Long, Winter Dreams

Monday Morning Musings:

Long Winter Dreams

The sun is a specter,
a pale wraith without
the heat of its golden youth,

its white-bearded head haloed
with wreathes of clouds
that feather

the skeletons of trees
backlit on the winter stage,
waiting for spring’s curtain call.

Now we remember summer
in our wine, and gather light around us,
echo ancient tales in newer versions
like sundial to clock
hours that pass and return

differently and the same,
like families, love,
and the river’s flow.

And so, it goes. The food, wine, sweets,
the hugs and kisses, the putting on of hats
and coats, the remembering of ghosts of before
and after

in our long, winter dreams,
the fiddler turns notes into stars—
and diamond glitter falls
so that we shine. Each of us, all.

Not much outdoor walking this past week with the recent weather. We did get to celebrate with family, and even though older child and their wife’s train was first cancelled and then the rebooked one had several delays, they eventually made it here. I hope all of you are safe and warm.

On the way to 30th St. Station on Christmas Eve

Small Stars

Monday Morning Musings:

December Puddle Reflection

Small Stars

December is heavy-lidded,
ready to sleep
with yawns that make branches shake
and clouds that weep great, grey tears—

and yet—

the star-birds still sing,
twinkling light-songs echo

in waves that ebb and flow
lulling us, waking us, making us
dream

and remember, so that
we recreate light, surf its waves
as bobbing buffleheads, here, gone,
here again,

bound to Earth and water,
small stars, sparkling.

My birthday last week began with a wintry mix of sleet and rain, that turned into wind-driven rain later in the day. Our daughter came for a visit on her way home from work, and she brought me a chocolate, chocolate birthday cake. She knows me. The next day we went to see a movie in a theater for the first time since the pandemic (we stayed masked and there were only a few people in the theater.) We saw The Fabelmans, which we both liked very much. Michelle Williams especially is wonderful as the mother in this autobiographical Spielberg film. Then we had my birthday Indian food and champagne.

On Saturday, we saw the Matisse exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We were both glad we were masked, as it was a little more crowded than we expected. It was blustery so we walked back to the train and New Jersey, and then went to William Heritage Winery, where we enjoyed our members’ seasonal flight.

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. In the afternoon, I participated in Black Bough’s Zoom Winter Extravaganza. It was wonderful, but I was there longer than expected, so I will make latkes tonight—after the January 6 committee’s hearing.
Also—I loved the Netflix show 1899. It’s a Merril show–by the same people who created the German show Dark. You may need to set the captioning (unless you like dubbed shows, which I do not). Do not read spoilers for it.

November Mysteries

Monday Morning Musings:

November Mysteries

“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.
–L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, Chapter XXV

Now it is November,
the sun with white nimbus and absent-minded face
takes her time to rise, to trace with bony fingers in the mist,
to burnish birdwings as they glide–

she touches the treetops, and they enraptured glow
to share November’s secrets through roots below,
and cast elongated shadows on the land
where the wind scatters leaves, red and brown,

the rustle-song a piece, along with sparrow hymn
and blue jay screech, of autumn’s orchestration,
of melancholy beauty, saudade, an ache of yearning
for people and seasons past—

harvests are over, we drink the wine
wanting to linger. . .but the sun sets quicker–

even if I ask, time will not stop,
and it remains a mystery
how it moves, now slow, now fast—
each second ticks, now has passed,

and still the moon rises, the earth still spins
the repetition of patterns, circles within circles,
a cycle ends, another begins—

November walks in mystery
her penumbra grows, obscuring the light
echoing the sounds unheard—every note–
the things just beyond sight.

We are having unseasonable warm weather—and I am trying to enjoy every second of it, despite being a bit off from the switch back to standard time. The combination of warm days and November sunlight is a bit disconcerting, especially mixed with the time change. Everything is a bit off, like being in a dream. Though we and many others have already voted, tomorrow is Election Day. It is going to take days or weeks for all the results to be in, but the party of the former president is busily pushing misinformation, and who knows what will happen on Wednesday?

