Friday, April 30, 2010

National Poetry Month

We end National Poetry Month the same way we began—with a poem by Princeton's Paul Muldoon. Here's "Hedgehog" read by the poet.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Encounter on the Towpath

Today we met up with two of our favorite Princeton Landing neighbors Greg and James on the D&R Canal towpath. We were walking, but Greg and James were on their bike enjoying the beautiful day. James is getting big and quite talkative, telling us about Maltese buses, Quantas airplanes—and cupcakes with yellow on top. Before they headed off for one of those cupcakes, James told his dad he had spotted a turtle with three hands—and he was right!

National Poetry Month

"Who Burns for the Perfection of Paper" by Martín Espada

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

National Poetry Month

"Yesterday" by W.S. Merwin

Poets W.S. Merwin and Chang-rae Lee will be reading at 4:30 pm today at the James Stewart Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts, 185 Nassau Street in Princeton. The event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Flowering Trees

Trees flower in spring—
someone must care for them here
in Princeton Landing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

National Poetry Month

"Funeral Blues" by W. H. Auden

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tennis Courts — 11:46 am

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare

Sonnet 104

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey'd,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn'd
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn'd,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah, yet doth beauty, like a dial hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceiv'd,
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceiv'd;
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

National Poetry Month

"What Kind of Times Are These" by Adrienne Rich

Earth Day

What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?

— Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thank You, Brickman Crew

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

National Poetry Month

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

No matter what I say,
All that I really love
Is the rain that flattens on the bay,
And the eel-grass in the cove;
The jingle-shells that lie and bleach
At the tide-line, and the trace
Of higher tides along the beach:
Nothing in this place.

Photo: NOAA

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nature Guide: American Kestrel

Photo by Angela Jenkins

The most colorful bird of prey in our area is the American Kestrel. About the size of a robin, it is the smallest and most common falcon in North America. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer tells us more.

"The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is easily identified by its small size, its reddish back and tail, and the two dark mustache marks on its face. Males have blue-gray wings with black spots. Their underside is pale buff to orange, with a variable amount of black spotting, especially along the sides. The wings and tail of a female are reddish with black bars or bands. Her underside is creamy to buff, heavily streaked with brown. Juveniles look similar to adults.

"The American Kestrel used to be called a Sparrow Hawk because of its small size, but it is actually a falcon. Kestrels are found from Alaska to the southern tip of South America, in towns and cities as well as open land. It will nest in a cavity in a tree, in a building or in a nesting box.

"Kestrels hunt large insects, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and other birds. They often watch for prey from tall perches, such as trees or telephone poles. They also hover in the air, scanning the area below. Depending on how much wind there is, a kestrel may not have to flap its wings to hover. After a short while, the kestrel may move to a new position and hover again. When it finds its prey, it will dive down to catch it.

"Kestrels in our area are migratory, spending winter in northern Panama or the West Indies. According to some recent reports, their numbers are declining, although there doesn't seem to be a significant trend across North America."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

National Poetry Month

by Carl Sandburg

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Photo: UVic School-Based Weather Station Network

Friday, April 16, 2010

National Poetry Month

"Why Are Your Poems So Dark?" by Linda Pastan

Thursday, April 15, 2010

National Poetry Month

"House of Beauty" by Mark Doty

Have You Filed?

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.

— Albert Einstein

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nature Guide: Carolina Wren

You can hear the exuberant song of the Carolina Wren, Thryothorus ludovicianus, in our neighborhood now. These wrens, about the size of a small sparrow, are fairly common in the East. They are very sensitive to cold weather, however, Their appearance can decrease after severe winters with low temperatures and heavy snowfall, so I feel fortunate to have had this one visiting my deck in Princeton Landing over the past couple of weeks.

In addition to its loud, clear song (tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea or chirpity, chirpity, chirpity, chirp), you can tell a Carolina Wren by its warm reddish-brown upperparts, buff underparts, conspicuous white eyebrow stripe and frequently upturned tail. Its bill is slightly arched, and Its wings and tail are dark brown barred with white flecks.

Carolina Wrens may mate for life and pairs defend territories year-round. They usually forage in pairs and their diet consists largely of insects and spiders.

The Carolina Wren inhabits the brushy undergrowth and thickets of both open woods and suburban gardens. It prefers moist areas, which is probably why it likes my yard — in spite of the proximity to the Loop Road.

Monday, April 12, 2010

National Poetry Month

Today's poem was chosen by our Nature Guide Jon Latimer — "Samurai Song" by Robert Pinsky.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

National Poetry Month

The Gardener 85

Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence?
I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one
single streak of gold from yonder clouds.
Open your doors and look abroad.

