Get Ready for Old Man Winter!

Cold, soaking rains followed by winds and falling leaves usually indicate the end of Autumn. While I love the colors of this season, I would appreciate warmer temperatures. We are fortunate to have four seasons in Upstate New York. One last look around our gardens yielded pleasant colors and few surprises as the carpet of leaves begins to cover the lawn. It is now a matter of time. Enjoy the last few days of Autumn weather before winter arrives. Brrr.


Old Man Winter

Blowing north winds
force colorful leaves off
the trees. Cold rains
cause leaves to adhere
to shoe bottoms.

Weather forecasters predict
snow this week. We hope
they are mistaken. Paying
them heed with the snow
brush in the vehicle and

tarp down on garage floor,
we declare ourselves prepared.
Cashmere-lined leather gloves
in wool coat pockets. Snow sneakers by
the door. Wool and fleece

are ready to be donned.
Seems difficult to fathom
that we left warm beach
weather behind last week
to return home to snow.


Posted in Autumn, Autumn Leaves, nature, snow, Upstate New York | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An Ocean Respite


Downtime, breathing space,
a change of pace – this was
reason enough for the short
trip to the ocean at Southampton.

Benches awaited us in the
sand. We sat, watched and
waited for each wave to
roll in from the distance.

Then up, up and over with
a crash along the beach.
Sounds of gulls in the sky,
boats, fisherman. Cares

floated away and into
the ocean. Again and again.
Then still our souls. Breathing
steady again. A sandpiper

walked past. The ocean accepted
our prayers, swept them away
leaving smooth pebbles with
each new wave. Savoring

the sights, sounds and
colors, we have replaced
cross words with smiles.
This respite has renewed us.



Posted in nature, ocean, Southampton | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

On Hurricanes and Drills


Natural disasters: we read about and view them almost daily. Now enter Matthew. No, not a family member, but one shared by several of our family members. It’s a hurricane unleashed by Mother Nature as if informing us of her wrath with winds, surges, rains, floods and power outages. Recording and reporting such events is vastly different from the 1938 Big Wind event my aunts and uncles spoke about making big eyes as they did so. Mother Nature has a habit of providing us with beauty and sometimes with devastation. And we are mere mortals at her mercy. So it is with my poem today: the drill. Think of life as the drill. Accept it and move on with your lot.

The Drill

Heed the weather forecasts,
Stock up on water, batteries, candles,
food. Fill up the gas tank early
to avoid the long lines. Put the pets
and other belongings in the vehicle.
Prepare for the gypsy life.

Stay put and ignore the warnings
which become more dire by
each passing hour or heed the
advice given to evacuate? If
we ignore the warnings and
need help, no one will come

and risk their lives because of
our foolish decision. Storm surges
are deadly, we are informed.
Do not wait to see before believing.
We make an informed decision to
evacuate, but our boss is not as

cautious and wise and endangers
the lives of his employees. Why?
Money, money, money.
The drill begins anew with another
decision to return from whence we
escaped Hurricane Matthew. Too soon?

No electricity. Roads and bridges
closed. Curfews in place.
Some of us stayed in place in the
snowy Northeast country. Some
opted for a warmer clime.
Our drill is different. We are older.

Content with our four seasons, the
gypsy life holds no sway. We relish
the sameness of daily life. Grateful.
Savoring happiness, we are content
with love of families, friends, our faith.
Our drill is different.

Posted in drills, Hurricane Matthew, Mother Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Alluring Butterfly



Softly, gently, you alight.
You hover over blossoms
so fragrant. Flitting
to and fro as if trying
to decide which flowers
hold the best-kept secrets.

If you could speak, I
wonder what you might tell
of your day’s work?
Dancing waltzes, you sway
to the music of breezes.
Quickly now a tango and

then off to the next
leaning flowers awaiting
your soft kisses. Oh,
little one, so merrily
hovering before a
quick sip of sweet nectar.

Will you return again
on the morrow and smile
at the colors awaiting
your visit? Or will you
travel onward to new
vistas? Endless journeys?

