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Sort of a Zoo

Today it was a fox, looking almost orange in the late afternoon light. Nose to the ground, he took his time in the field behind the apple trees, no doubt discovering that bears and turkeys had been there before him. They look so dainty, the foxes. Their narrow faces, slim bodies and lush tails combine well. This was the first we had seen since fall. But bears -- ah, yes, Mama and her one-year-olds right behind the kitchen and necessitating early removal of what has been paradise for chickadees, juncos, titmice and the plump mourning doves. As usual, the cardinals dined late, almost at sunset, and bluejays came to scare everyone off. But the pile of feathers on the ground after the snow melted indicate that the blue jay was a little too haughty about his place in the animal world. It was probably a sharp-shinned hawk that got him, obviously with a struggle. As a visitor named Beverly used to say, "Remember, everyone needs to have lunch." We hope everyone gets lunch, every day. Read More 
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Waning day

The sky floated a silver feather as I was driving home from Pittsfield. But the sun would not let it shine for long. In a minute or two, the giant fringed cloud had turned to pewter and then to near black, tarnished by the end of the day. A few days later, heading east, an egg-shaped moon rose at sunset, surrounded by soft pink clouds. Behind us, the sky had the same kinds of clouds -- like a sweep of a paint brush -- but they were peach against pale aqua. And then, a minute earlier than the day before, the November sun had pulled up its covers and gone to sleep. Read More 
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Sounds of the sea

Maine was so full at mid week that we could not find a place to sleep at the ocean-view places in Ogunquit. The town's name, by the way, is Abenaki for "beautiful place by the sea." It qualifies. Here, unlike most other places in coastal Maine, the panorama includes a beautiful beach and the intriguing rocky coast that the state is famous for. I could say "for which the state is famous," but sometimes prepositions belong at the end of the sentence. Or it sounds pretentious and ridiculous. We walked the Marginal Way, my daughter and I, stopping to look at the view, admiring the folks using canes who were navigating the hilly path and looking for a long time at a veritable village of cairns, so many of them looking like funny little people and all very creative. Some of the coast here is solid rock, but some sections have enough loose stones to create a hundred thousand cairns, and the world is working on it. The sea was relatively quiet on our day there, but surfers were gathering, even at low tide. No crashing waves flying into the rock-lined inlets, no spray calling out as photo ops. Nations filled with fear and hate should walk these kinds of places -- no one we walked with or met was arguing, hurrying, anxious or scowling. Something about the sounds of the sea ..... Read More 
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august time

Bluebs, Grandma Haskins always called them. Her fingers were as gnarled as the branches of an old apple tree, but she would scoop a handful out of a bucket and quickly thumb them into either the keeper bowl or the discard, brushing away the small leaves and stems as she went. It was hard to pick over the pails used by the men in the family, especially my father, who liked to "squabble" them off the wild, high bushes in someone's pasture. Needless to say, "squabbling" meant perhaps a dozen berries picked at a time, along with a dozen leaves or bits of dead branches. His blueberry harvest was huge and a mess. So, the women grumbled a bit as they sat on Grandma's porch and sorted, but mostly they talked about this, that and everything.

With too many cucumbers, many cultivated blueberries to pick, lots of weeds to pull and a lawn that grows even when it doesn't rain, poor Rose is quite neglected in the early days of her marriage. Perhaps she will reappear and I will still be able to hear her when we get to the Cape for two weeks. "Rose Runs Away" is nearly finished, but so far I do not see the finale. So I have to keep remembering Milt saying, "It will end when it ends," a promise that holds little comfort!

With drought in May and deluge after deluge in June, the garden is a mixed bag. The beautiful pea plants, green and starting to attach their tendrils to the fence, went brown and rotten even as the blossoms started to come. The first beans look scruffy and produced warped beans. But carrots, potatoes, lettuce, peas, cukes, onions and tomatoes seem to be thriving. And at least two winter squash are there, along with one sugar pumpkin. Last year, the pumpkins grew vines and no orange globes at all.

Pat's tomato soup is on the stove and needs a stir.
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Swallowtails

The Korean lilac, late-bloomer and heavily scented, permeates the night air with a unique fragrance. Its pale flowers are very full, and by day as many as six brilliant yellow swallowtail butterflies flit from cluster to cluster taking in the nectar. They are all over the yard, but it's only at the lilac where they gather in force. On a very wet morning, one of them seemed stuck to a purple chive blossom. It looked dead, but an hour later it was gone. Its wings must have been too water-soaked to fly. The shrew-like tones of the nesting house wrens are a harsh contrast to the sweet warbling of the song sparrow and the repetitive call of the red-eyed vireo or the loud melody of the Baltimore oriole. So many birds, butterflies, toads and (ugh) garter snakes -- all busy with their daily rounds.  Read More 
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Supposedly spring

March was horrid, the first one I've spent in the capricious Berkshires in a half dozen years or more. April was cold and dry to the point where the garden -- with only onion plants above ground -- needed watering. But now, the crabapples are about to turn into cotton candy, the daffodils arepersisting for a long season, grape hyacinths pull the eye to many spots in the garden, the peas have poked their way through our clay, and the spinach plants are working on the third leaf. Unlike the fifth wheel, the third leaf is most welcome. And now it's May and still cold -- 56 that feels like 46, showers alternating with sun, the Mother's Day fuschia still in the garage ... but suddenly, without warning, it will be summer.  Read More 
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Happy sad day

Here's Patriot's Day, one of my favorites of the year, so often a fine spring day when the bikes and scooters come out, along with the sun. The Red Sox play in the morning, and after they lost their lead in the ninth, they gathered themselves and had a walk-off win. A little past Fenway, the Boston Marathon -- grandfather of them all -- is running. It's a grand day in the Berkshires and in Boston. And then two bombs go off. Where are we going? Read More 
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Stones

Raking stones is like mowing the lawn or cleaning bathrooms. When you are done, you can see that you've achieved something. The snow plow keeps us from being marooned, and we are grateful. But it also flicks thousands of stones from the driveway onto the lawn and when the snowbanks finally melt, there they are. Little monsters that must be moved with a rake or the lawnmower will be going cling, cling, clank all the way to the road. So the raking begins. If it has a nice side, besides looking at the cleared lawn just up the hill, it's that the air finally has more than a touch of spring in it, the daffodil shoots are poking through leaf cover,  Read More 
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Pewter

It was a pewter sky. Not plain, but ranging from the silvery, high-polish pewter of our Cape Cod-made salad bowl to the older, dull finish on my mother's teapot. It was sunset, with a patch or two of silver sky open in the midst of the pewter shades. Even the tree branches were pewter their usual November to March blackness softened by a layer of sticky snow that lost its whiteness in the sunset time. It was artist's light, photographer's light. But I was just there, admiring the breathtaking scene and waiting for the dog to find that exact perfect spot where he would deign to pee. Read More 
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March on the march

It's the capricious month. March Madness may mean basketball to thousands of people, but it works for just about everything else this month, too. The clock jumps, for instance, and the body clock -- albeit invisibly -- takes a day or two to move into the change. The weather jumps even more. Blizzard or mud are the extreme choices with a bet on plenty of ice in between. The dog prances along, caring not for falling water, puddles under his feet or dirty paws. If it's white stuff, he leaps into the air with March madness to catch snowflakes -- and succeeds. If it's cold, it's chilly damp; if it snows, the stuff is heavy, wet and perfect for snowmen; if it's a bit warmer and seems colder, it's time to look at the 40 degrees, feels like 30 part of the weather report.

On the plus side, if the  Read More 
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