Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Caroline Crawley, Beamheart

“Crawley recalls how during recording of the plaintive ‘I May Never,’ she burst into tears during one take, while during the second one the studio engineer did exactly the same.” A quote from an affectionate article in The Guardian on Shelleyan Orphan, the undertones (overtones? both?) of my musical back and forths between the city and suburbs, each of their four albums accompanying me for their assigned seasonal three-month span each year. My sister and I both played reed instruments, and the oboe and bassoon add the right touches to Shelleyan Orphan songs, especially here.

The song perfectly encapsulates the heaven-sent and now to-heaven-returned voice of Caroline Crawley.

I may never see your face again
Rabbit’s down a hole, he’s already gone
Life came between us and just for a day
You’re the one who was standing in the door
I will love you, no matter even what you say or do
I will call your name out loud
I will love you, no matter even what you say or do
I will call your name.

So, this morning is the last I might see him. Yesterday I knelt by his big bed as he half-dozed, luxuriating in a head and ear rub while I cradled his tiny, scraggled head in my palm. This morning he was cleaning his paws sputtering a little as he did so, cheeks puffing out, then walking a little, went out and made the perfect poop, even ate half a carrot stick. Every snort and snore from him reminds me of all his little ways, many so lost now.

“I May Never” followed by “Beamheart,” the perfect finish to a career, perfect tones for a finish to a life that I can keep in my head while I think over the seventeen years of wonderful memories.


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Snake Peep

Immortal, to me, Scarlet King Snake

The Ranger Rick trio comes to a close with this Squirrel of the Week post on the first magazine I ever received from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Jam-packed with nourishment for the budding conservationist, plus some fun vocab, like “nacre”! I hope you enjoy it.

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Another Peep from a Pack Rat

Willie the White-throated Wood Rat (aka, Pack Rat)

The Year of the Ox continues, this time with the uncelebrated creature pictured above and much much more in my new post on the Squirrel of the Week blog. At least here we have a rodent! I hope you enjoy it.

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A Peep from Squirrel of the Week!

Turns out it’s the Year of the Ox, and how happy a coincidence that an issue of Ranger Rick explored in a new post at my Squirrel of the Week blog features one—a Musk Ox in Canada—on its cover! I hope you enjoy it.

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Who remembers the National Wildlife Federation’s Ranger Rick?

Three of my Ranger Ricks!

Although I’m not ready to start filling it with squirrel and nonprofit ideas, I do plan on reading each of the above three issues and offering my reactions to them on my in embryo Squirrel of the Week blog.

So, keep your eyes open for that, and consider subscribing to both blogs, by using the sign up on the upper right of each page. I’ll get reading, and for now leave you with some images of other important books in my upbringing that are also likely to appear here again.

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My reading calendar has been consciously in place longer than my music one, which is still driven only by feeling until maybe my last post, where I codified my feelings, for better or for worse.

I’m not sure how it started, but it must have been feelings like my music ones, and then a decade or so ago I looked at all the books on my shelf and decided to enjoy the carousel that was my mind, for once. Some of these monthly selections arose very naturally, long before I was conscious of anything, some came when I saw I had a mess of worthy books that were not being read. 

You might wonder where the nature books are; well they have been declared an ongoing concern, with readings in that vein taken up throughout the seasons. 


Russian, or Continental, fiction. This clearly arose from my working world days, taking the train to work in bitter weather and enjoying soaking up every phantasmagoric page of bedraggled, disgruntled, gauche civil servant fiction.


Brit hist, Vicky, Boney, Scots, &c. This started in an era of a lot of reading of the eras and lives of Napoleon and Queen Victoria, branching into general British history, including and especially the more alienated nations, plus the rest of Europe. The 19th century doesn’t loom as large as it once did, although it is still immense.


Presidential bios/U.S. history. Having collected two sets of presidential biographies, this seemed requisite. One president a year in at least one short book, and history related to his era.


International history (non-U.S., non-European). Adventures in my smattering of history books set in Asia, Africa, South America, Caribbean, Central America, the Middle East, the Pacific, the Arctic, Siberia &c.


Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series. In order written, as series should be read. We’ll see if I live long enough. I have a couple of translations of some of the books and have enjoyed comparing them to the originals when selecting.


Children’s fiction, Very Short Introductions. Summer away from school, why not read the old favorites? I have pairs of Oxford’s “Very Short Introductions” books and this an opportune time for summer study fun!


Thick novel. Sometimes not so thick. Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.


Music, art. A small group of classical music books (scores, lives), plus a lot of books about 19th-centure painters, mostly. 


Greek, Classical World, ancient, Louis MacNeice. A return to my heady first year of college where I delightedly delved into Classics. Greek Epics, plays, and poems, maybe history and art, what have you. Other ancients have been added to the mix. I began reading my collected Louis MacNeice (born on a date near mine) poems whose publication dates matched my age. I abandoned this habit several years ago, but am rectifying that this catch-up year.


Poetry, ghost stories, Irving-Chew. More loving return to schooldays, and what other month could be most poetic of the year, Keats’ birth month? On his birthday I read Washington Irving’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” annually for a decade or so. This gave way to Ruth Chew books about witches and magic. I also read a biography of A. C. Swinburne this month a while back. I never liked his poetry, but dug his life, and decided he’d make the ideal Hallowe’en persona if I ever put a lot of effort into ever wearing a costume again. 


