Poems, Paintings and Prose Inspired by
the Green Mountain State
My Beloved Vermont
Kaleidoscope meadows, flower-speckled fields,
Birch silhouettes reaching toward heaven
Moose in the marsh – a cow with her calf –
Deer leaping cross creeks that flow now and then…
I’ve come to you for comfort and peace
When seeking solace from cruelty and pain
You’ve enveloped me in your loving woods,
Caressing my face with falling rain
Then warming me up with your sun’s golden rays
Restoring and making me whole once again
It seemed like any other storm
When rain began as mountain mist
Then transformed to snowstorm clouds
Swirling billows in the air
In spite of the rain, a hummingbird
Flew in to sip syrup at window pane
Even a monarch butterfly
Arrived in search of sweet feeding flower
It started late and rained all night
In spurts of downpours riding on gales.
Once it stopped the wind arrived
Blowing trees with gusts, sideways.
I heard a flock of Canada geese
Flying above in off-formation
Their youngsters couldn’t hold the V,
Bumping into one another.
The honking racket made me laugh
As I hoped they’d all safely pass.
But after Irene your open wounds
Pained my heart and shook my soul
Where river banks crumbled as water rushed by
And hundred year trees fell to their doom
Breaking up bridges that lay in their path
Even those, covered, from pioneer days
When horse-drawn carriages passed through on their way
To homesteads and farms, now flooded, in ruin.
To witness a storm of that magnitude
Whose rains eroded whole mountainsides
Was an experience I’d prefer to forget
But Vemont’s transformed landscape will always remember.
I’ve come now to give you comfort and peace
As you seek solace from cruelty and pain
I envelop your woods in my loving arms
Caressing your trees in the falling rain.
When one comes home to Vermont
it is like no other homecoming,
passing cow pastures and farms,
crossing rivers, thick with trout,
winding our way
through village-sprinkled valleys
Up, up, up we climb
shifting gears downwards while
hearts and hills heave upwards —
Up, up, up we climb
through forest-clad mountains
where windows fall open
to breathe mountain air
Up, up, up we climb
past deer and moose crossings
hunting warm, woolen sweaters,
weaving our way around bends
Smiles grow, tears gather –
we’re home at last
surrounded by the ones we love
whose welcome warms our hearts, souls… and toes
Under the Spell
Twin fallen birch by water’s edge,
not beavers’ work with carving teeth,
but rain water washing above the shore
that toppled the giants to their end.
Knobby, gnarled roots standing tall
clutch a rock in mighty grasp
like a jewel in its setting, all entwined –
such handiwork, I pause to admire.
North wind blows to lake’s south shore
where pretty prism dancing waves
toss water lilies to and fro as
sunlight spotlights rocks below.
Kayaks drift, floating on ripples –
reflections like brush strokes that
blend with white birch stripes,
criss-crossing shimmering, silver sea.
Steep slope boulders and stones,
frozen in time, prepare to plunge
into deep water, hover on shoreline or
challenge the hiker with bumpy terrain.
Chipmunk charges boldly across my path
and chirps a warning to its mate.
I slowly return to civilization on the north shore
where tadpoles zig and zag —
A desperate dash to escape
toddlers’ toes, shovels and nets.
Another day passes
under the spell of Emerald Lake.
Tea with My Grandmothers
Lovely lace labored by loving hands
of my grandmothers and theirs’–
ladies long gone throughout the ages
whose masterful handiwork remains —
dainty doilies with scalloped edges
dresser scarves fringed with frills
demure collars worn on diminutive necks
Victorian blouses of sheer elegance,
damask napkins and grand table cloths,
embroidered, French knotted, inserted and edged
Generation after generation, including my Mother,
who learned ancient ways by adding her own
flowers and birds with colorful threads,
petals and leaves appliqued all around
on card table cloths for tea parties and bridge,
bath and dish towels too precious to risk —
heaven forbid — a stain, that is.
I sit here in joy and also remorse
knowing not what to do with box after box
of my fragile collection, but in the end,
to the linen lady I carry some –
She sorts them abruptly with critical eye
then offers a pittance for the pile she grasps
with long, sharp fingers accosting my stash
She shows my treasures no love nor respect,
“Turned yellow, need mending, no value, undone” –
I wish I hadn’t gone to her shop
for her comments make my guilt all the greater
I return home with her discards, defeated,
feeling sorry and mad – I go to brew tea –
then a smile appears as I spot the last box
of the very best heirlooms I’d saved just for me!
Brook cascades while white bubbles foam
around boulders and rocks where rapids flow
ferns tickle my knees as I pass by
forget-me-nots along the way
Broken birch I step across –
tree trunks down all around –
Has a Nor’easter just passed through?
sharp teeth, short work, the beaver’s doom
Kent Pond dances in evening breeze,
speckled leaves, sunlit floor
bouncing water, glistening boughs
water lapping upon its shore
Terraced steps of woven roots
along the trail to trip me up,
tracking who has turned the bend
paw prints in mud — man’s best friend
Quiet cove where ducklings hide
under their mother, still as stone,
I hold my breath as I walk past
but step on sticks that break and snap
A far-away loon’s hypnotic call
reminds me of home where my mate waits –
shimmering twilight on Kent Pond falls
enchanting my spirit, making me whole
WHAT IS IT ABOUT MEN?
WHAT IS IT ABOUT MEN AND THEIR POWER SAWS?
When we looked out through walls of glass,
low limbs and trees shielded us from the world,
nestled in our private lodge –
perched upon one mountain
looking towards the next
But when the men folk of the family
got hold of a power saw
that pounded my ear drums
and shook the woods to its roots,
creatures fled for their lives
as branches and trees fell
and the road appeared in view…
WHAT IS IT ABOUT MEN AND THEIR LAWN MOWERS?
Long ago Dad answered Mom’s pleas
by saving a patch of wildflowers for me
to paint as prolifically as I pleased
whenever I’d come to stay for a spell.
Daisies and buttercups,
chickory and clover in red, white and purple
enchanted me with their charm …
Black-eyed Susans welcomed me
as I wandered through Queen Ann’s lace.
Indian paint brush inspired me
as I chose just the right spot
to sit and paint, dream and write.
Under the Milky Way at night
I’d watch for shooting stars
then make a wish
that this would never end.
But now Dad isn’t here to save the patch
or Mom to lobby on my behalf
and the EVIL LAWN SERVICE with its brutal machine
has passed this way again and again
to cut off their heads with the guillotine!
PLEASE STILL THE SAW AND THE LAWN MOWER!
Answer my plea for peace in the meadow
so I might paint and dream again
surrounded by beauty and quietude.