We enjoyed the beautiful warm weather at two wineries this weekend. Auburn Road for pizza and wine with our daughter, son-in-law and their puppy, and William Heritage Winery for sparkling Blanc de Blanc with lobster rolls. Sunday morning, we walked in Ceres Park.

We’re watching a Polish show on Netflix called 1983. Although it’s set in an alternative historical setting, the show merely uses that to frame a mystery and a political thriller. It has the feel of Scandi-noir. We’re confused by the various factions, but in a good way. We’re both enjoying the show.

Forever

Monday Morning Musings:

Forever

“Forever – is composed of Nows –“
Emily Dickinson

“If forever doesn’t exist,” she said, “we’ll invent it ourselves.”
― Nikki Erlick, The Measure

Early morning, the Delaware River at West Deptford

At the tipping point, gold tips green
and russet leaves waltz to wind’s acoustic strings,
they touch the ground, then let it go
and drift into tomorrow.

We follow—or we don’t—
almost living like those leaves,
though deaf to the language of trees,
the whispers far underground–

as geese honk and hawks circle,
we dare to look up
find infinity in a sky of dazzling blue,
and in each memory, confound time.

My mom’s dear cousin, Sali, died yesterday. They were like sisters, so this hits hard, not only because I loved Sali, but also because of her connection to my mom.

And because, it’s what I do, I always seem to find connections and synchronicity in my life. Autumn seems a particularly apt time for reflection, and it has truly come.

After a few beautiful days, when I had some amazing bird watching moments–a pair of hawks and a pair of eagles together one day, and group of vultures the next– October arrived with wind and rain. It’s been raining off and on since Friday night, with heavy rain yesterday. It looks like it may continue until Tuesday or Wednesday. I’m thankful, however, that we only have these remnants of the hurricane that devastated Cuba and parts of Florida.

Raindrops

On Saturday night, we did a virtual wine tasting hosted by Tria in Philadelphia. We picked up our boxes of wine and cheese in the afternoon. The event was a fundraiser for reproductive rights.

Merril’s Movie, Book, TV Club:

A Trip to Infinity: Am I recommending a math documentary? Yes, I am. It’s because, to me, it’s a film of philosophy, possibility, and ideas. It is so well-done, and the experts—mathematicians, philosophers, and physicists–are so engaging as they discuss infinity. I would watch this one again. On Netflix.

I read The Measure, a novel by Nikki Erlich. One day every adult in the world, no matter where they are, receives a box. Inside each box is a string. Some have short strings, and some have long strings—this is the measure of how long they will live. Despite its premise and the prospect of how it could bring out the worst in humans, the novel is ultimately a novel about love and connection.

We are watching the Korean series, Extraordinary Attorney Woo. It had been on my Netflix list for a while. (You will not be surprised that I have a huge list.) Blogger friend Dale convinced me to start watching it, and I’m glad I took her advice. You can’t really tell how delightful this show is from the trailer, but it makes me happy to watch it and to root for Woo.

**I don’t mean to bombard anyone with posts, but I am writing poems for an October Folklore challenge, and today I’ll be back because I’m hosting Quadrille Monday on dVerse. (I guess I better get that poem written!)**

The Constancy of Autumn

Monday Morning Musings:

The Constancy of Autumn

“Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;”
–from John Keats, “To Autumn”

Sunrise
Sunrise, Delaware River, September

Now the dragons come, sending their fiery breath
Into the cerulean sky, last gasps,
a vibrant show before their long, winter sleep.

Now squirrels skip and scurry
to find and bury their treasure,
eagles soar from shore to shore,

white-feathered heads glowing above the river blue,
where herons and egrets in shallow water wade
still in shadow, then with broad wings wide, glide

to other shoals. While blue jays gather
in raucous meetings throughout the day—
yelling at hawks, asking summer to stay—but

Blue Jay with shade of green

Apples and Honey, both local and delicious

now the apples come—red or golden-green,
the colors of both fall and spring, tart and sweet
as life, well-balanced, though seldom neat.

