Change is…

This monarch caterpillar had been struck with an idea; uncomfortable in its own skin, it turned itself and its life upside down and waited for the inevitable.

By the next morning, the transformation inherent in that idea had begun; in order to gain the wings, the caterpillar had to lose the teeth and the fuzz and let go, trusting the process.

Ten days later found it still waiting, but showing outward signs of the body doing just what it should, unaware perhaps, of any memory of that earlier idea and the life it had shed.

I’d like to think that same intelligence, whatever it is that makes the monarch grow and change and fly, is at work in all of us.

From handsome caterpillar… to jade earring dotted with gold… to the most beautiful mosaic of colors enclosed in the thinnest of skins… to shutter-like wings flaked with fire, waiting on the warmth of the sun. The change complete… beauty to beauty.

A butterfly idea… what could be smaller or more frantic? Or more improbable in the mind of a caterpillar?

Does the butterfly wonder how or why or should I as it readies itself to fly away helter-skelter on new wings?

These pics are from a couple summers ago; I’m just as amazed with the process now as I was then, watching it day to day. Miracles like this play themsleves out everyday all around us. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have a ringside seat. I’ve not found any monarch cats in the garden since that summer, but this one continues to inspire my dreams for daring in the face of certain change.

Skywatch Friday

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. — Jacques Cousteau

This weekend marks the ‘official’ end of the summer season here at the Jersey Shore; after Monday, the beaches will be free: free of outsiders and free of daily fees. People begin to flee. They leave the summer rentals towing their sailboats behind them. Birds flee; shorebirds depart as migrating ducks begin to arrive, egrets find maps in their pursuit of summer to the south.

We breath a sigh of relief because the beach can be ours again; ours for a quiet sunset walk along the bay or a day spent oceanside soaking up the September sun. After Labor Day is the best time here. Warm days and cool nights.

Horseshoe Cove at Sandy Hook is one of my favorite places to watch the sunset over the bay. I have hundreds of sunset pictures from there. That trio of similar forms silhouetted against the setting sun is what remains of one of the many coastal defense fortifications from WWI that dot Sandy Hook. In summer, there’s always a tern or two perched there and some cormorants or gulls. Off in the far distance at the horizon is the pier at Naval Weapons Station Earle. There’s often a battleship there on the bay.

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Little killers free to a good home

Cat lovers cover your ears.

I used to like cats. Then I decided that I liked birds and other wildlife better.

What really happened is that I had a beautiful fat black cat that got sick and broke my heart when I was a kid.

So I swore off cats for good. I like other people’s cats well enough, but I really don’t like my neighbor’s cats that are allowed free run of the neighborhood.

Some of my favorite people have *mostly* indoor cats that are *let out* each day to do whatever it is that their dear owners think is so necessary to a domestic cat’s nature.

Kill birds and torture small furry innocent woodland creatures and HAVE KITTENS UNDER MY SHED!

Why are these kittens my problem? I don’t own a cat.

Have I mentioned the free catch and release (to the SPCA) program we run here?


This was tonight’s catch. 4 adorable and hissy-scared little killers. We’re trying to catch their mother, but she ran the DH out of the backyard one too many times and he finally said uncle. What a protective mother!

I don’t know the answer. I don’t understand why this behavior is tolerated from cat owners. Jeez… I can’t even walk my dog on a leash in the local park except for under the cover of darkness for fear that I’ll be ticketed by the local police. My town is very serious about protecting our parks from dogs. I once had the police follow me home after walking my dog in the cul-de-sac that leads to the park.

Cats get a free pass. Why is that?

NJ Audubon has collaborated with the American Bird Conservancy in an effort to educate cat lovers to be more responsible cat owners. Cats Indoors has lots of great info, but I’m not so sure that anyone will be so easily convinced as me.

A note of thanks to a client

Dear D.

You humble me.

From the moment we first met, I’ve wondered at you. I’m not surprised anymore with the strength that you show; I’m astounded with it.

You have such astonishing resources of love and emotional resilience.

You let me see behind that mask of confidence on your face today; you admitted you were afraid and you cried long pent-up tears, but all I saw was your grace.

Today was your first step towards realizing some of your goals and I want to thank you for letting me play my part.

You are an exceptional woman. You can’t see that yet, but I hope one day you’ll have pride enough to match that self-confidence. It’s been hard won. You’ve come this far with almost no support from anyone.

I hope you know I’ve been cheering you on and will continue to. You deserve your very own cheering section, I think. I’m so very happy for you.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This is the note I would’ve liked to tape onto the plant I brought D. as a housewarming gift today. The silly plant made her cry; I can only imagine what this note might’ve done.

Some people just have so much crap unjustly heaped onto their plates; others of us are so very lucky. I’m grateful that my job reminds me I’m one of the lucky ones and that there’s a lot to be learned from the poor and others that society tends to discount.

On second thought, I may just send it… it might be good for her to hear.

A new bird list!

Circumstances beyond my control (a husband with a mind of his own) have necessitated the start of a new list: birds seen by boat. Not just any boat, either… THE boat… our boat, apparently.

(Men and their toys!)


An osprey scared from its nest just when I thought I finally had the perfect photo opportunity – a nest at eye level, just outside of the river channel. I love all the found stuff osprey include in their nests. Also interesting is the rope ladder up to the nest… I guess somebody bands these guys.

I have no idea what this bird is. I’d thought it was a tern, but its back is reddish. Help anyone?

A tree full of great egrets, waiting out the tide, I guess. I know these pictures are awful, but I was too scared of having to swim to shore to bring the good lens. (The boat is something of a fixer-upper.)

Storm clouds full of gulls… who cares what kind; they’re just gulls!


Conversation following inaugural boat tour of the river:

“So… are you happy with it?”

“Um… I didn’t want a boat.”

“Yeah, but… are you happy with it?”

“Um… it’s a boat.”

(I might get to see some good birds though.)


Skywatch Friday

You have to know how to look at this country. You have to slow down. It isn’t pretty, but it’s beautiful.
–Kent Haruf in West of Last Chance
In the weeks before I went to North Dakota in June, I spoke to a couple people out there and the weather always came up in conversation, mainly the hope for rain to “green things up some.” Green it was, but every so often we’d come across a view like this of a pale ocean of prairie grass laid out to the horizon. More often than not there weren’t any trees to mark the edge of vision, the sky and clouds a kaleidoscope of moods, the play of sunlight on the land the only thing to distinguish one moment from the next.

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