Thursday, December 20, 2018

travel sketches, crossing the country in a few lines a day, part 2

Preparing for the coming summer's travel always spurs me to look back on our past trips.  In such a mood I recently read my travel journals from the last two summers.  For the most part my daily entries were brief and sketchy, written at night after the kids were asleep or scrolled in shaky pen, an attempt to get down a few lines during our days drive.  I recall that many of these entries felt too simple at the time of their writing and likely of little future interest.  But I wrote them anyway.  And as I read them more than a year later I discovered that recollections in any form have the power to transport.  Many passages were more eloquent than I had thought them to be; and those that were simple were poignant too because of their honesty and immediacy. Eloquent or slight - all of them meaningful because of the memories they conjured.  Below are a few lines from each day of our travels during the summer of 2017: the lines that speak to me now because of or despite their eloquence.

Summer 2017

June 17, 2017 (Poplar Grove, Illinois to Des Moines, Iowa)

Today is the day we head west again.  This is the day I wait for, plan for –  breathe a sigh of relief for. 

June 18, 2017 (Des Moines to Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Omaha, Nebraska)

It is our first night in the pop-up – it feels so comfortable, like an old shirt.  Everyone is tucked in and sleeping as I sit up and write.  It is wonderful when newness and familiarity merge.  It is a wonderful kind of homecoming, like a surprise in your own living room. 

June 19, 2017 (Omaha to FT. Kearney State Recreation Area, Kearney, Nebraska)

In Fort Kearney, Nebraska we visited the 1840s fort, the first built along the route of the Oregon Trail and was later the headquarters for the Pony Express.  Everything on the grounds is a reconstruction, a simple representation that clearly communicates what was once there.  The kids raced each other to the corners of the fort – this is history  with children.

June 20, 2017 (Fort Kearney to Scottsbluff National Monument, Nebraska)

Our drive today was through prairie land that gradually faded into an undulating landscape reminiscent of last year’s passage though South Dakota and Wyoming.  We arrived at Scottsbluff National Monument at around 2:30 in the afternoon.  The air was hot and dry.  We took the last shuttle of the day to the top of the Bluff on the 1930s CCC road and enjoyed our own ranger lead tour up the half-mile trail to the lookout point. 


June 21, 2017 (Scotts Bluff, Nebraska to Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado)

Today we reached the mountains.  Always, tears come to my eyes when I first enter the steep slopes.  Always they come again when I take in the smell of pine for the first time -  wet crisp pine or warm dry pine, they are equally distinct and equally they flush me with emotion. 

Tonight I sit up, as I often do, the only one awake taking in myself along with the rest of the day.  The wind, though it has calmed significantly, still blows against the soft sides of our camper, gently rocking and sometimes forcing the canvass inward.  Inside I hear only the sounds of breath heavy with sleep, and from the outside an occasional voice and a low and constant hum: a jet passes miles above us.  

June 22, 2017 (Rock Mountain National Park)

Our first morning in Rocky Mountain National Park found us on a ranger led nature walk in Moraine Park.  Afterward we stopped at a wayside on the Colorado River for a picnic lunch.  In the late afternoon we drove to Bear Lake.  We walked the mile long path around its shore and the kids delighted to run and climb and touch snow in June and throw bits of it into the lake. 

June 23, 2017 (Rocky Mountain National Park)

We spent today in Estes Park.  Coffee, candy, a playground at the edge of the river: there is nothing like the sound of rushing water, it flows directly through me.

June 24, 2017 (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Today we hiked Alberta Falls.

June 25, 2017 (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Today is Sunday and we spent our afternoon in Estes Park again.  I sat for an hour on a bolder at the edge of a playground: the jagged mountains before me, the rushing water behind me, my children playing in between.  This place feels comfortable, as if it is exactly as it should be, as if it invites us to be exactly as we should be.  These mountains are not a spectacle, they are their own wild place.

June 26, 2017 (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Today we drove Trail Ridge Road. At an elevation of 12,000 feet it climbs to be the highest road in the United States.  We spent three hours on the road, including our time at the visitor center and on the overlook trail.  The vistas are so broad and immense it is hard to comprehend them.  It is almost impossible to take in their distances and understand their vastness.  In the late afternoon Grace and I hiked the switchback trail to Bierstadt Lake.  This place was a serene and fulfilling as the road was raw and intimidating. It was a full day – as days should be, full to the limits of what we could do and take in – this is the reason for the experience, to fill us with understanding and wonder. 

