Every year at this time, my mother quoted Robert Frost.
It's strange how certain insignificant puddles of memory are left behind after the flood of experience has passed. It was with an almost physical shock of recognition that, on my walk this morning, I slid into the memory of an early spring drive with my mother along Route 89 from Ithaca to Trumansburg, New York—the scenic route above the western shore of Cayuga Lake. I remember my mother looking out at the woods above the lake and saying, "Nature's first green is gold." I thought of that this morning as I walked through the Lower Arboretum and saw the little ash trees all golden among the iron grays of winter.
Unfortunately, the ducks who have been so plentiful lately seem to have heard the weather forecast and gone for cover. I heard only the creaky bedspring call of a heron, and saw only the wintery black-and-white tail feathers of juncos, like an old television test pattern. Penelopedia has a good series of posts on spring waterfowl sighted in the Northfield area over the past week. If anyone is looking for an expensive gift to give Penny for an upcoming special occasion, might I suggest a new digital camera with a powerful zoom? I've been craving the Olympus E-410 ever since I started seeing the beautiful photographs it takes for my blogfriend Chris in the Canadian Maritimes. Since we're on the subject of ducks, check out Chris's beautiful photograph of a pair of mallards from her weekly "Wordless Wednesday" back in February.
One of the birds that Penny spotted this week was a double-crested cormorant. On Lake Huron, where we usually spend a few weeks each summer, these cormorants have been blamed for the drastic reduction in populations of yellow perch over the past two decades. The birds nest on a barren, rocky, poop-covered island called Goose Island, not far from the island where we stay. Often we'll see long black lines of cormorants sweeping low over Wilderness Bay, hundreds and hundreds of them, so many that it takes several minutes for the entire flock to pass over the bay. Will, when he was younger, said quite accurately it was like waiting at a railroad crossing. For several years now, there have been cormorant control efforts in the Les Cheneaux Islands: volunteers head out to Goose Island and pour oil on the cormorant eggs to prevent them from hatching. The birds are undoubtedly a nuisance, and a threat to fish populations. I do, however, enjoy their habit of displaying themselves as if they're posing for a coat-of-arms.
Anyway, the topic for today was supposed to be "reader's block." I haven't read a book from cover to cover for over a month now. Thanks to my LibraryThing friend Paola, who sent me her extra copy of Naomi Mitchison's Travel Light, I may be snapping out of it. Travel Light is a luminous fantasy that magically combines Norse mythology, medieval Byzantine Christianity, and light dashes of the author's socialism and feminism. It's impossible to do it justice in a brief description. I adore the heroine, Halla, a princess who's been raised by dragons to have a healthy dragon-like hatred for meddlesome heroes. Highly recommended.
Meanwhile, the pile of books to be read is growing. It includes Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia, which has to be read for a book group meeting on May 3, and Tom Swift's Chief Bender's Burden. I'll be at Tom's reading and book signing tonight at 7:00 at Monkey See, Monkey Read in downtown Northfield. The book's on sale there for 20% off. Buy it.
My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .
The frontispiece from Countee Cullen's The Black Christ and Other Poems (1929). Illustration by Charles Cullen. Click to enlarge. On...
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