The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday and Rockville Science Day

By Robert Hass

Coppery light hesitates
again in the small-leaved

Japanese plum. Summer
and sunset, the peace
of the writing desk

and the habitual peace
of writing, these things
form an order I only

belong to in the idleness
of attention. Last light
rims the blue mountain

and I almost glimpse
what I was born to,
not so much in the sunlight

or the plum tree
as in the pulse
that forms these lines.


"Robert Hass is a poet of praise: praise for the beauty of the natural world, for the long unfolding of our human story," writes Steven Ratiner in The Washington Post in his review of The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems. "Human conflict continues to serve as the thematic counterpoint throughout his writing, whether on the grand scale of nations or the most individual and intimate circumstances...the attempt to reconcile those two contradictory forces produces, in his best poems, moments of genuine redemption. Conscious of language and its limitations, the tug-of-war between mind and body, Hass's newest work still manages to wholeheartedly engage with the world around him."

Rain had been forecast for Sunday, but after a bit of drizzle in the morning, the sun came out around lunchtime, so after finishing our eggs and pancakes, we left as quickly as we could. Our destination was Lake Whetstone in Gaithersburg, which at this time of year often has goslings, and we were not disappointed -- we saw our first goslings in a patch of grass near the Lakeforest Mall parking lot! And we saw more almost as soon as we arrived at the lake, though the geese appeared to be having a territorial squabble; a group of them hissed at a pair with goslings and chased them partway across the lake. Fortunately, there is a lot of territory to cover -- the central island is home to several enormous heron nests and dozens of turtles, plus plenty of honking Canada geese, some mallards, and a few cormorants.

We walked all the way around the lake, which requires fording a creek in two spots, beginning and ending at the boat house which is still closed at this time of year. Then we headed to Montgomery College for Rockville Science Day, where we spent most of our time in the gym, which houses the Nature and Environment exhibits (Daniel wanted nothing to do with the Engineering and Technology building, probably afraid he'd run into someone he knew at the FIRST Robotics table). There were several displays with live animals, including a local pet store at an exhibit on research for pets, a group showing off their homing pigeons, a local nature center offering buckets of dirt with worms, an environmental exhibit on the health of local creek critters, and Reptile Wonders of the World.

A gosling and a parent enjoying the grass and wildflowers near Lake Whetstone.

The trees on the island at the center of the lake are also home to many great blue herons.

In the trees around the lake, one finds squirrels, caterpillars, and many happily singing songbirds... lots of other birds, including colorful cardinals, robins, red-winged blackbirds, and this blue jay.

We also got to see the sheep grazing on the farm at the border of Montgomery Village...

...and many, many turtles sunning themselves on the rocks in the lake.

There were reptiles at Rockville Science Day as well, though somewhat more exotic -- these, for instance, are Burmese pythons, and The Nature Center On the Go also brought Russian tortoises, bearded dragons, and Savannah water monitors.

And there were exotic birds as well -- this is a green conure on display at an exhibit on how scientific research helps pets.

We stopped in The Container Store on the way home and Adam is now rearranging his room with his new plastic bins. For dinner, Paul made Moroccan saute with chick peas, corn, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, cinnamon, and curry over couscous (he also baked bread, though our brand new breadmaker tried to kill itself by jumping off the counter and will be set on the floor from now on during the mixing stages). I couldn't bring myself to watch Desperate Housewives even for John Barrowman, so we watched The Tudors in its actual time slot, which is admittedly no more virtuous though overall though I think the acting is much better and it's beautiful to look at. They've made Thomas Culpeper so despicable that I can't feel remotely sorry for him and Catherine Howard is simply too stupid to live, which I'm sure was the intention; it will be interesting to see if Lady Rochford meets the same fate on the series that she did in life. Now we're having the massive thunderstorms that very kindly held off till evening, so I had better post this while I can!

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