Infused

Monday Morning Musings:

Infuse

a subtle taste, in this golden glow
find a centering, a time and place to recall
moments of friendship, laughter that falls
with ease, a seizing of the day–

but, oh the moon! She hums, not sweet,
but fiercely, in tune with the season
of upside down and in-between, dispersing
in her way

Moon setting in sunrise glow over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield.

reflected light. The light!
through gold and green, the illumination of things
not always seen—the molecules that ignite in color
and flame

to arc across the sky. Hello and goodbye.
The magic vanishes too soon—sunrise to starry night—
I follow science, but understand delight
in looking up and all around

I’ve found the sound
of moon-sighs and dawn’s reprise,
the whispers of the river and trees,
the canopy above suffused with hues so bright—

My willow at Dock Creek, Old City Philadelphia

and if the shadows drop, lengthen, and call,
they can’t appear without a gleam–
a radiance diffused or luminosity suffused
from ancient boom and blast and whirls of gas–

our starry nights, our souls delight
we see, seek, carry this light.

Today–a hint of pink, curves and lines.

The sky has been fascinating and gorgeous this week. We got together with some friends this week, and my friend Pat was so excited about her new infusing pitcher.
We also attended our daughter’s talk about Bordeaux wines and Blue Cork Winery’s Bordeaux-style wines and cheese pairing.
We streamed the Lantern Theater’s production of The Plague, a play based on Albert Camus’ novel. It was a well-done and timely production.

We saw an immersive Van Gogh exhibition. I wasn’t certain what to expect because I’ve heard both good and not-so-good reviews. There seem to be several different companies that are touring around the globe with these exhibitions. This one, though originally advertised as being in a secret Philadelphia location, turned out to be in suburb outside the city, less convenient for us. We went on Sunday morning at 9 AM, assuming correctly that there would not be too much traffic on the street or people at the venue. (Proof of vaccination was required and masks had to be worn.) We both liked the show, but we didn’t think it was the most amazing thing ever. We learned some information in the gallery section, but I really was not a fan of the Van Gogh prints that were like backlit canvases. We can see real Van Gogh paintings in Philadelphia. And we’ve stepped inside his bedroom at Grounds for Sculpture. However, I really did like the immersive experience. I particularly loved the crows that seemed to fly through the room, the rain that looked like it was forming puddles at our feet, and the starry night with the boats sailing on the river.

After the exhibition, we drove to Philadelphia and walked for about three hours from Old City to Rittenhouse Square and back, and then over to Washington Square to Tria—where the sun came out, we sat outside, enjoying food, wine, beer, and each other’s company.

Where There’s a Will

Monday Morning Musings:

Sunrise

Will you walk with me
through clouded pink–
the light diffused, brushing wings
to make them glow—this sight, the morning rites
of nature bound by the seasons,
the revolutions round the sun, the wax and waning of the moon.

Heron in the dawn clouds
Coy Morning Moon

Where there’s a will, is there a way
to hold these moments close and tight
to heart and brain? Mindfulness or determination
to see and feel and listen—
do you hear
the sound of secret things?

I wonder—do even vultures dream?
They mate for life, finding the perfect husband or wife.
Do they hope for the future—croon
to their young? This I leave you,
this is yours—the sky, the trees–
the scent of death you smell on the breeze. Circle and fly.

Where there’s a will, is there a way
to make the sweetness stay—
away the aches and nightmare shadows! Come tomorrow.
Will you? Won’t you? Seek joy with friends and family,
share food and wine, linger in a moment–
the season of the in-between

Cloud reflections on the Delaware
Sun giving birth

the twilight dawning, the morning of a new day,
a mockingbird is singing, the leaves are falling.
And there’s the moon, she’s calling,
bewitching you, it’s true. But she’s asks, will you,
is there a way? Will you both love
and do what’s right? Will you walk with me? Look! That light.

Morning Mist over the Delaware River

We had brunch with friends over the weekend and signed their wills as witnesses. We enjoyed wine and pizza again at Blue Cork Winery in Williamstown, NJ, where our daughter, who has left teaching, at least for the time being, is now the Wine Development Manager.


If you like epic historical novels, The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray tells the story of three women in three different time periods. Two are real women, the third is a fictional character—but all with the will to fight for what was right. I knew nothing of Adrienne Lafayette or the Chateau, so I found that very interesting—and also to learn that the Chateau continued to be a place of rights and freedom even during WWII, when it served as hiding place to protect Jewish children.

