I’ve been so busy with poetry and other stuff that I’ve neglected to post about what’s happening in the garden.
My lovage plant didn’t survive the winter, but it left a couple of self-sown offspring to be remembered by. I was delighted to discover this fellow on one of them last week:
swallowtail larva in the open
I checked on him today, and he’s almost twice as large. He’s a little hard to see because of his excellent camouflage, but that’s a good thing: I don’t want him snapped up by the neighborhood robins or cardinals.
swallowtail larva hidden
This charming fellow was the gift of a dear friend, who designed, hand-carved, and painted him. The windway (the place where you blow) is on the bottom and the window (the opening where the sound happens) is carved into the back. It produces a soft, clear tone. We always put this ornament somewhere prominent because just seeing it makes us happy.
As sometimes happens, I’ve been caught up in the activities of the season, the most recent of which was decorating. We spread our holiday decorating over the four weeks of Advent, so the final Sunday is very festive indeed. Part of the fun of decorating the tree is telling the stories of the ornaments, where each came from and what memories we associate with it.
This little ceramic bell is one of three that hung on the trees of my childhood as far back as I can recall. I have two siblings (both sisters) so our things tended to occur in batches of three. I don’t remember how it came to us, but it seemed old to me even as a child, so I suspect it may have come from the household of a great (grandparents or aunt and uncle). It makes a sweet sound and remains one of my favorite ornaments from childhood.
It’s (inter)National Novel Writing Month (iNaNoWriMo), though we all know I’m not working on a novel. But neither am I willing to pass up a chance to ride the wonderful wave of creative energy rolling across the globe and through my own amazing community. (Shout-out to all the beautiful Bluegrass writers!) So I’ve given myself four very different writing activities to work on this month and have been able to make time for at least one of them each day.
Today’s activity is blogging, inspired by this article on poetry by A.E. Stallings. I may have to print it and carry it with me for those awkward moments when I’m called upon to talk about what I do. (For the record, I often cop out by talking about editing, which is only slightly less deadly to conversation than poetry.) Stallings hits all the salient points, and I love him for it.
- Poetry is not useful, yet it is everywhere.
- It transcends us and will outlast us all in some recorded form, though who will care?
- Poetry is commercially non-viable and materially irrelevant, which makes it rather suspect.
Poetry arises from paradox, from the multiple meanings a word or image can hold. It’s a linguistic version of certain mathematical equations which seem to describe separate realities happening all at once.
Anyone who doubts the subversive, contradictory, and disreputable power of poetry needs only consider this year’s Nobel prize award for literature. It doesn’t explain much, but it makes a fantastic illustration. (Kinda like poetry.)
A.E. Stallings, “Why Bother with Poetry?” Times Literary Supplement Online, 7 Nov 2016,
A small part of me is relieved to have official respite from the enforced discipline of the NaPoWriMo challenge, but I chiefly feel wistful that this most convenient excuse to put aside things other than writing has come to an end. Now I really do have to address all those deferred duties (ugh!), but I intend to maintain the daily habit of writing.
I will most certainly not post every day, though. It’s great motivation, but it’s not truly sustainable, either for me or for my readers. It stands to reason that I’ll continue to post regularly because I’ll continue to write regularly (this post grew out of my notes and reflections on the month’s activities), just not every day. You’re welcome. [wink]
Besides, I have other things to do during the month of May: welcome my eldest home from college, see my youngest through the end of her school year, teach a writing class (here’s a link if you’re interested), attend family graduation events, and…
…get ready for June, which is Lexington Poetry Month! Yes, my daily writing goal will get a nice boost from my local writing community. I plan to take part in that month-long writing challenge as well as various other poetic activities around town. Information on the 2016 celebration hasn’t been posted, but next week is the release party for the 2015 anthology, & Grace. (I’m ditching a Very Important Board Meeting to attend — shhh, don’t tell anyone!)
[Warning to the arachno-squeamish: this post contains photos of spiders.]
I don’t usually post twice in the same day, but I made the most exciting discovery while mowing the lawn: I’m a foster mom!
Remember the marbled orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus) I found outside my window early last October? At the end of the month I discovered she had made an egg case on the hatch cover to our crawlspace. I took photos but didn’t get to post them. She was much slimmer than in her gravid state, and her abdomen had turned from creamy yellow to the vivid orange of her lovely legs, still with the same brown markings. A few days after I took this photo, she was nowhere to be found. I felt much as Wilbur felt in Charlotte’s Web, saddened by her passing but honored to watch over her young.
Our furnace is located in the crawl space, and I decided not to have it serviced for the winter out of fear that the egg case would be disturbed or damaged when the furnace tech removed or replaced the hatch cover. I had my fingers crossed all winter that nothing would go wrong. Thankfully, it didn’t.
I’ve been checking the egg case throughout the spring, and today this is what I found:
I wish I had a macro lens to get a really good photo: each of those tiny cream-colored dots is a baby Araneus marmoreus, dozens of perfect miniatures of their mother, yellow abdomen and all! (I’d need a pretty strong magnifying glass to see if they have brown markings.) Above you see them with the egg case, and below you can see those that had ventured as far as the brickwork around the hatch. I hope some of them stick around, as some of Charlotte’s spiderlings did in the book.
More than once today a gust of wind ripped the car door from my grasp as I opened it. Luckily, I wasn’t next to another car on any of those occasions.
the winds of March have come
early to clear the trees of old
leaves and dead wood and push
the stale pestilence of winter
ahead of them, leaving
hope in their wake