June 27, 2017 (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Today is our last day in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Our seven days here have been wonderful, full of beauty and challenge and new experience.  Most of all they have brought us to the mountains. 

June 28, 2017 (Rocky Mountain National Park to Lander, Wyoming)

We pulled out of Glacier Basin campground at about ten o’clock this morning.  Our destination, one night in Lander, Wyoming on our way to Grand Teton National Park.  Crossing into Wyoming we entered Oregon Trail territory again.  As we drove I read aloud from the auto tour book.  We stopped at Split Rock and Ice Slew, both landmarks on the trail.  We parted from the trail just after Sweet Water Station and just to its north, entered an otherworldly expanse of geologic formations.   

June 29, 2017 (Lander to Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming)

We enjoyed our drive this morning.  We were out early, which is unusual for us.  But we reveled in the perfect morning encountering few others.  We drove through a landscape that surprised at every turn, constantly changing and yet consistent in its ability to awe.  We arrived at Grand Teton just before 10:00 am and achieved our goal of securing a first come first serve campsite inside the park. 

June 30, 2017 (Grand Teton National Park)

In mid afternoon we ventured to Jenny Lake and chose to walk the trail that leads past Moose Ponds.  To our delight we saw a Moose, our first in two years visiting this region.  He looked just as you would expect a moose to look, dark with a regal profile.  We watched him at a distance for sometime dipping his head in to graze in the water. He was oblivious to us; expect occasionally when he raised his head in clear recognition of some unknown sound.  And then he would go back, head to the water, raising and lowering, lowering and raising again, shifting slightly, but not stepping too far in any direction.

July 1, 2017(Grand Teton National Park)

We hiked to Inspiration Point: Jeffrey wants to move fast, Grace just wants to climb and Michael notices everything.  Dinner of sandwiches from the camp store and an early evening driving tour of the pull offs best known for wildlife viewing.  

July 2, 2017 (Grand Teton National Park)

Chapel of the Transfiguration

My pilgrimage was returning to the place where she had been.
For hundreds of miles it was on my mind and occasionally on my lips.
For more than a year it followed me:
 since I first learned of it, since I first visited.
Today I went for communion.
Today I went to join this place alive with human presence.
Today I carried raw anticipation in my heart.
Today I was overcome.

July 3, 2017 (Grand Teton National Park)

Jeff caught six trout in Jackson Lake.  We grilled three of them whole for dinner, drizzled with oil and draped and stuffed with lemon, they were beautiful.   But it was strange for the kids to see the whole fish dead and ready for eating.  It was interesting like that for me too, to consider my appreciation for a life that will feed my own.

July 4, 2017 (Grand Teton National Park)

Today is our last day in Grand Teton National Park.  The atmosphere is not festive as one would expect on this national holiday, but soft, almost quiet, they way I have wished the park would have been during the rest of our visit. 

July 5, 2017 (Grand Teton National Park to Casper, Wyoming)

For the first time in nearly three weeks we turned east.

July 6, 2017 (Casper to Hot Springs South Dakota)

We headed back toward the highway at just about six o’clock to be met by a dark storm on the horizon. We caught up with each other, us and the storm, a few hours later and what was planned as our first night in Custer State Park, South Dakota became the only night we have spent in a hotel in two years on the road.  

July 7, 2017 (Hot Springs to Custer State Park, Custer, South Dakota)

Prairie dog towns are abundant along the roadway that leads from Custer to Wind Cave National Park.  If you stop to near, the prairie dogs will call out in unison to pass along the signal of looming danger.  My son, the one who notices everything, loves them.

July 8, 2017 (Custer State Park)

In the afternoon we visited the cabin home of Badger Clark, onetime South Dakota poet laurite.  And we hiked about two miles round trip on the South Dakota Centennial Trail that passes just outside its doorway.

July 9, 2017 (Custer State Park)

I got up early this morning to prepare the last camp breakfast of our trip.  Camp breakfast is my favorite.

