Morning has broken;
Sister Sun spreads her silent glow,
Mist rising quietly on the river as
Brother Moon slips off the horizon —
But not before playing hide ‘n seek
Behind the clouds, between the trees.

Those birds! noisily greet the dawn;
Turkeys warble from somewhere deep,
Geese honk here, honk there,
Songbirds swoop and swirl, singing
Good morning, North Country!
Good morning.

~René Morley

storm damage

Winter returned, just for a day. One heavy, wet snowfall and twelve hours of slicing wind served to remind us that this is the North Country. I suppose we might have forgotten, so mild was winter and so lovely this spring. We might have been swayed into believing, for a moment or two, that we live in an easy place of blossoms and blooms. But, no.

Early this morning I went out to survey the damage. Small mounds of snow still lay in shady spots, placed like stepping stones in the garden. The purple azalea was almost bare, surrounding mulch littered with delicate blossoms. The creeping phlox was wilted, thin stems a sickly green, blooms flattened. The storm didn’t last long but the damage was done.

My garden girl looked on, nonplussed. She’s seen everything. She knows that it was just a blip on the radar, this storm. And that the soil needed a deep drink. And though blooms have suffered, roots are strong. Plants will survive, perhaps hardier for the experience, to blossom again next season.

Sometimes I forget about the bigger picture in the cycle of seasons. Bright blossoms this season matter less than the longevity of the plant and amount of fruit born over time. Storms will come and storms will go. Sometimes they hit hard and, for awhile, their impact is too obvious. But the greater test is measured by steady growth, day in and day out, season by season.

Indeed, there is plenty of evidence of growth in progress, though the cold will linger awhile. My Japanese cherry trees are bulging with buds, bearing abundantly twenty-some years after a mother’s day planting. Kim’s astilbe and Kelly’s bleeding hearts are coming ’round! Grandma Lucia’s peonies are fleshing out into foliage, setting up for sturdy stems to bear the weight of bountiful blooms, bigger than my hand. Mini-lilacs planted in memory of my dad are filling out nicely. Irises, lilies, and lupine are standing strong. We’re moving on, my garden and I.

~René Morley


those birds!

Those birds! are up before the sun,
Chattering to anyone
Who lends half an ear to hear
Good-morning songs of springtime cheer.

I need sleep more than a song;
Pull the covers, but it’s not long
Before Sun arrives — flooding bed and floor.
She’s not quite so easily ignored.

Those birds! are not offended, no;
They whistle and tweet and call their show.
Now looking for mates, soon making their nests,
Then eggs and babies — the last is the best.

Except that such a hungry brood
Keeps mama and papa frantic for food.
Those birds! make poor neighbors if you sleep light
But I love the racket of young family life!

~René Morley


A beautiful Gouldian Finch as seen at Bird Kingdom, a Niagara Falls aviary. My birds are neither as colorful nor as easily posed but oh, how they sing!



Easter weekend, 2012.

A robin perches high in the maple, her red breast exposed by spindly spring branches. She trills hopefully for awhile, then swoops off for better prospects. A lone Canadian goose honks loudly in landing midst the flock spread wide on the pasture. Other whistles and tweets and calls join into the song of praise as the sun sinks slowly, the treetops backlit as lace on a lamp. The mourning dove sings the final refrain, her gracious coos sailing from the silo, through the hedgerow, across the hayfield.

The wind has died down; the fire blazes a steady comfort. The stones of the firepit warm through the soles of my shoes to cozy my bare toes. My face tingles and flushes but I only lean in closer, absorbing more from the embers. I am alone with my thoughts but I am not lonely. I am thankful for the quiet.

This is that precious space and peaceful place, awake to dream. The horizon is wide and I am hopeful.

Anything seems possible.

~René Morley