Sunday, October 29, 2017

Frogs in Two Places

I recently finished reading Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey, which was published in 1968. The book caused a bit of a controversial stir when it was published, as did other Abbey works. I found myself captivated by this book, sucked in by Abbey's poetic and emotional descriptions of the desert outside Moab, Utah. His willingness to immerse himself in the landscape, and his ability to observe it in detail combine with his passionate opinions on how to conserve our natural resources. The result is quite an enjoyable trip into Edward Abbey's desert.

Here is a small sample:

It’s a strange, stirring, but not uncommon thing to come on a pool at night, after an evening of thunder and lightning and a bit of rainfall, and see the frogs clinging to the edge of their impermanent pond, bodies immersed in water but heads out, all croaking away in tricky counterpoint. They are windbags: with each croak the pouch under the frog’s chin swells like a bubble, then collapses.

Why do they sing? What do they have to sing about? Somewhat apart from one another, separated by roughly equal distances, facing outward from the water, they clank and croak all through the night with tireless perseverance. . . .*

 Here's a funny thing. Reading that description of frogs croaked immediately brought to mind my summer vacation. John and I traveled to Bogue Chitto State Park in Louisiana and stayed at a wonderful cabin. We were serenaded ALL DAY EVERY DAY by these friends:

And so I am reminded yet again of the thread of commonality that binds us all to everything at all times. Frogs in the desert. Frogs in the swamp. Frogs in two places at the same time.

I even wrote a poem about it.

Swamp Visit

Bogue Chitto. Sand bars, rocky ones,
and an unexpected boardwalk over a bog.
Moss and persistent frogs, their echoing voices
clanking back and forth, one here, one there.
A heavy humidity, hot, dense,
so the AC is like a punch across your face
as you step inside the cabin. On vacation.

I have a couple more quotes from the Abbey book to share. Looking forward to ending this small series with one of his righteous rants!

*Desert Solitaire, copyright 1968, Edward Abbey, Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Sunday, October 1, 2017

We Are Off to the Fair!

It's early October and that means it's time for the Coosa Valley Fair! This year I'm doing something I've never done before. I'm entering several bonsais in the Flower Show!

Thought I'd take a bit of time this morning and show you what I'm entering. Plus, it's a good time for a Topiary Family update--with the introduction of its newest member.

Going to the show: A dwarf hinoki cypress, variegated.

A procumbens juniper.

 And! A thimble cactus!

 That's the thimble cactus, lower left.

Which brings us to the Topiary Family update.

 Clockwise from upper left: Vivienne, Tica (looking sad; this is not her time of year!), T-Rex, Paulette (suffering from an infestation of lace bugs. Johntheplantman says the time to take care of that is in the early spring.), and finally Babylonia the boxwood.

AND, introducing THUMBELINA the Thimble Cactus! Because every family needs a baby!

 That's Thumbelina way up there on the table in front of T-Rex.

Note: A good systemic insect treatment is ferti-lome's Systemic Insect Spray. It takes care of a myriad of garden pests and comes with detailed instructions.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Flood; A Fata Morgana

The other day it occurred to me that I haven’t written a blog article in several months. Shame! But, what to write about? Maybe a poem about floods . . .?

More than a week has passed since I wrote those few sentences above. I was searching for a blog topic and somehow came up with “floods.”  I had time to start the research by picking two volumes of poetry off my bookshelf and seeing if perchance there was a poem about floods in either of them.

Bingo! Both books contain poems that mention floods. “Signs” by Morgan. And “Flood” by Tretheway.

Then I got sidetracked from this project for ten or so days, and during that time HURRICANE HARVEY happened by.

So now my blog post on floods has taken on an extra poignancy.

As with the rest of my forays into poems, this one offered up the opportunity to learn me something. Tretheway’s poem “Flood” was my opportunity to become acquainted with the Great 1927 Mississippi River Flood, an event I had no knowledge of until now. Just a little time spent researching revealed the event upon which this poem is based.

The poem’s narrator is looking at a photo, which is how we learn this event happened in her past. The flood didn’t happen to her, but it certainly happened to her ancestors.

I’m taken with the opening image in this poem.

They have arrived on the back
of the swollen river, the barge
dividing it, their few belongings
clustered about their feet. Above them
the National Guard hunkers
on the levee; rifles tight in their fists,
they block the path to high ground.
One group of black refugees,

The caption tells us, was ordered
To sing their passage onto land, . . .”

Robert Morgan’s “Signs” offered up another way to experience flooding! And, it offered up an opportunity to learn me something about a fata morgana!  What!? Ah, a fata morgana is a mirage. That makes sense here:

The cowtrails came down into
the shallows of the pool
and for all I knew continued
to a fata morgana pasture of cocoons

I now make it a habit to look for fata morganas.

But back to the topic of floods. “Signs” is about all the ways the Church has to scare a person, especially a young boy, into being good at all times! After all, you sure don’t want to be the poor guy caught in this type of flash flood:

You follow a girl into the brush
along the creek after church
a cloudburst may wash
you out still coupled and naked
onto the sandbar
where they have baptizings.

Nope, that sure isn’t a good place in which to find yourself! It’s funny what a flood will wash up.

Well, that’s all for now. Be sure to take a moment to show some love to all the poets in your life!