Happy Mother’s Day Mom!


This one is for you, my Mother Dearest,

A mother of three, whom we all both love and fearest!

Today’s a day of thanks for my lovely Mom,

Like every mother, she’s def da bomb!

She cooks, she cleans, she sweeps, she sews,

And whenever I am bad, she somehow always knows!

She’s a band director, the finest teacher of music,

Somehow listening to 5th grade clarinets doesn’t make her lose it!

She teaches kids who aren’t her own

How to play the tuba, flute, or saxophone.


Bravely leading her students around the subway system of New York City, and somehow ending up in Brooklyn.

I don’t know how she does it, her patience is legendary

Except for when it comes to bad tuning, then she gets scary.

She marches, she copies, she fixes, she files,

And she does it all with (mostly) real smiles.

I’ve always admired your passion and drive,

To be like you is for what I strive.

You’re the bestest Mom I’ve ever had,

Without you my life would sure be sad.


You meeting Dad sure was fateful,

You gave me life, for which I’m grateful.

I love you mom, I hope you know that,

I may journey far, but home is where the heart’s at.

I love you deep, I’ll love you long,

I love you sure, I love you strong.

So Happy Mother’s Day Mommy Dearest,

To my heart you will always be nearest.

With lots of love from your most favorite eldest daughter, who didn’t know that there was a MCB Clarinet website, and that both our pictures are on it. Interesting things can be found when one searches for your name on Google. 

And Happy Mother’s Day also to my mother’s mother, my grandma Elvera, whom I love dearly and who prints out all my blog posts and puts them in a three-ring binder. Everything I write, I write for you.  


Love you much!

Happy Birthday Dad!

For my Dad, one of the many Mike Smiths that exist in the world, but definitely the most important (at least in my life). You’ve taught me just about everything important in life, like how to eat pizza, play euchre and softball, how to stack firewood and how to go on long walks in the woods. You’ve taught me how to “walk it off,” to be a team player, how to be committed and a hard worker, how to laugh at corny jokes. You taught me to take advantage of opportunities, and how to be a good person. You taught me to appreciate the “classical” music of Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and the rest. 

Four years ago I graduated college on your birthday, something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to top as a birthday present. You paid for four years of education at a private, liberal-arts college, and I wrote you this poem. I don’t know if I’ll ever really be able to tell you how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, and how much I love you. 

Thanks Dad, for everything. 

getting ready for outside work_1

And thanks for letting me wear your woolen winter hat all the time. Glad that phase didn’t last too long.

In honor of your birthday Dad I wrote for you this po-em

For though I may be far away, today I wish I was ho-me.

learning to drive_1

Learning from the best.

The world is great, but can’t compare

To you, my Father Extraordinaire.

You taught me how to drive a car,

Which let me leave and go quite far.

That same skill though is what brings me back

‘Cause throughout the world, my family is what I lack.

Awkward Family Photos

This is how the Smith family celebrates Easter.

It’s from you I think that I’m low key,

One of the things I like the most ’bout me.

From you I got my temperament,

Way of looking at the world unbent.


Watching TV with Dad

Like father, like daughter.

Because of you Dad, for my best I strive,

And without you Dad, I’d not be alive.

ive got your feet_1

Dads make the best jungle gyms.

You’re my mountain, my sturdy base,

As necessary as the nose upon my face.

Your beard might now be a little more gray,

But to me you’re always going to be more than just okay!


Lauren and Dad at Andy's wedding

If you can’t tell Dad, I think you’re the best

A man above all others, better than the rest!


Yellowstone National Par

Good to see that our family portraits have gotten substantially less awkward.

I love you Dad!

Happy Birthday!

Winter Nap

Because we just had more than a foot of snow dump on us here in Boulder (and I think there’s more coming), I thought I’d share this piece. It was written more than a few years ago while I was in college, while sitting in a coffee shop at a Kroger grocery store, watching the snow fall outside and my friend take a nap. 


snow on a bird bath


The snow falls outside. A sleeping face. Gentle twitching in the grey light. Ruffled red feathers on the branch. The feeder sees good business on these days. Chickadees move from branch to branch to feeder. Still only long enough to select the perfect seed. Everything is covered in a white powder, white, lightly frozen air. White cold. White nothing.

