quarta-feira, 17 de agosto de 2016



Summer azure (Celastrina neglecta). Dogwood as host plant

Dogwood, much preferred by insects, butterflies and birds


My grandfather always said to me

do not squish the bug, the friend

the butterfly, the enemy

learn instead

to live with them.
Black walnut and tent worms

A natureza predatória de nossos passos

The mating of Cupido comyntas, or Eastern tailed blue

Monarch caterpillars on Common milkweed


Monarch and bee nectaring on cup plant

Meu avô sempre dizia

não pisa em cima do bicho, do amigo,

da borboleta, do inimigo

aprende em vez

o conviver com êles.

Red admirals prefer rotten fruit and matter, but occasionally nectar on flowers

sexta-feira, 12 de agosto de 2016



Iconic favorite of mine

the one that grows any and everywhere

yet not here in my place

try as I might.


It is magic then

when I see it.


New York Ironweed or Vernonia noveboracensis here, also known as “boldo baiano” in the state of Bahia, Brasil, “assa peixe” or fish-roast in my original home state of Minas Gerais,  dambwe in Chichewa, one of the many languages of Malawi, onugbu in Igbo, vernonie in France and so on.


The Internet is the Oracle of our times and one finds easy answers for everything - the accuracy of historical interpretations remains quite dubious.

So, Vernonia it seems, was named after William Vernon, an English botanist who collected specimens around Maryland, circa the end of the 1600s. (Yes, the sixteen hundreds).  In the name and loyalty of kingdoms, he and many other European colonizers travelled around the world chopping, killing, drawing, collecting and naming.

I understand there are more than 1000 related species worldwide. In the United States it is known as Noveboracensis, meaning "from the new place". The USDA map lists it as native to many states here in the East, and to New Mexico.

However, the plant predates and transcends its name, for sure. In Malawi it is used as part of a traditional vegetable stew, or “ndiwo”, made with the leaves of sweet potato, cassava, pumpkin and whatever else is available.  Served with or without peanut butter.

In Brasil, it is well known for its medicinal and culinary properties – the famous “boldo baiano” or assa-peixe. Considered a sacred plant with connections to the Orixás of Candomblé.

Ironweed is also a tough, powerful, yet beautiful movie directed by Argentine born Brazilian Hector Babenco, who died last month. Jack Nicholson and Merryl Streep are the mythological protagonists in this poignant tale of desperate survival, during the Great Depression. Based on the novel by William Kennedy.

Ironweed is a dream of a gate by the river,

where a strong rusting iron man

waits for me in the crossing.

Additional sources: Useful plants of Malawi, by Jessie Williamson, University of Malawi, 1975

segunda-feira, 1 de agosto de 2016


The wild cat and the illuminations


"Decay is rut, rust it seems

Decay is round around the seams

Decay is something I live with
Know not"



When Gordon J. was alive, I sailed.

He died and many sailboats now rest in my front yard.

I learned not to see them… until now.


The old wild black cat is here and eats the food,

Sleeps inside abandoned Mestiza, our Allegra,
wild sailing horse where I learned to be very quiet, very skilled at maneuvering the lines leading to the breezes.

Where I learned to be even more to lead the vessel in stillness.


He shares the quarters with the wasps of Dauntless and the honeysuckled deck of Mourning Star.

He does not hiss, he just jumps off in fear at close approach.


Yesterday, once again,

in his patience and in mine,

we sat by the boats

tiny diminishing distance apart.


I told him about my friend’s week, the birthday cake at work, the storm coming, watch out for shelter, we may have Hobbes coming back to live here, you should know.


Of course, the camera helped me to see them, the illuminations.


This morning I find Xaninho, the wild cat, under the bird feeder, waiting quietly.