Showing posts from 2023

Poetry Sunday: December by Harvey Carson Grumbine

I went looking for a poem about December and found them mostly covered in snow. That's winter as it looks up north, of course. Around here, in Southeast Texas, things are considerably greener but evidently no one has written a poem about that! Ah, well, many of my readers live in colder climes and so perhaps will find the sentiments expressed in this poem at least somewhat familiar. December by Harvey Carson Grumbine High like skeletons grim The trees hold up their arms; The last leaf's hurried from its limb By the tempest's wild alarms; The river ripples gray and cold, And autumn's o'er like a story told. Deep in the lonely wood The leaves lie thickly strown; The timorous rabbit finds him food, The snow-bird seeks his own; The cricket long has ceased his song, For the breath of winter's cold and strong. Close to the level plain The snow clings like a sheet; The chimney moans as if in pain, Lashed by the hissing sleet; And all good men are glad to be Where the

This week in birds - #573

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Its call is its name - Chachalaca . They are endemic in South Texas. *~*~*~* Here are those pesky scientists again! This time they are warning that Earth is on the verge of five catastrophic tipping points .  *~*~*~* Here's some good news for a change: The wildfire season has been exceptionally quiet this year. But don't expect that to hold in the future.  *~*~*~* Indigenous advocacy has led to the removal of four dams along the Klamath River in northern California. *~*~*~* In the Southern Ocean, the world's biggest iceberg has broken free and is drifting with the steering wind and currents. *~*~*~* Efforts are underway to try to save Brittany's rare Quimper snail before their habitat is destroyed by the construction of a tramway. *~*~*~* This is the Prairie Falcon , a bird of the plains of North America. It is the American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week . *~*~*~* 2024 is expected to be a par

Poetry Sunday: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

I seem to be in a "frosty" mood when it comes to my poetry reading these days. Here is quite possibly my favorite of Robert Frost's poems. After this, I promise to move on to another author for next Sunday's poem. As the poet says, we all have "promises to keep" and I'll do my best to keep this one! Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

This week in birds - #572

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  The American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week for this week is a favorite of mine - the perky little Carolina Chickadee . But the Bird of the Week for last week was one that I admit I had never heard of. It's the Baudo Guan , a bird that lives along the coastal regions of Colombia and Ecuador.  *~*~*~* How much life is there on our home planet? A new study confirms that the answer to that question is "Quite a lot!" *~*~*~* That life could be threatened by an outbreak of rabies which the city of Omaha is working to contain. *~*~*~* It's been an exceptionally quiet hurricane season here along the Gulf Coast but the Atlantic Coast was a different story . *~*~*~* Some people in Wyoming are not at all happy about the Biden Administration's emphasis on conservation, recreation, and renewable energy production on public lands. *~*~*~* There was a bit of a scandal at the United Nations climate con

Two reviews

I've fallen a bit behind on reviewing the books that I've read. I blame it all on Thanksgiving. In an effort to catch up, here are reviews of two books that I've read recently from the Thursday Murder Club series. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman This is the second book in the series and it brings us once again the four septuagenarians whose hobby is solving murders. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron join together to find a murderer when Elizabeth, a former spy, receives a letter from an old colleague asking for her help. His life is being threatened by a violent mobster over his involvement with some stolen diamonds. These four are not your ordinary septuagenarians. They have particularly interesting backgrounds and skill sets. In addition to Elizabeth, the former spy, there is Joyce, the retired nurse who has an eccentric and quirky personality; Ron, the retired labor organizer who is very interested in politics and loves talking about it; and Ibrahim, the introve

Poetry Sunday: Dust of Snow by Robert Frost

Here's a very short poem by Robert Frost that succinctly explains how a relationship with Nature can affect us positively. Dust of Snow by Robert Frost The way a crow  Shook down on me The dust of snow  From a hemlock tree Has given my heart A change of mood And saved some part Of a day I had rued.

Thanksgiving break

 "This Week in Birds" is taking a Thanksgiving break and will return next week. Thank you to my faithful readers for your patience.

Poetry Sunday: A List of Praises by Anne Porter

This is longer than the poems that I usually feature here, but then there is quite a lot to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to all. A List of Praises by Anne Porter Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing, Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches, Mad with the joy of the Sabbath, Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun, Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes, A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry living wild on the Streets through generations of children. Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning, Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh Of the wind in the pinewoods, At night give praise with starry silences. Give praise with the skirling of seagulls And the rattle and flap of sails And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell Out in the shipping-lanes bey

This week in birds - #571

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Next week is Thanksgiving and these guys should be on the alert! These Wild Turkeys were photographed in a field near Anahuac, Texas. *~*~*~* Climate and climate change are a big part of the environmental news this week. A new report documented the toll of climate disasters but also had a bit of good news . Trees are our allies in the fight against climate change but can't do the job all on their own. The city of Phoenix offers a prime example of why we must win this fight. And now a strong El  Niño waits in the wings. *~*~*~* We think of the Amazon as being a lush green area but an extended drought is changing that . *~*~*~* At a climate summit in Paris, French President Macron pledged a billion Euros to research the melting ice caps . (But do we really need a billion Euros to tell us why the ice caps are melting?) *~*~*~* Plastic waste is a major environmental problem and it is spiraling out of control across

Poetry Sunday: The Killdeer Chick by Richard Owen

I came across this poem a few days ago and it reminded me of several encounters I've had with Killdeer over the years. I am very familiar with their desperate act of dragging the seemingly broken wing to lure me to follow. And I follow, pretending I never saw their two precious chicks hiding there in the grass. The Kildeer Chick   by Richard Owen Each time we drive our grassy road, the kildeer tries  To lead us from her nearby nest. She drags her wing  And calls. She's easy prey, we could not resist  If we were fox or badger. As it is,  We are a monstrous iron thing, a truck  That goes its way unthinking, unaware. I saw a movement and I stopped, got out. Beside the wheel  A tiny bit of fluff, so close it should be crushed. I picked it up, and it was live in my hands,  I put it down. It ran towards mother's desperate cries. A tiny bit of grace it was. For once, The beauty of the world  Was spared from us.

Veterans' Day

The blog is taking a holiday in honor of all of those who have served, including my own dear hubby! Happy Veterans Day. You've earned it. 

The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff: A review

Lauren Groff's latest gives us the story of a young servant girl who journeys with her mistress and the mistress's second husband from England to America in the 17th century. The girl's name is a bit of a mystery. She is sometimes referred to as Lamentations and sometimes called Zed. She just refers to herself as Girl. On the trip from England, the girl meets and learns to care for a Dutch glassblower who is gentle and kind but she becomes separated from him and has only his memory to comfort her in her perilous life. The girl's duties mostly involve caring for her mistress's severely disabled daughter, Bess. They arrive in Jamestown, Virginia, and we see them there in the extremely harsh winter of 1610. It is a time of starvation and sickness with people dying all around them. This teenage orphan servant girl makes the momentous decision to flee into the wilds. She gathers the few items that she can and runs away. She has only her innate instincts to guide her, but

Don't forget!


Poetry Sunday: Song for Autumn by Mary Oliver

We are now well into autumn, although you might not be able to tell it by a visit to my yard. But, in fact, the leaves are beginning to fall from those trees that lose their leaves. The big live oaks in our front yard never give theirs up but the Shumard red oak is beginning to look a bit bare, as are some of the backyard trees. And many of the other plants in the yard are beginning to wind down their season and get ready to go to sleep for the winter. I wonder if we'll have a real winter this year. We should get the firewood ready, just in case.  Song for Autumn by Mary Oliver In the deep fall don’t you imagine the leaves think how comfortable it will be to touch the earth instead of the nothingness of air and the endless freshets of wind? And don’t you think the trees themselves, especially those with mossy, warm caves, begin to think of the birds that will come – six, a dozen – to sleep inside their bodies? And don’t you hear the goldenrod whispering goodbye, the everlasting be

This week in birds - #570

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Not a bird but a flier of a different kind. In past years, Monarch butterflies like this one I photographed in my backyard five years ago would be plentiful in that backyard in late October and November as they passed through on the way to their winter in Mexico. This year, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Monarchs I've seen. Likewise their cousins, the Queens. Their absence is very disturbing.  *~*~*~* Thirty-five years ago scientist James Hansen warned us about the warming of our planet. Now he's warning us again . Maybe we should listen this time.  *~*~*~* Hansen would definitely warn us about the folly of failing to protect our precious wetlands . *~*~*~* Two new books display the amazing artistry of birders in earlier centuries. *~*~*~* In the waters off the Galapagos Islands, two previously unknown coral reefs have been discovered. *~*~*~* In a changing climate, it may benefit the Cali

Be Mine by Richard Ford: A review

Here's Frank Bascombe come to take us on a road trip once again. Since his creator, Richard Ford, first introduced him to us almost forty years ago, Frank has taken us on several holiday trips, most notably in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Independence Day . Once again, Frank is taking a road trip with his son Paul who is now 47 and suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease). Frank and Paul refer to it as Al's, like some neighborhood bar. Frank is in his 70s and dealing with all the problems that come with an aging body, while also trying to serve as caretaker to his son. So, how exactly is Frank accomplishing that? Well, his latest idea is to hit the road with Paul and take him to Mount Rushmore on a Valentine's Day trip. Paul has been in an experimental protocol for treating ALS at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Frank collects him and they head west.  The topics of conversation between the two men while traveling range from obse

Poetry Sunday: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

It is one of Edgar Allan Poe's most famous poems and one that is always associated with Halloween because of its spooky subject. It was also one of the first poems that I learned to love when I was growing up and so I'm "evermore" glad for a chance to feature it here. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe   Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—     While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—             Only this and nothing more.”     Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.     Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow     From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore— For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—             Nameless