Saturday, February 27, 2010

An overnight snowstorm thwarted travel plans.

By 11 a.m. the sky showed signs of clearing.

An hour later the clouds boiled up over the hill

and down came the snow!

The birds, however, are not fooled. Today I saw a flock of fat, orange-breasted robins, their feathers fluffed against the cold. The winter birds - the juncos and nuthatches and chickadees - chirped from the feeders but the robins picked frantically at a bit of exposed ground, looking for something more substantial than seeds. Not finding anything, they lifted and flew awkwardly into the wind.

I thought of them often during the day, wondering what drove them to come back before the snows of March had melted, before the ground released sleepy worms, before bugs swarmed and grubs hatched. What drives any of us to go forward before conditions are favorable? Partly it’s genetic inheritance, and in the case of birds, factors such as food supply and a safe place to nest. Come to think of it, that applies to humans, too. We can’t always explain our own journeyings. We respond to some inner urging that makes us flee safety and head into the perilous unknown.

We all come to times in our lives when we have to make some small obeisance to bravery. We face a loss or a challenge and off we go into the unknown with our thimbleful of faith, trusting that whatever we believe in will sustain us along the way.

I cannot know what those robins were thinking as they hurried north into unexpected snow and ice, or what survival plans they made as they shivered together at the edge of the meadow. I hope they find sustenance in some sheltered part of the woods, that food and a place to sleep are close at hand. For my part, I will look for them again tomorrow. I have cleared a space beneath a large pine, a place where the snow was already beginning to melt. Perhaps they will find food there among the rotted leaves and the twining roots. Perhaps, unwittingly, I am a contributor to their thimbleful of faith.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spring Break

Snowflakes and raindrops and
no school, oh my!


We're getting a dose of winter. The roads are treacherous, the wet, heavy snow is threatening to down tree limbs and power lines, and the school where I work is closed for the day.  My neighbor's house, though only a few hundred feet away, is nearly obscured by a curtain of wafting flakes. The storm is beautiful and inconvenient, dangerous and flamboyant, and will be followed by yet another that is swirling into position off the Atlantic coastline. By Saturday, though, the weather will have settled, the snow will again start its slow withdrawal, and we will be a few days closer to spring.


I succumbed to the lure of the outdoors and took a long walk. A mile from home the snow turned to rain and I turned reluctantly. It isn't cold - the temperature is hovering right around 35 degrees - and I could have happily stayed outside for hours. I made a little snow companion in the seat of my outdoor swing. He looks a little more wistful than his brother of a few months ago, pictured below Little Snow Dude II.

Wistful Little Snow Dude II

Happy Little Snow Dude I

Sunday, February 21, 2010

 Dawn and the promise of sunshine


that splashes on the floor through a window prism.
I soaked my bare toes in color
for luck...

and as luck would have it
one of these, a red shouldered hawk,
balanced precariously on the fence post
just outside my window.
I could not reach my camera but found this image
(see below). 
Often small birds - juncoes, sparrows, chickadees - 
will spend a moment preening on the post. 
Once or twice a squirrel has made it
a lookout point.
The hawk was a surprise - I can still feel
my jaw dropping.

The sun and wind were irresistible. I bundled up
and went out looking for signs of spring. The wind is
cold but not bitter, the pond's edges are beginning to melt,
skunk cabbage whorls are visible in the snow,
and I startled a flock of robins into windy flight.

In a mere month spring will be declared, rain will wash away 
the last of the grimy snow,
and I won't have to go looking for signs.
I will be surrounded by the season.

And so the great wheel keeps turning.

*hawk photo from:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

At The Cobble On Sunday


The sun dances on the river
under hand-holding trees


while tumbled rocks pull snow quilts
over their shoulders and sleep

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Out of the mouths...

I made Valentines for my two grandchildren early in the week and sent them off in the mail. I was on the phone with my son when the cards arrived. "Here," he told the two of them as they hovered near the phone. "Memere sent you cards."

I heard a rip, an exclamation, silence. Then the small voice of my six year old grandson. "This says I stole Memere's heart! I don't have her heart! I didn't steal it!" Then, with growing consternation, "Did I?"

He's big into policemen ("I'm a COP!" he announces as he approaches with plastic handcuffs. "You're under arrest!"). He loves the thrill of the chase and there's usually jail time involved in their big leather armchair. I thought he'd get a kick out of thinking he stole my heart. Apparently not.

"I'll let you go," I told my son. "And I'll let you explain." I hung up hastily.

