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

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

How the Light Gets In


The chorus from Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem should be put up on every highway in America, using the old Burma-shave format. These could serve as guideposts for a chaotic and troubling time.

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

Many writers  have articulated what I find so hard to describe, this vague uneasiness about the future we now face. Terri Windling and  Sylvia Linsteadt  have written compassionately about our role in keeping goodness in our world. Theirs, and other essays and posts, are remarkably positive. And the message is the same. Artists, activists, gardeners, journalists,teachers,store clerks,doctors (and the list goes on), all can contribute in small or large ways by adding to the collective light.

I have been purposely seeking out examples of individuals, organizations and businesses that contribute to the overall welfare of our complex society. Today I would like to take notice of Beth Owls Daughter and her continuing the tradition of the Solstice Advent Prayer Wreath. The concept is simple and similar to the Advent Wreath I grew up with. Each Sunday at sunset I join participants from places around the world and light a candle (or candles in successive weeks) and direct my thoughts to peace.

I honestly don’t know how I feel about focused thought. It can be easily dismissed as new age, much the same as focused prayer. But the least I can take away from lighting my candles is a sense of peace on a Sunday evening. Anything else, well, who knows?

Plotting the Resurrection



In his  introduction to Katherine White’s collection of her  New Yorker garden columns, Onward and Upwards in the Garden, E.B White wrote with equal measures  of fondness and bemusement of the elaborate rituals his wife would undertake during the annual bulb planting.

As the years went by and age over took her, there was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance on this awesome occasion–the small, hunched over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there wold be yet another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was near at hand, sitting here with her detailed chart under those dark skies in the dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection.

And so it is. I may now use Excel spreadsheets for the plotting but the ritual continues through the years. This year I am finishing a bit late, though here in the pacific northwest our bulb planting window continues into December.

Not for the fist time I was seduced by the big warehouse bulb companies and their low prices. (They’re low for a reason!) I had found a collection that sounded good. The name alone should have raised a red flag but I ordered the  BEN’S DIRTY DOZEN GRAB BAG thinking it would contain what was described on various pages. After much planning and noting a great deal of information about each selection I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that only one cultivar of the twelve described was included. All the rest were different colors, flower types and bloom times. Back to the computer, but it was raining anyway. Fortunately I also ordered from the ever reliable Brent and Becky’s Bulbs and Park Seeds, who seems now to be associated with Jackson and Perkins.


Tulipa tarda

Our days are quite short now, and the storms blow through with some regularity. I, too, hunch over beds and pots in a wintry wind to plant next spring’s glory, but I feel to be in good company. I have joined the exclusive group of little old ladies “calmly plotting the resurrection”.