Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Death Comes for the ArchbishopDeath Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The only plot here is that which you might find in anyone’s life. The book flows through Bishop Latour’s years without relying on external forces of any kind. A quote toward the end of the book expresses the way the work itself moves:

“He realized also that there was no longer any perspective in his memories…. He was soon to have done with calendared time, and it had already ceased to count for him. He sat in the middle of his own consciousness; none of his former states of mind were lost or outgrown. They were all within reach of his hand, and all comprehensible.”

Click on the link above to read the rest of my review of Death Comes for the Archbishop.

View all my reviews





Over the years, I’ve accumulated a small collection of ‘Hiking (fill in the state) with Kids’ guidebooks.  I pulled this one from my shelves again because I thought the gentler kids’ hikes would be good for the recuperative process I’m going through since breaking my leg badly just after Christmas.

Last year we day-hiked around Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  (You can read more about it here, and hereabouts.)   This year we’re staying closer to home.

If you’d like to read my “review” of the book, it’s here.  One of my favorite features is the month-by-month rundown of hiking conditions in the state.  I come from the West, and hiking is different there than in the Middle South.  For instance, I never thought about checking the weather forecast for tornadoes.  Getting local information to augment the generalities of hiking how-to makes for a much more pleasant experience. This is true whether or not you are hiking with children.

I’m putting in a plug here for these types of books.  They are a great resource if you have children or grandchildren, or you are recovering from an injury, just getting started hiking, or simply looking for more easier hikes.  They are available for many states (perhaps all, though I could not attest to that) and are easily found, in my experience, in the local interest sections of bookstores.  Pick them up for dayhikes or camping trips close to home, or check them out for a fresh air break from driving, side trip, or destination when you are traveling farther afield.

Almost forgot: Here’s a link to Hike Arkansas, website by Tim Ernst, co-author of this book, well-known nature photographer and outdoor guidebook guru.

copyright Cleeo W. Wright

Yellow stars blossom
against rain blackened tree bark.
Ephemeral joy.

If you visited my blog earlier this month, you may have noticed that I spent some time in the Smokies with my husband hiking and taking pictures.  It was wonderful.  I thought I’d share just a few of the 700+ pictures he took.

copyright Cleeo W Wright

Star Chickweed

Day 1:  We found this Star Chickweed on the side of the road.  We spent an hour shooting along the 20 yards of hillside.  Great Smoky Mountain National Park has over 1500 species of flowering plants and is also known as “Wildflower National Park.”   Each year they sponsor the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage.  The 63rd annual event begins tomorrow, if you happen to be in the area.

copyright Cleeo W Wright

Grotto Falls

Day 2:  …the very end of day 2, to be exact.  We reached the trailhead just before sunset.  I sent my husband on ahead and he practically ran up the 1.5-mile trail to catch the light.  By the time I got there, the sun had gone down, and we had to hike back in the gathering dark.  My headlight was on before we hit the bottom.  The bear-clawed trees and heavy brush (mountain laurels, etc.) I noted on the way up was none to comforting on the way down.  We made it safely back, however, and while we didn’t see any salamanders (Grotto Falls is a hotspot for the little amphibians), we did get some interesting shots of the landscape.

copyright Cleeo W Wright

Sunrise at Clingman’s Dome

Day 3:  On our last day we watched the sunrise at Clingman’s Dome.  It is the highest point in the Park and in the state of Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi.  It also marks the highest point along the Maine-Georgia Appalachian Trail.  We didn’t trek the .5 miles to the summit, opting to shoot from the parking lot instead.  I don’t know what the view would have been like from the observation tower, but it’s hard to believe it could have been better than what we had.  I posted another shot of the sunrise on “L” day of the A to Z Challenge, but I like this one better.

April is a fabulous time to visit GSMNP.  Perhaps this sneak peek whets your appetite for adventure and discovery in the outdoors of Tennessee and North Carolina.

This morning I woke up with birds on the brain.  I had another topic picked, but the birds kept coming back to me.  It reminded me of a movie I watched recently.  No, not The Birds.  The Ring.  You know that movie within the movie that is just a mishmash of images?  That’s what was going on with the birds.  So let’s jump into the mishmash.  I promise no murderous black-haired girlchild will crawl out of the computer screen when we’re done!

I’m away from home right now, in Boise, Idaho.  One of the things that really tickled me was the sight of Canada Geese resting on the rooftops of buildings downtown.  I know they aren’t rare birds.  Back home we have regular migrations, and I have become accustomed to stopped traffic in certain areas of town when the geese decide to cross against the light.

Photographer: Jason Pratt (FishSpeaker) from Pittsburgh, PA

Why did the geese cross the road?

 But I’ve never seen them sitting on architectural outcroppings like giant, web-footed pigeons.  (I wanted to get a picture, but I’m pretty sure motorists would have more patience waiting for lawless wildlife than picture-snapping tourists.)  The sight reminded me of the storks in Europe that roost on chimneys.

By Adam Jones Adam63 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Stork nesting in Romania

All this urban birdlife reminded me of a couple of children’s books that I love.  The first I remember more as impressions from young childhood.  I rediscovered it when I had children of my own.  I don’t know if they enjoyed the read aloud experience as much as I did, but Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey, was definitely on the list.  The second book I read when I was a little older, and I still find it a little odd how deeply I related to the bird in The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White.  I enjoyed Charlotte’s Web, but I did not feel the same connection to the pig.  Trumpet was also my first exposure to an author who would later become a favorite essayist.  I appreciate him because I enjoy his work and I think he is a good example of a writer who is capable in multiple genres.  If you are a writer, you should check out the must-read style manual he co-authored with William Strunk, Jr.: The Elements of Style.

Geese, storks, swans.  What about ducks and owls?  I have a friend who loves birds.  She is a bona fide owlaholic.  She spends time every day rambling through her suburb, which is rich in green space and wild areas, taking pictures of the urban wildlife she coexists so brilliantly with.  Her most recent adventures include an attempted duck rescue.  You can read about it on her blog, Adventures of an Owlaholic. 

I can’t end this post without a trip back home.  Perhaps being away brings memories into sharper focus.  At the moment I am recalling:

  • the owl that roosts right outside my window, hooting me back to sleep when insomnia hits
  • the birds on spring mornings whose singing makes waking up a pleasure
  • the gorgeous colors of cardinals and blue jays, bright amid barren winter trees, and the hours I’ve spent watching them, respectively, dabble in creeks and steal dog food from the back porch
  •  the neighborhood hawks whose seasonal arrival the multiplication of squirrels prophesies
  • and, of course, the occasional descending of starlings that fills the branches of our trees with cacophony, and creates the illusion of a  fully animate tree, leafed out in black.  Alfred Hitchcock was pretty on with his images in “The Birds.”

Hey, I promised no evil children.  I didn’t guarantee no nightmares.

Hope you enjoyed Day 2 of the Blogging from A to Z challenge.  Click on the link to find more blogs to explore, and come on back to see what the rest of the alphabet has in store here.