Sunday, December 17, 2023



Looking out.

Looking in.

There is a window in my bedroom wall that faces west through which, when I am inside looking out, I can see the rise of a mountain, its flanks like bits of blue paint splashed between the trees that grow close to the house. At this time of year, late autumn, the ground is papered brown with fallen leaves and every branch and twig is gilded by the early morning sunlight. Through bare branches I can even glimpse the pond across the road where geese are gathering by the hundreds to plan their journey south. A gray squirrel scampers in the leaves, a cardinal flaunts its jeweled feathers, a chickadee pipes a morning tune. All that I see is natural – birds, water, trees, mountain, sky. I’ve made none of these, own none of them. They frame my day, I move among them. They are what’s outside that window. They don’t come in.

 Ah, but I can go out. I can gaze into my house from the other side of that window and see what the trees, the squirrel, the birds might see if they cared to look in. Should it be a surprise that the first thing I notice in that window is me, looking back at me? There I stand, reflected, surrounded by sunlit trunks, gazing into my own eyes. Only when I change my focus can I see the room I’ve left, the walls beyond reflection, the window in the east wall, my computer where I’ll record all this, the wall of book crowded shelves, the ceramic turkey I’ve forgotten to replace with something more Christmasy. I notice that from the outside my window looks dark, the result of all that’s reflected in the glass while from the inside, the window looks quite clear and bright. I can see out far better than I can see in, but when I step close to the window and shade my eyes with my hands there is my room, my things, what I’ve made and what I own, what I am, really, reflected in those things.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Gathering Memories

Old homestead

                                                     Berry patch (L) and brook (R) behind me

Yesterday I stood in the driveway of my brother's house that sits where a small apple orchard and fruit patch thrived when I was a child. The brook is to one side, West's hill the other and, if I glanced next door I could see the old homestead itself, now looking like someone else's house altogether. My mind's eye and my memory filled in remembered details - the bent old apple trees that looked like horses to my sisters and me to which we attached rope stirrups and reins; the thorny patch of blackberry and raspberry bushes and the stout blueberry bushes; the brook that ran along the edge of our property line before dashing through what we called the tunnel to the other side of the road where it widened into a satisfactory small pond; the giant pine across the street where we kids would crouch for hours building miniature moss and stick houses and roads lined with pine needles where imaginary pioneers lived and traveled through the bear-infested, never-ending pine woods themselves. 

When I was very small, I would pretend I was mere inches tall. Rocks became mountains, moss an impenetrable forest, a runnel of rainwater in a roadside ditch grew into a roaring river. If I sat still long enough and was quiet, the imagined scene became real and I entered the parallel dimension with ease. It would take a sudden loud noise or a tap on the shoulder to bring me back and I always returned reluctantly. By the edges of the brook, beneath the trees of nearby woods or among the cornstalks in the meadow near the house, I would lose myself in play, bothering to go home only when my stomach rumbled loud enough to rouse me or the ringing of the ship's bell on our porch calling us kids home penetrated my awareness. I always kept the house in view, though when I was hunkered down I believed no one from home could see me. For an introverted child, this state of affairs was ideal. 

I am too stiff now to hunker down and too tall to go unnoticed as I walk along the brook's edge. And I am far too big to fit through the culvert and splash into the pond. On all sides the reeds and marsh grasses and bushes have encroached until there's hardly a pond at all. In my memory, my mother is beside me, helping me find a few good-sized stones to toss into the water. "Rocks help clean the water," she'd say, and we'd throw our finds as far as we could, watching the ripples make their way to shore. 

Turning from the brook, I am assailed by another memory. Coming back from a visit to a friend's house one late winter afternoon, I stopped at the brook to listen to the water talk to itself as it splashed through the tunnel. When I looked toward my house, the kitchen light came on. I knew my mother was there, making supper, and I was flooded with such a feeling of contentment and safety that I was near tears. Just the way I am now as I recall that feeling of utter happiness. 

The brook summer 2023.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Returning Home


I look out the window at the familiar trees of my childhood, the great pines, the lone oak still holding its leathery brown leaves on this mid-November morning. I watch the light appear in the eastern sky over the brook, watch the fingers of sunlight touch first the top of the mountain – Mama’s mountain – and trace their way slowly down to color meadow and farmhouse, and finally the familiar road I now walk along every day. All my selves, my small self, my grammar school self, my teen self and the one I was in young adulthood, my middle-aged self, home for as many visits as I could fit in my busy schedule, my now elderly self who holds them all in memory, walk the road that leads from my childhood home to what we kids called “the Corner” a mile away, a gently hilled road winding its way past fields and woods and a few houses. 


I am more at home and at peace here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived, having formed an intense attachment to the place in early childhood. As a small girl, my perimeters extended to the farm on the hill, known to us as West’s Hill because a family of that name lived there, down the hill to encompass the nearest neighbor’s farm where lived an elderly couple we called Grandma and Grandpa though they were no relation at all, across the street to the Big Pine at the edge of another meadow, and past the brook to Mary’s house with whom I chose to play on occasion. She was younger than I, falling between my own age and that of my sisters, three years younger. My older brother, though busy with other pursuits, often consented to play games with his younger sisters. We played, too, with the West kids whose farm had a delightful hill for winter sledding and whose woods were filled with wild flowers and mushrooms in the spring, and a great barn filled with cows and a grain bin filled with corn, oats, and barley mixed with molasses. 