Meanwhile, I shall await
your return and marvel
at your beautiful and gentle
spirit. You bring hope and
comfort. Gift us your
peace and renew our souls!

We thirst for your presence!
Return quickly, gentle spirit.
Your colorful presence has
quieted my restless spirit.
Until we meet again, I
shall long for your return.

Addendum: My talented niece Sally in Costa Rica provides a splendid daily array of nature’s photos in Costa Rica. My deep gratitude for allowing me to showcase them here. My readers may also visit her blog at

Posted in butterfly, Costa Rica, spirit | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Celebrating Life

The day was overcast and cool when people gathered for the funeral. A group of voices sang in remembrance. It was the end of April and shortly before her next birthday in May when my mother left this earthly life. She would have been 82. We gathered in our former family living room in Pueblo, Colorado to select readings and music for the service to commemorate and celebrate her life.

Born in Monson, Massachusetts, our mother had strawberry blonde hair and blue, sparkling Irish eyes. She and her younger sister both achieved an RN degree and worked in Boston. Mary Elizabeth played piano, was a wonderful dancer, and could sew the most beautiful clothes for all her family. An accomplished writer, she had a way with words and poetry. Like her mother before her, she made the best pies with flaky crusts. She was a true Renaissance woman: educated, intelligent and with many talents.

Not a day passes, when I don’t hear her pearls of wisdom. She was kind, patient, compassionate and very devout. Growing up in Massachusetts, I can still hear her voice as she read us many children’s classics at bedtime. Today’s poem is dedicated to her memory.

Into the Light

Those who have almost died
frequently speak of a
near-death-experience, of
passing through a dark passage

and into the light. Some have
described a place of incredible
joy and peace along with the
bright light. Those of us

left behind find this hard
to fathom. Why are we sad
and in tears? Why not
focus on the good times

we had with our loved ones?
Somehow I mustered the needed
strength to read a passage
at my mother’s funeral.

Somehow I sang the hymns
which now gave me the comfort
I had given others when I
sang in the choir.

I no longer mourn her
but honor her memory
with stories and poems.
Once she stayed up all night

to sew me a beautiful
prom dress. She gave me
her gift of music and love
of learning and of life.

Mom, you taught us
through your loving example.
This I know: you are with us
today and always: I love you.

Grandma & Emily 19920001

Credits for some of today’s photos: my talented niece Sally who lives in Costa Rica and has her own blog.

Posted in love, Mom, near-death experience | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

A Chance Encounter

My daily walk at the lake park has long been a favorite ritual. How pleasant today’s weather was, and many folks were out and about. People in Upstate New York tend to be friendly and outgoing so it is quite common to greet others as you walk along the lake. One woman joked with me that her dogs were walking her. Both dogs weighed about 95 lbs. each and seemed to be pulling her along.

Snippets of conversations walked past. The park’s train brought passengers back and forth the 2.5 mile length from the Salt Museum to the SU boathouse. It was a special treat to walk during the morning hours. Just one year ago, I could not have done this since I was still teaching. I smiled to myself as I heard two people talk about kids, school and technology. I’ve been there; done that. Now I can focus in the moment and look and listen to nature.

Just as I was making mental notes about my blog post today, a pleasant looking gentleman wearing hiking boots inquired if this was the beginning of the walking trail. I laughed and said the beginning is wherever you want it to be. Inquiring where he was from, I learned Pennsylvania and that he was here for the weekend. We chatted a bit longer after I explained that the walking route turned back around at the SU boathouse. He mentioned a hiking club in PA. When I had finished my morning walk, I saw him again and told him of the walking trail on the other side of the lake. He appeared fatigued so I asked if he needed a ride back to the Salt Museum. He did, and we chatted more finding other similarities such as Germany and New Jersey. I found myself giving tourist advice e.g. a good restaurant nearby and other things to do. I told him he might also enjoy Beaver Lake Nature Center. We both agreed that it is wonderful to reach out to others. This chance encounter demonstrated how small the world really is.

