Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Message for Dog-Loving Worrywarts

All my reading lately has made me keenly aware of how many treacheries can befall a pet. In retrospect, I realize how very fortunate I was with my menagerie. But will I remain fortunate in the future?

All the What Ifs of pet guardianship sometimes freak me out and I know I’m not alone in this. The What Ifs are exactly the reason some folks are leery of adopting a new pet. What If…she develops allergies? he has hip dysplasia? she contracts cancer? he’s thunderphobic? This list could go on for days. Each possibility is a serious matter, but may never materialize. You can make yourself crazy with this game, or you can read Bulu: African Wonder Dog.

Bulu is a Fox Terrier mix raised in the African jungle. He dodges danger of every kind every day. Our What Ifs pale beside Bulu’s concerns, if only in quantity (which can be reached by taking the number of all the critters in the jungle and adding to it all the diseases of the jungle plus natural disasters, the follies of humans, and the thorns and toxins of plants). Catastrophe hovers everywhere. Keeping a dog safe in suburbia is nothing like keeping her safe in a jungle.

So relax. Don’t fret so much about the What Ifs. And DON’T allow the What Ifs to prohibit you from adopting a pet in need of a home.

On the other hand, if you and your pooch are relocating to Zambia, home to Bulu (and lions and crocodiles and tsetse flies), BE VERY AFRAID.

[Bottom pic is of Bulu and two baby warthogs, the first of many orphans Bulu fostered.]

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
—Albert Einstein

Each time I leave my four walls, my senses scan for spectacle and transformation: a pink bud bursting into a white blossom, a vertical tulip-tree branch forming a chartreuse-and-orange-patterned wall at a busy intersection, the heady scents of lilac and pear giving way to roses, the newest placement of the stars. Every day brings new color and texture and fragrance to my small world that wasn’t there the day before.

And each day I try to absorb everything Nature offers—to be alive and open to it, to capture its Spring wonders in my heart and memory.

Take a moment today to see—really see—one thing Nature is trying to reveal to you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BOOKreMARKS: Did You Know…?

My brain is aflutter with what I’ve read this week and I wanted to share with you a few things I’ve learned.

1. Snails have more than 2,000 tiny teeth. Some species shoot the object of their affections with a love dart. Really.
from The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

2. After the Korean War, the Marines schemed to make money and fame by breeding an equine war heroine, Reckless, with a stallion of royal bloodlines. The military PR folks expected her offspring to win a Kentucky Derby. Problem was that Reckless fell for a bronco instead of the blueblood.
from Chicken Soup For The Horse Lover’s Soul: Inspirational Stories About Horses and the People Who Love Them

3. I often wondered how humans so quickly decimated large populations of elephants and rhinos in Africa. Here’s one reason: In the 1970s and ’80s, poachers used machine guns. Talk about having an edge
from Bulu: African Wonder Dog by Dick Houston

4. When geriatric canines start showing signs of anxiety and behavioral changes/problems, it’s time for a vet visit. Typically, the anxiety indicates a health issue of some sort—one that your pooch is sometimes aware of long before you or technology can detect it. You can control the anxiety through behavior modification training and medication, but you need to monitor and treat the more critical source of the behavioral changes—that is, the tumor or cancer or whatever physiological ailment is taking root. (I suspect the same is true for cats.)
from The Dog Who Loved Too Much: Tales, Treatments, and the Psychology of Dogs by Nicholas Dodman

“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”
—Edmund Burke

5. If someone you know—especially an elderly someone—shows signs of confusion about recognizing everyday objects or faces or places, don’t immediately chalk it up to a faulty memory or poor vision or senility. It may be a fancy-named neurological glitch. Encourage your friend or loved one to see a neurologist.
from The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks

6. Some horses run better on turf than on dirt. No surprise there. But I AM surprised that at one point at Santa Anita, the turf racetrack crosses paths with the dirt track. That is, it switches from turf to dirt and back again to turf. If I were doing the racing, I’d find that unsettling—as did one of Smiley’s horses. Not only can it impede the horse’s ability to win, it poses potential physical danger to the horse.
from A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck by Jane Smiley

7. Jill Abramson, making history as executive editor of the New York Times, once drove the getaway van in a kidnapping. Well, more of a rescue, actually. She was assisting a friend in removing a dog from the house of the woman’s abusive ex-boyfriend. You gotta love someone who has superhero tendencies.
from The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout by Jill Abramson

[Art by Gyula Benczúr.]