Philosophy, religion. November weather must make me think, or want to. Paving the way for celebration and change?


Mystery, comics, roleplaying game rules/worlds. This started with reading a volume of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books per December along with Wodehouse or something akin. Now I have some comic book collections and roleplaying game guides lying around, so might add those. We’ll see.  

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After a harrowing walk among the fair weather hordes Friday near midday, I stayed in Saturday, and left the apartment by 6 am on Sunday, the time rabbits still nibble on grasses with little wariness and squirrels just begin to scamper.

A warm day already, so it was clear people would be abroad in force, but from 6 to 7, sheer heaven for the solitary walker. Very few people to pass, and very few cars to interfere with walking in the middle of the road anyway. I walked the back and side streets, then up one of the usually busier but now deserted shop streets all with the same bliss.


Morning light.

The air was warming and the birds were quietly going about their business, apart from a couple of Ring-billed Gulls that stood on the edge of usually crowded street lustily disputing a roll of bread. Chimney Swifts silently soared way above, but wait, those must be their chitters I hear, littering the air. A couple of Mourning Doves shot by, a Starling browsing an alley, House Sparrows up to their usual noise and springtime strutting, Pigeons aflutter, ubiquitous Robins seeking their breakfasts on the bits of grass and mud.

Unknown warblers sang above, requiring much patience and binoculars, the latter of which I certainly did not have. But the feeling of spring pervaded thanks to this and all the green and warmth and anticipation in the early morning air. Undercurrent to it, I kept thinking of Rebels & Redcoats, an old historical board game I used to play.


Maybe it was on warm spring like this, I used to go a suburb or two away, to Prosek’s greenhouse and game shop, once I was an older kid and could drive and the shops at the mall Kroch’s and Brentano’s and Hobbytown (or whatever it was called) dried up for board wargames. My mind’s turn to it made me wonder if it was a hint, that that time was the summit of my experience, quietly and excitedly browsing through all of the shrinkwrapped games with their historical enticements and images of maps and tiny square cardboard pieces representing the violent valor of ages past. Despite the mundaneness and evil of war, had there really ever been anything better than the imagination stirred by this intent browsing? I think of a René Magritte painting, Homesickness, when I think of the pride and futility of so much of what humans get up to, and how our better natures turn our backs on such things, but there was still that pull from Rebels & Redcoats and that shop in those early days of my life and that hobby.

I live now in a neighborhood with its own lovely garden center, complete with greenhouse for that luxurious smell of peat and loam or whatever it is, and an appended shop, in this case more a fancy gift shop than wargame and miniatures shop with a war vet guy sitting at the counter wearing a plaid shirt and breathing through tubes attached to an oxygen machine. I remember him telling me he’d game in the evenings, miniature soldiers laid out on lush green tables full of terrain, re-enacting Borodino, Gettysburg, The Bulgethe three battles he said any wargamer worth their salt had simulated.

As I walked down my street home, I found myself singing the chorus of De Sylva, Brown, and Henderson’s “Thank Your Father,” a female Cardinal perused a space of sidewalk, and quite surprising, a pair of Blue Jays with their whistling noise dashed high overhead. I can’t remember seeing Blue Jays around here.


Corot sky and trees, with that lovely sfumato.

When I got to my side street, where my car resides, another toss of a peanut, and a Crow welcoming and taking. Later that day, peering into the garden next door now and then, and the next morning walking out again, Common Yellowthroat, Hermit Thrush, Chickadee singing loudly, House Wren tittering it up and finally being spied when it flew across the street to another shrub. So many, the various summits of our experience.


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This cold weather carries so many old people away.

That’s the first line of a poem called “For Nineteenth-Century Burials” by John Betjeman. But it can just easily apply to the centuries I’ve lived in. The line pops into my head now and then, and did so the other day as I passed by the new/old campaign office of Michael Bloomberg, which popped up one day a couple of weeks ago and almost immediately shut down the day after Super Tuesday. This is all that is left:


Michael Bloomberg Chicago HQ, the day after.

One day, the same will happen to the Bernie Sanders office, then the Joe Biden one, and so on and so on. In these days of coronavirus, and the usual violence and accidents of various stripes, it is hard not to think of death, here today gone tomorrow, as opposed to the more optimistic, but still earth-bound Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week! referred to a few posts ago.

Examining letters from my grandpa’s brother, writing jovially about seeing slightly old movies in the Pacific Theater, out of harm’s way, until he wasn’t and was killed late in WWII gives me a similar feeling.

If one thinks about it, death surrounds us daily, there is always something, animate or inanimate, meeting its maker as we walk down the street. And if we felt it, as one can if they focus on certain Instagram pages about, say, farm animals, many of us would not be able to carry on. Anyone who helps animals in trouble feels this deeply sometimes. I rescue birds when they migrate through our hazard-filled big city, and the speed and wantonness of death can be astonishing.



A beautiful Fox Sparrow beyond rescue.

Look at this beautiful Great-horned Owl:


©2019, Nora Moore Lloyd (nativepics.org)

Sadly, it didn’t live even for a day after this photo was taken due to an injury it had already sustained. Such beauty and vibrancy, gone.

I guess the clichés about carpe diem carry weight. It seems right to do what you love and spend your time with those you love. Realize that everyone is in the same boat, every living thing on this planet.

These cold breezes / Carry the bells away on the air, / Catching new grave flowers into their hair,  / Beating the chapel of red-coloured glass.

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