Month: November 2022
Who made this bridge?
A woman with a pole
to reach across rippled green water
to join laughing trees and whispering leaves.
Who made this bridge?
A woman with a trunk
made of corrugated wood and hidden treasures
solid oak and secrets.
Who made this bridge?
A woman with a ladder
with rungs of sadder and wiser
dowels and trowels
seeds and needs
A woman made this bridge.
or Why My Sister Got No Yarn
The traffic was backed up on the west side of the Hudson River, a mile or more before the entrance to the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge.
“If these cars are all heading to the Sheep and Wool Festival at the fairgrounds, this does not bode well,” I said to my husband, Pat. He didn’t seem bothered. Pat has dementia and enjoys car rides even though he rarely remembers where we are going.
The car jam broke up a bit on the other side of the river but slowed to a crawl waiting to turn into the fairground parking.
Pat was astounded at the number of cars. It was only about 11:00 a.m. and the rows and rows of vehicles glinted in the autumn sunshine. I reeled off the states on license plates: Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey.
Fortunately, we had our tickets, so we skipped the buyers’ lines and followed the crowd. For crowded it was. Our first stop was the llamas and alpacas (and I still don’t know the difference). We bumped and jostled our way through the goat and sheep barns.
The one thing I was determined to see was the demonstration of Frisbee-playing dogs. It wasn’t the sheepherding dog demo that I really wanted to watch, but we made our way slowly to the grassy area marked off by flagged poles where an audience three deep was already gathered.
The dogs were amazing. They obviously loved the game, and the trainers/owners loved the dogs.
By this time, Pat and I were both hungry. I consulted the map and pointed the way to the food trucks. It turned out that everyone else at the festival was also hungry. Each vendor had lines of fifty or more people waiting to order food. Even the fried pickles truck had a line of obviously desperate people.
The hordes in the food plaza were worse than Oxford Street in London at Christmas time.
“I don’t want to wait in these long lines,” I said to Pat. Ever since Covid, I get anxious in large groups of people.
And it wasn’t just masses of people waiting to eat. Every barn and booth was packed.
The only thing I wanted to do now, having seen the dogs and given up on eating, was to choose some colorful handspun yarn to send to my sister in California.
“Let me get some yarn and then let’s go,” I said. “We’ll eat somewhere else.”
Pat, agreeable as always, held onto me as I dragged him through the crush.
After consulting the map multiple times, I figured out the way back to Gate 4 and our parking area. The barns of yarn and wool vendors were still crammed with people, but I pulled Pat into the one near our exit.
Halfway down the swarming aisle, I yanked Pat into a booth. I began to examine the yarns and the prices. Sixty dollars for one skein— uh, no. I turned around and—he was gone. No Pat.
Pushing my way back into the aisle, I looked around for an Irish cap and gray beard. There was a cap, but the wrong color and the man was too tall.
“Oh, no, oh no,” I moaned, elbowing my way to the entrance. No Pat. I turned and shoved back the other way.
Already I was imagining finding the festival police, if there was such an entity, and having someone call for Patrick Dillon on the PA system—if they had one. How in the world would I find him in these mobs of people? I got out my phone and called his mobile. It rang and said he was not available. Did he even hear it?
My mind played out more scenarios, such as me searching until closing time, when at last people would have gone and he might be easier to spot.
What would Pat do if he were trying to find me? Would he use his phone? Press his emergency medical button? Ask for help?
Eventually, I suppose, I would have remembered the app that locates him and his phone. Later, though, I discovered that he’d unknowingly turned it off in September.
But then—hallelujah–I spotted him, standing bewildered in front of the next barn over. What an incredible relief!
“Let’s get out of here!” I said, grabbing his hand.
Back in the car, I went over the protocol of what to do if we get separated.
“Stay in one place,” I directed. But would he remember?
Should I tie us together the next time we’re out in a crowd?—if I ever attempt that again.
The James Webb Space Telescope
somewhere in the clouds and gas
of a dying star
revolve cooling planets
on one of which
gasps a creature of sensibility
reaching out with tentacles
to touch its shivering child
in an encroaching ocean of ice
a swimmer with fins or flukes
the warmer equator
for thousands of years
this dimming star
in the southern ring nebula
has sent out halos
of vapor and dust
in all directions
a requiem of
souvenirs of itself
On a late fall afternoon, my husband and I took a walk along the road beside the Wallkill River. We were pleased that the recent rains had raised the water level. We could hear the swoosh of the current again. The leaves on the trees were lemon yellow, with an occasional splash of scarlet.
From overhead sounded a bird call that I didn’t recognize. It took a close search of the branches above to spot a large bird, a raptor. I am enamored of raptors. In the past two weeks I’ve seen two bald eagles, or maybe one bald eagle twice.
This bird above my head called out, “skeek-eek-eek-eek-eek!” I pointed it out to my husband, and the hawk must have taken offense because it spread its wings and glided across to the other side of the river.
As it flew, I spotted the light-feathered underside and white patch that told me this was not a red-tail hawk. It screeched again. I pulled out my trusty iPhone and searched for raptors of New York. The photo of the harrier left no doubt that this was the bird we were seeing. Just to be sure, I located recordings of harrier hawk calls. There was a match: the female. Female raptors tend to be larger than the males, and this was a big bird.
At home, I found more information about the harrier hawk.
The Northern harrier, formerly known as the marsh hawk, hunts primarily on the wing and may cover up to 100 miles per day. Its prey, consisting of mostly rodents and small birds, is detected using extremely keen hearing. This 16-24 inch, slender-bodied hawk has a long tail and wings, long yellow legs, distinct facial disks and a conspicuous white rump patch. In flight, the wings are held in a shallow “V.” The adult male is pale gray on the head, back and wings. The gray tail is banded with six to eight gray-brown bars. There is cinnamon-brown spotting on the legs and flanks, and the wing linings and undertail are white. The eyes of an adult male are yellow.
Female plumage is browner overall with dark streaks on the breast. The female is born with brown eyes which turn yellow at about three years of age. Juveniles resemble adult females, but have gray eyes. When startled, this species makes a rapid, nasal chattering “ke-ke-ke-ke-ke”.
This raptor is considered one of the most agile and acrobatic in North America. During the breeding season, the male performs an elaborate courtship flight consisting of a series of U-shaped maneuvers. The nest is a flimsy structure built of sticks and grass on the ground. It can be found in dense vegetation or situated in a slightly elevated position. The clutch averages five eggs. Incubation lasts 30-32 days and begins before the last egg is laid, so the young vary in size. The young fledge in 30-41 days, then remain near the nest, dependent on their parents for three to four weeks. Clutches are larger and reproductive success is higher during years when vole populations are high.
–From New York Department of Environmental Conservation https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7090.html