Light Show Quandary


DSC_1022.jpgAfter years of good intentions and failed plans, we finally arrived at “Gardens Aglow”, the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden’s holiday light extravaganza. Bundled up against the biting cold, we entered the gardens, and bought cups of hot chocolate–more for hand warmth than for anything else. We opted not to use the map and followed the winding paths randomly, enjoying the variety of lights, the play of shadows, and the snowy scene.

The colors spilled out over the snow and a full moon shone overhead. Strands of brilliant blues, greens and purples twined around tree trunks. Glowing balls of gold, red and orange blossomed here and there. White bulbs outlined small outbuildings, and wee fairy houses were tucked hither and yon. Sparkling lights dripped off high branches in a continuous cascade and trail lights illuminated the ornamental grasses and dried flower heads. It was pretty spectacular.

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As we wandered and “oohed” and “aahed” over the scenery, we wondered about all that was involved in creating this event. How many people did it take to do string the lights? How long did it take? And the ultimate questions: How much is the electric bill? How much energy does it take to power this display each night? Along with those questions came this niggling concern: Although this was creative and beautiful, wasn’t it fundamentally wasteful?


I’d read that there were over 650,000 lights in the gardens, and I could believe it. The “show” runs nightly from mid-November until New Year’s Eve. That’s a lot of power used to light up some garden lights!  When there’s so much need in the world, is this show squandering resources? If so, by paying to attend, was I condoning that waste?

On the other hand, there are also definite positives to this light extravaganza. The event was family-oriented and fun. People of all ages were walking, laughing and spending quality time outside together. I’m sure there’s also a huge benefit to the local economy.  Finally, isn’t it important to create and appreciate beauty?

So, how do you balance it all? There are such huge discrepancies in our country and in our world. Don’t I have a responsibility to consider these things and then to act (or not act) accordingly? On the other hand, I also want to live a rich, fulfilling life and take advantage of opportunities to see and do different things. I’m aware that’s a privilege that I have that many others don’t, but does denying my opportunity help anyone? But isn’t that what people say all the time to justify doing what they want to do? I’ve been stewing over this for a few weeks and I hesitated to share today, because my thoughts keep spinning in circles, shifting and changing. Sometimes I wonder– Am I just looking way too deeply into all of this? Yet, it does disturb me. I’m in a quandary, struggling to figure it out. Does anyone have some clarity to offer?

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Frosty weather

It’s frigid here (7 ˚F this morning), but there are rich rewards to the bitter cold!

DSC_0159.jpghidden within
winter’s frosty imprint
a forest of firs

©Molly Hogan, 2018


feathered frost
traces delicate designs
crystalline sunrise

©Molly Hogan, 2018

On a Haiku Roll

unnamedRecently, I’ve been on a haiku roll. (Sounds like a special at a Japanese restaurant! lol) I haven’t ever meditated, but I imagine that writing haiku is similar–it narrows my focus and slows me down a bit. It brings me into the present, but also out of the present. I suppose that all writing does this, but the brevity of the haiku really intensifies that process for me. Also, the more I write haiku, the more I realize how much there is to learn about how to do it well.  I’m enjoying that challenge. (mostly!)

With lots of distractions and less writing time recently, it’s also been helpful to have a poetry invitation to motivate me–Mary Lee Hahn’s #haikuforhope or #haikuforhealing. This year, as for the past several years, she’s invited people to write haiku each day during the month of December. Even when I don’t tweet my efforts, I’m doing my best to participate daily. Thanks, Mary Lee!

inside the coffee shop
rain-streaked foggy windows
swaddle us

©M. Hogan, 2018

amidst whirlwind days
reading and writing create
an eye in the storm

©M. Hogan 2018

on the Christmas tree
faded paper and yarn ornaments
induce time travel

©M. Hogan, 2018

Also, I submitted a haiku to “A Sense of Place: City Streets–hearing”  at The Haiku Foundation (they have a weekly theme), and it was selected for that week’s final post (along with a whole lot more!). Yippee! Here it is:

hope in an inhaled breath
indifferent footsteps pass
the weight of a sigh

©M. Hogan, 2018

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Elizabeth Steinglass at her blog, My Blog About Me. She’s sharing a lovely poem about a menorah. Stop by to add some poetry to your holiday festivities!

Haiku to the Rescue!

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hTuesday already! Yikes! In between finishing up grading and writing report card comments this weekend, I tried to work on a post. I really did. Unfortunately,  it just wouldn’t gel in time to meet the deadline. Then, thank my lucky stars, Mary Lee Hahn came to the rescue!

For the last several years Mary Lee has invited people to write haiku each day in December and share them via Twitter as #haikuforhealing. I’ve partially participated in the past, and am participating this year as well. Although it wasn’t my intended slice, each haiku does (I hope!) capture a moment from my recent days.

Chickadee forages
on hollyhock’s faded stalks
life cycles on

©M. Hogan 2018


high in the tree
winter’s branches cradle
spring’s promise

©M. Hogan 2018

There’s something soothing about writing haiku, and in the hustle and bustle of December, I find the practice especially rewarding. Thank you, Mary Lee!


unnamedI think the first time I encountered a triolet was in August at Alan Wright’s blog. He shared a thorough and easy to follow description of the form and then one of his own triolets (here). I loved the feeling evoked by the rhyme pattern and the repeated line and knew I wanted to play around with the form sometime. It’s taken me several months to work my way around to it, and as usual, nature finally inspired me.

I’m fascinated by the scenery around me on my morning commute and during my photography jaunts. I’m so intrigued by the way a scene can change before me, subtly or dramatically, in a matter of seconds. Sometimes, when I’ve stopped to admire a view or take a photo, I find it hard to leave, because each moment is so ripe with potential. In an instant, the sun rises, the light alters, a bird lifts into flight, etc. I often find myself marveling that in an instant everything can shift.


