The Tip of This Floweret

Mornings are magic here. The whinny of a screech owl, the vibrations of bullfrogs. The garrulous squawk of the blue heron mingling with the wind chimes at the screen door. The song of my wood thrush (mine, you see) and twitters of other songbirds waking into the day. The sun hasn’t come over the ridge yet but there’s light on the pond and a soft light on my hives with its backdrop of Queen Anne’s lace. Their taproots reach deep into the earth. Holding on. For dear life. Stems, straight and strong, bend toward the sun. Dividing again and again, each one ends in a flower, and each flower bursts into flowerets. I follow a stem in my mind to arrive at the tip of one perfect tiny floweret.

So, so much here. Charles M. Schultz said that adversity is what makes you mature; the growing soul is watered best by the tears of sadness. I question my existence in this particular time and space. Often. On the path I’ve taken, a step either right or left could have sent me tangentially off, deeply angled from that moment. Every choice was met with yet another choice and of all the places I could have landed, I blossomed in this little nook and cranny of the world. I’ve harvested richness from adversity. This is where I belong today, stepping forward from a point of reality, not from some point of fantasy.

And so I listen to this bullfrog serenading me at first light. I watch this heron winging by, its prehistoric silhouette dark against the silver misted waters of the pond, from the tip of my floweret. There are no shortcuts to a different life and there is no retracing of steps, no turning back time. The measured hum of the bullfrog, leaving only echoes, and the pulsating wingbeats of the heron moving it only forward, tell me so. They are wise and that settles my heart.

Floweret of Queen Anne's Lace


Janice Sina, former biology teacher turned veterinary assistant, observes and writes about nature, human and otherwise. She lives in East Haddam, Connecticut, US, where she strives to tread lightly on this Earth with her husband, her pets, and several thousand honeybees. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her first book, Songlines in the Key of B. You can find out more at janicesina.com

Photo of Queen Anne’s Lace by the author.

Sky Vision

Twilight is near, the air is still and hushed, a few birds are winging by, intent on settling away for the long night ahead; seeking a place of protection and privacy. Simply, rest. I stand and watch ― the birds ― the sky ― both competing for my eyes to linger on.

Do they see it too, the sky, the sun-washed colors floating with ease there in the west? Do they notice the great stage that is now set above earth’s darkening horizon? See it as I do? Taking pleasure in some hurried, even careless way? I want to believe they do.

As they ruffle about on some secluded branch checking feather tips, curled claws and spiked beak; perhaps, they pause to appreciate the melting mauve streaks, glowing trails of scarlet, and faint wisp of teal spreading far out before them; such subtle hues mixing with that familiar ageless blue.

Living as they do, constantly racing in the sky, diving and twisting, experts at maneuvering any tricky type of airwave; maybe only they know the true colors out there. Air and atmosphere, rain and sleet, dew and snow, mist and cloud.

Seeing every dust particle, like a cat in the dark, the detailed depths of relative space belongs to them, familiar as the back of their own tail feathers. Sensing the tiniest change in every wind current, still comfortable with evening vapors clinging gently to their delicate bodies. So, I keep wondering…

Can a swirling sunset enter their perception and bestow a kind of peace and blessing on the remains of their day, just as it does mine? Does it ever enter the mind of a common sparrow to appreciate incredible form and beauty thrown abroad for all to view? For all to be enthralled, for just a moment?

Yes, I believe it does. Any eye can behold this rich splendor of living color. Here and now, even forever. Open your eyes, along with a bird. See the sky. Sing for joy.

 sparrow on branch amid colorful leaves


Photo of the authorRuth C. Rehberg lives with her family in the hills of western Wisconsin, daily reveling in the bounty of beauty around her Garden Valley home. Some of her happiest moments involve walking the roads and woods, scooting on her petunia-pink moped, porch-sitting every minute possible, breathing in the joy of the twilight-golden hour, and reading until her eyes can’t stay open. Gratitude to God for the beauty of the earth is her life’s work.

Photo by of sparrow by Globalphoto

Summer Music

5:10 am. The song of the wood thrush sounds a little forlorn, blending as it does with dreams not quite remembered. Sharing coffee with the internet doesn’t change my perception of its tone. I snap my laptop shut and harness Wally; we’re out the door by 6 am, hoping natural news will find us.
song thrush singing on branch,
Mist rises up from the hayfield, dissipating the scents of the night. Wally’s nose twitches. A cow has wandered outside its pasture, tasting freedom in the tender greens. We wander through the local nursery in the quiet before its gates swing open. Wally waters the hydrangeas, roots stretching from the confines of buckets, waiting for a home. I calculate how many creeping thyme plants with their delicate purple flowers will blanket my rock wall. The “cheer, cheer” of a cardinal coaxes the wood thrush out of its mood.

