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.
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
Flutter and fun, to the roof and back again
Two leave, then three, then returns more than
All now off to new surroundings.
Their morning escapade complete.
No count is even close.
Dying and Flowers
Reflections on what?
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Looking for the
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.
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
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
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”
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,
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
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)
I am tired of only a modicum of hope
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.
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.
Collecting Autumn Leaves
Collecting Autumn Leaves
(If a day as my grandmother used to say)
And he’s prepared for a wonderful adventure
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
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.
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?
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?
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
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
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