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Loretta Strharsky

Loretta has been a high school educator, parent activist, an office manager, and researcher.

She volunteers in her community at her library and a raptor rehabilitation program. She continues her writing, focusing on her natural surroundings and how it affects us all.

A Grey Day

The sky has forgotten its morning blue

Just a sheet of grey textured only by darker grey

No snow flurries venture forth even if promised

No fog, no breeze

The winter bare aspens are quite still

The lone leaf on the Canada cherry

Doesn’t sway

And the birds?

They aren’t interested in the newly filled feeder


It’s grey and dull besides.


Image by Basti Steiner

The Art of a Snow Fall

Yesterday’s snow painted the sturdy chokecherry branches

with careful strokes working its way across the rough bark.

Eventually the bare tree trunk held the painting at bay.

Undeterred and taking a new look at its artistry,

The snow crafted smooth pottery at the branch forks,

catching swirling flakes en masse for its creations.

In a wispy lilac bush which seemed too frail to hold the snows,

an abandoned grackle’s nest held firm.

Unfazed by the new designs of cumulating snowflakes,

grasses and twigs were still in place holding new additions.

Today’s warming sun erased yesterday’s art,

Providing a clear canvas for upcoming sketches.



Wishing on Stars

“When you wish upon a star

Makes no difference who you are…”

Hey, Jiminy Cricket,

Remember when I sang that song

To myself, too self-conscious to sing it out loud?

Did I really think dreams came true?

Or did I know it was it just fanciful pretending?

I pretend a little girl now, elbows on the window ledge,

Chin braced by my hands

I watch as a sliver moon barely clears my neighbor’s frosted roof top

Breaking through a halo of cotton candy clouds.

I wait for the first star to rise in anticipation

Of come true wishes

“If your heart is in your dreams No request is too extreme When you wish upon a star As dreamers do.”

Then, with no direction required, the fine film of fingerling clouds dissipates.

The eastern sky from my window becomes a dramatic stage

Darker than hot chocolate, no marshmallows, thank you.

Seemingly all at once constellations populate the heavens

Unnamed stars stand at attention

A few grace the darkness brighter than the others.

If there is more than one first star, then what?

Are they all first stars?

I let first star wishes scatter through the sky

Bright, bold,

Waiting for dreams to unfold.

“Like a bolt out of the blue Fate steps in and sees you through When you wish upon a star Your dreams come true”


Image by Alexander Andrews

Bryce Canyon

Afternoon hikers, braced on the precipice of the canyon’s rim

Project “oh my” and “wow” and “can you see that” for all nearby to hear.

The canyon is too deep and jagged to manage reverberations.

What a good thing that is.

Human noises lack the quiet awe demanded here of nature’s production.

Perhaps, as dawn breaks, 

Morning’s tranquil light will capture the canyon’s inaudible drama, 




Bryce Canyon Morning After Snow Pano.jpg


In early spring, 

when tulips barely crack the ground and buds on lilacs are hardly noticeable

when the greening grass can only be seen as you crouch down and part dead blades

I wish for baseball’s buoyancy,

 I hear Bill King’s call of an A’s home run recorded in my head 

And I smile knowing Dad would love Tulo’s shortstop pirouettes


In the singe of summer, 

when it is too hot to weed

I watch the onions tops tip, wait for the tomatoes to ripen, wonder which bell peppers are red or yellow 

And I carefully lift the raspberries so not to lose the ready ripe 

or disturb the hiding grasshopper that nuzzles near a leaf 

I later linger on the porch, 

watching an approaching storm split the darkening sky with loitering lightning 


In nearly winter, 

after fall’s fascination with colors has long since waned 

I study the clouds in anticipation of the first silent snow 

and its calm caresses of a blue spruce 

(blue spruce should always be bedecked in snow)



In waning winter, 

when the remaining snow is sullied 

and the arid acres lose soil to the whipping winds 

I long for spring sun and the syncopated cycles of the seasons once again



Image by Daiga Ellaby


I am tired of smatterings

A smattering of snow when the earth cracks dry

A smattering of crocuses who can’t tell time

A smattering of left-over autumn leaves unwilling to fall

A smattering of chocolate chips not enough for cookies


And I am tired of only a modicum of hope


But I remember Newton:

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction


The opposite of these smatterings?

