May: Flowers and Birds: Photos


From my garden. This lilac tree is one of the best things about my house, and probably counts in the top five reasons we bought it. This year’s blooms are so much more than the past several years: they really are extraordinary. A silver lining, or purple if you will, to this last year and more of political and ethical strife.

Mid-morning sunshine through the lilacs and pines. (c)2018

Buds are still formng! (c)2018

Close-up. (c)2018

Close-up. (c)2018

17/52 – May



May Day, my mother’s birthday, Mother’s Day, visits to Grandma’s, Cinco de Mayo, Free Comic Book Day, my name saint’s feast day, retreats and writing, and the April showers have brought the May flowers.

As I get ready in the mornings, I look out the window. I like to check the sky and the breeze, and smell the fresh spring air. On many of these mornings, I’m reminded of one of the reasons that we bought our house, and that I do love many parts of it despite our buying and maintaining experience.

The beautiful garden.

Parts of it really come alive in May. May is when we looked at the house, before the lies and the problems that lie ahead. Our first view was of the forsythia trees in front of the house, the bread and butter hostas, the lilac tree in the expansive back yard. The smell of spring was everywhere. All the natural aspects of the house, the ones you can’t fake, you can’t improve other than weeding, what will remain indefinitely after the sellers leave and we stay in our new home.

The row of forsythia trees that line one side of our property in particular. The bloom opposite the pine trees on the street border. Along the upper garden are three other forsythia trees, not to mention the four in the front of the house. I call it the upper garden because it is a two tiered planting space that comes alive every year, hiding the broken pots and decaying fall leaves. We always mean to get rid of them, but fall turns into late fall, and the first snow envelops them in a pile of white fluff. The garden is separated by a small stone and slate boundary wall making it one of the more unusual gardens in our neighborhood.

We really do have a beautiful backyard.

The forsythias are blooming their bright yellow petals, and shine in the sunlight.

Adjacent to one of them is a lilac tree. It may be a bush, but it seems too tall to be a bush, and so I call it a tree.

At the moment, it is barely budding; the green poking out of the bare sticks of branches that will soon be weighed down heavily with the purple petals that gather themselves into natural bouquets.

It is the one time a year that I grab my chair and sit out in the backyard, close enough to smell the fragrance that is overpowering in its appeal.

I would estimate the purple, lilac color to begin in about two weeks.

May is most colorful and bright.

It will fill out the tree, and brighten the yard, but unfortunately will only be present for the month of May, maybe the first week of June.

I’ll go out with my camera, and post to Facebook and Instagram. I’ll look out of the window and smile every time my eye catches the hint of lilac color, and even though I’m far away from the tree itself, I can almost smell it.

So many senses alive, and to think it’s one little tree at the top of a two tier garden.

But it’s also May.



“Time ground to a halt and the trees whispered in the language of God and nature about steadfastness and resilience—gently saying that one could be constantly stirred yet not moved, bent but not broken, that a thing well grounded and deeply rooted could ever stand.”

— Charles M. Blow, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones”

It’s very windy here and this was perfect; and beautiful.

Trees of My Life


I was so excited to get this prompt, but like with all of the prompts I’ve waited to the last minute and I can’t think of anything to say.

As it happens, I love trees. There are two trees at my church that I love for very different reasons. The first is the large green tree behind the main sign. Last year, I would sit there and cry after my friend died. I didn’t have a place of worship and since I had Mass said for her here, I got very attached to this tree. It was very comforting.

The second tree can be seen perfectly from where I sit in the pew, but only if the window is open. The first time I noticed it, it was raining and the angle of the window and the view I had, it emotionally came upon me as Wales, so that is my Wales tree and it brings a smile to my face whenever I catch a glimpse of it during my visits to the church.

There are other trees that I remember throughout my life. The tree in Eisenhower Park near the Amphitheatre where we would air band front for Duran Duran and I was their air photographer. If only I’d brought my very real camera, I could have been the very real photographer for the air band. I used to sit with my back against this tree and write stories. It didn’t have a name then, but now it has its own fandom, Band Fiction I think or something so obvious it’s painful.

