For the Love of Big Skies

From Arizona, with love.🙂

This is not the amazing David Muench and his portrayal of beautiful Arizona, but my first attempt to capture and share some breathtaking views with you: Watson Lake, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Sedona Red Rocks. Arizona, the land of over a million of giant saguaros, the organ pipe cactus, the Kaibab squirrel, the red rocks, the canyon that can be seen from outer space, copper mining, 18 national monuments – more than any other state!, and the highest quality durum wheat in the world – yes, believe it or not! This is the state that still has a village where mail is delivered by mule, and an oldest village settlement in America. Big skies. And brightest of the stars.

watson-lake2painteddesertpainteddesert2painteddesert3petrifiedforestpetrifiedforest2petrifiedforest3sedona

Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 32 Comments

All is right with the world

20161029_132913

It happened on the day
when snowy crickets
announced the temperature of rising sun.
It really happened!
Children. Ceased. All. Fighting.
I sneaked through silent house
sniffing the air for burning scraps of food.
Listening in if they were watching
a forbidden movie.
Silence.
I stepped outside, exhaled relief in uncertain puffs,
and plopped myself below the praying mantes
that swing in pairs on little bluestem.

Some clouds were floating through low autumn sky.
Then, suddenly, one screamed:
“I need more space! I was here first!”
“No! I! I! I need more space!”
“You scraped me first!”
“Wrong! Move! My turn!”
“I am in better shape!”, screamed the other.
Observing such unusual commotion,
blue heavens smiled. Stretched. Lengthened.
Widened. Creaked. Burst. Flowed.
Spilled over its ancient rippled edges,
widened the angles of the rainbows,
sent in the gusts to reshape the forms,
to switch them, change them, rearrange them.

I rushed into the house,
my breath still trailing far behind:
“You would not believe!….”

………

“She took last cookie and she won’t share!”
“He ate mine!”
I stared into the cookie’s drippy eyes of chocolate,
and felt the sky in my fingertips slowly stretching.
Creaking. Spilling, from the center out.
And that is how I grew to learn:
All is right with the world.

~~~
Posted in Parenting, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Senses of Love

dsc_4404

How else would you decide to try
to lick your elbow upon an early morning,
or measure thumb against your middle finger
when he shouts: mommy, look, they are same size!

And would you hear the souls of streams
in popping bubbles, in watery explosions,
as they poke a stick in rocky river beds
and glue your ear against the wooden grain:
Just listen!

How else would you adore the art:
Canoes carved out of milkweed pods,
Mandalas rippled in acorns, leaves, and sticks,
and rainbows of the colored canyon sand.
Shield bug houses constructed of the paw paw seeds
and forts of the hedgeapple balls to protect
the pumpkins from two hungry squirrels.

And would you know to run outside
To hide away from monsters?
To search for turtle with a broken leg
inside your bath in robot submarine made
from an old Nutella lid?

And would you stride faster than the wind,
with pocketful of rocks, crab shells and starfish,
five rusted nails, a bluebird feather,
a wheat back penny, coyote bone,
and other countless treasure
to be constructed into something New and Big.

With so much treasure and so lightweight with love.

~~~
Posted in Nature, Parenting, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments

600 Doubts

sea

Green Mountains burn
at the edges today.
September sumac
gone fast ablaze,
Mount Ellen royal
in her golden strings,
we travel through New England fog
eyes fixed on this snow
rising up with the day.

Somewhere under there,
is one rusty tractor, I think,
and two horses in blankets green,
blinking dew.
Somewhere under there,
river otters burrow and slide,
porcupines spread thousands of quills
in dark shadows of eastern hemlocks
sapsuckers press into channels,
ferns collect one more shade of grey.

Fog meets up with the Clouds,
we meet up with the Sea,
and I lean ashore
stretched in longest of doubts:
Do we only love what we understand?
Do we only understand what we love?
Can same water that lift us, drown us?

“We missed the low tide…”,
I crumble under deep water.
But boy grabs the bucket,
presses on crunchy shells
like some yogi not feeling the pain.
Past the barnacle castles,
steaming pies of seaweed,
past tidal markings of meaning,
muddy splash on his face.
“Somewhere under there!
Somewhere under there are the crabs!
Six hundred crabs!”,
he is certain.

~~~
Posted in Human Condition, Nature, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

The Wind on the Baltic

Nida

The crow flew by
and the feather dropped;
And the boy took the feather,
To write prayers in sand.
The winds left the sea
and they kissed the sands,
and the words dissolved,
and the feather flew,
and the birches turned
their backs to the sea —
and bent and screeched
Stretching to mount.
The crow laughed down
from the cloud-knitted skies,
and the young aspens shivered
from the stories they heard
of villages swallowed
deep in the dunes,
lost like words and prayers
to the wails of the sea.
And we spun and turned
freckled cheeks to the winds,
and we lifted sail coats
into cloud-knitted skies,
and we rose and flew,
into featherless soar
between white jasmine streets
and green pinecone rains.
And the sand so fine
sang below our feet,
and it sang hymns of Love
for as long as we flew,
and we landed down
freckled cheeks so full
of blueberries wild
deep in the woods

Nida6

Nida5

Nida3

Nida7

~~~

Posted in Nature, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

May in Lithuania

20160518_194046
We climb the greenest hills
to listen to a cuckoo bird.
And doodlebugs in giant swarms,
Children’s delight.
Bird cherries dressed in bride-like white
with lilacs by the side
of drying clothes on lines
like prayer cloths
above the crumbled sidewalks.
Magpie, the curious, hops about
and lifts its tail as long
as days are long in May.

