chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Monthly Archives: December 2013

late…

cloud…

winter…

Evergreen…

thick…

TO BE…

Greetings…

first Christmas

I was 10 months old at my first Christmas and this was the holiday card my mother drew and hand-colored that year. As always, her caricatures capture something essential and true and include wonderful details: my father’s tiny bow-tie (I never saw him wear any other kind of tie), my mother’s red “hair” and pearls, the candy canes and holly in the lettering and the tiny row of Christmas trees that connect the three figures.

Merry Christmas!

best wishes…

memories…

Happy Everything!

night…

casual…

glimpse…

LRK to DAK in SBAs I search to understand myself through the evidence of my childhood, I rely on scraps of memory, old photographs and a few pieces of early artwork. While each is revealing in its own way, I’m never entirely certain of the truth — whether I’m seeing something real or simply what I want or expect to see.

I don’t know how often my father wrote to my mother during the months she lived in Santa Barbara, or whether she wrote back to him. But from that time, when I was 3, this letter survives.

My father recounts in some detail our dinner with cousins, then writes,

“I made a remark to Ida [my babysitter] yesterday that Judy’s hair was getting pretty long. Well, our Tootsl [one of my father’s many nicknames for me] picked it up & wouldn’t let me rest last night until I had given her a haircut — which didn’t turn out too [word missing] at all and was well worth saving $1.25.

“She said to me tonight, ‘Why is Mommy staying in Santa Barbara?’ I said, ‘So Mommy will get strong & healthy & we’ll have much fun together.’ She asked, ‘D’you mean that Mommy won’t have to eat in bed any more?’ which, I think, is pretty sound observation.”

It’s a rare glimpse into my young self, not as remembered, but as observed: trying to understand my mother’s absence and make sure not to displease my father by having hair that was too long. Between my parents, it was easy chat about the day’s events; for me, it is in some way the kernel of my story.

the air…

scouring…

INSTEAD…

FIND…

found poem: NOW

celebrity redux

Townsend's Solitaire photo by Joe MecheThree years ago, almost to the day, a repeated thumping sound drew my attention to the living room window. A bird was hurling itself against the glass from the nearby juniper bush. Again and again.

After several weeks of this, and fruitless efforts to deter the bird, I turned to Facebook friends for help and eventually identified the bird as a Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) – a locally-rare winter resident in the thrush family that’s normally found in higher-elevation coniferous forests. These birds (male and female) are known for their fierce defense of winter forage — my juniper bush — and will fight each other beak and claw.

“ToSo,” as the bird came to be known, attained brief celebrity. Joe Meche, avid photographer and then-president of the North Cascades Audubon Society, gave ToSo the full paparazzi treatment. Unfazed, the bird stuck around just long enough to be included in the Christmas Bird Count, then vanished.

Through the following two winters, I listened and hoped for a return visit, but, alas, no ToSo.

When I heard that signature thump on Monday, I knew immediately where to look. Indeed, ToSo has returned. It’s impossible to be certain it’s the same bird, but the likelihood of a second Townsend’s Solitaire selecting my juniper bush from all the possible local options…well…I’m voting for ToSo. (The USGS Bird Banding Laboratory doesn’t have longevity information on the Solitaire, but other thrushes have been recorded living ten or more years.)

The crazy thing, really, is that I have a relationship with this bird. Yes, of course, it’s one-way, through-the-glass. But at first light, I listen for its flutter and scratch. I stand at the window and watch it gulp down juniper berries. I enjoy its song and am dazzled by its persistence and intensity of purpose.

Maybe ToSo will stick around long enough for this year’s Count. Maybe not. But for however long the bird is here, I will be watching. Amazed. Delighted.
. . . . .
photo by Joe Meche, 11 December 2013

the gray…

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