The face turns. Eyes flicker, remain closed. Warm socks, hot tea. All still, save the feathers, the snow. Heat inside, cold out. Soothing breath, calm, peaceful. Dark lashes, like feathers, on a lighter face. Deep footprints, shallower, filling imperceptibly. Cold magic. Large hands folded, resting. The snow piles higher. Red, blue, brown jostle for space. Chickadees are polite, waiting their turn. Cardinals come and go as they please, leaving the others to their mess. The snow falls sideways. It sticks to the side of buildings.

black-capped chickadee at feeder

Brown eyes open to the grey, the white, the cold. They close, a more comfortable position. The foot moves, subdued by eventual rest. Footprints are gone, colors are gone, only grey, only white. On the lee side of the feeder, feathers huddle, warm air trapped tight to bodies. Steady warm breath thaws the heart, the soul. The snow falls. Birds feed. Sleeping gently as the snow whispers its way down.

Waiting for pines

Written while waiting for a friend at Ohio Wesleyan University, Spring 2009. 

Ohio Wesleyan University

There are two pine trees, stuck between two buildings, two cement squares of sidewalk. The pines are thin, an arm-span around, or so it seems. No one has hugged them to find out. They are tall, straighter than the warped, old buildings, rising up to bring nature to this between-land, reminders that there is more to the world than brick and stone. At the top, they lean towards each other, branches intertangled in the light.

A girl sits below with a notebook, waiting. Her bench is black, shiny, dark against the pale stone building. She writes, but looks up when a crow rattles in one of the trees. She hears the sound but sees not its maker, the bird sooty with an iridescent powder that makes its feathers gleam in the light. Black is not one color but all colors mixed together, a blended rainbow sitting in the tree, hiding among the green needles.

The girl smiles. She looks up, looking for the crow she knows is there, but sees nothing, just the wind and the sun on the branches and stonework of the buildings. She smiles at the confused look of a passerby, startled by the odd sound.

The girl and the crow, both alone, both waiting, for what? What is there to wait for in this life? Another crow, a partner in sound? A moment? The fleeting pleasure of laughter, the rattle of a crow in the tree tops?

She sits and waits and writes and stares at nothing, at everything, waiting.


OWU University Hall


“The world is blue at its edges and in its depths…”

This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.

view from Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam, 2012

“The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water. Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water the deeper the blue. The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, 2012

For many years I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never  go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains. ‘Longing,’ says the poet Robert Hass, ‘because desire is full of endless distances.’ Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world.”

Fishtail Nepal

View of Machapuchare, Nepal, 2012

Rebecca Solnit

from A Field Guide to Getting Lost

If you’d like to read the whole essay, you can find it here: “The Blue of Distance”

The Fall

She slips and falls on her behind

The boy’s concerned, but never mind.
She’s okay she gingerly explains
It’s her pride more than her butt that pains.
So then he laughs, and she joins in,
Glad her fall could earn a grin.
And so another lesson gain:
A cushy bum saves major pain.

Picture by Max Seigal. Taken at Dead Horse State Park, Utah, 2011. 


This Here’s A Goose

Brant. New York, 2011.

This here’s a goose, not at all like a moose
You can tell this by looking at its caboose.
A moose won’t have feathers; its behind is all hairy
A goose is more pointed back there, so be wary.
Mooses are also generally taller,
Gooses are therefore generally smaller.

Moose. Yellowstone, 2012.

If you get them confused, you should check your glasses,
And probably take a few animal classes!

Young Canada Geese. Pennsylvania 2011.
Snow Geese. New Mexico, 2011.
Snow Geese. New Mexico, 2011.

I am a Raven, I speak for the trash

I am a Raven, I speak for the trash–
The litter, the waste, it’s all better than cash.
What’s a bird going to do with a dollar bill?
But with trash, oh ho, I can eat my fill!
Tourists are best, with their picnic lunches,
There’s always scraps left for me to munches.
I’m not picky, I like both rye bread and wheat,
Just leave me your crusts on the ground, what a treat!
Scavenger by trade, I eat what I find
It’s been many a Dumpster in which I’ve dined.
Say what you like, but you know I don’t care–
With a bob and a flap I’ll take to the air.
I soar high and far, my eyes are keen
Spying trash pits and garbage, that’s dinner I’ve seen!