Monday, April 23, 2012

For Typography Aficionados Only

I’m part of a small tribe who appreciate typefaces and graphic design. This post may appeal only to my fellow tribe members.

In the long-running battles between traditional fonts and computer-generated versions, Comic Sans has gotten flak from both sides of the divide. Regardless of which side you’re on, I think this monologue from the typeface itself will give you a Monday chuckle. (Beware: It’s loaded with expletives.)

[Joke from Confessions of a [creative] superhero; graphic art by Andy Thaeger.]

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Time to Soothe Mother Nature?

“The thing that a lot of people cannot comprehend is that Mother Nature doesn’t have a bullet with their names on it. She has millions of bullets inscribed with to whom it may concern.”
—Author unknown

Another Earth Day, another reminder that we too often take our Universe for granted. Lest Mother Nature unleash her full arsenal on us, let’s pledge today to take better care of her.

[I didn’t have to travel far to experience the scene pictured here. May it remain safe from development.]

Saturday, April 21, 2012

You’re Never Too Old to Start a New Life

In addition to being National Poetry Month, it’s also Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. Sadly, we need far more than a month to address this subject. But as a cheerful nod to the occasion, I want to introduce you to Lady Jane.

Lady Jane is a 20+-year-old mare who spent her first couple of decades with a woman known for chronically neglecting the animals in her care. Last month, Catskill Animal Sanctuary persuaded the woman to surrender two of her many charges, including Lady Jane.

Turns out, the mare was pregnant. Despite her poor condition, she gave birth to a healthy foal this week—a first for CAS and the last for the mare.

From now on, Lady Jane can look forward to some regularity in her life—regular feedings of nutritious meals, regular grooming and vet care, regular time spent with other horses in a safe environment, and regular affection from humans. And little Simon will (we hope) remain blissfully unaware of the kind of neglect his mother experienced.

[See more pics on CAS’s photostream.]

Friday, April 20, 2012

On the Hunt

Happy Friday! Are you up for a little Bill Maher humor?

I recently heard a portion of his “New Rules” show and wanted to share some of his commentary on hunting:

“Did you know yesterday that Texas adopted a law allowing you to shoot a deer with a silencer? How is this even a problem? …

“It’s a deer. You have a gun; it doesn’t even have hands. How much more of an edge do you need?”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dogs with Spunk

We finally watched The Adventures of TinTin, the Spielberg film based on Hergé’s popular adventure series.

The derring-do dog of the tale, Snowy (Milou in the original), is fashioned after a Wire Fox Terrier. With his sky-high Cute factor, Snowy smells more details and unravels mysteries sooner than his human partner (just like Chet in Spencer Quinn’s detective series). However, in one perilous scene, Snowy runs for his life as a ferocious Rottweiler gives chase. It reminded me of my own pooch’s real-life adventure one summer day.

It was early in the morning and we had the beach to ourselves. My husband and I let the pooch off-lead and she frolicked ahead of us.

Then, as if materializing out of the sand, three muscular Rottweilers circled our little Sophie. They stood so close to her she could hardly turn around.

I was mortified. The pooch was afraid of most dogs; even goofy Golden Retrievers could make her tremble. She lashed out by spewing “crazy talk”—maybe a few expletives—to make them think she was tough. But if they called her bluff—as I believed the pack of Rotts would likely do—the scene could turn ugly really fast.

We raced across the beach to intervene, but before we reached them, the Rotts took off and our pooch resumed her frolic. As if nothing had happened.

I was stunned. And grateful. We hadn’t heard her usual crazy talk, so she’d managed her way out of trouble soundlessly. Or, at least, quietly. Although the more realistic scenario was probably that the Rotts ran up to her to play, she acted all grouchy, and the Rotts took their joie de vivre elsewhere. (Either way, I admit my negligence in this encounter. I wasn’t always the perfect guardian I aspired to be.)

