Archive for the 'nature' Category


Around the yard, mementos grow
From other swaths of green:
Gardens transplanted
From other gardens; Plants planted
So that 1918 lives on near the lawn.

Heart-shaped green leaves catch the faint breeze
Under willow branches;
They dance to music
Our parents heard. Below the ground
Water swells; small blooms glow under the trees.

– © rjn, June 2020

A moment of calm

Tulips and daffodils agains the south side wall.

The garden is beautiful this time of year. We’re trying not to look at everything as though it’s a glass half empty, but the past 7 days have felt increasingly strange.

I’m glad I did get to see family up north before March. I have other family members I would normally see for big birthday dinners, and those aren’t happening. I have cousins in town – and they feel as far away as Pluto. Things feel pretty awful when I look at the news, read social media, or visit the grocery store. And yet…

The crabapple and quince are blooming. Daffodils are nearly done, and tulips and grape hyacinths are taking their place. It feels important to notice spring doing her best to celebrate rebirth and the return of the light. The nearby church’s gardens are blooming: apple and peach blooms, purple mossy phlox, and purple hyacinths. We’ve seen small butterflies, as well as groups of cardinals, cowbirds, robins, grackles, starlings, finches, and crows. I’m hopeful there will be small joys for you, like the delight of butterflies, in-between the sadness.

Birdsong and flowers

Magnolias in bloom

People have pointed out we can’t cancel spring. As someone for whom March is a depressing anniversary, it can feel relentlessly cheerful. But cheer is what’s needed when everyone is self-isolating, isn’t it? Every day I’ve been pausing away from work (and the relentless drip of news), to walk around the yard.

I look at the sky, marvel at the buds on the Shadblow Serviceberry, follow the stupid rabbit (too bold for a yard where neighbor cats roam), and watch the bluejays bicker over the berries on the privet (at least I think it’s a privet… my plant knowledge is incredibly suspect). The Gardener is delighted that a row of flowers she had planned has come up. Our garden’s first spring tulip is going to open tomorrow, possibly.

Because so few people are coming to the movie theater, the restaurants, and the bars, we are treated to the sounds of twittering birds (and the shussssh of cars in the distance). At night, our neighborhood retreats like Brigadoon back to the countryside flower nursery before is became part of the city. The fog of springtime rolls in, shrouding the relentless city lights. Only foxes travel on the side street, after darkness settles.

Here are some links to birdsong, because I’ve got the opportunity to improve my listening, and maybe you do too:

As seasonal allergies lessen and it gets warmer outside, I’m hoping for some days with windows open during early morning coffee. Let me know if you’ve heard something wonderful in your neighborhood.


We keep hoping things will get better, while we try to make things better. Double exertion/double exhaustion. I just have to remember that I can only influence what I touch, and cannot stop everything in the world to fix it.

Rose blooming in a yard.
Oh Texas rose, you are so thorny… you tower, queen of the yard.

Work has been busy (a good but exhausting thing), so I haven’t been online as much. And, we’ve made a few urgent visits due to older friends and family not doing as well as hoped. Although, other younger family members are improving their lives, or growing into adults step by step. So there’s this weird balance.

The garden is a source of delight — black headed vultures in the driveway eating their takeaway, hummingbird nest in one of the cedars, butterflies everywhere. A church nearby has created a monarch butterfly garden, and they’ve also been visiting the yard, along with the swallowtails.

Our two cats are sorting things out after 3 years (3 years, really?) of anger. The younger cat still has the crazies at specific times of day, and we just have to be prepared with a feather toy or a willow stick with leaves on it to distract her from scaling curtains and destroying the woodbound trunk in the living room.

Lots of rain equals

…lots of time for the cats. And also: opportunity for the crickets to escape the basement and become lots of toys for the cats. Altogether now: ick!


I am glad that we’ve had more than 2 days without rain. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to take walks without an umbrella or raincoat.

In book news, I’ve found a wonderful book on trees called Seeing Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo, with positively luminous closeup photographs by Robert Llewellyn of bark, leaves, fruit, acorns. Everything that’s inaccessible while you walk thru a city park with protective barriers around the trunks.

In other news, Inktober is in full swing, so I’m tweeting different pics. Not sure if I’m keeping Flickr in the sidebar, due to changes of service, so I haven’t been putting any images there. Let me know in the comments if I should, while I ponder other photo sharing services that will work with Ravelry, etc.

