Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31: New Year's Eve

We rang out the old year today by taking down the Christmas tree, carefully removing each beloved ornament, packing it away for another year. The process is always a bittersweet one for me. I love seeing the soft glow of the tree's white lights (and one string of red cardinal lights) each evening. And I enjoy the balsam fragrance of the live tree here in our living room. But it's time. Christmas has passed, needles are everywhere, and I like to begin the new year with a fresh, clean house. So down it came, and then the house-cleaning happened, and little things like filling the bird feeder. We showered and shaved. My husband is now making a salad to take to our friends' house for dinner. I've even paid my current bills, so I can start the new year debt free.

A dear friend has a ritual that the first thing that passes her lips in the new year is smoked salmon. Other friends have posted things on Facebook about grapes and black-eyed peas. The peas are lucky in some way, and apparently you're supposed to stuff your mouth with 12 grapes and then spit out the seeds. For me, I guess my ritual is to start the year in good shape, with a clean house and a clean slate.

Hard rain washes clean
yard, house, cars... washes away
the last of the year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30: Snow Globe

White sky all day, like a blank sheet of paper wrapped around the landscape. Then, as if someone shook the air, big dry snowflakes began to fall all around us. It was like walking through a snow globe, hushed and quiet. Until the crows began cawing upriver. It's always something with those crows. They only allow so much stillness.

The world's a snow globe,
self-contained, fragile. Careful
not to shake too hard.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29: Water flowing

Watching the river cascade over the spillway of the Seabright Dam this afternoon, a never-ending sheet of white water washing down the concrete, I began to wonder where it all comes from. We tend to think of lakes and ponds as relatively static bodies of water. But obviously Megunticook Lake and Norton's Pond, the sources of the river, replenish constantly or they'd have run dry by now from this constant outflow. Rainwater and melted snow aren't enough to keep the river brimming against the splashboards as it is now, as it always seems to be.

Where does it come from,
this river ever-flowing?
I think: hidden springs.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28: Dramatic skies

At one point today a co-worker exclaimed, "Oh my god!" in a tone of voice that made me ask what was wrong. "The sky!" she replied. I'd been so focused on my computer screen that I was startled when I turned my head to look out the window. A foreboding wall of dark clouds filled the sky above the river. I wondered aloud if we should seek shelter in the basement before a tornado formed. Yes, this is late December in Maine, but it was 50 degrees today. Anything could happen out there.

A minute later the mailman showed up. He too was casting anxious looks at the sky, and commented that he half expected to see storm chasers following his truck.

The clouds eventually broke up and sun shone with a strange brightness for a while, and then gray clouds gathered again. Fortunately I stood up from my desk in time to catch a pleasingly lurid sunset. These shifting sky patterns made for a dramatic finale to the day.

I hope I never
stop being amazed by sky's
ever-changing show.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27: Morning birdsong

After a mostly restful four-day holiday, this morning it was back to work. Even though I enjoy my job, it's still such a mental challenge for me to transition back into work mode after good time off. And today, already running late, I knew I'd have to shovel some snow and scrape the ice off my car before I could even get out of the driveway. So I wasn't in the highest of spirits as I trudged up the walk toward the car.

Until I heard an unexpected cacophony of bird song from my neighbors' feeders just up the street: chickadees were "dee-deeing," titmice were whistling, and goldfinches were chattering and tweeting. They sounded thrilled to be awake, alive, and (presumably) eating. How could I not be cheered? It felt like a tiny slice of spring had descended, just for a moment, onto our snow-lined street.

If you are a bird,
no matter weather, season,
morning is morning.

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26: Cat

This is our holiday weekend visitor, an appealing tiger cat that a friend found digging through her trash a few weeks ago. She took her in, sequestered her in a spare room so as not to traumatize her own, older cats, and made a valiant attempt to find her owner by calling the shelters, posting signs, and getting her scanned for a pet chip. The cat was skinny and very hungry but otherwise healthy, and interestingly, her front paws had been declawed. Someone had cared for her once but wasn't looking for her now. 

