Celia Thaxter on Scarlet Pimpernel

Following in the foot-steps of Jean Stefanik’s excellent post on Scarlet Pimpernel at the Isles of Shoals, we thought we’d share a poem from Celia Thaxter on this very same subject. Note the use of the pimpernel, here, as a proxy for determining bad weather much as Jean discusses it being a poor man’s weather glass in her post. We hope that you enjoy.
 
Scarlet Pimpernel (Photo courtesy of Jean Stefanik).

Scarlet Pimpernel (Photo courtesy of Jean Stefanik).

 
The Pimpernel

She walks beside the silent shore,
The tide is high, the breeze is still;
No ripple breaks the ocean-floor,
The sunshine sleeps upon the hill.

The turf is warm beneath her feet,
Bordering the beach of stone and shell,
And thick about her path the sweet
Red blossoms of the pimpernel.

“O sleep not yet, my flower!” she cries,
“Nor prophesy of storm to come;
Tell me that under steadfast skies
Fair winds shall bring my lover home.”

She stoops to gather flower and shell,
She sits, and, smiling, studies each
She hears the full tide rise and swell
And whisper softly on the beach.

Continue reading

The life span of an albatross

We’ve had a lot on here about birds lately, and I know that many of you come to Star each summer for the bird walks and views of sea birds you might not see anywhere else. This article from the Washington Post recently caught my attention with its surprise header of how old a Laysan albatross can get and still produce chicks.

An Albatross (Photo Courtesy of The Washington Post)

Researchers have been blown away by their observations of this bird.

“It blows us away that this is a 62-year-old bird and she keeps laying eggs and raising chicks,” said Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the Bird Banding Laboratory at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel.

And think it means good things about the health of the North Pacific.

“These birds are emblematic of the health of the ocean and the health of that ecosystem,” Peterjohn said. “It has to be healthy for them to live long.”

Great article, but has anyone ever seen one in the North Atlantic or on the Islands? I know  that Laysan albatross range only in the North Pacific, and that albatross – in general – are found only in the North Pacific and Southern Ocean. But did you know fossil records indicate they once did live in the North Atlantic too? And, occasionally, we are even visited by a wayward visitor.

Continue reading

Celia Thaxter on the burgomaster gull

The burgomaster gull

Since our previous post on the Isles of Shoals Flora and Fauana in 1895 talked about the burgomaster gull, we thought we’d share a poem by Celia Thaxter on the very same bird that was prevalent during her day. We hope that you enjoy.

The Burgomaster Gull

by Celia Thaxter

The old-wives sit on the heaving brine,
White-breasted in the sun,
Preening and smoothing their feathers fine,
And scolding, every one.

The snowy kittiwakes overhead,
With beautiful beaks of gold,
And wings of delicate gray outspread,
Float, listening while they scold.

And a foolish guillemot, swimming by,
Though heavy and clumsy and dull,
Joins in with a will when he hears their cry
‘Gainst the Burgomaster Gull.

Continue reading