There’s the quasi-Christmas tree that was always outside my mother’s bedroom window that finally had to be taken down when it was hit once too many times by lightning.

The trees along the road in the Cotswolds while we walked off the rain and the cider until the warden would let us back into the hostel at Stow-on-the-Wold. And he did, early in fact because he felt badly for us in their tiny town, in the rain, on a Sunday in January with no bus service. Did I mention it was Sunday?

There were the trees that we bobbed and weaved around hoping not to break anything or die trying as we slid down on a poncho along the snow covered Craigower hill in Scotland during a snowstorm. When we got to the bottom, the sun was shining.

Of all the trees in my life, I especially love the trees usually used to depict the Trees of Life. The full leafy tops and the strong sturdy bottoms with the roots finding their ways away from the trunk into the nooks and crannies of the ground, creating paths much as we create the paths in our lives.

In fact, I love the Trees of Life so much that I’ve asked my friend to sketch me one to hang in my office, but he keeps forgetting (and that’s not a guilt trip; it’s really not). It’s almost as though he forgets that sketch and I forget this essay and we both exclaim, ‘oh crap!’ at about the same time when we’re reminded with that sheepish yet confused look on our faces.

I just got back from visiting him in Williamsburg, Virginia. I will probably be writing about this a lot. There are so many prompts that I’ve been jotting down the little things for when that random prompt inspires a random free write.

To get to Virginia from New York, I took the train round trip on Amtrak. I suppose Amtrak is really the only option if you’re taking the train. The one thing I noticed, in addition to the fact that I think I prefer train travel to any other kind of transportation, is that the entire East Coast from Upstate (Central) New York to Southern Virginia is all Trees and Water with the occasional Trees in Water or Water surrounding Trees, but that despite any other scenery whether it was a big city (Baltimore or DC) or a small town (Hudson or Ashland) once you’ve slipped out of ‘civilization’ you were back in the trees broken up only by some kind of body of water.

Traveling south you could see how much of spring had sprung. The greens deepening, the branches disappearing under the close knit covering of the leaves, the ground a blanket of shaggy grass and clover and weeds and bushes all vying for the attention of the limited sun. The further south you traveled the more that spring was apparent.

The sun was also warmer down South. I had been told not to bring a jacket and I actually listened for once. Nights were cool, but not cool enough that I was cold without a jacket.

Having once arrived at my friend’s house, the trees were everywhere, clearing just enough to let the car in and reveal the house and outbuildings. It was like hiking through a forest and in the clearing there was a house, the garage, the studio, the paddock and the horses. There was the garden, both vegetables and herbs and an enclosed area for the dogs where the roses grew. It is a very country kind of place, almost unexpected for my friend whose heart belongs to the city places.

For me, that is the one thing I enjoy about suburbia-bordering-on-rural. It is close enough to do anything. It is not in the middle of nowhere although it does feel that way sometimes, but in the mornings with a cup of tea in hand, there are animals and dogs barking and branches brushing against windows in the country breeze. There is the flicker of sunlight through the thick leaves and a sturdy trunk to lean your back against, your head tilted until you can look straight up into the woven roof held together by branches and birds’ nests and squirrel fur. The sun is there and it glimmers and blinks, peeking through tiny spaces, but there is enough of a covering that your eyes are not bothered by the sun and the heat is filtered and spaced in the shade.

I always have pen and paper, but I also always forget while sitting under the tree, staring at the life we forget about in the hustle and bustle of errands and kids and work and arguments and whatever that is not in the mini-forest of home.

Despite it not being my home, the nature here – the large and the small trees, the pines and the maples, the oaks and the others – they are everywhere and if they are everywhere they are also home and so it is a home of sorts for me as well.

I don’t want to leave this home. The responsibilities are different, the bed is different, the deep dark foresty-like covering is different and I am a little different. I can be someone else here, I can be me here, and I don’t want to leave.

I think this as we drive past the cluster of trees that form the driveway and I look back once more at the house and the garden and squint to see the horse and pick a tree to be mine for when I come back, but as much as I miss the friend I was visiting, I really miss the me I was under those Virginia trees and I want to go back.