I haven't spoken to them since Wednesday. I hope I don't have to do jail time on my next visit.
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Bright Spot

Years ago when I was homesteading in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont with my then husband and our four children, I met a man who introduced himself, saying, “I’m Bill. I author for a living.” He was standing in the cellar hole of our unfinished log cabin, admiring the way we were making ourselves snug there for the coming winter. “I’m just up the road,” he said. “If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.”

As it turned out, I had occasion to ask often. Our hand dug well went dry before Christmas. He helped us haul water. When he bought himself a new refrigerator, he gave us his old one and though we had no electricity, we used it as an ice box, filling the top shelf with jugs of frozen water and storing our food on the shelves below.

When, one after another the children came down with chicken pox, he took pity on me. For two months I’d nursed the older three. Now the fourth and youngest was ill. One cold day in March he drove down the hill to fetch us, made a bed for my daughter in front of his fireplace, drew a steaming hot bath, filled it with scented soap bubbles, and left us to enjoy his house for the day.

He constantly issued invitations to come watch the ballet or the Olympics or the news on his television. He would call and say, “Come. I need you to read this.” I’d hike the mile to his house to find one of his manuscripts on a table, a red pen beside it. He’d have poured coffee, set out a bowl of nuts and disappeared into another part of the house. I’d sit for an hour in the sunny room, reading and making comments in the margins. He’d amble in after awhile and we’d talk. He called me the Queen of East Hill and loved to tell stories about his adventures in the Navy or his latest writing project. I never left without a hug and a borrowed book or two under my arm from the hundreds and hundreds he owned.

On the day my divorce was final, he wrapped his arms around me and let me sob until I had no tears left. Then he bundled me into his car and drove me to a cemetery where we parked overlooking the rising hills that jostled each other on their way to Canada. We wandered among the gravestones. “These people all had problems,” he told me, “and someday you’ll be here, too. Try not to waste too much of your living time in regret and sorrow.”

My memories of the years that immediately followed my divorce are shadowed, though as in all hard times, there were bright spots. Bill was one of them. He gave my sons jobs around his house so they could earn pocket money. He paid me to clean, to iron his shirts, to edit his writing. He dropped off melons and strawberries out of season, let me spend a weekend in his summerhouse when my kids were with their dad, loaned me his car when mine was in the shop.

Once the three oldest kids were off to college, I sold the log cabin and made my way back to my old home in Massachusetts. Bill and I kept in touch for a while but like many long distance relationships, ours was reduced to a card at Christmas and then to no correspondence at all. Last week I learned he died this past December. Now there’s a hole in my heart where he dwelt but in my memory he is still a beautiful, bright spot.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Counting Blessings

desk where I do my bookwork

Checking my bank balance after writing the monthly bills, I've ruefully decided I will never be rich. As I was mentally reviewing my financial woes before going to sleep last night, it occurred to me that though I may not have millions or even hundreds in the bank, I am rich beyond measure in the things that really count.

I have my health. All my faculties work. Some better than others, it’s true. I can see a sunrise bathe the morning in gold or watch dusk cloak the landscape in royal purple. And with my glasses on I can see clear across the room. I can hear birdsong and laughter and music, and if they don’t mumble, I can hear other people when they talk to me. I can smell freshly baked loaves of bread and the soup bubbling on the back of the stove. I can also smell snow in the air (and danger there, too when I wax poetic about snow to the wrong people). I revel in the cuddly touch of polar fleece and the puffy softness of my down quilt. I like the satin smoothness of bread dough under my kneading fingers and the stickiness of cookie dough that must be licked from the spoon.

I have a place to come home to, a beautiful little cottage with lots of windows to let in the light. There’s room (if I rearrange all the furniture) to toss a mattress on the floor for whatever wandering guest, child, or welcomed grandchild is here for a sleepover. Not everyone is as lucky as I.

My happiness knows no bounds. If I started to count the things that made me happy I’d be up all night. I have four children that have grown into marvelous adults and they still love me. I have two grandchildren and a daughter-in-law that have caused my heart to grow at least three sizes. I have friends with whom to share my greatest joys and my deepest sorrows (and all the paltry stuff in between). I have food in the pantry and clothes in the closet and a cat that prefers my lap to all others.

My bankbook may be a lot thinner than my waistline but it is by no means the measure of my wealth. That's a good thing to know.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Day In The Life Of...


The setting moon


the rising sun


the frozen pond


the day begun


a snow filled nest


some wings of white


the sinking sun


and so, goodnight.