Saturday, January 30, 2010


 Influenced by Steven's marvelous post, I've planned my day:

here the road of hurry and rush
here the street of noise
here the way of helter-skelter thought

here the path of forest and tree
here the hush of clouds
here the way I chose today to walk

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It Won't Be Me

Over and over I thank my lucky stars that I am not responsible for inventing new things. If I was in charge, we'd still be back in ancient times, hanging out in trees and eating fruit with worms. There'd be no fire, no wheel, no sewing needles, no sickles or hoes or threshing machines, no cotton gins or paper or railroads, no TV or packaged food or rocket boosters or cell phones. Think how far we've come just in the past twenty years. Then watch this and be amazed at all you didn't know!

Did You Know 4.0

photo courtesy of:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Monuments to Imagination

My refrigerator has always been a repository for fine literature and great works of art. Stick figures drawn by tiny hands, mosaics made in art class from bits of colored paper, cartoons cut from newspapers, scrap paper quotes, their ends curling against magnets, a few photographs, a poem, a recipe or two—whatever catches my eye or piques my interest is apt to spend some time stuck to the door or the side of the fridge where I can see it often.

Since magnetic poetry was invented, my refrigerator has also become a poet’s corner. My kids gave me the artist’s version for Christmas. Words like sculpt, create, and masterpiece abound and short poems, one-liners, and clever quips are blossoming like forced paperwhites all over the door.

For example, “Live wild, weld nude.” (The thought gives one pause, doesn’t it?) How about, “dazzle with metaphor,” or “chisel her beauty in concrete.” One of my favorites, “stop inside and water the moon,” is right next to, “she is more like an angel than I imagined.”

I’m especially taken with a short poem that appeared behind a departing guest. “Come see the glorious green water, like harmony and rhythm painted on a shimmery canvas.” You can tell a lot about people by the poetry they leave behind.

Now and then, I take all the phrases apart, scramble the words and lean against the counter, letting my eyes scan the offerings until some new combination appears. The words seem to associate on their own. The next thing you know, “black ink looms as a monument to imagination.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

To Look, To See

Ancient wisdom suggests we look at each day not as if it was our last, but with new eyes, as if every day was our first. Finding that thought compelling, I step out into the sunrise and am struck by the beauty and the mystery of everything around me. I leave my yard to walk along the edge of the pond in the growing light and watch the sun coat the ripples with silver. Last year’s dried oak leaves dance toward me in a sudden gust of wind. I look up and my eye is caught by the movement of small birds high over the pond, swallows perhaps. They are too far up for me to tell, but their joy is clear as they swoop and rise and sail out over the water and back, diving and skimming and soaring again and again. The sun touches the undersides of their wings so that they seem to float on feathers of pure light.

The wind swoops through the tops of the pines, rushing from one to the next, whispering green secrets. The boughs rise and fall as though breathing and I am caught up in the sound and the rhythmic dance of dark needles against blue sky. Then the wind is at my feet, whirling the loose snow into miniature cyclones before blowing off across the open fields, losing itself in the woods at meadow’s edge.

Later in the afternoon and into the evening as the light wanes and the day’s colors melt into darkness, I will walk again beside the pond, watching the water, different water now, new water, make its way to the falls. I will understand again that nothing lasts, though nothing appears to change, and tomorrow and tomorrow I will see again with new eyes the same ordinary things.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Here and Now


is good

in my little corner

of the


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Good News

A natural upper: There will be an increase of three minutes of daylight over yesterday...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WInter Day

My days are filled with birds.

Dawn brings the seed-eaters to my doorstep. The two feeders that hang from the bare branches of the lilac bush are always filled with millet and sunflower seeds for the small songsters that winter over. By first light the chickadees, the little white-breasted snowbirds, and a pair of cardinals are breakfasting just outside my window. They come unannounced and speak quietly among themselves. Only the jays make noise. They perch and sway on the bendy branches at the very the top of the lilac and screech. I stand at the door and watch them, the steam from my teacup curling up and fogging the window. When I rub it with my sleeve, the motion frightens them and the jays take off like buckshot.