Not exactly but Perhaps 

A blizzard encasing fields of un-pruned cone flowers 

As new buds on the old lilac bushes hold their own

Obvious dust on the book shelves

A myriad of photo albums to update

(And what could be better than

A new bag of chocolate chips for the making)


But still 

I am tired of only a modicum of hope



Image by Cherry Laithang


Dogs? Who wants dogs?


Hound at Home


George lies catching a sunbeam

You’d think he was a cat

His long floppy hound ears compete with his sagging jowls for turf

Indulgently he sprawls without a care

No howl or bay at me to get my attention.

We should all have such contentment now and then.


In November

A chilly night did not keep her in.

Wrapped in her favorite tattered red jacket

Her blanket adorned with screened images of the National Parks

And her bit too large knitted hat,

She took her place at the far end of the porch.

Without the day’s wind she was quite comfortable.

She was out to watch

An expanse of the winter sky.

The new moon was not ready to show its face.

Orion’s majesty offered drama as usual

With his sword so carefully positioned.

She hummed the ballad about the Drinking Gourd

As she found the Big Dipper caught in the leafless branches

Of the massive maple tree.

Who else was around?

She could find Leo.

After all it was the meteor showers bearing his name

That brought her out in the first place.

Streaks of light didn’t disturb the myriad of stars

But they took center stage in this evening’s sky

As she watched as undisturbed as the stars.


Image by Joakim Honkasalo

Collecting Autumn Leaves

Collecting Autumn Leaves


He’s four

(If a day as my grandmother used to say)

And he’s prepared for a wonderful adventure


Maple leaves

Now autumn-tinged 

Rest on the grass waiting 

For these four-year-old fingers

To appraise their worthiness


He surveys all the treasures at his feet

Picks up one leaf

Judges it a fine specimen-

No cracks, no missing edges

Beautifully dressed in several shades of maroon-

He rests that choice on a carefully selected clearing.


He searches for another and another

Rejecting many 

Acquiring several more leaves with that majestic maroon finery 

Masterfully adding to his growing selection


He turns around



On a quest to find just one more.




Weed Reflections

What makes a weed a weed?

It creeps, crawls, anchors itself near the perfect rose

with a root system adventuring deep

If ignored, it rises tall, reaching out under the low-hanging lilac boughs.


It doesn’t have the majesty of the aged blue spruce

Nor the fragrance of the honeysuckle looped over the fence

Nor the fragility of the oversized hibiscus.

Can it bear beauty at all?


If so

What makes a weed a weed?


There is no botanical definition.

Is it just unwanted, misallocated?

Defined by the landscape artist

Or one who only wants pedigree

A plant in the wrong place at the wrong time.


When grownups say a child is growing like a weed

What does that mean?

It usually means fast, almost unexpectedly fast.

Soon to rival the adult?

Gangly, spindly, out of proportion?

Like a weed reaching out adventuring deep?

 Will it bear beauty?


If so

What makes a weed a weed?






A waning crescent moon

One bright Mars

Nothing else visible from the natural grassland field

With a northeast preferred view


A thin mist of clouds envelops

Most of the way-before-dawn sky

Some meager breaks hint hopeful of dissipation


But not on this meteor watch


Primed tonight again I am

For the elusive Perseids



Image by Austin Schmid

Riverbed Ponds

Stillness and solitude surround Spring at River Bend

The trout pond hosts a gathering of troutlets at the nearly submerged branches

while the waters lick and lap the edges.