Snowy, likewise, gets out of his scrape. And in case his Cute factor gets the better of someone you know who’s considering adopting a Wire Fox Terrier after seeing TinTin, you might encourage your friend to consider this as well:

“Fox-terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs are….”
Jerome K. Jerome

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

BOOKreMARKS: My Pseudoselection Process

My recent trip to the library added an abundance of animal books—some that you may question—to my Current Reading Lineup list. Allow me to explain.

I’ve acquired a weird sense of urgency about borrowing books. Once inside the library, I beeline to the animals and new-arrivals sections. As I scan the spines, an afflicted part of my brain says, “Take it now. You may never see it at this location again.”

This is true. Books are constantly shuffled between the Central Library and its five or six branches. But then my rational brain steps in to advise: “You could always plan ahead and request that a particular title be held for you at the branch of your choosing.”

This is also true, yet tricky. Lots of variables play into the timing: when (and if) the last borrower actually returns the book, whether the book’s condition is deemed acceptable for continued borrowing, how long the book is in transit from one library to another. And if I request more than one book, how many trips to the library must I make to retrieve them all? In the end, I panic and defer to my affliction. If I see something that interests me, I take it.

A few of my selections this month could have been more informed. For instance, I had The Puppy Diaries confused with a different book about raising a guide-dog pooch. The Bill Henderson (founder of Pushcart Press/Prize) memoir contains a struggle with religion, a topic I’m not interested in right now. And then, of course, it apparently slipped my mind when I grabbed the horse book how prominently religion figures into the Chicken Soup series.

But I’m reading all the books anyway and, so far, no regrets. Henderson has helped me solidify my philosophy about dog companionship; Abramson has driven home the notion that a high IQ, successful career, and A-list friends aren’t enough to make someone a great pet guardian; and the Chicken Soup collection reminds me of how many untold tales are out there awaiting their debut in print.

My pseudoselection process may not have presented me with the books I expected, but I’ll be richer for having read them.

[Art by Van Gogh.]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Reproductive Advice

Saw this on a car the other day:

Can’t feed ’em?
Don’t breed ’em

Don’t know which species the pronoun was intended to represent, but I figure it works for all of ’em. Even the unpictured human variety.

[Art by Wendy Walgate.]

Monday, April 16, 2012

Snoop Dog’s CuddleDog

When I was searching through my half-organized photo albums for a pic of the bakery donkey, I found this:

As I’ve said before, we have precious few pics of the camera-shy pooch so any photograph of her becomes a gateway to a flood of memories. And this particular photograph includes memories of my father.

You may recall that my father had a penchant for sending me Peanuts-related gifts and cards. I can only guess that it had something to do with my role in a small-town production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.

One holiday, when I was well into my fifth decade, my father’s Christmas gifts to me included the Snoopy pillow pictured above. As I lifted it from its box, my pooch posed other ideas for it. To her, it was a splendid megaversion of the plush playthings that overflowed her Dogtoy Basket. Naturally, she assumed it was meant for her.

She nosed it and nudged me and politely waited for my permission to mouth it and call it her own. I didn’t worry too long about how Dad would feel if I regifted his gift. The very thought of a “dog’s dog” won out and I encouraged the pooch to play with Snoopy.

The experiment of carrying the pillow around and fetching it lasted about a minute. Clearly, it was too unwieldy for her gentle bite.

However, it became (or reverted to) the next best thing: a cushy creature to cuddle with.

I never found the donkey pic, but that’s okay. The donkey led me to a sweeter moment.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Baklava and Beasts of Burden: Tales from the Sweet Side

On Good Friday, my husband and I ventured to a neighborhood church around the corner. Not for services, mind you. No, this was a Greek Orthodox church throwing a bake sale in the basement. We purchased baklava and other treats, which brought to mind a similar shopping spree of long ago.

While vacationing on Santorini Island, we stopped at a roadside bakery to sate my craving for baklava, though I confess the larger draw was the donkey pastured next door. After eating the heavenly pastries that night (hands down the BEST baklava I’ve ever had), I decided the bakery deserved my patronage one more time before we left the island—and I deserved another chance to commune with the darling donkey.

