor
on a blanket made of cotton.
They lean on each other as they speak
Of the few they call "rotten."
They make cards and compose small notes.
They plant rows of tomatoes to can and keep.
They gather cows and goats,
all manner of sheep.
They cut down trees and clear forests
to make meadows.
How else to see the flowers better?
They keep a few memorable letters.
When apart they reveal the contents of the heart
And beg that love be forever.
They make houses where they cook,
And craft glass to see how pretty they can look.
They make small people and
wrap them, blanketed as cocoons.
And for Mother’s day they bake a clay pot
that may someday break. But even so,
each summer they journey to the lake
to catch the loons when the water quakes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

new snow