Monday, February 25, 2013

What it was like on Sunday

Snow that crunched underfoot just last week makes a sighing sound under my boots. Icicles that clutched the roofline have cried themselves to death. Dawn came with a mere lightening of the sky, but birds sang as though they knew the sun was somewhere rising; the cardinal and its mate dropped liquid notes into the morning, the jay sang its squeaky wheel song.

Rain and then snow and then rain fall, a curtain of moisture linking earth and air, making the snow and sky one color against which the stark branches of elm and oak and maple are lightly penciled. The light is cottony and soft, holding the day in suspension between brittle cold and increasing warmth. Despite its lack of color and definition, it is a hopeful day, easing the way between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, teasing with its relaxation of winter’s cold grip on the land and our souls.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Unexpected in Winter

For my friend J who likes neither poetry in general nor an extended winter...

When skies turn the color
of an old metal bucket
and cold rains fall without mercy
on the sodden pines,
it serves us well to seek solace
in the hidden colors -

the scarlet of the wintergreen berry
tucked under emerald leaves,
the sudden flash of a blue wing
or a red feather,
the fading orange of the oak leaf,
the last flame of the sumac.

Purple smoke pipes a line
of indecipherable writing across the horizon
and the washing,
left on the line in hopes of sun,
waves pale hands in your direction.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Some of the "guys" playing croquet
My current schedule - three and half days with my granddaughters and three and a half days home - has put me somewhat out of the blogging loop. There is no time between peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bottles of formula, playtime on the floor and fiercely resisted nap time, laundry and dishes and general tidying up, to sit and read, to contemplate and compose. Weekends home seem to fill up of their own accord. There's always grocery shopping and house cleaning to do, laundry to wash and errands to run. I remember being told that I'd be busier in retirement than I ever was in my working life but I didn't see how. Now I do.

Days with my daughter and her family are full of noise and bustle. The Bean is a very active toddler who starts the day slowly (like her grandmother) but once she's fully awake it's run, run, run until bedtime. We color, play with clay, take care of her dollies, and play elaborate games with her "guys," a collection of small plastic action figures and wooden dollhouse family members. They all have names and personalities. There's Guy Guy who's always, always crying and needs lots of attention. (I suspect that's an outgrowth of Baby Lily's entrance into the Bean's life as an infant in constant need of Mama's attention). There's Mama Teddy who, as the matriarch of the clan, takes care of everyone. She spends a lot of time in the dollhouse kitchen. Tito, New Guy, Dude and Nana hang out together and have adventures. There's also Caco, Mama Teddy's sidekick, Eday (Bean's pronunciation of her own name), and even a Baby Lily wrapped in a bright red bunting. In addition, there's a school bus full of little, squatty people collectively called the Mee-mos and a group of alien looking plastic fellows known as the Odgie Codgies. It took me weeks to remember everyone's name!

A model baby and cooperative one year old, Bean has entered the terrible twos with gusto. Cross her and she folds her little arms across her chest and glowers from under lowered brows. Her words are very distinct. "Okay Nini," has been replaced with, "I don't want to do dat," stated firmly and without compromise.

Her sister, Baby Lily is a chunky, happy little girl who thrives on bottles supplemented with cereal, bananas, and applesauce. At four and a half months she can sit up with a minimum of added support, rolls over if left on a blanket on the floor, and grins toothlessly more than she cries. Sleep is her nemesis. She catnaps for twenty minutes at a time, making caring for her a constant process. By the end of three and a half days, I'm pretty worn out and ready for some cottage downtime.

By contrast, the cottage is elaborately quiet. Everything is in its place. I waken naturally without baby soundtracks. I putter, I sit down often, I doze in my rocking chair. I take walks after lunch and read whole book chapters at a gulp. My tea is always hot. The hours not taken up by household chores or trips to the store are open and I'm free to fill them as I wish.

Some of my favorite hours are spent reading your posts. I may not visit as often as before but you all give me something to think about on the days I hold a bottle or hum a lullaby or stand at the sink washing endless dishes. Thanks for that.

A quiet moment with Baby Lily