Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April, Come She Will

April, come she will
(click on the title to listen)

April, come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain
May, she will stay

Resting in my arms again

June, she'll change her tune
In restless walks, she'll prowl the night
July, she will fly
And give no warning to her flight

August, die she must
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold
September, I'll remember
A love once new has now grown old

~Paul Simon
From Sounds of Silence

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Something So Right

Photo courtesy of NOAA

Sometimes it seems like there is so much wrong in this world, especially when it comes to the natural world. Global warming, toxic waste, plastics washing ashore on remote atolls. I created this blog to provide a haven from all the doom and gloom and draw attention to the natural world. My mission is to inform, enlighten, inspire action and encourage you to unplug and GET OUT THERE.

This week, something very right is happening in this world, just off the coast of my home state, Massachusetts. A record number of 60 rare and endangered
Right Whales have gathered in the waters off Cape Cod, an absolutely amazing event considering that there are only 300 to 400 of these majestic creatures still left in the whole wide world. The whales are feeding on zooplankton, which is especially plentiful this spring. "We have had the richest early season that we've ever had," said whale habitat specialist Charles "Stormy" Mayo of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.

Because they understand the significance of this event, the Coast Guard is keeping a close watch on the whales and protecting them from disturbance by boaters. It is an incredible privilege to see Right Whales in these numbers and we must do everything possible to ensure that this precious population continues to survive and thrive. We can all make a difference by taking better care of our
oceans, which are in peril. There is no time to delay.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Signs of Spring ― New Leaves

New, rosette-like leaves began sprouting this week on my Montauk Daisy (Chrysanthemum Nipponicum), though I was certain it was dead. I took a chance when I planted it rather late in the season and now I'm glad I did. This sun loving, fall blooming perennial grows to 36" high and produces large, white daisies with dark green, succulent leaves.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Signs of Spring ― High Water

The river flows
It flows to the sea
Wherever that river goes
That's where I want to be
Flow river flow

~Roger McGuinn

The Charles River runs high in spring and rages over this little island, which lies just beyond a dam locals call "Horseshoe Falls." The island remains almost completely submerged well into April.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Signs of Spring ― Newborn Calf

This calf and his mother live on a nearby farm and enjoy the freedom of roaming and grazing on acres of pasture land, socializing with their herd and sleeping in a large and comfortable barn, the way most cattle lived before factory farms and agribusiness deprived them of their most basic rights: to enjoy open space and sunlight, eat a natural diet and form bonds with their young.

Seeing this herd always heartens me and gives me hope that the growing interest in organic food and growing intolerance of greed will end these inhumane practices and alleviate the suffering of millions of farm animals. It can't happen soon enough.

The following about cattle is from The World Animal Foundation:

Cows are sturdy yet gentle animals. They are social animals and form strong bonds with their families and friends that can last their entire lives. The bond between a cow and her calf is especially powerful. If a mother cow is caught on the opposite side of a fence from her calf, she will become alarmed, agitated and call frantically. If they remain separated, she will stay by the fence through blizzards, hunger, and thirst, waiting to be reunited with her baby. This bond continues even after the calf is fully grown. In non-commercial herds, cows have been observed nursing their male calves for up to three years.

Cattle have almost panoramic vision, which allows them to watch for predators or humans. They can see in color, except for red. They have an amazing sense of smell, and can detect scents more than six miles away. Cattle enjoy swimming and running in the moonlight, as they have been shown to remain active for a longer period between their two sleep sessions when the moon is full.

The lifespan of cattle averages 20 to 25 years. However, the lifespan of cattle raised for beef is significantly abbreviated. These animals are typically weaned at 6 to 10 months, live 3 to 5 months on range, spend 4 to 5 months being fattened in a feedlot, and are typically slaughtered at 15 to 20 months.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Signs of Spring ― Green Grass

"I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars."

~Walt Whitman
From Song of Myself

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lady Is My Name

Football is my game!
The snow has melted in Lady's back yard and the grass is almost dry, so we played lots of football yesterday. It isn't easy to tire out this athletic and agile girl. But somehow, I managed. Playing with her football makes Lady very happy.

Me, too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lady in Waiting

Lady is a joyful, two-year old, pure bred German Shepherd. She’s such a good girl and her Mom, Cheryl, is awesome. It’s always a pleasure when she calls to ask if I can look after Lady.

Cheryl has an affinity for this breed and has shared her life with several gorgeous dogs. Sadly, she lost her beloved Sargent last summer. He became extremely ill in his senior years and eventually developed severe seizures. Cheryl dedicated herself to ensuring that he was as comfortable as possible, and when not working, rarely left his side in the last months of his life. She is one of the few people I know who truly understands why I am doing the same for my Rachmaninoff.

I will be spending some time with Lady today and this is just what I need. She's good medicine for me and helps me stay strong for Rock. When I get there, she will be waiting to go out and play.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

My Rachmaninoff has been having a few banner days, but even so I caught myself thinking, if this is as good as it gets, I'll take it. He’s going on more outdoor jaunts but his appetite slacked off the past couple of days. He refused the usual menu and left a lot of food uneaten overnight. Because he's already emaciated I take loss of appetite very seriously; he simply cannot afford to lose any more weight. Our wonderful vet supplies me with Vitamin B shots, which he gets once a week to perk up his appetite and boost his iron (like most CRF cats, Rock has become very anemic). Recently, she increased the dose because, banner days or not, Chronic Renal Failure is a progressive disease. Some weeks, like this one, I need to give him his B a little early. Last night he ate like a truck driver. Just the same, I think I'll let this sleeping cat lie.

Maine Coon cats are famous for sleeping in strange positions and Rock is no exception. My one-word caption for this photo is: "Comfortable." I'll take it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Return of the King

Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.

My Rachmaninoff is feeling very well and I am overjoyed. "The King" has resumed screaming at me if I dawdle at dinner time or refuse to let him out first thing in the morning when it is still dark. He remains keenly aware of the natural world and knows the earliest signs of spring: the new scent in the air; the way the light has changed; the calls of blackbirds and geese; and the sprouting, green garlic grass.

Now, it's still light when I get home. Rock runs to the door, gives me a quick "hello, how are ya, see ya, have a nice day," greeting and then he's out for an official foray. Today, I watched him explore the woods behind the house, something he hasn't done in months.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Waiting for Spring

Rachmaninoff is waiting for spring.

Physically, I prefer to think of him as "diminished," though "emaciated" is the correct clinical term for a cat in chronic renal failure. The fact that Maine Coon cats are a longhaired breed is a blessing. I am grateful that he is comfortable, a word that has come to mean so much since he became ill late last summer.

Living without hope is not something I know how to do, but now my hopes have been tamed. I hope that he will see another spring. I hope he will see his 18th birthday in May, and I dearly hope that he will have a chance to loll in the green grass again, something he loves to do.

I'll settle for the moon now and ask for the stars later.