Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Chittenden Reservoir

I have been participating in a poetry group while here in Florida.  It offers the opportunity to receive feedback, learn, and improve.

Recently, a member of the group introduced the "haibun."  This is a form I had never heard of, but I gave it a try.  My first attempt fell short on the haiku portion.  I made some revisions.  I don't know that I came any closer to actual haiku, but I am happy with my effort and I am calling it done so I thought I would share.

Chittenden Reservoir

A camping trip at Chittenden Reservoir is a well-planned and coordinated event. Mike starts watching the weekly weather predictions in hopes of finding three consecutive Vermont summer days promising warmth and sunshine.  If a full moon should happen to fall within those days, the camping gods have surely blessed us.

We pack the van at night, leaving only the cooler to be packed with ice, food, and beverage and then loaded in the predawn hours of the morning as we start the 70 mile trip.

Dew trickles through
grassy fields—
Spider laces

We leave the main road for a dirt track that climbs 1500 feet into the Green Mountain National Forest.  A sharp turn and the final 500 yards end at a small boat launch.  Damp detritus of evening activities litter the shore.  Two brightly colored kayaks glide away from the dam and are quickly out of sight.  No need for words as we take the canoe to water’s edge and load it with our camping gear.  Mike parks the van and then shoves the canoe into the cool, glassy water.  I hold steady as he climbs in and we start our paddle.

The reservoir covers 750 acres.  There are a few cabins near the dam, but most of the 7 mile shore line, dotted with coves and small bays is left to the wild,  inhabited by deer, foxes, moose.  Primitive campsites can be found if one knows where to look.  We know and head straight across, hoping to find out favorite cove unoccupied. The not knowing gives us a sense of urgency.

Light bursts over
Pico Mountain,
 diamonds on the water

The canoe crunches on the gravel beach.  We police the area before unloading, always hoping for no sign of previous habitation and too often disappointed.  Once the tent is set up and our camp arranged, we relax.  We gaze at the water and the mountains.  We watch the family of ducks, hoping for hand outs,  watching us.  We read.  We listen to the birds.   We giggle at the antics of chipmunks.  We swim, float gazing at the blue sky.  We talk and laugh.  We make love in the afternoon.

In the evening we paddle to the furthest bay.  The beaver slaps her tail on the water very near the canoe to warn us away.  We see a snapping turtle, the feathers from a duckling, a single webbed foot settling around it.  A bull moose, awkward, yet majestic, dips his head into the water.  We sit quietly watching until, sated, he turns and vanishes into the marsh grasses.

Night symphony begins—
Croaky tunes of longing,
Birds at roost

As the pale darkness of summer settles, Mike builds a fire.  We sit on benches made of logs and stones, sharing our prepared feast.  We make bets on where the moon will rise.  I am always wildly off and Mike wins every time.  He has studied such things.  Our mood shifts to one of awe.  We meditate in silence at the sight of the ascending Full Buck Moon.

Our hearts are full.  We sit and poke the fire, mesmerized by glowing embers. Gratitude spills from out lips between kisses that taste of wood smoke and wine.

With plaintive call
Loon glides to lift-off—
summer echoes.

Olga Hebert
April 18, 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lake Front Property

Some might call this a pond, but in the Florida real estate promotions, it would be classified as  lake front property.  It is a pretty and serence spot.
And in the middle of it, there is an island rookery.  The white dots here are nesting herons and egrets.  The sound was impressive.  I am not sure it would be a selling point.

The Jacaranda trees are in full purple bloom.

I liked the color of this bougainvillea.

The actual flowers are the white centers.  The colored bracts are actually protective leaves.

Friday, April 24, 2015

What's That?

Looks like a blob of paint, doesn't it?  Bright blue paint.

It is actually a seed.

A seed for a tropical plant, Bird of Paradise.

Are the colors of nature sometimes nothing but absolutely astounding?

I wonder if it will actually grow into a full grown plant.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Pain in the Butt

Believe me, I know that at my age I am fortunate to be mostly healthy,  to have my real teeth and my real joints and very little pain associated with body parts in general.  I should be more grateful.  Instead, a little ache, a little pain, and I am off and ranting--cursing the gods who feel the need to punish me in this way.

I was sleeping peacefully on Saturday night when I was most rudely awakened  by sudden pain.  I was thought someone had broken into the house and was administering electrical shock to my left buttock. Zap! OW! Zap! OW! ZAP! OW!  And so it went throughout the night.  I was grumpy in the morning,  Very grumpy.

