Showing posts from March, 2018

Poetry Sunday: April Love by Ernest Dowson

April is a good month to fall in love, even if only for a little while. After all, it is the time of year - at least in the northern hemisphere - when Nature is renewing itself. A good time to start something new, with no vows, no promises - perhaps just to join lips for a while and then go on one's way with a sigh and a smile. April Love by Ernest Dowson We have walked in Love's land a little way, We have learnt his lesson a little while, And shall we not part at the end of day, With a sigh, a smile? A little while in the shine of the sun, We were twined together, joined lips, forgot How the shadows fall when the day is done, And when Love is not. We have made no vows--there will none be broke, Our love was free as the wind on the hill, There was no word said we need wish unspoke, We have wrought no ill. So shall we not part at the end of day, Who have loved and lingered a little while, Join lips for the last time, go our way, With a

This week in birds - #297

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : It's about time for male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds like this one, which I photographed a couple of years ago, to start showing up in my yard. The adult males always lead the way on migration, followed by adult females and the subadults. By the end of April, they should all be here, but I haven't seen one yet.   *~*~*~* How many birds can you see in the county where you live? Matt Boone has some information about that, along with a map that quantifies the "birdiness" of counties around the country.  *~*~*~* Companies that cater to the needs of those who love the outdoors are very concerned about the direction that the government is taking and the damage that is being done to the places that their clients love. They are banding together in an effort to lobby those in power to protect public lands . Their aim, they say, is to "organize like the NRA." *~*~*~* The tragic story of

To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey: A review

Long ago, in what now seems like another lifetime, I read a lot of Josephine Tey's books and admired her clever plots and superb writing. Last year, I reacquainted myself with her writing by rereading my favorite book of hers, The Daughter of Time . It gave me an appetite for reading more. When I was reading her books in the past, to the best of my recollection, I never read this one. And I think I would have remembered for it is a devilishly clever tale. It's the fourth in her series of books featuring Inspector Grant. This time he is sent to the remote English village of Salcott St Mary to investigate the disappearance of a young man. Leslie Searle was a uniquely attractive man who was an ultra-fashionable portrait photographer from America. He was famous for taking pictures of actors and actresses, including some of Hollywood's big stars. He was talented and so good looking that he turned heads wherever he went. But why did he go to this backwater village? He

Some birds of West Texas

On our recent trip to West Texas, I was able to get in a little birding, which is always one of my chief pleasures on any trip that we take. I also tried to take pictures of the birds that I saw, but I was generally disappointed with my efforts. I had all kinds of excuses.  There were too many people; it was spring break week and at times it seemed the whole world had descended on West Texas, normally a sparsely populated place. At Big Bend National Park, for example, usually a place of splendid isolation with its 1,252 square miles of desert and rugged mountains, we had to wait in a mile-long queue of automobiles for forty-five minutes just to get into the place. The ranger who checked us in remarked that spring-break is a four-letter word for the staff who work there. Americans of all colors, races, and creeds seemed intent on loving the great park to death. But though I saw people of many kinds, I didn't see so many birds. One covey of Scaled Quail , some Greater Roadrunners

Well, that explains it

 As usual, Tom Tomorrow succinctly explains "This Modern World" to us.

Another Man's Moccasins by Craig Johnson: A Review

This was the second mystery that I've read recently that was set in Wyoming. The other was one of C.J. Box's Joe Pickett books. Both of the books had visits by characters in them to the Hole-in-the-Wall, the famous hideout of outlaws, most notably of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It wasn't a major plot point in either book, but I found it interesting and coincidental that they both mentioned the place. Another Man's Moccasins was the fourth in Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series, and I approached reading it with some trepidation because I had found number three in the series to be a major disappointment. Fortunately, I needn't have worried. This book finds Longmire back in Wyoming, after his sojourn in Philadelphia and in this one the embarrassing and inappropriate interactions between Walt and his sexy chief deputy, Vic Moretti, are kept to a minimum and don't interfere with the plot, so that was a plus. The plot of the book takes us to two di