Una Sinfonia para Bananas

1. Banana Dance
When banana chips
Pass my lips
I do a little dance
Good and yummy
In my tummy
Around the room I prance
But when I’m done
There will be none
Sorry, you’ve missed your chance
I’ll take a beer instead


2.  Second Banana
You started in a tree
Free in the leaves and air
There, growing and living
Giving food to the spunky
Monkey, sating its thirst.
First the color of green
Seen in the leaves and grass
Class of your own, then
When you mellow,
Yellow. The typical color
Duller than the sun, but still.
Will you be split and ate,
Great with ice cream?
Dream of mashed and
Bland in bread. Or cut
But leave to dry
Try plain and sweet
Beat by none of the above
Love to eat, banana chips.

Put your hands in the air like you just don’t care


3.  Dream fruit
The aroma of
Musa acuminata
Pervades my senses
The fragrant flesh with its
White seedless pulp and
Amber gold skin.
Oh ye gods! Food for you all
In this delectable fruit!
Tongue and mouth in ecstasy
Over this ethereal essence.
The name, a sacred whisper

Look into my eyes and give me a banana


A Blue Jay Tale

by Lauren Smith
pictures by Meghan Oberkircher

Once upon a time there was a baby blue jay who, when he was very small, decided he wanted to become an adventurer and explore the world. Unfortunately he decided this before he could fly (and before he really had any feathers) so he didn’t get very far.

A hog-nosed bat named Batrick (Bat-Bat to his friends) flew by on his nightly foraging foray and, seeing the poor little blue jay shivering on the ground, decided to take it home to his bat cave.

The little jay, with little thought for his probably slightly worried parents, climbed on board Bat-Bat’s back for the journey to Bat-Bat’s bat cave.

Bat-Bat’s mother was not exactly pleased about another mouth to feed but she let Bat-Bat, her only son, keep his new foundling. Bat-Bat didn’t have too many friends, so his mom didn’t have the heart to deny him this new companion.

The year went on and the little jay grew into a grown-up normal-sized jay. The jay, who they did name (but as bats only communicate with high-pitched squeaks, no one but Bat-Bat and his mom knew what the jay’s name actually was) learned how to live like a bat. He roosted upside-down during the day with Bat-Bat and his mom, and ventured outside at night to eat copious amounts of insects.

One night, while chasing a succulently juicy moth, the jay became so single-minded he forgot to watch for predators. The jay, since he didn’t know how to echolocate and didn’t have the greatest night vision, was usually pretty bad at catching enough food to eat. This night he was particularly hungry, so his owl-dar was down.

Owls and blue jays tend not to get along, and this encounter did not end well for our blue jay friend.

Lucky for him, the next morning an attractive female blue jay named Mary Jayne flew by while taking her morning constitutional. Mary Jayne was an exceptionally observant jay and it only took her 20 minutes to notice our poor jay friend laying on the ground, gasping for air.

Mary Jayne decided that she needed to nurse the poor wounded jay back to health.

Mary Jayne had never nursed anyone back to health before so she wasn’t really sure how it worked. She decided to take the wounded jay to an old red-cockaded woodpecker cavity in a longleaf pine tree so he could heal in privacy. Al of the sap adhering to his wounds helped them to heal quickly, though the jay pretended he was still weak so that Mary Jayne would continue to feed him mouth-to-mouth. 

Since they were on such intimate terms, they decided the jay needed a name. After much deliberation, they arrived at Elmer. Both agreed that Elmer was a fine, strong name for a blue jay. 

The newly christened Elmer Jay took Mary Jayne back to the bat cave to meet Bat-Bat and his mom. They, unlike Elmer’s jay parents, were actually worried when he disappeared and had spent many nights searching for him. 

Bat-Bat and his mom were overjoyed that Elmer had returned and was all in one piece. They were so happy to see Elmer and Mary Jayne that they broke into a spontaneous dance, which most bats reserve only for truly special occasions. 

Naturally, Elmer and Mary Jayne hooked up, and after a year or so started having little baby jays of their own. They were very good parents, and never let any of their offspring get stolen away by bats. 

Bat-Bat also eventually found a female friend and they too procreated, producing a cute little son named Batrick Jr. 

The Bats and Jays remained close and their children frequently had sleepovers. Even tough the Jays decided to go diurnal, they did decide that roosting upside-down was a much preferable sleeping method. 

Both the Bats and the Jays went on to live long, fulfilling lives, full of joy and happiness. 

The End

For an article on upside-down roosting blue jays, see: