this morning

In my bed this morning, drinking my first cup of coffee, this was what I looked out on:

view from my bed

This is the dog rose (it used to be simply the root stock of an alba pillar but it took over and I’m happy to let it run wild) where I once saw a weasel peering in at me, surprised. I haven’t seen weasels since the cat Winter came out of the woods to live with us. Winter, who left half a bat at the sunroom door this morning—just its face and wing. And this is rose from the weasel’s perspective:

dog rose where I once saw a weasel

How is it that a rose can smell cool? This one does. Sweet and cool, as though it remembers its wild state. We have another Rosa canina I found up the mountain on one of our walks, easily identifiable as neither R. nutkana or a R. gymnocarpa, and I planted it in a mossy private area where our old dog Tiger liked to sleep. (How did it get there? Up the mountain, I mean? One of the mysteries, like the provenance of the tiny oaks I’ve found growing along our lower driveway, not Garry oaks but white oaks of some kind I think, and maybe the result of stored acorns left by squirrels. Or? I’ve brought them home and have them in various places.)

I love this time of year for its promise. The honeysuckle by the kitchen door:

just about

For the table on the deck in the cool air:

quiet table

For the optimism of tomatoes strung up in their pots:

strung up

I am puzzling my way through some material for a long essay, maybe a book, and it’s good to have the world at my window, my doorways. To remember Kobayashi Issa, in Robert Hass’s translation:

What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms

Our cherry blossoms are long gone but everything else is burgeoning. Time to go outside to bury my face in roses. They don’t last long, giving way to long elegant hips that brighten the fall, but wait, that’s months away. And there’s still honeysuckle to come, and tomatoes, and many dinners on that waiting table.

crickets, hearth and elsewhere


I’ve always loved the sound of crickets. In fall, or approaching it, we sometimes hear them in the house. And it’s the time of year when field crickets are drawn indoors, drawn by the warmth of the hearth.

A few weeks ago, John painted the back bedroom so it can be used as a nursery when babies visit. There was a cricket keeping him company as he painted, a premonition of grandson Arthur’s arrival the other day. I’ve read that it was common in ancient China to keep crickets in special cages and they could be counted on to act as family watch-dogs. Errr, watch-crickets. They sing almost constantly, only becoming silent if strangers approached in the darkness of night. Quiet = danger? Something like that.

We have a cricket cage, as it happens — part of a wind-chime arrangement. I can’t imagine keeping a little creature inside it, to sing or otherwise. And soon enough other crickets will find their way into the house, even into the kitchen where I’ve often found them hiding in firewood on the hearth or else on windowsills in warm reflected light.

And Arthur is happily occupying the newly-painted room — and his grandad’s lap.


It’s lovely to have him here (and his parents of course). I’m reluctant to hold him too much as a night drive down the Coast to Emergency the other night because I was having trouble breathing resulted in a diagnosis of double pneumonia. But that’s being treated with a powerful antibiotic and in a day or two I should be recovered enough to at least be a more active grandmum.

Let the crickets sing and the babies laugh and cry. I’m grateful to be able to hear all of it.

On a branch
floating downriver
a cricket, singing.
              –Kobayashi Issa, trans. Jane Hirshfield

late geese

I heard them while I was outside planting daffodils and moving terracotta planters under the house for winter. A lonesome sound, those cries echoing off the mountain, muffled by cloud, then clear as someone talking in the same room. I finally saw them, a perfect vee, and so high up I couldn’t even begin to count them. Mostly I love the routines of my life but when the geese fly overhead, sometimes I feel tethered. Like Issa, who wrote,

the hoe’s a curse

I’m thinking tonight…

wild geese calling

One moment, wishing for flight, and the next, entranced by a forgotten geranium, untouched by last week’s frost!