Monday, May 28, 2012

Be present, be present. Be here now. Be present for your husband's conversation at breakfast. Notice the lines under his eyes. We stayed up late last night. Be present in your son's golden curls as he falls asleep in your arms, his golden curls sticking to the crook of your arm. Be mild, be mild. Slow your breath.

Flowers bloom at set seed in just weeks. Shoes are outgrown in just weeks. Enjoy it, it goes so fast, mothers and grandmothers advise. Disagreements, tears, long days, teething, fevers, growth spurts, stubbornness, hungry not hungry, tired not napping, they last so long and then not really.

I couldn't tell you how yesterday was different than today. I can tell you how last year was different than this year. I can tell you my son stopped screaming during diaper changes sometime before six months or so and then started again a month ago. If I didn't write that, would I remember?

 Father and child walk down a Catskills lane.

 Bees pollinate Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum). Mother showed child.

 Beads of dew upon the waterleaf.

 Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) in seed.

 In flower.

 Red trillium (Trillium erectum) going to seed. 

 Father and child along the brook. Stones belong in the brook.

 Signs of old pasture. Now forest.

 Father and child walk and take breaks to explore the rocks and pull grass. Walking was enough just a month ago, but now we must explore. 

 Porcupine sign on plywood.

 Violet sp. and wood betony (Pedicularis canadensis).

 Wood betony going to seed.

 Robin's plantain (Erigeron pulchellus).

 Looking down the stem of the Robin's plantain (Erigeron pulchellus).

 Red clover (Trifolium pratense) beginning to flower.

 Azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum) in bloom.


 Starflower (Trientalis borealis).

 A plant I have never seen before.

 Stream walk alone.

 Bee visits water avens (Geum rivale).

 Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Insect Paparazzi

My husband photographs tiger swallowtails collecting minerals along Dry Brook Road on the way to Seager Trailhead. Impossible to photograph, several hundred tiger swallowtails gathered on the roadside. 

My son observes tiger swallowtails.

Our Memorial Day weekend trip to the family land in the Catskills ended with a discussion about how to break up the trip home, for all of our sanity(ies?): Minnewaska or Fox Hollow?

We headed down the road unsure. "How about the Seager trail?" my husband suggested as he fed our son in the backseat. We bypassed our usual turn.

A deer ambled from a hedgerow towards the road, and my husband shouted "Deer. DEER! STOP!" A basket of snacks flew off the front seat and landed on a couple potted plants carefully stashed on the floor. One of the stems nearly broke and remained sadly bent downward.

"F*cking deer. Always trashing the native plants," my husband said angrily.

"Sorry," I said.

Our son was silent.

Just a few days ago, I, the sailor of the family, had announced for the thousandth time since my son had been born, that we really shouldn't curse in front of our son anymore. He knows what we're saying. I had asked our son if he would "bring Momma the small green container." Damned if he didn't grab the small pouch of baby wipes and hand them to me. (I meant to say darned.) My husband gaped, "He's a genius. I would have had no idea what you were talking about. He understands everything."

Fifteen minutes down the road, our son had had it with the car. Luckily for this child, his determined parents agreed to stop along the dirt road and chase swallowtails. I had been cruising dreamily and avoided hitting the butterflies because my husband shouted for the backseat, "STOP!"

"Now the things with butterflies, is you have to be gentle," my husband tells our son. He slowed his pace and watched. As he approached a group, they took flight. Our son was startled. I think he found the butterflies interesting, but soon plopped down in the road and attended to the gravel along the road.


In the parking lot of the trailhead, I observed a few Canadian owlets feeding on a meadow rue species.

 Early instar of Canadian owlet.

 Defoliated meadow rue further down the trail had more caterpillars feeding on it.


Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) 

The red stigmas of this uncommon woodland herb remind me of the osmeterium (sort of like faux antennae that protrude when the caterpillar is disturbed) of the giant swallowtail. Accidental? The butterfly occurs on citrus in the south (very commonly found) and toothache tree in the north (very uncommonly found). 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Something says, "Don't Touch"

Ever glance up from your plate at a restaurant and catch the fella's eye a couple tables away? Ever wish you hadn't locked eyes, wished you blinked a little faster. Something's not quite right with him. You hope to leave after you see his car pull out of the lot. 


