Posts Tagged ‘nature’

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

In the midst of the COVID-19 quarantine, there are some beautiful moments. My daughters had come into town for the weekend. Directives from CDC advised that my mother-in-law, who is elderly and immune compromised, should not be in closed quarters with anyone, so we all met at City Park for a Sunday morning stroll.

The ducks were busy in the pond. Lots of fluffy yellow ducklings to watch.

The weather was sunny and warm, close to 80 degrees. The shade was gloriously pleasant.

Baby Thomas, 6 months, took a little snooze in the sun. Then we sat under a grove of oak trees where Thomas learned about grass and leaves, his first experience with nature.

Nature consoles us. Walking with family is something we rarely do. I hope you are finding ways to spend more time outside.

Take a walk.

Crumple leaves in your hand.

Listen to the birds.

Keep calm.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Last week I wrote about nesting, a Carolina wren nest in the school garden and our wood duck box. School is out today, but on Thursday last week, one of my students and I went out to check on the garden. It had become a Thursday thing.

A group of sixth graders were there. I didn’t want to alert them to the bird nest. I thought I was keeping it safe from the spirited group. Kaia and I thought it was “our little secret.”

I have to admit now that I know nothing about nature. I keep trying to learn, and this visit was a hard lesson. I had my phone with me and wanted to get a video of the little nestlings. I climbed up on the wooden box and reached my arm into the twisted vine where the nest was burrowed. “No video for you!” the mother bird quickly let me know with a few knocks to my head.

I screamed! And ran! Luckily, the group of 6th graders were long gone, so Kaia was the only witness. We sat for a while at the picnic table, so I could gather my wits again. Needless to say, the nesting ground is sacred. I will be more respectful in the future.

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NPM19 Day 22 Earth Day

Over the weekend I bought a new magnetic poetry kit, The Edgar Allan Poe version. Lots of words spread out on a cookie sheet. I created an Earth Day haiku.

A discovery walk near our hotel led to a path along Purple Creek, the very creek that ran behind my childhood home. Along the shore were two Canada Geese with 5 little goslings, an Easter morning miracle.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

I’ve been following Elisabeth Ellington’s blog for at least 4, maybe 5 years.  We’ve actually met in person a few times at NCTE, and when we’ve had occasion to sit next to each other, we talk incessantly like two introverts in the sea.  Elisabeth lives in South Dakota, far north from Louisiana.  Nevertheless, we connect over our love of nature.  Yesterday on her blog the dirigible plum, she wrote a post with the title, “What did you Fall in Love with Today?”

As I read her post, a poem began to write itself in my head.  I could connect emotionally to all that she wrote.  I didn’t know anything about pronghorn, so I did a Google search (something else that Elisabeth mentions loving) and found this information on the National Wildlife Federation site.

Pronghorn are one of North America’s most impressive mammals. Not only do pronghorn have the longest land migration in the continental United States, they also are the fastest land animal in North America. Pronghorn can run at speeds close to 60 miles an hour. Even more amazing than its speed is the pronghorn’s migration. Herds of pronghorn migrate 150 miles each way between Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin and Grand Teton National Park. The only other land animal to travel farther in North America is the caribou.

I’m in Love
found poem from Elisabeth Ellington’s Slice of Life

I’m in love
with the moon
over snow-covered hills
then yellow.

I’m in love
with clouds
before sunrise
Venus bright
in the East.

I’m in love
with a field of pronghorn
lying in the snow
legs curled beneath
for warmth.

I’m even in love
with this open parking spot
right in front
of my favorite coffee shop.

I’m in love
with warm fires,
curled up cats,
and always,
every day
with my mug
of coffee.

What do you love today?

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As a writer, I never know where inspiration will come from or where it will lead.  I feel I must be open to it and respond.  Sometimes those responses go in a strange, unknown direction.

The poem I am sharing today originated from two different prompts.  The first was from Poets and Writers weekly email writing prompt, The Time is Now.  The poetry prompt led me to this article about a fashion exhibit on Mars at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From the article, I collected unusual phrases like “the shape of a doll’s dress” and “nonverbal, abstract images inside of me.” The article was written about unusual fashion design; however, the words became organic and drew me in. My collection grew.

