A pilgrimage

We drove up to Provincetown on a recent trip to the Cape. The place was still in a summer mood with traffic bumper to bumper on Commercial Street in the East End and tourists lining up for ice cream on MacMillan Pier. But I was there in search of something that couldn’t be discovered in any of the bustling antique shops and art galleries, something I’d been longing to find for many years.

The poet Stanley Kunitz (1905 – 2006) summered in Provincetown for nearly half a century where, over the decades, he built an extensive and apparently magnificent garden. His first collection of poems was published in 1930 and he continued to write through his very long and productive life. He was a beloved teacher and, as a judge of the Yale Younger Writers series, influenced the careers of many of our finest poets. He was a founder of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and Poets House in New York. I was introduced to him by my late friend Carol Houck Smith who was an editor at W. W. Norton and who inherited him as an author when she was in her mid-70s and Kunitz was in his early 90s. She edited his last three books, including Passing Through, which won the National Book Award in 1995.  He became the tenth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2000 when he was ninety-five years old.

Kunitz in his Provincetown garden. Photo by Marnie Crawford Samuelson

Kunitz grew frail after the publication of Passing Through and told Carol that, though he might not be able to write more poems, he would like to write a book on poetry and his garden. The Wild Braid was written in his one hundredth year. Based on a series of interviews with Kunitz, it’s a profound and deeply moving meditation on life, aging, creativity, and the kindred spirit of all living things. It also brings alive his garden in Provincetown so vividly that I feel I’ve walked along its sloping pathways many times, though it could only have been in dreams. I’d never actually been there, and now I doubt I ever will.  When we finally found the address in the West End that I believed to be his, the front yard was so overgrown we could barely see the house.  Though I think Kunitz would have been the first to say that the essence of every garden lies in the imagination, a place of memory and hope — its completion forever out of reach.

“There are forms of communication beyond language that have to do not only with the body, but with the spirit itself, a permeation of one’s being,” Kunitz said about writing the poem below.  “I strongly identify with Henry James’ explanation for what compelled him to write, ‘The port from which I set out was, I think, that of the essential loneliness of my life….’  One of the great satisfactions of the human spirit is to feel that one’s family extends across the borders of species and belongs to everything that lives.”

The Snakes of September

by Stanley Kunitz

All summer I heard them
rustling in the shrubbery,
outracing me from tier
to tier in my garden,
a whisper among the viburnums,
a signal flashed from the hedgerow,
a shadow pulsing
in the barberry thicket.
Now that the nights are chill
and the annuals spent,
I should have thought them gone,
in a torpor of blood
slipped to the nether world
before the sickle frost.
Not so. In the deceptive balm
of noon, as if defiant of the curse
that spoiled another garden,
these two appear on show
through a narrow slit
in the dense green brocade
of a north-country spruce,
dangling head-down, entwined
in a brazen love-knot.
I put out my hand and stroke
the fine, dry grit of their skins.
After all,
we are partners in this land,
co-signers of a covenant.
At my touch the wild
braid of creation

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Queen Anne’s Lace

Ranks of Queen Anne’s Lace have taken over the wildflower field this year — tall, pale, and lithe as ballerinas. This August’s endless rains have brought them to their knees time after time, but by morning they’ve sprung up again — seemingly taller and stronger than ever. Despite the royal title, Queen Anne’s Lace has quite humble origins: it’s actually wild carrot and considered to be edible in its first year of life. Like many wildflowers, it possesses a litany of uses. The Romans ate it as a vegetable and the American Colonists boiled the taproots to make wine. Its sugar content is second only to that of the beet among root vegetables, and it’s been employed as a sweetener in various cultures around the world.

Who was Queen Anne?  That’s a matter of some debate. One story claims she was the wife of King James the First of Britain and was known for her needlework. The pinpoint of purply red at the center of each white flower is said to represent the droplet of blood left by the queen when she pricked herself making lace. Another, darker tale, relayed in a recent article in the Berkshire Eagle, identified her as Queen Anne II (1665- 1714), the last of the Stuart monarchs.  Over the course of 16 years, this queen was pregnant 17 times, with only one child surviving to the age of 11. Ironic then that the seeds of Queen Anne’s Lace are purported to have contraceptive powers and were used in ancient times to prevent pregnancies. But tug on just about any wildflower and you’ll discover a fascinating tangle of magical properties and old wives’ tales.


by Reginald Gibbons

Coleridge carefully wrote down a whole page
of them, all beginning with the letter b.
Guidebooks preserve our knowledge
of their hues and shapes, their breeding.
Many poems have made delicate word-chimes—
like wind-chimes not for wind but for the breath of man—
out of their lovely names.
At the edge of the prairie in a cabin
when thunder comes closer to thump the roof hard
a few of them—in a corner, brittle in a dry jar
where a woman’s thoughtful hand left them to fade—
seem to blow with the announcing winds outside
as the rain begins to fall on all their supple kin
of all colors, under a sky of one color, or none.