Once a little beat up car cut us off on the highway. I was annoyed. They came far to close. We pulled along side them. I rolled down the window. My face was contorted in a scowl. My mouth was opened to say... and then I looked into the driver's eyes. They were cold, dead eyes. The passengers gazed forward in a trance. I rolled the window up and faced forward. I promised I'd never confront another driver on the road.


We walked along the South Branch. It was an invaded trail. Weeds everywhere. The smell of rotten popcorn was in the air - poison hemlock flowers. My son, about 6 months old then, was in the Baby Bjorn. Don't touch anything. The stems of the plant looked bloody, as though warning, this is what I do to your insides. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All done

Wild strawberry

I can't keep up. The days are rolling by. I'm sure I've had a chance to blink once or twice. I try to blink extra long when passing by the kitchen. More importantly, I never noted when my son first held up his hand, palm up, "All done. All gone." Must have been a month or more ago.

Last week, I covered the strawberry patch with deer fencing. The catbirds and mockingbird pecked a few, and the abundant slugs feasted on the leftovers. Now, I have to defend the patch against my 17 month old. He hardly finishes one and another is in his mouth.

I exclaim, "This is where food comes from!" as I pick another fruit. I worry about strawberry allergies. His mouth bulges. A sweet bead of strawberry juice forms on his lower lip. He stares. He is in a reverie. My husband picks at the other end of row.

My son swats at his head. I scratch my arm, my ankles, my rear end. "No seeums! Mosquitoes! I'm being bitten. Arg!"

I pick lambsquarters. My husband offers to take our son inside. He protests on the walk back to the house.

I hear my husband say, "Don't worry, Momma's coming." A few minutes later I hustle down the lane, scratching my bites and sucking on my bloody knuckle that I cut on the chickenwire gate as I hastily exited the garden.

"See there's Momma." I see them watching me. My son's look is intent.

I drop the baskets of lambsquarters, mint, lemon balm, spinach, and strawberries. My son reaches for the ripe red fruit. His mouth bulges. He picks the stem off - he learns fast.

My son's not worried about Momma. He's worried about strawberries.

Inside, the strawberry feast continues. He knows the berries are in the basket on the counter and out of reach. He hops up and down, pointing. I give him two more berries and say, "All done. All gone."

He smiles, holds up his hand palm up, and then dashes out of the kitchen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

what's new

New things:
saying "shzzz" (cheese)
blowing kisses (last night at bedtime)
sharing food with toys (dolls, stuffed animals, trucks with faces)
playing teatime (pretending to drink and sharing with toys)
a pair of sandals (already submerged in puddles)
tentative bye-bye to the Ameda breast pump and traveling road show (pump, bags, cooler, ice pack)
better sleep (a couple times through the night)
except for 2 nights ago when my son woke me about 5 times, including for about 45 minutes at 3:30AM at which time I gave him catnip and elderflower tea by the dropper full (high fever, scary)
burgeoning sense of what the potty is (thank you, oh dedicated spouse)
'nursing' my son's toys (a wooden bird, a beaver puppet at the doctor's)
all the birds are here
lots of red admiral butterflies

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring Beauty

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dinner (quiche) sits on the counter long past what the USDA might recommend. A board book, a gift from my parents to my son, dries nearby after my son splashed it with catnip tea. I saved the inscription from a watery oblivion.

We've been looking at real estate listings online. Well, actually, Jared's been looking. I peer over his shoulder and admire his tenacity and criticize his posture and nail biting. I'm not very helpful. Home ownership in New Jersey is a distant dream, perhaps one that will one day drive us to distant places. Here, it seems, one needs to be employed as at least a middle manager in the 'pharma' industry to afford the price of a home, land, taxes and insurance.

I'm not planning on complaining, but instead I am presenting an homage to real estate photography. This is my home. My little rental in the woods.

 On the wall to wall carpet: catnip tea, butterfly binocular case, vintage blender base.

 Close up of carpet, includes left shoe size 6, a rock, Scotch brand tape, tablespoon.

 View of front door.

 View of kitchen. Camera white balanced to obscure fluorescent lighting.

Weatherwood Design child's chair, dirty laundry, and djembe not included.

 Master bedroom, child's bedroom, office. 

 Detail of child's room and workshop. 

Library and laundry room.