Poetry & Blooms–Balms for a Reflective Time

L’Shana Tovah! Happy New Year!

It may be 2021 in the secular world, but according to the Jewish calendar it’s 5782. Every year, as the High Holidays approach and summer comes to an end, I look inward, assessing the previous year’s relationships, family, health and work.

Rosh Hashanah (literally “head of the year” or New Year) is the Jewish New Year. Yom Kippur, which comes ten days after Rosh Hashanah, is the Day of Atonement. Together, they are sometimes referred to as the Jewish High Holidays. They mark a period known both as the “Days of Awe” and the “Ten Days of Repentance,” during which Jewish people are supposed to reflect on the sins they have committed during the past year. Rosh Hashanah combines the joy of a New Year celebration and its theme of renewal with the seriousness associated with confronting one’s failings and seeking forgiveness both from God and from those one has wronged. Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day of the Jewish sacred calendar.

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This year there’s much to be grateful for and look forward to and also so many things to worry about. My husband’s mom’s health is the biggest worry for our family. And days before the holidays started, Hurricane Ida devastated many of my town’s businesses and homes. Sometimes, hon, I can barely take a deep breath.

But vivid colors call to me and I contemplate how a blue sky and white clouds frame bright yellow petals, and I search for words to write and read.

Breathe.

A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky

Lewis Carroll – 1832-1898

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July—

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear—

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream—
Lingering in the golden gleam—
Life, what is it but a dream?

Bugging Out!

Little Miss Cicada.
Little Miss Cicada spreading her wings.

Little Miss Cicada hanging out.
Little Miss Cicada hanging out.

“Every time I see them, I scrunch my shoulders and feel weird inside.  They freak me out!  They’re gross!”

Best quote award goes to my daughter Hannah, who was a teenager in 2013, the last time Brood X cicadas created a stir (of wings) in the Garden State.

Yes, our dog Lucy thought they made tasty treats. Yes, that’s me holding an adult cicada. No, no one else in my family thought they were cool.

Repost: Cicada City Part 1

One of my favorite summer nighttime sounds is the collective hum of cicadas.  They start somewhere at the end of June and continue, if it’s warm enough, into October.  I make a mental note the night I don’t hear them anymore. Then, I know winter’s on its way.

This year, a different cicada has come out of its 17-year hibernation.  If you haven’t heard of the periodical Brood II cicadas, I’m afraid you’ve either been living under a rock or under the ground as a separate cicada species. The, ummm, buzz about the buzz started before the first cicada wriggled out of a 1/4 “diameter hole in the ground.  The bugaboo about these bugs reached an all-time high about the same time a rash of little holes covered my yard.  It looked like someone had aerated the ground.  Ohhh, I guess someone did!

Hon, guess what came next?  A condition I’m calling “Cicada Hysteria!”  In fact, plenty of people are still afflicted with “Cicada Hysteria” since the insects are still underfoot, climbing trees, flying around and altogether creating a modern day horror movie.  Take Teenage Daughter #1.  Here’s what she has to say about them, “Every time I see them, I scrunch my shoulders and feel weird inside.  They freak me out!  They’re gross!”

Unlike Teenage Daughter #1, Teenage Daughter #2 is indifferent, and Tween Daughter thinks they’re cool.  From afar.  She doesn’t mind looking at them from a safe distance, but she’s not about to let a six-legged cidada crawl on her arm.

Hon, guess who let a six-legged cicada crawl on her arm?  You got it.  I bonded with Little Miss Cicada! LMC hung out on in my hands for a half hour.  LMC wasn’t trapped, tied down or otherwise constrained.  She hung out of her own free will.  I think we were equally fascinated with each other.

She allowed me to touch her hard shell and peer into the black pupils in the middle of her red eyes.  The antennas under her eyes were short and black.  She picked up her leg and “waved” to me and Tween Daughter.  Really!  Her legs were sticky in an “I can cling to bark” kind-of-way.  I have no idea what LMC was thinking.  Do cicadas think?  If they do, maybe she was thinking, “Please scratch my shell.  It’s really itchy when it first comes out of its exoskeleton!”

I placed her on the side of a Tulip tree, and now I listen for her loud buzz when I water the flowers, walk Lucy and drive through town. I hope that as soon as the song of the Brood II cicadas dies down, the annual cicadas that sing in the night return.

Then I’ll sit outside at dusk, watching the trees turn into silhouettes against the indigo sky. The bats will flit about catching mosquitoes, the fireflies will wink to each other and the screech owls will whistle and hoot.  The perfect, warm temperature of summer nights will fill me up…with hope and happiness and satisfaction. 

Little Miss Cicada.
Bonding with Little Miss Cicada. (photos courtesy of Tween Daughter)

Coywolf Country?!

Wolf, Coyote, or a Combination?

Three of us thought we saw a wolf in our backyard, but according to Endangered New Jersey, “There are no wolves in the wild in NJ.” Here’s what the site says:

Wolves can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia. Expanding development, farming, and ranching activity has drastically reduced the wolf’s range and population. Suitable habitat now restricts wolves to remote areas of their traditional range.

