Tuesday, May 29, 2012


A few days ago I made this photo of a small hover fly working a trio of Common Fleabane blooms. Some folks call hover flies "flower flies" or "syrphid flies." You often see them poised around blooms, where they feed on the flower's nectar or pollen. Hover flies are considered beneficial insects, since they're fairly important pollinators, and because the larvae of some species feeds on aphids and thrips, thus protecting plants from such pests' juice-sucking destruction. While the hover fly may resemble a bee in coloration, it is perfectly harmless.

A day or so after I made this image, the fleabane began to wilt. Now the plant is down on the ground—soon to disappear until next spring. In its place will come Daisy Fleabane and Whitetop, and then the asters.

The beat goes on—with insects and flowers, birds and mammals, even incorrigible ol' riverbank-dwelling scribes of maturing vintage. I had my pacemaker's two-week post-implant checkup today, and everything is going fine. I continue to feel better, with each new day bringing an additional degree of improvement. Fact is, I already feel the best I have in years, for which I'm pleased—and thankful—beyond words. My next checkup is in six months. 

So that's the promised update. 

I'll close with a bit of info I found astonishing, even amusing in a flabbergasted "I can't believe anyone would be that crazy!" sort of way. From Helping Your Heart: A Patient's Guide to Understanding Cardiac Pulse Generators, a little booklet which came with the packet I received from the pacemaker's manufacturer at discharged from the hospital. Under "Coming Home After Surgery," a list of dos and don'ts, there's this incredible gem: Do not play with or move the pulse generator under the skin. 

My Lord! Really? People need to be told this? There are really folks who fiddle with the device that's implanted under their hide, wired into their heart, and probably keeping them alive? Are you kidding? So I asked my doctor. Yup, they're out there…and not as uncommon as, say, a Kirtland's Warbler. 

Go figure.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


My mother loved flowers. All flowers—wildflowers, garden flowers, flowers in low-to-the-ground clumps or adorning tall stalks, flowers on vines and shrubs and trees…big, small, bright, demure, there wasn't a bloom of any sort that I ever heard her say she didn't like. And she was especially fond of roses.

One of her favorite roses—perhaps her most favorite—was an old pink rambler of indeterminate name and origin, that grew along the fence in the front yard. This rose only bloomed once, in late spring, but it did so in stunning profusion—hundreds of pale pink blossoms, some as wide across as your hand. The flowers had no scent to speak of, and when they faded and fell, that was it for the year, though the leaves remained a shiny, deep green—the darkest green of any rosebush I know—throughout the summer and most of the fall. Too, the bush was healthy, virtually immune to bugs and diseases that often plagued the other rose varieties in the yard, and a vigorous grower. Almost too vigorous.

Mom loved this rose. However, she also said it was the "meanest" plant she knew.

Yes, that's an odd word. A strange term for characterizing a plant. Plants might be described as pretty, nondescript, fussy, or tolerant…but mean? And Mom meant the word in the sense of vicious, aggressive, ill-tempered. An odd word, indeed. More appropriate, you'd say, for speaking of a junkyard dog. Plants—roses—aren't mean.

Wrong! This rose was mean. That's absolutely the best word. Vicious, aggressive, ill-tempered—like a pink-spotted dragon with distemper. You couldn't walk within a dozen feet of that plant without it drawing your blood! Mowing anywhere close without getting nailed was impossible. Cutting a few flowers was like going into battle—and the rose invariably won. Long sleeves, heavy jeans, gloves, nothing including full body armor afforded any protection. The thorns were huge, innumerable, sharp as daggers, and set at an angle so that when you barely touched one, you immediately drew the cane and its hundreds of other thorns onto your clothing and flesh. 

From the end of one winter to the start of the next, everyone wore the rosebush's wounds on their arms, legs, neck, cheeks, and sometimes elsewhere—a distinctive series of punctures, like lines of stitching from an oversized needle, and either oozing blood or sporting a dark scab, depending on the stage of healing. Scare tissue around our wrists was inevitable.

Still, Mom continued to love this rose; Dad, too, or at least he tolerated it, and was usually the one to give it a good trimming every couple of years, least it ramble into the the neighboring yards…and perhaps up the street, throughout the community, to eventually take over the township. As I said, it was a vigorous grower. 

I write about this rose today for several reasons—first, because it's now in bloom; second, because come Memorial Day every year—which Mom called Decoration Day—we'd gird our bodies as best we could, and brave the onslaught of this meanest rose, snipping blooms as we yelped and wailed, amid much pain and suffering, until we either had the necessary bushel or so of flowers needed for placing on the graves of family members, or else were running too dangerously low on blood to continue. 

Funny the way certain memories stick. Come Memorial Day, I can't help but remember this "meanest" rose and what we regularly faced to gather its blooms. Then there's also the fact I brought cuttings from that rosebush and planted them beside the cottage, when they now thrive—and I plan on taking a few cut flowers from them along when Myladylove and I go to decorate the family graves later today.

In more ways than one, I think Mom and Dad will appreciate the gesture.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I got up early this morning, not long after first light. Even then, the grass was dry instead of being covered in its usual glaze of dew, and the temperature was already above the 70˚F mark. According to the weather folks, we'll exceed 90˚F today, tomorrow, and Monday. A mini heat-wave! In May, in Ohio! I don't recall such temperatures coming so early ever before. This is at least a lifetime record if not an actual state historical record.

The river is low and clear. There are geese and their half-grown young feeding and frolicking in the riffle. The pileated woodpeckers are flapping back and forth across the stream and yard, yelping all the way. Roses and peonies, both the same delicate shade of pale pink, are in bloom on opposite sides of the yard.

I wasn't the only early riser. A cock robin was busy hunting for bugs along the gravel walkway—working to help feed the nestlings he and the missus have tucked away back in the cedars. I thought he looked rather handsome standing on this border rock, and made his portrait.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Here's something you don't see every morning—a great blue heron catching, killing, and eating a fairly long snake for breakfast. Well, maybe I ought to say I think the snake was dead before the heron gulped it down—but since there's generally a lot of wiggle remaining in a recently deceased snake, it's only a humanitarian presumption. 

A few whacks on the rocks below the water willows…
Anyway, that's exactly what I saw yesterday morning when I stepped outside with the dog. The big bird was on the weedy gravel bar across from the cottage. This long islet is currently dry and—if you're a heron—knee-deep in water willow. 

As I watched the long-legged bird wade cautiously through the stalks, it suddenly paused, alert, then quickly bent and shot its long beak into the dense vegetation. A moment later it reared up with its writhing prize—what looks to me to be about an 18-inch northern water snake. 

…a quick gulp, and gulp, and gulp again…
Naturally, the snared snake was rather upset by this unexpected turn of events, and began lashing about for all it was worth. In turn, the heron would slam it down onto the bar's stoney deck. Eventually the blows took their toll. The wild lashing became mild wiggling…and without further fuss, the heron simply tossed it back and down—and with one big gulp the snake disappeared, though you could see a lumpy bulge in the back of the heron's throat for a few moments. 

Yeah, that kinda grossed me a bit, too—and I'm fairly ungrossable. Or maybe it was simply because I'd not yet had my morning coffee. 

…and it's time to go looking for a second helping.
Frankly, I'm still not sure whether I feel most sorry for the poor serpent who got ate, or the poor bird who did the eating. I am glad the victim wasn't one of my queen snakes.  

After that, ol' blue simply gave a settling shake of his feathers, and began stalking anew, looking for whatever else he might find to skewer and consume. Who says a canny heron needs water to hunt?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I've always liked irises. Maybe because of Mary Mullins, who lived in the house next door on the street where I grew up.

Mary was a slim, pretty, golden-redhead, perhaps a decade younger than my parents—though still an enigmatic adult. She worked at one of the General Motors factories a few miles away, was a divorcee, drank beer, had a huge gray Persian cat named Fluffy, wore red lipstick and, when the weather was warm, tended to dress in shorts and halter tops like the Hollywood starlets you saw in movie previews at the drive-in. Even in my pre-pubescent oblivion, I thought she was special.
She was also friendly, nice to me and my parents, a good neighbor we liked—though many on the street treated Mary with a certain degree of standoffishness.
Mary had an obvious fondness for irises. On both side of her driveway, which led from the street, between my parents' house and hers, to a mostly disused garage in back, Mary had planted dozens—probably hundreds!—of iris, with more growing in back of the house, along the walkways, and bordering the side fences.

However, so far as I remember, there were only two flower colors—purple and white…though the whites ranged anywhere from icy to creamy, while purples came in every hue from nearly-blue to violet, orchid, mauve, lavender, and a plum so richly dark that from only a short distance away it appeared black. But none of the yellows, oranges, magentas, or reds of today. 

Whether such color variations were available, or easily affordable, back then, or whether Mary simply preferred a more restricted palette, I can't say. Yet her garden was no less stunning for such limitations.

I have a variety of iris scattered around the yard—many of which I bought on the cheap a year ago at a local nursery sale. Three or four were purchased from a nearby big-box store where I buy groceries. A dozen others were given to me last summer by a neighbor who'd received more than she could handle from another neighbor when she thinned out a patch in her front yard; sort of twice-shared plants. 

So far as I know, the one above is the only example of this particular variation. At least it's the only such bloom I've had this spring. The flower made its debut and too-so exit over the last few days. I believe it's from the nursery close-out's mixed bunch, but have no idea what it's called.

While it's neither purple nor white, I thought it looked lovely in the bright shade of morning light. Wonder what Mary would say?

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Evening. The temperatures is slowly backing off after reaching an unseasonable 87˚F high, which made today feel more like mid-June. Robins are still poking and prodding the new-turned soil where Myladylove has been transplanting, weeding, and digging new flower beds all day. A cardinal is whistling in the cedars. The river is all in shadows, even to the tops of the highest bankside sycamores—though the slice of sky above is still fairly bright. Time to sit a spell and rest, to watch the light give way as another day fades into night.

The cooling air is redolent with the spicy fragrance of roses and the sweet scent of honeysuckle. I know it's not fashionable to say so—non-native honeysuckles being such a terrible invasive…which they truly are, no question—but there's still a boyhood part of me that never fails to remember the vast tangle of honeysuckle growing in the alley along the far end of the backyard behind my parents' house. 

On early-summer evenings, when the lightening bugs were just beginning to twinkle in the deepest shadows under the big spirea hedge, the cooling air filled the gloaming with the honeysuckle's wonderful perfume. As all semi-countryfied youngsters of that era did, we neighborhood kids often stood around the dense patch, plucking off yellow honeysuckle blooms, after which we pulled out the flower's center stem and licked off the sweet drop of nectar which formed at the bloom-trumpet's base. 
Some of us, having remained a good bit childish, still do that—and the tiny drop of nectar tastes just as honey-sweet. 

Now, too, all these decades later, all it takes is a whiff…and I'm transported back to that yard and alley. To a time when life was simple, love was all around, and twilight's darkness held only the most benevolent magic. 


Thursday, May 17, 2012


A few mornings ago I stepped outside and ambled around to the narrow streamside deck which runs parallel to the river, across what we consider the front of the cottage. The view overlooks the pool below the big riffle. From this vantage point above water's surface, I can often spot a smallmouth bass—or more likely, one of the several resident carp—feeding in the shallows along the rocky edge

However, it wasn't a fish in the water below that caught my eye, but a bunch of insects clinging to the limestone blocks of the cottage's exterior wall. Mayflies, large ones, at least a hundred or more. A sight which immediately warmed this old trout bum's soon-to-be-accelerated heart—since we incorrigible fly fishermen, who delight in angling for trout, hold the mayfly second in importance and veneration only to the fish themselves.

Mayflies often emerge from the pool, generally hatching at twilight or well into the night. They're favorite treats of swallows and bats and cedar waxwings—but also scarfed up by bass and minnows, catfish, frogs, queen snakes, crayfish, and everything else which creeps, hops, flutters, slithers, swims, or wings near, in, or above the river.

In spite of their looks—which I deem beautiful, though you, lacking my bias, might call something else—winged mayflies neither feed nor bite, can't, in fact, and are perfectly harmless. While my mayfly identification skills are a bit rusty, considering the slow current, warm water, and partially mucky-bottom makeup of the pool, and the insect's almost two inch length—not counting the trio of extending tails, or cerci—I suspect it's a species of Hexagenia

Incidentally, I made the mayfly's portrait on my birthday, the day before having pacemaker surgery. As a fellow who pays attention to such natural signs, and because the mayfly just might be my favorite insect, I took their mass appearance on my cottage wall (and the nearby grapevine where I found my photo's subject) as a favorable portent. 

Hey, I'm charmed by mayflies. And at that point I figured a bit of bolstering-up from a bunch of pretty bugs couldn't hurt. Moreover, they've proven to be wonderfully right.

Monday, May 14, 2012


I thought for the legions (well, handful) of Riverdaze readers wondering how things were going post-pacemaker surgery, I needed to reassure you that everything went very well. The device is implanted and working as it should—a little subcutaneous metronome, zapping me at a rate of 60 beats-per-minute. I had the operation early Friday morning and was released from the hospital and returned home Saturday afternoon.

The small incision is healing nicely. Other than the after-effects of an overnight hospital stay and the temporary limitations I must follow until things settle in,  I feel fine. Maybe not as bouncy and feisty as this old fox squirrel in the pix above—but pretty good for a curmudgeonly geezer…and already a bit better than I did before becoming bionic.

Frankly, from my end of things, the surgery was breeze. Once in the Pacemaker Lab, an intravenous line was inserted in my right arm. On the left, where the small slit for the pacemaker insertion was to be made, the area was shaved, soaped, and swabbed to sterilize the site. An antibiotic was administered. The anesthetist then gave me one of those "twilight cocktails" that relaxes you—though I was pretty relaxed to begin with, neither anxious nor fearful, just confident and looking forward to better days. I couldn't tell any difference before or after the anesthetic; I remained awake, alert, and talking the entire time—which was only about half-an-hour, once they got going.

On the left, where the small incision was to go, they administered a local anesthetic. I felt no pain when they made the slit, inserted the device and wires, or of course, threaded the lead through a vein and into the ventral chamber of the heart. No pain, no strange sensation, no weird feelings, nothing. Nada. It was truly minor surgery.

After that, it was off to my room where I was watched, monitored, fussed over, fed, and not allowed to get up for twelve long, torturous, s-l-o-w hours. Myladylove, daughter, and son-in-law were there pre-surgery, and (except for the son-in-law, who had to go back into work) waiting to greet me when they wheeled me into my room. There's nothing like family!

Since returning home, I've spent most of the time sacked out on the couch and recliner. Partly due to laziness and possible long-term sleep deprivation, and partly because I'm not supposed to raise my left arm above my shoulder for a month, while scar tissue develops, which will help to better secure the ventral-chamber wire in place—along with the fact I can't lift more than ten pounds, and obviously shouldn't bump, twist, or otherwise overly jiggle my upper body. Too, yesterday was Mother's Day—we cooked pulled pork, made coleslaw, pasta salad, and a strawberry pie, and were pleased to have kids and dogs aplenty join us—so there wasn't much chance to get out and field test the new ticker rhythm.

Otherwise, things are on track, going well, and I'm optimistic that I will soon be feeling a lot better—more energetic, less easily fatigued—than I have in a long, long time. 

I want you to know how very much I appreciated, and depended upon, each and every prayer, thought, and comment. From the bottom of my now speedier heart, thank you! 

And just so you don't worry…I'm not going to keep boring you with long progress reports. I'll doubtless mention things from time to time, but likely just incorporate such updates as a minor part of another post subject. After all, there's a brand new spring out there unfolding with every new day—and seasons in their order to follow. Interesting stuff; beautiful stuff. Things worth saying and sharing and exploring. 

I figure you've heard enough of my "poor ol' me" whining for awhile. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Today is as pretty as May day as I've seen—perhaps the prettiest one that's ever been served up since time began. Of course I'm feeling a little biased at the moment since today is also my birthday. 

Still, you can't deny the brilliant sunlight, a sky in fresh-washed cornflower blue, the diamond sparkle of a dancing river, lush grass and verdant new leaves on bushes and trees in a thousand shades of green, at least a dozen different flowers in bloom in the yard—including the spectacular purple-lavender clusters on my moody rhododendron—colorful warblers flitting through the treetops along the bank and trying to out-sing the Carolina wren, robins, and oriole…and just that unmistakable heady fragrance of another Ohio springtime that fills your lungs and proclaims a wealth of adventures ahead that makes life worth living.

Ohhhh, my!

I'm going to keep this post short because I have to make a run to Sam's to pick up some things—and afterwards I want to be able to take a drive in the country to see and smell and listen to such a perfect May day just humming along from a few different places. Later, I have to attend a Board of Directors meeting for the local Community Health Centers, which will pretty much kill the evening.

To bring you up to date on my pacemaker deal…my heart specialist was a man of his word. When we talked Monday, he said he'd fast-track me for surgery. I check into the hospital at 6:30 tomorrow morning, and will have the surgery at 8:30. Barring complications, I should be home on Saturday. 

I want all who've commented over the past few days—on this blog or by email—to know how very much I've appreciated your words and thoughts and prayers. I feel good about this—and I'm looking forward to enjoying the days and seasons ahead—and a new chronological year!—from the improved perspective of a better rhythm.

Monday, May 7, 2012


During a backyard ramble the other day, I photographed the above aging dandelion head. Time has wrought it's inevitable changes. The bright yellow bloom is long gone. And the fuzzy, spherical mature head, with its multitude of single-seeded fruits, each attached to a downy, parachute-like pappus, has certainly seen better days. Wind and rain, heat and cold, have each taken their toll.

It should also be said this is all according to plan, the natural order of the dandelion's life. To everything there is a season…

I thought about this bedraggled dandelion head when I sat down to write this post, because I feel about the way it looks—storm-battered, losing my seed, a bit matted and droopy. Actually, I've been tired for a long time—unnaturally so—lacking in energy for months and easily exhausted. And it's all been getting gradually worse. The diagnosis is heart—not pumping function or blockage but speed. My heart beats way too slow. 

Like my father, I've had a rather slow resting heart rate all my life—generally averaging something like 55 beats-per-minute (BPM) as opposed to most people who average 72 BPM. This in and of itself is not necessarily an issue. Athletes often have slow resting heart rates—some astonishingly low. I wasn't exactly an athlete, but I was highly active and could easily hoist a 52-pound camera pack, grab a 12-pound tripod, and along with maybe a fly rod, some fishing gear, and a few snacks, set off on a 20-mile round-trip hike into the remote Appalachian backcountry for a day's worth of picture taking and brook trout tempting—and I could do it all over the following day, and the day after. My slow-waltz heartbeat worked just fine.

But those 55 BPM have now slowed to the low 30s, even dipping down to 29 BPM during the 24-hours when I wore a Holter monitor last week. Obviously my ever-increasing fatigue is due to the slower pump delivering a shortage of energy-giving oxygenated blood to my cells. Not to mention that 29 beats per minute is skirting dangerously close to the point of losing consciousness…if not life.

The fix is a pacemaker. It won't turn back the clock to those marathon backcountry heavy-pack hiking days, but I ought to feel a bit better and at least my heartbeat won't be dipping down into the possible check-out rate. 

While it isn't exactly minor surgery, it's minimally invasive, routine, and generally safe—or as safe as poking wires into your heart can be. Not that it honestly made all that much difference as to my decision. I understand the procedure and am comfortable with the risks, regardless of the actual outcome. But bottom line, I'm tired of being so tired. 

Myladylove and I have had our talks. She knows me better than anyone, knows what I want and need to be happy. And loves me enough to let me decide. That's a rare woman and an uncommon gift. When I discussed everything with the surgeon this afternoon (who it happens is a Nikon man and possibly budding nature photographer) he gave me the option of waiting a while and thinking things over. No, I said, the sooner he could schedule, the better. So it looks like maybe within the next couple of weeks. 

Your prayers and thoughts will be appreciated. I'll keep you posted…and write about other matters in the meantime. 

However this turns out, it will be an adventure.

Friday, May 4, 2012


It's cloudy and a bit cooler than it has been the past couple of days. Rain is predicted later on, to continue throughout the night. With luck I'll be able to get my few errands taken care of before the showers begin.

An hour ago I sat awhile at the picnic table overlooking the river at the far corner of the yard. I was hoping to get a shot of the oriole that's been lurking hereabouts since daybreak. Naturally, the oriole was nowhere to be seen once I'd decided to make his portrait. But a hard-working robin was busy bring home the bacon—or in his case, the worms—to his mate doing nest duties in the pine and cedar thicket nearby. 

I have a column on deadline that needs writing and sending in. But for a variety of reasons I can't seem to get myself settled enough to work. Usually there's no problem—I sit at the desk, fire up the word processor with my column draft template…and start pecking away. In an hour or two—sometimes six or eight—the piece is done. I edit, give it a rest—say another hour—then edit a final time and zap the piece off to whatever publication.

Not today—or at least not this morning. While, I don't do this sort of thing often, when it happens I know myself well enough to realize it's simply best to give myself time—get out and about, take the edge off the high nervous energy level. 

I should also say this is not a case of the oft-mentioned "writer's block," that complete inability to work, which has crippled more than a few of my writer friends. I've never suffered that disabling malady—probably because I'm too much of an Irish motormouth. 

And truth be told, I could make this happen if I wanted/needed to; I have before, on numerous occasions. It isn't fun. I've sat at the desk upwards of twenty-four hours straight hammering out a piece that would normally have taken no more than two to get done. Moreover, if you're conscientious, honest with your self-judgement, and have the energy and bull-headedness sufficient to hold out until the job is done, the quality of the work isn't usually compromised. But forcing words and making them come reasonably well is akin to sweating blood. 