When our friend went away for a long weekend over Christmas, we agreed to cat-sit with the option to keep. After spending five days with this anxious little cat, we don't think we can bear to send her away--especially knowing she might end up at a shelter. Other than an understandable fixation on her food dish (she meows and gets a little frantic if the center of the dish isn't covered with visible food), she's very friendly and seems to be settling in. She has even relaxed enough to play around with a catnip mouse. Right now as I type she's curled up on a pillow in the middle of the living room floor, the picture of contentment.  

We haven't named her quite yet, perhaps still a bit hesitant since our beloved old cat's passing a little over a year ago to fully commit to a new creature in our house and our lives. We lose our hearts to these short-lived animals so easily, even though we know those hearts are going to be broken over and over.

Stray cat could be wild,
her pelt an ancient pattern.
Now she shares our house.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25: White Christmas

Our weekend feline visitor woke us early this Christmas morning and observed with typical nonchalance as we happily engaged in our Christmas morning rituals: stocking, then breakfast, then gifts. Outside snow fell. The perfect, magical touch.

Even now as we drive to my in-laws', the snow is beautiful and a bit mesmerizing as it flies at the car and swirls in the highway. Everywhere, the accent of white makes the landscape seem just a little more festive.

As snow sweeps over the St. George River, an eagle waits in a tree. A crow perches like a weathervane on the peak of a snow-covered barn roof. The dark, sweeping boughs of pines carry white highlights. White snow piles atop hay bales wrapped in white plastic. In another field, snow accumulates on rolled bales left spread throughout the field like hulking beasts. Tidal inlets and rivers fill to the brim with clots of ice thanks to the new moon high tide.

And then we're through the main body of the storm and the sky brightens. Our spirits are high. Soon we'll be with family, and the holiday celebrations we began with a dear friend on Christmas Eve will continue.

Snow on Christmas Day.
And a flurry of traffic
"to grandmother's house..."

Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23: Crows at Play

Early this morning as snow was falling the crows in my yard seemed pretty wound up. Perhaps they too were dreaming of a white Christmas. Three or four of them were flying from tree to tree, chasing each other, hopping around on the ground, landing on one branch together and then dispersing, and otherwise just messing around.

Apparently they're trying to make the most of the snow, because they're still at it five hours later. First I observed them walking around, checking things out along river's edge. Then they flew across to my neighbor's big flat floodplain of a lawn, where three of them tugged at a fallen branch in the snow. Another seemed to be engaged in digging up leaves from under the snow. That one then got distracted by a squirrel, which it alternately chased and was chased by for a few minutes. Meanwhile, two of the initial branch pullers had moved on to rolling in the snow side-by-side. They sort of barreled their bodies into the two inches of snow, practically touching each other, then scooped up snow with wide open beaks. At one point it looked like they were feeding it to each other. (Awww.) They rolled around next to each other for a while, literally stretched out in the patch of snow, sometimes preening or play-attacking each other.

Anyone who doubts animals' capacity for play has clearly never watched a flock of crows in freshly fallen snow. Or a dog wrangling with a new squeaky Christmas toy, or an otter sliding down a snowy hillside. Rather than debate the emotional life of animals, why not just enjoy their obvious enjoyment?

It's not for my sake
the crows play in the fresh snow,
yet I'm here smiling.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22: Long, dark night

Winter Solstice: the shortest day of the year. From here on out, light will linger a little longer each afternoon. But tonight is the longest night, and it's going to be a dark one. Already the few stars still visible are hazy behind a sheen of clouds. And the moon is just over 4% full--for all practical purposes, a new moon. This plunge into the depths of darkness will make it that much more joyful to emerge into the light tomorrow, with perhaps a little snowfall to really boost our holiday spirits.

The year's longest night,
cold and dark too. Come closer,
honey. Warm me up.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21: Chickens

There's something so wonderful about chickens, how they just do their own thing unencumbered by human anxieties and neuroses. They have their own set of issues, I know. But looking out and seeing chickens from a friend's flock peck away at the ground and chase each other around just like they always do, while icy rain falls and cars slide off the road all over and school release on this last day before Christmas vacation is actually delayed until the buses can safely drive kids home, is somehow a comfort. Some places, with some creatures, life just goes on regardless.

Chickens peck cold ground,
cluck softly, like usual,
no thoughts of weather.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20: Snowman

This afternoon I observed an interesting meteorological phenomenon: the light of the bright orb of the setting sun was refracting upward into ice crystal-laden clouds, creating the illusion of three suns stacked on top of each other, largest on the bottom. A sun snowman! If I hadn't been zipping down Route One at the time, I'd have tried to get a photo for this seasonally appropriate vision. I guess we can still have our snowmen of sorts, even when there's no snow on the ground.

Staring at the sun
in late December gives me
visions of snowmen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19: Flying Geese

Driving through town with the car stereo playing loudly, I looked up to see a flying flock of geese in silhouette against the cloudy sky overhead. I was reminded of the weaving pattern my grandmother liked so much called Flying Geese. The repeated Vs of the pattern was a common theme in the borders of her wall hangings, as a reference to her pet goose Max. A barnyard goose of the domestic variety, Max was probably too fat to ever fly. But the pattern was there, a touchstone for the potential for wild beauty. Like what I saw from my car this afternoon--the very shapes of wild geese flying enough to stir my heart and memory.

Silhouettes of geese
black against winter white sky.
Yet still I drive north.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 18: O Tannenbaum

At one time when I was very young, before my parents divorced, my father was a high school German teacher. For that reason I grew up with well-worn copies of Beatrix Potter's Die Geschichte Des Peterchen Hase (The Tale of Peter Rabbit) and Die Geschichte Von Den Zwei Bosen Mauschen (The Tale of Two Bad Mice). Although I also had an English version of Peter Rabbit, it was years before I knew what was up with those two mice pillaging a doll house. And the only German word I remembered from either was Puppenhaus: dollhouse--I think in part because it sounded vaguely like something I wasn't suppose to say. I did know one other German word from that early childhood time: Tannenbaum, Christmas tree. I think at one point when I was three or four I was even able to sing a line or two of the Christmas carol O Tannenbaum in German.

I've always had a fondness for that carol, perhaps because of those faint early memories. And I hum it to myself now as I admire the Christmas tree my husband and I just decorated. Its branches green truly are delightful, and now, beautifully bedecked with our many ornaments, each of which carries its own set of memories from my childhood on through our married life together.

Little house, small tree.
Boughs laden with memories.
Lights in the darkness.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 17: Christmas Bird Count

We start our Count at the Rockland Breakwater
Despite heavy morning snow showers and bone-chilling cold, we enjoyed a wonderful day tromping around outside with friends old and new, counting every bird in sight for the annual Thomaston-Rockland Christmas Bird Count. 

In our count section, we ended up with 50 total species (47 by our group on land, with 3 more added by a friend coming in to Rockland on the Vinalhaven ferry). Highlights included: long-tailed ducks gobbling in Rockland Harbor, a merlin zipping past the Breakwater, purple sandpipers discovered by Paul on a solo second trip out the length of the Breakwater and back, and a lesser scaup in a pond at the Samoset Resort. A red-bellied woodpecker at a feeder was a first for our Count section, I think. A raft of over 600 coots in Chickawaukie Lake was a definite high count for that species; I'm sure we were underestimating our tally for them. A soaring bald eagle reminded us of a friend no longer with us who used to join us for the Christmas Count--she was always the one to spot an eagle. We watched crows chase a red-tailed hawk. A lingering yellow-rumped warbler chased down in a swamp thicket turned out to be the only warbler seen all day in the entire Count circle. Lots of very pretty tree sparrows turned up, a bird we only see here in winter. And in the mammal department, we came upon a basking harbor seal and a swimming muskrat. The most numerous species (besides coot, of course) was Canada goose, which flocks up in great numbers on the Samoset golf course, followed by mallard and herring gull. No surprises there, but plenty of simple delight.

Yesterday's flowers; today's snow
The best moment of the whole day for me was at the very end, when in the deepening dusk I walked a short distance alone into the woods in a last ditch attempt to find a golden-crowned kinglet. I didn't find a kinglet. Instead, off in the distance, a great horned owl called. Those low, soft notes: hoo-he-hoo hooo hooo, how they carry through the cold air through stands of pines and spruce. You almost feel them as much as hear them. I stood in the trail and just listened, feeling a little shiver run through me that had nothing to do with how cold I was. The owl was beginning its evening, announcing to the creatures of forest and field below: I'm here and soon I'll be hunting. 

One owl calls at dusk.
Alone, I hear its summons,
stand still, and shiver.
Winterberries in the snow


Friday, December 16, 2011

December 16: Setting Moon

This morning when I raised the bedroom blind, I noticed the waning gibbous moon shining palely through the trees. We're used to seeing it rise evenings at the front of the house, over Mount Battie. Seeing it out back felt a bit like seeing someone you know in a strange context--they look familiar but a little out of place. But the moon was where it was supposed to be, following its usual arc from east to west, helping me orient myself at the start of my day.

A familiar face
looking in the back window.
Morning: setting moon.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15: Transportation

Transportation is the name of my new book of poetry, my first, received this morning from the printer. And transported is how I feel to finally have a "real" book through which to share my poetry with people. The only shortfall of the book is its lack of haiku. This is the cover image, for which I am very grateful to Eric Hopkins:
Waterways in the Bay, Eric Hopkins
Eric graciously let me choose the work I wanted for my cover. This piece conveyed to me the pure joy of taking in the beauty of this landscape we inhabit, as well as the sense of motion, of flying above it all and gaining perspective--themes that I think recur in my poems, most of which are set in a similar landscape. This is one book I hope gets judged by its cover. But I hope the words hold their own, as well.

Twenty years of words,
flashy cover--at long last,
my very own book!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14: Two Planets

A highlight of being outside selling Christmas trees tonight was seeing, as the evening darkened and the chill deepened, two planets shining brightly in opposite sides of the sky. High in the east rose Jupiter, king of the (Roman) gods, our largest planet. Setting low in what I think was the southwest: brilliant Venus, goddess of love, our brightest planet, the Evening Star. And just below Venus, a house crazy with Christmas lights, flashing in all its holiday color and glory, as if taunting the stars and two planets. But Venus outshone the whole earthly spectacle.

Bright goddess of love,
admired for eons, shine on.
All else will soon pass.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 13: Murder of Crows

My friend Ron called earlier to let me know that when he got back from some errands today, there were a couple dozen crows in his back yard, just hanging out in the trees and pecking at things in the yard. He tried cawing at them, and they didn't respond. When he played the calls of a raven, however, they anxiously flew off. But it wasn't long before they were back. What did they want?

I asked Ron if he'd looked back there to see what they might be after. Was there something dead they were scavenging? I told him to be careful, that he might find something unsavory. He promised to report back.

That was several hours ago. I haven't heard from him since...

A murder of crows.
What, or whom, do they wait for?
What else is back there?

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12: Pretty Eggs

I received a dozen fresh eggs this morning from my friend Janet's laying hens. She's got a mixed flock, so the eggs are all different colors and shades: warm brown, porcelain white, pale blues. (Araucanas account for the blue ones, I'm told.) In the basket, they truly shine like the natural gems that they are. And the gold inside--well, you know you've got good eggs when you see those rich, gold yolks from free-range, happy, well-fed, organically raised chickens. This is truly prime bounty from a friend's farm, for which I am very grateful.

Happy, still-laying
hens translate sunshine to yolks,
which we admire, eat.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11: Whiff of Skunk

Green parsley still pokes up through the dried leaves in our garden. Friends report budding forsythia. There's no snow to be seen on the ridgeline of Mount Megunticook as we roll into the two-week Christmas count-down. Our bottle of Grandpa Lundquist's Holiday Glogg waits, unopened. Our Christmas decorations are still tucked away in the shed.

But despite the askew weather, we did do some seasonal things today: we bought Christmas wrap and flannel PJs at Reny's, and then we watched a football game with a friend while enjoying moose stew next to a warm wood stove. As we left our friend's house, passing his many cords of stacked firewood, we picked up on a whiff of skunk in the cold air. Another living thing confused about what season it is. Our friend says the skunk lives under the woodshed. If the weather continues like this, that's going to be one tired skunk come spring, wishing it had had a few more days of hibernation.

