Searching for Democracy and the Zen Way in a Box Hedge

crabapple about to blossomI live in a place with a communal garden. It’s a lovely garden. A bit disheveled maybe, but for me, that’s part of the charm. There’s always something to delight in – violets springing up in the lawn, the crabapple blossom in spring, the turtleheads in fall, a cardinal singing in the blue spruce, a piliated woodpecker (if we’re lucky) at the back, any number of little brown birds, a rose that manages a glorious bloom despite the best efforts of invading ivy from the car park behind the fence to strangle it.

After years of adding a little something here, a little something there in a rather haphazard fashion, it’s been decided the garden needs an overhaul. A major spruce up. A total redesign.

Lucky you? Is that what you’re saying?

The trouble is, being a communal garden means Continue reading


The Sound Of Words: Writing Lessons From The Birds

Frigate Bird - Galapagos

When you hear birds singing, do you listen to what they are saying?

I’m no birder. Not me. I can only identify the most obvious – blue jay, cardinal, nuthatch… Even so, my spirits lift every spring when I hear the birds singing again.

I now recognize some of the bird calls even if I can’t match call to bird or identify many of the birds I see.

One bird I call the ‘bath tub bird’ because its burbly, warbly call sounds like one of those old-fashioned whistles that kids used to play with in the bath, filling it with water before blowing. The quick chit-chit-chit of a pair of birds living in the blackberry bushes is a special delight. And the clear liquid song of another bird high in the maple trees.

This last weekend I decided to try and find out what some of these birds are. A lesson in writing humility. Continue reading