Dragonfly Close-Up

Is this beauty just resting or… dying? Crunching close through the dry grass, I took multiple photos of dragonfly without it flinching a diaphanous wing. The Monarchs flap frantically these days of cooler nights, clearly anxious to be on their way south, but what do dragonflies do when it freezes? (I’ll get back to you on that.) Such delicate creatures could not make it through a Northeast winter, could they? I imagine those fragile wings shattering like thin ice. I love these insects, dodging and dive-bombing through the air like miniature helicopters. This opportunity for a close-up felt such a gift, I thought I’d share.

I’m back after finding this cool website by someone who is wonderfully Dragonfly-obsessed. Turns out these extraordinary creatures mostly die at the end of a season in these parts although some may also migrate. That’s what I gathered from a quick read. How can we track them? It seems impossible that we could ‘tag’ them like birds. I find it incredible imagining the speed of development from larvae to full grown mosquito-eating-machine within such a short time. So perhaps this beauty chose my neglected garden as it’s last resting place. Farewell.

Walking Home in a Car-World

I love where I live except that I need a car. Public transportation stinks. There are buses but everything is spread out and they run too infrequently to be practical. While this is technically a ‘city’, like most places outside of a major metropolis in the United States, the culture is suburban-car-centric. Public transportation is given short shrift.

I confess, I have never boarded a bus here in Norwalk. I don’t know the routes or the cost. Neither does my 17 year old daughter – which is really crazy to me because growing up in NYC, I was taking 2 city buses to school by the time I was 8 years old.  Molly expects rides and dismisses walking as a way to get someplace.

When I walk now, I do so with intent. I take my dog out or go with my friend for exercise. I don’t walk like I did when I lived in what I still call ‘the city’ – New York – to get where I’m going. When I lived on the upper West Side I avoided buses and subways – eschewing crowds and the expense, but mostly because walking is a pleasure and the city is so walk-able.

I walk when I travel. Behind the wheel of a car, or even as a passenger, it is impossible to really see the world.  Everything is fleeting, without smells, without a sense of the air, the up-close color of  leaves, the bark on a tree, the color of a house, the flowers, the smell of cooking … the poetry and essence of a place.

This morning, I dropped my car off to be serviced and then walked the 2 miles or so home. I walked where I always drive and saw only 2 other pedestrians in my jaunt. Actually, they were not walking — they were waiting for a bus. There are no shelters on this stretch of the Post Road. Bus riders must stand by the road in the now-grassy but soon-to-be icy patch, breathing passing fumes and at the ready to wave down a bus hurtling by at breakneck speeds.

On my walk I passed little jewelry shops, variety stores, delis, Indian restaurants, I never noticed before. They are sustained by the spirit that keeps Norwalk special: long-time loyalties of old neighborhoods, friendships and families. And judging by the shabbiness of some of these little strip malls, I imagine, reasonable rent.

Jogging across the street to get out of the way of the cars not used to or particularly respectful of pedestrians, I stepped across a grate in the tarmac, so clogged with dirt that grass grows between the metal slats. I’ll remember that next time the road floods. I passed the cows and chickens fenced in outside of Stew Leonard’s crazy ‘Dairy Store’ where I popped inside for a good cup of coffee to drink while I walked. Then I criss-crossed the parking lot to a side street that leads home.  No sidewalk, so I hugged the shoulder while admiring houses and gardens up-close. I turned my face up to the sun and later, flinched away from the bloody sight of squirrel-road-kill. A dog I’d never met leaped off his patch of lawn to bark at me. I noticed two houses that looked empty -desolate windows and peeling paint. Making my way home in the morning sun, I paid attention and really saw my neighborhood.

The Moon’s Tribute to Neil Armstong

It was veritable party of flashing cameras last night at the beach, all of us hoping to capture some spectacular image of the well-publicized ‘Blue Moon’.  This is the best I could do…

Blue Moon

“It’s when there are 2 full moons in one month…” said one wizened fellow to another as they sat sentinel-like on the stone wall overlooking marsh grass and feeding gulls. I overheard them as I passed below, picking my away across the low-tide stretch, leaping over piles of dubious looking Long Island Sound flotsam and jetsam.

And I came across this weird tide pattern – like a quiet echo of the planet now rising on the horizon.  The evening, with this rare second-showing of luna and this strange, perfect circle in the marsh flats, felt like a sweet nod to the recent death of the first man to step and prance across that very distant rock-scape.

Mystical Tide Mark

Chicken? Falcon? …Turkey

I’ve thought of calling this blog: Walking the Dog because it’s often where I get my inspiration. Our little neighborhood jaunts together are often the closest I come to meditating. I am mostly internally focused but still aware of the seasons, the little changes day-to-day in the trees, the garden, the woods along my walk. Sometimes, Tetley and I have real adventures like the other night when we encountered a neighbor also walking her dog — and what appeared to be, a chicken. 

It wasn’t really her chicken – so not for the first, nor last time, we got ‘the box’. The box for water, food, the shirt no one wants and the promise of a night in our breezeway. The more we looked at this little guy, the less we thought it a chicken – or any domestic bird. As it fluffed its wings and strutted about on very talon-like feet, we decided it must be a raptor. Except it was awfully friendly.

It particularly liked hanging out on shoes – although I think if it could have climbed into my lap it would have. We called a 24 hour wildlife hotline and the guy said, put it back. So we carried the little bundle of feathers back across the street to the neighbor’s newly mulched patch of a few yards, set it down and quickly walked away. The thing followed us, practically tripping me as I crossed the street. Street. That’s where we found it. Not the woods. Cat-hunting ground. So of course, we did not leave it.

The next morning, still thinking it was a little falcon baby, (we fed it dry dog food moistened with warm water – it ate it) I brought it out and it picked at the grass. I hoped it might try and fly away back to mommy. I kept my eye on the sky looking for the amazing hawk (or whatever it is) I often see in the trees and circling the sky around here. Only airplanes and robins soared by. Finally, shortly after 9 AM, Wildlife in Crisis, a volunteer run organization in Weston that maintains a “nurture center” called me back and said, “It’s probably a wild turkey.” He dismissed our falcon identification because raptors wouldn’t be walking. And this thing was like a puppy under my feet.

So, it’s there now, with other baby turkeys, a full grown deer laying on a stretcher because of a birth defect that left its feet all mangled. (it was expected to live for only a few weeks and instead, has lived as this strange invalid for years. Ah, the power of love) Also perched around the small room are sea gulls, a spectacular wood duck, teeny cages of hummingbirds. And this was just in the reception area – there are other buildings housing other creatures. I’d actually been there a few years ago with an injured sea gull stuck in the B&N parking lot. Such patients are accepted with little fan-fare by this serious crew of volunteers and donations are encouraged.

Being Here

It’s Monday and I’ve taken the day off from work. Today is my birthday and my plan is to  do whatever I want. Right now I am sitting in a coffee shop with my laptop and a cappuccino pretending to be someone who really gets to do this. In my fantasy life, I’d be in a sunny little studio at the very pointy top of my house. I’d be able to look out the window and see the Long Island Sound in the distance. Never mind: this is good too. And I get why some writers seek out tables at B&N rather than work at home at their kitchen table, away from the piles of papers needing sorting, floors needing washing or dog begging for a walk.

It’s a gorgeous day – the sun is bright and air brisk so I will take dear Tetley for a walk later – maybe even to the beach. If it warms up enough, I’ll eat a lunch of cheesy leek, roasted cauliflower frittata leftovers out in the back garden near the blooming hyacinth and daffodils. Maybe I’ll garden a little — first pick up some topsoil and mulch to freshen up the veggie garden and plant early crops of peas, lettuce and arugula.

There’s a yoga class at 4:00 I might go to if I can bring myself to leave the sunshine for a darkened room.

I’ll try really hard not to check my work email, reminding myself I am not a heart surgeon and no one will die if I don’t get back to them today.

It’s not quite 9 a.m. and I already feel fawned-over and loved – roses from my daughter, expensive lotion from my guy, texts, emails and messages from friends.

I’m glad to be alive.  All day I am going to pay attention to and celebrate just that.


Daylight Savings feels like a farewell to this remarkably mild winter.  I confess to being a little confused about why we muck about with time this way – something about children waiting for school buses in the dark not being a good thing? It just confuses me and this morning, I feel jet-lagged. But I’ll be happy for the long days. There are other signs of Spring –  in this morning’s walk around the house with Tetley (who barked at the squirrels) I spotted these:

The Swiss Chard that bravely hung on through the winter is already promising tasty dishes. There’s a lot to do around here and I look forward to getting my hands into the dirt, feeling the sun on my back as I yank the abundant weeds. But I also think about time. Probably because it was such an easy one, I enjoyed this winter. Off the hook on outside chores, I relished the hours reading in front of the fire without guilty thoughts of weeds to pull, grass to mow, and oh — all those leaves we never raked up in the autumn. The vegetable garden needs attention and renegade Rose-O-Sharon (an insidious shrub, if you ask me) sprouts are popping up everywhere. And the house is in desperate need of painting. But the stack of books waiting to be read is towering. ‘Savings’ or not, there does not seem to be enough time.

