Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bonatagram #4: Independence Day

Dawn snared in rain clouds, the daylilies & grass glow from within. Daylight suspended awaiting night's rocket red glare.

Pam Croom © 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bonata-Nature-Gram #3: Swallowtail

Green gold panicles top dark green swirls of sumac leaves. A tiger swallowtail lofts up & rest upon the yellow cluster.

Pam Croom © 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bonata-Nature-Gram #2: Yellow Hammer at the Trough

Yellow shafts and red nape teeter over the water iris trough. Flicker drinks in dawn, irises long ago spent.

Pam Croom © 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bonata-Nature-Gram #1: Morning Still

Fog solid, opalescent, stills the air. Droplets, temporary jewels dangle from the twigs. The mocking bird drops to the ground and rows her wings.

Pam Croom © 2013

Saturday, October 27, 2012



The ducks’ hen-scratch tinkled into the dish as my eye just caught a wing tip swing by in the sky. A vulture? No, whoa! My head snapped skyward; I had seen before that wing turned down, ever so slightly, at the wrist! It was an osprey, a very unlikely sight over our lake. He lazily circled the lake, and then dove, half-heartedly, at a fish. He pulled up with empty talons dangling behind him, and lighting ever so carefully in a pine he settled in for the night. He must have been a migrant pushing south. Probably full from hunting in other lakes or rivers, dinner seemed not to be on his mind. He was now more interested in finding a perch for the night which would offer a vantage to spy breakfast in the morning.

His wing tip reminded me of another osprey wing tip I spied once descending a curvy road to Saltville, Virginia. A narrow wrist caught my eye as the owner ascended on the thermals over the wellfields. I was stunned to see an osprey so far from the sea or a large lake. He seemed so out of place to me, but to him, he was right at home. Saltville, aptly named, nestled in the ridge and valley area of Virginia is the site of a brine spring that flows through a few ponds or as they called, the wellfields. The wellfields are one of the few inland salt marshes in North America. The wellfields range from very salty to barely salty like most salt marshes. Ducks and other birds brought seeds from the seashore in on their feathers and halophytic plants colonized this saltwater refugia. The most gorgeous swamp mallows and deposits of reddish salt-like rock ring the wellfields. And the snails! There are the most beautiful, stripped, large, land snails to be found all around the water. I love the snails; they are jewels amongst the mallows.

The salt has attracted critters from Pleistocene mega fauna to present day critters. People, probably attracted to animals first and salt second, showed up about 14,000 years ago. The Spanish came through the area followed later by English colonists. The salt works provided the Confederacy with two thirds of its salt. Salt was so important the North attacked and destroyed the salt works.

The salt marsh has been damaged and reduced by human exploitation of salt and grazing, but a remnant marsh remains. If you are ever in the toe of Virginia, do visit this extremely rare salty refugia.

Pam Croom © 2012

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Girls Gone Wild

In theory, our city-born mother understood the hold nature held on her country-born daughters, but it was the practice that gave her fits. She did not understand dirt’s affinity for girls’ clothes, nor that shoes were optional accessories. Every pot and pan she owned had, at one time or another housed every creepy-crawly critter that was to be found in the Ozark Mountains and, inexplicably, she took a dim view on such housing. She was raised in a southern city and sent to classes by her parents to be trained in the feminine arts of dance, piano and voice. On Sundays the de rigueur of her upbringing required that her shoes and purse match and that they be coordinated with her dress, hat, and gloves. So you see, it could only be a mystery to her how she managed to spawn her unlikely daughters, and to us it was a cosmic joke.

As a child I loved the woods and all that it sheltered-momma was less enthusiastic. Much to momma’s credit, when I was eight, she bought me my first pair of binoculars and bird book. They were my first grown-up possessions. I suspect she was trying to direct my interests in more genteel directions, away from pursuits like poking through the rabbit guts my cat left. Unfortunately for momma I could manage both.

A two-hundred acre bottomland wood lay between home and school. The landowner was absentee, at least that was the rumor on my elementary school grapevine. Deer trails crisscrossed the forest. Huge trees beckoned. There was real dirt in that bottomland not just red Ozark clay! I’m breathless thinking about that lovely dark dirt even now! Offering such amenities, the place was overrun with children claiming the land for their own wild ways and I was among them.

One day, a mother angry that her snotty-nosed, momma’s boy of a brat had been taunted by older boys, called all the mothers and whinged on about, “do you really know where your children are?” That afternoon on our way home we kids found, milling at the wood’s edge, an embarrassed troupe of mothers who, to their dismay, didn’t really know where their children were. Unfortunately for me my discomfited mother was one of them.

Momma began to brood, “What if there was an emergency, and I needed to find you?”

“Any kid can find me.”

Trying not to scare me, but succeeding in frightening herself, she persisted in her line of thought, “What if, and not saying anything is going to happen, but what if you fell and broke your leg?”

“You, knowing exactly where I was at, would not do anything for my broken leg-it’d still be broken.” No answer pleased her and that one in particular ticked her off there was no way she letting me go out into that wood again until she had seen it for herself. Saturday morning momma drove me to the housing addition that skirted the wood, and at road’s end we trekked out over the abandoned construction site. Bulldozers had left gaping ruts, clay pits abounded and between the woods and us lay a hundred-yard morass.

Three quarters of the way across momma stopped before a mud hole and stared at the distant trees, sighing she considered for me for a moment before speaking, “Don’t break your leg, and be home for dinner.” Even though every fiber of her told her not to let me go, my momma did. What a gift! She trusted me; she was confident of my abilities even if she wasn’t confident that the world at large wouldn’t hurt me. Hours were spent chasing, hiding from, and ambushing other children, forts built, trees climbed, frogs chased, mistakes made, and lessons learned all which gave me a confidence about my own physicality and a self-esteem that no over-protective parent could impart.

I tell you this story, because I don’t see children out on their own much in the woods today. Understandably, parents are scared by 24-hour news fear-mongers, but at some point reason needs to take over…the bogeyman always existed and always will, and some bogeymen are real; fortunately, their numbers are small. Bad things happen to good children no matter how watchful their parents. Learn something from my city-mother: Trust good things do happen and sometimes, just sometimes, you just have to drive your daughters to the end of the road and turn them loose in the woods!

Pam Croom © 2011

Monday, March 8, 2010

Soon now...soon

This morning life is pairing outside my window. White-throated sparrows fuss and chase in anticipation of northward flights and pairings while a brown thrasher sits upon a sycamore branch bowed before the sun. The red in the sunlight catches the bird’s back drying and drawing out the russet hues of damp morning feathers. Joined by another, the sun glowing in their yellow eyes, they bask for a time, side by side, but the well-oiled togetherness of parenthood is not quite upon them so one fusses then flees pursed by the other. The thrashers are replaced by two mourning doves on the telephone wires and a robin pair in tree. The robins dispel the morning chill warming their dark backs to the dawn. Their heads slightly cocked upwards, as robins do, catches light, and their yellow beaks look illuminated from within. The leftward bulging crescent moon pales in the blue morning sky and wanes while we all wait for the green to seep out of the sun into the ground bringing on the full waxing glory of spring.

Pam Croom © 2010

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