St. Francis And The Live Oak

June 10, 2021. Today brought closure to stress related to our 500-year-old live oak – steadily declining the past ten years in spite of treatment for oak wilt disease. The crew came Tuesday, again Wednesday, again this morning to bring down the last of the five trunks growing from a common base. Agile men scrambled up, up into the branches with chain saws and ropes. Sections of limbs were lassoed, then cut free to swing downward at calculated angles that precluded damage to yaupons growing up and through live oak, as well as fence and crew members. An amazing display of skills and teamwork!

They arrived this morning just as I began a zoom session focused on becoming a peace agent, letting the St. Francis Prayer guide current life – my current thoughts dominated by chain saws. Just as the zoom concluded, the crew pulled away, leaving only the stump and my swirl of memories of the former tree: first glimpse in 1986 while shopping for a house in this area; my teenage son casually perched on one of the overhanging limbs calling down “Hey, Mom!”; prolific bird visitations (even one raven); cat chasing squirrel among the branches (squirrel retreating on underside of branch beneath confused cat); and many private conversations between me and tree.

Relieved that the inevitable is now behind us – tomorrow we begin restoring yard art and flowerpots moved out of the crew’s way – including statues of Buddha and St. Francis. A few flower pots will be placed on trunk pedestals – still huggable.

Mowing Therapy

May 14, 2021. I have no photograph of my beloved manual rotary lawnmower. My bond with that machine went way beyond yard aesthetics. I brought it with me to Texas when I left Florida in 1986, before I was into photography, before I was into writing about my obsessions. This mower was an obsession, a very therapeutic one.

Today I read a fantastic post from Bill Pearse Promenade in green that set my mind whirling, regretting having ever relinquished that old mower. It deserves a memorial poem. Even if I have to use a contrived image (though backdrop is an actual old photograph of the Florida backyard).

Honeysuckle Revival

March 20, 2021. For Spring Equinox, I received the prompt “I remember” and immediately connected to the honeysuckle out back, remembering how to re-leaf after our rare (and disastrous) Arctic blast three weeks ago. The storm arrived after the honeysuckle had put out abundant blooms. We feared more than those blooms were wasted – that we might have to prune the honeysuckle down to the ground, that branches too could well be dead. The sight of honeysuckle covered in lifeless blah-brown leaves was very disheartening. But within a week, tiny green leaves began to push the brown ones off branches. Hoorah! Now only a few brown leaves remain, with green ones out to the tips of each branch. Plus new blossoms!

The image is a collage of a single 2nd-round blossom over backdrop of ice-over leaves and 1st-round blossoms. (I took no photos of the blah-brown mass.)

Chill Pace

February 14, 2021. Central Texas is experiencing a much-colder-than-usual February. Hasn’t been icy cold like this since 1989! It’s impossible to console the cats and the Labrador: They want to be outdoors frisking around … well, until they’ve been out there for a very few minutes. Restless myself, I tried to take our dog for a walk around noon, knowing sleet and snow were coming but not realizing sidewalks were already slick in places. It was a short walk. Came back and settled into writing this poem and then collaging icy images to capture the out-there essence: frozen (Look close and you’ll see St. Francis sporting a chin icicle.)

Remembrance

January 29, 2021. Yesterday’s nudges from full moon and fresh rosemary blooms to memories of January 1990 collectively took me into one of my indulgences in image-isolation, a game of sorts, a way to release creative urges. The rosemary plant (associated with remembrance) caught my eye while I was in the back yard watching my husband plant a Texas redbud tree. A bit like memories catch our attention in the midst of some seemingly unrelated activity. This post honors the two mother figures who shaped me: my birth mother, and her sister with whom I lived in the 8th grade and summers thereafter until college years. First Aunt Mary Beth and then Mother died in January 1990 – both remain within me, blooming forth at times both unexpected and (like yesterday) predictable.

I Remember, Magnolia

January 16, 2021. Today has been quiet, reflective on the home front. I indulged – creating a photo collage of magnolia blossoms (from Austin’s Natural Gardener in 2016) to illustrate a poem written a short while back about an encounter from a long, long while back (eight grade!) At the time I was living with my aunt in the country 20 miles from Cuero TX – her front yard filled with a large, spreading magnolia tree. I still recall the elation high in the limbs surrounded by blooms … and moving toward one “just over there” …

Winter Solstice Alerts

Such anticipation!

For several weeks everywhere I turned, more emphasis on the coming conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. This grabbed me – association with once rescuing 2 kittens only days apart – Jupiter first, then Saturn. Jupiter indeed the brighter hued being equally black and white; Saturn just black except for a few stray white hairs. They came from different parts of Austin, “conjuncting” in my elaborate cat enclosure (now history). My sky-watcher husband invested in a new camera lens and we arranged to be camping in a dark-skies area on Solstice, focused upward at the rare view of planets Jupiter and Saturn crossing paths (conjunction).

Plans played out well until Solstice was upon us and things began shifting. Clouding up. As uncontrollable as everything else in 2020! At end of evening, I reflected on the day’s unveiling, concluding the elusive armadillo more relevant than planet maneuvers. Here comes 2021, bringing more hype about all matter of things! No doubt more clouding as well.

Clouds did part briefly for a couple of very boring images of planets nowhere near predicted overlap as viewed from South Llano River State Park, central Texas.

Wishing all open minds and access to safe hide-a-ways when our minds need a break.

Toward Sunset

Recently returned from what’s become an annual November outing to Rancho Lomitas – a native plant nursery near Rio Grande City, in deep south Texas.  The ranch includes RV accommodations amid an amazing abundance of plants and birds.  This visit found me out walking as the sun set several evenings in a row, good therapy for sorting thoughts and settling restlessness.  This poem wrote itself on the third walk.  I was entranced while looking down due to the intensity of the sun in front of me.  The video way exceeds recommended size limits – apologies if it will not load for you; if it will, please enjoy stepping along. (On my end, works with either Windows Media Player or iTunes.)

Of Pick-Up Sticks And Hope

November 13, 2020. Scenes of burned forest embody both horror and hope … and present an apt metaphor for the current political scene in the U.S. Imagery here is from New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness which includes forest land that burned several years ago and promises to evolve eventually into renewed (albeit different) beauty. While there in September, many days the sky was darkened by smoke from active Arizona fires. And the news was full of Colorado and West Coast fires. Reminders that the devastation in front of us was not a one-time freak occurrence.

What can I contribute toward healing either former forest or former democracy? I offer imagery to promote hope.

Destination

October 15, 2020. I’m almost back from a month’s retreat from home base. I’ve been physically and energetically disconnected from computers and routines. In the next week or so I’ll be catching up on blog posts from others – another sort of cushion comfort! Come end-of-October, I’ll be traveling again …

This haiku was written in response to the visual impact of sky-gazing from the mountain over Cloudcroft NM (a place we return to at least once a year). In typing it up today, I realize it speaks also to my “destination” of adjusting to losing my son. Life seems a continual journey toward an ultimate destination difficult to envision. I savor interim pauses.