Back home, I find my way to the garden and let it work its magic while I free tomato plants from weedy neighbors. Dirt finds its way under my nails and mama spiders carrying pure white orbs scurry into recesses. Early bumble bees lumber by, pulled by the scent of milkweed drifting over the fence. Dream remnants evaporate in the morning sun. Slowly, the song of the wood thrush brightens. I am ready for the day.


Janice Sina, former biology teacher turned veterinary assistant, observes and writes about nature, human and otherwise. She lives in East Haddam, Connecticut, US, where she strives to tread lightly on this Earth with her husband, her pets, and several thousand honeybees. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her first book, Songlines in the Key of B. You can find out more at janicesina.com

Photo of Song Thrush by Michael Lane

Rush/Rash

Slowly, the gloom of morning’s rain lifts. From my father’s ladder-back rocker, I watch sunlight worm its way through the clouds’ ceiling cracks and admire how green the grass has become in our overgrown yards. Once again, a part has sprung on the tractor, and we’re stuck in research, trying to find the part that will make our tractor ride again. This is a yearly ritual. So much depends on how many times one can say, ‘dammit,’ in a low growl — the sputter and choke and plume of gray smoke — are all part of the rush.

The grass grows and grows and grows, and we watch. We wonder if the neighbors are spying; no doubt, judging the state of yards gone wild with a sudden rash of dandelions, spinning gold into seeds; waiting for a gust of lake wind to blow against the infantry of wizen heads, setting a thousand wishes in motion to start, again.

Pity, this stubbornness can’t be us; even though, we talk like sixteen penny nails, we know our place here is temporal. So, what’s the rush?

old tractorold barn cloudy sunshine


M.J. Iuppa is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College; and since 2000 to present, is a part time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport. Since 1986, she has been a teaching artist, working with students, K-12, in Rochester, New York, and surrounding area. She has three full length poetry collections, most recently Small Worlds Floating (2016) as well as Within Reach (2010) both from Cherry Grove Collections; Night Traveler (Foothills Publishing, 2003); and 5 chapbooks. She lives on a small farm in Hamlin, New York, USA.

Photo by David Jones

Planting Carrots

I dig my fingers into the earth, raking aside clumps of mud that cling to my gloves, reminding me vaguely of the way wet bread dough sticks to an unfloured surface. No kneading being done here though, just a little excavation happening in a small plot of dirt located directly beneath my living room window. For most of the year, this plot is decorated with fallen leaves from the century-old maple that sprawls above. But this spring, I’m determined to change it into a garden – more specifically, a garden planted with carrots. So the leaves have been raked, the rogue weeds pulled, and I now find myself kneeling upon the ground in what is soon to be the best garden on my street (or so I hope).

woman planting seeds in the vegetable bedI’ve given up on my trowel as it just wasn’t as therapeutic as pulling and digging with my hands, and so I work my fingers into the earth, making three, long rows for my carrot seeds. I scrape aside some unknown plant that has long-since perished and soon come across one of the roots of the maple tree. Anchored steadily into the ground, it snakes endlessly beneath the surface like some gigantic python. A little more digging reveals a lonely tulip bulb. I pull it out and set it aside; I’ll plant that somewhere else.

Ants spill hurriedly from the earth as I continue to dig my rows, scrabbling over one another as they try to get away from the monster that has crashed into their home. A much slower, milky white grub writhes against its discovery, vampire-like in its repulsion at the sun shining upon its glossy body. A robin, red-breasted and twittering, soars down from one of the maple’s branches and lands a few feet away, all eyes on the grub that has begun its slow descent back into the cool dampness of the earth.

I finish digging and sit back to admire my handiwork. All looks good. I tear open the packet of carrot seeds, revealing the surprisingly small, brown seeds that jostle and rattle around, eager to be planted. “An inch deep” listed the instructions for planting and I drop the seeds into the rows, three clusters at a time, before I tuck them in with a blanket of earth and give them a quick shower with the watering can.

A rabbit is watching me from afar, nose twitching in my direction. If my carrots sprout and then disappear, I know who will be to blame. But for now, my seeds stay safely cradled underground. I can imagine them now, snuggling into their earthy bed, anchoring down into their new home with eager roots, awaiting the day when their shoots will sprout to see the sun and become the fully fledged carrots that they are meant to be.


Hilary Hirtle is a freelance writer and editor. She is an avid nature enthusiast and environmental activist. She currently resides in Westerville, OH.

Photo by Denis And Yulia Pogostins