Category Archives: Prose

Birch

This birch, too close to neighbor hemlock, grows leaning, finds sun where it can. This wet pale October shows little more color than this birch scar.

Maple splashes yellow here and faraway there. Squalls alternate sun, blue and wet across the sky. Playful youngsters now, they’ll mature as real cold sets, getting running starts from west of Erie.

Almost snow today, cold to soon come. Any last colors will present, dry and fall as seasons deepen.

October Morning Geese

While enjoying the temperature and clarity of a fine October morning, the distinctive honking of geese punctuated an otherwise calm mist rising from the valley.

After what seemed like minutes, the gaggle revealed itself. Flying at a considerable altitude, these birds were not commuting across the neighborhood; they were on their way with intent.

From the back of the yard, a doe snorts,  flashes buff from the tall grass, comes to attention, ears poised, eyes intent, gauging me as friend or threat.

The shadow crossing the sun and yard pulls my eyes up as a tree top turkey vulture pulses wings toward unobstructed sky.

Colors seep slowly stronger, gilding leaves and hills, on this fine October morning.

 

 

 

Cardinal

Yesterday, a brilliant cardinal came to, and knocked on the living room’s north window.

Given it’s persistence on wanting entry to the house, I wondered if the bird was someone I knew or had met before. 

A bud vase filled with feathers found, hawk, turkey, and others, decorates the view from one of the living room’s east windows.

Drawn there today, the cardinal perched, then knocked again before taking to wing.

Common Periwinkle

Even more so than usual, any gaze cast on the neighborhood illuminates beauty.

Far across the valley, buds, impatient to leaf, nearly glow white, yellow, gold, rust, and every shade of green.

Light green conifer tips shed brown husks that had jacketed them since late Autumn.

Now pollen clouds puff from limbs like powder, like snow did this Winter when wind first picked up ending a snowfalls calm.

Nearby flowerbeds promise Peonies, explode with Periwinkle, begging the question “to where is venomous Myrtle running?”.

In between near and far, Lilacs range every purple shade of which they are capable.

Healing Rock

healing_rockRecently, a friend who I haven’t seen for a while, and I hiked up The Hill together. A misty day, damp, humid; no chance for a view once on top. Yet, we continued, the grass soaking the bottom of our trousers, wicking the dampness of the trail up our legs, our path littered with hundreds of salamanders, also known as red-efts, or newts.

“500” my friend remarked, as having been the most he had ever counted on a hike. “I’m sure we’ve seen more than that today.”, before we had even reached the top. Each of us took care not to tread on any of the orange creatures that had become too numerous to count.

Our conversation meandered as we walked, he under the weight of a recent loss of a loved one. We spoke of his family; how close he had been to the family member who had passed. He told stories of his children, and their adventures and accomplishments on far away mountains in the Rockies, Canada, Russia, and beyond. I listened as we walked, offering comfort as I could, and genuinely appreciating his tales of other hikes in other places, with other folks.

Hiking in the mist, with few landmarks, absorbed in conversation, we were almost disoriented as the top of the mountain seemed to come much more quickly than usual. “Home, sweet home.” I said as we reached the top – a place that both of us have been many hundreds of times, during all seasons of the year. We looked out into the mist, a wall of gray, knowing from memory what the expanse beyond looked like.

As we turned and began to descend, as is my habit, I thought to myself “Hey buddy!” when passing the place that I had
spread the ashes of two beloved dogs. I thought of other friends. Over the years, some sustained fatal injuries on the
mountain; some have died. There are the ashes of many beings, some human, sprinkled here and there on this mountain.

Growing up, I kissed girls on the mountain. At least one friend proposed marriage on the mountain. Some friends admit with a wink that their children were made when they found themselves alone while hiking here.

Having reached the age that joints are more painful from rest than activity, I try to hike as much as I can to avoid the pain and immobility of body parts that are worn and torn. I am not alone. Other dear friends hike for the same reason, and to ameliorate the symptoms of other diseases.

Another friend, having lost members of his family on the mountain, hikes nearly every day he’s home as it makes him “feel closer to his family”.

Certainly, if one spends enough time in any place, memories of these life events accumulate. It is a blessing, however, that for those of us who frequent The Hill, our reference place for these events comes with an abundance of gravity for physical exertion, and kindred souls whose company nurtures us, comforts us.

The Hill is a place where it is easy to remember the words of author Ram Dass about the meaning of life: “We’re all just walking each other home.”

Summers’ Peak

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When the snowpack leaves, hilltops
slowly draw pale green spring upward
from the hollows’ wet floors,
like a new wick pulls oil
from the lamp to it’s flame.

Recently, the subtle climates of
summits and valleys synchronized;
temporarily, shared the same season.
Ripe, waist deep grass coated slopes
from top to bottom.

Already, here on the hill, leaves fade,
dawn temperatures dip to warm Winter day range.
Regardless of rain or heat to come,
grass will never grow as thick as it had
until after the snowpack leaves again.