He was the only nonworking donkey I saw on Santorini. All the others were serving the local economy by transporting flowers and produce to market or hauling construction materials and debris down narrow paths that cut between houses built into the steep hillside. I wondered how long the donkeys’ tiny legs could withstand bearing so much weight along such treacherous ground. I also wondered how their spirits could bear the whipping and yelling their “guardians” so frequently dispensed.

Years before the Greece episode, my husband and I drove to Yellowstone. While traveling through South Dakota, we stopped at a quaint antique shop that employed a unique theft monitoring system: a donkey. She was quite small and followed us through every aisle of the place. Truthfully, I think she was just angling for an apple or treat. She certainly diverted any thoughts I might have had about purchasing antiques. Her antics enchanted me.

“If the first thing you hear in the morning is a donkey’s bray, make a wish and it will come true.”
—English Proverb

For some reason, donkeys have been popping up into my life and my reading lately. I’ve learned they have big personalities and a long life span when they’re compassionately cared for. So I guess it should come as no surprise that there’s a critical need for donkey rescues and sanctuaries.

As for the neighborhood baklava, it rivaled that of Santorini, but without a donkey in the yard, the experience wasn’t nearly so sweet.

[Photos of Nigel (top) from Morning Bray Farm and Sparky from Ashington Park.]

Friday, April 13, 2012

Flirting with Lady Luck

Don’t know about you, but so far, this Friday the 13th has been perfect for me.

I attended a computer class this morning to learn something new. This afternoon, midst sunshine and 200-year-old trees, I romped with a couple of dogs in a park. On the way home, my husband bought us a dollar’s worth of hope and fantasy (that is, a lottery ticket).

Couldn’t ask for more.

“You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. . . . Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough.”
―Aldous Huxley, in Texts and Pretexts

[Art by William Hogarth.]

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Call Me a Rebel

From my reading this week:

“A passionate connection to nature is a subversive act because it threatens the structures of a society invested in exploiting it.”
—Stephanie Marohn, in What the Animals Taught Me: Stories of Love and Healing from a Farm Animal Sanctuary

[Art by Monet.]

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Remedy for Loneliness

It’s National Poetry Month again. Wanted to share this Jessie Haas poem that she crafted from a true story. (For me, the richer experience is imagining the poem rather than the poem itself.)

Company for Breakfast
Ashton Timson lived alone, up there on the hill.
Bred good work stock.
One year a mare died on him.
Ashton raised her colt on a bottle.
It did all right.
Some folks came up to visit one morning.
Near the house they heard talking.
“Ashton must have company!”
They knocked
He came to the door.
Behind him in the kitchen,
Was that good-sized workhorse colt.
“I was lonely, and so was he,” says Ashton,
“So I asked him in to breakfast.”

1940s, Williamsville, Vermont

—from Hoofprints, by Jessie Haas

[Pic is from America’s Horse Daily, which warns “Television is not recommended for foals.”]

Monday, April 9, 2012

BOOKreMARKS: My Getaway Suggestion for Dog Lovers

If reality is getting you down and a vacation is out of the question right now, I recommend you turn to the pages of Spencer Quinn’s “Chet and Bernie Mystery Series” for your escapism. It has action, eco-mindedness, suspense, potential love stories, and, best of all, dogs. In fact, half of the Little Detective Agency workforce—and the narrator of the series—is the canine Chet.

Chet provides the nose and bark for the detective team, and the comic relief and altered perspective for the reader. He is Everydog and yet quite his own singular dog, too. His brand of logic and his attempts to translate human language drive the story as the plot thickens in the background. And, of course, his canine wisdom keeps him leaps-and-bounds ahead of the humans in figuring out clues to whatever mystery is at hand.

In To Fetch A Thief, Chet describes watching the parallel, symbolic reactions of two men after the demise of their marriages. On the verge of giving an insightful analysis of the scenes, Chet admits: “I came very close to having a big thought, but it didn’t quite come.” Oh, Chet, you’ve no idea how often that happens to me.

I appreciate Chet’s take on numbers (“I don’t go past two myself,” says he), his love of pastries, and his fearless approach to life.

