WonderTrail, photos & all text © Irene O’Garden 2013

To listen to this post, please click here:Wording the Wordless

How often we seek words for the wordless. There is so much wordlessness in our universe I sometimes feel like the miller’s daughter in Rumplestiltskin: “Spin this impossible heap of straw into gold!” (I’m not complaining, really.)

While last weekend’s storm delivered ample length and breadth and depth of snow, in our neck of the woods it was less weep-eyed blizzard and more happy-handed snowglobe. It kindly slowed and stopped in plenty of time for Saturday dinner guests to arrive and depart in utter confidence.

When Sunday’s blazing blue sky shouted through the windowpanes, I strapped on my cross-country skis and headed into the foot-deep snowscape surrounding our house.

Bright dunes and mesas appeared in the glowing white topography contoured by Saturday’s winds. The snow was fluffy, but so deep that rather than charging around the fields as is my wont,  I kept to a small loop, establishing a smooth run, instead of struggling over the acres.

What tells us wordlessly to loop this way and not that? What tells us to look up, just there, just now?

In a moment I was nearly swept off my skis by the surprise, the power and the meaning of a bald eagle circling over our neighbor’s forest and field. Here, sixty miles north of New York City.

I stood gape-jawed, watching the serene, unmistakeable being. I wanted to fetch my husband, but feared that if I moved, the eagle would glide away. If eagle ears were sharp as eagle eyes, the excited thump of my heart might have driven him off.  Couldn’t tell my husband, couldn’t call a soul. I thought of you, dear reader, and knew a few days hence you would join me in the moment, but then and there I stood alone and wordless for a full five minutes of wonder.

I shot the picture of my trail this morning. The eagle’s you must picture for yourself here in the rhomboid of blue above our potting shed.

Rumplestiltskin aside, I’ve discovered I cannot help leaving a trail in words anymore that I can help leaving a trail in the snow.

An eagle needs no trail, leaves no trail, wears his own down jacket, needs no skis, no words. I was going to say he needs only a brilliant day and an upward thermal.

But an eagle needs territory. He, too, needs to arrive and depart in utter confidence. How miraculous that so many people have worked so hard to preserve this for him and for us.

I just made a spontaneous donation to the Hudson Highlands Land Trust.  You may have some local people you want to thank for gifts in your area. (Or perhaps The Natural Resources Defense CouncilThe Audubon Society, or Clearwater.) Sometimes the best words for the wordless are actions.


Publishing Update:  Spoke with the folks at Holiday House, publisher of my new children’s book, “Forest What Would You Like?”.  Turns out the pub date is indeed March 1, the date by which all the reviews should be in. They plan to launch the book that day, and a secondary launch on Earth Day. If you are a Goodreads reader, you should know I will shortly be having a giveaway of the book. When this goes live, I’ll update this blog, Wednesday or not!

A note: I’d like to see this book in arboretums, National Parks, botanic gardens and green places of all kinds. If you have any suggestions I’d be delighted to see them. Many thanks. Incidentally, my ebook “Glad To Be Human” will be coming out, but we’re waiting till after this launch.

While I’d planned to offer you a touchy-feely-back-in-the-saddle-after-my-retreat-post, I got a surprise a week ago.

My regular readers know I conduct poetry workshops for local schoolchildren through the regional River Of Words program sponsored by the Hudson Highlands Land Trust. While I was away, I received an email from them asking when to announce my new children’s book, Forest, What Would You Like? (The book grew out of my work with them.) I understood the pub date was March 1st, but thought I’d doublecheck  online. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was already available!


I have a call in to my editor to see whether the still-listed pub date of March 1 means that is the date you can find it in your local bookstore (yay!) but if you can’t wait, here are some links:



Powell’s Books  Barnes and Noble  Amazon


My author copies arrived yesterday, and I am happy to say that I am deeply pleased with the book, especially with the delightful and evocative illustrations by  Pat Schories. She is  a wonderful and widely celebrated illustrator and author herself (you may know her bestselling delightful “Biscuit” series.) She’s also an enormously talented botanical artist. She did a superb job of capturing the flora, fauna, childra (!) and spirit of the book. And she’s a charming personal friend!


An additional gift this week was a lovely notice from Kirkus Reviews. I would link you to it, but you must subscribe, so, to save you a step, here’s:FOREST, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE Kirkus 2.1.13  (This link displays the review without your having to subscribe.)

Please note:  the lovely roses surrounding this book may not accompany your personal version of the book. They are from my beloved husband, John.

How can one be back in the saddle and at the same time in harness again? It’s where I find my post-retreat self. If I can further clarify this for you next week, I shall. For now, it’s a pleasure to know you are there, still reading.









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