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Life on the Deckle Edge

Just to Say...

Can you smell how sweet it was? At least somebody enjoyed it...
This is Just to Say from the Critter that Raided my Garden…

- apologies to William Carlos Williams:


I have eaten
the cantaloupe
that was in
the garden

and which
you were probably
saving
for lunch

Forgive me
it was delicious
so sweet
and so (mmmmm…) juicy



Was it a raccoon? Groundhog? Rat? Something else? Well, I’m glad someone enjoyed it. But it smelled oh-so-sweet, freshly open there on the ground (what was left of it). I did scoop up some seeds for next time.

Perhaps in a few months I’ll be able to discern from claw marks and such just which critter had been there. Next week I begin a “Master Naturalist” program at our local nature/science center . I’ve wanted to take the course for a while, but last year’s torn Achilles set me back from hiking.

May your own steps be sure, and the fruits of your labors sweet! Indulge in some great poetry at today’s Poetry Friday Roundup, hosted by fellow Georgia peach Doraine Bennett.
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Watching the River Flow with Bob Dylan

So Tuesday was Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday!

Garrison Keillor included some great Bob Dylan info on The Writer’s Almanac on Tuesday, including the fact that he’s been nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature every year since 1996. Tuesday’s program also quotes from the liner notes for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan about the distinction between poetry and songs: “Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can’t sing, I call a poem.”

Be SURE to check out Jama Rattigan’s great review of the new picture book biography written by Gary Golio and illustrated by Marc Burckhardt, When Bob Met Woody – The Story of the Young Bob Dylan (Little, Brown, 2011).

Thoughts and prayers for those reeling from storms, and so many have suffered devastating floods in past weeks. With an image of a calmer river, here are some lines from Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow,” Copyright © 1971:

People disagreeing everywhere you look
Makes you wanna stop and read a book
Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street
That was really shook
But this ol’ river keeps on rollin’, though
No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does I’ll just sit here
And watch the river flow


For the entire song, click here.

and for the Poetry Friday Roundup , enjoy Heidi's great blog, My Juicy Little Universe.
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"Nature rarer uses yellow..."

Cherry tree in early April
It's Good Friday and Earth Day, and the cherry blossoms have drifted away, leaving a canopy of lush green outside my studio window. White dogwood blossoms are gone, too – those trees all green now. Azaleas, in light and dark pink, are still going strong, as is the rhododendron and the neglected but exuberant rose bush out back.

These ever-changing colors of spring conjure up this gem from Emily Dickinson:

Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,--
Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover's words.


What a blessing to live in a world of color. And poems - isn't "Spending scarlet like a woman" a provacative line? Next week I’ll have some colorful haiku poems from fourth graders!

Enjoy the Poetry Friday roundup today hosted by Kate at Book Aunt.  Read More 
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To Sing of Spring

A field of fourth-grade poets
This morning I had the privilege of leading two classes of fourth graders outside on a nature walk/poem safari to collect sensory details that they are writing into poems. Though we are focusing on haiku, today I'm sharing a longer classic celebrating the natural world this time of year.

I read that Gerard Manley Hopkins gave up writing poems for Lent while in college (and then for many years). And I thought giving up chocolate was tough! Happy Spring - and apolgies that my blog swallows indentations.

Spring

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

The Poetry Friday round-up is at RANDOM NOODLING.
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Exploring Big Cats and Little Kitties (and more) with Author Scotti Cohn

It's been a fun month of featuring nonfiction nature writers! For our last visit, I'm happy to host Scotti Cohn. I “met” Scotti online when her fellow Sylvan Dell author and my good friend Gail Karwoski told me about Scotti’s gorgeous rhyming picture book, ONE WOLF HOWLS (illustrated by Susan Detwiler). Needless to say, Scotti and I discovered we are pretty much from the same pack! The Illinois writer, who is planning to move to South Carolina in a few months, tackles a wide range of subjects for readers of all ages, and you should check out her great blogs. Today we welcome her for a sneak preview of her new book from Sylvan Dell, also illustrated by Susan Detwiler, BIG CAT, LITTLE KITTY.