But conservation and education efforts will hopefully protect and preserve wolves throughout the world. There are no wolves in the wild in NJ, but you can visit them in captivity.

Reintroduction programs are being implemented and captive wolves in zoos, and wolf research centers are being maintained to insure that the genetic purity of wolf species is preserved. Turtle Back Zoo’s wolves come from Wolf Park Research Center in Battle Ground, Indiana.

In the urban wilderness of Essex County, you can visit wolves at the Turtleback Zoo which has a Wolf Woods habitat. You can see timber wolves close up but safely through glass panels that let you feel like a member of the pack. Several viewing stations let you see the wolves from different angles. You will wolves see crossing a stream, resting on logs and rocky outcroppings and nose-close right at the window.

If you want to hear the howling of wolves in NJ, you can also head to the mountains of the Delaware Water Gap in Warren County, NJ. At the Lakota Wolf Preserve, (Pics above are wolves I photographed at the Lakota Wolf Preserve.) there are great photo opportunities with packs of Tundra, Timber, and Arctic wolves in a natural surrounding. There are also bobcats and foxes at the reserve. The preserve is at at 89 Mt. Pleasant Road, Columbia, NJ.

If it wasn’t a wolf, what was it?!

Animal spotted at about 10am Thursday, February 13, 2020.

Could it be a Coywolf?! What is a Coywolf?

Shout out to my critique partner, Kathy, for introducing me to New Jersey’s “apex predator!”

In an article by by

Coywolves are said to be Eastern coyotes, “the latest cool-sounding hybrid animal that researchers say now can be found by the millions throughout the Northeast.”

The coywolf is actually a cross between a coyote and a wolf, and it’s pretty common in the Northeast U.S., including N.J., according to several reports.

What used to be considered an eastern coyote is more accurately called a coywolf, according to Smithsonian Magazine, since eastern wolves interbred with western coyotes when deforestation and hunting threatened their population.

Researchers have learned that the coywolf is about twice the size of a coyote, with larger jaws and bigger muscles that allow it to kill deer, the UK Independent reports. The animals were dubbed the new “superpredators” by Field and Stream.

The extensive coywolf studies of Pepperdine University biology professor Javier MonzA3n concluded that coyote DNA dominates, but the animal is also 10 percent dog and 25 percent wolf, the Economist reported.

A 2014 PBS special on the coywolf observed that the coywolf may be taking over the region but its appearance only began within the last 90 years.

Coyotes now exist in at least 400 towns across the state, according to the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, NJ Advance Media has reported.

One eastern Coyote/coywolf research site says that the animal is found from New Jersey to Maine, weighs 30 to 45 pounds on average, and ranges in color from “blonde to darker black and brown, but is usually tawny brown.” While the animal may be stronger than the coyote, coywolf attacks are extremely rare, and there’s no reason for “wolf hysteria,” the Coywolf Association says.

Photo of a coywolf courtesy of WMHT.

So cool!

Wolf Sighting In My Backyard!

Three Women and a Wolf

You’re not going to believe what me, my daughter and a friend witnessed this week…a wolf walking alongside our fence!

We couldn’t believe what we were seeing and as I was shouting, “It’s a coyote!” my daughter and friend disagreed and were yelling, “No, it’s a wolf!” Hon, you may remember my post about living in New Jersey, Animal Kingdom in the Suburbs, but I’ve never seen–or even heard–of a Grey Wolf sighting in the area! The only wolves I’ve seen in the Garden State are the ones I photographed at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in  Columbia, NJ. They were gorgeous, interesting, and on the other side of a chain link fence. The wolf in my backyard looked lost, like how the heck did I end up here and how can I get back up to the South Mountain Reservation? He wasn’t hunting and, though he was larger and taller than a full breed German Shepherd, didn’t look scary. I wasn’t quick enough to get a good photo–in the one I snapped, he’s hunkering down.

So cool!

Grey Wolf seen in my backyard.

 

Flower Photography, Sunshine Petals

Sunflowers

Sharing more blooms. Sunshine Petals!

Cactus Flowers

Official State Flower of Maryland

Maryland designated black-eyed Susan as the official state floral emblem in 1918. All State Flowers

Black-eyed Susans are common in Maryland fields and roadsides, and the black and gold colors match the state bird, state insect, and even the state cat.

Black-eyed Susan Facts

The black-eyed Susan is a daisy-like wildflower with yellow petals and a dark brown center that grows in dry places. A member of the sunflower family and native to the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, .

Black-eyed Susan plants reach 2 to 3 feet in height, blooming between May and August. The flower heads measure 2 to 3 inches in diameter. The scientific name for the black-eyed Susan is Rudbeckia hirta; “hirta” is Latin for “rough hairy” (as the prominent center of the flower is).

The root of the black-eyed Susan is used in traditional and folk remedies to treat colds.   State Symbols USA

Black-Eyed Susans