Category Archives: Nature

Kitchen Nativity

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Kitchen Nativity

I crept into my kitchen to see
what caused this morning’s cacophony.
The high corner of the cupboard wall
seemed to be the source of all
the peepings and it’s then I guessed
a mother bird had made a nest
there above the kitchen ceiling,
where I thought the paint was peeling.
Instead, that white spilled down the wall
outside the kitchen is not at all
what I thought—salitre’s heavings,
but is instead the nestlings’ leavings.

The watching mother stays aloof
on the next-door neighbor’s roof
with mouth filled with a juicy grub.
Now she flies from roof to shrub,
objecting to my presence there,
so close to nestlings in her care.
And so I leave the bird’s domain,
lest nestlings’ voices be raised in vain.
Minutes later, all is still,
although I know ten minutes will
bring more protests from tiny beaks
for wormy treats that mama seeks.
So it is this year again
that Mother Nature invites guests in.
My house now shelters more than me—
my family stretched from “I” to “we.”

What Is of Value


What Is of Value

Now that the grass is freshly mown,
the sparrows can’t leave it alone.
Though we prefer the lovely green,
they prefer what’s gone unseen.
The dry grass underneath is best
for weaving into this year’s nest.
What has value for you and me
is not the same for all, you see.
For the way the world’s devised
is that everything is prized.

The NaPoWriMo prompt today was to compose a poem out of overheard conversations, but since I’ve been in a solitary mood lately, I went down to eavesdrop on the birds and other sounds of nature. Hearing a loud chirping in the huge cactus near my hammock, I noticed birds making repeated trips to the planter full of grass I put near the pool so my Scottie dog Morrie could have a place to lie to drop his tennis ball into the pool for me to retrieve and throw back down into the garden for him to chase after.  The long grass was pretty, but constantly being torn off by his repeated jumps up to and down from the planter and making  a mess in the pool, so I’d had the gardener trim the grass.  Earlier, I’d noted how ugly it now was as the grass underneath had turned brown, but upon closer observation, I realized that it was now a treasure trove for birds building nests.

NaPoWriMo, Day 21.

Pineapple: Seven Day Nature Photo Challenge, Day 6


This pineapple is growing on my terrace.  We have been guarding it and watching it grow for what seems like a year.  Yes, we will eventually eat it as we did the two other pineapples I have grown in the past 5 years, which were the sweetest I’ve ever tasted.  Same with my papayas, although the first fruit off the newest generation of trees was a disappointment.  I think Pasiano picked it too green.  This time I will chance losing them to the possums and squirrels and let them ripen on the tree.  Same with this pineapple.  It’s so beautiful that it is no problem to wait as long as possible to harvest it. All of this horticulture is taking place at my house in San Juan Cosala, Jalisco, Mexico–a mile high on a lake about an hour distant from Guadalajara. Paradise.


I was invited by Cee from to participate in a challenge called Seven Day Nature Photo Challenge. (Check out Cee’s wonderful nature photos by clicking on the link above.

As part of this challenge, I am to post one nature photograph a day for one week and to ask one other person to join the seven-day challenge each day I post.  Today I ask you to check out the  photography of the Jagged Man at  as I’m nominating him to take part in the Seven Day Nature Challenge as well. I hope you will check out his link for a real treat.  

Thanks Be to Pure Hearts

The Prompt: Never Too Late—Is there a person you should’ve thanked, but never had the chance? Is there someone who helped you along the way without even realizing it? Here’s your chance to express your belated gratitude.

Thanks Be to Pure Hearts

 Thanks be to that creator of the universe—
the one I can no longer pray to in a church
because of those powers who take truth prisoner
and lead the masses to wherever they can be most safely trusted
to surrender reason to them.

Thanks be to that man who turned water into wine.
Not a teetotaler. Not even abstinent, or so some say.
That man who loved all and who would not strike anyone
except for merchants making a living from the church.
Two thousand years ago,
he saw that merchants and moneylenders
would lead the world wrong—
using the little minds of frightened men
to turn faith into a weapon.

Praise be to those at the beginning of it all
who tried to set a true course but made the mistake
of leaving the compass in the hands of human fools
who saw over all, how to use it for their own glory,
making power their god and oiling their way upward
not toward salvation
but toward ever higher places in this world.

Those who are not fools might speak our enemies’ names
yet be shouted down by those
Dunning and Kruger have named as their adjutants—
the countless mindless who speed the world toward ruin.

Yet for this day, I want to turn my back on those I’d rather curse
to thank pure hearts who still can see the way.
There is still, I know, a part of them in all of us,
evident in everyday things: a mother’s sheltering arms
or in as simple an act as taking the smallest piece of pie.

So when we give thanks today,
thank those who remain kind within the world,
carrying along the spirit
of those first beneficent acts
that started with the dust of stars
and from it created consciousness
and then implanted some good turn of will
so as to give hope in a world
that feels divided in the blackness of the universe,
lonely in this night
but steering by those pinpricks in its cover
through which light shows, even in the darkest dark.


The Prompt: Local Color—Imagine we lived in a world that’s all of a sudden devoid of color, but where you’re given the option to have just one object keep its original hue. Which object (and which color) would that be?


If all at once, all color were bleached out from the world
and suddenly a universe of whiteness were unfurled—
the rainbow, flowers, trees and art all newly bleached and pearled—

I know what single object I would choose to retain
in all its colored glory, in every hue and stain,
in sun and shadow, snow and hail and dust storm, drought and rain.

Its natural color changes every day we see revealed
over every continent: forest, city, field—
over every place from which the colors will be peeled.

This one glorious object would retain its vivid hues.
It would be the whole world’s canvas and every poet’s muse.
Every lake and river, its reflection would infuse

with all the colors nature has selected for that day:
blue or gold or purple, salmon, orange or gray,
according to whatever whim of moisture, dust or ray.

If I select the sky as the object that I’d choose
to retain its myriad pigments that only start with blues,
there are a thousand colors that we wouldn’t have to lose!

And the whole world could see them in the daytime or the night.
All the colors of the rainbow would not be lost to sight,
as every day and every hour, a new one’s brought to light.

photo by Judy Dykstra-Brown, On the road to Ajijic.

“Flutter” : The Surrogate

Surrogate w pic 6

The Prompt: Sounds Right—This is clearly subjective, but some words really sound like the thing they describe (personal favorites: puffin; bulbous; fidgeting). Do you have an example of such a word (or, alternatively, of a word that sounds like the exact opposite of what it refers to)? What do you think creates this effect?

I’ve always loved the word “’Flutter” as it applies to a butterfly or moth.  What better word could be used to describe the motion of their wings?  The moth described in my poem, however, was noticeable because of its lack of flutter.  It landed upon my computer screen like a magnetized object to metal and remained there for over two hours.  The moth pictured in the poem is the actual moth.  Tiny and green, it became part of my writing experience. Since it had chosen to remain in one position, directly on my screen, I was forced (by choice) to write around it, which could not help but influence the poem that resulted.



Nesting (May 3, 2014)

For most of the day on Thursday, I wondered at the profusion of birds whose cheeping seemed to be filling the air outside my kitchen, but as the afternoon wore on, I realized that the sounds—like a cross between a puppy’s squeeze toy and a handful of fingernails scraping across a chalk board or 5 squeegees being pulled across dry glass—was coming from my kitchen. A dining room chair served as a step up to the counter top, where I stood as I removed  the terracotta statues and pots from the top of my cupboards. The sounds seemed to be coming from there, but I found nothing but a half-inch crack between the concrete wall overhang and a triangular piece of board that had been placed in the corner to seal the gap.


I went outside to see if I could locate what I now was sure was a nest of baby birds making all the racket, but I could see no place other than the half-cylindrical teja roof tiles where the nest could be. Meanwhile, every time I drew close to the corner where the sound was coming from, they grew quiet, but when I whistled for the dogs, the little chirping choir resumed, as though I’d called out to them and they were answering. The next morning, I feared the worse, as for an hour there was no sound, but when Yolanda arrived to clean, they started out again, and she was as intrigued as I was about where they could be. We got a ladder and Pasiano climbed up to inspect every inch of area on the outside of the house where they could be. He peered up a six foot long expanse of tejas but could see nothing up the tubes for as far as he could see. Yet the chirping went on for all of yesterday as well as today.


The biggest part of the mystery is that I have never seen a parent bird enter the tejas from any side. The babies are quiet in between chirpings, which seems to indicate a mother bird arriving with fresh nestling fuel, but I can’t figure out how she is getting to the nest—wherever it is. Needless to say, as irritating as their shrill chirpings have grown to be, I prefer them to the opposite—the silence that indicates the mother has not been coming back and that her nestlings have met with a premature demise.

Birds abound here, if not in the same profusion as when 13-year-old vines covered every surface of the walls and palms, but this morning I was awakened by the loud peckings of three woodpeckers on the now-exposed trunks of my 80-foot-high palm trees. I scrunched my eyes up to watch them hop up and down a 20 foot expanse of palm, working their way around the circumference of the tree as well as up and down, their very loud pecking forming a percussion background to the chirping coming from the kitchen. For once, I knew where my camera was, so I snapped a few shots.


I had thought to spend this day in isolation to get some writing done, but sometimes the quieter our day, the more activity we find in it. Bottle rockets as loud as cherry bombs have been going off in the hills all around me for the past two hours. I don’t know what the celebration may be, but I’ve grown accustomed to their weekly if not daily presence. There is a birthday or a communion or a wedding or a quinceañera being celebrated. Or a holy day or some national holiday.

Even if I stay inside my house and do not answer the phone, the world finds me and I can’t complain, for I always have something to write about, even if it is not the topic I had planned.