Friday, August 31, 2012

Good Morning

A couple of weeks ago I noted the subtle changes that herald a new season. This morning subtlety was replaced by a downright chill and I needed longs sleeves and jeans on my early morning bike ride. I do not normally bring my camera along. The basket is too jouncy and I have no neck strap for my little point and shoot. Word, rather than snap, shots will have to do for yesterday's visuals of the deer - a doe, a yearling, and this year's fawn - that bounded from the edge of the woods in front of me, their great, brown, curious eyes  assessing me for danger, their noses twitching, their legs, so slender for such strength, sending them soaring across the small ditch into the sheltering trees on the other side of the road.

Today it was the mist ghosts walking on the surface of the pond that caught my attention. Far along the further shore a small red boat floated serenely in their midst, its occupant caught in the magic of the morning, his paddles dripping liquid sunlight. I couldn't feel the air moving but the ghosts felt it. They stirred and swirled and eddied before lifting up from their watery bed to become part of the infinite blue.

I have outdoor chores to do before the sun heats up the day and some indoor tasks for when it does. My bike leans on its kickstand until this evening when my after dinner ride will take me along the same back roads, saying goodnight to the day that started so wonderfully.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Filling Up and Spilling Over

S and J hard at play
It feels like weeks since I've had a moment to sit down and think, to wake and not start galloping through the day, to read and savor other blogs. It's summer and vacation time, a time when my rather solitary life gets turned inside out in a delightful way. This past week the older grands, (S is 11, J, 9) were here at the cottage. We started each day early and ended late, filling the hours in between with bike riding at the park and swimming in my brother's pool. S is a champion swimmer; J showed me the strokes that earned him the "most improved swimmer" in his class.

We harvested tomatoes from the garden and put up quarts of pasta sauce, dug new potatoes and ate them boiled and fork-mashed with homemade butter. We ate our meals in my screened tent, read books there after swimming and before dinner, played after-supper games of croquet and turned the dining room table into an ongoing crafts space. We made popcorn drizzled with chocolate. (S studied the Mayan culture in school and learned that cacao and corn were two of their staples.) "Why not mix them?" she asked, all innocence and ingenuity. We filled bowls with the concoction, sometimes adding a second drizzle of caramel, and ate it while we watched a movie before bed.

They are gone now, off to NYC for the weekend with their parents. They will return Monday, gather their sleeping bags and pillows, the pictures and potholders and bottle cap art they made at Memere's, and head back to their own lives. I miss them already. Miss the noise and the laughter and the constant chatter, the hugs, the sharing of food and love.

I also cherish the quiet, the whole mattress to myself again, the time to sit and think and write. My life is like an overflowing cup, all the things I love best spilling out and spilling over, setting me afloat in a wash of delight.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Heart Ache

Wooded hillside the winter after it was cut.
For the eleven years that I've lived in my little cottage, I've been surrounded on two sides by trees. It was like being nestled in the woods. A good bit of the ground around the main house and the farm house behind me is ledge so tree roots there had limited purchase. Still, the pines grew rapidly, tall and spindly but beautiful in their height. I loved to hear the wind rush through their branches. Until those same branches started falling during the ever fiercer storms we seem to be getting. When one landed so near the cottage that it threatened to smite me in my bed, the landlady decided it was time for all the pines to go. I fled the day they were scheduled to come down and returned to a denuded and barren hillside. The clearing out gave the young maples there a chance to breathe and stretch and the cherry to rise to rise to new heights. The following summer the scars were completely covered with wild raspberry bushes and fresh undergrowth.

Now it is the small woods to the southeast that is being cut up, the log lengths carted away on a huge truck. Where once three dozen large pines and dozens of small, leafy hardwoods met my gaze, there is only the empty air and a couple of small farm outbuildings exposed and naked. The once secret path to the back of the farmhouse is now a road where the logging machinery has churned up the earth. I will have to watch the giant cherry come down, leaving an ungainly sky hole. There will be no rustling leaves this fall to filter the sunlight or whisper secrets in the wind. I can feel the still living trees cringe along with me at each whine of the chain saw.

Marked trees destined for the saw.
 Next summer the small undergrowth will take over. The young maples and oaks that barely saw sunlight before yesterday will reach up and out. In a few years there will be woods again between my cottage and the farm. But oh! I miss the familiar trees, those quiet giants that have watched over me for the past few years, lending me strength and giving me shade.

Giant cherry that will be no more...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Early Morning Thoughts


 There are magic bullets (or magic cures) for everything in storybooks but hardly ever in real life. We just slog along sometimes, wondering how to make things bearable if not better. I find it interesting that I struggle most when I try to live in someone else's version of the world than I do when I insist on staying in mine. One gets labeled as a rule breaker, as a non-joiner, as a rebel (or, at the extreme, a misanthrope) but oh, the rewards are much stronger than the criticism. 

I wonder that it took me until I was well into my sixties to discover what I'd known perfectly well as a child; to function optimally one must stay in one's own world. From there one can reach out, one can teach, one can act as an example, but the essential self doesn't get battered about by those who don't "get it." It's a hard practice when one works "in the world," requiring constant thought, but it is easier than fighting those who believe themselves in charge of you. 

I find my creativity waxes and wanes. I don't worry about it anymore, knowing that flashes will still whack me in the head, sending me rushing for pencil and paper or the computer. It's almost like watching myself live sometimes; I am both immersed in my surroundings and viewing them from a distance. I used to enjoy this dichotomy as a child and though I don't know how to summon it at will, I love being caught up in it now.

Thursday, August 09, 2012


"Come fishing," he'd say.
I would trot beside him
as he made his way
through deep meadow grasses
to the edge of the river.
He'd hold back the whiplash branches
like a gentleman.

Feigning interest in the muddy shore
or the sun-splashed water, I hid my tears
while the worm struggled,
imagining the hook in my own soft neck,
and when the careless fish, lured by something
improbably free, gasped in my father's hand,
I spied flowers far down the riverbank
and fled to pick them.

A bucket of worms to start,
a creel of fish to finish.
And a handful of black-eyed susans
for my mother, waiting at home,
who didn't like to see worms suffer either
and so gave me these hours with my father
as a gift.

"Home now," he'd say
and the day would coalesce in satisfaction,
fish, flowers, and father inextricably linked.