July 10, 2017 (Custer State Park to Sioux Falls, South Dakota)

Officially on our way home: today was a driving day and we took our time. We were through Rapid City by 3:00 and into the open plains.  The landscape had faded gradually from pine forested mountains to gentile hills to the bare rolling vistas of the badlands region.  I always feel a strong sense of remorse when the mountains have finally faded from our rearview.  And always I take in a deep breath of comfort as I realize I am fully surrounded by the plains once more. 

July 11, 2017 (Sioux Falls, South Dakota to home)

496 miles.

With gratitude,

Travel sketches part 1, here

Friday, August 24, 2018

midwest wandering

I believe there are places in this world that possess inherent beauty regardless of our ability to see.  And it falls to us not to chide this world for her lack of beauty but to seek out our own eyes for seeing it. 

Near the end of his life the founder of the Appalachian Trail, Benton Mackay, was asked what had been the goal of his project, he answered simply this: 

To see. To walk. To see what you see.

He believed in movement not as an escape, but an immersion.

I cannot remember a time when I did not feel the urge to move.  It is in my bloodline.  I have to look back beyond five generations to find an ancestor who lived out her life in the place she was born.  They weren’t nomads, but seekers, following paths that promised better lives.  But also, I cannot recall a time when I was without the longing to settle deeply in a place I could call my own – for the rest of my life.  Thus the paradox I inherited, that I have lived, the reason for moving is always to find a better place to stay.

That paradox finds me here, in a place called the Midwest.  A place where I have come to identify with a region more than a town, where boundaries mean less than the spaces that cross them.  This is the land of wide vistas and immense skies.  And a place where what is familiar transcends what is not.  I had to earn that transcendence through the exercise of seeing. And from that pursuit emerged Midwest Wandering a collection of writings born out of my desire to “see what I see” to discover the beauty in places unknown to me.  Through this pursuit, and without quite realizing it, I began also to satisfy those urges to both move and stay.  Staying has taught me how to move with intention and how to see as I go - how to live in the space between the new and the known.      

Midwest Wandering, previously titled Favorite Finds Friday, is an ever growing collection of reflections on the places I am most enamored with, places that have taught me or inspired me, touched me with their beauty or the experience they offer; but re-framed based on the realization that what I desire to document is not necessarily a list of favorites, but a record of experience.

To see

To walk

To see what you see

I'd love for you to join me: 
Midwest Wandering

With gratitude,


{Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike  {muir}

Saturday, August 4, 2018

glory {crafted by the seasons}

This is summer her glory.  When I love the wind because it is only a strong breeze and when the low sunlight reveals the patterns in the green of the leaves and catches in the loose bark of the birch trees and the almost red of the tomatoes and everything glimmers together - when my yard is my sanctuary. 

Summer reveals paths into the unknown.  But it is when I come home that I feel its rhythm, its subtle changes, and the September wind that sneaks in to rustle July leaves.  Summer is not my favorite season, but it is the one I most desire to hold in my grasp.  It is the season when everything is fully alive, breathing in as much life as is possible.  And I wish to breathe in as much plump warm air as I am able; if I could only hold it in my lungs for exhale on that not distant enough day, a few months from now when this world will lay under a thick blanket of white.

But I know, as I must accept in every season of summer, that that is not the way of nature’s wisdom; her wisdom that reveals itself in subtle encounters that prompt our attention and feed our senses, and always she ushers us through the gateway that leads to the next season of glory. 

And so we begin again, picking up the rhythm in the place we find ourselves, in the place we allow ourselves to be found.  Maybe it is on a just warm enough summer evening aglow with light and play and promise or a on dim morning stinging with an unforgiving chill, if you wait for the rhythm to find you it always will.

With gratitude,


Friday, May 25, 2018

Fort Mackinac {midwest wandering}

Last summer I had the chance to spend three full days on Mackinac Island, Michigan.  It was my first visit to this lovely place and I have to admit I found it, well, magical.   There are many places to fall in love with on this 3.7 square mile island, but as is typical for me, I was most smitten with the Islands largest historic site, Fort Mackinac. 

