One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."


Okay, so it’s time to make that wavy up and down movement with your hands, like Wayne and Garth always did to indicate a flash back.   Days have gone by.  Clouds have scudded past.  Facial hair was shorn.  Friends have been rediscovered.  Birds have been counted…or merely gazed upon.  Tempers have been lost and found.  Many tissues have marched to their death.   Snow has fallen and melted.  Catnip mice have been chased…or ignored. 

It’s been fourteen days since my last real post.  Tempus fugit, baby.

Partly, it’s this time of year that’s to blame.   You wrap yourself in an afghan, you wrap your hands around a mug of coffee, or tea – or perhaps – a hot chocolate with bourbon, amaretto and triple sec.  : )  You lose yourself in seed catalog fantasies, videogames, the internet and television movies…and if you’re lucky, winter’s winds play havoc with the calendar’s pages, as well as the windchimes out in the trees.


Pictured above is the Mount Hope Bridge in Rhode Island.   It was NOT one of the bridges I was supposed to cross on a recent roadtrip to Narragansett, but I crossed it anyway.   Several times.  Okay, only twice.  Rhode Island is essentially new territory for me, so my detour wasn’t that big a surprise…and I didn’t mind a little trial and error when a sweet reunion with dear long-unseen friends awaited the journey’s end.  But next time I’ll seek out more specific directions.


I’m a big fan of bridges.  I think they are pretty amazing feats of industry for the most part.  But I’m not a huge fan of driving over some bridges, especially high narrow ones:   it’s a combination of my acrophobia and also knowing that if there’s a vista, I will want to look.  I try to stay very focussed on the roadway itself during the crossing, to ensure I don’t get distracted and drive off the side of the bridge…which I figure will do nothing to lessen my fear of heights.  Well, maybe.  ; ) 

Of course, sometimes, you have to look.   This was the tallest thing on the horizon, and my second time across gave me the chance to look a little further to the south for reconnaissance purposes, where I could just make out the silhouette of the Newport Bridge, which WAS the one I was meant to cross.

The delay wasn’t too lengthy, and I was crossing the proper bridges as the sun made its peace with the day and disappeared on the western horizon.  You can see I submerged the bridge issues long enough to snap a few photos in transit.   It was sunset, after all.



I’d finished crossing my bridges and was able to enjoy the site of a fiery moonrise to the east over Narrangansett Bay as I made a cell phone connection with Chrissie to get directions for my final approach to her place.  

rhode-island-moonriseIt was such a short trip getting there from the Cape (even with my inadvertant detour), that I sort of feel bad that the two of us have only just rediscovered one another after so very many years…considering I have lived on the Cape for more than ten now.  But the regret over time passed was certainly erased by our happy reunion. 

Like I said, it’d been – we figured – about twenty years since Chrissie and I had last laid eyes on one another and it’s tribute to our friendship that we were able to pick up where we left off and so quickly get on with the business of enjoying one another’s company and catching up on all that the years in between have brought, which included meeting husband Brian and their two adorable little girls…and their graciously-aging german shepherd, Charlie, who helped me satisfy a growing itch to spend a little time with a dog. 

Not too much later than me, our friend Spike, aka Karen, arrived as well (having been led on a merry chase by MapQuest, herself) and our reunion and dinner got into full swing, as we traded information, both serious and comic and laughed as long into the dark winter night as we could manage at our advanced ages.



Chrissie and her family live not at all far from the ocean in Narragansett, and once we’d all turned in for the evening, we were lulled to sleep by the distant and steady beep of the foghorn from nearby Point Judith Light.   I’ve always found the sound to be pretty comforting and I was disappointed when their use was largely discontinued on the Cape some years ago.


Our reunion continued by morning light.   It was, essentially, a Facebook success story, since we had recently reconnected on the social networking site(boy, Facebook.  That’s a completely other blogpost, tho.).  In that spirit, we all happily shared the use of Chrissie’s laptop over breakfast, as we took turns making status updates and sending silly message to our other mutual friends out there in the Ether about the reunion. 

We even got Michaeleen, Chrissie’s oldest (at five or six…her birthday was that week…) to take a photo or two of our reunion, which we have determined will now be the first of many good times between us to come.   There are karaoke nights, and birthday parties and all kinds of good times ahead…not to mention a garden to see come summer.

