Thursday, July 29, 2010
I'm spending a week at the beach in the Hamptons. Every morning there are student volunteers who comb the beach looking for the tiny eggs of the endangered Piping Plover. When they spot them, they erect poles and strings to keep beach goers from accidentally stepping on the them.
The nests of the piping plovers are so exposed that if they weren't protected by humans, the species would stand very little chance of surviving. When pairs form, the male digs out several "scrapes" (nests) along the shore, usually near the beach grass. (This guy placed his right in the middle of the beach.) As you can see from the picture, the scrape is really just a small depression in the sand. The female checks out the scrape, and if she decides she likes it, she'll decorate it with shells and beach debris to "camouflage" it. Once it's ready, she'll allow her fellow to mate with her.
This couple's idea of camouflage isn't exactly what you or I might think of as a good hiding place -- another reason the piping plovers need human help. Females usually lay 1 egg every other day for a total of four days, so this might be just the beginning of their brood. Incubation is usually 27 days. It's quite warm here in July, which may be why mama isn't sitting on the egg full time. I saw her wandering around on a sand dune nearby and I didn't need to get too close to get this shot - just put my lens on zoom. Interesting, right?
Sunday, July 18, 2010
My friend Bea at Dog in the Hole Studios (see sidebar) mentioned how much she loves to hear sound of children laughing. I especially liked this line from her blog: "We could hear the screams and laughter from a yard, across the field. ... if I could bottle that sound and play it all winter I would be so happy. What a great sound and wonderful energy."
I started thinking about the summer sounds I love best and realized they define the season for me. Cicada's buzzing nearby, the sound starting low and then growing in intensity, then finally ebbing away to silence again. Water rushing over rocks in a stream, a deafening roar of white noise punctuated by an occasional loud thud of a rock being relocated. Prop planes passing overhead (less and less these days). Water slapping the side of a boat, and the click-whoooosh of a fishing line sent soaring through the air. The occasional dragonfly dive bombing our boat or a loud bumblebee passing by.
Those are the summer sounds of memory, when I lived in the suburbs and spent my free time in the country. These days I live in one of the busiest cities on earth. There are so many sounds here that they blend together into a hum that becomes white background noise to me. That's why I love getting away to our favorite Wyoming ranch, sitting on a saddle and riding into the forest. I need to see those dragonflies.
What are your favorite summer sounds?
Posted by teri at 10:51 AM
Monday, July 12, 2010
I had intended to post questions for each chapter of American Wife, but things changed and that didn't happen. As it turned out I did start a Women and Books discussion group on Goodreads to select a work of fiction to read and discuss each month, and if you are interested in joining you can click here: Women and Books .
In ten days (July 23) my baby girl will be getting married. This is obviously a big deal for our family, as it is for every family. After all the years and all the many times she and I have watched Steve Martin's incredulous blustering and posturing in Father of the Bride ("don't forget to fasten your condom,") I can't believe her turn is coming up. She'll obviously (I use that word because it's so clear to us, not that it would be clear to you) be using several songs from that movie since it's nearly the soundtrack of our lives. I feel as if we should rent swans for the ceremony and find Fraaaahhhnk to do the rest. God we loved watching that movie and dreaming about her big day -- and now it's nearly here.
Will we be able to give her up? She has been, after all, our ray of sunshine for 24 years and now, here she is, taking dancing lessons as I write this, getting ready for her wedding day. I suppose these things have to happen; I know they do. But now I understand how my parents felt so many years ago when my feet were still in my house but my mind was already out the door, longing for the little girl who has already gone.
Posted by teri at 7:10 PM
Monday, July 5, 2010
1. I found this novel to be very carefully written, a tapestry of haves and have-nots, friendship and betrayal, and mundane life punctuated by extraordinary events: essentially a study in contrasts. Did you notice any contrasts in the first chapter, and if so, what did you see?
2. Alice has an unusually close bond with her grandmother, whose love of reading made her “entertaining” to her daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Alice’s mom was content cooking and cleaning and living a calm, quiet life. Which of these two women would you say influenced Alice’s life more?
3. Was Alice’s reaction to the scene between her grandmother and Dr. Wycomb more about herself or about her grandmother? How do you think you would have reacted at that age? Would you have told your parents?
4. “Fools names and fools faces often appear in public places.” Alice’s dad loves to use that quote to mean, Keep a low profile – don’t attract too much fuss to yourself. I’ve never heard that expression before reading this book. Are there any expressions your parents used frequently?
5. Alice tried to set things right by her visits to Andrew Imhof’s brother, Pete. Do you think he was deliberately trying to take advantage of her?
6. Alice said she felt “grim relief” at JFK’s death because a tragedy had occurred that was of a greater magnitude than her own. She carried the guilt over feeling nothing but relief over JFK’s death her entire life. Do you think an older person would have been better equipped to handle the emotions of the accident?