 To be nearly home again (my childhood home lies next door to the house where I am living now) is an unexpected gift. I wake each morning with a feeling of expectancy. I walk past Grandma and Grandpa Gordon’s house now renovated to suit its new owners, up West’s hill where a newer ranch house occupies the spot where the old two-story farmhouse once sat before it burned to the ground one cold December night, along the level spot that leads to the Macchi farm where we once boarded our cow, Cecile, and did farm chores in exchange, past the Name Rocks where people in the 1800s, and later we neighborhood children, carved our names and the date, along the edge of the long hay meadow that marked the beginning of the wooded area near the Corner, to the Corner itself where stands a favorite tree I’ve become attached to over the years. Here, too, are massive rocks that hold honeysuckle in the spring, and enormous trees that I recognize from 70 plus years ago. And as I turn for the walk home, I feel the same lift of spirits I felt as a small girl, as a young woman, as a middle-aged visitor. It is possible, in a wide sense, to go home again.

Sunday, March 06, 2022


Sunday morning writing prompt - what that you love most about life would you give as a gift to someone? Here's my gift to you:
I would give you dawn in vivid colors and in rainy gray. I would wrap sunsets in shades of scarlet and orange, and darkening evening skies in glimmering starlight. I would give you cold November rains, colored lights gleaming against the snow in December, the warmth that grows in April and blooms in May, the chill that signals autumn, and brilliant scarlet leaves that tumble in the sweeping winds of change.
I would give you meadows full of daisies, the sweet scent of new mown grass, the contentedness of pastured cows. I would give you the red fox that leaps for ripening grapes, the possum that chortles to itself on its nightly ventures, the bear that sharpens its claws on a dead tree. And I would give you trees in every height and variety, those giants that sink their roots deep and hold their heads high.
I would give you the smallest stream that rushes downhill from a mountain spring, a river that tumbles over a dam, the ocean teeming with life that never ceases its restless, shoreward roll. I would give you pearly shells and starfish, harsh-voiced seagulls, ducks and cormorants and slouch-billed pelicans. I’d give you the scarlet cardinal whose voice drops liquid notes into the springtime air, and a small chickadee that dares to feed from the palm of your hand.
I would give you stones that sing about the earth in deep tones, and craggy mountains that offer visions of timelessness. I would give you distant blue hills and an adventuresome spirit that would, even if you never left your homeplace, help you to learn about faraway places and people and landscapes.
I would give you the fragrance of a spring wood violet, the delicate perfume of a rose, the piney scent of a forest path, the metallic taste of a snowflake melting on your tongue. I would give you the silence of a winter snow, a dawn symphony of summer birds, the song of the wind in the high treetops, the sound of wings.
But, these are not mine to give, so come, sit here with me, and let me picture for you with words all the wonders that I know.

Thursday, February 17, 2022


Then life Intervened


I was contemplating the way the sunshine gleamed

on the polished chrome of the kitchen faucet –

creating a star of cosmic proportions for a small sink –

when the telephone’s strident voice

broke the silence.

My book, the story forgotten on my lap while I

thought of stars and moons and planets

loose in my kitchen, fell to the floor and closed

its covers so the occupants could not escape.

Donning hat and coat, boots and gloves against the cold,

I ventured out to collect the “ready for pickup now” prescription 

of pills designed to keep the pain of old-age rheumatism at bay,

at least for a while, and returned home with a quart of milk

and a box of Bandaids, the former to add to my tea,

the latter to pamper the small cuts life provides daily.


Ensconced in my chair once more, a quilt draped across my lap

to still the shivers, my book once again in my hands,

a mug of milky tea at my elbow, I searched for the page

I’d been reading before the advent of the star. 

Three lines later, I glanced out the window to see a crow, 

followed by three more, slice the blue with its black wings.

Four crows now flew in my head, their raucous voices echoing – 

did they call directions to one another? Gossip? 

Shout for the pure joy of hearing their own voices in the void?

I noticed the faucet star had turned to a rainbow that danced on the floor 

at my feet. And as I watched, it slowly crept toward the quilt on my knees, 

climbed my leg, and spread itself across the pages of my book. 


Rainbow words, redorangeyellowgreenblueindigoviolet, shimmered.

I tilted the book, splashing the colors on the floor once more where they

lay quietly, singing themselves out of existence as the sun inched westward.

I got lost in the story, conversed and ate and slept, worked and wept with the

people who lived forever between cardboard covers. When it grew too dark

to see the words, I set the fictional world aside and made my way to the 

kitchen, remembering it agleam with reflected starlight, itself a fiction. Which world

did I inhabit, I wondered – the fictional one I’d just left or the one I made up

for myself? 


As I prepared supper, life intervened. I fetched a Bandaid for the cut.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Two Small Winter Poems

Waking In a Snow Globe

The wild wind tipped the world
upside down while I was sleeping.
Now, snow catches in tree-caught gusts of air
that blow small birds off course
and set the wind chimes swinging.
High above the spinning white,
the sun is prying the clouds apart,
loosing snowy feathers from the downy puffs,
until the air itself is made of silver and gold.

Winter Day

Snow is falling all around,
it swirls and eddies to the ground,
it makes a kind of whispery sound,
as is comes tumbling down.