The cuckoo bird sings by the river,
We count the echo:
coo-coo, coo-coo, coo-coo
To determine our springs yet to come.
If you carry money in your pocket,
when the first coo-coo of the spring is heard
You will be rich forever,
The old man says.

The richness in this soil,
The rising fog, fresh rains,
and faces deep in wrinkles,
black fingernails, widows in black
scarves and handbags full of candy
for the children of the town.
White storks stride
across green meadows
As greenhouses flap their
worn wings on the hillsides.

I hold the bread black with abundance
Sun is pale here, as if yellow
has spilled out into
the gold of butter
egg yolks and honey,
and draped over the edges of the crust
Like yellow hair of local girls.
We listen to the morning church bells
bellowing across the town,
and the old accordion serenades us
from the distance.

~~~

 

Posted in Lithuania, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Elevation 12,000 feet

Dear friends!!! No, I had not vanished, just stepped back from WordPress to do some exploring. We had been travelling for a few weeks hiking mountains and enjoying American West. More impressions and photos later, but for now, here are just a couple photographs of my favorite, Bryce Canyon in Utah.

DSC_0121

DSC_0072

DSC_9929

DSC_9932

DSC_9923

DSC_9999

Posted in Nature, Photography, travel | Tagged , | 36 Comments

Spring Happenings at the Rookery

heronry5

Understated. New nest in progress.

Last year we visited the local rookery in May, when the leaves were out, the nests were plentiful, the toads were singing, and mushrooms were shiny with moisture. I believe we counted about 35 nests with approximately 60 birds. This year, I decided to go check out the herons a bit earlier, hoping to observe the nest building process. In northern Illinois, great blue herons lay their eggs in late March to April, so the nest building was in progress now. Just about 15 nests were up in the trees so far. Babies hatch in May, and by August they leave the nests to feed with the grownups.

These birds are 40 feet high up in the dead trees, our first Spring morning was quite grey, and I tried not to disturb their peace, so pardon the photos for the lack of detail. These majestic birds stand 4 feet tall and have a 6 foot wing span. They captivate with their beauty, ability to switch shapes between a curled up ball and a graceful long flyer, and their concentrated demeanor, sitting there patiently like frozen Buddhas on their stick pillows. Here, a male blue heron is disassembling an older nest and flying the twigs over to his female companion. The female then weaves the sticks into a new nest, which can range from 20 inches to a few feet wide.

heronry6

heronry3

The couple on an old nest that is being taken apart

I noticed that one of the herons was not fitting into his sleepy crowd. He curiously kept looking around at the noisy geese down below in the bog, checking out the ducks quacking a distance away. After a while, he flew closer to the ladies (I assume?)  who were perched on brand new nests. One of them protested with a puff of feathers and a loud trumpeted bark. The curious gentleman then began his grooming procedure fluffing the chest feathers, periodically checking in with the upset lady: “How is it looking now, honey?” The feathers on the chest of the great blue heron are highly specialized and will continually grow and fray, kind of like a powdery down. Herons use their chest feathers to remove slime and oils from their other feathers as they preen. I was grateful for this entertaining bit, for my hands began freezing holding the camera. A good twenty minutes of grooming did not impress the grumpy lady, so he spotted another heron flying off, and with some trumpeting calls, he took off right behind.

heronry2

Trying to impress

~~~

 

Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Sides of Fathers

winter_coat1

“You are just like your father!”
My mother used to say
(insert a dab of guilt soaked
Oy Vey Eastern European
coloration here).

“You have this side
your father has,”
she would sigh in a colossal disappointment.
And I would walk around for days
and wonder just which side she meant.
Was it the side that would explode my father
into some random whistling outbursts,
which would silence him at our evening beds
So we could tell our stories, uninterrupted,
which would inspire him to compose poems about flowers
as he tracked the 149 types of tulips
in his gardens.

Or was it that other side which my mother
could barely stand,
the side which nastily possessed him
to lay the bathroom tile all crooked
for the seventh time
and then wear the wrong shirt for the family reunion,
or be blinded to the dirty socks
deviantly rolling on the floor.

So I would lay there
before sleep
(as I still do)
I close one eye at a time,
look at the profile of my nose
to check which side looks
like my father.
To figure out which is my good side.

This looking at the sides
is curious indeed.
One side of my nose does look
quite like my father’s.
The other — like my mother’s.
Which probably makes me same as you.

~~~

Posted in Family, Poetry | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

Simple Questions

evidence

Dear Grandma,
My children now ask so many questions:
Does a gazillion have a gazillion zeros?
Do skunks make soup from skunk cabbage?
Do potatoes have so many eyes
to see better in the dark?
Fish sharing food with friends,
is that a feeding friendzy?

Why not, I reply. Why not.

Some days, like a child,
I have more questions than answers.

Did Sebastião Salgado
Plant two million trees
On the hillsides of Brazil
To house the souls
Of two million perished
He witnessed in Rwanda?

If we dropped the guns off our shoulders,
Would we have enough strength
To carry an owl, a book, and a shovel
For planting an orchard,
For building a park,
For laughing with children?

If radiation in Fukushima
Can be so strong as to pulverize
Steel robots into non-existence…
Can Love transmit super particles
That vaporize hate and fear
Around us?

Dear Grandma,
When Google and Quora
When YouTube and Big Tube
Fail with the answers…
Will you know? Will you show us?

Why not, she replies. Why not.

~~~

Posted in Human Condition, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments