Plein Air Poet


I know many wonderful plein air painters, however unfortunate – I am not one of them.  I’ve tried a couple of times to capture the light and beauty of an outdoor landscape using paint and pastel.  I just cannot seem to do it well.  Mosquitoes bite me, flies swim under the brim of my hat, sweat mixes with paint, my pastels fall to the ground, people swarm and ask unanswerable questions.  It’s just not a pretty sight nor is it worth it at this point.   I am outdoors most every day working in one garden or another, so I deal with heat and humidity, wind beyond belief, rain, frost and freezing temperatures all the time.  In order for me to plein air paint – the conditions have to be exquisite as a prerequisite for any fun or success at all.  There are probably about ten of these exquisite days throughout the season, and I am most likely working happily outside anyway.

That being said, however – I do enjoy writing outdoors and try to poet a delectable landscape with painterly words.  My aha moment – I finally got itI am a plein air poet.  It’s amazing how long it takes me to discover truths about myself, but once I do, I am tickled as a teenager.  Even the negative stuff lights a bulb in my brain that allows a conduit for change.

Last Sunday morning I drove to a lovely arboretum in Chester Township, NJ – Willowwood Arboretum.  It is a wonderful native and managed park in Morris County.  Here then is a plein air poem brush-stroked on an exquisite plein air Sunday morning:

Plein Air Poet

I stop at the edge

of a wildflower meadow to watch

the amber and russet grasses

climb a distant knoll.

Goldenrod drifts freely about

and a lone Bluebird house

is vacant for the rest of the season.

At the edge of this meadow

I begin to hear another exchange –

bees humming along flying inside and out

of feverfew and globe thistle.

Slender reeds bend in an easy flow

as birds chirp and flit from treetops and sky.

Crickets continue their morning chitter

as the sun rises in a sleepy stretch.

All is well in the field.

ag ~ 2013



“I hear the train a comin…”

I recently bought the Johnny Cash Stamps at the post office – yes I still do post snail mail. Usually I stick (sic) to the sweet stamps – pretty flowers, seasonal greetings, words of wisdom etc.. This time I was attracted to a young Johnny’s visage and attitude aptly styled in black and white. So now every time I reach for his likeness on the stamp – I stomp around and introduce myself:

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” and no matter what is happening I stop what I’m doin, start singin’ and swingin’ and dancin to:

“I hear the train a comin…
it’s rollin round the bend
and I ain’t seen the sunshine
since I don’t know when…”

(lyrics from Folsom Prison Blues)

The dog starts howlin (in pain I think) and we’re off down the tracks… next up – lyrics from Busted

“My bills are all do
and the babies need shoes
but I’m busted…

Sometimes we change the words (the dog and me) to:

My house needs to be cleaned
and the dog lost her bone
but I’m dusted…

The grass needs a mowin
and I’m prayin for rain
because I’m dusted

Time to go to work
but I keep rockin and rollin
oh yea I’ m dusted


All because I went to mail a letter. And if you can imagine this – I learned from my mom who channels and air-guitars her own inner Elvis: “You ain’t nothin but a hound dog…”

Thanks Johnny – you are one of the greats.


aging into

ag ~ 2013

A Virgo Morning

IMG_8550Early Sunday morning outside my kitchen window…

The action begins –

Too many blackbirds on their way home crowd two small birdbaths waiting a turn for water much the same as the queue for the ladies room at a roadside rest stop.


A pair of hummingbirds bicker and rise out-of-sight vying for more than enough air space around the blue sage flowers.

Meanwhile, the sun-kissed Virgo bees are ignoring them and are hard at work.

The silky seeds of milkweed pods float and flutter as the mother plant shoos her offspring out into earth-school.

Leftover strands of once complex summer spider webs continue to dangle and illuminate the sun’s rays.

The woodwind section of crickets resound and echo their  soft chanting.

Maiden Grass plumes delicately nod and sigh like grandmothers in quiet conversation.

A small bunny scampers in and out of grandmother grass’ floor-length skirt.


This is my morning world view when I take the time to sit with a cup of tea and acknowledge nature’s other conversations and notes ongoing around me.

For this I am grateful today.



crowd and rush

my small birdbath

sipping and spilling

the late summer morning


ag ~ 2013

This Time of Year

It’s here.
It’s finally now.
The very time of year
for our annual sojourn.

I watch the clock
and imagine all the people at the airport
chatting on cell phones while running
to catch an early flight.

I would blissfully lollygag
at the book stalls reading titles
and gaze longingly at magazines that offer flight
into wondrous worlds of food and wilderness.

My window seat always afforded a view
of the Manhattan skyline,
Ms Liberty herself and Yankee Stadium
before rising above Joni Mitchell’s “ice cream castle clouds”.

I know exactly when
my flight would be arriving
and the slow walk through many gates opening
to your much anticipated smile and hugs.

I always cherished the ride
from the plane to your door
through urban sprawl slowly loosening
into marshland and sea.

Stories and laughter
competed for my attention
as the coastal beauty deepened
and took my breath away.

It’s here.
It’s finally now.
The very first time of ~ this time of year
that you passed on.

The season of a forever blue sky
and crickets that hum all day long.
Sugar Maple leaves with burnished edges
and dusk that claims an earlier helping of daylight.

We made a pact that you
would journey ahead of me
and scout for new adventures
while I look for your signs.

Sail on dear friend
through tidal marshes and beyond the sea.
I am not far behind and rejoice with you
into blue forever sky.

ag ~ Early September 2013