Now t-shirts are covered by sweaters,
above, azure turns grey, but bright a spray of yellow
in bee-swallowed goldenrod, and violet aster.

Golden rod and aster at dawn.

Now we are in transition, in-between,
summer has ended, winter not yet come
but we remember what has been

the roses of summer and the fruit,
their essence captured in honey and wine–
with time,

the memories and promises,
like late spring’s bird-dawn chatter—
everything connected, everything matters,

the constant of love’s endurance
glowing brilliant as the light
of ancient long-dead stars, so bright,
still guiding us from afar.

Where the light comes through—early morning, Delaware River.

We celebrated the first night of Rosh Hashanah last night. It makes so much more sense to celebrate the new year in early autumn as summer fades into fall than tacked on to the end of winter holidays on the first of January. Of course, no one has asked me. It was wonderful to celebrate with family, and while we missed not having everyone there, the smaller group meant we could all sit at one table and converse together. We toasted the memory of my aunt Sima, whose recipe for challah cannot be surpassed. It’s the one I always use.

Some photos from last night

Still More to Say

Monday Morning Musings:

Still More

“How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?”
–William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)

Sunrise over the Delaware River

I still have more to say about color,
the frequency and hues,
and how we parse the natural world
and what we choose to name–

Would they be the same–
the roses and the stars—
if we didn’t claim them so
What color was the sea? Did the moon

sing a different tune?
What was before blue
of sky and blue jay wing
and what of the unseen,

Blue Jay and Shades of Green

and the in-between.
What does the heron perceive
in the grey of his feathers
or the ultraviolet that they see, like bees,

an Umwelt unlike ours, but like trees
connected and a part—
now think about our hearts
and all the types of love, friendship, fear—

Deer and Turkeys

look at dogs, cats, turkey, deer—
animals that love, have their friends, and run
in play and fear.
So many words, so many shades,

but hate has only one. It never fades,
it’s a black hole,
trapping light within—
and yet and yet and yet

it’s not that simple or set–
light bends and echoes around it
seeking a way, as if to not forget
and we–

have ways to see and be–
we’re hardwired to parse and name
color and light, and to sense the unseen–
Monet’s violet waterlilies somewhere in our genes.

Aster

Again, the Marginalian got me thinking about color and light. I found this short video that I think does such a good job of explaining how we and animals see color. For more on Monet’s eyesight, I found this short article.

We watched another strange Merril movie, Censor. Here’s a review from the Guardian. We both liked it, but it is very strange. I’m still thinking about it though.

We did a lot this weekend and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Friday night out to dinner (outside) with daughter and son-in-law. That was after an amazing launch for Afterfeather also attended by Ricky. I have a poem in this anthology, which is published by Black Bough poetry from poems curated by Briony Collins from Top Tweet Tuesday.

A winery on Saturday late afternoon/evening. And a bridal shower luncheon on Sunday.

William Heritage Winery

Bridal Shower, Special Time With friends

The Important Things

Monday Morning Musings:

The Important Things

“But the important thing about the sky is that it is always there.”
Margaret Wise Brown, The Important Book

Sun rising over the Delaware River

Under a Van Gogh dawn–

in quiet pockets, that many never see,
deer and turkeys frolic,
have picnics on the beach

Turkeys on the Delaware River Beach, West Deptford, NJ

they are there–
as egret clouds spread their wings
across a river of blue jay blue,
even if unseen

Egret

the sunflowers grow and
the honey flows
as light that begins to fade,
but is captured in a golden stream

and apples into it dipped.
Red and gold replace the green
and hawk-chased squirrels taunt and scream
and gather nuts for future dreams,

these are all important things.

Now, we walk–
a moment fixed in time
the past captured in hearts and minds
not knowing what will be, but lives intertwined

despite shadows before us and behind.

Tall Pines State Preserve

All can be lost in a flash of heron’s wing–
but feathers are strong,
even when tossed
and the phoenix rises again from ash,

these are things swept but kept—
the traces of stars, dinosaurs to birds’ song.

Heron

Last year on Labor Day we celebrated Rosh Hashanah. With the Covid numbers high, we didn’t gather with family, but we had visited a sunflower festival and had the traditional foods. We also went to a winery last Labor Day weekend, as we did this year—except proceeds last year went to help the people and businesses affected by the tornado that had roared through a few days before. This week we live-streamed a Loudon Wainwright III concert from the City Winery in NYC. (We actually watched the replay the next night.) We saw my sister-niece and her husband live at our house, which was so wonderful that I forgot to take photos, and we went to William Heritage Winery on Saturday. On Sunday morning, we walked at Tall Pines State Preserve, which was full of late summer wildflowers.

Well, Here We Are–it’s August Again

Monday Morning Musings:

Well, Here We Are, It’s August Again

Every day opens with possibility,
every story flows from what if,
each second is a mysterious connection
from what was to what is

Sunrise Clouds

next passes, too, in a stream like
the luscious light of the sun,
outside of time,
both ancient and new

Sunrise Reflections— worlds collide in light and color , Merril D. Smith, 2022

like memories,
the past remembered is reborn,

perhaps re-written, or embroidered upon,
added stitches to a tapestry, patches placed
over the tears in the fabric,

until we can’t tell what was the original
and what was added,

and so, we guess, living between shadows,

and walking down paths
we imagine, we ask, “what if?”
and “what happened next?”

This is fiction and science,
this is every story ever told,
our fates and faults, “not in our stars,”*
and we, not star-crossed—yet,
dependent on them for our existence,

each of us carrying traces of stardust,
holding an infinitesimal speck of before time–
and each of us an answer to what happened next.

Ceres Park
Ceres Park

This past week we had high heat and humidity and normal summer heat with less humidity. Elsewhere there have been huge wildfires and floods. We got a little bit of rain, but not enough.
While we wait to see if our nation is destroyed by authoritarian rule and our Earth dies, we go on living.
My daughter and I visited Kennedy Cellars in Hammonton, NJ for some mother-daughter bonding time. My husband kindly served as DD while we sampled wine flights and nibbled at the delicious cheese board. It was a very hot day, but bearable in the shade, as we really didn’t want to sit inside in the small space with rising Covid numbers.

Kennedy Cellars

On Saturday with the lower humidity my husband and I took a morning walk in Ceres Park in Mantua/Pitman, NJ. It was very quiet and peaceful, except one section of the trail goes under an overpass, but even there the light was beautiful. Then later in the afternoon, we visited Auburn Road Winery for wine and pizza.

Ceres Park

One night this week, we watched a play from our video backlog. It was The Merry Wives, performed last August when plays in Central Park in NYC were permitted again and televised this past spring. Perhaps Shakespeare purists would not approve, but I think it was just what we needed. It was a streamlined version of The Merry Wives of Windsor set in Harlem. Shakespeare’s plays were of the moment and appealed to common people as well as the educated and aristocracy, so I think of this as sort of the same thing. Here’s how it looked. If you have PBS Passport you may still be able to stream it.

We’re also watching For All Mankind (Apple TV), a series based around what if the Soviet Union landed on the Moon first? In this series, it changes history, and each change changes something else.

These two shows gave me the idea for my musings. Also, both of my parents, now gone, were born in August, which has me thinking of August, what was, what is, what might have been. . .

I’m hosting dVerse Haibun Monday today, so I will be back later.

*”The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
–William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Aubade, Serenade

Monday Morning Musings:

Aubade, Serenade

Just past sunrise.

1.

A brush with green,
Earth-spirits, forest soul beckons
absorb the magic, it vanishes quickly
as orange sherbet sky melts
into the blue expanse

Early Morning Magic–she appeared and then disappeared

2.
Lies bait the hook
they swallow eagerly
as they swim to shore,
emerging with myopic eyes
fins turned to fists, grasping at shadows.

3.
Statement of the day,
or afterthought?
Dust off your father’s memory,
what if you saw your parents as children?
Love rekindled. Turn the page, again.

4.
Dreams of motors and motion–
helicopters, airplanes, buses, trains.
Something insidious you fear, but wait
there’s a twist–a cat purrs in your ear,
a snore from the pillow beside you.

5.
Light transported, prismed colors soar
and sing, celestial harmonies,
secrets we’re born knowing, but forget
even stars die,
I breathe their sparkle, hear their song.

As the crow flies

I generated another set of words, different from Jane’s set yesterday, and used them to write a cadralor.


After heat, storms, and humidity, this weekend we got some cool, dry, sunny weather. The January 6 Committee Hearings continue, and their revelations are even more awful than I thought they would be. However, nature has brought magic in the form of deer, eagles, and some beautiful days. We went to Auburn Road Winery for a pre-Father’s Day celebration. I baked my husband his favorite cookies for Father’s Day and gave him a pillow to replace one I ruined.

Merril’s Movie, Theater, TV Club:
We watched Petite Maman, a new movie by French director Céline Sciamma. (Her highly acclaimed Portrait of a Lady on Fire has been in my queue for ages, so I will need to watch it soon.) There’s not much of a story, but it’s a sweet, tender film—just what I needed to see. The title is a clue. I really liked it.

We saw another strange version of The Cherry Orchard, this one called The Orchard. We saw the virtual version. I really loved Mikhail Baryshnikov as Chekhov and Firs. Madame Ranevskaya was also excellent. I liked the virtual opening and closing, and the acting was good, but if I didn’t know the story, I probably would have been lost. Was the robotic arm/camera symbolic? Were there allusions to the current invasion of Ukraine? Perhaps. Here’s one review.

We finished the current episodes of Stranger Things (two more episodes drop on July 1). We both have enjoyed this new season. We started the latest Star Trek, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. It’s a prequel to the original Star Trek, and it follows Capt. Pike and his crew, including intern Uhura.

The Blue Between

Monday Morning Musings:

The Blue Between

Morning fog, afternoon sunshine. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

The Oracle whispers watch
for the blue that comes

a taste, a tease
of cerulean between storms

Pine Street on a Rainy afternoon in Old City Philadelphia

Rainy Day Walk in Old City Philadelphia:

that arrive with thunder of boots,
the hard rain of lies, and
lightning bolts of hate.

And I am tired–
so tired–of the would-be despots
who dupe the gullible,
and the culture that declares
black and brown bodies are not
as beautiful as white, and who proclaim all women
must be controlled.

I cannot believe in their petty, jealous gods—
narrow-minded, power-hungry deities created in our image,
not the other way around. I am still waiting for the Star Trek world,
where people fight for goodness, timelines can be rewritten, and Q
is a super-being, not a spreader of wacko conspiracy theories.

Sparkling River

But—
again, the Oracle reminds me to breathe
to listen to the pre-dawn birdsong, the excited chatter of crows,
the sparkle on the river, the scent of petrichor, of honeysuckle, of bread baking
in the oven–
to notice the humming moon and the singing stars,
and that patch of blue
that comes like love—a surprise, a mystery.

Mysteries

We had some blue skies last week, but lots of cloudy days, and we walked around Philadelphia in the rain on Saturday before seeing a play. This afternoon, we may get violent thunderstorms with hail and the possibility of tornados.

We saw School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh at the Arden Theatre. It’s a play about—well, mean girls in a boarding school in Ghana in the 1980s. It covers issues of body image and colorism, in a timely, but also funny play. We streamed a very strange movie that we both liked Black Bear with Aubrey Plaza.
And we watched the first two episodes of the British series Ridley Road. It’s on Masterpiece now. It’s about a Jewish woman from Manchester who infiltrates a neo-Nazi group in the 1960s. It explores history that is not very well-known, but it is also timely (and scary to me) that people are so easily duped that they believe the anti-Semitic and racist lies and think the fascism will actually improve their lives. It sounds too much like what it is happening right now. Oh yeah, there was another mass shooting. A young white man with a hate manifesto shot people of color in and around a supermarket in Buffalo, NY.

We had a virtual Shabbat with our children and their spouses (and pets) on Friday night.