Most times when I open the door the chickadees merely flutter and hop to the far side of the bush. They are not as timid as the snowbirds or the tiny finches that dart off at the slightest movement. If it is not too cold, and it is near their feeding time, I can stand still with my hand outstretched and a chickadee or two will light on my fingers and eat the seed from my palm.

Where summer birds herald the sunrise, winter birds don’t sing at all – they talk. They twitter to one another. They might chirp a warning or tootle a couple of notes but they don’t sing melodies the way songbirds do. They’re too cold, I suspect, and too busy eating. Their limited tonal offerings only accentuate the great silence, that deep hush that descends with the cold and underlies all sound.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Car Games

It used to be the custom for children to be seen and not heard. When I was a child, it was our duty to be heard, especially in the back seat of the car on a long journey. (Any car trip that took more than seven and a half minutes was considered long.) To keep us occupied—and reasonably amused—my parents relied on a number of car games. Now that kids have their own mini-TVs and video games installed by auto manufacturers, these games will probably go the way of the Model-T.

Our favorite was the license plate game simply because it had the most variables. We began by seeing who could collect the most out-of-state-nameplates. Shouts of, “I’ve got six New Yorks,” and “Yeah, well that Vermont one is mine!” made my father’s knuckles go white on the wheel after a few miles.

Next, we’d make the numbers on the passing plates add up to a hundred. When we tired of that, we spelled words with the letters. I’ve never told, but often before the hour-long trip to Holyoke to visit our grandparents, I would look up words in the dictionary, hoping to stump my little sisters. “Spell acrimony,” I’d suggest. They’d just look at me. “No,” Jackie would reply. “I’m going to spell monster.”

We often expanded the list of available numbers or letters to billboards and the numbers tacked to signposts. Or, instead of spelling words or adding numbers, we found all the letters of the alphabet, or the numbers 1-100 in succession.

Our efforts at amusing ourselves weren’t limited to math and language arts. We sang songs, favoring the unending rounds that eventually made my father threaten to leave us by the side of the road if that %$#@ bear went over the mountain one more time. My mother would look at him and say, “Jay,” very quietly. He knew she meant he ought not to be increasing our vocabulary. In retaliation, he taught us Army songs. We’d bowl along the highway, yelling in unison, “And those caissons went rolling along,” until he was sorry we knew that song, too.

One of my uncles let slip that if we did not hold our breath going past a cemetery, the ghosts of the dead would enter our noses or mouths, a thought so horrible that when we knew we were approaching a cemetery, we would hold our breath ahead of time, just in case. My mother disapproved of such nonsense. My father welcomed the respite.

As we grew older, the games became less sophisticated and more physical. The boys favored punch-buggy. Anytime we spotted a Volkswagon Bug, the first to see it cried out, “punch-buggy!” and whatever color the car happened to be. A solid punch to the upper arm was delivered at the same time. My arms were perpetually “punch-buggy blue.”

Padiddle was the girls’ favorite. It required a kiss at the appearance of a car with one headlight. My eye was keener at night, apparently. It was an especially exciting game if there happened to be two fellows and one girl riding in the back seat. It’s a shame, really, about those in-car TV and video games.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Big things insist on our consideration. They are in our faces, demanding action. It’s the little things, the quiet moments, the often unnoticed inflection of voice or questioning of eye, the small tootle of a morning bird, the singularity of a snowflake, that need our awareness.

So, we begin to listen to the unspoken, to see beyond the obvious, to open the eyes and ears of the heart. We begin to pay attention and in the very act of noticing, we acquire what we need most – perception, insight, patience.

In the silence, we get to hear ourselves – and that just may be all the incentive we need to make a change.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Clean Slate

January snow
a crisp, white page
a new year.

Nature sketches
last years grasses
to remind us of next June’s.

Hardwoods show their bones
redbirds paint
the hemlocks.

In the cold pewter sky
a crow featherstitches
the clouds.

White flakes drift like
windblown curtains -
January snow.

Photo curtesy of Russell