When I was a young child my mother would fill long summer days by taking us on tours of our local surroundings, stopping at any place that seemed even remotely interesting: small museums, a nearby mining town turned visitor destination and of course parks and lakes and sometimes the playground by the river where we could also feed the ducks.  We thrived on day trips and I learned almost by default that connection to place was gained through experiencing nature and history.  I suppose I had a predisposition to the nerdy love of looking at old farm implements though the glass walls of a display case and asking volunteer docents where the bathroom was located in a nineteenth century farm house.  But even if that is true, my mother’s resourcefulness and eagerness to get out and see something instilled in me a lifelong wanderlust that continues only to be satisfied by a breath of fresh air and a good dose of the past.  In early college when my sister and I began making our own summer road trips from our home in Southern Oregon to visit aunts, uncles and cousins in Southern California, I easily fell into the role of instigator and tour guide, always eager to stop at some old place along the way.  My sister, not nearly as keen as I, humored me most of the time, biting her tongue when we stopped at coastal missions and took detours down defunct main street strips.   

Today I am the mom who takes the detour and makes sure we stop at the local museum or walk through the natural history exhibit in a visitor center.  I want my children to grow up with a curiosity about where they are, what a place was before they witnessed it and why that matters.  The facts are the basic ones these days, age appropriate for three kids under ten. But as I have learned it is not necessarily the details of a place that stay with us, but the experience of it.  So that is why with only three days to experience everything Mackinac has to offer I made sure we spent one of those afternoons wandering the fort’s historic grounds; that, and because I will always be a history nerd at heart.     

Fort Macinac is a late eighteenth century military post that in 1875 became part of the Nation’s second national park, Mackinac Island National Park, commissioned just three years after Yellowstone.  It was built by the French in the late eighteenth century during the height of the great lakes fur trading era and was held by the British during the Revolutionary War, not surrendered to the U.S. until nearly twenty years after the new nation was officially formed.  Over the next century the fort made its transition from military stronghold to tourist attraction.  In 1895 the twenty year old national park was decommissioned at the request of Michigan’s then governor and became Mackinac State Park, Michigan’s first state park. 

The fort’s collection of historic buildings, which includes the oldest standing building in the state of Michigan have been restored to the appearance of the grounds during their final years of military occupation.  They represent a decisive era in early American history and tell the story of those on both sides of the walls.  The grounds offer interpretive and interactive experiences for visitors of any age.  On a visit to the island it should not be missed.   

Below is a photo tour from our afternoon visit in late July of last year.  Follow along using a map of the grounds, here

Thanks for joining me!

Fort Mackinac from Marquette Park 

Entrance to the front gates of the park, known as the south sally port, from Marquette park overlooking Lake Michigan

Ramp leading from Marquette park to the south sally port

18. South Sally Port,
One of the fort's original features constructed more than 225 years ago

7. Soldiers barracks, 1859

Wooden boardwalks connect the past and the buildings that tell its story.

20. East blockhouse,1798
A fortified lookout post with a view of Lake Michigan and the Straights of Mackinac, a strategic point of defense

12. The west blockhouse, 1798 
and two of my little explorers 

View looking east toward the straights of Mackinac the fort's primary defense point, today it overlooks a thriving tourist community

View looking north east across Marquette park onto Lake Michigan 

22. Parade grounds, 
open space at the center of the grounds as it looked in the 1890s

Daily reenactments demonstrate life and training at the fort 

14. Officers Stone Quarters, 1780
Interactive exhibits for children are presented within the buildings historic walls, making history tangible for young visitors.  The Kids Quarters are housed in the old Officers Stone Quarters, the oldest standing building in the state of Michigan.

14. Officers Stone Quarters, 1780
The Officers Stone Quarters, constructed in 1780, is the oldest standing building in the state of Michigan, a photograph above a fireplace illustrates the daily scene in the late 1880s.  For over one hundred years officers and their families occupied this building as their domestic quarters.

14. Officers Stone Quarters, 1780
Living room in the Officers Stone Quarters as it would have looked in the 1880s

9. Post School House, 1879
Children of those stationed at the fort were provided an education within its walls

5. North sally port, 1875
Visiting a historic site can leave us with the impression that a place always functioned as a finished whole, static in time, designed to serve a specific function.  But this is rarely an accurate reflection of sites that more often than not were transformed over time to meet changing needs.  Fort Mackinac is no exception. 

3. Quartermasters Storehouse, 1860
The exhibits in the old store house likely represent a scene much lovelier than what one would have encountered in the hustle and bustle of a nineteenth century fort commissary, but I found this modest presentation to be so engaging, I was left considering the space long after I left it.

3. Quartermasters Storehouse, 1860

Looking across the Parade grounds toward the officers quarters, with Lake Michigan and the Straights beyond

17. Guard House, 1828
Exhibits in this modest building tell the story of court proceedings and jailings at the fort

17. Guard House, 1828
Name and date carved in a wooden windowsill by a prisoner in 1889

Wherever it is you wander, remember to take a few steps into the past.

With gratitude,

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

travel sketches: crossing the country in a few lines a day, part 1

Preparing for the coming summers travel always spurs me to look back on our past trips.  In such a mood I recently read my travel journals from the last two summers, 2016 and 2017.  For the most part my daily entries were brief and sketchy, written at night after the kids were asleep or scrolled in shaky pen, an attempt to get down a few lines during our days drive.  I recall that many of these entries felt too simple at the time of their writing and likely of little future interest.  But I wrote them anyway.  And as I read them almost two years later I discovered that recollections in any form have the power to transport.  Many passages were more eloquent than I had thought them to be, and those that were simple were poignant too because of their honesty and immediacy. Eloquent or slight - all of them meaningful because of the memories they conjured.  Below are a few lines from each day of our travels during the summer of 2016: the lines that speak to me now because of or despite their eloquence.

Summer 2016

July 7, 2016 (Poplar Grove, IL to Sioux Falls, SD)

The kids played and swam and we played together…bedtime not too early and not too late.  No campfire.  Us four adults sat in lawn chairs and talked for about an hour.  We laughed and joked.  It is good to have friends.

July 8, 2016 (Sioux Falls, SD to Badlands National Park, SD)

I notice repeatedly our fellow travelers on the highway.  Trucks towing fifth-wheels and tiny sedans with New York license plates packed so the windows are full and I think back to college when that was me, and I think about all we have in common on the road… Mile after mile the landscape passes in the same low undulating pattern, green prairie, sometimes dotted by rolls of still green hay, sometimes cattle. 

July 9, 2016 (Badlands National Park, SD to Black Hills National Forest, SD)

The Black Hills rose abruptly from the western prairie.  We entered them through Rapid City, climbing quickly after a rain shower; the smell of the pine forest was enchanting and brought tears to my eyes. 

July 10, 2016 (Black Hills National Forest, SD to Buffalo, WY)

We painstakingly completed the Junior Ranger workbooks at Jewel Cave National Monument.  And all six, that is sixty toes, were sworn in as Junior Rangers and all received badges.  The effort was more than worth it when we watched them, all standing together with their right hands raised promising to protect this park and all natural places.

July 11, 2016 (Buffalo, WY to Cody, WY)

As we neared the latter portion of our drive sheer rock faces began to reveal themselves: the Big Horn Mountains.  We were met by rich colors and an expansive view that was quite simply, overwhelming.  We have now driven nearly a thousand miles and the single constant we have encountered is change.  The land changes subtly at times, moving gradually from prairie to precipice, or it can change almost without warning, sheer cliffs seeming to bound forth from the landscape.   I have driven across this country before, but these miles have brought me to humility and reverence in the face of a vastness that our eyes cannot measure.  Grand places stand before us as if they were finished presentations, complete works for us to enjoy.  But change is the constant in the natural world and everything beneath and before us is changing at this moment and each moment that came before and that will come after.  No, grandness was not made for us; we are the privileged ones, to live at this moment to witness it.  

July 12, 2016 (Cody, WY to Yellowstone National Park)

It is Yellowstone day!  There is nothing to say about Yellowstone National Park that has not already been said of its beauty, its vastness, its wonder.  For me, entering this place was the realization of a life long obsession.  For all of my conscious memory I have wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park.  This desire was the making of Frances Joyce Farnsworth’s sweet little book Cubby in Wonderland and my mother’s reading  of it to me with such a beautiful sense of wonder and imagination.