At the Crossroads

Monday Morning Musings:

“Standin at the crossroad babe
eee eee eee, risin sun goin down
I believe to my soul now,
Poor Bob is sinkin down”
–from Robert Johnson, “Cross Road Blues”

Clouds over the river ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Hawk flight in dim light, the trees still green–
summer clings, but autumn slings
a cool grey arm, and shadows fall across it all.

Now, the sun’s a sleepy golden ball

when I hear—something—sing
winged hope soars from that throat—to bring

Waiting for the Sun. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

comfort as the days go by, and dawn rises–
what will come—the future surprises.
The sky is cantaloupe and peach—

the eagles fly, high out of reach

Sunrise over the Delaware River ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

of those below
where time moves fast, then slow
in the beat of heron wings

a fish is gone. Do his fish brethren grieve?
Or do they notice? Do they believe
in monsters from above?

Do they love?

Or feel sorrow? What bargains would you make,
come tomorrow? For the sake
of family or self—for fame or fortune, or for glory?

Bargains with the devil–an age-old story.

But for some, the price they must pay,
to live a night, and into the next day

you stand at the crossroads to survive,
to see that cantaloupe sun arrive

then watch the harvest moon–revived
now humming, full and ripe–and you’re alive
in a world both glorious and banal–

rainfall and rainbows, fireballs

In the neighbor–sunlight, rainbows, and flowers. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

in the night. The moon has heard the call
of dinosaurs and seen the flight of pterodactyls–
and all of nature’s fractals,

patterns repeating, parallels, and lines that intersect
and here, we meet again and again—connect
the dots. We’re at the crossroads,

we rise and fall,
but the moon has seen it all.

We had warm sticky days last week, then the humidity dropped, and it’s starting to look and feel like autumn. Climate change means we will most likely continue to experience extreme weather. Right-wing fanatics are trying to overthrow our democracy, and anti-mask and anti-vax crazies are prolonging the pandemic. We know now that the “dark ages” were not as dark as they used to be portrayed, but it certainly seems like we’re heading into them.

And yet. . .there is still beauty, love, friendship, and people who speak the truth. And cats, food, and wine. Tonight is the September full moon, the Harvest Moon.

The Lantern Theater Company in Philadelphia is beginning this season with two digital plays. We streamed the first one, Me and the Devil, this past weekend. Tickets and information here.
There’s a legend that blues legend Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his extraordinary talent. It made me think about how throughout time, people have had to make bargains with evil in order to survive. In Johnson’s case there’s a mystery, and that he died young, adds to his mystique—he may have been poisoned by a jealous husband, as he was known as quite a ladies’ man.

At the Start of the Moment

Monday Morning Musings

“You are here, at the start of a moment,
On the edge of the world.
Where the river meets the sea.”
—“Welcome to the Rock,” from Come From Away

I am here, by the river
the sky is blue—or grey—
cloudy or clear, I am here
at the start of the day

Early Morning on the Delaware River, September.

watching the birds,
remembering the shadows
need the light, and thoughts
need words, to tell how time goes

Geese on the Delaware

Orange sun through the trees–Light and Shadows.

slow, then faster, people gone
before you know to say good-bye.
All the stories left untold,
and new ones born, the river sighs.

There a hawk cries,
There the sun rises, anew—
There a cat finds the light
There you find again the blue

that comes after storms and grey.
We celebrate the holidays—
you are there, and we are here
but we find some ways

to connect and remember.
We toast L’chaim, to life, with wine
and food we commemorate,
and for now, we’re fine

at the start of this moment—
and we soar into the next and the next

without a clue–what’s beyond the blue.

Goose photobombs egret’s big photo shoot.

This week started with Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah—it already seems so far away. We celebrated with our daughter and son-in-law. The next night, we had a Zoom dinner with both children and their spouses. Saturday was September 11. The sky that day was so blue, just as it was twenty years ago. In the afternoon, we went to Blue Cork Winery (where daughter now works) in Williamstown, NJ. It was a gorgeous day to sit outside. We’re going back to summer heat and humidity today.

Last night we watched Come From Away (Apple TV+). I have a couple months of Apple TV free, but Apple does not make it easy to watch on a not-smart TV. This is a filmed version of a live stage production of the musical—filmed recently in a newly opened theater before a masked audience. Although I did not feel it quite so much as when we saw it live in a theater, it is still a wonderful play based on the true events of 9/11—when 38 planes were diverted to the Newfoundland town of Gander. It is heartwarming without being treacly, and it shows people at their best. The play was also performed live on Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

If you’ve seen the show, I just found this article, and it made me happy.