Looking Up

Today is my first day ‘off’ in 8 days. Frantic, grueling days of holiday retail. By the evening, I arrive home exhausted and wound up like a ‘Chatty-Cathy’ with a stuck string. Even after a glass of red, the reel of the day still whirrs through my head keeping me from my longed-for slumber.

I marvel at people — including a few of my colleagues — who work more than one job and routinely put in 50 to 60 hours a week or more, sometimes 7 days a week. And I’m grateful that other than this time of year, I don’t have to. I really enjoy the constant buzzing of people around books — just not for 8 days straight. Being ‘on’ and rushed does not make for good living — at least not the kind of living I’m interested in.

But thanks to my dog, I discovered a quick-fix.  A simple thing to do, almost like an instant-meditation. When Tetley first scratched at the door insisting he needed to go out, I complained a bit but pulled on a jacket, clicked on his leash and went out into the night.  The moon was almost full and spectacular in the night sky. I looked up and kept looking up. Just that – looking up – the beat of my heart slowed. I feel this any time I look up – to gaze at trees, a bird soaring across the sky, the clouds.  Such a simple thing – looking up – calms and inspires me to breathe deeply. Perhaps it’s the reminder of things greater than myself?


Trusting the Universe

Post hurricane, the yard is covered with branches and leaves and in the distance, chain saws grind away at fallen tree trunks. We got off easy at our house – not even losing electricity. I wasn’t worried about what the storm might bring. I used up all my anxiety worrying about Molly’s safe arrival from England. She landed less than 12 hours before New York airports were closed down and until then, I was a neurotic mess. The hurricane certainly made things worse but regardless, I am anxious when my daughter flies.  The powerlessness I feel as she passes through the departure gate is intense. It eases when I know she is with her English family but engulfs me again when I know she is making her way back to me.

Molly was only a few months old when I had my first episode of terrifying vulnerability – a sense of being completely unable to protect my child from the world’s dangers. The sidewalks near my flat in Zagreb were narrow, the roofs of the shops slanted, and the tram line only inches away from the curb. Usually, this was a lovely, benign route to push baby Molly along in her carriage on the way to the market or just to get some air. On one sunny winter morning, snow was beginning to melt, and icy drifts began falling from the rooftops at least 3 stories high, walloping unfortunate pedestrians passing below. What if a mass of snow and ice were to fall on my sleeping baby? I gripped the carriage and walked quickly, then slowly – as if I might guess where the next avalanche might fall.  But how could I? I realized then that this is my lot as a mother. There is only so much power I have. While I will nurture and protect and love my child with all my heart, I also better trust in the universe. I needed to venture out into the world without infecting her with fear.  Slowly, my panic eased as I turned onto my tree lined street, carried the pram up the stairs to our flat, pushed open the door, lifted now smiling Molly and held her to my beating heart.

Antidote to Doldrums

I had an insight yesterday. Not headline-making, just personal. On a minuscule scale, I experienced the rather well documented theory that being active helps to combat depression. Who really knows what brings on a ‘funk’ but my downer may have sprung from a day book-ended by doctor’s visits, first for me and later in the afternoon, my daughter.  I had rare hours to myself for much of the afternoon and made the mistake of spending an inordinate amount of time thinking and getting anxious about the fact that I have decided to have my ovaries out at the end of September.  Precautionary. Something not too suspicious looking, but still something, is on one of them — and rather than go through a battery of tests — I blithely said, “just take ’em out!” Then I started reading (ah the danger of the internet!) about the surgery and recovery time and got, well… depressed.  It crept up on me, heavy feelings turning into walls of gloom I couldn’t quite see over. Rather, this doom crept out of me like a miserable, hibernating sloth that’s been hiding away within me like a miserable parasite just waiting for the moment to return.  And then, by the skin of my teeth, I managed to pull myself out of paralysis.  Grabbing some clippers, I forced myself to get up and make the rounds in my very overgrown yard.  August isn’t much for flowers but I managed to find these  and more importantly, I chased the threatening gloom away by participating in, paying attention to and moving in nature.  And it started by getting my ass out of the chair.

A Walk in the Catskills

This afternoon, I forced myself away from my writing chair to take a walk. My bones were starting to ache from sitting so much.  I took a right out of the driveway and walked. I walked fast. I wanted my heart to beat a little faster, maybe even to break a sweat. I also hoped to find an end to the road. And, to get back to work. Then, I passed this beautiful field.

A woman a few decades older than me walked the other way and I said, “How are you?” and she answered, “Not as brisk as you are!” and I felt foolish, like a ridiculous speed-walker I might have once made fun of. So I slowed down. Here’s what else I saw:


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