A Few Words for Friday


Ginkgo biloba


copper and bronze
day by day she turns the ring
of her seasons
winding it
on the fingers
of her land
taking a breath of cold air
she disrobes
and then puts on
a gown of purest white
sprinkled with diamonds
in which to dream
of seasons
yet to come
taking a breath of warm sun
she awakens
with opalescent rainbows
day by day
she turns the ring
to emerald

~Harriet Kofalk

A Few Words for Friday



This poem is at once clear-eyed and hopeful, traits to strive for on this particular day.

For the Children

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us,
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light

~Gary Snyder

How Light Gets In




Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

The U.S. is faced with uncertainty about the future, but in light of the president elect’s recent cabinet appointments one thing is clear. We will be governed by an administration that appears to be actively hostile to science and environmental responsibility.

The work the Xerces Society has been engaged in for the last several decades has never been more important. Their mission statement describes work that I imagine few people have thought is needed.

 The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. We take our name from the now extinct Xerces Blue butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces), the first butterfly known to go extinct in North America as a result of human activities.

The scope of their activities is far reaching . Their publications, books, and community outreach are effective education strategies and their political advocacy has been instrumental in helping pass legislation that helps to protect invertebrates. Their web page describes the wide range of activities they pursue.

The Xerces Society is a science-based conservation organization, working with diverse partners including scientists, land managers, educators, policymakers, farmers, and citizens.  By using applied research, engaging in advocacy, providing educational resources, and addressing policy implications, we endeavor to make meaningful long-term conservation a reality.

Our core programs focus on habitat conservation and restoration, species conservation, protecting pollinators, contributing to watershed health, and reducing harm to invertebrates from pesticide use.

Their work is life affirming and will become more critical as the political climate around scientific research changes in potentially catastrophic ways. I buy their books and support their cause in hopes that they will continue what they do.


A Few Words for Friday


Blue Winter

Winter uses all the blues there are.
One shade of blue for water, one for ice,
Another blue for shadows over snow.
The clear or cloudy sky uses blue twice-
Both different blues. And hills row after row
Are colored blue according to how far.
You know the bluejay’s double-blur device
Shows best when there are no green leaves to show.
And Sirius is a winterbluegreen star.

~Robert Francis

Sun and Snow

Living at the base of the predictably unpredictable Siskiyou Pass is usually fairly unremarkable in the weather department. The snow and ice are something to view on the many TripCheck cameras available for travelers and truck drivers to look at before they start up the grade. Once in a while, though, we in the valley are reminded that winter reigns. I look to my sunny garden art to find it, ironically, covered with a giant cap of white.

A Few Words for Friday



December Night

The cold slope is standing in darkness
But the south of the trees is dry to the touch

The heavy limbs climb into the moonlight bearing feathers
I came to watch these
White plants older at night
The oldest
Come first to the ruins

And I hear magpies kept awake by the moon
The water flows through its
Own fingers without end

Tonight once more
I find a single prayer and it is not for men

~W.S. Merwin

A Few Words for Friday


Nandina domestica

Winter Eyes

Look at winter
With winter eyes
As smoke curls from rooftops
To clear cobalt skies.

Breathe in winter
Past winter nose:
The sweet scent of black birch
Where velvet moss grows.
Walk through winter
With winter feet
On crackling ice
Or sloshy wet sleet.

Look at winter
With winter eyes:
The rustling of oak leaves
As spring slowly nears.

~Douglas Florian

A Few Words for Friday



Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first

through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop

and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.

I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening

a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.

~David Budbill

Seedy Treats


Melissa officinalis

My winter garden is unkempt and bedraggled. Any seedheads left in the decidedly unmanicured herb bed are magnets for the juncos, goldfinches, and chickadees. I have plenty of nyjer and black sunflower seeds in feeders, and suet cakes hang from tree branches. But the seedheads from sunflowers, oregano, lemon balm and spearmint are visited through the entire day. For the gardener this is a mixed blessing. Seeds that are shaken loose and not eaten will result in an army of volunteers. But for the birds they are a winter banquet.