Welcome, Scotti! We share a lot of passions, including members of the canine and feline families – wild or domestic. Tell us about your new book, BIG CAT, LITTLE KITTY. What does it have in store for young readers, and how did you come up with the idea for it? Read More 
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The Great Backyard Bird Count

Looking for a fun way to spend time outdoors and contribute to a good cause at the same time? The Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend! The Cornell Ornithology folks explain it best, so here's the blurb lifted directly from their promotional email:

From: Cornell Lab Bird News, Feb. 17, 2011
Great Backyard Bird Count
Join Us, February 18–21

Top 5 Reasons to Do the GBBC

1. The birds you see will be recorded for all time. Just count for at least 15 minutes on one or more days and enter your checklist at www.birdcount.org

2. Your counts ensure that the birds in your town or favorite birding locales will be represented in this continentwide event.

3. Scientists and birders alike can see the tallies as they roll in for more than 600 bird species.

4. Now in its 14th year, the GBBC provides data to track dynamic bird populations through time, a feat that would be impossible without the participation of tens of thousands of people like you.

5. Celebrate birds by watching them at your favorite spot. See photos of birds submitted from around the continent or send in your own for a chance to win birdy prizes.

Please help spread the word by asking your friends and family to participate! They’ll find easy instructions at www.birdcount.org.

For more news about the count, read this week’s article in The New York Times.
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From the LeBrea Tar Pits to Outer Space - take a safari with Author Donna H. Bowman

On this Valentine's Day, I'm thrilled to welcome someone for whom I have a lot of love - Donna H. Bowman, children's author, long-time critique group buddy, and former Co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI Southern Breeze.

Her books include (two versions of) BIG CATS (Intervisual Books/Piggy Toes Press), and two nonfiction titles from Picture Window Books: DID DINOSAURS EAT PEOPLE? – And Other Questions Kids Have About Dinosaurs, and WHAT IS THE MOON MADE OF? - And Other Questions Kids Have About Space. Donna also has an entrepreneurial streak we'll hear more about in a moment.


Hi, Donna! Let’s start at the beginning. I know you grew up running wild – in a good way – in California. Tell us a little about your childhood adventures in the great outdoors. Read More 
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Nature Author Heather L. Montgomery on Snakes and More...

Author photo by Sonya Sones
I'm thrilled today that Alabama author and SCBWI Southern Breeze Assistant Regional Advisor Heather L. Montgomery has come out of the woods for a spell to spend time with us! What a great way to kick off a month of guest nature writers for children.

Heather's newest books are RATTLESNAKES and GARTER SNAKES in Capstone's
Wild About Snakes series. Her other books explore how to stay safe in an earthquake, what soil is made of, why teeth fall out, and mummy secrets! She's written many articles appearing in Highlights, Science World, Know Fun for Kidz, and Fandangle, and in professional publications as well.

But wait - there's more! Heather runs Dragonfly Environmental Education Programs, bringing folks of all ages and nature together. She helped develop McDowell Environmental Center in Alabama and currently serves as its Education Coordinator.

Heather, where do we start?  Read More 
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Nonfiction Nature Focus for February!

Okay, this is a commercial. But I want to give you a heads-up that February around here will celebrate some wonderful nature writers for children!

I had the blessed opportunity to grow up in a place and time that afforded hours of unsupervised time in the woods at the edge of my Florida neighborhood, and hours of solo bike rides to nearby lakes and parks. For many of today's children, the natural world is, well, unnatural to them.

Read Richard Louv's LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS - Saving our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. It was originally published in 2005 and revised/expanded in 2008.

Another book I'm crazy about is A PLACE FOR WONDER - Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough. The authors present creative ways teachers (and other adults) can open the doors of exploration for young students and help them to express these connections to the natural world. Read More 
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