Poetry Sunday: Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth

When you think of spring, does any particular poet come to mind? For me, that would be William Wordsworth. So many of his poems with which I am familiar seem set in spring. One suspects that perhaps he had a special affection for the season. Here is one of those "spring" poems. It is, in some ways, a bittersweet look at the season. While the poet reflects on the happy thoughts brought by spring, as expressed in birdsong and in the beauty of spring flowers, this also brings to mind thoughts of how man has squandered that beauty. Mankind, he seems to say, has not lived up to the example of beauty and purity offered by Nature. The poem was written in April 1798; the character of humankind has scarcely improved in the 220 years since. Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth I heard a thousand blended notes,  While in a grove I sate reclined,  In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts  Bring sad thoughts to the mind.  To her fair works did

This week in birds - #296

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment: This was a life bird for me - the Phainopepla , photographed here at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute and Nature Center near Fort Davis in West Texas. In previous visits to the area, I had always managed to miss seeing this bird, even though it is not particularly uncommon, but this time I got good views of it on several occasions and finally was able to take its picture at this water feature in the Nature Center. Beautiful bird! Those glossy black feathers are almost iridescent and I love the brilliant red eyes. *~*~*~* The impact of the effects of global climate change on various bird species is still unknown, but it seems very likely that national parks will be hosts to even more of them in the future and that they will be increasingly important in the efforts to protect the birds . And that is a very good reason to protect the parks themselves from exploitation and development. *~*~*~* The Tongass

The Devil's Cave by Martin Walker: A review

St. Denis is a small town set smack in the middle of the Perigord region of France, an area known for its gourmet foods and fine wines and for its caves. The region is dotted with them. Many served as shelter as far back as the Neanderthals and some have the magnificent paintings on their walls that bespeak the artistry and culture of long-dead peoples.  Those caves also played an important role in the Resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II. The caves were hiding places for people, supplies, and arms. That particular bit of history still looms large in St. Denis where there are people alive who still remember it.  One of the caves that played such a role is the so-called Devil's Cave of this book's title. It is also integral to the mystery which Bruno Courrèges, Chief of Police of St. Denis, must try to solve. The case begins on a fine spring day as the local church choir is practicing for its Easter concert. Bruno is observing and enjoying the practice when

Below Zero by C.J. Box: A review

Six years before the events of this book, Joe and Marybeth Pickett's foster daughter, April, had apparently died in a fiery explosion when the FBI raided the camp of a group of militia-types who were squatting on public lands near Saddlestring, Wyoming. April's birth mother had taken her to the camp. After the fire, the bodies of a woman and a young girl were found in the trailer where Joe had seen April. It was assumed that the body was hers. The Picketts buried the child and grieved for her. But was the body really April's? That is thrown into question because now, out of the blue, the Picketts' older daughter, Sheridan, is receiving text messages from someone who claims to be April. Is it possible? Where is she, this child who would now be fourteen years old? Joe Pickett is in disgrace in his job after the events of the last book, in which he abetted the escape from custody of that noted criminal, and Joe's friend, Nate Romanowski. It is only his relationsh

Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon: A review

I read a lot of mysteries on our recent vacation. This was one of them. This was the second in Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti series.  Although two is not a large sample, I am very much enjoying these stories so far. Brunetti is a very likable chap and I especially enjoy his relationship with his family and the fact that the family is shown as an integral part of his life. It's not something one always finds in one's favorite fictional detectives and it gives an added resonance to the tales.  The death referred to in the title is the death of an American soldier stationed at a nearby base at Vicenza. His body is found floating in a Venetian canal. He had been stabbed and it appears that his death may have been the result of a mugging gone wrong. But Brunetti finds reasons to be skeptical of that explanation. Sgt. Michael Foster was a public health inspector at the army base and Guido suspects that his death may somehow be related to his job. Perhaps he had uncove

Home again!

Home again, just in time to greet spring.  As we traveled east on our way home from the mountains of West Texas, the landscape around us got greener and greener. The wildflowers along the roadway verges were in full bloom, a riot of colors - bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, coreopsis, and many others. ( Thank you, Lady Bird! ) And as we arrived in our own backyard, we found that spring had already got there before us.  The old azalea was in full bloom. The redbud that had just begun to bloom when we left ten days ago had already passed its peak and dropped some of its blossoms but there were still plenty left. The Indian hawthorn was in full bloom. And so was the coral honeysuckle. The autumn sages are beginning to bloom. Here's the raspberry. And here's the red.  'Belinda's Dream' rose has fat buds that are just about ready to open. While 'Old Blush,' the antique rose, has been blooming for a while now.