It is not a beach with crystalline sands or a lakefront inviting boats to moor

Just a shore where the water stops and the rugged path begins

Where roots are exposed and the earth makes ledges over the licks and laps

Downy feathers, discarded by fledglings, rest in emerging grasses

Blackbirds have returned from wherever they winter if they winter at all

Their calls echo along the walkway across the inlets the ponds created long ago

Sparrows compete in chattering when they are not darting across the clouds and through the tree spaces.

A new song emerges but its vocalist is not to be found even though Spring foliage is meager.

Nestled near the water in a marsh among cattails

A heron strikes a statuette pose waiting for a trout trophy

Now momentarily displayed as caught then swallowed



Riverbend Ponds3.JPG


A day of remembrance, of thankfulness, of reflection.

We will not let our fear consume us,

but I worry about the anger that takes our energies day by day

Fear might freeze us,

but anger often makes us unable to focus,

unable to direct that anger to creative, positive, intense actions.

I am grateful I have the presence of mind

to reflect on these things,

to remember those unheralded friends and companions

who have shared their energies and have worked tirelessly

to focus on righteousness, justice, compassion and love.

And to refocus my energies in these often very dark times



Counting Robins

How do you count robins?

How do you count these robins

that have taken to the branches of the red choke cherry

that graces the south side of our house

or the aspens along the back walkway or the front yard?

They keep fellowship with a lone downy woodpecker

who carefully surveys the bark of another aspen.

And how do you count robins?

One branch to another

Higher, lower, nestled in the fork

Circling, returning

Flutter and fun, to the roof and back again

Two leave, then three, then returns more than

That sum.

All now off to new surroundings.

Their morning escapade complete.

No count is even close.


Image by Joshua J. Cotten

Dying and Flowers

Reflections on what?

Dying perhaps.  


Flowers die, picked or not.  They were once not picked.  

Stealing sunrays in the morning.  

Entertaining ladybugs in the afternoon.  

Some not picked

Wilt in the garden,

No longer hospitable for a bee.


Others picked.  

The center of attention at the dinner table. 

For a day, three, four perhaps. 

Does it matter?   

The sun is not needed.  The ladybugs find new residence. 

What matters is that we smile this day 

Because of something beautiful and not forgotten.  

What matters is that we linger, 

Not ready to let go of those flowers.  

Do we let them remain?

Until the petals fall and the stems weaken,

Bending to touch the table.


What matters in the dying 

Must be the memories

Before the petals fall.  Before the stems bow.  

Must be the memories.


Our days remain full even as we watch the petals.

We ought linger over flowers more often


Surely about the memories



Image by Thought Catalog

Autumn Leaf Reflections

I held on as long as I could.

The wind unrelenting 

trying to remove me by force.

I was not ready.

I insisted I will stay for a few days more.


A chilling rain with ice crystals

had other ideas.

I must have been targeted.

There was no way to stay. 

I joined the inevitable swirl with others,

the almost majestic ride taking me

beyond the cluster of other reds and yellows

trapped along the walkway fences.

I, with Robert Frost,

took a different road.

One smiling 3-year old bends down to collect

a leaf here and there

then chooses me to be the day’s treasure.

I now reside on the table near her bed, 

Under glass

Preserving my color 

And her smile.




I wasted twenty-three minutes studying the lilacs,

waiting for them to open.

I knew it was much too early, a bit too cold and overcast

but I waited anyway.

I so wanted them to open,

so needed their reminder of a little girl who loved lilacs

and the lilies of the valley that thrived beneath that massive bush.

I did not have the joy of marveling at the tiny 4-pronged floweret

that only gathers its grace when among its peers.

It was a day when only old fashioned lilacs would do.


Image by Garreth Paul

The Nearness of Spring

These few days of warmth tempt the best and strongest

In the garden.


Aspen, their buds bursting large, ready themselves for spring.

while the maples’ nearing leaves know not to be lured by the waning snow moon


Spring is knocking but roses still abide winter’s direction 

for no new growth yet.

