Tuesday, December 21, 2004


cashes-valley, originally uploaded by sparakeet.

On the eve of the first legitimate snowfall this year,
i headed north, leaving a city glittering with Christmas lights in the rear view.
the drive on hwy 2 was all currier and ives.
hemlocks heavy with snow slumped in a storybook way.
cashes valley was a vast undisturbed blanket of white seemingly inhabited by only a small paint horse.
The flakes were beginning to obscure the shaggy brown spots on his back. an hour or two from now he may
be mistaken for a white horse.
A blue grey sky was revealed as the road opened up
and looked bright compared to the darkness of
the cohuttas ahead.
Shrouded in heavy clouds, i knew the better snow was yet to come.

At the cabin i discovered tiny tracks in the snow -birds and
small mammals.
Puffy squirrels waited patiently for their peanuts.
quiet because the snow buffers sound -the road empty of redneck vehicles.
the entire landscape around me was immaculate, the cleaness of snow working its minimalist magic.
it feels as though i have the entire forest to myself
and it speaks to me in snaps, crow calls and feathery evergreen songs.
The creek looks like a japanese painting,
a classic zen scene of rock, snow, moving water
and rhododendron heavy with ice.
I saw the red-tailed hawk in his y-tree perch
and a rabbit on the high part of my driveway.
Black sticks colonized with frilly botanica colored lichens line the landscape
and my breath seems to hang in the air like a frozen sculpture.
i stay out as long as the wind chill allows, just long enough to see
a slate colored junco take his last seed and fly off over the cabin

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


the-chix, originally uploaded by sparakeet.

red and dove, red and dove,
who would've thought i'd ever love
two fussy feathered dinosaurs
that tear up the earth and shit on the floors?
i've learned your language of trills, squawks and shrieks
but since ya'll are hens there will be no peeps
but eggs galore, though tiny they are
those dear little bantams, my favorites by far!

Thursday, December 02, 2004


possum, originally uploaded by sparakeet.

i vote for the possum as the poster animal of the south. the ultimate survivor. like a bunch of southern rednecks, they breed faster and mo' better than their brethren. many a jacked up four-wheeler, slick sports car and sticky windowed minivan has smashed them into the asphalt and into the museum of ubiquitous road kill. are we really in that big of a hurry that we cant offer a few seconds for a lowly marsupial to get across? i've heard they can be eaten but are extremely greasy. not that i have anything against grease but i've decided to take the old timers word on this one. even an unwanted creature has it's beauties.
keep that in mind next time you are on the receiving end of a put down, or left out, or dismissed. just take your place along with the possum, who upon closer examination actually turns out to be a fine little fellow.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

our lady of the southern pine forests

lady of pine forest, originally uploaded by sparakeet.

the south is under siege from pine beetles. the evidence can be seen throughout the southern appalachians,,,,the needleless sticks have shed their bark to expose a yellow core. the entry point for the beetle is the size of an aspirin and makes a dark hole. they weaken the tree from within and it falls victim to other parasites. you cant treat it. you can only identify the sick trees and cut them down and burn them. but even if you do cull the sick trees from the property, you can't stop the beetles from the neighbors or the rest of the forest from setting up shop again. virginia pines seem to be the most ravaged which is too bad because they are the giants of pines. a few of them tower over my place from across the creek and are sure to come down someday soon. the largest is filled with holes that woodpeckers have made to reach insects or build homes. that's a good part of an otherwise unhappy situation.

i cannot image a southern landscape without the beautiful pines! their cheerful evergreens are a refuge for eyes that tire of the stark linear hardwood beauties against a winter sky. i love the look of a carpet of fallen needles beneath my white pines. it is a place where i might lay and nap; the piney fragrance is the smell of home, its comforts and goodness. the browned fallen needles are a nice counterpoint to the greens of tall fescues and pink clovers, and defines the woodlot from the open field.

this has happened before. there used to be a pine that inhabited south georgia and north florida. it is called the loblolly pine and it is near extinction. i am hoping the remaining pines dont meet that same fate. i made this painting as a devotional to my forest....like an amulet, i make the prayer to protect my trees in the form of an image. other living things portrayed in our lady's dress is a trillium, a solomons seal, painters brush fungi, a grasshopper, and a butterfly. in the hem of her skirt i have put hemlock needles. bad news from the eastern part of the state: here comes hemlock blight. has a war been declared on evergreens? i can only hope that the winter is every bit as harsh as the almanac promises and kills off, or at least slows down, the beetle blitzkrieg.