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One perfect rose

Growing roses in the Berkshires is a thorny proposition at best. The season is too short. The winters too long. The weather unpredictable throughout the year. This summer, June was one endless dry spell while most of July seemed to have passed under a severe thunderstorm warning.  But even when conditions are at their best, the rewards tend to be fleeting. There’s usually about a two- week window between the moment the first blossoms unfurl to the morning when the advance guard of Japanese Beetles land like an invading army (or air force) on the roses’ delicate blooms.

Is it worth it?  Most passions defy logic. I fell in love with roses as a girl in the beautiful and extensive rose garden my paternal grandmother created in the small Pennsylvania town where I grew up.  In the midst of the Depression, newly widowed and with six children to raise, my grandmother began what was to become a horticultural heaven on earth that remains to this day — in the hands of a first cousin — an Edenic refuge. My love of roses and my grandmother are no doubt co-mingled, memories faded but still potent, like that wonderfully musty aroma of long-dried rose petals.

I’ve grown all sorts of roses over the years with varying degrees of success — Damask, Gallica, Alba, Rugosa — but lately have been taken with English Roses, specifically the re-blooming hybrids created by the renowned breeder and writer David Austin.  His Queen of Sweden (pictured above and left) form tightly furled cups in a lovely pale pink tinged with peach that hold their shape in the hottest of summer afternoons.  As is probably evident here, the subject of roses tends to bring out the nostalgic and cliched in a writer.  Thank heavens for Dorothy Parker.


One Perfect Rose

Dorothy Parker

A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
     All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet—
     One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;
     “My fragile leaves,” it said, “his heart enclose.”
Love long has taken for his amulet
     One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

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I wish I could say that I grew these.  They look delicious, don’t they?  So sweet and juicy. The ones I did grow were coming along quite nicely, tiny white and yellow flowers abloom, bees bobbing among the bounty. The berries themselves — tight little balls of pale beige — began to form. Heads down, shyly, half-hidden under their blossom caps.  Then they started to flush — just the lightest tint of pink.  But the next day when I checked on them, they were gone. Disappeared. The whole berry patch dismantled. I know that I’ve only myself to blame. I should have been more careful. I’d noticed the chipmunks, scampering along the top of the split rail fence, casing the joint. And I could see that they were pilfering the odd berry or two as the fruit started to ripen. But I never imagined they’d be able to cart the whole crop away overnight.

Summer in the garden is full of such minor tragedies. In early May, our oaks, smoke bushes, astilbes and Japanese anemones were hit by that terrible late frost.  Everything’s re-leafing now — the astilbes’ plumes thicker than ever.  No such luck with the strawberries, I’m afraid.  It makes me more grateful than ever for the Berry Farm, our wonderful local organic farm store. http://www.thechathamberryfarm.com/index.html


Ellen Bass

Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
melting in the car and throw
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep
with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling
out of her blouse. Or your wife
will remember she’s a lesbian
and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat—
the one you never really liked—will contract a disease
that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth
every four hours. Your parents will die.
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory. If your daughter
doesn’t plug her heart
into every live socket she passes,
you’ll come home to find your son has emptied
the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,
and called the used appliance store for a pick up—drug money.
There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger.
When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine
and climbs half way down. But there’s also a tiger below.
And two mice—one white, one black—scurry out
and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.
She looks up, down, at the mice.
Then she eats the strawberry.
So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.

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When Lilacs Last …

Lilacs are flowering everywhere in the Berkshires now — in front yards, along the roadside, in a fallow field where a house once stood. Though seemingly delicate and fragile, lilacs are quite hardy and can live well into their seventh decade. Every spring, their blossoms fill the air with a potent fragrance that’s infused with longing — the mixture of “memory and desire” T. S. Eliot wrote about in the Wasteland. What is it about the sense of smell — the strongest of the human senses — that can transport us so quickly into the past?  Lilac was the signature scent of an elderly aunt — a stern, accomplished pianist who brooked no nonsense —who returns to me every spring with the first whiff of syringa vulgaris. Lilac. The name itself is lovely, with those two gentle vowels nestled in the arms of the three protective consonants. The roots of the lilac are sunk deep into the heart of American poetry, with Walt Whitman’s elegy on the death of Abraham Lincoln the most famous.  This long, glorious poem which, like so much of Whitman, contains multitudes – the planet Venus, the hermit thrush, the Civil war, mourning, death, and “ever returning spring” — to name just a few. Here are the poem’s first and final verses.

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

by Walt Whitman


When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.


Passing the visions, passing the night,
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands,
Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul,
Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy,
Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,
Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring.

I cease from my song for thee,
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.

Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe,
With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep, for the dead I loved so well,
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands—and this for his dear sake,
Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.

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A Wing and a Prayer

Acadian Flycatcher, relative of the Eastern Phoebe

The phoebes are busy setting up housekeeping under our eaves.  All day long they swoop and whistle to each other — phoebe, phoebe — and pick through the dead grass to line their nests. They’re usually the first of the migratory birds to return to their breeding grounds, harbingers that another spring has arrived, that nature’s ancient rhythms are quickening again.  It’s a moment to cherish. Especially now that we know birds across the globe are vanishing from our skies in staggering numbers. Over the last fifty years, one third of the birds of North America alone have disappeared.

Barred owl

How did this happen?  What can we do about it? In A Wing and a Prayer, published this month, my brother Anders Gyllenhaal and his wife Beverly, both veteran journalists, take us on a fascinating journey to the front lines of the fight to reverse this terrifying trend.  During the pandemic, they packed up their Airstream and traveled more than 25,000 miles to interview the scientists and foresters, researchers and farmers who are employing age-old practices and fascinating new technologies to save the birds. The result is a book that Susan Page of USA Today called “a soaring achievement, beautiful and compelling.”

Anders and Beverly are back in their Airstream now, wending their way up the East Coast on a book tour.  They’ll be giving a talk, including a slide show of more of Anders’ photographs (shown above) on Thursday, July 6th at 7 p.m. at the Old Town Hall in West Stockbridge, MA. A reception and book signing will follow at Shaker Mill Books. For more information on the book and to order a copy, please visit: https://flyinglessons.us/our-upcoming-book/

Here’s a poem by the American poet R.T. Smith which beautifully captures how the most common of birds in the most familiar of situations can remind us of the “shadowy bliss we exist to explore.”

Hardware Sparrows

by R. T. Smith

Out for a deadbolt, light bulbs
and two-by-fours, I find a flock
of sparrows safe from hawks

and weather under the roof
of Lowe’s amazing discount
store. They skitter from the racks

of stockpiled posts and hoses
to a spill of winter birdseed
on the concrete floor. How

they know to forage here,
I can’t guess, but the automatic
door is close enough,

and we’ve had a week
of storms. They are, after all,
ubiquitous, though poor,

their only song an irritating
noise, and yet they soar
to offer, amid hardware, rope

and handyman brochures,
some relief, as if a flurry
of notes from Mozart swirled

from seed to ceiling, entreating
us to set aside our evening
chores and take grace where

we find it, saying it is possible,
even in this month of flood,
blackout and frustration,

to float once more on sheer
survival and the shadowy
bliss we exist to explore.

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Wild thing


Early one recent morning, I looked out the kitchen window and saw an enormous cat sitting in the breezeway between our house and garage. Its back was towards me, but I could tell that it was watching the bird feeders, no doubt sizing up the breakfast menu.  It must have sensed me there, because it suddenly swiveled its head and stared straight at me with yellow eyes. I felt that I was gazing directly into the wild.  I was five feet away from a bobcat.
A second later, it slipped away around the side of the garage but not before I noticed that it had a bobbed tail and little black tufts on the tips of its ears.  Its fur was a blur of dots and stripes. Though the bobcat is the most common wildcat in North America, it also tends to be the most elusive – solitary, territorial, hunting primarily in the twilight and dawn hours.  I felt lucky to have seen it at such close range, to have shared a moment – and a look – with something so untamed and beautiful and free.