Better to take the edge off and settle down some other way. To let the flow come naturally, in its own good time. Luckily I have the time, even with the deadline, to allow for such a luxury. Then, like that robin I watched earlier, I can write my piece, send it off, and thus do my own rendition of bringing home the bacon. 


Thursday, May 3, 2012


Common fleabane is one of those plants most folks pass by without giving a second glance. Like the dandelion, this earliest of the season's fleabanes is ubiquitous, appearing along country roads and back alleys, in old fields, residential yards, or beside a city sidewalk.

The Common Fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus, is also known as Philadelphia Fleabane. Fleabanes are members of the Aster (Asteraceae) family. They begin blooming in late-April. The daisy-like flowers are large for a fleabane—up to an inch-and-a-half across—with 100-150 rays which can be white, pink, violet, or a sort of slate-blue, with center disks in various shades of yellow or orange, often sporting a greenish tinge. The fleabane's blossoms close up at night. 

To my mind Common Fleabanes are the prettiest of the fleabane clan. In the archaic use of the word, "bane" meant poison…though in this case any poisoning danger applied only if you were a flea. In the old days folks dried and burned fleabane, letting the smoke fill their homes. It was thought the fumes from the smoldering leaves and stems would act as a fumigant and repellant—killing, or at least driving out any fleas in the dwelling, and preventing their return for some time afterwards. Unfortunately, modern scientific tests show absolutely no effects on contemporary fleas.

Which may make the plant a bit less useful, but no less delightful—and certainly worthy of anyone's notice.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


One thing about living along a river—no two days are ever alike; every day you see something new, often unexpected. The past seven days has been no exception. This is just a small segment—waterfowl—of what the passing parade served up. 

If there's ever a contest for America's prettiest waterfowl, the smart money might be on the wood duck. Just look at this pair I photographed a few days ago on the Cottage Pool. Especially the spectacularly handsome male—with his red eyes, green head, orange bill, turquoise wingbar, white chin and face pattern, and that ruddy-plum lower neck and chest. Talk about a feathered dandy! And those are just the highlights you can more-or-less see in this admittedly mediocre image. The female looks almost dowdy by comparison.

Although…the trio of blue-wing teal that stopped by briefly last week were also extremely attractive. And a few days before they dropped in, I looked out and saw two pairs of common mergansers feeding and diving about the pool. Maybe not pretty on the order of teal and woodies, but still nicely marked and quite attractive.

Of course there's always a mallard or two hanging about the pool and the stretches of slower water above and below the Big Riffle, which feeds the Cottage Pool and is almost high and steep enough to be called a falls—though I can never bring myself to tout it so pompously. Mallards are the common duck here along the river, as they are in most areas—wild or suburban.

The final member of this waterfowl report of the recently spotted is another common resident, the Canada goose. The river is home to countless geese. Honking all the way, they sail up and downstream all day—sometimes above the treetops, often barely a flapping wingtip from water's surface. A couple of months back the geese began pairing up, or at least loudly reaffirming their mate choices to all the interlopers who tried to offer themselves as preferable alternatives. The discussion were loud, angry, and not lack in regular goose-style fisticuffs. 

Such procreative shenanigans have their eventual consequences in the form of eggs which, duly and faithfully sat and incubated, hatch into fuzzy goslings. The same morning the teal stopped to visit, the pair of Canadas who've been nesting on the upstream tip of the island, paddled down to proudly show off their quartet of wide-eyed youngsters. 

I made a family portrait.

And that's the week in waterfowl. 


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


A typical spring thunderstorm just passed through. 

First the sky darkened. Then a few droplets pattered on the leaves. From the west came a loud, deep-bass rumble. It started to sprinkle. Suddenly the air was rent by an explosive flash and crash of lightening and thunder. As if shook loose from the dark clouds, the rain began to pour—beating into a roar through the canopy leaves. It was almost impossible to see across the river. 

The dogs (we're again dogsitting Will and Gwyn while my daughter and son-in-law are in Florida) whom I'd just let out—too late—for a quick before-the-storm reconnoiter, dashed frantically about before making a beeline for the door, giving me a dirty you-planned-that! look as they passed on the deck. 

For a handful of minutes the storm—as if undecided about what to do next—vacillated beween downpours and sprinkles. There were several additional cannonades of thunder, a few more lightening fireworks…and then, like a throttled faucet, the rain simply ceased as the storm apparently made up its mind and moved on.

I grabbed a camera and made a quick photographic circumnavigation around the cottage. These are my five favorite images. Double-click to view any a bit larger.