Sunday, July 31, 2011


explode the heat,
send it soaring
into sky, burst,
stream down
sparks & sheets
of rain, make us
grow again.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Knowing My Limits

The passion flower in Jill and Ronn's community garden sings a siren call, "Come in, come in, Robley!"

But I know my limits.

Overgrown, the garden provides refuge for the noseeums that plague my cancer scar and the flesh behind my knees -- the dreaded chiggers.  Already this week, I haven't slept two nights because some sneaked through my Insect Shield pants and married my flesh.

Not today.

Today I know my limits.

But tomorrow, as Scarlett said, is another day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

What's Common

I know the fuchsia flowers in the Community Gardens, their outrageous color -- a celebratory scream of life.  I know their uplifted blossoms, their fragile stems.  I know the way they crumple, folding like carelessly discarded scarves.  I know the pleasures they afford for butterflies, bees, and me.

This year, though, they fill me with sadness, not glee.  In their glorious unfolding and folding, I think of Charley in college, at the peak of his strength onstage and off, and now as his strength ebbs, racing out into a great sea of suffering and death.

May he become part of the red sunset on the Frio River wall he sees from his porch, the pulse of a Texas spring, the blue flame of a bluebell, the fodder for some one glorious thing that pushes up in spring.

It is as Gertrude says, "common; all that lives must die."  

But it is also, "particular" with me.  

May he bloom forever in memory.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Wandering Glider

One orange-yellow speedy demon patrols Lake Cheston's shoreline like a visible police siren.  His name?  I think it's the Wandering Glider, the amazing dragonfly featured in a TED lecture.  Number 24!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daddy's Whistle

Earlier this summer, I posted about my father's three-note whistle, comparing it to a thrush's trill. "Summer Sounds" must now be revised.  I heard the actual bird!

Identity investigation underway.

Addendum: Birder David, Chair of the University's Biology Department, said "Towhee."  Whee!

The Hunt

In late afternoon, the elusive Common Green Darner, on patrol for the smaller Slaty Skimmer and Widow Skimmer, chases them with Quidditch speed and turn, leaving me ever on the hunt for just one good picture.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Lap of Luxury

Snowberry Clearwing Moth:
fringed velour comforter
spread across the lap of luxury.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Surprise! Lilies!

The naked pink ladies of Sewanee have returned!  And today, after bathing, they donned diamonds.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another Way of Looking

Reflection is revelatory.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Oh, Why Did I Have to Wait So Many Years for the Heirlooms

The tomatoes of childhood, even homegrown, pale in comparison to today's heirlooms.

This morning, I bought five tomatoes, each a different variety.


Lunch was the Cherokee Purple.


Dinner will be one of these, none of whose names I remember.

I don't care: bursting with summer, each promises magic, and none will disappoint.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Et in Arcadia ego

Death visits Lake Cheston.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The House Priest of Sewanee

came by late last week to help me install a new window sash.  This morning, I called on him to deliver my promised orange-cranberry scones in payment for his generosity.
When Tom first made a house call to my abode several years ago (to install a new faucet for my kitchen sink), we spent more time chatting than working.  I paid a paltry sum for the labor that he kept insisting wasn't "rocket science" and promised scones as a special treat.  

From the sidewalk, he made the sign of the cross, blessed me, and said I should refer to him from then on as my House Priest.

It is meet and right that I do!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Torn and tattered, the blues rested and warmed a moment on the sandy dam, then bounced along from grass blade to clover head, even at the last, tiny reminders of the urge of the living to live.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wire Walker

Does the Florida Leaf-
footed bug long
for what's
on the other side
like me?
Zinnias burst
color and juices.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Holding On

And then, letting go.

If only it were as light, as ease-filled as the dragonfly or spider web, wafting in wind.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All Buzz and No Sting

unless you're a cicada.

Its enormous size, speed, chainsaw buzz, and aggression make this fellow dadgum intimidating.  Watch him shoo off dragonflies, and he'll give you the willies.

Good to know that he's not harmful to a human, though sure hard to remember!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Noiseless Patient Spider

tucked in the fold of sunflower bud

Friday, July 15, 2011

Food for Worms

"Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table: that's the end."  So says Hamlet.  

So says nature.

A fallen tree becomes the nursery of fungus.

All living beings: recyclables constantly becoming other.
This is the kind of reincarnation in which I believe.

May I fat a dragonfly like an Eastern Pondhawk, or forest flower, or aqua-dusted wing edge, or molecule of haze bluing Lost Cove.

We are stardust: food for worms.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quick Turnaround

If only everything in life were so immediately satisfying.

I posted this at 11:45 am: I saw this fly at the edge of the forest.  Is it a flesh fly of some kind?

I received this response at 1:05 pm: Tachinidae: Paradidyama sp.

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon (Calyptratae)
Superfamily Oestroidea
Family Tachinidae
Subfamily Tachiniae
Tribe Minthoini
Genus Paradidyma rocks.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Things as They Are

My friend Charley has lung cancer, stage five, and will soon be at home with hospice.

I have to have a tooth implant, which I can't afford financially but can't afford to live without in terms of my oral health.

But on this day when competing claims battle inside me, a female Widow Skimmer befriended me, climbing up on my shoe, then my finger, then my shirtsleeve, clinging minutes, before flitting downward, settling into grass to strengthen while I admired her golden face and smoky wings.

Perhaps her trust, perhaps the stillness of our connection will still my anxiety in facing things as they are.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Butterfly Whisperer

My new identity, and I like it

almost as much as the American Snouts who hang out with me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

To Be of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shadows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is as common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Negative Space

My first-grade teacher distributed paper and crayons, said, "Art time."

Once I left negative space.

She said, "You must color the whole page."

Why? I wondered.  Even then I knew what wasn't there was as important as what is.

Think Hokusai,

think the neighbor's hydrangea.

Doesn't the absence of a loved one shape us as much as his or her presence?

Color my world here and not here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why Mess with Success?

Of the twenty-four beach balls floating in the pool, Eliska said, "They're boring!  Why don't they make them in new colors?"

"Because they're classic: they're perfect just as they are," I answered.

While she and her sister swam before the birthday party, I snapped the balls again, and again, and again, thinking I could capture the perfect Hockney image.

Crispness, clarity, seeming simplicity, directness.

Like Clue

Audrey Hepburn

Thoreau's "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer"


graham crackers

and children with big questions.


Friday, July 8, 2011


is hot like red.




Isn't it, Virginia?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wet Behind the Ears

Lamb's ears wear dew like diamonds.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Praise of Idling

On Facebook today, my friend Julie posted this from "The Language of Work" by Mark Kingwell (Harper's, July 2011): "Genuine idling is never an evasion of work; it is instead, as Aristotle argued long ago, cultivation of the most divine element in us through the exercise of leisure: spirited but serious reflection on who we are and what we up to, free from the base demands of mere usefulness."

Maybe that's what I've been up to with my camera and all these bugs: idling like this walking stick, cultivating a new and improved view.