Planted in Pennies

‘I’ve been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But—and this is the point—who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank…

Spring, Week V

Rain, this morning, staccato against the skylight. Outside the water puddles in every low spot, overflowing to gurgle into drains. It’s been a week of contrasts and extremes. After the heatwave only a few days earlier, the week began with snow. Daffodils lay flat, and violets were edged with frost like sugar crystals. By Thursday, … More Spring, Week V

Spring, Week IV

I wish I had the tiniest bit of musical intelligence, but I am as tin-eared as they come. I listen and listen: is that a pine warbler?  I’m in the right place, the remnant stand of white pines at the north end of Victoria woods. The bird is high in the tree’s dense foliage, and … More Spring, Week IV

Spring, Week III

Winter birds are still here; spring ones are arriving. Somewhere between thirty and a hundred Bohemian waxwings can be found on the university campus most days, along the laneways between the research glasshouses and the cattle barn and stables, gorging themselves on winter-sweet crab apples. There are cedar waxwings mixed in, and always a few … More Spring, Week III

Spring, Week II

The world this morning was freshly washed, yesterday’s rain blown away by strong winds, leaving a brilliantly blue sky and air with the clarity of the oceanside. Where yesterday was freezing rain followed by dismal drizzle, temperatures hovering near freezing, everything the grey of concrete, today was birdsong and 8C, and by the time I’d … More Spring, Week II

Elemental Norfolk

I wrote this poem a number of years ago, after we started spending a couple of weeks over the turn of the year in England. It was one of my first published works. Earth Lane and common, heath and ploughed ground Lie frozen underfoot. The lands Decline to the sea: downland and saltmarsh Diked and … More Elemental Norfolk

Solstice Sacrifice

The woods were quiet, the first full day of winter. The occasional chickadee, mourning doves flying over. A grey day, no sun, and only the red of berries and dogwood stems to alleviate the greys and brown of wood and field. And then another splash of red: blood, on the snow beside the path. I … More Solstice Sacrifice

Winter Encounter

I woke today with a strong need to be out-of-doors, after yesterday’s freezing rain and snow kept me in. I wanted fields and trees, not concrete and houses. By 8:30 I was at the Arboretum. The temperature hovered just around freezing: just above, because trees dripped water and the snow was slush in most places. … More Winter Encounter