Late Summer Evening

Image

Thanks to Vincent van Zalinge @vincentvanzalinge for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/CchPqypO8nE

The backyard has been a minefield of mud for the entire spring and summer months. The contractor we hired the end of April has used very excuse you can imagine as to why the work wasn’t complete.

As a teacher, I have heard many an excuse in my day as to why work wasn’t finished, why books weren’t brought to class, and why one child needed to insult another child. Often I have reminded students to simply stand tall and own their truth, even if they think they might “get in trouble” for it.

In my own life I have found that honest self reflection leads to growth.

Unfortunately, this contractor wasn’t interested in self reflection or growth. He was a poor communicator and gave excuses instead of owning his truth. Nearly four months later, he finally poured our patio. All the roots still aren’t trimmed around the edges of the patio, and the attention to finish details simply aren’t anywhere to be seen there, but we have a poured patio.

For now this is enough.

After the concrete patio was set, we hired these young men (with better communication skills, respect, and follow through than the older contractor) to build the gazebo kit we bought. They communicated clearly the dates they were available (all within the week’s time) and showed up right on time. When they finished there wasn’t so much as a scrap of paper lying about the yard. The job was finished above and beyond our expectations.
The work ethic and follow through of these young men restored my hope in builders.

Tonight Trace, Ev, and I sat out on the patio with our dear friend Jen, listening to the thrum of cicadas and watching the dragonflies dance in the evening sky.

Peaceful rest is what Jen called it, and I quite agree.

In those moments, I rediscovered my muse; it was the magic of the late summer garden at sunset.

Late Summer

Swarming dragonflies,
honking geese heading south—
they left me wondering how
the summer waned into fall
without word or warning.
All I did was blink.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Heatwave

Image

Photo Credit: Thanks and shoutout to Bryan Hanson 

I’ve been taking some time to regroup after a grueling year and a half-is of teaching. I didn’t think relaxing would be as hard as it has been. I don’t think I realized just how taxing a year of virtual work and life was until I started to slow down.

Given that Trace needed her spinal fusion immediately, her recovery has been our primary concern this summer. We had already booked plans to head down south and camp in Laurel, Mississippi, navigating our way down to Folly Beach and maybe even New Orleans, but we had to cancel all those plans to concentrate on things closer to home.

We found out in the early spring that our beautiful big red maple was causing foundation damage to our home, so out it had to come. This meant tearing up our beautiful wood deck out back. But we had to do what we had to do, so I decided if the deck was getting ripped out anyway that we would replace it with concrete. We would enjoy our summer vacation from the luxury of our own new patio. Win-win!

With the hope that all construction work would be done by the beginning of June, we ripped out the deck and threw tarps down so the dogs could still use the backyard. Well, those of you near us know the massive amounts of torrential rain coupled with brutal heat we have had this summer. Now the back yard is one muddy lake and the dogs have to be walked on leash out in the front in order for them to take care of their business.

And the construction work has yet to begin.

Except now we have an excavator taller than our house in the backyard and the contractor is heading off to vacation next week.

Sigh.

My poem today is in honor of the tiny gold finch bathing in the mud lake that is now our backyard, the late great Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and staycations.

Heatwave

Summer came on steamy winds of spring
the torrid heat belied the month of June;

summer storms raged like May shower
bombs of heat detonating in waves.

All that remained come muggy morning
was the mucky mess of mud called garden

and one tiny goldfinch preening in a puddle
making me wish I had been born a bird instead.

--Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

The Red Maple

Photo Credit: Photo by Gorrin Bel on Unsplash

After talking with my poetry buddy today, I was challenged to write a tanka. The tanka is described as the form of poetry that comprised the majority of Japanese poetry from the ninth to the nineteenth century. In fact, several sources list it as possibly the central genre in Japanese literature. According to one website, the tanka has “prototypes in communal song, in oral literature dating back to the seventh century, or earlier.”

A tanka is structured much like a haiku with each line containing a certain number of syllables. There is no rhyming and no end punctuation used in this form, however, it does make use of a “pivot” or “turning point” line. The third line is the pivot that divides the tanka into two different sections that are joined in the middle in order to tell the whole story.

The syllable breakdown for the five lines looks like this: 5 – 7 – 5 – 7 – 7

Lately I’ve really been pining for my red maple. It’s my favorite tree, and Monday it must come down. In full disclosure, this may not be my last Red-Maple-Inspired Poem. I will be pining the loss of it for years to come.

vast red towering
gnarled trunk with knotty whorls
a testimony
to holy righteous living
today we fell it

Short and bittersweet…

The Beech Tree

Image

Photo Credit: Photo by Richard Loader on Unsplash

Earlier this spring, we discovered that our beautiful red maple tree had finally gotten so large that its roots were encroaching on the foundation of the house. In fact, those determined roots had begun to push their way into any cracks or crevices they found, pushing aside mortar and widening cracks in the cement blocks.

Just thinking about cutting down that tree grieved my spirit.

Last summer, I spent many a summer afternoon laying on the deck furniture and watching the sky through the lacy red curtains of leaves. I wrote poetry there, I sang songs, and told stories. Cutting down the tree felt like cutting down a piece of our family history.

But when the foundation expert came and confirmed that if we didn’t cut down the tree, we would suffer irreparable damage to our home’s foundation that would cost thousands to repair, I knew it was time.

We have done all the preparation now–taking up the back deck, removing all the landscaping rocks, resituating other plants and flowers. The backyard seems so barren. My solace has been looking up potential replacement trees, shrubbery, and flowers.

In my research, I discovered some lovely facts about beech trees. I wish I had the space to plant one in our garden, but I’m afraid I would end up in the same predicament I am in now as beech trees grow in groves and 60-80 feet tall.

After watching this video of a beech tree unfolding, this poem was born.

Life begins with planting.

The Beech Tree

The process begins
with planting,
always with planting,
then tending
and harvesting—
nothing neglected,
everything perfected
in its time.

The work is slow and tedious;
the work requires patience—

like the building
of a leaf
first with vernation—
leaves folded
packed tightly
intricately engineered
inside a tiny bud.

Then at the first hint
of summery sun,
the magical unfurling
of beech leaves
baptizing the garden
in spring green.

Finally plucking
the tender leaves—
sweet-sour taste
hitting the tongue—
a portent of spring.

The beech tree announces
the end of Blackberry winter
and it all began
with planting a seed.

—a draft by Carla Picklo Jordan

What are your favorite landscaping greens (or reds or yellows or golds)?

Sacred Circle of Trees

Image

Photo Credit: Mike Ross

The poetry writing prompt I found for today asked me to write a poem in which mysterious and magical things occur. Immediately my mind drifted to our trip to Ireland in 2018.

One of the best parts of our trip to Ireland was the driver we hired as a guide. Having been a guide for many years, Tim knew some of the most interesting, out of the ordinary places to see. He tapped in to the stories I had heard or read as a girl.

Faery Stories were always my favorite. I loved the stories of magical wee folk, whether cute or capricious, bringing joy or sorrow to those around them. When Tim told us we were close to a “faerie ring”, you can imagine my joy.

Our driver explained that the faerie ring is any free-standing circle of trees. He said that farmers will not cut down the trees even if they are in the middle of field.

Superstitions are strong in Ireland.

Sometimes you get a Wishing Trees inside of a faerie circle. A Wishing Tree is a hawthorn tree where people tie ribbons to ask blessings from the local saints (or from the wee folk). The story is told that if you go into these forests today and tie a string to the trunk of the tree in the center, you will be able to “hear beyond”.

We did visit a sacred circle of trees with a wishing tree in it, and I found it eerily peaceful. This poem pays homage to that visit.

The Circle of Trees

They called and I came,
the circle enfolding me
in silence.

Listen to the hum
of the ancient rhythm.
Listen to the rumble
of wisdom.

They called again and I heard,
like whispers floating down
from the trees.

Do you know
that churches
do not house God?

We are the keepers
of all things
wise and wonderful.

We are
the storehouse
for memory.

Did you hear that?
Did you hear the whisper?

But the only voice
I hear is my own
echoing back to me;

until there on the tree,

I see my string
flickering
on the breath
of the wind.

—A Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What would you wish on a hawthorne tree?

The Beginning

Image

This was our first berry, and we were delighted. Until something ate it in the night. 🙁

So we are taking about the garden beds today. I know we probably should have thought of that before the first of May, but Michigan weather is so …. Michigan-like.

Not knowing much about bed gardening, we built them last year inside of a small 10’ x 20’ kennel we used for the dogs when they were puppies. Well, no one told the squirrels and the birds that a fenced in area means “KEEP OUT”. Too late to save the strawberry patch, we discovered bird netting and covered the top of our enclosure.

This year, we want to be proactive, so each bed is getting individual bird netting to protect our harvest.

I know, I know. I’m forgetting a Core Principle of Kindergarten: Share everything.

I don’t care. I’m not feeding the squirrels and birds. They both attack our feeders with gusto. I say they need to stop being so greedy.

Save some for the humans!

I cannot wait for the tiny green plants to start to grow. And better yet is the day when the buds of fruit appear. All tightly curled in to itself, the bloom is very self-contained. But at some point, the plant decides that it the risk of opening up is worth it—the plant must bloom to grow a seed pod and perpetuate after all.

And I have decided to be more like that bloom. Remaining tightly closed up is more painful than the risk of blooming.

I choose life.

I choose legacy.

And with that decision, this blog is truly born. I am not sure how often I will post, but I am determined to write more this year.

I sense the unfolding of a bloom.

NaPoWriMo2021 Day 10

From the Heron Webcam
Blue Heron Spring

I remember the bright sunlight
reflecting off the sand, glinting
on the breakers, and landing
back on the shore. The blue heron

did not even notice me there
standing quietly in the sand.
She flew overhead with a stick
grasped tightly in her beak, and I

imagined her tucking the stick
neatly into her new nest perched
in the treetops. I imagine
her soft blue turquoise colored eggs

resting amid the sticks and down.
The surety of spring after
the bleakness of ash-grey winter
feels like hope ignited with love.

—a draft poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
Check out this cool video of highlights from the Great Blue Heron Cam

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Share the love, write a poem, appreciate a good friend. Each moment is a new beginning.

Day #13

National Poetry Month: Day #13

Today’s prompt was to write a poem that contains at least one kenning. Kennings are metaphorical phrases developed in Nordic sagas. They generally consist of two nouns joined together which imaginatively describe or name a third thing.

This poem is dedicated to my friend, Amy–a great lover of those sweet purple faerie blossoms of spring who rise from the frozen ground year after year. (The photos are also hers.)

20140413-204257.jpg

croci

purple heads
lifting up
pursed lips
to blow
a kiss
toward heaven
winter’s pearls
melted now
giving way
finally, finally

petal-opener
arrived late
wound tightly
after large
gusty breaths
worked hard
keeping cool
and dormant
fertile soil
until, until

spring buckets
poured out
wet blessings
upon greedy
parched dirt
ancient fireball
coaxed gently
purple heads
to rise
again, again.

20140413-204225.jpg

Day #6

National Poetry Month: Day #6

I wasn’t crazy about the writing prompt for today, but I decided to keep in the spirit of the prompt and still write about what I saw outside the window.

spring in three parts
1.
fishermen
walk like Jesus
across icy waters
as march winds
rage.

2.
gray skies kiss
ground soaked with cold rain–
a sub zero winter
followed by a mid-thirties spring,
winter’s chill still clings
to april air.
sir april fool plays us once again.

3.
and heaven sings
in the frosty air of spring.
or is it the birds
full of good intentions?
God or bird
or universal push–
hope swells.