Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mother's Gifts

My beautiful Mother left us on Wednesday, February 18, 2009. I miss her being here in my world. I am heartbroken that I will never hear her voice again or touch her soft face. I will never kiss her or remind her once again of how special she is.

She lives in my sister and in me, within our treasured memories, within our DNA, inside our hearts, within the gifts she gave us. Her love of reading and her love of gardening are two major gifts she imparted to us both.

In the early Seattle spring my husband and I will add a beautiful plant to our garden in memory of Mother, something which will remind us of her love of flowers, her enjoyment of putting new life into the earth. Today she rests under the branches of a crepe myrtle tree which will celebrate her life in its summer blooms which thrive under the hot, Georgia sun. We placed a beautiful JW Stannard windchime in the branches which sway above her. When we visited her grave before we left Georgia soft music was playing in the stillness of the late afternoon.

Rest, dear Mother, rest. You are deeply loved and remembered always.

An Observation

True gardeners cannot bear a glove
Between the sure touch and the tender root,
Must let their hands grow knotted as they move
With a rough sensitivity about
Under the earth, between the rock and shoot,
Never to bruise or wound the hidden fruit.
And so I watched my mother's hands grow scarred,
She who could heal the wounded plant or friend
With the same vulnerable yet rigorous love;
I minded once to see her beauty gnarled,
But now her truth is given to me to live,
As I learn for myself we must be hard
To move among the tender with an open hand,
And to stay sensitive up to the end
Pay with some toughness for a gentle world.

May Sarton
Originally published in A Private Mythology, 1966

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Jane Kenyon
From Collected Poems
Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon

A Photograph of Mother only 3 weeks before her death

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blizzards of Snow Geese

Snow Geese in Flight on Fir Island
in the Skagit River Delta Region of Skagit County, Washington

Sometime in fall the snow geese leave Wrangel Island, Russia and other areas of Artic tundra to fly at speeds of up to 50 mph some 3,000 miles in distance to Washington State in North America. It is no wonder they can be referred to as a blizzard of snow geese when swells of them rise from the earth and fill the air with their fluttering white wings. These Artic birds can often be found on the Skagit River Delta between La Conner and Anacortes, Washington from early winter through mid spring. They winter here in our state feeding on vegetation in the rich delta soil. Their reddish stained heads reveal the high content of iron they have ingested during their stay, a condition which is only temporary.

These geese nest in the Artic tundra of northern Canada, Alaska, Russia, and Greenland, always returning to the same areas where they hatched to build their own nests. The female lays about 4 eggs which are incubated and guarded by both her and her mate. During these 23-28 days the geese eat little to nothing, losing about 20% of their total body weight. Shortly after the eggs are hatched the adults will molt and, like their goslings, become unable to fly. By the time their new feathers appear, their young are ready to fly. In the interim and during the remainder of summer they and their goslings will feed on the surrounding vegetation enjoying the long, sun-filled days of heavy feeding as they prepare themselves for their flight ahead.

At summer's end when the temperatures begin to to drop they are once again ready to return to their winter playgrounds on the Skagit River Delta or perhaps stop off a little north of Washington at the Canadian border and winter on the Fraser River Delta. In both places they find the water soaked farmlands and rich aquatic life of the bays which provide winter feasting and moderate temperatures which keep them comfortable during colder months. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and local farmers in the county plant grasses and winter wheat for the purpose of providing a good diet for the snow geese. Winter feasting is critical to their survival during the nesting season. Since they go without food while nesting they must build up a good reserve of body fat during late summer and winter months in order to sustain themselves.

Seeing 30,000 birds in one place left me speechless. When huge flocks of them take flight the movement of wings blurs the vision. Nature grants us such privilege and provides amazing gifts. These geese, quite uncomfortable in human presence, allowed my husband within 3-4 feet of them for several photographs.

Click on all photographs to enlarge. It is worth it!

All photography contained herein
is from our private collection and
may not be used without
written permission.

Flocks Estimated at 30,000+ Feeding on Local Vegetation