Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winter Storm

Silver white
and feather soft,
falling from the heaven's loft,
ice cream cold,
and turtle slow-

I wrote that as a child while staring out my bedroom window. I can still picture my small self huddled against the cold sill, watching the flakes drift lazily down, listening to the small splats as they hit the window and trying to capture just what I was seeing.

I've always loved snow, though as I grew older and had to drive in it, I looked less forward to hard snowfalls. When we lived in northern Vermont, land of continuous hills, driving took a treacherous turn.

This morning I am snug in my cottage. Snow has been falling fairly steadily since yesterday morning. There's about a foot on the ground. Every branch and limb is frosted, every rooftop piled high, every fence rail outlined against the white. I've shopping to do and some other errands but perhaps I will put them off until tomorrow. My showshoes are waiting in the garage and the woods beckon.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Motherhood Revisited

Known collectively as "the guys," four of the Bean's toys go for a horseback ride.

My days as Super-Nini continue. Taking care of two very small children three days a week is challenging and immensely gratifying. I'm able to get down on the floor and immerse myself in miniature worlds that are as real as my full-sized one and I've lost ten pounds running up and down stairs while the girls are asleep, trying to fit in the washing and cleaning and cooking before their tired Mama gets home.

I watch the Bean play the games of a two year old. She postures and talks to herself— no, not merely to herself but to her toys as if they are alive and participating actively in the game. She questions them and answers in their voices; it is not own her voice that answers. Most times she is so intent on her doings that I can go about mine undetected. While her dolls take train rides or go off to pick apples and make pies, I can get the breakfast dishes washed and dried and put away. While she colors pictures and comments aloud on the names of the colors, I can tidy the living room and heat a bottle for the baby whose cries often work their way into the Bean's play. “Baby’s crying,” she’ll murmur, making a small, helpless, crying sound. Then Momma Teddy, a tiny wooden mother doll, will stop what’s she’s doing to hold the crying paper baby in her arms and rock her.

Sometimes the Bean looks up quickly from her play, fixing my whereabouts in her mind. I can see the flicker of recognition but there doesn’t seem to be a separation of her real and imaginary worlds and when I am on the floor with her amid the scattered dolls and clay apples and the small playhouse, the miniature cars and train engines and miniscule plates and cups, I follow her into the world of altogetherness, of play that is not play as much as it is just being.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Where Light Comes From

in memory of all those slain in the CT school shooting

Sleep gives you no choice,
it closes your eyes to all that is precious,
leaving you resting in the hope
that it will still be there
when you wake.

Grief will not be held accountable
it lives where it will;
like sleep, once you have tasted it,
you never lose the memory.

Joy, too, comes over you
but in its wake there is no yearning.
It gathers you and your grief in its arms,
makes it safe to close your eyes,
and leaves a small flame
for the next time darkness falls.

Sunday, December 09, 2012


This morning the sky is a pale blue parchment against which the bones of winter trees are etched in ink. The early light makes silhouettes of the chimney tops, and the silent wings of a crow cut through the air like feathered scythes. It is still and cold and quiet. The horizon is one long pink streak and the clouds go from rose to orchid to paler pink as the sun climbs into the sky. I love this reverent hush before sunrise, when nothing is yet stirring, and the light grows gradually brighter until the everyday world is revealed.

I like to rise in the dark and watch the day begin. I sit curled in a chair with a mug of steaming tea at my elbow, my sketching journal in my lap, and let my thoughts wander. Later, I will be so busy I won’t have time to think and so will have this peaceful interlude from which to recreate serenity.

Through the window I watch the sun inch over the horizon, spreading gold in its wake. The frosted bushes glisten and beams of golden light alternate between the tree shadows falling across the lawn. The mat of fallen leaves at woods’ edge glows with every shade of brown in the bright light with here and there a scarlet berry to break the monochrome.

I wrap my robe tight and slip out the door into the chilly air. Overhead a flock of geese flies into the sun. It is so still that I can hear the whisper of their wings. I pick a few seeds from the feeder and hold them in my flat palm. In a few minutes, a chickadee flits across the open yard and lights on my fingers. It snaps up a seed and hops onto a branch of the lilac to eat it. Moments later, two birds and then three, sit on my fingers. Back in the house I sketch my hand and the birds and note that when one is quiet and unhurried, small miracles happen.

The day ends as it begins, with trees inked against pale blue. Overhead the color deepens as the western horizon melts in a blaze of gold. The birds have found a warm place to sleep; the shadows swallow what light is left.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Borrowed Thoughts

Often on a Sunday morning, a friend and I get together to write. She is always ready with a prompt and though we don't designate either poetry or prose, she usually writes the latter and I the former. This morning one of the prompts was the opening line from Sara Teasdale's poem, Places— "Places I love come back to me like music..."

Here's my own construction:

There is music in nature—
the sigh of needled boughs,
the staccato of pouring rain,
the bellow of an icy wind,
the bell ring of water over stones­,

arias sung by summer birds
and dirges played by storms,

but no music is as sweet
as the symphonies of places loved—
the violins of longing,
the persistent drumbeat of the heart
underlying every blade of grass,
gracing every memory
of wall and walk.