Of Clouds and Sun

Monday Morning Musings:

Sunrise, Delaware River at West Deptford ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021
Reflecting on the River after the storm, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith

Let me tell you about the clouds, the sun,
the flowers, tall and smiling, the tons
of debris left, the work that must be done.

Reaching ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Now the hawk screeches and broad-wing flies
in concentric circles, as the wind sighs
at summer leaving, but with the prize of bluest skies

Red-Tailed Hawk

September comes, and we are in-between
the muggy green and russet- gold; not yet seen
the frosted crunch, yet geese convene

debating if–or when–to leave.
But I don’t grieve summer’s end, perhaps naïve
I must believe

that it will come again.

And so, I dip my apples, and ponder time,
drink my wine, as the sun sets and moon climbs.
Another year passes, she chimes,

while the stars in constellated chorus sing,
and light scatters from white egret’s wing
in the universe’s laughter, from winter to spring.

Most of you know we had storms, tornados, and flooding in my part of the world last week. Then we got beautiful September weather. We went to Dalton Farms, where they have a sunflower festival going on. Yesterday we went to William Heritage Winery. It was rainy, but we were fine under an umbrella. Part of their weekend sales were going to help Mullica Hill homes and farms damaged in the tornados last week.

Today is Labor Day, and tonight is Rosh Hashanah. I’ve baked some challahs, and we’ll be dipping apples in honey and drinking wine tonight.

Rosh Hashanah Challahs

Time Keeping

Wildflowers and Driftwood, the Delaware River at West Deptford, NJ. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Monday Morning Musings:

Across the morning sky, all the birds are leaving
How can they know that it’s time to go?
–Sandy Denny, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”

Time is being and being
time, it is all one thing,
the shining, the seeing,
the dark abounding.
–from “Hymn to Time” by Ursula Le Guin

Summer sings on robin trill,
soars on broad-flapped egret’s wing
across the river’s wide expanse,
explodes on thunderclap,
and floats on driftwood
under a laden, leaded sky.

Egret flying above Delaware River

The clocks tick tock, go and stop,
but time ripples, bends, and plops,
to circle through stars and seasons.

Where’s the early promise gone, and why?
The river doesn’t answer, merely flows
with time

in rabbit hops and turkey trots, in smooth deer grace
or hawk’s lazy circling trace across the clouded sky–

the slow descent of morning moon, her song
a sigh, carried high by crow, who never shy,
announces to the world that summer is almost done–
but not quite

Crow and Morning Moon ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

Crow in a Sycamore Tree, ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

whispers the butterfly. I flutter and create a storm,
it circles round, and flowers born—

Hope and Determination. Wildflower among the rocks. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

so, life goes on through seasons fast or plodding,
you remember both tears and laughter—
the sorrow of loss, the joy of what comes after—
memories flavored by love and friendship—savored–
reflections from the past.

Stream of Reflections ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021


This and That:
We’ve had a particularly muggy summer—high dewpoints and humidity (as I write, the dewpoint is 73 and the humidity is 93%). Our air conditioner has been running nearly continuously for the past month. We have another chance of thunderstorms this afternoon. However, we are not facing a hurricane. My thoughts are with friends in New Orleans.

On Tuesday, we went to Valley Green Inn by the Wissahickon Creek. It was my mom’s birthday, and we used to take her mom there for her birthday, until she couldn’t manage it. It was a very hot day, but quite pleasant eating on the porch shaded by the woods. Then we took a walk on Forbidden Drive. On our drive to Valley Green we listened to an interview on the radio with a man who held the marvelous job title of Curator of Timekeeping. He’s written a history of clocks.

Yesterday, we went to a wine festival (Wine Down the Summer at Riverwinds). We’ve attended it in previous years, though it was not held last summer because of the pandemic. We did not do any tastings, as we were not certain about weather or crowds and didn’t want to purchase expensive tickets we wouldn’t use, but we bought wine, brought food, and so, we spent the afternoon with dear friends eating (a lot), sipping wine, talking, and listening to the band. It was a lovely afternoon.

