Showing posts from October, 2022

Poetry Sunday: Samhain by Annie Finch

Here's a poem for Halloween for you. Annie Finch writes about Samhain, the Celtic Halloween, but the images she uses will be familiar to all of us in the northern hemisphere during the Halloween season. Samhain by Annie Finch (The Celtic Halloween) In the season leaves should love, since it gives them leave to move through the wind, towards the ground they were watching while they hung, legend says there is a seam stitching darkness like a name. Now when dying grasses veil earth from the sky in one last pale wave, as autumn dies to bring winter back, and then the spring, we who die ourselves can peel back another kind of veil that hangs among us like thick smoke. Tonight at last I feel it shake. I feel the nights stretching away thousands long behind the days till they reach the darkness where all of me is ancestor. I move my hand and feel a touch move with me, and when I brush my own mind across another, I am with my mother's mother. Sure as footsteps in my waiting self, I fin

This week in birds - #524

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : One of our winter visitors - the Red-breasted Merganser . *~*~*~* It's not really a surprise but it is still disappointing - countries' pledges to help control climate change are falling short of the mark . The UN has determined that there is no credible pathway to meet the goal of keeping the increase in the planet's temperature to under 1.5 degrees Centigrade. *~*~*~* So what will the world look like after climate change? Here is a visualization . *~*~*~* Already Europe is experiencing an unseasonably warm autumn and climate scientists say that climate change is the cause. *~*~*~* And in this country the mighty Mississippi River is looking not so mighty anymore; it is drying up . *~*~*~* It's Bat Week and the Department of the Interior has thirteen (of course!) interesting and largely unknown facts about the underappreciated species. *~*~*~*                                                            

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith: A review

Cormoran Strike has actually become one of my favorite fictional detectives. It took me a while to warm up to him, but now with the fifth entry in this series, Troubled Blood , I'm ready to put him in the same league with Harry Bosch, John Rebus, and all the others that I look forward to following on their investigatory adventures. This time out, Cormoran tackles a very cold case. It involves the disappearance of a woman more than forty years earlier. Margaret Bamborough went missing in 1974 under mysterious circumstances that have never been properly explained. Now the woman's daughter asks Cormoran to review what is known about the case and talk with the people who are still alive and who may have knowledge about what happened. The agency in which he is partnered with Robin Ellacott has all it can reasonably handle at the moment but Cormoran is intrigued by the circumstances of the woman's disappearance and agrees to take the case on. Meanwhile, Robin's personal life

Poetry Sunday: October's Bright Blue Weather by Helen Hunt Jackson

I've always thought that the skies of October take on their own special shade of blue. It's a crisper and deeper color than the skies of summer that are washed out by bright sunlight or the skies of winter that often seem overlaid with frost. Helen Hunt Jackson understood what I'm trying to describe. She told us about it in this poem. October's Bright Blue Weather  by Helen Hunt Jackson O suns and skies and clouds of June, And flowers of June together, Ye cannot rival for one hour October's bright blue weather; When loud the bumblebee makes haste, Belated, thriftless vagrant, And goldenrod is dying fast, And lanes with grapes are fragrant; When gentians roll their fingers tight To save them for the morning, And chestnuts fall from satin burrs Without a sound of warning; When on the ground red apples lie In piles like jewels shining, And redder still on old stone walls Are leaves of woodbine twining; When all the lovely wayside things Their white-winged seeds are sow

This week in birds - #523

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : A Buff-bellied Hummingbird sips from a feeder in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. *~*~*~* An Energy Department study has found that the wildfires in the West affect not only the area where they occur but they fuel extreme weather in the other states as well.  *~*~*~* In Alaska, billions of snow crabs have disappeared from the waters around the state and as a result, officials have canceled the snow crab season . *~*~*~* Twenty nations that are at high risk from climate change are considering halting repayments on their debts and plowing the money into conservation instead. *~*~*~* The American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week is the little Buff-breasted Sandpiper , a bird that once numbered in the millions but is now uncommon and its numbers are decreasing even further. *~*~*~* The drought is causing such low water levels in the Mississippi River that ancient shipwrecks are being uncovered . *~*~*~* Climate ch

Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark: A review

Fellowship Point refers both to the place name of a community in Maine and to the actual lifelong "fellowship" or friendship between two women, now in their eighties. The women are Agnes and Polly. They were both born to affluent Philadelphia Quaker families. Agnes is a successful author of children's books featuring a ten-year-old girl named Nan. She has never married and has no children of her own.  Polly is a traditional wife and mother of a son named James. James is keen to see Fellowship Point developed. Agnes and Polly are determined to see the place protected from such "progress." The storyline of the novel involves a young editor named Maud from the publishing house that handles Agnes' books. Maud is a single mother to a daughter. She is very interested in Agnes' life story and approaches her about writing a memoir. Agnes is absorbed in her own health issues and in making sure that Fellowship Point is protected; she has little energy left over to

Poetry Sunday: To Autumn by John Keats

Autumn is my favorite time of year - although if you asked me next April, I might say that spring is. But no, I really do enjoy these months as the year is winding down and we finally have some reprieve from the heat of summer. Around here, we still have daytime temperatures that approach 90 degrees F on some days, but even on those days, there is a difference, a freshness in the air. John Keats knew and he described this time of year poetically and beautifully. To Autumn by John Keats Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;     To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease,     For summer has o'er-brimm'd their c

This week in birds - #522

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : An Eastern Kingbird sits on a barbed wire fence. *~*~*~* Since it is also Bloom Day , we'll just do an abbreviated roundup of environmental news this week. *~*~*~* Hurricane Ian cut a swathe up the eastern coast of the United States last month causing at least a billion dollars worth of damage in the process. *~*~*~* Lack of rainfall has caused water levels in the Mississippi River to become critically low , resulting in a number of barges being stranded causing shipping delays and a backlog of vessels. *~*~*~* The latest assessment of the world's wildlife found that populations had declined by an average of 69 percent since 1970. *~*~*~* The Denman glacier in east Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate of 70.8 tons a year due to the ingress of warm seawater.  *~*~*~* Yet another alarming report on the environment documents the decline in gray whale numbers along the West Coast. Numbers are down nearly 40

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2022

There's not much to show you from my zone 9 garden here in Southeast Texas on this October Bloom Day. We are in an extended period of drought stretching all the way back into mid-summer and that has been very hard on my plants. I haven't provided much supplemental water, having decided to let the plants make it or not on their own. And they are making it but they are in survival mode which doesn't leave much energy for blooms. Coral vine might be an exception to that; it seems to have more than enough energy for blooms. Turk's Cap blooms are not very showy but there are plenty of them. The almond verbena blooms also are fairly unobtrusive unless you have a sense of smell in which case you will never be able to ignore their sweet fragrance. The yellow cestrum does not seem to be bothered by the lack of rain. The American beautyberry bloomed profusely and now is full of colorful berries which don't last too long because the birds love them. Blue plumbago is a dependab

Strangers by Mary Anna Evans: A review

Somewhere between the last book that I read in this series, which was number 3, Effigies , and this book which is number 6, archaeologist Faye Longchamp completed work on her Ph.D. and she and her assistant/lover Joe Mantooth got married. As this book opens, we learn that the now-married Faye is eight months pregnant with their first child. We also learn that Faye and Joe have established a new archaeological firm and that their firm has just been selected for a project in America's oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida. Four hundred years have given the city a lot of history and a lot of artifacts and skeletons to explore, and Faye is eager to get on with that exploration. But soon after Faye's arrival on the scene, a woman from the archaeological team disappears. A trail of blood at the scene fuels fears for the woman's safety and her survival. The scene is also littered with priceless artifacts, and the detective in charge of the case hires Faye as a consultant to discover

Poetry Sunday: In October by Bliss Carman

Now is the time when the woods are at their most colorful. The trees are in their glory, showing off brighter colors after a summer of wearing green. It doesn't last long; enjoy it while it does.  In October by Bliss Carman Now come the rosy dogwoods, The golden tulip-tree, And the scarlet yellow maple, To make a day for me. The ash-trees on the ridges, The alders in the swamp, Put on their red and purple To join the autumn pomp. The woodbine hangs her crimson Along the pasture wall, And all the bannered sumacs Have heard the frosty call. Who then so dead to valor As not to raise a cheer, When all the woods are marching In triumph of the year?

This week in birds - #521

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  I photographed this Cactus Wren  on a trip to West Texas a couple of years ago. *~*~*~* This is not really a surprise: Climate change is making summers hotter and drier , exacerbating the drought that is affecting wide areas at the moment. *~*~*~* In the southwestern United States, the long-lasting megadrought may bring an end to the farming/ranching way of life that has long been so much a part of the culture of the area. *~*~*~* But in another part of the world, the problem isn't drought but monsoon; climate change is increasing the rainfall and making the phenomenon less predictable. *~*~*~* In this country, the conservative-packed Supreme Court seems bent on destroying the meager protections for the environment that have been in place. They appear likely to take their scissors to the Clean Water Act, one of the basic protections holding back the developers. What will be left after their hacking away at it?  *~*

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn: A review

Four women in or nearing their sixties have worked since the 1970s as assassins for an international clandestine organization that is never actually named but which they refer to as "The Museum." They are now ready to retire and in celebration of that event, their employing organization has sent them on an all-expenses-paid cruise. When they discover that someone else from that organization is with them on the ship and is traveling clandestinely in disguise, they begin to suspect that the Museum has decided to retire them permanently. Have they really become expendable now that they are of "a certain age"? Now the four must use all their skills to ferret out anyone who is sent to dispose of them and to turn the tables on their would-be killers. That, in a nutshell, is the basis of the plot of Deanna Raybourn's book, Killers of a Certain Age .  The story is told mainly through the point of view of one of the women, named Billie, but we also get some flashbacks of

Forsaken Country by Allen Eskens: A review

Forsaken Country is the sixth entry in a series featuring Minnesota detective Max Rupert. I had not read the earlier books which might have been helpful to orient me in the "country" of this story, but I managed to get the gist of Rupert's backstory, enough to get a sense of what makes him tick. The most salient fact of his life is that he is a widower whose wife had been murdered and he is still mourning her. He had tracked down her murderer and disposed of him and left behind his career as a Minneapolis homicide detective to go live in his cabin in the woods. He's just on the verge of becoming an actual hermit and thinking that that might be a very good idea when his friend, Lyle, - maybe his only friend - contacts him to ask for his help. Lyle's daughter Sandy and his six-year-old grandson Pip have gone missing. Sandy had an acrimonious relationship with her ex-husband, Pip's father, and Lyle suspects that their disappearance is his work. But he can't

Poetry Sunday: October by Paul Dunbar

Can it really be October already? It scarcely seems possible and yet here we are. In places that have trees that actually change color at this time of year, it is probably more evident. Around here, the trees are mostly still green and the temperatures still flirt with the 90 degrees F every day. And yet...  There is that perceptible change in the air, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. It's highly unlikely that frost will "turn her auburn locks to gray" around here in October; that's her specialty a bit farther north. But we can feel a welcome change nevertheless and there is a rumor that winter is coming.  October by Paul Dunbar October is the treasurer of the year, And all the months pay bounty to her store; The fields and orchards still their tribute bear, And fill her brimming coffers more and more. But she, with youthful lavishness, Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress, And decks herself in garments bold Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold. She he