Spending time

NCseashoreI’ve spent all my vacation this month, and now I’m looking at work schedules, as well as some training. But I am so glad I took time to spend with family and friends.

1 week “invested”, and here are my rewards:

  • Walking the shoreline, enjoying low tech days
  • Hunting for fossils (found: ancestors of the sand dollar)
  • Pausing to watch pelicans drift across the sky in lazy Vs


  • Laughing while playing board games
  • Watching thunderstorms across the water
  • Sketching the beach from the comfort of a screened porch
  • Waking up before sunrise for a walk on the beach at low tide
  • Visiting friends and family on our way home

The shoreline of North Carolina was a beautiful place to visit. Returning home, our yard seemed newly beautiful too, with lots of monarch butterflies migrating through. Hope your summer break was grand.



Between storms

The moon peeks out, like a golden imp,

framed by milkhaze clouds in the dark sky.

Storms roll through, all exclamation marks and gouts of rain.

People dash for doorsteps, pelting through puddles,

struggling with umbrellas, peering from beneath rainhoods.

The moon peeks out after everything is quiet. Birds chirp about wet feet.

Something creaks in the darkness. Now is the between. (C) 2018, RJ N

Spring blossoms

crocusesCelebrate first blooms…

Snowdrops gaze while crocuses

Toss their sun-tipped heads.


Current status of the world: March is definitely roaring like a lion from offshore. It’s chilly here in the northern hemisphere, even for those of us that have sun. Yesterday we had snow showers that were like moving fog, so I’m enjoying today and going to a park this afternoon, under many layers.

If you want better poetry, try Seelenkarussell’s site (in German).

Living vicariously

The posts I’ve seen about others’ trips to see the eclipse let me live vicariously. I would have loved to have planned something to go view it (we were in an area of partial eclipse, and were struggling to find an area of the yard free of clouds). Friends of mine went to the Jersey shore to view from the beach. Other friends drove to South Carolina.

I watched the NASA feed, and then enjoyed reading about trips to view the dance of the moon in front of the sun.  Check out Blonde Coyote’s post here. Lovely write up of a trip to Wyoming, and camping. You can see videos on the NASA website, if you were out of the viewing area, or fighting with clouds to view the shadows through a colander.

I’m also contemplating new patterns to knit, using lovely gift yarn. This pattern is really tempting: Woolly Woolhead’s Toph. And it reminds me a little bit of the patterns I could see through tree shadows during the eclipse. Tamara Adams posted a lovely pattern of coasters for the eclipse (link goes to Ravelry), which might be fun to create for tree decorations this year.

Keep looking up (unless there’s an eclipse and you don’t have special glasses…. then look down for shadows).



May Days

trailingvinesThe days are filled with flowers. This whole week has also been rainy, so I pause to marvel at a new bloom, a new bud forming, and rain drips down my raincoat’s hood, and slowly runs down the bridge of my nose. I’m loading photos onto my flickr feed as fast as I can. The colors are fabulous.

We’ve seen the first stirrings of the fig tree closest to the house coming back. Leaves have unfurled like tightly wrapped green fans, and I think I’ve seen some of the breve’ figs. The Gardener has been fighting a fight to the death with old tree roots, trying to get a patch set up for new raspberry bushes (a more intricate endeavor than I knew, with lots of space needed between the canes… and no idea if that means between the roots as well).

Also with spring comes: Mother’s Day and the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. It’s always either raining, or blistering hot, with lots of hours spent hiking about looking at the alpacas in pens, sheep shearing, and sheep on parade.

In the merry month of May, the Midatlantic region gets ready for Preakness . Preakness is always an exciting time, with tours of the stables at sunrise, and the unveiling of the Mayor’s hat (there is a female mayor in Baltimore right now…. I’m not sure a man’s tophat would be all that interesting). The stars, of course, are the jockeys and horses that come to Pimlico to race, and it get very exciting. [It also gets very tempting to go to the free sunrise tours, to see what the track looks like.]

The bird watching has been marvelous: titmice, mockingbirds, blue jays, red tail hawks, a brown creeper, and maybe a wood thrush. We’re ignoring the cardinals and robins that never seemed to leave. (I’m also ignoring politics right now. Focusing on birdsong, flowers, and a weekend that’s packed with too many things. MD Sheep & Wool is always a grand time, by the way. But I’m double-triple-booked.)


Flickr Photos