Despite the winter’s chill in the air, Chrissie and I were able to have a bit of an off-season walk about her delightful backyard garden – look at that magnificent crab apple tree…and those ROCKS! – so I could see some of the off-season evidence of the gardens she’s established there.   Lots of roses and daylilies and hydrangeas and a great looking herb garden.   It was all very exciting, just in the imagining (as gardens always are this time of year).  Can’t wait to go back in a few months and see it all coming to life!


butter-primrosesOur visit was all too brief and too soon I was back on the Cape, snuggled into the Nest with my gray pal…watching the winter days pass by, with temperatures rising and falling, but my heart warmed by seeing good friends and renewing connections.

A few random things I’ve noted recently:

*  Looking around in quiet moments recently, I see that there are still a few painting projects remaining for me here at the Nest.  You’ll hear more about those as the seasons turn, I’m sure.

*  Having recently purchased a Pilates ball for the purposes of indoor exercising until Spring arrives proper, I have a newfound respect for the skills possessed  by your average circus seal. 

*  I think I am finally breaking myself of bad habits (okay fine, this one…) and find that I am, more and more, choosing to eat at least dinner sitting at the dining room table, instead of in front of the television or computer.


The amaryllis’ second flower stalk came through with fresh blossoms, just in time for sunny and cold Valentine’s Day.  There was a sweet package waiting for me at the Chocolate Sparrow, and a mysterious card to me from The Gray Catsby…and the best surprise, when my favorite newlyweds Sara and Dan(you’ll remember their December wedding in NYC, no doubt…) turned up for the weekend and took me out for lunch!  What fun to see them and get caught up.

The sweetest weekend was also, of course, the weekend of the Great Backyard Bird Count, and we did participate here at the Nest.   I must confess, it was sort of a busy weekend for me, so my roommate actually did more bird watching and counting than I.



Part of our routine every morning is for me to roll up the shade in the center window of the living room, where Mister Gray’s viewing cushion is located atop the bookshelves (okay, milkcrates…but someday they’ll be bookshelves).  If I don’t happen to remember soon enough, he has taken to rattling the shade to point out my error. 

Out that window is the great bird feeding station in the side yard and the tree branches and shrubs where all the various feathered ones que up to wait their turns.  It’s also a great place to sun oneself, or to track the rainbows that dance on the walls of the room behind him.

He was much more diligent than I regarding the bird count.  I was in and out for work shifts and shopping and lunch dates and laundry and so on, plus, he doesn’t much care for me crowding him at the window.   

Our official sightings for the weekend, however, included robins, bluejays, titmice, chickadees, woodpeckers, bluebirds (yes, that’s one being stalked above) a gull or two (naturally) and enough house and chipping sparrows to cast Hamlet twice…if you were going to cast with all birds, that is.  And that was just out the window from the living room.

christmas-cactus-lateMy plans to get out for a nice birding walk that Monday sort of fell through, when the Head Cold Of Doom descended upon me.   It’s the natural result of the ever-changing temperatures of a Cape Cod winter.   You try to always wear the right outfitting for the temperature and conditions, but when it yo-yos so much, you eventually get caught short a time or two and then, well…you start to feel like you’ve got marshmallow in your ears and you just want to sleep all the time and there’s a tickle in your throat…and then suddenly, you’re a dwarf named Sneezy.

I’m glad to say I was pretty well stocked up with canned soups, juice and a fresh box of tissue, thanks to an unusual flash of that psychic ability I’ve always wanted.  It was a quiet week at work and although I was out and about most days, I felt pretty crappy and couldn’t tell you too much about the weather.  There were a couple really cold nights, as I recall, but some decently sunny days in balance.  And it snowed one night, too.   I was sneezing and coughing and drinking tea and falling asleep and making soup and so on…

(Hey, check out the Christmas cactus about to bloom.   This is the one I got in Post-Holiday sales for a $1.50.  I didn’t imagine I’d see anything from it this spring.)



I’m happy to say the head cold is breaking up this weekend.  It’s the first one I’ve had since Quitting The Cigarettes (it was 220 days this week!), and said break-up seems to be a relatively simple business.   It could be I’m speaking prematurely and tomorrow I will awake to find myself a horrible coughing mess, but I still think it used to be worse when I was a smoker.