I didn’t know what I was going to do with this collection of lines. The Poets and Writers prompt instructed me to start with one of Leanne Shapton’s lines and let my imagination take over.

A few days later I read a prompt in The Practice of Poetry. This prompt asked me to use someone else’s words interspersed with my own in a “collaborate cut-up” poem. I didn’t literally cut-up the article, but now I had a way to use my collection of lines. The combination of writing exercises took me into a direction I didn’t manipulate or expect. Don’t you love it when that happens?

Blissful Containment

Pull a sweater over your head
in the dark and the dark gets darker.
Towel over your shoulders
adds warmth and a sense of caring.
This feels prenatal–like a cocoon.
Certainly, you will survive the tornado.

Croquembouche of exposure and erasure
embraces your delicate sweetness.
With a pillowcase
to hold all your precious jewels,
You will be saved
in an A-line skirt with a Peter Pan collar.

We are all organic and alive,
reactive like the center of the earth.
The beginning of softness
enters with our belly breaths.
Palettes of mud
feed our drying souls.

Our earth mother knows us well
nurturing our natural and childlike shapes.
Her transmission of spirit
sneezes us into existence.
We won’t remember.
We don’t have to.

–Margaret Simon (with lines from Leanne Shapton’s “Rei Kawakubo, Interpreter of Dreams”)

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Before the rain on this grey winter day, I took a walk down Dover Lane where my parents live. Taking a walk in a different place makes me more alert to the #commonplacemarvels. I was also looking for writing inspiration. On this 27th day of Mary Lee Hahn’s haiku challenge, my inspiration is waning. I know as a writer and because Mary Oliver says so, we must pay attention.

I stopped to capture images to later inspire writing.  Haiku can be challenging in its constraint of 5, 7, 5 syllables, but in that constraint, I can find a nugget that says everything.




Old, cracked, leaning in
open to new life, fresh roots
nature’s the sculptor



Tar trails twirl around
dancing on this walking path
road repair art

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Reds, golden autumn
pushes its way to winter
with silent leaf fall

–Margaret Simon

More about the haiku-a-day project here.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.



This week I grabbed the opportunity to take my students outside.  We met Mr. Jim Foret, a naturalist and professor from ULL, at Mr. Al, a 150+ year old oak in our community.

Mr. Jim has known Mr. Al for awhile.  He was instrumental in saving this amazing oak from being destroyed.  Once the blue-haired ladies from Garden Clubs along with the Optimist Club and many school children got involved, the legislatures listened and ordered LADOTD (Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development) to move this old oak from its original home to its specialized, protected home now.   Jim explained that the time was terrible to move the tree, but the progress on the service road was halted, so he had to be moved in mid-summer of 2011, a summer of no rain.

Jim figured out just the right amount of water to give Mr. Al.  For years, he paced and worried about Mr. Al’s survival and questioned his own resolve to save him.  And the sprawling, amazing oak made it, and has withstood the test of time.  “He will probably outlive all of you,” Jim explained to the children and parents.

Mr. Al is a community icon.  Boy Scouts have mulched him.  ULL students have planted prairie grasses.  And many others pass by and wave.  If you are traveling down Highway 90 away from New Iberia toward New Orleans, take a minute to say hello.  Loving care has saved this old grandfather oak, and loving care will sustain him.

I celebrate the history of the land.

I celebrate the gift of an oak and his master.

I celebrate exposing my students to nature.

Sketching a memory of Mr. Al.

Sketching a memory of Mr. Al.

Marveling in the shade of mighty Mr. Al.

Marveling in the shade of mighty Mr. Al.




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Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

October came to an end this week.  Why does this make me sentimental?  Maybe it’s the smell of sugarcane fields burning, or the taste of satsumas, or kids in costumes, but this time of year makes me think about the past, about time, about celebrations.


