A Different Sort of Angel


It happens every year. At some point, without any obvious prompting from the world around me, I begin whistling a Christmas song. Last year, it was “Let It Snow.” Once, “Good King Wenceslas” came to visit, even before the last of the Halloween candy sales were done.

This year it happened yesterday: a little late, but not too late. Angela Lansbury may not be a prototypical angel, but her Christmas song from the 1966 Broadway musical Mame still brings cheer. I’ll let still shots from the production serve as photos today. Enjoy!


Comments always are welcome.

Carry and Cache


There’s little question that these slightly shriveled berries were produced by the plant known as yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), a member of the holly family that’s native throughout the southeast, from Texas to coastal North Carolina.

How they came to be clustered in this hollow — part of a large, decaying tree stump — is hard to say, since there wasn’t an over-hanging yaupon branch to drop its berries into the stump. Even if there were, it seems unlikely that so many would have collected there.

It is food-gathering time, with squirrels burying pecans or collecting and drying fungi, while woodpeckers and bluejays energetically seek out and store acorns. Still, this seems a poor spot for caching food. Perhaps a younger and less experienced critter gave it a try, but decided to find a drier, more secure spot.

On the other hand, Christmas is drawing nigh. Perhaps this is only an optimistic squirrel’s version of cookies and milk. With such tempting berries in the stump, surely Santa Squirrel will pay a visit!


Comments always are welcome.

The Bell

Plantation bell ~ Uncle Henry’s Place, Moon Lake, Mississippi


Precisely when the bell arrived at Uncle Henry’s is hard to say. It may have been installed in 1926, during the property’s first incarnation as an Elks Lodge. It may have arrived later, after the property sold and became the Moon Lake Club.

There certainly is a chance both Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner saw the bell during their visits to Moon Lake. Both authors featured the colorful and storied club in their work — particularly Williams, who grew up in the area and visited the casino as a child — and both would have appreciated these lines by Pablo Neruda, resonant as the songs of the hidden and mysterious Delta.


This broken bell
still wants to sing:
the metal now is green,
the color of woods, this bell,
color of water in stone pools in the forest,
color of day in the leaves.
The bronze cracked and green,
the bell with its mouth open to the ground
and sleeping
was entangled in bindweed,
and the hard golden color of the bronze
turned the color of a frog:
it was the hands of water,
the dampness of the coast,
dealt green to the metal
and tenderness to the bell.
This broken bell
miserable in the rude thicket
of my wild garden,
green bell, wounded,
its scars immersed in the grass:
it calls to no one anymore, no one gathers
around its green goblet
except one butterfly that flutters
over the fallen metal and flies off, escaping
on yellow wings.

Esta campana rota
quiere sin embargo cantar:
el metal ahora es verde,
color de selva tiene la campana,
color de agua de estanques en el bosque,
color del día en las hojas.
El bronce roto y verde,
la campana de bruces
y dormida
fue enredada por las enredaderas,
y del color oro duro del bronce
pasó a color de rana:
fueron las manos del agua,
la humedad de la costa,
que dio verdura al metal,
ternura a la campana.
Esta campana rota
arrastrada en el brusco matorral
de mi jardín salvaje,
campana verde, herida,
hunde sus cicatrices en la hierba:
no llama a nadie más, no se congrega
junto a su copa verde
más que una mariposa que palpita
sobre el metal caído y vuela huyendo
con alas amarillas.


Comments always are welcome.
The poem is taken from The Sea and the Bell, written during Neruda’s last year of life and translated by William O’Daly.
For more history of the Moon Lake Casino and an account of my visit there, see my current post at The Task at Hand, titled “Moon Lake Legacies.”