I had the wrong photo here earlier—here is the tiny spider.
As the spring unfolds with longer days and milder temperatures, we remember what has passed.
It was the tiny spider in the delicate, worn web that inspired this slideshow from 2009 and poem from 2011.
Each year I leave the plants in my garden standing for the birds, insects and other residents of my garden to use for winter accommodations. In spring of 2009 I began preparing the garden section by section and happened to see this spider and her delicate web outlined in the spring sunshine. She had died long before but continued to cling there all winter long, and her web held up against any number of storms.
Her eggs would have been laid on the stem adjacent to her web which would catch the first insects in spring, and when they hatched the little spiders could have their first meal of the insects caught in the web and use her web as a launching pad. I found it so moving that on that bright early March afternoon I went through my garden looking for other such images.
All the other native plants had left behind their skeletons, and the effect of these was haunting, like finding a ghost town or an unknown world.
I had to let them say their last goodbye. I photographed each desolate construction with attention to extreme details you might never notice to show the intrinsic, transient beauty of these empty shells. The sepia tones are the natural coloring of the plants in the stark spring sunlight, that interim color palette between the blues of winter and the greens of spring. Below is a link to a slideshow I composed and posted on my website; when you view it, you’ll see that many of the plats I’ve photographed are criss-crossed with tattered little webs.
To Come Again in Spring
In this sepia scene
of late-winter twigs and matted leaves
I found the small tattered orb she had built that lasted the winter,
this tiny creature no larger than a grain of sand
now curled in the center, her spirit long gone
from her desiccated body,
yet her tiny children,
awakened by a warming spring sun,
will emerge from all the crevices
in the plant she chose as their birthplace
and find that her final creation
helps provide their first meal,
delicate strands catching the earliest gnats,
though these too be
the children of other mothers;
and so the returning songbirds will catch
the tiny spiders as they leave their web of safety
and find sustenance to begin their families
all toiling through the year to grow and thrive
to prepare for the dark of winter
and to come, again, in spring.
Poem To Come Again in Spring © 2011 B.E. Kazmarski
I read this poem at my 2011 poetry reading at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, but did not set up a web page for that reading, and it is not included in my poetry book. Perhaps a reason to finally build the page from that reading, and get started on a new poetry book…
And click here to bring up the slideshow of the images I took this day.
I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry
Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski
FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA
People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.
Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.
Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.
All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.
Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.
$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).
About the books and the poetry readings
My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.
In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.
My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.
Trees and rocks and snow on a the steep banks of the creek; I only wish I’d had my better camera handy since the little one fails me except in bright sunlight.
When that fine powdery snow blows around in the wind on a cold morning so that the early golden sun highlights each tiny crystal it looks as if diamonds are floating around in the air, flashing as they turn and fly. I tried to capture it, some even have little rainbows; I think I’ll try my cross-screen filter next.
Bright late winter sun turns up interesting things, the graffiti on a rusted abandoned railroad bridge, and the last tired vestiges of wormwood.
Briefly in a heavily overcast day, the clouds variously parted and, with the haze of cold snow in the air, put on quite a lovely show of shadows and light.
I admire the snow’s balance.
I still find it beautiful, too, this lovely frozen world.
I swept the snow this morning with this old broom and leaned it against the old rocker with the old basket on it, on the old deck. Old is not bad, old is weathered and worn to show it’s been there. I should really replace the broom some day but I never remember until I need to use it, though all the broomstraws are broken off at the first string that holds them together, which is also unraveling, but still quite red, while the handle still has a little of its original turqouise. It all makes a fine still life.
We had a lovely snow squall last night, big fluffy flakes swirling all around for about an hour, and in the dark, later, all was frosted in powdered sugar. This morning, all the snow still carefully balanced on every branch and twig, no matter how narrow. Here, just a few big snow clusters fell at the right angle to cling to this tiny twig, and then others fell atop, leaving lacy spaces in the miniature snowdrift on the twig. You can see one sparkling snow crystal facing the sun about the middle, and the rose of sharon seed pod is about one-half inch, to give it scale.
A little bit of a surprise snowfall began mid-afternoon today and fell heavily for about two hours; though it didn’t amount to too much, the big soft flakes falling straight and then at angles were lovely.
The ice storm wasn’t too bad, and all the little twigs encased in a glaze of ice, each droplet turning to an icicle, was particularly beautiful.
The Allegheny River, frozen over and broken into pieces.
A thin layer of snow covers the ice in a barrel in my yard, birds walked all over it to explore.
Sunset fading orange casts a warm glow on snow-covered rooftops and streets; shadows tinge violet. Houses, mill and more houses march across the valley in courses, filling from one hill to the next.
Fine snow in the air just after a snow squall softens the sunset as a blue jay is silhouetted against the light show.
This is taken from the same spot as the red sunset from a few days ago. Each sunset is beautiful in its own right.
The light was fleeting but breathtaking, the little lights of streets and houses set in the velvet of valley in darkness, the tree branches, buds already swelling, silhouetted in deep indigo against the scarlet of the end of day.
I saw it happening as I sat at my desk and ran to the top of the hill, almost too late.
Leaves and berries suspended in the water left by melted ice in my birdbath.
The dried flowers of this many-flowered aster have gone to seed, each tiny seed bearing a little frizz of down that will carry it away on the wind come spring. Here, lit by the sun of a late winter afternoon, they glow like sparklers.
I’m not sure where this leaf came from. It wasn’t there yesterday morning, but it was a welcome little suncatcher on a very cold morning today.
Tonight’s sunset reminded me of this photo I took several years ago from a ridge above Carnegie PA. It’s one of my favorite places to observe the sunset or incoming storms, and the valley includes nearly all of Carnegie. In this view you can see the snow-covered rooftops of houses, businesses and industrial buildings with a slight violet glow and the winding course of Chartiers Creek reflecting the pale aqua of the sky as it meanders through town and the sun slowly sets on a bitter cold winter evening. Tonight’s sunset looked like this, even down to the snow on the rooftops, but I couldn’t get to this vantage point in time to get the photo. Still, I wanted to share this moment; I’ve never posted this image on Today before.
“Good Night Little Town” is one of 14 images of Carnegie PA in my exhibit, “Carnegie Painted”
A very speckled starling in deep consideration of his next meal. Though they can be pesty, cleaning out a feeder in minutes, or shredding a suet treat in seconds flat, they are very beautiful to look at, especially on a sunny winter afternoon.
Possibly a good way to begin the year, but virtually impossible for most of us.
But train tracks always fascinate me in their absolute perfection of line in this part of the country. This line variously clings to the side of a hill before running along the edge of a hill and crossing a number of tunnels and trestles. The topography is everywhere here—hills come in every shape and size, creeks and streams run down every hill and along the bottoms of hills, little back roads wind back and forth with creeks and yet the railroad lines predictably go in a straight line off to the horizon, aside from ones that make lovely gentle curves like another local line I photographed last week.
This line actually does go gently around a curve where it disappears in the distance.
I always have to close the year with my absolute favorite sunset photo, from December 31, 2004, taken from the top of my street.
A few birds always gather at dusk to find their last meal for the night, and there is always enough seed on the ground for them to feed, dangerous though it is. One little song sparrow balances on a branch near the ground to scout for the best spot before dropping down to eat. A male and female sparrow joined him in the gathering darkness.
I’ve always liked a song sparrow’s little round and striped body. Below is the same song sparrow in a view from the front.
Dusk is falling yet the snow reflects light from the sky in its violet-dusk way, each home capped with a pale violet rectangle.