Monday, July 20, 2015

Making Do

Hollyhock Cottage - a house of finds.
My grandmother lived through the depression. My father had to declare bankruptcy when his chicken farm went under for the third time. I grew up learning how to live frugally. It does not seem remarkable to me that I've furnished my little cottage with other's castaways but when, at the insistence of a friend, I took stock of all I now own that came from Transfer Station discards and free items from end-of-day tag sales, even I was surprised.

The cabinet on the left was found by the side of the road.
Large things like metal kitchen cabinets, an apartment sized washing machine, a glider chair, a leather office chair, a rolling filing cabinet and two bookcases rub elbows (it is a small cottage) with innumerable baskets, a Cuisinart, a blender, a French coffee press, a Williams Sonoma popover pan, countless picture frames, a floor lamp, decorative pillows, a couple of framed cork bulletin boards, and toys for the grandchildren. 

Discarded picture frames and found bookshelves.

A repurposed towel rack serves as an over-the-stove pan holder, an old steamer trunk at the foot of the bed holds off season blankets, a table my father made 60 years ago as a kitchen counter extension for my mother now holds my TV, DVD player and VCR. A small wrought iron kitchen rack holds movies and CDs. Even my kitchen counter tops are made of leftovers from a remodeling job. The decorative wreath at my front door? Yup, the Transfer Station.

Bookcases, glider chair, floor lamp - tossed treasures.
The repurposing extends out of doors where sections of an old, discarded, but still serviceable fence frame my patio garden. A second-hand table and umbrella give me a comfortable place for alfresco dining. The platform under my screened gazebo is made of wood salvaged from an old shed. My garden boxes are made of planks left from a torn-down building. Even the slate for my patio and the path to my door are give-aways.

Fence, table, umbrella, chairs, even the purple moon decoration - all finds.
In a world where trash seems to be taking over, it's fun to find treasures that, though not new, are new to me.

The platform and trellis, cement steps, swing, chairs and tables, cushions, even the chandelier  - all free.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

One Day

Rain pattering on the steps, a counterpoint to the humming of the tea kettle. Eggs with fresh herbs from the dooryard garden. A few blackcaps stolen from the dish. The clatter of a fork chasing pie dough around a glass bowl. Clean sheets for the bed still smelling of yesterday's sunshine.

Bacon from a local farm, lettuce from the garden, a Florida tomato. A second cup of tea, listening to the whisper of book pages, a wren singing in the lilac bush.

Lobster and corn on the cob and berry tart for supper. An after dinner bike ride. Mosquitoes. Sunlight slanting through the trees. Millions of backlit, diaphanous wings. Swallows skimming the water, crows calling from the woods. Buttercups and black-eyed susans, day lilies and tiger lilies, and lily pads on the pond. The harrumph of a bullfrog. A waning sun, a pale blue sky, evening silence.


Monday, June 08, 2015


photo credit:

Sometimes when I am outside my eyes are buried in a book. Sometimes I realize what a wasted opportunity this is.

Last evening while dining on my patio I looked up from the printed page to see a bluebird alight on the top of a shepherd's pole at the far end of the yard. He sat for a moment, surveying the grass, then fluttered down to grab something in his beak. Back to the top of the pole he flew with his prize. His indigo feathers were a startling contrast to his rust-colored breast. A hum to my left brought my head around in time to see a tiny hummingbird stop at the feeder over the door before buzzing the petunias in the hanging planter. There was a sudden clamoring of crows above the treetops. A change in the direction and strength of the evening breeze rippled the veiled walls of the patio screen. A neighbor child screeched. My supper cooled and the pages of my book fluttered while life lived itself out all around me.

The landlord's cat slinked past me, a baby chipmunk dangling from his jaws. Death amidst life, as always. And to think I'd had my eyes buried in a book.

post-dinner smugness

Monday, May 25, 2015


In the woods stood a bridge,
ten wooden slats and a railing,
stretching over a dancing stream.

I stood and watched
while the music played,
a timpani of water over rocks,
water over rocks,

until I felt the beat in my hands,
in my feet, in my chest—
until the rocks themselves
took the shape of music,

a bass note from a boulder,
a tenor made of stone,
a cappella water droplets
singing arias as they fell.

