Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Asters, pollinated, chewed, and in seed.

Crab spider on goldenrod.

Dew on New England aster.

Sassafras.

Sneezeweed.

Gerardia about to bloom.

I have read that the first 3 months of life are like the fourth trimester. My son hardly left my arms, or my husband's arms, during this time unless he was on the changing table. He was on the changing table about 24 times a day. We had 2 dozen size small pre fold diapers, so it was easy to calculate. Nothing else was easy to calculate because nothing else had an abacus as the diapers did.

"How often does he nurse?" someone might ask. I had no idea. I still have no idea though my short term memory is returning as my son allows longer blocks of sleep.

Blocks of 3 hours, mind you. I often hear, "Oh, my daughter slept through the night at 2 months." I think those who are willing to share are those who share success stories. Or, horror stories, of course. "My son did not sleep through the night until he was 3 and a half years old," related the gentleman behind the desk just after my husband and I signed away thousands of dollars on a used car. "We thought we were great parents, giving everyone advice. Then my son came along," he shook his head.

Weeks later I was back at the dealership signing away an additional $44.50 in DMV fees, and the the gentleman behind the desk repeated his story in the exact same words with the exact same emphasis on "3 and a half years old."

Friday, October 21, 2011

White Wood Asters and Ants

White wood aster with nectar seeking ants. Mountain Farm section of Teetertown Ravine.

Cryptic Moth

To be a cryptic moth, papery and beautiful, covered in the dust of life, waiting for darkness and primrose. To perch on cold, hard stone of millions of years, ephemeral, a life of millions of seconds only, with the gift of flight rather than longevity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This year, last year

Flowering Dogwood, brown leaves by July 2010
Last year, the drought was deep and parching, dusty leaves wilting, wilting, finally falling.

Spicebush lost leaves, whole stems. Flowering dogwood dropped leaves mutely tinged with scarlet, some chlorophyll returned to the tree, the rest browned out and squandered.

By July, hickory seedlings browned out on the shale barrens at St. Michaels.

Multiflora rose and barberry yellowed by late summer. Goldenrods flowered for an instant, then went to seed. Black cohosh knew in advance, didn't even try to flower.

From May until late September, hardly a drop fell on our side of the mountain. The only plants that looked good were the oaks, deep-rooted, thrifty, ponderous.

Last year's effects linger. Some plants responded with incredible seed production this year-- hornbeams, flowering dogwood. Spicebush is still reeling from last year, working on stem production, fruiting very scanty.

This year, we're somewhere near twenty inches of rain over the average. We'll see what that means... next year.

Goodbye to another car

Sunset at Dayton Toyota, late September 2011.
Our old vehicle in right foreground, new in center, other people's tired cars awaiting service in background.

One of my grade school teachers liked to quote Ben Franklin. "When the founding fathers were drafting the Constitution," my teacher explained, "Benjamin Franklin would point at the carving on the chair he sat on and say, 'Gentlemen, I am glad to see that this is a rising sun and not a setting sun.'"

Was it the Constitution drafting? Maybe it was the Declaration. Was Ben sitting in the seat or was George? Or, was it a wall hanging of a sun. I must admit, I can't recall. That's not the point, so why mention a tattered memory of two decades ago? To reveal my poor memory? My odd memory? My lack of memorization of American history? None of the above.

It's to note that the sun is in fact setting in this image. And that unlike the rising United States of America in the mid-1770s, the sun has set upon yet another car. Goodbye, minivan. We'll miss your aroma of wet dog and land steward sweat, the faint traces of violet herbicide dye upon your interior, and the ruddy glow of the ABS, check engine, TRAK OFF, and VSC lights that glinted in my eye each time I started you up. I hope your trip to the auction was dignified. I hope your body has gone on to the great compactor in the sky. Farewell.

Ruderal ground


Abandoned farm field. Foxtail grass, common mullein, sweet everlasting, and Chinese lespedeza were the common species.



The plants said, Somebody was here. This was used land - the untilled edges were dominated by Chinese lespedeza and the remainder of the fields were primarily foxtail grass.

The forest at the edge of the fields were empty of an understory and herb layer. Two exceptions: 1.) Wreath goldenrod and white wood aster clung to the most precipitous shale bluffs over the brook. There, these herbs were safe from the deer.
2.) Where the land sloped gently to the brook, scraggly multiflora rose, Japanese barberry, and Morrow's honeysuckle made up the understory, and Japanese stilt grass, Japanese honeysuckle, and white snakeroot the herb layer. Interesting that not only the invasive species but also white snakeroot, a native herb, was found only on the disturbed ground. One could see the path that pasture animals had been allowed to take to drink of the brook's waters and wallow in the shade.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ten months

And, I am self-conscious as the seniors watch our class and greet each other and watch our class. I wave to the seniors I have befriended.

"Oh, where's your son?" one calls across the room. Often, my husband and I bring my son to class. The seniors enjoy my son who in turn, enjoys them. "Oh, you know, she came to class until just before she had her baby, and then she came right back," I overhear one say to another. I blush, smile, and bow my head.

Returning to class after having my son was not easy - I was tired to my core. My teacher explained, "You have given all your chi to your baby. Now, you need to recover back. Rest one month, maybe two, then do chi kung to recover back." The Maya believe, my health care practitioner explained, a mother needs as long as her pregnancy to recover, and the mother of a newborn boy needs one extra month. "Ten months," she said.

I watched my classmates spin and kick across the floor. My son wailed, hungry and wet. I padded out of the class again and again. I returned to the classroom. Class over.

Months went by. Class over. I missed the camaraderie, sweating, and learning. Class over.

Then, just a couple weeks ago, as my mother in law watched my son, I entered our classroom. I began stretching. I touched the palms of my hands to the floor easily. I had not done this for many months. My son was nearly 10 months old.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Some evenings I have free time - to do what, I'm not sure. Since Saturday, I've been aching from somersaulting into a scissor kick leaping to my feet grabbing pulling double chopping blocking chopping tornado kicking twice and ending with a right hook.

"You are still young. I am 60. Look at how I roll. I can still do. You are young. You can still do," lectures my teacher, addressing our class as we take our turns spinning across the increasing dusty crash mats.

My classmates are 10 to 25 years young than I am. This is one of the occasions when looking young does not help me. I've reminded my teacher of my age twice. He says, "Ah, how old? Ah, ok." Making excuses in a martial arts class is never dignified. The best I can do is raise my eyebrows and then go for it. So, I rolled across crash mats for 45 minutes on Saturday.

"Good, but too slow. Add speed," my teacher repeats each time I turn towards him and head to the back of the line.

"Hmm. Your tornado kick is not good. Add some speed," he adds every third time I take a turn.

Our class is small - four of us. Breaks in between our turns are brief. I watch my classmates. The senior citizens in tai chi class immediately after our kung fu class begin to arrive. We keep rolling as the seniors watch.