I have heard about sciatica nerve pain.  I googled it.  The pain was pretty targeted, not coming from my back, not shooting down the thigh.  But definitely there.

I was going to skip yoga, but yoga was mentioned as one of the treatments.  My yoga teacher mentioned periformis syndrome and gave me some modifications to the usual routine.  I felt a lot better afterwards.  I was really glad I didn't skip the class.

Inflammation of this muscle can irritate the sciatic nerve.  It is sometimes called pseudosciatica and sometimes referred to as wallet sciatica.  If I carried a wallet in my left back pocket, that would be a perfect description.

So today I took another bike ride and figured out what irritated that muscle in the first place.  Ice helps.

No Title

I took this picture because I am going to practice painting this lily. (will keep practicing)

The pineapple palm does double duty by hosting a variety of ferns and other fauna that we don't need to mention.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Scrap Projects

No one has ever accused me of being a horder, but I do have a large bin of craft materials that I can go to when there are children in need of entertainment or productive diversion.

Sometimes it is just my own inner child in need of entertainment.  Sometimes it is my own stuck self in need of productive diversion.

Looming writing deadlines and nothing on paper* yet?  Perfect time to open up that bin in the closet!  Hmm. scraps of felt...

bird with buttons


When I volunteered for my VT librarian friend, one of my tasks was to make a prototype of the crafts she had selected for the children's story times or projects for the summer reading program.  It is a habit I got into.

*by paper I mean the computer screen.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bike Ride

I am not ready to hang my bicycle up for the season just yet.
I took a fairly long bike ride yesterday.

I will miss my bike.  Not everyone agrees with me, but I consider Jericho, VT, a pretty unsafe area for bike riding.  And then there are also the hills!  No, my bike will continue to live in Florida.

I rode in the countryside all the way out to the Mabry Carleton, Jr. Reserve.

 The area above is sometimes a pond where all kinds of birds can be observed.  Not today though.  Today it looked like a river of grass.  (From The Everglades: River of Grass, by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 1947)

It was a hot and humid day, the kind Florida can be famous for.  But it was cloudy and I rode fast enough to keep a breeze stirred up on myself.  I did not need this sign to warn me off.

I was not tempted to jump off this bridge.

Although I did take advantage of the park pool later in the day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Three more weeks to go before my flight back to Vermont.

Time to start being mindful of what is left in the refrigerator and freezer, not quite time for seriously strange meals of odds and ends.

Time to start packing up the clothes I brought for the trip down.  It was winter then.  It is not winter now, but they are things I will use once I am back to my Vermont home and probably before I come back to Florida.

Time to start slowly putting the outside furniture and decorative items into the storage shed.  I swept out the shed today.  I got out the electric drill and attached some hooks to the work bench in the shed so I could hang my bike up off the floor.

Time to arrange for someone to check on the house here and start up the car every so often so the battery stays charged.  I guess I should get some of that stuff to put in the gas tank so that the ethanol in the gas won't wreck things as it sits.  So I also have to add prepping the car for its summer stay in sunny Florida to my closing the Florida house list.

The park is getting quiet as the migration gathers steam through the month of April.  I am hoping I can beg a ride to the airport from someone--hoping someone will still be around!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Beach Time

Are words even needed?  I had lunch with a friend and took the beach route home again.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Saving Energy

Something I don't see living in the mountains, that caught me by surprise here at sea level--a horizontal ray of sun coming in the kitchen window at sunrise.

Obviously, it takes very little to amuse me.

Perhaps if I had been in Vermont this past winter, the sight of any sunlight might amaze me.

I attended a Citizen's Climate Lobby presentation last week.

One speaker talked about personal ways to cut down energy consumption--traded in his car for an electric one, traded in his boat for an electric one, no longer heats his pool--levels of sacrifice I admire, sure, but how many really can relate.

A second speaker talked about governmental role in cutting dependence on fossil fuels.  How surprised I was to learn that the U.S. is behind other countries in examining this (not)!

The third speaker was from Transition Venice.  This is part of a worldwide transition movement to make communities more food and energy efficient.  She was passionate and her positive energy pinged around the room.  She did talk about ninja gardening as in this blog.  That is something I see quite a bit of and do not necessarily embrace myself.  I really don't see the need for humans to "improve" wild places.  I see it as intrusive.  Otherwise, I support the transition movement.

The final speaker was very dynamic. (And he was an engineer!) He spoke about Historic Green Village on Anna Maria Island.  If you have 30 minutes to spare, there is a PBS documentary about the Historic Green Village.  It is interesting.

This is something I have wondered about for a while--solar panels are seen all over the place in VT, where there are really a lot of grey days.  In Florida, the SUNSHINE STATE, they seem rare.  Wanna make a guess about where the disincentives for solar power use comes from?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Held Hostage

I went out for a bike ride this morning.  I was convincing myself that April is the absolutely best time to be in Florida.  Everything is as green as it gets.  Flowers scent the air.  It is warm, but a sea breeze caresses your every movement.

I do tend tho have these Florida moments, on occasion,  when I think to myself Why do I live anywhere else?

Well, I cruised into my driveway after the bike ride and noticed something black and shiny and slithery by the steps.  It disappeared under the steps.  Good grief! The largest snake in the entire universe!  I saw it!  In my driveway!  Now under the steps!  And how was I possibly going to get into the house now?   And if I got in would I ever come out again? O.M.G.

Now, I do know that black snakes are harmless.  I know that they are far more afraid of me than I am afraid of them.  Poor snake was probably cowering under the steps for hours, in dread fear of a human nearby.

I went about my day and eventually went out to the lanai to relax and read for a bit.  I noticed the snake cautiously poke its head out from under the steps.  It wiggled out into the open.  It was tiny.

google image of what I thought I saw

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Bonnet

Some one at the Unitarian-Universalist Church that I attend in Florida had the idea that everyone should wear an Easter hat on Sunday.

Well some (I won't mention names) plunked a baseball cap or a beach hat on their heads and called it done.
So not in the proper spirit of things.

Get those hot glue guns heating up!

There were lots of straw hats festooned with flowers.
I wanted to be different so I made my hat with feathers and a little blue bird.

And there was a flower communion.  I contributed a bunch, but I kept one stem for myself because I know the rabbit wanted me to have a lily.

I talked to my sister in Vermont.  It was snowing on their Easter brunch.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ukrainian Easter

I implied that my mother's Easter table was a work of art--culinary art.  I don't have access to an actual picture.  I really don't believe there were too many taken. But there are many images on Google that look very familiar to me.

Even the table cloth is reminiscent of my mother's.

It is the Ukrainian tradition to fill a basket with Easter foods and take them to church for a blessing.  My mother set out all the food on the table for Saturday night and had the priest come to the house for blessing of the food.

There was a ham and kielbasa.  A little dish of salt and shaped butter with an impression of a cross pressed in.  There were eggy, sweet breads--paska and babka--and eggs, of course.

 I remember celery and carrot sticks as the vegetable.  There was also a dish of horseradish mixed with red beets.

We did have some elaborate Ukrainian eggs such as this:

We did color eggs every year, but ours were more along the lines of this one that I found on Martha Stewart:

We drew the designs with melted wax and a toothpick and then dyed the eggs.

In truth, I was not enamored of the whole Easter holiday.  It involved a lot of time in church, which I hated.  When not in church, my mom was in the kitchen doing the baking and other elaborated preparations.  The table was set up the night before so the food could be blessed, then put away.

I mostly remember, from after the basket hunt days, my mother going to bed right after Easter Sunday service and sleeping for the day.  I am sure she was exhausted, but Easter dinner kind of felt like eating leftovers.

Also, Easter as a celebration of the Springtime renewal is kind of lost in Vermont since it is just as likely to be snowing that day as not. What was the point of having new black patent leather shoes when you had to wear boots?

I saved the best for last, though--paskha.

My mother made hers in a clay flower pot.  It is a rich cheese dessert--a creamy cheesecake experience.  I wouldn't mind having some of that again someday.

I file this under "things I did not appreciate as a child but have a certain nostalgic fondness for thinking about now."

Thursday, April 2, 2015


I did not grow up with a tradition of decorating the house for every holiday.

My Dad put out a flag for the Fourth and eventually put it out every day.
He bought my Mom a pot of hyacinth at Easter and that is the scent I associate with the day.  We put a tree and hung a wreath on the door for Christmas.

The big thing that let us know it was holiday time when I was growing up was my Mom's cooking.  And her table was a tableau of the season.

I have not followed that cooking tradition.  I will be going on a picnic on Sunday.  But I have followed the minimalist approach to home decoration.

This is the extent of my efforts this year:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I have had it.  I am done.

No more blogging for me...time to move on to bigger and better things.

So, 'til we meet again...