Monthly Archives: April 2014

On the Way North

American Pipits are moving through the Fill now, on their way to breed in the Far North. Years ago, I was in Alaska to see them on their breeding grounds: talus slopes near Mount Denali, where they could creep into little crevices away from predators to lay their eggs. The slopes were alive with pipits, reminding me of moms and dads at University Village crowded around the little play area, watching kids, talking to each other about events of the day, comparing notes on childcare. Every time I see pipits at the Fill now, I can imagine them arriving at their summer place, where the sun never sets and life is good.

Here is a poem for you today:

Pipits touched down briefly,
ate a seed or two,
then took flight
into the empty blue sky,
one haunting pipeet
fading behind in the wind. AmericanPipit

Cinnamon Teal

Our Cinnamon Teals are starting to come back to breed here, having spent the winter in sunny Mexico. They seem to bring the sunlight with them when they come. I suppose it’s their sunrise colors that seem to make them glow from within. Look for them on all the ponds of the Fill – we had twelve pairs nesting last year and perhaps we’ll get even more this season.


Here is a twitter poem for you:

In spring a Cinnamon Teal floats by,
feathers glowing like embers
about to burst into flame,
like the fiery dawn of life

Spring Morning


The Pied-billed Grebes of the ponds, lagoons, and lake around Montlake Fill are gearing up for another year of making more grebes. You can hear their eerie songs in the morning, and if you are really lucky, you might see one trying to impress its mate as it runs across the water before face-planting and disappearing beneath the waves. It is one of the many wonders of nature going on right here in our own backyard.

Here is a new twitter poem for you today:

In the silver morning light
a Pied-billed Grebe dances
across the lagoon toward his mate,
etching an ephemeral trail in the molten water.

Introducing “Twitter” Poems

With this new post (in far too long, my apologies), I want to introduce a brand-new art form, one that I am calling “Twitter Poems,” for lack of a better name. Twitter, as you all probably know, is the online micro-blogging app invented in 2006 that allows users to post very short messages. Each message can be only 140 characters long, including word spaces. My kids have been urging me for years to join social media networks and enter the 21st century. They decided that Twitter would be a good way to let me take baby steps into this brave new world. “Stop being a dinosaur,” was their succinct, almost tweet-like way of putting it. So I gave in and joined Twitter.

Much to my dismay, when I began to read other people’s posts, I found most of them loaded with abbreviations, symbols, and references to who knows what. It was like trying to decode some secret language that I wasn’t sure even was a language. As I am already trying to learn one new language (Portuguese), which at my age is not easy to do, I decided that anything I posted would have to be written in plain English.

So I began. I soon discovered that writing anything sensible, lyrical, and meaningful in only 140 characters is quite a trick. Wonderful discipline for a writer, though. The spareness of my tweets began to resemble poetry, which I thought I might share with you. Below is my first blog-posted Twitter poem, in honor of one of my favorite Montlake Fill birds, the Red-winged Blackbird:


In spring the Red-winged Blackbird sings
his cranky song in the marsh,
rough disharmony among the reeds.
I guess even grumps can be in love.