Some of my friends might enjoy Jennifer Ryan’s The Kitchen Front, a novel about a cooking competition sponsored by a BBC radio program during WWII. Like her other books, which I also enjoyed, it’s a sort of cozy historical novel. I really liked it—feel-good, but not sappy.

“A charming tale that will satiate a lot of different tastes: historical fiction lovers, cooking competition fans, anyone who revels in girl-power lit. . . . . This story had me so hooked, I literally couldn’t put it down to cook.”—NPR

Most of you know we watch and enjoy some pretty quirky shows and movies with subtitles, if you do, too, you might enjoy Post Mortem, a new Norwegian dramedy on Netflix. It was fun–only 6 episodes, but hopefully a second season is in the works.


And the new Netflix show The Chair with Sandra Oh is also lot of fun—we watched it in two nights.
You can tell I have eclectic tastes: we’re still watching Dexter, and I’m also re-watching Downton Abbey on Netflix (Mary and Matthew engaged again, swoon).

Dreams on Blackbirds’ Wings

Monday Morning Musings:

“And when we die we say, we’ll
Catch some blackbirds wing
Then we will fly away to Heaven come
Some sweet blue bonnet spring”
–from Nanci Griffith, “Gulf Coast Highway”

Sunrise, the Delaware River and Driftwood

Once, we saw dragons that breathed fire—
now they only crawl or fly,
yet we see our fate in the constellations still—
and I know their ghost light sings

Dragonfly

echoing, even as earth erupts in wars,
and shakes from its very core,
wanting less or wanting more,
I watch the clouds and flying things–

Gull with Philadelphia Skyline ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

the aching beauty of the morning sky
as if it knows it cannot last
but it recalls the seasons past
and dreams that flew on blackbirds’ wings.

Heron, Egret, and Geese— Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

And in the night, I see the moon,
know her light, hear her tune
as she recalls the seasons past
and dreams that flew on blackbirds’ wings.

One day sun and one day shadow,
the spinning world moves through the clouds
babies born amidst the shrouds—
and yet, still the robin sings

for love, for family, or for warning
as summer turns to fall,
and we recall the seasons past
and dreams that flew on blackbirds’ wings—
and all the songs the world still sings.

Singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith died this past week. She was known for her songs, her lovely, clear voice, and apparently her generosity to other musicians. I’ve been seeing tributes from all over. This has been a sad week for the world—Covid, fires, earthquakes, war.

We’ve been very fortunate. Despite the days of heat and stormy weather, we managed to get out twice to local wineries, where we could sit outside and enjoy wine, food, and music.

I’ll be back later because I’m hosting dVerse today. Today is Prosery Monday—where I provide a line from a poem, and anyone who wants to, can write a short prose piece from it.

We Sing Their Songs in Flight

Monday Morning Musings:

Egret

Open a window to another universe–
there is always an after
and before

the bang and birth of stars,
the flutter-shift of vibrating strings
across dimensions, the light on stellar wings—

he sings, she laughs
the fever-dreams of future-past-
perfect brings

remembrance, she, and we see-saw
imperfectly and fractured–all
colored by mood and life-swings

in revolutions, the Earth spins,
love, laughter, tears, and fears—it begins
and ends

the stars sing, and we catch their light,
swallow to hold it within, and in our dreams,
or in some after, we sing their songs in flight.

Ospreys Flying over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

Today my father would be 102. We’re going to have Chinese food and ice cream for dinner tonight–both of which he loved. My mom’s birthday is later this month, and she would have turned 99. My parents divorced (twice), but in my mom’s final years she believed my dad lived in the same building, and in her final months, she talked about him a lot, always with smiles and giggles. I think she was in love again. Of course, they were my stars.

The first set of photos were taken long before I was born. My brother is about twelve years my senior.

My mom’s first cousin, who was like her sister, turned 95 yesterday. There was a small party for her. My sister, husband, and I stayed masked in the house, but took our masks off outside. We got her a blanket that had a word cloud of English and Yiddish words we chose.

We ate homemade pizza and streamed a play this week: The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington by James Ijames performed as part of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, which looks like a beautiful place to see a play. In the play, Martha Washington is dying, and the enslaved people around her are waiting, as they will be freed when she dies. In her fever dreams she imagines them in various guises, as lawyers, Founding Fathers and Mothers, and King George and Queen Charlotte. The play is funny, sad, witty, and unique. Here’s the NY Times review.

Portrait of a Mystery

Monday Morning Musings:

Delaware River, West Deptford, NJ. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

My dreams–a language-storm of do,
or not,
I try to recall

and wonder who are you—
and which is me—
all is enigma and mystery,

like a portrait-sitter lost in time
sublime or shaded, half-smile, three-quarter face
a hint of her wishes, or the artist’s embrace

of unconscious desire, inspiration
in symbols of her worth, still in last laugh–
she gazes into the future,

Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with an Ermine

can she imagine
how she’ll be carted through wars, another spoil,
a wall-hung prize, monster-cherished–

the attraction of beauty to the beast—
opposites, and circles
of the sun and moon–

with light comes shadow,
honeyed joy and bitter sorrow
alternate—the universe’s tessellated patterns

Oak Tree Shadows

as time moves on. . .

Now, little bird
silent-sitter, waiting to strike–
living dinosaur, a portrait, too.

We finally have a beautiful day after days of oppressive heat, humid, and storms.

I just finished The Night Portrait, a novel by Laura Morelli. I enjoyed both the writing and the story. It takes place in the fifteenth century as Leonardo da Vinci is painting Cecilia Gallerani, then the young mistress of Ludovico Sforza, and during WWII as the Nazis and confiscated art, and the Monuments Men are trying to find the stolen art.

We watched an Icelandic series on Netflix called Katla. If you like dark brooding Scandi-noir mixed with a bit of the supernatural, you’ll like it. It reminded me a little bit of the German series Dark. It’s about a town, now nearly deserted because an underwater volcano has started erupting, and mysterious things begin happening. . .We were really intrigued by it and finished the series in a few nights.

We also watched the first episode of season 4 of Unforgotten (PBS). I’m excited that it’s back on.

All the Dreams Fly Like Birds

Monday Morning Musings:

“Sueñito, it means ‘little dream.’”
–In the Heights

Three Crows on an Uprooted tree, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Three crows sit on an uprooted tree,
gods, fate, or destiny?
Day to night, birth to death, changes come—
love and regrets,

of words unspoken, of dreams unachieved,

but in the balance of all things–

“Like a Bird on a Wire.” (Leonard Cohen)

seeds are planted, and eggs hatched,
in fertile soil, with care and light,
life blooms, the cycle resumes,

seasons spun in revolutions
of the earth, and thoughts that spark like stars,
the universe of the mind, our Milky Way inside

in glittering array. Sometimes enlightenment
comes our way,

dream-born, though dreams evolve
with the dancing of your heart and the echoes
of the stars,

the fire in your eyes
and reflections from the sky,
the whys and when return again
revolving into something new—

the evolution of dreams come true.

Between storms. Early Morning, the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

We are dust from the stars,
and rise from the sea,
we wing and dive–fate or fait accompli?
Ever-soaring dreams blowing
through earth, sky, and blue-water flowing.

It is definitely summer in southern NJ! Heat, humidity, storms—and then an occasional beautiful day. We went out once this week for a trivia night at a winery. We were not allowed to have our phones out during the rounds, so I only got this one photo.

Trivia Night at Sharrott Winery

Merril’s Movie Club—We watched two movies this week, and I would watch both of them again. One you’ve probably heard of, and one you probably have not heard about. Our friends invited us to a movie night at their house, so we could watch In the Heights. (We don’t have HBO, and they do. It’s also playing in theaters.) You may or may not know that I love musicals, and this one combines Lin Manual Miranda’s songs with old-fashioned movie musical choreography and vision. Dreams (and immigrants and DREAMers) is a recurring theme in the movie. All the actors are wonderful. My friend, Pat (the one in charge of rainbows) had a bounty of farm-fresh summer vegetables and made a grilled a vegetable lasagna. I made brownies because. . .well, chocolate.

My husband and I also saw Undine, the most recent movie by German director Christian Petzold. (Rental through Amazon.) It stars the two leads from his previous movie, Transit, which my husband and I both really enjoyed. We also both liked this one, though maybe not quite as much. The movie is a sort of modern re-telling of the ancient myth of the water nymph, Undine. My husband, who had never heard of the legend of Undine, saw the movie as a metaphor of Berlin. So, it’s clearly not a movie for people who like straight-forward stories. It’s dreamy and has a beautiful score (mainly the adagio from Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974), but also “Stayin Alive), and we had a great discussion about it afterwards.

We had some wine and cheese to nibble on while we watched the movie.

Movie Watching Companion