July 13, 2016 (Yellowstone National Park)

It is fourteen miles from the west entrance of the park at West Yellowstone, MT where we are camped, to Madison Junction inside the park, where you turn left to the northeast or right to the southern portion of the Grand Loop road and Lower, Midway and Upper Geyser Basins.  Our drive in today was uneventful, but as we entered the geyser basin region the traffic and population of visitors exploded. 

July 14, 2016 (Yellowstone National Park)

Sitting in a line of stopped cars, I brought out Cubby in Wonderland and started reading the chapters about places we have already visited in the park.  We stopped at a pull out and saw a family of Elk crossing a river behind a herd of grazing bison.  We spotted an Eagle and ate lunch at the edge of a meadow.  Later in the day we walked the wooden boardwalks around Mammoth Hot Springs and we were stunned.  This is my favorite place among those we have visited in the park.  We had dinner in the lodge and made it back to the campground in time for a fire with friends.  It was our last night together. 

July 15, 2016 (West Yellowstone, MT to Jackson, WY)

Yellowstone was a wonder, but Grand Teton feels like paradise.

The Chapel of the Transfiguration was my grandmother’s favorite place in the Tetons. Seeking it out was a kind of pilgrimage, an homage to her that became transcendent for me.  I do not have words to capture the experience of my visiting.  Peace is palpable here.  My eyes filled with tears and I continued to cry feeling overcome with emotion.  This tiny chapel is a lens.  The natural world is so immense, so much bigger than us in every scope and yet this tiny place guides us to be bigger. 

July 16, 2016 (Jackson, WY to Boise, ID)

We left the campground at 11:30 am, driving out on highway 26 along the Snake River through the Targee National Forest.  Slowly the road evened out and we entered fields flanked on both sides by low hills.  Miles and miles of wheat fields line the road, bright green that spans out across the valley to the foothills.  Elton John’s County Comfort on the radio seems the perfect soundtrack. 

We have traveled 2,000 miles and this has been our first long, dare I say boring, driving day.  Eastern Idaho is flat golden prairie spotted with sagebrush, a muted green that blends into the monotony.  But the kids are traveling so well.

July 17, 2016 (Boise, ID to Bend, OR)

We arrived in Bend in mid-afternoon.  On the eastern side of the Cascade mountain range the Oregon landscape seems otherworldly compared to the rolling mountains and lush forests of the Cascades and coastal range.  As a youth I did not have very much appreciation for this seemingly barren land, drier and browner than the thick river valley surrounds of our home site.  But driving through it now I was struck time and again by its arid beauty and ever-changing terrain; state highway 26 gracefully guiding us through it.  Of course today was poignant for another reason: it marked the first time I have returned to my home state in four years.  Any inch of Oregon would have felt like heaven today.

July 18, 2016 (Bend, OR)

We are camping two nights near Bend in La Pine State Park situated in the exquisite old-growth Deschutes National Forest.  This is my favorite campsite yet on our trip.

On day two we went to the Newberry Crater Visitor Center and learned about volcanic activity from a very cool park ranger talking over a relief map.  Late in the afternoon on Tuesday the 19th we headed farther west to Grants Pass.  We passed through the heart of the Rouge River-Siskiyou National Forest nearly bordering Crater Lake on Highway 62.  Growing up this was my favorite drive; the highway closely lined with immense Douglas Firs creates a passage that is almost transcendent.  If there is a heaven, this passage would be my tunnel of light.


For reasons I won’t speculate about here, this is where my journal ends, although our trip lasted another two weeks and took us to some our yet to be favorite places.  The Redwood forest of northern California, the California coast highway, Disneyland, Zion National Park, the Rocky Mountains and finishing with a long two day drive across the planes of Nebraska and Iowa to return home.  I wish I could read the words I would have written in those places.

With gratitude,


Friday, March 2, 2018

Morning Sketches

I recently discovered that over the course of 2017, I inadvertently kept a record of our changing seasons from the early morning vantage of my dining room table.  This is a sampling of those reflections taken from my daily journal and reflected upon again.  

March 7.

It is morning again and the wind is strong.  Out my window, thin bark on the birch trunks flap like feathers in the moving air.  They twitch so constantly that they seem almost to be glistening.  Now the sun has crested the roofline of my neighbor’s house and a small shadow falls from my hand onto the paper that is receiving these words.  In this new light the feathery bark glistens stronger and in new tones of tan.  It is lovely and I could watch it for a long time.  A gray line moves in the sky and I recognize it for diluting my hands shadow and dimming the dancing tree feathers.  It will pass and another will come and such will be the backdrop of our day.

March 8.

The wind is with us again, loud.  I hear it in the chimney, up it roars and then fades and comes back more slight, and on and on.  I see its evidence as green tips swirl in unison across the yard and in the ever dancing motion of the birch bark.  The sun joins us, and hope.  Hope for a day with more of its rays.  The sun reveals smudges and dust; the windows need to be washed.  And it reveals the perfect green of the aloe plant sitting on their sill.  I never think to wash my windows, distracted by all of the beauty on the other side of them – what is the meaning of a pane of glass in between?  And I suppose I will go on this way – too wrapped in the movement of the wind and the rays of the sun to mind too much the dust and debris that settle in their midst.

March 11.

I have been lucky each morning this week to have the bright light of the sun streaming in the windows when I sit down to write.  I am lucky again today.  Some may say blessed rather than lucky, but I know that the sun does not shine down in this spot just for me.  It is I who is privileged to be alive in this spot at this moment to witness and feel the sun.  The blessing is not that the sun is here for me, but that I am here at all.

March 21.

Good morning spring!  You snuck up on me this year.  Your warmth took me by surprise, you are teasing us, but I will laugh along with you.  I will laugh in the frigid breeze still blowing though your bright rays.  And I will laugh when the snow flurries come and dot the roofs and greening grass.  I will laugh when my children run through that green with bare toes that will chill too quickly.  They will laugh, not dreaming of warmer grass, but relishing these blades.  

April 9.

Good morning.  Good morning.  Pen in hand is how I wish always to meet the day.  Waiting for the trickle or the waves of words to come.  I am happy always with the simple flowing stream, breaking and churning against the stones in its path.  The stones too are part of the path.

May 18.

I am paralyzed by possibility so I think I will sit down and write.  Pen on paper always users clarity, gives me purpose, empties me without guilt or question or doubt.  It just is.  I just am.  I just am, when there is a pen in my hand.

June 11.

The leaves play in the morning light and their moving shadows are cast on my table.  I hear a lone bird chirping, I am too late for the chorus.  I can almost hear the leaves moving against each other, but mostly I imagine their sound through my looking.  This is the second day of the wind.  It is strong, but not so strong that it has given up play.

July 24.

I am back at my table, a constant.  The morning is surprisingly cool for a July day and the patio door is open.  The engine turns, a surprise I was expecting.  I listen to the engine cycle up and down and I wait for the change that signals movement.  Brief glimpses of sunshine bring immediate comfort, she signals the clear sky.

November 5.

I sat down this morning with the expectation of a winters view; but instead I was surprised by an abundance of green layers still hugging the other side of the windowpanes.

November 6.

It looks uncomfortable outside, but here I go.  I want to learn friendship with the cold.

December 30.

The blanket of snow laying across our backyard transitions from smooth to broken, marking places untouched and those where we ran and played.  Today the sky is blue and crisp; the suns rays brightly illuminating the white world.  Everything is clear when the sun shines down on snow. 

December 31.

The sun is with us as we close the year, shining crisp shadows.  It prompts small shadows falling from waves in the snow and grander shadows that reach out across them, spanning the yard.  It is too cold for bird song this morning.  The air is still and silent except for the quivering of branches in a soft breeze.  Their movement too is captured by slight shadows, gray and acute on the frozen white surface. 

The air is sharp against my face as I stand in my snowy yard watching the puppy and hoping he will complete his task before he becomes too cold to walk in the snow.  For no other reason would I be standing in my yard, in the snow, in a subzero temperature at eight o’clock on a Sunday morning.  I feel the sting on my face and I trace the shadows with my watering eyes and I am not sure I have ever been so thankful to be uncomfortable. 

With gratitude,