From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the
vanished flowers of an hundred years before.
In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring
morning, sending its glad voice across an hundred years.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Condolences to Poland

After the rain of stars
on the meadow of ashes
they all have gathered under the guard of angels

— Zbigniew Herbert
from "At the Gate of the Valley"

Photo: Mathiasrex

Friday, April 9, 2010

National Poetry Month

The poet Robert Hass reads selected haiku by Kobayashi Issa from his book of translations The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō, Buson, and Issa.

Flowering Trees at Princeton Landing

Thursday, April 8, 2010

National Poetry Month

"Forgetfulness" by Billy Collins

Nature Guide: Early Spring Flowers

Here are some early spring flowers you can see along the D&R Canal right now. They're considered weeds by some experts, but somehow they still brighten your walk along the towpath.

Viola sororia, Common Blue Violet, is the state flower of New Jersey, Wisconsin, Illinois and Rhode Island. It blooms from April to June and has numerous common names, including Common Meadow Violet, Hooded Violet, Wild Violet, Wooly Blue Violet and Sister Violet.

Rununculus ficaria, also known as Lesser Celandine, Fig Buttercup, Spring Messenger and Pilewort, blooms from March through May. The poet William Wordsworth was so fond of this flower that it inspired him to write three poems about it. Celandines also appear in C. S. Lewis'sThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and in J. R .R. Tolkien's The Two Towers.

Claytonia virginica, Spring Beauty or Virginia Springbeauty, flowers between March and May. The plant is native to eastern North America. Its scientific name was chosen by Linnaeus to honor Colonial Virginia botanist, John Clayton.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

National Poetry Month

"I started Early – Took my Dog –" by Emily Dickinson

Monarchs in Danger

The first butterflies of the season have appeared—watch for Cabbage Whites fluttering over the grass at the edges of our wooded areas. One of our favorite butterflies, the colorful Monarch, will make its appearance this summer. You may not see many of them this year, though. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer tells us why.

"There are likely to be many fewer Monarch butterflies in our area this year. The Monarchs we usually see spend the winter in the mountains of northern Mexico. Then they migrate north as the weather warms. Unfortunately, just as our winter was unusually harsh, this was a bad year for the Monarchs' winter roost. Severe hailstorms and heavy rains took a terrible toll on the Monarchs. Experts estimate that as many as half the total population were killed by bad weather. So, we can expect to see many fewer Monarchs in our area this summer, and the future of the Monarch species is beginning to look a little shaky.

"If you do see a Monarch, remember that this is a hardy survivor as well as a beautiful creature. And pass along the hope that the population will recover in the next few years."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

National Poetry Month

Poet and musician Paul Muldoon, described by the The Times Literary Supplement as "the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War," leads off our salute to National Poetry Month. He reads "The Loaf" from his book Moy Sand and Gravel.

Monday, April 5, 2010

National Poetry Month

The 2010 National Poetry Month poster, designed by Marian Bantjes, features the lines "We make a dwelling in the evening air, / In which being there together is enough." from Wallace Steven's poem "Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday

Agios Nikolaos, near the village of Megalochori, Santorini, Greece

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

Photos: Vollenweider, Switzerland

Ready For Easter

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bachelor Father

1918 – 2010

The Night of the Epitaph

Good Friday evening in the mountain-top village of Pyrgos on the island of Santorini, Greece

Good Friday

Marc Chagall
from the "Christ window," 1970
Fraumunster, Zurich, Switzerland

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Nature Guide: Eastern Cottontail

The rabbit we see most often in our area is the Eastern Cottontail. Easily recognized by its long gray ears and fluffy white tail, it is one of the most common species in North America. To celebrate Easter, our Nature Guide Jon Latimer tells us a little more about this beloved bunny.

"The Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) has a chunky round body covered with brownish or grayish fur and large hind feet. The fur on its underside is white and there is often a rusty patch on its white tail.

"Eastern Cottontails can be found in meadows near shrubby areas or thickets where they can find protection. They hide during the day but are active at night and easiest to see around dusk or dawn. In spring and summer they eat grasses, fruits and vegetables. In winter they feed on twigs and the bark of trees such as dogwood or maple.

"The Eastern Cottontail's large brown eyes and long ears help them avoid predators. When chased, they can run up to 18 mph. They usually run in a zigzag pattern, making it more difficult for a predator to follow.

"Female Eastern Cottontails give birth to three or four litters each year between March and September. She builds a nest in the ground lined with grass and fur and will fiercely protect her territory. Each litter consists of four to seven babies, known as kits. Kits are weaned after three weeks and leave the nest after about seven weeks. By the time they are three months old, the kits are mature enough to mate."

National Poetry Month

I, too, dislike it.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in
it, after all, a place for the genuine.

— Marianne Moore