Photos, Late August 2021

Woodland Park, Houston
Wandering Glider
Yellow-sided Skimmer
Common Whitetail (female)
Fiery Skipper
Giant Swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (female)
Pollinator
Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) “Claudia”
Common Checkered Skipper
Red-vented Bulbul (immature)
Tree Frog contemplates the emptiness of all phenomena.
Western Box Turtle
Toady
The old 608’s are showing the mileage.

IDs are arrived at by casual internet image search and are probably okay. I would not cite me in your dissertation.

Babble

Walking and breathing
muttering under my breath the names
of great cities of the world

London, Tokyo, New York

When your only tool
is a cement truck, everything
looks like a metropolis

New Delhi, Amsterdam, Paris

That blue tent
is still pitched in the wooded patch
by the freeway

New Orleans, Toronto, Sydney

I take cuttings from my
babbling stream of thoughts
and cast them in concrete

Berlin, Cairo, Los Angeles

All the surfaces are soon
spattered with the stain of life
busy covering up the mess I've made

Body, Speech, Mind

Down

Featherless freaks
thin skinned fur poachers
look what all we traded
to be brainy enough
to have worries.

Shivers are the hoarse song
poking in to the tune of life
where our molecules shudder
and shrink and malfunction
in the sluggish low frequencies
that will withdraw
the very beats from our hearts
should our adaptations fail.

Here in Texas we are maneuvering our way back to normal after a shock of extreme weather knocked things about. The agency here that governs power grid management is more aligned with Enron-style market games than it is with the public good, so wish us luck.

Photo: Northern Mockingbird on a cold morning, (CC-BY-SA) 2021, G. Paul Randall

A Scattering of Light

Clouds break up the monotonous blue expanse above and the light, illuminating it all down to the last wispy puff, has yet to deal with the billions of serrated leaf edges awaiting its arrival down here in the thick of nature, whose every quality owes much to humanity’s rare neglect.

Did not see many birds on my walk yesterday. Ruby-crowned Kinglets are here for the winter and I caught sight of a Tennessee Warbler. Early morning light makes the myriad details of a Texas prairie erupt in a festival for the eyes. I walked the trails in silence, slipping my mask back up over my nose when I encountered other people.

I did see and photograph a mute Mockingbird contemplating something relating to life as birds would have it. She sat still for it, which is the only way I can grab a bird portrait at distance. (Idea for a camera feature: button that emits a silent signal heard only by wildlife that says, “stay still for a moment, it’s important.”)

Mocking-Bird                         
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Then from a neighboring thicket
    the mocking-bird, wildest of singers,
Swinging aloft on a willow spray
    that hung o’er the water,
Shook from his little throat
    such floods of delirious music,
That the whole air and the woods
    and the waves seemed silent to listen. 
Plaintive at first were the tones
    and sad: then soaring to madness
Seemed they to follow or guide
    the revel of frenzied Bacchantes.
Single notes were then heard,
    in sorrowful, low lamentation;
Till, having gathered them all,
    he flung them abroad in derision,
As when, after a storm, a gust of wind
    through the tree-tops
Shakes down the rattling rain
    in a crystal shower on the branches.

Bothered a little by some lower back pain, I cut my walk short and was soon racing along on Houston’s 610 Loop, in sync with the speeding hordes, light scattering off of pavement and chrome bumpers, and nature somehow accommodating it all. I feel like a voyeur, sneaking peeks at the beauty of the world from a little hiding spot not quite in it.