Leaving April with Wendell

        The Peace of Wild Things
                 Wendell Berry
 When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

The brilliant green of spring


Though it happens every year, the first blast of green that appears always takes me by surprise. It is such a welcome sight. So are the red buds that fall from the maples before the leaves come out, and the sunny faces of dandelions that start to dot the lawns. It is so good to see the colors of spring and see the return of the bees to their activity in the garden. The last of my snow has been gone for about a week and a half, so now the season is starting to take hold and show its colors. I have no idea what this plant actually is, I saw it by the side of the road along a trail and stopped to get a good look at it.


All the way up the hill the plants crouched by the stream, catching the spray from the little falls and generally brightening up the scene. Maybe they are some sort of woodland hosta, they seem similar in design, but it really doesn’t matter, they were a sight for sore eyes. Soon the other woodland plants will fill in and these will lose their time in the limelight (sorry for the pun), but for now they are center stage in the show of early spring color.



Food for thought

Checkerboard silo

There are many scenes such as this scattered across the country, quiet barns, empty silos and fallow fields. It is as if all our food magically comes from the land of “elsewhere” rather than the land we can see and touch. The barn is an iconic image across Europe and America, it speaks to us of a life of hard work and the vagaries of the elements. There is a dairy farm in the town I grew up in that has been in place since 1774. The farmer is getting on in years and there is no one interested in taking over the work of fields and dairy cows. I know I would not be up for the task, not many of us have an interest in the farming life. It asks too much. Yet neither do we like the big agriculture conglomerates that have taken over. It is a quandary that local farms try to bridge, allowing us the luxury of good food with the illusion of the bucolic farming life. I don’t know what the solution is, I know I would be hard pressed to grow enough to feed my family, and enjoy having fresh raspberries out of season. But it seems foolish to let good farmland to sprout yet more subdivisions of 4 bedroom 2.5 bath homes or big box stores.

A curious thing these shadows


My mom always has geraniums that she overwinters which fill the cold days with a splash of color. It is a sign of her frugal upbringing that has always stuck with her, waste not. And so each fall, in come the pots to take up their winter residence.  They love to sit in the southern facing windows and soak up the warmth. In a few weeks they will go back out on the porch to ring the edge all summer. I have not had luck keeping geraniums from year to year, possibly due to not having a big south-facing window, or maybe just due to lack of intent. My eye was caught by the lovely shadow cast by the plant one morning, it made all the difference in the image. So often that is the case, that a tiny thing changes how we see something.  I spent a bit of time walking around the rooms I grew up in, taking photos here and there and appreciating the shadows. Both the ones I could see, and the ones I could only sense.

Once long ago


Webster Wagner House drawing cosmicsociety.com

Webster Wagner House drawing cosmicsociety.com

Once long ago in the golden age of railroads, lived Webster Wagner.

Webster Wagner sign

He built a house overlooking the Mohawk River in Palantine Bridge NY.  The sweeping views must have been amazing, and the cool river breezes in the summer must have made sitting on the front porch a delight.

The house still stands in spite of being lived in by a recluse for the past few decades during which time it has deteriorated a great deal. I guess saying it “still stands” is a stretch, as the years of neglect and leaking roofs have taken their toll. At this point the occupant is gone and the house in currently being taken apart. Stacks of slate from what was left of the roof sit on the remains of the once grand porch, trim and railing lie side by side on the front lawn. Yet there is still a grand beauty to the house that is not diminished. It must have been called the haunted house by generations of children, the place you walked by quickly as night fell. The place no one trick or treated on Halloween.





left side

The left side partially open

right side

The right side, loss of roof due to the many leaks in the attic. The occupant had trash cans and wading pools to collect the water, which was then siphoned out the window. (see green hose in image below)


Whatever the history of the Webster Wagner house, it is coming to an end. Webster Wagner also came to an end, and it was a true train wreck.  One in which he was in his invention at the time of the collision, and the overturned lamps and stoves started unstoppable fires. And so the Wagner family house slipped from owner to owner, and now is poised to return to the empty lot it once was. Hopefully not to become a fast food joint or dollar store as so many empty in town lots become when the houses are gone.

Birding about

Love Birds by Trevor Silvester Have some free time this weekend and need a few laughs? Find out what type of bird you are in Silvester’s book. While you can’t take the tests for someone else to figure out their type, it is so much fun to do together. Self, spouse, kids, friends and on. I laughed so hard at some of the apt descriptions that I had to stop and collect myself. Written in  segments based on the results you get make it a very quick read. Not a peacock? Then you skip the peacock section. The selection of birds is good too as there are no hawks, eagles, vultures or turkeys that already have strong associations attached to them. It is a fun and easy way to sort out the traits that we have, love or make us crazy without anyone feeling like an odd duck. So why not give it a go, enjoy the humor and come home to roost this weekend.

(For the record, I am a kingfisher. It explains so much!)

courtesy: allaboutbirds.org

courtesy: allaboutbirds.org