In the glinting flash of sunlight,
the resonance of rustling leaves,
the swirl and dash of water,
there formed a symphony of stream and earth
and me.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

An Agreement With My Path

This Sunday's writing prompt was from How to Walk, by Thich Nhat Hanh: "Make an agreement with the flight of stairs (I don't have stairs so I chose my slate walkway) you use most often. Decide to always practice walking meditation on those stairs, going up and going down; don’t climb those stairs absentmindedly. If you commit to this and then realize you have climbed several steps in forgetfulness, go back down and climb up them again. Over twenty years ago, I signed such an agreement with my stairs, and it has brought me great joy. "

Flagstones are solidly hard suckers. 73 of them make up a path that leads to and from my front door. I walk them dozens of times every day without really noticing them or appreciating them. So out I go to walk the familiar stones in a new way. I am not walking them in proper walking meditation form. I'm not paying attention to my breathing, but rather directing my full attention to the stones beneath my feet. I remember that they were a gift from a long-ago friend, laid down to ease the plentitude of mud that made up my path before the stones came.

The slates I walk so carelessly are really quite beautiful. Blue-gray in color, striated in places, chipped here and there, they are laid end-to-end and side-by-side from my cottage doorstep to that of my landlord in the big house. Various plants—dandelions, chickweed, violets, a few wild strawberries— grow in the dirt between the slates. Ants have their sand hills there, and stray leaves that escaped the rake huddle along the edges.

The path leads me from home to the world and back again. It is a constant in a universe of change, though even it changes under the hand of winter frost and summer rains. The slates themselves harbor the weather, soaking up the sun that burns my bare feet when the temperature rises and sporting a layer of ice when the temperature drops.

Today they are warm to my bare feet and dusty from broom leavings sent carelessly across them when I swept the adjoining patio. I had plans to pull the greenery growing between the slates, to tidy the walk of rooted weeds that, if left alone, overtake the slates; messy, sprawling weeds only because they are unwanted. Today, however, they will get a reprieve. Today they are part of my contract with my path, a reminder to travel mindfully across these 73 stones, my path to and from home, to and from enlightenment.

Sunday, May 03, 2015


An early morning walk as the sun rises. A placid pond. Four geese silently floating. Then a great clamor from water and sky, a large bird of prey flapping out of a cove clutching something in its talons, a pair of low flying geese screaming behind it, wings beating double time. They fly one above, one below the bird of prey. As the three wheel about, the talons release their treasure. Something falls amid the floating geese and splashes - an egg, a fledgling? I stare into the sun and cannot be sure.

As if it does not matter, the bird of prey flaps toward land and perches high in a pine. The pursuing geese speed away, back to the cove. The geese on the pond circle and talk, circle and talk. I am merely a witness. I walk on. When I return half an hour later, the geese on the pond are still talking about it.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What Are You Laureate of Today?

Today’s prompt was to be Poet Laureate of something – a place, a species, a time of day. I chose to be the voice of Bartholomew’s Cobble, a nearby natural landmark, to become the advocate for the trees, the river, the small inhabitants of hedge and meadow so one would know about it’s small miracles and hidden mercies.

In a small eastern town
at a bend in the river,
a curve in the road,
a sign marks the site of
a natural wonder
where, for a nominal fee,
anyone can wander through meadows
and old growth forest,
see ancient rocks cobbled together,
towering monoliths that overlook
a winding flow of duck-speckled water.

Where, in winter’s deep snow
one can track the demise of
some small tunneling creature
at the claws of a silent owl
or the jaws of a hungry fox
while the Hunter’s Moon
watches with indifference.
Or where, in spring,
one can hear the Bobolink call
from the barberry hedge,

where, in summer even the crickets exclaim over the
sweet, soft smell of the meadow grasses
and the way the sun leans against
the trunk of the sycamore and where,
in autumn, leaves are sky bound things,
strangers to the earth
as the wind loosens their moorings
and sends them sailing, lilting
through the air
to rest on grass and hedge,
brook and rill,
road and path.
There they stay
looking up at the sky

until winter closes their eyes.