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Posts Tagged ‘Bayou Teche’

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Saturday brought warmer winds and time. My husband suggested a paddle on the bayou. Living on the Bayou Teche, we try to take opportunities to go out in the canoe. We know that too often we are too busy, or it’s too hot, or too cold, or too ___ fill-in-the-blank.

Our paddle to the East–
soft breeze,
flock of yellow-crown night herons,
waves to friends on their back porch.
Stop for a beer break, turn back toward the sunset.
sun majestic on the water,
an Eagle sighting,
simple beauty.

Eagle over Bayou Teche at sunset, photo by Margaret Simon (iPhone)

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Welcome to a weekly writing prompt. The steps are easy, if you choose to try them. Listen to your muse. Write a small poem in the comments. Leave encouraging responses to other writers. This is a safe and sacred place to write. Begin.

Butterweed by Margaret Simon. I took this photo on my iPhone using the app Camera+ 2.
Cypress knee with butterweed, photo by Margaret Simon

I took these photos in my backyard on Bayou Teche in Louisiana. These are wild flowers known as butterweed that grow before my yard man (husband) has a chance to mow. Sometimes he will mow around them because he knows I love them. They offer a bright spot in a winter yard of bare cypress trees and brown lawn. Here’s a bit of research I found.

Weary of its winter bed
bursts of yellow whisper
secrets of Eos.*

Margaret Simon, draft *Goddess of dawn

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Ruth in Haiti.

Happy New Year! If you are looking for a way to feed your writing life, subscribe to Poets & Writers’ The Time is Now. I do not do their prompt every week, but this week when I was feeling out of touch with writing, I opened it to find a prompt that worked well for me.

“Mars Being Red” by the late poet Marvin Bell lyrically explores the color red as a state of being, likening it to a list of images that both physically resemble the color and provide memories, such as that of youth. In this compact, twelve-line poem, Bell begins what seems to be a portrait of the planet Mars and then delves into a series of digressions that find resolve in a meditation on the possibility of change: “You will not be this quick-to-redden / forever. You will be green again, again and again.” Inspired by Bell, write a poem that serves as a portrait of a color. Use physical descriptions to begin and then personal memories to develop a transformation in this study of hue.
From The Time is Now

Bayou Being Green

Being green is the color of an amaryllis
bud before blooming. Color of time lost
in growth, of soul lost inside
meditation. Green of grassy meadows
we walked with the dog, while our steps
made time disappear for a moment.
Contemplation becomes green in your eyes,
emerald of stars, early light reflects
sage from the bayou surface where green
water darkens as we stroll west toward
sunset, away from dawn into an age
of white on white on white. 

Margaret Simon, draft after Marvin Bell “Mars Being Red”
Bayou Teche in November, Margaret Simon

If you are looking for a weekly photo writing prompt, subscribe to my blog, I am posting a photo each week on Thursdays and invite you to write a small poem response. This Photo Wants to be a Poem.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

I’ve always enjoyed good photography. The summer of my 15th birthday, my family took a cross country trip from Mississippi to Wyoming. And when we got to Denver, we looked in the phone book (no Google) for a reputable camera store. I remember being amazed that we found one. I got my very first “good” camera, an Olympus OM 10 SLR. That school year I started taking pictures for the yearbook and eventually became the yearbook editor for my senior year.

Once I moved on to college, then marriage, then babies, I left that part of me behind. Like the poet I once was, she hibernated for a long time. The poet emerged around 1995, but the photographer is still in hibernation. I got a “good” camera for Christmas 2015 before a big trip to Africa the summer of 2016: Sony 6000.

I took gorgeous pictures in Africa that summer, but everything else paled in comparison, so I put the camera away for the next big trip. I thought of taking it out in the spring to learn more about using it. It was on my list of possible pandemic projects. For whatever reason, and I think these things cannot truly be explained, I’ve finally taken the camera out again.

Da, da, tada! I present to you a gallery of amateur photographs. I admit I have a beautiful setting to photograph, so why not? Maybe I’ll keep it out this time.

Great Blue Heron on Bayou Teche, Margaret Simon, November 2020
Fall on Bayou Teche, Margaret Simon 2020
Red flower morning, Margaret Simon 2020

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I’ve been following Laura Shovan’s #WaterPoemProject. Margarita Engle, one of my favorite poets for children, prompted us to write an ode to a body of water. I write over and over about my bayou. Ha! I even call it my bayou. Living near water brings me joy and solace.

This ode comes directly from our experience of canoeing on the evening of Good Friday, without the annoying gnats.

Ode to the Bayou

Even as a water snake winds its way
around concrete rick-rack, haphazardly placed
for a bulkhead, I will wander

through your neighborhood of cypress trees
dodging knees, paddling a path of no destination.

Perhaps we’ll head toward the bridge,
stop to gather blackberries or chat
with neighbors about wood duck eggs
and such.

Even as you stretch out like a snake
for miles ahead, I will wander,
wishing for longer days,
photograph your evening haze,
and end my voyage with
this praise. 

© Margaret Simon, April 11, 2020

Bayou Teche sunset Good Friday, 2020

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Looking up into the old cypress tree in my backyard.

Dear Readers,
I know this Covid Quarantine is dragging on, and things look bleak if you watch the news for any length of time. So why not turn it off and come to the bayou. There is always water flowing, a breeze blowing, birds singing. Nature is something we can find solace in, and something we can count on when the world is weird.

I’ve enjoyed creating videos for my students. I can’t believe how easy it is. I bought a bendable stand for my phone that looks like an android dog. I can video straight from my phone and upload it to YouTube in no time. Voila! An instructional poetry writing video.

Share these if you want or just watch for yourself to enjoy some time outside on the Bayou Teche. If you choose to write to the prompt, please share it with me in the comments. During this time of no-direct contact, I like feeling a connection to you through your words.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

We saw from the camera in the box that the babies were restless, chirping and jumping over and under mother hen.

We set up our stations distancing ourselves from the nest box and from each other and waited.

Silent meditation. No sound except the birdsong. Gnats were circling my face. I had to touch my face. I coughed. I couldn’t sit still.

Mama wood duck peeked her head out of the hole. Was she ready to jump? An hour passed by.

We thought maybe our presence was the problem. We moved up to the deck, and occupied ourselves with crossword puzzles, Kindle books, and hot tea and muffins. Another hour.

Sunday morning boaters passed. Our neighbor began pressure washing. I worried that there was too much activity for her to feel safe to call her ducklings.

She hopped out, and like a speed boat, thrashed through the water zigzagging back and forth. Was she warding off predators? Another hour.

“I saw a jump!” Minga said in a loud whisper. And sure enough, little fuzzy black blobs were falling from the house. I clicked my camera shutter quickly. In less than two minutes, clusters of wood duck babies followed after their mamma and were gone into the cypress knees of the opposite bank.

Three hours of watching for three seconds of Joy! Best Sunday service ever.

Blur on the left is wood duck jumping.
First group of jumpers equals 7. Second bunch 5 for an even dozen.

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Michelle Heidenrich Barnes hosts today with an announcement of the third collection of Today’s Little Ditty.
I have a little ditty in the book as do many of my PF friends.

A few weeks ago I grabbed a poetry writing idea from Kim Douillard.  She had her students make heart maps about a place they love and write a poem after Lee Bennett Hopkins’ City I Love.

I did this with my students. We cut simple heart shapes from plain paper and drew and wrote on them. Then glued them into our notebooks.  Here’s a photo of one of mine.

On the Bayou I Live Near

after Lee Bennett Hopkins

On the bayou I live near–
bayou I love–
morning sun streams
in wide golden beams
gleaming a new day.

On the bayou I live near–
bayou I love–
afternoons bloom
while speedboats vroom
through sweet olive perfume.

On the bayou I live near–
bayou I love–
sunsets glisten,
a lone heron listens
as the hoot owl
who, who, whos
me
to
sleep.


Margaret Simon, draft 2019

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Baker’s dozen wood duck eggs!

“There is motion at your wood duck house.”

It comes as an alert on my phone.  I can’t help but look.

Two weeks ago, we set up the wood duck house that my husband had made.  The next day a hen came.

We placed a Ring doorbell camera on the roof of the house, so anytime there is motion, the device records a video and sends it to my phone.  Incredible technology!

Incredible nature!

I marvel at how this bird knows exactly what to do.  For the last two weeks, she has come into the house daily.  In the morning, she flies in, rearranges the furniture, and lays a few eggs.  Then she leaves.

I’ve watched each day, and if she didn’t cover them up with the shavings, I can count the eggs.  The count approached a dozen.

I’ve been posting updates to my Instagram and Facebook accounts.  I wrote the first post about the house here.

Last night as we were having dinner, my phone buzzed.  This was unusual to get an alert at night.  And the alerts continued.

The wood duck hen came in at 7:09 last night, and she’s still there!

Now we count 29-31 days to hatching.  But the big day is the day after hatching when the baby ducklings climb up the side of the box and JUMP!  If it’s a school day, I will have to call in sick.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

Living on the Bayou Teche has many benefits.  In the fall we joined the T.E.C.H.E. Project, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of the Bayou Teche.  In January, my husband Jeff attended one of their workshops on wood duck houses.  When he came home and started talking about it, I knew this was something we needed to do.  But the idea brewed for a while until I got a text from a friend who lives downstream.  She had set up a Ring camera in her wood duck house and a hen had come in.  She sent me the video, and I was sold.

The next day we toured her wood duck set up, and Jeff said, “We can do this!”  He found the wood he needed and got to work.  We took a trip to Costco to buy the Ring device.  It’s intended for use as a doorbell.  So genius!  It connects through your Wifi and sends motion detection with video to your phone.  What will they think of next?!

This weekend Jeff finished the house and got the pole in the ground.  We set up the Ring device and had it all ready by 4:00 PM on Sunday.

On Monday morning while I was hurriedly getting ready for school (I always run late on Monday!), I got an alert on my phone, “Movement detected at the wood duck house!”  Already!

Sure enough, a hen had come inside and posed for the camera.  When we looked outside, though, we noticed Buzz, our outside cat guarding with watchful eye.  “On Jump Day, Buzz will be in the shed,” Jeff said.  Jump Day happens on the day after the eggs hatch.  All the little ducks jump out to the water.  I’m so glad we invested in the camera, so we can keep an eye on this whole process.

 

 

Buzz keeps an eye on the wood ducks.

 

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