So far, the series includes Dog On It, Thereby Hangs A Tail, To Fetch A Thief, The Dog Who Knew Too Much, and (to be released in September) A Fistful of Collars. It’s breezy reading told well. It will make you think twice before talking to your dog and will likely increase (if that’s possible) your admiration for your pooch. And for as long as you’re reading, your concerns about the economy, the weather, or whatever keeps you up at night will switch to Pause mode.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wicked Warnings and Rabbit Reminiscences

“Don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.”
—from The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

As a child, I think I more readily took to heart the advice I read in my books than the advice my elders offered me. I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near Mr. McGregor’s garden, but I failed to listen to the adults who told me to “leave the baby bunny alone.”

How could I? The poor thing was orphaned in a tragic mowing accident, losing not only her mother but her siblings as well. I named her Rosie; I’ve no idea why. I cried for her loss and burst with happiness that she was to become part of our family. I placed her in a box and fashioned a little nest for her. I promised to protect her and nourish her and be her best pal. I pledged my undying devotion to her and, in the end, I killed her.

I didn’t mean to. If anyone had told me that I could fatally traumatize her simply by holding her too much, I didn’t hear it. More likely I was told to “let the bunny be”; the consequences weren’t specified.

I killed my one and only bunny—about the size of a mouse—with misplaced love. It was my first hard lesson in the ways of nature and the differences between the wild and the domesticated. I’m embarrassed to admit that subsequent lessons followed.

I eventually learned my place in the animals’ world. Rosie comes to mind often, but especially at Eastertime when bunnies are front and center. Though I grieve Rosie’s passing, I’m grateful for what she taught me.

[Pictured is Beatrix Potter with her leashed bunny. Drawing by Hans Hoffmann.]

For additional bunny-related posts on Lull, see “How to Make Everybunny Happy,” “Here Comes Peter Cottontail…” and “I.Q. Reexamined”; for previous Easter-related posts, see “It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again” and “The Marble Truth of Easter.”

BOOKreMARKS: Anthologies, Part 2

 Well, well, well.

Had no intention of revisiting yesterday’s rant, but a recent discovery requires a correction and a mea culpa from me. Apparently, when I searched for clues regarding the authorship of a story in the anthology I mentioned (but didn’t name, thank goodness), I searched at the wrong end of the book.

Last night, before I started reading a new section of the dog anthology, I skimmed the table of contents and right there in front of me was the clue I’d earlier missed. Each work of fiction was clearly labeled “A Story.”


Now the editors of said dog anthology have returned to their elevated position on my admiration meter. I’m sorry I doubted them—I hate it when my heroes fall.

But my rant still holds. Other anthologies have erred (honest) on this subject and stirred my ire.

Whew! Glad that’s off my chest. Thanks for listening.

[The anthology cover pictured is not one I’ve read, so I have no idea where it stands on the subject of mixing fact with fiction.]

Oh. One more thing. The title of the Norman Rockwell magazine-cover art used in yesterday’s post is hardly legible. The work is called “Fact and Fiction,” hence its inclusion.

Friday, April 6, 2012

BOOKreMARKS: Anthologies Tap Pet Peeves I Didn’t Know I Had

I’ve read a fair number of anthologies this past year. Some have been great reading, others just so-so. Yet regardless of the quality of writing, I’ve learned that a single editorial omission can really tick me off.

The other night, while reading an anthology of dog stories, I stumbled on the very first page of one selection. The writer of the story, a woman, opened her contribution with a reference to her “wife.” Assuming that this was a true narrative as the others before it had been, I made the short leap of faith that the author was a lesbian. But soon, little clues were dropped to indicate that the narrator was a man.

I stopped reading and looked again at the short bio included in the back of the anthology. (Bios, I’ve learned, are a critical element of anthologies for me. They give insights about the writers and context for the story; they help me decide whether I want to read more of a writer’s work. I give a thumbs-down to anthologies that are bio-less. Also, I find it frustrating when anthologies that contain a mix of contemporary authors and those from previous centuries omit birth/death dates in the bios.) It gave me nothing.

Next, I put the book aside and searched the Internet for an explanation. Had the wrong author been cited with the story? Had a simple editorial mistake sent me on this hunt?