Christmas lights through trees,
new flannel reindeer PJs...
and so it begins.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 10: Feeder Etiquette

When I'm working on the laptop on my couch, I can see the kitchen window, where we have a small window bird feeder. (I also just hung next to it a seed-covered house that I was given as a gift.) This afternoon as I'm typing away, I was distracted by a flurry of activity at the feeder, which has otherwise been fairly quiet the past few weeks. All of a sudden, three house finches, a small flock of goldfinches, and several chickadees and titmice are all jockeying for position in the feeder. Some are even landing on and pecking at the seed house.

Thrilled to have some birds to look at rather than my computer screen, I sneak out to the kitchen to get a closer look. The different behaviors among the species--the feeder etiquette (or lack thereof)--can be fascinating. Chickadees and titmice usually fly in, grab a seed, then fly off. They don't seem to mind if other birds are in the feeder, although the larger titmouse will sometimes scare off a chickadee. The house finches are usually vocal, and often in pairs. Today there's one male-female pair, and then an extra male. The two males do not want to be in the feeder together, and each time they meet, they flutter at one another till one flies off. But the funniest to watch are the goldfinches, the smallest of all. Not only are they completely brazen about going in the feeder with other birds, but if a goldfinch is in the feeder first, it opens its bill at other birds in what's clearly an aggressive gesture, driving them away. Other goldfinches are fine--four or five often cluster in and on the feeder--but a house finch and a chickadee are both scared off by a bird almost half their size.

Meanwhile, in the background, a squirrel runs along the top of the fence with its mouth stuffed full of leaves. It must be bolstering its nest up in the willow tree just over the fence in our neighbor's yard.

After about ten minutes of this activity, the birds move on, and it's been quiet ever since. I'm thankful I paid attention when I did.

Grab one seed quickly
or linger, hog the feeder.
Afternoon traffic.

Friday, December 9, 2011

December 9: Full Moon

A full moon is dramatic. A full moon hidden, revealed, and then hidden again by fringed clouds scudding over the Camden Hills is even more dramatic.

This is the Cold Moon or the Long Nights Moon, lighting up these long cold nights before the Winter Solstice.

In place of streetlight
full moon poised outside our house,
wreathed by ragged clouds.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 8: The Heavens

One of the blessings and curses of living in Maine is the weather. It's the number one topic of conversation around here. It's also one of our biggest entertainments, especially on days when experiences with the great outdoors are limited to what one sees out the window. Today was a perfect case in point. I was awakened in the pre-dawn by the roar of rain and wind. By the time I left the house for an early meeting, fat, wet flakes of snow had already blanketed my car. School was delayed, cars were off the road. But as I was driving to the meeting, the radio was saying that the storm had already passed through Rockland and was basically over in the Midcoast. Sure enough, in the southern sky I could see parting clouds and blue sky. For the rest of the day a sharp wind blew hard in a blue sky, blowing away what little snow had accumulated. At sunset, two big puffs of cloud sat like hot pink explosions in an otherwise clear, still-blue sky. When I left work, an almost-full moon hung high over Mount Battie, and early stars and Jupiter shone bright--a beautiful night. We got it all today. Just one of the reasons why I love this place. And yet another reason to wish I were a photographer.

Rain, wind, snow, sun, cloud:
all the elements are here.
Beauty around me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7: Self Care

Sometimes certain themes crop up often enough to make it seem the universe is trying to send a message. For me, one theme running through the past week or so (besides snowy owls) has been "self care"--that is, taking time to do something special for yourself. Taking care of yourself helps make you better able to take care of others, is the basic point.

Coming off two sick days during which I indulged in a lot of reading and even some writing, I felt like I'd been pretty good about self care. What did I know? Tonight was the annual Maine Women's Network holiday open house at a local spa, where I got a foot scrub--exfoliation and massage--and then a chair massage to soothe my aching shoulders. And all that in addition to enjoying the company of interesting women and great hors d'oeuvres (and those red velvet and chocolate truffle petites-fours!). I think I can really get into this self care thing...