Barely buds on the lilac branches are not quite ready to be jostled totally awake.

They are still swathed in their slumber casing, 

more than drowsy but not quite dormant

The lilacs know better than to think it is time to emerge.


Predicted snows ought put a damper on spring’s suggested finery

As it should.

A few weeks of tantalizing anticipation is well worth the wait.




Image by Biegun Wschodni




The sign dictates:  Watch Out for Mountain Lions


I study the twisted cracked cottonwoods

The morass of dry underbrush

The decaying limbs long ago fallen 


The pond I pass reflects the calm of the day

With an occasional trout disturbing the placid water

Nearby the river smooth-talks the stones along its way

Without much effort as it travels on.


However, the sign dictates: Watch out for Mountain Lions


I have sighted an eagle eyeing a mouse

Not protected by the morass of dry underbrush

The raptor’s definitive landing

In the twisted cracked cottonwoods

Readies that mouse lunch.


I watch my step as a slithering grass snake still safe

In the decaying limbs long ago fallen

Strikes out at an unsuspecting toad.


But I am  sure to Watch Out for Mountain Lions





I know very little about You, Hunter

But every winter

Over my house

You stand guard, a silent presence

Protecting young and guiding adventurers


I am honored to be among your charges



Image by Pascal Debrunner

Leonid Meteor Showers

I thought about you last night

How we took the blankets from the guest room

Laid on the dry grass in the open field across the road

The promise of meteor showers kept us there for hours

We counted the shooting stars

(I know they are not stars)

One, seven, sixteen and on

I’d see one that you didn’t and the same for you

When we tired of the sky’s steaks

We looked for Orion and Leo, Mars and Saturn

I don’t remember which we found, but look we did

We arose, shook the dry grass off the blankets, and

Catching a glimpse of a few more showers, we wandered home



For Becky


Image by Alan Chen

Autumn Dancers

During these newly minted autumn mornings, 

Impatient maple leaves hurry to sail in the slight morning breeze.

Little do they know if they wait until midday

They could swirl on their way to the cushioning grass below 

With the afternoon wind tides.


A neighborhood girl dressed in a muted yellow shirt and pale red tights 

Dances by with a skip in her step.

Taken with the breeze she creates 

She mimics the aspen leaves fluttering.

After a respectful bow, she pauses, 

Gently lifts one of the maple leaves dressed in her colors.


Spinning the leaf by its stem, 

She dances again.

No need to wait for the afternoon wind.



A very hungry caterpillar is patrolling outside my window

Accordion-like she moves, stalks

Scrumptious leaves nearby


How is it she is moving more rapidly than I thought she could?

A moment of coffee distraction makes me lose focus. 

Where did she go so soon?

She must be off to more hospitable grounds


I am left pondering her next moves.

Photo by Erik Karits from Pexels-Caterpi

Looking for the

Milky Way

We are not actually looking

for the Milky Way.

We know where it is.

Right there, in the south eastern sky.

A band of stars knows where it is--

they gather as an arc to give it framing.

A few shooting stars point in the right direction

offering us clues we really don’t need.


Opening the truck door

that has sheltered us from the frigid mountain wind

we step out, stare at the darkened sky.

No hint of the galaxy before us,

only an obfuscating cloud.


Galileo saw it and the Greeks knew it was there.

On a majestic night like this,

maybe we are looking too hard for the Milky Way.



After Dark-6.JPG

The Moon

The pieces of creamy clouds kept cradling that moon.


You know the one. 

Not the silken yellow with mediocre orange streaks one

Not the one with the look of broken eggshells hiding in the redwood canopy

Nor the one of latte with those leaves drawn in the foam—

Not that moon.


But what about today’s cradled moon?

You know the one.

It’s the bowl of egg drop soup

A bit cloudy, eggs stirred until only shreds float lacily on the surface


That’s the one

That’s the moon



Full Moon.JPG
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