Summer Storm

 

All day the storm’s
been squeezing out the light,
a huge mist grows
and the wind comes up —
nothing to take the boards off
the house, but enough
to set us all on edge,
although these winds,
unlike the easterly winds
of the Mediterranean
carry nothing but air.
Only a few gulls
climb the wind and swing
over the house —
the diving birds gone,
the herons that feed
at water’s edge gone,
and the ducks are sheltering
somewhere out of the storm.
I have the fire started,
a little broth on the stove,
and the house is closed
to the storm — only its light
can reach us.
It picks up the white boats.
                                      “Summer Storm” ~ Daniel Halpern

 

 
Comments always are welcome.
For more information on poet Daniel Halpern, click here.

A Caterpillar and the Centipede’s Dilemma

Saltmarsh caterpillar (Estigmene acrea)

After stopping for a closer look at the lemon beebalm (Monarda citriodora) overflowing a roadside ditch, I discovered a dozen or more saltmarsh caterpillars roaming among the flowers. Most were munching on leaves or moving along stems with what passes for caterpillar haste, but one had curled itself around a grass stem and seemed to be holding on for dear life.

For the ten minutes I was in its neighborhood, it never moved. It might have been resting, or pondering a drop down into the leaf litter to begin pupating, but it reminded me of this verse from childhood:

A centipede was happy – quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
It threw her mind in such a pitch
She laid bewildered in the ditch,
Considering how to run.

Even though the caterpillar lacks the numerous legs of a centipede, and despite the fact that its movement depends on muscle contraction rather than the legs it does have, it still amused me to imagine my little friend pondering the verse attributed to Katherine Craster in her 1871 volume called Pinafore Poems. Whenever I grew indecisive as a child, one parent or the other would recite the lines: a bit of cautionary advice to prevent dithering.

I assume the curled up caterpillar ceased any dithering and moved on eventually, but it pleased me that others of its kind were available for photos.

Salt marsh larvae are highly variable in color, ranging from yellow to brown or black, but whatever the color of their bodies or hairs, I find their little faces charming.

 

Comments always are welcome.

The Dawn Crier

Boat-tailed grackle ~ Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

 

“The Town Crier Calls at Dawn to Announce the Feast” ~ Pueblo ritual chant

All people awake, open your eyes, arise;
Become children of light, vigorous, active, sprightly.
Hasten clouds from the four world quarters;
Come snow in plenty, that water may be abundant when summer comes;
Come ice, cover the fields, that the planting may yield abundance;
Let all hearts be glad!
The knowing ones will assemble in four days;
They will encircle the village dancing and singing songs
That moisture may come in abundance.

 

Comments always are welcome. The chant above comes from The Path on the Rainbow: An Anthology of Songs and Chants from the Indians of North America, ed. George W. Cronyn (1918).