The comforts of touch,
conversation, tasty food...
Pampered self: strong self.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6: Cinematic moment

Still home sick, perhaps a bit feverish, I'm looking out a rain-streaked back window through bare trees to the river. The opposite bank is a low, flat floodplain plastered with wet, russet leaves. It's a stage of sorts on which not much plays out besides the antics of crows and, once in a while, a visiting yellow lab. So I was startled to suddenly see come into view a woman carrying a big blue umbrella. She was dressed in a nondescript trench coat and appeared to have very long hair. There was nothing unusual about her, really, except that in my fanciful mind that's probably watched too many movies, I had this sudden wild thought that she was a visitor who had just materialized there, perhaps a ghost, perhaps someone from the past. An enigmatic figure, in any case. But as I'm pondering this cinematic moment in my head, wondering what will happen next, I notice the familiar yellow lab rambling through the woods nearby. Woman and dog eventually trudge back up the leaf-littered hill together and out of sight. Were they really there, or just a figment of my imagination?

Rainy day still shot:
woman with blue umbrella
ponders the river.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5: Inside

Spent almost the entirety of today at home, inside, trying to shake--or at least begin to recuperate from--an icky virus that's been kicking me in the gut for the past week. There's nothing like an illness, even a slight one, to pull us out of our heads and remind us that we're all animals, in vulnerable, animal bodies. And sometimes our bodies force us to take some down time when our minds don't want to. But in this age of social media, hanging out at home is almost too stimulating. The never-ending string of Facebook updates leading me to a variety of fascinating weblinks, constant email both personal and from work, several rounds of Word Jong to catch up on, as well as two weeks worth of New Yorkers on my iPad, new songs I had to download from iTunes, and an animated advent calendar on my computer desktop all kept me so occupied/distracted that I never even got to the one, relaxing thing I planned to do today: read a new mystery novel (also on my iPad). The good this is that I accomplished most of these things while lounging on the couch, so I was at least resting my body if not my mind.

Sick, I retreat to
a comforting habitat:
the living room couch.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 4: Balsam

I spent part of today selling Christmas trees and wreaths for West Bay Rotary. Thankfully, the day was a mild one for being outside lugging trees around. Also, most people are in good spirits when picking out their tree, especially with Christmas music blasting from the boom box. One customer even turned up the volume when the Grinch song came on the radio, and another grooved to the Charlie Brown Christmas theme song.

My favorite part of my stint was when I had to replace a sold tree with one from "back stock," cutting the twine wrapped around the tree to spring free the boughs, then fluffing them up to make the tree look full and pretty. Does any scent convey the essence of Maine woods like that of balsam fir needles? And a live tree is even better than one of those little pillows from a gift shop.

Fir boughs redolent
of Maine's boreal forest.
Christmas smells like this.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December 3: Outside

I volunteered to help at a road race this morning, and it was so cold that we were slipping in the parking lot, and bundled up in full winter regalia of puffy down coats, hats, and gloves to do the timing... and then Santa showed up! But by the time I got home, it felt warm enough to finish up some gardening work I never got to this fall. So in early December I actually spent about an hour outside fussing in my flower beds, trimming off some withered stalks. Under the dead leaves, the irises were pushing up some fresh green blades, tricked by the generally warm weather we've experienced in the past month. And on one flower a single yellow blossom lingered. I too am not fully ready to call it winter and go into dormancy.

Heavy morning frost,
yet a flower still lingers.
I'm OK with that.

Friday, December 2, 2011

December 2: Glimpse of the Moon

If you live in the Camden area, I'm sure you've driven by the Wards' house on Gould Street and seen the elaborate Christmas light display that Mr. Ward puts up each holiday season. He lost his wife this year, but his holiday enthusiasm appears to remain undimmed--for which all those who make a drive-by pilgrimage to his house each year with their kids can be grateful. Some people call it tacky, but I think its excessiveness conveys a joy that's fully in the spirit of the season.

There's the moon, peeping,
bright as all of my neighbor's
wacky Christmas stuff.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1: Black Cat

A hunting cat is wholly in the moment, utterly focused on its quarry, be it a piece of string or a hapless rodent. Yet to those of us observing, it's also the epitome of grace. Nothing with four legs moves with the liquid smoothness of a cat, that beautiful, self-possessed killer. I wish I were an artist to capture that silhouette of the black cat against the dried grasses as it slowly prowled through the field outside my office this morning, oblivious to anyone watching.

Black cat in the field
stalking leaves, in the moment,
heedless of its grace.