Archive for Gardens

Epiphany Eve Birthday


Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, is the Christian festival celebrating the arrival of the Magi to visit the Christ child.  In the west it is also known as Twelfth Night, the twelfth night after Christmas, which is January 6.

The word epiphany also means the sudden insight into the essential meaning of something.  My birthday epiphany this year was that chocolate cake must be accompanied by peppermint ice cream.

The following is a Tanka, a poem that is in form with 5/7/5/7/7 lines.

I can make a piece

of flowerless frosted fudge cake

last a week, each slice

dissolving chocolate-heaven

each taste a year of pleasure.


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Poem a Day

urban-pumpkin Urban Pumpkin

First day of October.  I decide to write a poem a day this month. So far, so good.

On October 1, I made a list of nouns and a list of abstractions, like feelings.  The idea is to select one word from each list and write about what connects them.  I chose the pair, hair and hunger.

It’s not an easy case to make that hair and hunger are related in any way but that’s a poet’s job:  to help us see connections at the intersection of two disparate things.  So, in the poem, I become hungry for the hair I used to have, thick and colorful, in a world that is diminished, a world I cannot control.

Today, I wrote a poem for Rattle, which is dedicating an issue to Civil Servant Poets, poems by civilians who have spent “considerable”time working for a governmental agency.  It seems like it would be a boring topic unless you have watched House of Cards and realize how dangerous power games can be and how far down into the ranks they can reach.

Today I recalled the car salesman brought in to head up a social services agency and how he angered me with his pompous ignorance.  I was surprised to hear him say, years later, that it was the hardest job he’d ever had and how he took his worries about it home.  I guess that part must have surprised him.

I am going to try for three civil service poems by October 15.  Why, oh, why didn’t I save some of those old memos or emails??

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Chipping Away At It

Pink Tulips

One of my favorite poems was re-published today in The Weekly Avocet, an on-line journal of nature poetry.  The poem is called Oak Savanna and was originally published in Solitary Plover.

I am running across more poetry journals that are interested in publishing previously published material.  Like spreading the wealth, I guess.

Here is a link to the newsletter; Oak Savanna is the second poem on the first page.  You will need to copy and paste the link into your browser.



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High Wind Warning

Blog Photo

Spring Garden Show at Olbrich Gardens

Gusts to 55 mph.  Even for a girl from North Dakota, that’s an impressive number.  Well, if this is the March lion, then April should be lovely.

I spent the autumn studying metaphor and other things poetic in a couple of on-line classes and by December I was in a really creative period.  Then on January 4th my husband was diagnosed with a detached retina.  It was a little like this wind, it came out of nowhere, upended everything for two months and is fading away, leaving just a memory of turmoil.  Unfortunately, the retina also stopped my creative renaissance in its tracks.  But only for the time being, I hope.

I had a poem accepted by the Ariel Anthology, Solitary Plover, the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets 2017 Calendar, Postcard Poems and Prose, Portage Magazine, Origami Poems, and Poetry Speaks, a celebration of arts in the community coming in April.  Homes for poems.

My husband says I should write for myself and not worry about publishing.  But if you write and think it’s good and speaks to something that will resonate with a reader, you want to share it.

I listened to the artist Manabu Ikeda talk about his work this week.  Manabu is artist in residence at The Chazen Museum of Art.  He opens his studio four afternoons a week to visitors and recently indicated he wants to invite people to come on the weekend as well.  His work is so focused and solitary that I was surprised he wants more visitors.  But in the video he talks about how he thinks about viewers as he works – how they might enter his work or a viewpoint that might interest viewers.

All creative people want an audience, I think.  Partly it is ego and accolades, yes.  But also to invite viewers and readers into your world as welcome guests to be greeted with gratitude and respect.

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Pope Farm Conservancy

Pope Farm Conservancy


The sound of ringing hand bells and laughter.

Around a corner in the Rijksmuseum,

with as many twists as a licorice rope,

a tall woman stands in an apron and floppy hat.

Her hand points there.  A clutch of seated

children wearing gold paper crowns raise their bells.

Her foot points here and the ones in front ring away.

Next door, brother Theo’s collection of Vincent’s

late paintings are hung, each canvas striped with,

slashed with, swirled with paint, thick as ripe

and hairy sunflowers stalks in mid-August,

petals dripping sunshine, grotesque and grasping

pinwheels, scary to someone whose ears

still hum with chimes of innocence.

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Thornton W. Burgess

Entrance to the Wild Flower Garden at Green Briar Nature Center

Entrance to the Wild Flower Garden at Green Briar Nature Center

On a recent visit to Sandwich, MA I discovered that Thornton W. Burgess had been a resident and his home was open for visiting.  The name sounded familiar but it was not until I saw a drawing of a small rabbit that it clicked:  The Adventures of Peter Cottontail.

Burgess wrote children’s books back in the 19-teens.  With titles like Old Mother West Wind, The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad, Jerry Muskrat at Home and The Adventures of Prickly Porky, what is not to like?  Well, I’m sure the books are very tame to children raised on Where the Wild Things Are, but the stories are no doubt as charming as the illustrations, most executed by Harrison Cady.

The Burgess House in Sandwich, MA is no more, sadly.  The house still stands, but barely.  It is too expensive for the Burgess Society to keep up and the cost to renovate for a private home would be prohibitive.  Still, the Burgess Society soldiers on at Green Briar Nature Center and Jam Kitchen in East Sandwich, MA.

Burgess’ work as a naturalist and conservationist continues at the Nature Center.  I love that he encouraged children to join the War Bond effort with the formation of the Happy Jack Thrift Club in 1917.  The Burgess Society preserves Thornton Burgess’ legacy of books and articles plus maintains a focus on preserving and conserving natural resources.

However, the Jam Kitchen is where the real work of preservation is done.  In operation since 1903, the Jam Kitchen also prepares sun-cooked fruits in the oldest commercial solar-cooking operation in the U.S.  The names are enough to make your mouth water:  Apple Pie Jam, Beach Plum Jelly and Peter Rabbit’s Carrot Marmalade (with carrots, lemons and almonds).  The sun-cooked fruits are prepared with rum, vodka or Brandy.  ‘Mmmmmm!

The Jam Kitchens products are for sale in the Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen gift shop or on-line at

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Grey Headed Coneflowers

Grey-headed Coneflowers


Cones changing to brown,

Grey Headed Coneflower peaks.

Yellow petals droop

as seed heads revert to grey.

Song bird treats in late autumn.


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