In an instant it all shifts
this world we think we know
a deer tail flicks, fog drifts
in an instant it all shifts
a scene transforms, a veil lifts
a stunning new tableau
in an instant it all shifts
this world we think we know.

M. Hogan ©2018

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol at her blog, Carol’s Corner.

Kringle Love


46733586_2117185618365492_3044502690349449216_n.jpg“What’s a Kringle?” Lydia asked.

“What’s a what?” I responded. We were standing in line at Trader Joe’s, gathering up a few extra goodies for the upcoming holiday.

“A Kringle,” she repeated and gestured toward a cart in the lane next to us. In its basket was a pile of three flat bakery packages, each labeled Danish Kringle.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Stay here and I’ll find out.” I walked over to the two women by the cart. They looked relaxed and happy, chatting together, and I was pretty sure they were mother and daughter.

“Excuse me,” I said, “What’s a Kringle?”

The younger of the two turned to me and smiled widely, “It’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten in your life!” she exclaimed.

Her words and her mother’s spilled out, tumbling over each other and filling me in on the wonders of the Kringle.

“It’s a Danish pastry.”

“It’s ring-shaped and it’s super moist with a glaze on top.”

“It should come with a warning label! I start with just a small wedge and soon I’ve eaten my way around the whole circle!”

“It’s filled with a layer of marzipan.”

“Oh, they sound amazing! ” I exclaimed, as they wound down. “And marzipan! I love marzipan! Where did you find them?”

They looked at each other quickly.

“W-e-l-l, right over there,” the mother said, pointing to a holiday display on a nearby table. “But we took the last three,” she continued, sheepishly.

“But there must be more! I’m sure there are,” the younger woman burst in, enthusiastically. “Just find someone and ask them to check for you.”

“I will!” I said, and headed off in the direction they had indicated. Pastry! Marzipan! There was no time to lose!

I quickly located a helpful employee. She was doubtful, but willingly searched the back room. After a minute or two she returned.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “There aren’t any more back there. We ordered 7 cases this year, which is way more than usual, but it’s just been flying out the door!” How had I never heard of these before?

Disappointed, I headed back to Lydia and our waiting cart. I filled her in on the wonders of Kringles and the disappointing fact that they were all gone. The two women were ahead of us and finished checking out. They saw that I had returned and called out, “Oh, did you find any?”

“No,” I replied, “they’re all sold out.”

“Oh, no!” they chorused, and their faces fell.

“That’s okay. It’s probably for the best,” I laughed. “Thanks for telling me about them.”

Lydia and I finished checking out, but somehow our dried coconut strips and mango leather didn’t look quite as exciting as they had moments before.

As we exited our line, the two women were still by the windows at the front of the store. The younger blond woman walked up to me, smiling.

“Here,” she said, “We want you to have this.”

“What?” I responded, confused.

“This Kringle,” she said, holding out a Kringle package.

“Oh my gosh! Are you sure? ” I asked.

“Yes, we really don’t need three of them, and we’d like to give this one to you.”

“Wow! That’s so nice of you!” I gushed. “Can I at least pay you for it?”

“No,” she said, shaking her head, and placing the Kringle in my hands, “just think of it as Kringle love.”

We exchanged goodbyes, more thanks and holiday good wishes. Then, Lydia and I walked out of the store together, feeling warmed by this interaction and the random act of kindness and generosity.  It was such a lovely beginning to our Thanksgiving weekend.

It’s all too easy to become pessimistic about the state of the world these days. Far too frequently, I find myself asking, “Who are these people?” when trying to make sense out of something going on in our country. I forget that there are many kind, generous people out there as well. This moment at Trader Joe’s was an important reminder of that. I loved the Kringle (I mean, I really loved the Kringle!), but even better than the sugar rush, is the surge of optimism that has lingered. This moment left me feeling connected rather than alienated. These two women are people I can understand and appreciate. Now, inspired by them, I’m going to see if I can figure out a way to sprinkle some Kringle love into someone else’s day.




Raccoons and Cherita


Inspired by Diane Mayr (Random Noodling) and others, I’ve been wanting to write a cherita for a while.  I was intrigued by the flexibility of the form (no syllabic count!) and the narrative focus. The word cherita comes from the Malay word for story. The cherita’s creator, ai li, describes it thus: “”a single stanza of a one-line verse, followed by a two-line verse, and then finishing with a three-line verse.” I’m pretty sure I still have a lot to learn about the nuances of the form, but I’ve had fun playing around with it. I decided to put two cherita together, because… well, why not!? I do hope this isn’t offensive to any cherita purists out there.


Betrayed by bare branches

you scramble upward
toward the apple or away from me?

I edge in to capture
not your body, but your face
deceptively innocent

For long moments

your clever hands hold tight
I take picture after picture

You climb higher into swaying branches
your backward glance reproaches
contrite, I depart.

M. Hogan ©2018


I knew I’d played around with a cherita before, and I went back through my notebooks determined to find it. I couldn’t even remember what I’d written about. How surprised I was to find this cherita, written in mid-August.

The trap has sprung

Feeders rest on the earth
amidst scattered sunflower seeds

Within the trap
lie a few lonely suet crumbs
the bandit has escaped

M. Hogan © 2018

Clearly this raccoon situation isn’t a new one!  Oh, and for the record, it was a Have-a-Heart trap.



My post today combines my love of photography, nature, and poetry. I am thankful for all of these things (and so many more!) and, as always, for the wonderful support and community of this group. This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Irene Latham at her blog, Live Your Poem. In a haiku bonanza, she’s sharing a beautiful new book by Laura Purdie Salas and a link to a Jack Prelutsky read along. Be sure to check it out and add some poetry to your holiday weekend!