Solace in Walking

Today I walked the paths around the ponds at Cherry River fishing access and sanctuary. The snow beneath my feet was packed slush. Overhead clouds were colors of faded denim, dusky lavender, and violet-gray. The sky, where visible was a washed-thin cobalt overhead and pale lemon near the horizon.

I didn't hear any song of returning birds. Not even a robin.

The honey, tawny, blonde and russet grasses are mashed by snow. Here and there stragglers, stems at odd angles, leaves curled and wet, wipe the frosted surface. When the sun shines through cloud, their shadows are violet. The old snow still sparkles.

Off in the distance rags of snow litter the mountains and hills.

Canada geese and mallards feed in the ponds' open areas. With each day above freezing, stained ice gives way to open water.

I find solace in walking there. A place to enter Nature's world and leave the cacophony of news behind.

Storm Surge

I've just returned from a conference at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Monterey, CA with poet David Whyte. In this beautiful setting by the sea, poetry, song, and fierce Pacific storm all came together to create a space of wild beauty—inside and out.

When we learned that two men were swept out to sea by the storm driven waves that rose higher than normal onto the land, we all joined for a few moments of silence to honor them.

"Half a Shade Braver" was the title of this conference for the weekend. We were all asked to contemplate ways in which, in our daily lives, we could be just a little bit more brave than before. It's not required of us that we be super heroes or even change dramatically.

What one act can I take or make today to believe more in myself and my power to help a world crying for love and peace?

I can begin with a poem:

My poem is an offering
to the pearls of rain
on soft green needles.
The fragrance perfumes sea air.
A gentle face
into a fierce storm
where waves unleash
their fury on the sand
and sweep the unwary
into their embrace.

These waters—
salt and fresh—
become one
as I breathe
how they join together

While I cannot speak,
in this silence
a fire warms my body,
music my heart.

My voice is here,
in the pines crooked branches
sheltering the hummingbird,
in the raven's call,
and gulls curved wings.

Last night
the wind knocked at my door
Who called me?
This morning
I will listen.

A Sparkling January Day

Today, a sparkling January day in Bozeman, Montana, I began my author adventure on Facebook. New adventures await while my book River Shadows: A Passage from Head to Heart nears completion—and will be out in the world in March.

Meanwhile a family of deer gathered beneath our bird feeders. Their hooves embroider trails in the snow. A northern flicker pecks at suet. Magpies gather the suet that falls to the ground. Hairy and downy woodpecker ratchet up the ash tree. Chickadees flit from pine to feeder and back.


The musical buzz of a Green-tailed Towhee darted out from limber pines along the Drinking Horse Trail this morning. On an unusually cool day for late July, I was enjoying the fresh breeze and late summer flowers when I heard him. I hung out in the shade for 5 minutes or so while I watched him in his plumage that reflected the coloring of his surroundings—olive green and gray with a russet cap—while he hopped among shining green needles and then up to the top of the ropey, bare silver branches of an old veteran limber pine. Puffy clouds floated by above us across a cornflower blue sky.

This is the first summer I have ever seen one, let alone the 3 or 4 on Drinking Horse Mountain and it added to the pleasure of a hiking/birding excursion that began with a Lazuli Bunting singing from a power line as I parked my car in the parking lot.

I had taken this particular hike to check on the noxious weed situation since the herd of 400 or so goats had been through chomping on leafy spurge and other invasive species a few weeks earlier. I also wished to know what wild flowers might be left. I was not disappointed! Yarrow, flax, harebells, bergamot, sticky geranium, scarlet gaura, blanket flowers and fleabane decorated hillsides and edges of the path. The goats will return for a second go around later this season to feast on more weeds or the ones that are beginning to grow back.

From my view on thehillside of the valley, everything looked as though ripening into summer—beginning to head out, some hay fields still showing windrows, some in bales scattered across the hills.

Other birds Inoted this morning were: Black-capped Chickadee, Tree Swallow, Gray Catbird, Western Wood Peewee, Dusky Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler.


Butterfly Kisses

Hike to "Frog" Rock
Middle Cottonwood Creek Trail
85 degrees F. and clear with light breeze

I hopped over Middle Cottonwood Creek twice—once keeping my feet dry and the second time stepping into a pool of cold,  clear mountain water, deep enough to seep into my boots. Just enough water to dampen my wool socks. Once on my favorite meditating spot—a granitic bedrock slab of gneiss—I removed my boots and rolled of my socks. I love the feel of polished stream bed gneiss under my bare feet.

No sooner had I placed my damp socks in the sun than two iridescent pale blue butterflies landed
on them and began sipping sweat and stream moisture from the wool fibers. Meanwhile, butterflies in black, yellow and speckles flew across the rushing snow melt as it raced toward the far away sea, weaving patterns with dragon flies and reflections off the water on boulders and lush foliage.

The undersides of wild maples, dogwoods, grasses and wildflowers shimmered in the reflected light, while I sipped the sound of tumbling creek and a pair of American Dippers flew up stream. Above me Swainson's Thrushes and Warbling Vireos filled conifers with song.  A flock of pale yellow butterflies gathered beside the stream, reminding me of their gathering a year ago on the day my mother passed on. My daughter and I had been hiking when the call came "your Mother passed." My mother had always said that when she passed on she wished to come back as a butterfly so she could give everyone butterfly kisses. Has she kissed me since she left?

Just as I was about to gather up my sock fountain for butterflies, one of the Dippers flew right by me on a downstream trip and did his little dance for a moment before diving into the rushing water for an insect morsel.

On my way back down the path toward the trail head, a hummingbird hovered along in the bushes beside me!

The birds I saw or heard today were: Hummingbird (perhaps Calliope), Swainson's Thrush,  Warbling Vireo, Dark-eyed Junco, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet andAmerican Dipper.


Autumnal Equinox

Autumnal Equinox
A glimpse
Beneath the shroud of clouds
first snow on peaks
Through rain the season changes

In the fullness of the Harvest moon
inside me, turning
straining at my branches
as the quakies shimmer
silver green to gold,
I would speak of my mother,
a daughter now alone
harvesting her words,
ripening, longing
for another

Walking Lightly Ranch Writing Retreat

Four days at Walking Lightly Ranch on a Writing Retreat with Laura Munson and 11 other muses from around the country and I'm walking on air. For the call of Sandhill Cranes, pattern of rain drops on the lake, scent of lush garden, food prepared with love and inspiration, lush garden of scent and seed, yoga with Arlisa, time to learn how to connect with horses with Bobbi and being guided into deeper insights with my writing by Laura, I am most deeply grateful. Four days that were a balm for me two months after my mother's passing. Four days that provide a platform for intention and inspiration in my writing.


Spring Again

Wow—months since I've posted. The seasons turned and turned again. I'm rediscovering wildflower friends as they ease of snow that is reluctant to loose its grasp on the mountains. I've discovered fairly slippers on a trail where I thought they didn't grow—or at least grow within my sight. I've met some young fishermen catching some nice trout in a few quiet pockets in the streams filled with snow melt. I've been to Scotland for Nature Connection, Spiritual Well being and Cultural Repair with Jon Young.

And now my goal will be this summer to help connect more young people with Nature while I continue writing about why wilderness and wild places are so important.

I'll be adding more pictures soon and getting back to posting again.

A Splash of Orange

I have been eagerly awaiting the return of the bullock's oriole—a splash of tangerine, orange, yellow/orange with accents of black and white—One male was at our feeder today!

Mother's Day in Yellowstone

Mother's Day was a WOW—Wonder full Outdoor Wonderland. For the first time we saw a herd—yes, herd of Bighorn Rams—all ages—playing, feeding, posturing—a bit of head banging—then huddling. Never seen this before. Watched a wolf, hawks, Mountain blue birds, Northern flicker, Sandhill crane, baby bison-known as red dogs. On the drive home the Absorkas with snowy peaks lighted pink by salmon and peach in the sunset sky.

Clear Skies

Finally! After a week and a half of wintery weather—the skies cleared, the mountains popped out with a fresh white coat of snow, bicycles are casting long shadows as happy kids are out cycling in the afternoon. It's only back up to 50 with nights in the 20's, but warmer days are coming back

Finches are singing from every tree, a robin is borrowing some Spanish moss for her nest, dark-eyed juncos hop around under the feeder grateful for snacks dropped by their friends above.

All is beautiful and well with the world.

Crystal Days

After a week of sneak peeks at spring—shedding sweaters, working in the garden, we woke up to snow! The daffodils were bending over, glazed in a thin layer of ice.

Gold finches, hairy and downy woodpecker, Northern Flicker, dark eyed juncos have been happy to find their meals at our birdfeeders.

Song Birds

Right now there is a chorus outside my window. I love hearing the house finches, gold finches, sandhill cranes and red-winged blackbirds. The red-winged blackbirds spread their wings displaying scarlet epaulettes and spread their tail feathers whenever they send out that trilling call. I remember hearing them in marshes in Massachusetts when I was a little girl. Spring seems to hold lots of childhood memories.

Not Just Another Day in the Park

I left the world of green grass, sunshine yellow daffodils and gold finches singing in my yard for the uncertain weather of Yellowstone Park. From my house to Yellowstone is about 90 miles by car, closer by as the raven flies and several weather patterns difference.

The snow is clearing except in the higher country. Gray-crowned rosy-finches are flocking like a "startle" of finches. Sandhill cranes are preening and beginning to nest. Coyotes delighting in rodent suppers and Mountain bluebirds decorating the sage and grasses with brighter-than-sky blue.

I didn't see any bears, but they are out and wandering around, except for the mamas with brand new cubs.

Wildness is Amazing

Every time I visit Yellowstone National Park I am amazed and astonished by the gifts of land and skies. On this visit Wednesday, a "startle" of gray-crowned rosy-finches flew across the road, mountain bluebirds splashed blues all over the sage and tan grasses, bison ran in circles to stir up some mud for baths, pronghorn roamed the hills, a coyote hunted, white cloud tatters cast shadows on snow covered mountains and sandhill cranes preened by a pond

Echoes of Wolf

The print in the snow is the size of my hand. We missed the wolf by about an hour. Still, the knowing that he was there sends chills through me. For the rest of the day in Yellowstone Park—mountain blue birds have returned and flew ribbons of azure along the road, bison alternately pawed through snow and ran circles in bare spots to rough them up for a dust bath, pronghorn antelope grazed on old grass, a coyote hunted, a red-tailed hawk circled me with shadows and his "screeee".

It's always a treasure day in the Park.