The sun rises as I drive to school each day.  I took this picture out of my car window.  Next week the time will change and I won’t see the sun rise this way for a while.  Stopping to capture beauty…




My students worked all week on their podcasts.  What fun!  We were challenged by technology and with cooperation.  I celebrate that they came together to support each other.  When I figure out how to make the podcasts public, I will post them.  They wrote about everything from Halloween to mythological creatures and homework.  I celebrate the strength of their writing.  They were motivated to write for an authentic audience.




On my morning walk, I came to this overgrown shrub (or is it a tree?).  I don’t know what it is, but the bright yellow flowers attracted my focus.



A weird organic fall phenomenon is webs in the grass.  They were dotting a field and sparkling with dew.  Who made this?  How tiny a creature?



All of these photos were taken this week on my iPhone.  I never tire of photographing grandmother oak.  Here the fog is rising from the bayou silhouetting her expansive girth.  Nature nurtures the fall air, and I celebrate her gifts.




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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.


A mallard nest on the island.

A mallard nest on the island.

My mother told me the story of discovering the goose nest.  She had gone out to the island, a small piece of land they had separated from their property years ago to solve the erosion/marsh issue.  She sat down in a lawn chair and was surprised to see a female Canada goose sitting in the brush.  Ah, she must be nesting.

My parents avoided the island but watched daily as the male guarded the space where the female sat on the nest.

Then I came for a visit.  On Saturday morning, I was looking toward the island and noticed both the male and female were walking around… and there were little fuzzy thinks walking around them.  Goslings!  They hatched!

We grabbed the binoculars and squealed with excitement.

I snuck out with my camera and telephoto lens to capture the scene.  The parents led their babies out for their first swim, and I caught it on video.

On Sunday other Canada geese families came by to visit and welcome the new goslings.

Why are we so fascinated by new life?

For weeks now I have been following Cynthia Lord’s daily Facebook posts about her bunny babies.  My daughter’s best friend had a baby last week, and we can’t get enough pictures.  Everywhere there is new life, and it is thrilling.

Mom and I chatted constantly about the baby goslings.  We grieved when we saw there were only four when originally there were five.  Even though this life and death is a part of every day in nature, we still marvel at it all.

Creation is an amazing thing.  We want to feel that newness of birth.  We delight in seeing something so small mimic its parents.  Don’t you look forward to all the firsts?

I was sitting out on the back porch reading.  I hadn’t seen the geese or goslings for some time.  I heard a splash and looked up to see one of the goslings jumping from the bridge into the water.  I called to Mom, “Guess what I just saw!?”

New life tells us that there is a generosity in this world.

There will be another hatching soon.  On the day I was leaving, Mom and I walked out to the island to see the abandoned nest.  I wanted to take a picture of it.  As we were talking, a flutter of wings flew up from the brush and flew into the lake.  A mother mallard.  There we saw her nest of 10 shiny white eggs.

I probably won’t be at the lake when these ducklings hatch, but I can be sure that Mom will call me with a report. New life is God’s way of saying life must go on.  It’s also just. plain. joy.



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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.


Spring sunrise by Margaret Simon

Spring sunrise by Margaret Simon

First morning of spring, my husband said, “You’re missing a show outside.”  He was right.  I grabbed my camera and went out on the deck in my PJs.  The air was cool, but the sun was coming up sending a beam of light down the bayou.  There was a slight fog flying over the bayou.  My mind wandered to poetry.

When the fog floats above the water
like it is today, I believe
I could walk on water,
strap on my angel wings
and move toward the light.

Could heaven be as beautiful as this?

–Margaret Simon

My friend Susan brought me a seedling of a Red Buckeye tree.  Her note said, “I sprouted this seedling from a buckeye in our yard, so it should do well in yours also.  I would recommend leaving it in its pot until next January keeping it watered and in partial shade. Hope that it thrives for you. Happy Spring!”

I have high hopes for this little tree.  The problem is I usually kill plants.  But this one came to me in the spirit of spring, new life.  It must live, right?  It has angel wings.

red buckeye seedling

My red buckeye seedling

red buckeye mature

Blooming red buckeye

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