Showing posts from April, 2017

Poetry Sunday: On the Fifth Day

The new administration in Washington has inspired many forms of resistance and protest because of its efforts to roll back history and repeal science. It should not surprise us that poets have taken up their pens in protest as well. With a hat tip to The Washington Post where I found this poem this week, here is Jane Hirshfield's take on the subject. On the Fifth Day by Jane Hirshfield On the fifth day the scientists who studied the rivers were forbidden to speak or to study the rivers.   The scientists who studied the air were told not to speak of the air, and the ones who worked for the farmers were silenced, and the ones who worked for the bees.   Someone, from deep in the Badlands, began posting facts.   The facts were told not to speak and were taken away. The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.   Now it was only the rivers that spoke of the rivers, and only the wind that spoke of its bees,   while the unpausing factual buds of the

This week in birds - #254

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The White-faced Ibis and the Glossy Ibis are often difficult to differentiate. Both have the colorful iridescent feathers and they both do appear in this area, although the White-faced is much more common. The distinguishing feature is that the White-faced doesn't actually have a white face but it does have a white border around its face. This one had its face turned away from me and wasn't very cooperative, but I don't see any white, so I think it is a Glossy Ibis. I photographed it at Brazos Bend State Park. *~*~*~* The Peoples' Climate March in support of the science of global climate change is happening today. You can follow it online. The challenge is to turn the energy of the marchers into action that will further the cause of science and resist the know-nothings who deny it. *~*~*~* And speaking of climate,  El Niño is coming and the World Meteorological Association predicts an e

Wednesday in the garden: Fast and furious edition

Yes, fast and furious is how the flowers are coming these days. The first sunflower of the season. Tawny orange daylily. Lemon yellow double daylily. Raspberry salvia. Scarlet salvia. Blue morning glories. Blackfoot daisies. Yellow cestrum. 'Julia Child' rose, just a bit faded on its third day.  'Darcy Bussell' rose. 'Christopher Marlowe,' another David Austin rose. Orange milkweed. Orange cannas. Oakleaf hydrangea. And even more coming along every day. It's a great time to be in the garden.

The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis: A review

This historical novel of the beginnings and rise of popularity of the tango could have been a conventional tale of a character's journey from poverty to - if not riches - at least comfort and security, but it is much more than that.  The character at the center of the story starts as a teenage girl in the village of Alazzano in Italy. Her name is Leda, like the swan. She comes from a poor but respectable family. Her father is a consummate violin player and he teaches Leda's older brother to play. Leda wants to learn also but women are not allowed to play the violin. Women are not allowed to do many things in early 20th century Italian villages. Nevertheless, Leda watches the lessons and learns the fingering of the instrument and all the motions of playing even if she is not allowed to handle it.   Leda is pledged to marry her cousin, Dante. Dante emigrates to the New World, to Argentina, to make a new life. Argentina, at this time, has an open door policy for immigrants

Poetry Sunday: the hidden

When I read this poem last week, it made me think of all the refugees trying to escape the horrors of war on boats, rafts, or on their feet, crossing borders, seeking a place in alien countries; countries that are often not welcoming, too wrapped up in their own narcissistic, self-centered, self-absorbed concerns to see those in need of the simple necessities of life; to see the hidden. When I read the lines of the second stanza - she is the mother of five a wife a widow it is easy to forget her strength in its subtlety she keeps it hidden - I thought of all those refugee women with their subtle strength that they keep hidden, the strength which gives them the fortitude to carry on against impossible odds. Would I ever have such strength if I were in their place? the hidden by Truong Tran known for her cooking the consistent perfection of spring rolls evenly fried her secret to brush it with just a hint of apple juice to add some color give some flavor

This week in birds - #253

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : My backyard saw its first Baltimore Oriole visitor of the year this week, a bit ahead of schedule. Got to get those orange feeders stocked with orange halves and grape jelly to welcome the colorful migrants. *~*~*~* Hundreds of thousands of climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers, and other supporters of science rallied in marches around the world on Saturday, in an attempt to bolster scientists’ increasingly precarious status with politicians. Wherever we are, whoever we are, we must do whatever we can to defend science and the Earth from the know-nothings.  Also, this has been National Park Week. Our parks, too, need our support and defense against those who would destroy the system that has meant so much to Americans everywhere over the last hundred years. The parks are especially appreciated by birders as they are among some of the best places to see a diversity of birds. The National Pa

Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani: A review

This book tells something of the history of the land that was to become Kenya and how that country came to gain its independence from Great Britain. It is historical fiction laced with cultural insight into the three societies that struggled with each other and finally combined to form something new and unique. We have the native African culture, the English culture, and the Indian culture. Each in its own way contributed to the making of Kenya. This is also the story of three men and how their personal histories became tangled together. Richard Turnbull was a preacher from England whose mission was to convert the indigenous population to Christianity. Ian McDonald was the British colonial administrator sent to oversee the construction of a railway from Mombasa to the coast. Babu Salim was a technician from Punjab who worked as a surveyor and assisted in the construction of the railway. The lives of the three intersected around the turn of the the twentieth century and for the next

Wordless Wednesday: National Park Week - Big Bend National Park


The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin: A review

This is the third book in Ursula K. Le Guin's fantasy Earthsea series. In the first, A Wizard of Earthsea , we met Ged/Sparrowhawk as a young child who would be trained as a wizard. In the second, The Tombs of Atuan , we scarcely meet him at all until near the end when he encounters Tenar, the high priestess of Atuan, and together they take the lost half of the sacred ring of Erreth-Akbe from the said tombs. The whole ring, when reforged by Ged's magic, will help to ensure peace in Earthsea. Now, we meet him as a middle-aged man in his full power as a wizard. He is the Archmage (I imagine it as something like the pope) and he is a dragonlord, one who can ride dragons. But all is not well in Earthsea. The world has fallen on hard times and darkness threatens to overtake it. The wizards who have kept things on a peaceful, even keel are losing their powers. Ged is determined to find out the cause of this disastrous turn of events. He embarks on a treacherous journey to the

Poetry Sunday: An April Night

An April Night by Lucy Maud Montgomery The moon comes up o'er the deeps of the woods, And the long, low dingles that hide in the hills, Where the ancient beeches are moist with buds Over the pools and the whimpering rills;  And with her the mists, like dryads that creep From their oaks, or the spirits of pine-hid springs, Who hold, while the eyes of the world are asleep, With the wind on the hills their gay revellings.  Down on the marshlands with flicker and glow Wanders Will-o'-the-Wisp through the night, Seeking for witch-gold lost long ago By the glimmer of goblin lantern-light.  The night is a sorceress, dusk-eyed and dear, Akin to all eerie and elfin things, Who weaves about us in meadow and mere The spell of a hundred vanished Springs. 

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2017

Welcome to my zone 9a garden. Here are some of the things that are blooming for me in April. In past years we expected the blooms of the southern magnolia to come in May, but it seems that they are coming earlier every year. At mid-April, the tree is already in full bloom. I added delphiniums to the garden this spring. I'm so glad that I did. Isn't this color glorious? The pomegranate tree is in bloom. Blue plumbago is just starting to bloom. And so are the Blackfoot daisies. And the bronze esperanza. The pineapple sage has been in bloom for a while now and it attracts a constant stream of butterflies and hummingbirds. In the vegetable garden, the beans are full of these delicate little blossoms. And the eggplant blooms give promise of taste treats to come. Nearby, next to the tomatoes, the cinnamon basil is in bloom. The old-fashioned bloomer, 4 o'clock. The bleeding heart has a few of its distinctive flower