Friday, March 30, 2018


First hepatica at the Cobble - like little ragamuffin children bursting out of their dark, winter-weary houses into the sunlight, clad only in raggedy leaf dresses with flowers in their hair.

There's an open space preserve nearby named Bartholomew's Cobble where I often go to hike, especially now when warmer weather brings snow melt and the forest floor wakes up. Spring is the season of littles - all those baby plants! One of my favorite first flowers is the blunt lobed hepatica (see above).

Hepatica at the Cobble

The merest hint
of spring brings them out
like small children bursting
from a winter-weary house.
Out of the dark into the light
wearing only leaf scraps
for clothing and flower petals 
round their heads,
they clamber over rocks
and peer down the wooded hillsides
to the wandering river
or lean back to stare, yellow-eyed
at the blue bowl of sky.
How such a small, green, growing thing
can move the weighted earth,
how blooms so delicate, so barely visible,
can reach and swell the human heart,
is one of the world's
happiest miracles.

If I stand still on the Cobble path and close my eyes, what comes first are not images, but sounds - the plaintive two note song of the chickadee and the harsher call of the phoebe, the whisper of disturbed leaves, the crackle of twigs underfoot, the sigh of the wind through the hemlock and cedars, the scritching of windblown oak leaves, the startled honk of a goose and a great flapping of feathers

The sun hugs my shoulders, the breeze pats my cheek. Eyes open now, I see a splash of brilliant green moss, the small spirals and whorls of fuzzy stems, leaves lifting to the sun. Such small things growing under the giant trees. The wind whirls like a child at play, then hunkers down to blow at a leaf. 

I stop to break the fragile ice that has shrunk to the size of a dinner plate in the middle of a puddle. The sweet, fertile scent of mud, of the earth waked from its winter sleep, fills me with elation.

I could look for spring in the curled 
leaf bud of the lilac bush
in the happy morning sunlight or
the kissing warmth of the southern wind
Maybe it's in the cardinal's love song'
or in the mad swirl of starlings
streaming from the treetops
or even the delighted burble of
a road side stream
I could poke under last year's leaf mulch
for this year's bloodroot
or kick the gritty snowbank into
a thousand glistening fragments
but I think I will simply go to the edge of
the road where the mud lives and
breathe deep

Friday, February 23, 2018

Come What May

20, blonde, and slim as a whippet.
I am beginning to look like someone I do not know. It’s an odd feeling to glance down at my own hands and suddenly recognize my mother’s. I look in the mirror and am surprised to see not the reflection of my inner vision, twenty and blonde, smooth-skinned and slim as a whippet, but a seventy-two year old woman with streaks of silver at her temples and fine lines around her eyes. My skin is freckled with what my grandmother called age spots and my dermatologist calls sun damage. My stride and my stamina are shortening. I go to bed earlier and wish I could wake up later. I used to think people my age were old. No one told me I’d get here and still think young.

I have lost a few things on my journey past middle age. I’ve lost some of my absolute trust that things will always work out the way I want them to. When I was a child I was the center of the universe. As an adult, I am only the center of my own. I’ve had to move over and share with the rest of the world. I’ve lost some of my blind trust in grown-ups, too. Some adults say children are often cruel. They should know – they teach the lesson so thoroughly. I’ve had to temper my trust with a healthy dose of oh yeah? Says who? then hold up those other truths against my own hard-won notions.

It seems just yesterday that I was in high school. I can still recall the excitement of commencement night, the feeling of standing in an open doorway looking out on an infinite future. I was invulnerable, impervious to harm, destined to fly. I’ve since lost the notion I can soar on my own. I’ve learned I need the wind. I have gone past the middle of my earth journey. I’ve grown from a clinging, needy infant dependent on other people for my basic needs to adulthood and the frightening, freeing responsibility of caring for myself. I’ve loved and been loved, hated and had it come back to bite me, borne children and buried parents. I’ve faced fears head-on, I’ve let places and things and hearts go that I would rather have hung onto. I’ve allowed myself to become vulnerable and open to hurt so that when bliss comes, and it does come, I can fill up and flow over. I’ve learned neither state lasts forever.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Write

Most Sundays a writing friend and I spend an hour working together. Here are the results of today's prompts.

Yard Report

grass paths, snowbound on either side
bare branches against a grey sky
dozens of snowbirds under the feeder
scarlet sunrise yielding to a yellow sun
toe-curling cold giving way to thawing warmth
oak leaves dangling by their stems in the quiet air
ducks talking to themselves in the hen house
next door dog greeting me with a sharp bark as I step outside
rooster repeating his sunrise trumpeting
shades of brown and gold and gray and white with a splash of red winterberry
ice on the pond

Photographs Not Taken

8 inches of snow filling my parking spot
selfie of disheveled me after an hour of shoveling
sun glinting off snow, casting rainbows far and wide
wind-sculpted snow lying along the fence rails
black trees inked against a pale sky
the deep brown of the dog Bear’s eyes as we gazed at each other
the man in the bright red cap driving a bright green tractor
water thundering over the dam, jumping up and rushing away downstream
wings of a dozen geese flapping in unison
the charming little pies made in an ice cube tray

Haiku-esque From Lists

Grass path, snowbound edge
leading to the henhouse door.
Rooster greets the sun.

Grey squirrel, tail a flag,
quarrels with the birds.
Yellow sun dispels the cold.

The pond, a sealed note
written about ice and snow.
Underneath, a fish.

Snow is a blank page
upon which winter writes
in shades of brown and gold.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

The Silent Season

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields, seems nowhere to alight: the whited air hides hill and woods, the river, and the heaven, and veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.  ~from The Snow-Storm by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The pond near my house is silent now, its water caught in an icy grip. The lowering gray clouds reflect themselves on the frozen surface except where the broken shadows of stark and leafless trees form delicate branching patterns. The air is as still as the water, and quiet, as though the earth were holding its breath. I stand and idly watch a blue jay forage in the brush. I can smell the coming snow, a faint metallic scent underlying the odor of crushed pine needles beneath my feet. The bird, too, must sense the change in weather for it is searching with gusto, hopping and scratching in the fallen leaves.

Already a few errant flakes drift down, presaging the storm to come. The earth will benefit from a heavy snowfall. I remember winters here as a child, when snow would stay on the ground from shortly after Thanksgiving until the warming April sun melted it into streaming silver rivulets.

Grandpa Gordon, who farmed next door, used to call snow “poor man’s’ fertilizer, explaining to a baffled little girl how it acted not only as an insulating blanket, but contained nitrogen which benefited the sleeping plants. And when all that snow melted, it was as good as falling rain, he told me, quoting the old saying that ten inches of fresh snow equaled an inch of water. (In reality, according to the National Weather Service, ten inches of new snow can contain as little as .10 inches of water to nearly four inches, depending on whether the snow that falls is light and fluffy or wet and heavy.)

Statistics and inconvenience aside, the snow will be welcomed. It’s what winter in New England is all about. I’ve shoveled enough of the white stuff to know that beauty has its price, yet the way the land looks after a fresh snowfall can take one’s breath away. Think how it mounds and heaps and swirls, how all that is bleak and bare and brown becomes magical. Where the sun shines, rainbow jewels are strewn across white velvet, and where shadows wait, the white turns to amethyst.

I want to be standing outside when the flakes fall thickly, whispering down from invisible clouds, dropping on my upturned face like a benediction. I want enough snow to send my sled racing down West’s hill, enough to let my skis glide along the wooded wagon track behind my house, enough to hold me up when I flop down to make snow angels. And when all is said and done, I want the moon to shine a silver path where I can walk at midnight, needing no other light.