The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in 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 with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


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Month of despair

It seemed for a time, for most of January actually, that winter had passed us by. We racked up weeks of mild weather when the occasional rain segued into snow which melted politely away by morning. The daffodils started to push up.  The witch hazel shimmied with its gaudy gold and crimson tassels. Surely spring was right around the corner?  It was our year of magically thinking that we’d dodged the cold dark bullet that is February. Then the wind kicked in. The temperatures plummeted.  The muddy road froze solid with ruts as deep and hard as luge tracks. The rain turned to sleet. We woke up yesterday morning to a world made of glass: every tree and shrub and left-out lawn chair glittered with a thick coating of ice.  So lovely! Until an old cherry at the bottom of the drive collapsed under its icy armor. And the power went out. It’s in the single digits this morning with snow in the forecast and two winter storms brewing on the horizon. I don’t think anybody has addressed this month of the year with more finesse than Margaret Atwood, the Canadian novelist (The Handmaid’s Tale), essayist, environmental activist, and award-winning poet.


by Margaret Atwood

Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.

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Snowfall in the Afternoon

I love the way snow transforms the world around us in mysterious and beautiful ways. How the mountains disappear into the sky and the fields swell with drifts.  How the limbs of the spruces become draped with ermine and the last of the oak leaves — high up in the crown, gloved in white — clap wildly in the wind.  Snow lends itself to imagery — from Emily Dickinson’s “leaden sieves” and “alabaster wool” to Robert Frost’s extended metaphor of suicidal thoughts in “Stopping by Woods”—with, no doubt, thousands of other examples in between.  One of my favorites comes at the end of this poem by Robert Bly who died in 2021 at the age of 94.  When I was studying at Iowa, Bly was one of our gods, along with Theodore Roethke and James Wright — Midwesterners (all men, of course!) who wrote muscular, musical free verse that was unabashedly American and packed a powerful emotional punch.


Snowfall in the Afternoon

by Robert Bly

The grass is half-covered with snow. 

It was the sort of snowfall that starts in late afternoon
And now the little houses of the grass are growing dark.

 If I reached my hands down near the earth
I could take handfuls of darkness!
A darkness was always there which we never noticed.

As the snow grows heavier the cornstalks fade farther away
And the barn moves nearer to the house.

The barn moves all alone in the growing storm.

The barn is full of corn and moves toward us now
Like a hulk blown toward us in a storm at sea;
All the sailors on deck have been blind for many years.

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Harbinger of happiness

William Leaman/Alamy Stock Photo; Audubon Songbirds Calendar

I still depend upon printed weekly planners and wall calendars to keep track of my life. There’s something so satisfying about noting down all the important coming events in red ink by hand on actual paper at the beginning of each year. Something childishly exciting about thumbing through the neatly lined Filofax pages to discover what day of the week your birthday or anniversary will fall on. You hold your future in your hands in a way that I just don’t think is possible with digital versions of the same.  What I love most, though, is opening the Audubon Songbird wall calendar every year and seeing which birds will be featured in the twelve months ahead.  I was delighted to discover that the Eastern Bluebird, one of my favorites, is the bird of the month for June (which includes my birthday) in 2023.  A harbinger of happiness in many different cultures, a blue bird just yesterday landed in our window box and proceeded to snack on the winterberry branches there.  It was a rare sighting for late December and a sign, I hope, of good things to come.  Speaking of birds and good things ahead, on April 18, 2023 A Wing and a Prayer: The Race to Save Our Vanishing Birds by my brother Anders and his wife Beverly Gyllenhaal will be published by Simon & Schuster.  More to come on this important, dramatic, pathbreaking book — so mark your calendar. In the meantime, wishing you much happiness in the year ahead.

December 31st

by Richard Hoffman

All my undone actions wander
naked across the calendar,

a band of skinny hunter-gatherers,
blown snow scattered here and there,

stumbling toward a future
folded in the New Year I secure

with a pushpin: January’s picture
a painting from the 17th century,

a still life: Skull and mirror,
spilled coin purse and a flower.

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In this in-between season, before the snow falls, when the light slants at a lower angle, the eye is drawn to what the foliage and flowers had kept hidden: the almost otherworldly beauty of lichens. Splayed across stones, spreading over old walls and rotting wood, lichens thrive in the most unlikely places. From sea level to alpine heights, lichens can grow in Arctic tundra, sandy deserts, rocky coastlines, even toxic slag heaps. Though they sometimes look moss-like, they’re not related to moss — or any other plant. Lichens are actually composite, symbiotic organisms: a combination of a fungus and an alga.  The fungus gives the lichen its structure and the alga its ability to perform photosynthesis. There are over 20,000 known species, covering an estimated 6 – 8 percent of the world’s surface. Some lichens are believed to be among the oldest living things on the planet. They take on many different shapes and colors and textures and can be difficult to correctly identity. But I believe the silvery, leaf-like lichen in the photo above that’s been growing for years on the wooden gate of our vegetable garden is a foliose variety. Here’s a poem on the subject by one of my favorite contemporary American poets.

For the Lobaria, Usnea, Witches Hair, Map Lichen, Beard Lichen, Ground Lichen, Shield Lichen

by Jane Hirshfield

Back then, what did I know?
The names of subway lines, busses.
How long it took to walk 20 blocks.

Uptown and downtown.
Not north, not south, not you.

When I saw you, later, seaweed reefed in the air,
you were grey-green, incomprehensible, old.
What you clung to, hung from: old.
Trees looking half-dead, stones.

Marriage of fungi and algae,
chemists of air,
changers of nitrogen-unusable into nitrogen-usable.

Like those nameless ones
who kept painting, shaping, engraving,
unseen, unread, unremembered.
Not caring if they were no good, if they were past it.

Rock wools, water fans, earth scale, mouse ears, dust,
Transformers unvalued, uncounted.
Cell by cell, word by word, making a world they could live in.

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First Fall

“We look at the world once, in childhood, the rest is memory,” Nobel Prize-winning poet Louise Glück wrote in her poem “Nostos”.  I’ve been thinking about the wisdom of those lines these past few golden weeks in the Berkshires. Working in the garden as the last of the leaves drift down from the maples, I realize how much of what I feel is filtered through the past. The smell of woodsmoke. The honking of geese at night. The full Hunter’s moon rising over Harvey Mountain. All these moments have a feeling of déjà vu, memories piled on top of memories, smoldering like the fires my father built along our driveway to burn the leaves when I was a girl. That was the world I first saw, the autumn I first remember, the season against which I’ve measured all the ones that have come after.  Here’s a poem on the subject by Maggie Smith who writes so beautifully about motherhood.

First Fall
by Maggie Smith 

I’m your guide here. In the evening-dark
morning streets, I point and name.
Look, the sycamores, their mottled,
paint-by-number bark. Look, the leaves
rusting and crisping at the edges.
I walk through Schiller Park with you
on my chest. Stars smolder well
into daylight. Look, the pond, the ducks,
the dogs paddling after their prized sticks.
Fall is when the only things you know
because I’ve named them
begin to end. Soon I’ll have another
season to offer you: frost soft
on the window and a porthole
sighed there, ice sleeving the bare
gray branches. The first time you see
something die, you won’t know it might
come back. I’m desperate for you
to love the world because I brought you here.

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These early Autumn mornings often arrive cocooned in mist — beautiful, mysterious, and somewhat haunting. There’s nothing necessarily poetic about mist; meteorologically, it’s just the result of longer nights and the warmer earth interacting with the cooler air, causing water droplets to form close to the ground. But it’s hard to look out over a shrouded field, the hills a ghost of a silhouette in the distance, without feeling a sense of wonder. What’s out there? With a kind of abracadabra flourish, the world as we know it seems to go up in smoke. Though it will burn off by noon, these mists offer a glimpse of what’s to come: the lush greens of summer enveloped by the grays and whites of winter. Here’s a poem on the subject by the English poet Alice Oswald.


Alice Oswald

It amazes me when mist
chloroforms the fields
and wipes out whatever world exists

and walkers wade through coma
and close to but curtained from each other

sometimes there’s a second river
lying asleep along the river
where the sun rises
sunk in thought

and my soul gets caught in it
hung by the heels
in water

it amazes me when mist
weeps as it lifts

                 and a crow
calls down to me in its treetop voice
that there are webs and drips
and actualities up there

and in my fog-self shocked and grey
it startles me to see the sky

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Zinnias are the clowns of the late summer garden.  Wacky, sporting mis-matched and often outrageous color combinations, they bob  behind the ranks of chic perennials on stalks as long and sturdy as stilts. They’re just too silly to be taken seriously by any self-respecting gardener and yet, by the end of August, they’re often the only colorful things left standing in the border.  I’ve come to depend on them over the years and, after Continue reading

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