While I’m being upbeat and positive, I’ve noticed in the last week a certain quality that’s changed in the bay.   It’s not especially obvious in this photo (though you should note the conspicuous absence of tidal ice), but the water of the bay has taken on more of a green cast.   I suppose it is merely the angle of the sunlight changing as we rotate back toward Spring.  It’s certainly still too early for much to be growing out there in the water.   But we’re getting closer all the time.   Sure, we had some snow one evening this week, but it had turned to rain before midnight and was gone by morning.

This afternoon we had some heavy rain as the day faded, but it was around 40 degrees.  I was back home to the Nest before dark fell, and as soon as I got in the door, I could hear a familiar sound outside, the one I’ve been dreaming of the last month:  it was a musical cloud of red-winged blackbirds in the locust treetop across the yard.   I counted about 35 or 40 of them, busily whirring and chatting and singing and clicking, having just arrived back to the neighborhood today, perhaps even at that particular moment.  What a delightful ruckus.

Like the lavendar line which runs through this sunset, I take their early return as a good sign.


“The most serious charge which can be brought against New England

is not Puritanism but February.”

— Joseph Wood Krutch


Comments on: "Meanwhile, Back At the Nest…" (17)

  1. First of all, as I have a tendency to forget to mention it, congratulations on so many days/weeks/months without the cigarettes!! I am sure their absence is contributing to your overall health and the relative speed with which your head cold is retreating.

    I noticed the absence of the tidal ice. Nice little waves you have there, Cape. Although the weather is still quite cool, I definitely see signs of spring. It’s not too far off now.

    I love the closing quote. I think February is a cruel joke.

    I share your trepidation concerning bridges. The narrower the scarier. If I can look out and not down I’m much better. My favorite view of a bridge is from somewhere besides on the bridge.

    It’s good to see a new post. I’ve missed your voice and perspective. Perhaps I’ll get a significant post up sometime soon, myself. Is it February or is it just me?

  2. I love the pictures of the bridges!!

  3. February gets my vote for least favorite month—unless I’m in Florida.

    I love the shot of the cat stalking the bird. You can just tell he’s rock still and focused, maybe twitching those whiskers.

    I may be the only one around here who feels this way, but I love big dramatic bridges! The only hazard they represent to me is the view, when I should have my eyes on the road.

  4. Hey Greg,
    Great catch up post…been missing these as I sip my morning coffee. Glad the head cold is leaving and things are settling into a “here comes spring” mode. Beautiful day out here in Colorado…with blue skies and white mountains. Looking forward to a post on your Facebook adventures…it should be hysterical…as only you can tell…

    Happy to be coming back into the routine, glad you enjoyed it! It’s gorgeous here, today, but only low 30s, and the wind’s whipping about like madness. Still, nice sunny day!

  5. I’m curious why you went over the Mount Hope Bridge. It ultimately lands you in the Middeltown/Newport area anyhow. Avoiding the toll perhaps?

    But you passed right through Providence didn’t you. You don’t know what you’re missing.

    If you do stop in Providence take Exit 21 off I-95, that’s Federal Hill. Restaurants galore.

    Then there’s Thayer St to the east, as well as Wayland Square. Even downtown Providence has bars, restaurants, entertainment, etc.

    Actually, Truth, I was bypassing Providence to the south…and the gaffe was as boneheaded as my knowing I needed to cross a bridge (the Newport), saw one on the horizon (the Mount Hope) and off I went on a merry tangent.

    And no, I don’t think I ended up avoiding any tolls. ; )

  6. Delightful photos! I’m glad that you reconnected with old friends and I hope that you’re feeling better soon! :)

    Actually, I seem to be doing pretty well already, all things considered! Thanks, Tiger…

  7. […] Meanwhile, Back At the Nest… « The Midnight Garden […]

  8. lovely :)

    i especially like how diligent your kitty is to the bird population. ours is quite the maven of ravens as well (love the rhyme).

    oh, isn’t it titmouses?

    i decided to cancel facebook after a while. most of the people i didn’t see, didn’t socialize with and didn’t give a rat’s patoot if i ever saw (except for the people who connected to me through our blogs but hadn’t met). i mean, if they didn’t care enough about me to keep in touch to begin with and had no interest in rekindling any connection, why would i bother, right? so i dumped it.

    Always love the rhyme, my dear…and when you start makin’ em about kitties and birds its a little more like a spell, innit? ; )

    FB is an interesting phenom. I’m still not quite sure what all to think of it…though I have surely loved reconnecting with friends lost to time and distance…and also for growing closer connections with some of my internet buddies, too. Let me know if you join up again!

  9. My Mom’s Christmas cactus bloomed up until Christmas, had no flowers over the holidays and now is blooming again, must be a ‘grinch’ cactus.
    I think February is hard because it is the month standing between us and any hope of spring.
    Moon over the water very nice pic. :)

    Maybe these late cacti are orthodox.

    Strength, my northern friend: February is almost behind us!!

  10. Oh, I can understand how difficult it is, not being able to garden, locked indoors, resorting to the warmth of blankets. Wish I can send some sun over there, cause it’s getting hot by afternoon and we’re already complaining! Good to see that you have some lovely blooms to enjoy… Don’t worry, spring’s almost there.

    There are little signs every day to remember me, Mouli! Today, only 25 degrees, but a bright red cardinal keeps singing quite happily outside my window.

  11. Helloooo my now-mustacheless friend! Mustache-absentia looks good on ya, too! I popped by because I knew it had been a terribly long time since I’d written and seen what you were up to and I see– YAY! You also were not online so I haven’t been a horribly negligent as I felt I was.

    Guilt slightly assuaged! :) Hope you are feeling better and doing well.

    Guilt assuaged for sure! February’s a great month for giving in to laziness or sickness or just general nothingness for a little. Nice to be back, tho…

  12. First people want to ban talking on cell phones while driving. The next item will be cameras. ;-)

    Glad to hear that you had a good time. Great photos as always. The first photo that you captured of Badum is beautiful with how his eyes are peering right through the lens!

    The nice thing about point and shoot cameras is being able to do that while you’re focussed on more important things, like one-handed driving! ; )

    Actually, if memory serves, he was a bit fascinated by the dangling camera strap!

  13. “Okay, so it’s time to make that wavy up and down movement with your hands…” Ah yes, I can hear the harp glissandos as we speak. Well, as you speak. Ok, write.

    Marvelous mememento. You had me at “Spike, aka Karen”. OK you had me before that, but I’ve been had more than once before. Let me get this straight… you can’t bear to look down while crossing a bridge, but you can drive one-handed while snapping a picture out the driver’s window and at oncoming traffic through the windshield? Is that why you’re almost straddling the center line? Your get-together with Chrissie and Spike (that’s what I’m calling her)rocked, that’s obvious.

    Congratulations on day 220, mon ami. Big tink! Welcome home. Spring is right around the corner. OK, corners are never round, but I take the darling buds of your Christmas cactus as a good sign, like the lavender line in your sunset… Purple! A purple portent! Let there be purple.

    Let there be purple, Indeed!

    For the record, the car was properly in its lane…the camera was thrust out the side window at the oncoming traffic. You can see, I think – with all the picture taking – why its so important for me to keep my eyes on the road, no? The photos were so I could enjoy the view…later! : )

  14. Good to see you back to the blog, Sneezy! I really dig bridges myself, though I’m a tad more wary when I cross them on my scooter. So many of the decks are just open grates over the water below–something you don’t notice while in a car. Ooh scary.

    It looks like you’ve got some nice plant-things starting to click…cool amaryllis and President’s Day cactus. And the bird count with the help of your assistant looked like fun. Hopefully he helped you get through your cold.

    Your Facebook experience sounds like a big success. I’ve been resisting, but the world is dragging me. I’m afraid there’s no point resisting any further.

    Anyway, restore.

    Well, if you join us at Facebook, there’ll be no one left to rescue the rest of us. But we are having a pretty good time there.

    It looks like the cactus will be popping any day now, a nice bit of fireworks to see out this horrid little month, which really hasn’t been all bad, at that! ; )

  15. I just love that picture of Mister Gray; he looks both dear and noble, like an Egyptian statue. The curtain rattling just cracks me up. Ah, they do love their routines, pets. I guess I’m the same, really.

    So glad you had a wonderful visit with your friends. I had a mini-reunion this weekend with some FB reconnections as well.

  16. […] Meanwhile, Back At the Nest… « The Midnight Garden […]

  17. […] Meanwhile, Back At the Nest… « The Midnight Garden […]

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