Salmon Migration

Last week Zarli and I visited the Salmon Hatchery in Issaquah and were treated with seeing the first returns of this year’s Chinook Salmon run. In the video you can see them jumping, but less well visible are the dozens of fish just hanging out in the water below the falls gathering strength for their turn.

We were a little discouraged at the lack of progress for these particular salmon until we got to join a tour and learn about how the hatchery manages the runs in order to promote the best possible conditions for spawning. It’s better in the long haul for the salmon to remain in the well oxygenated creek jumping vainly than to go up the hatchery ladder too soon and hang out too long in the less oxygenated tank. It was very interesting and exciting to get splashed by strong salmon hopping up the ladder.

But being around creatures that struggle so hard to go upstream just to spawn and die makes one philosophical, if one is of a philosophical bent, and it made me think of a poem I wrote a few years ago.

Falling and golden, the leaves and the light
As streaming below, silver streaks, bright.
The flick of a fin on a red taillight
And we swerve to join the flow.
Upstream with the crowd up 405
We’re worn and weary but still alive
Called by instinct, driven by drive
To pass on what we know.
We swam in the deep, in the blue, crazy sea
Gorging ourselves on modernity
When somewhere inside us rang mystery
and we knew it was time to go.
We each find the road that smells of our birth
Of the very first time we swam on earth
Aching to know in the end it was worth
This arduous journey home.
At night in our houses, we lie in the sand
Dreaming of everything else we had planned
And dying beginning to understand
The delicate seeds we sow.

Christmas Poem – Vers la creche

Here for Christmas Eve is a lovely poem that Apollo learned in school, in French with my translation following.
(I apologize – the accents are missing. It’s not easy to put them on with this computer.  If you know French, please imagine them.)

Vers la creche

De la pauvre creche de bois
Ou dort le petit enfant-Roi
Confus, tremblant, emerveilles
Les bergers se sont approches.

Du miserable berceau gris
Ou l’Enfant eternel sourit,
Ruisselant d’or et fatiques
Les mages se sont approches.

Du petit Jesus au berceau
Si tendre, si calme et si beau
Et qui fait signe au monde entier
Je veux, moi aussi, m’approcher.
                                 – Vio Martin

To the poor wooden manger
Where sleeps the little baby King
Confused, trembling, amazed
The shepherds are coming near.

To the lowly cradle gray
Where the Eternal Baby smiles
Shimmering with gold and weary
The wise men are coming near.

To little Jesus in His cradle
So tender, so calm and so beautiful
And who makes a sign to the entire world
I, too, want to come near.

Merry Christmas. May its peace stay with you all year.

A Valentine for Gentle Readers

When I was a little girl, my Grandma Leda had this sweet poem in a old-fashioned frame in her powder room, and I used to ponder it when I would go sit and “powder my nose” for a spell. At the tender age of 6, I’m not sure I had any friends that could be considered “old” and it has taken on more meaning over time.

I am so grateful for the blessing of my friends, both silver and gold, and so if you did not receive a tangible Valentine, dear Friend, this one is for you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Valentine Poem

A couple weeks ago, I was looking for something in my Sweetie’s “Drawer of Mystery” – that is, the drawer full of miscellaneous papers. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find the Valentine’s Day card with poem I made him a couple years ago. I was touched that it was there, sharing space with important documents and passports. I read it, and even with the fresh eyes of time passed, I decided that it wasn’t too bad. So at the risk of being exhibitionist, I’ll share it with you. Hopefully he’ll get another one this year, but you will have to wait a couple more years to read that one. At the time, we’d just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.

Love Poem Number Fifteen

The other fourteen are all here too,
The poems that should have been written long ago.
They swirl around in this one,
gathering like relatives
to look on with awe and envy at the cousin who made it big,
who actually got written.

So all fifteen are here, one for each year,
Here in this poem
And here always shaking around in my little gray cells,
All the words that mean you to me:

Noble, constant, brightness, honorable, anchor, delight,
Steady as the beat of my own heart and much much stronger.

But poetry takes distance and reflection,
Scarce commodities for us these days
And how to capture the thing nearest to me,
Close as my own breath?

That heart monitor I gave you for our anniversary –
It wasn’t about health or weight really.
It was about what I wish I could be to you,
Always present, always steady,
The reason for my existence
to count quietly
each beat of your heart.


I love Valentine’s Day. It may have started as a saint day and been transformed into another consumer holiday by American marketers, but I just love the sweetness of a day dedicated to secret greetings, poetry and pink candies! When the kids were in school there was a year that we bought Valentines with a recognizable Disney personality on them, but they left us with a hollow feeling – the whole process was over so fast – and we went back to making our own.
One Valentine’s when the girls were really small, we put a lot of effort into making a Sparrow Post Office in which to keep the Valentines we had made until it was time to deliver them. This was me copying straight out of A Time to Keep: The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays.
She is one of my favorite artists and turning through the pages of this book makes me realize how much of my life I’ve attempted in some manner to fashion after her pictures! I took a picture of the February page so you can see their Sparrow Post Office. IMG_8058Here is our Sparrow Post office, a little well-loved by the passing years, but standing strong. On the other end is a slot to slide the Valentines in, just like a real post office. That makes us happy! The lid lifts on one side to take them out for delivery. We made it out of cardboard boxes and I recall a happy day with the girls involving a lot of pink paint. I think this year it may be due for some new white fringe on the eaves to spruce it up a little.When it’s not in use, we store our Valentine-y bowls and supplies inside. IMG_8052 Here is Tasha’s other page for February, just for fun. I love her depiction of the lives of children of yesteryear and how she incorporates the beauty of the natural world on every page. IMG_8059As for our actual Valentines, they’ve been different every year, but last year I hit on something that really felt like me: cut out words glued together on a doily heart to make special messages. Yes, it’s just words strung together and I could just as well have printed them out on my computer. But, No, actually, I couldn’t have. Like with magnetic poetry, only in playing around with the actual tangible words would I come up with such interesting and priceless bits of love message as we progress in saving love, you delighted your mom, and how to stop and enjoy. Sort of like the curious short messages on candy hearts – the ones that taste like chalk but without which Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be the same. For Hermes I found and glued the words: that cute thing. To a musical friend, I gave a creation that said moms can sing every day. She kept it on her dashboard for a long time to remind her to sing! For my sweetie? You can share the strong love! Here they are. When we dug out the Sparrow Post Office and opened it up, there they were! IMG_8053 So I think I will get busy cutting up old magazines and making new snippets of poetry for this year. But I would also love to hear about any new special, creative idea for homemade Valentines, so please pass them along.