No, as it turned out. The story was, indeed, written by the woman whose name was published beneath the title in my anthology. The story had also been published previously in a journal or two, but (and it’s a BIG BUT) the story was FICTION! That is to say—because I think our society is often confused about the differences between FICTION and NONFICTION (Isn’t that right, James Frey, Mike Daisey, Jayson Blair?)—this story was NOT TRUE. It was a fabrication. The incident described in the story did not really happen; the people of the story were characters conjured in the author’s imagination.

The good news: I could finally stop puzzling over the story and just read it for its entertainment value.

The bad news: The editors of the anthology fell a notch or two on my admiration meter. Certainly this wasn’t the first anthology I’d read that mixed fact with fiction. I simply expected more of these particular editors.

For the record, I don’t oppose combining fact and fiction. I just want a heads-up about it. I want it clearly labeled—especially in a thematic anthology that may be read for reasons other than entertainment. Maybe it’s a book of surgeons’ life-and-death experiences, or mountain-climbers’ biggest challenges, or, as in the case of the anthology that got me kvetching in the first place, a book about the human-canine relationship. Readers should know whether they’re reading fact or fiction before they: 1) Try to replicate a situation described in the story; 2) Use information from the story to resolve a real-life problem; 3) Retell part of the story at a cocktail party; 4) Assume connections between the story and its author; and 5) Use parts of the story for educational purposes.

Oh dear. How I’ve gone on about this. I’ll stop now.

There is a silver lining in all this, though: I regard my reading as further instruction toward editorial mastery. I hope to one day curate my own animal-related anthology and when I do, I’ll have a long list of Dos and Don’ts to follow. I’m grateful to the editors who have pioneered the way before me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

“Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s on Its Way…”

There’s something about eggs.

I don’t know what attracts me to them: their smoothness? their asymmetry? their promise of new life? Something about them seems like Hope to me.

In kidhood, I had a large tin egg illustrated with Peter Cottontail scenes which, with enough rotations of the handcrank, would play a tinny version of “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.” I no longer have the musical oddity, but it comes to mind each Easter.

Last weekend, I happened upon some eggs of a different kind. They’re part of The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt and charity auction in London—grand in scale, unique in design, a few even falling into the “exquisite” category. Each of the 200 eggs was created by an artist, architect, jeweler, or designer to benefit Action for Children and Elephant Family. These eggs, of course, led me to people and places and loveliness that I hadn’t known existed.

Take a gander yourself and see where the eggs take you. (If you’re anywhere in or near London, you must go see them. I’ll be jealous, but that’s okay.)

[Pics from top to bottom: “Caeruleus & The Good Egg” by Rhea Thierstein, and “Pandora” (dinosaur hatchling) by Martin Aveling.]

Monday, April 2, 2012

Seeing Blue, Part 2

Stranger in a Strange Land – No. 24
Ha! I didn’t expect this to be a two-parter, but I saw something on television yesterday that I had to share with you.

The True-Blue Devotion around here is so extreme that it extends into the afterlife. Yes, pictured here is the UK fan casket. Need I say more?

Thankfully, the Blue Madness will cease tonight, one way or the other. I leave it to the hound next door (sporting, naturally, a UK Blue bandanna) to howl the rallying cry: Go, Cats, Go!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Seeing Purple

Wandering home from the grocery store yesterday, I traveled down one of my favorite streets. It’s only a block long and curves up and down and left and right. The post at one end is always dressed in a nod to whatever holiday approaches, as are the homes and yards of many residents. This week, colorful eggs hang from trees and bushes; pastel wreaths hang on doors.

I stopped for a moment to sit in the grass and pet a black-and-white cat named Fearless. His fearful, half-tailed Calico sister did and did not want the same treatment. She circled round us, keeping her distance and staring at me all the while, then scented me by licking her brother’s face and mouth. Guess I wasn’t as intriguing as she first thought for she looked at me once more and then took off across the street. After a bit more Fearless petting, I took off, too.

Further down Louisiana, I found another treat: Irises of deep purple and lavender were beginning to unfold. The day before, they were just tight buds.

I love watching how time and weather alter the landscape moment by moment—alter the fragrance in the air, alter the palette of plant life.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
—from The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

What’s unfolding in your neighborhood?
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