Trees, tall and stately, stand majestic in the lake park. I try to imagine how old they are. What stories could they tell? We do not have the tall pines that I saw in Washington State or the giant trees called Redwoods in California. Some can achieve a diameter of 24 feet and live to be 2000 years old. As I young teen, I recall seeing giant pine cones from the Sequoia trees also in California.

Trees have always held a magical quality and are majestic to me. I often wonder what mysteries they hold. The trees at Onondaga Lake Park inspire me to poetry whenever I gaze upon them. For the beauty of the earth, I offer today’s poem on trees.

Our Majestic Trees

Trees listen to conversations.
They watch children play.
People work near trees
and seek shade under

outstretched arms.
Trees stand tall and
strong yet know when
to bend in the wind.

Trees whisper with their
leaves swaying about.
Trees endure and have
many colors in autumn.

They offer us beauty and
comfort. They inspire us
just as our family trees do.
They bring consolation.

Posted in nature, Onondaga Lake, retirement, Salt Museum, Upstate New York, walks | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Good Old Days


My story begins in Massachusetts where I was born. From age 5, I recall a smoke bush outside the window and playing all day long outdoors with my sisters and neighborhood friends. There was a grand piano in the living room. The house was purchased complete with furniture from two maiden aunts who died. It was a great place without electricity and plumbing. The house was probably built in the 1880s and indoor plumbing and electricity were not common. Lest you think we used an outhouse, I’ll ease your mind by telling you that my father installed electricity and plumbing before we moved into the house on the top of a hill in Monson, Massachusetts. It was a magical place for us.

Things I remember when I was a young girl included the following:

-we listened to the radio
-we had no television
-we had no car
-we had no computer, internet, wifi, etc.
-we played long hours outdoors in the neighborhood and only came in for a quick lunch
-on rainy days, we played imaginary games indoors, cards and created paper projects
-we picked blueberries
-we walked one mile down the road to catch the school bus

When we were sick and stayed home from school, we listened to radio plays such as The Lone Ranger on the radio complete with sound effects. The first time I viewed this program on black and white television, I sat holding on to the chair and frightened at some of the scenes. At the time I was probably 7. The phones were the big black rotary kind attached to the wall and had party lines or shared phones with neighbors. It amazes me that my parents walked everywhere (grocery shopping, doctors, church) and only got a car with our move to Sturbridge. My mother did not get a driver’s license until she was 35. I waited until I was 19 because I saw no need since I could not drive at college.

Still and all, we were not deprived. Our lives were rich and filled with adventures. We were happy and healthy and knew how important friends and family were. We had a big garden with a variety of fruits and vegetables which later in Sturbridge, my mother canned for use during the winter months. I watched my father chop and store wood for our fireplaces. Sometimes, as a treat, we roasted marshmallows and baked potatoes in the fireplace. We played board games and cards and later practiced piano. Life was great.  We were happy.

We collected little frogs which jumped in the grass as my father mowed it with a manual mower. We saw our share of harmless snakes which to little girls seemed dangerous creatures. Many hours were spent in the woods behind the house collecting Fall leaves which we pressed between sheets of wax paper and hung in the windows. We also nibbled on wild blueberries and checkerberries.


Sometimes today, I wish for unfettered play for children. I wish the electronic gadgets were turned off , and kids explored nature. When blueberries were ripe, we took little pails and went blueberry picking or better known as carrying pails mostly empty. Instead we had blue mouths and fingers. We were happy in winter too building snowmen and getting bundled up in snowsuits to sled down the hills in our backyard. I miss my mother’s blueberry and apple pies. The big thing I wish for today’s children is less micromanaging by adults in their lives. This includes less organized sports for very young children. The old adage comes to mind: Let children be children.

Little Blue Mouths

Each had a tiny
metal pail for
the blueberries.
We picked.

Our parents
kept a watchful
glance as
they filled

large pails
of juicy blueberries
for pies.
Pails mainly

empty, we
smiled at them
with little blue mouths
and fingers.



Posted in childhood play, Massachusetts, nature | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments