Always a Trail to Follow

Here is a tiny story-thing I wrote last year on this day:

In the days when the people had begun to keep their lives in great boxes, living less and less on the land, a girl was born who could read the scripts and runes in the landscapes.

When a frog leaped into the pond with a startled “Eeep!” the ripples and circles in the surface of the pond read, “Splash!” of course, but also something about the day being green, the waters cool on the gills, and the polliwogs growing hale and hearty.

In a branch burrowed and tunneled by bark beetles, she could read the insect-runes: “Chronicle of the Year of Our Lady Wingshine: We are preparing for another winter. Tunnels and fortifications are underway and a healthy grub population is thriving. No woodpeckers spotted in three cycles.”

The branches on the trees crossed and curled to make whole novels of story, revealing the secret lives of owl and warbler, the gossip of squirrels, and the wisdom of ancient oaks.

Across a vast tangerine sunset, she read the letters and lines created by flocks of migrating geese and calling swans: “When your heart has two homes, you will always be a wanderer.”

And much more subtle, but as real as the words in water or bark or sky, the musky tang of a fox in the undergrowth wove through the lines and curls of autumn grasses, which she read as, “There is always a trail to follow, if you will give your heart to the moment.”

Gratitude List:
1. Chicken Pot Pie for supper. Jon’s a great cook!
2. One of my students, who is an artist, talks about how she sees beauty in every person. Yes.
3. Settling into the darkness of winter. It’s not easy for me. I have to talk myself through it every year. I love the womb of dark. I love the comforting raven’s wings about me. Still, I feel as though I am losing time. I want to sleep and eat and sit and dream. I am finding my winter rhythm. Don’t ask too much of me right now.
4. Mist in the morning over the bridge. We all imagined where we wanted to be when we came through the mist on the other side of the bridge. We were still in Columbia, but that’s okay. Sometime I really do want to come through the mist into Avalon or Hogwarts or Iceland.
5. The dreamtime. My brain begins to gather dreams in its cobwebs in these long nights. There was snow in last night’s dream.

May we walk in Beauty!


Leaving the Winter Malaise

nieghbor   limekiln
Love they Nieghbor–under the Route 30 bridge, and walking the trail toward the old lime kiln.
limekiln2   comma
One of the openings of the old lime kiln, and an Eastern Comma Butterfly on a poison ivy vine. Inside, the wings are as orange as a monarch. Outside, it looks like a leaf. February is a rather disconcerting moment of the year in which to observe a butterfly.
bridger   where-the-spring-appears
Lamppost by the bridge, and the source of a trailside spring.

This winter hasn’t been particularly cold or cruel. Lots of warmish days, very few nights of uncontrollable shivering, very little troublesome travel-weather. Perhaps it’s the temperament of the times as much as the season itself that has gotten me feeling like I am in an endless tunnel with no way out.  I feel like we’ve cemented our routine of go to school, come home, snack, bicker, eat, sleep, and start again. I haven’t been pushing the kids outside, haven’t been pushing myself outside. I’ve been feeling trapped and claustrophobic. Like winter.

I guess I just have to feel that existential malaise every winter, no matter how mild the weather. Then there comes a day, shortly after Brigid’s Day, when a new breeze blows, the vanguard of spring flowers begin to appear, and suddenly I can breathe again. Today was that day.

Gratitude List:
1. This day. Warm sun.
2. Walking on the Susquehanna River Trail with my guys.
3. Skunk. I don’t like that smell–and this evening’s burst was an eye-watering reminder of why this hollow is called Skunk Hollow–but it’s a good reminder that the wild ones still hold sway here.  And a reminder to continue to resist in skunk’s fashion. Don’t bite–just make a big stink.
4. A butterfly in February! (I don’t suppose it will make it through the next cold spell, but it was a lovely visitor to see today.
5. Public shared spaces: parks and trails and visitor centers.

May we walk in Beauty!



Toad. Symbol–for me, at least–of grounding, of quiet, thoughtful observation. The toad is a wise  and patient watcher who doesn’t get rattled about much of anything, except perhaps grabby humans. There’s always time, for a toad. The toad is a simple center of gravity. Resting is baseline. Movement throws the whole works off balance with a waddle or a leap. A toad is the base chakra–solid support and the instinct to survive and thrive.

Gratitude List:
1. Warm clothes on a cold day.
2. A house that keeps my children warm.
3. A good story to listen to.
4. These sunny yellow walls.
5. Patience. Thoughtful observation.

May we walk in Beauty!

Last Night of Twelvenight


Tonight is the last night of Twelvenight, the last of the Days of Christmas. Tomorrow morning the Light dawns. The Magi arrive. Watch for the Aha! what is waiting within you to be discovered?

Meanwhile, here in the dark nights of Winter, I have been ruminating on dreams and images, the ideas and words that have been floating around me in the days since Solstice, searching for my word for the coming year. I have some ideas: there are the recent frequent family references to my Aunt Lizzie along with her appearance in my dreams, there’s the eagle that keeps appearing at different places on my way to and from Lancaster, the calls to listen to my intuition, The Fool, the fire imagery. I’ll see if tonight’s dreams bring any sorting or synthesis. Tomorrow I find my 2017 Word.

Gratitude List:
1. That eagle again–this time sitting in a tree at Sam Lewis State Park as we passed on our way home this evening.
2. This sleeping thing seems to be working better lately. So much better. Of course, less disturbed sleep means fewer remembered dreams, but I’ll take the restedness over the dream-messages at this point.
3. I can’t stop writing about the sky. So orange this morning–deep, deep, glowing russet–and this afternoon a golden stair of light spiraling down through cloud.
4. Saying no, sorting, keeping what stuff is mine, but only that stuff.
5. The power of poetry to get students talking about emotions and internal landscapes.

May we walk in Beauty!

Doorway to Winter


Today’s prompt is to write a poem about a month. I will try an acrostic:

by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Now we settle the fields for winter
Once the final harvest is gathered,
Verdant green of summer turning
Ever into autumn’s golden.
Morning sun sprinkles the hillsides
Before the chill of night recedes.
Enter the doorway to winter.
Rest in the womb of the dark.

Gratitude List:
1. A clean house. I didn’t get any grading done today, but my house is clean again, and I feel like I can live in it instead of just existing in it.
2. Water. Clean water. Wild water. River and stream water.
3. November. I still have much to learn from November. This is the third year that I am back to work, and November is no longer the gentle quiet slide into winter. I need to take care to give myself solitude and dreaming time in the coming weeks as we wander into the dark.
4. Many chances to practice. Practice nonattachment. Practice nondefensiveness. Practice nonviolence in word and gesture.
5. This cozy red fleece nightgown-thing that Sandra gave me last year.

May we walk in Beauty!

Living Into the Questions

Circle of Stones

You there
in the center of the circle
and all of us gathered around

within the weight of the moment
and stillness in the bowl of time

We breathe
waiting, holding you inside us
and watching for what yet may be

Gratitude List:
1. Blessing each other in our transitions
2. Living into the questions
3. Holding the paradoxes
4. Preparing for winter
5. Listening for the messages

May we walk in Beauty!

Winter’s Last Stand

I know I have felt this panic before.
February has finally ambled its pokey self
right out the door and we sit on the cusp
of March which should mean spring,
but doesn’t.  What it is, is:
it’s the last month of pregnancy.
When you know and your body knows
that the next thing should be upon you
but something in the universe conspires
to keep you in the grip of what has been
just a little longer, but you know
that this one could go long.
Just like the last one did, and how will you,
how will you ever bear it?  Not one
more month, not another week, even.
Oh please, Timekeeper of the Universe,
if you know what is in me, get this child,
get this everlasting winter, get it out of me,
get it over with.  I’m ready for transition.

Gratitude List:
1.  Game night.  All generations.  Dutch Blitz tournament.  Letting our hair down.
2.  Mallard couples flirting on the pond
3.  Dusting off the tschotschkes
4.  Altar-building (which may be a repetition of #3)
5.  Rhythm of the in-breath, out-breath, pause.

May we walk in Beauty.

Winter Balances

A quick little poem.
I am of two minds about winter.

One moment:
Enough, I say!  Enough
of the suffocating darkness,
of the cold that drives me
into my bed, a-quiver.
Enough of the river
frozen halfway to stone.
Enough of the bone-chilling
mind-numbing ache of it.

Then, sun on the snow,
a-sparkle, a-dazzle,
glinting ferociously:
Here is your light!
Bathe in it, draw it in,
into your marrow,
carry it deep in your heart,
in the depths, in the shadows.

Gratitude List:
1.  The way the winter sun sparkles through the bathroom window at Radiance and hits the Mary Oliver poem about summer.
2.  Talking it over
3.  The gift of vulnerability.  I want to be always strong, strong like you.  And then you open your heart and show me: “Here is the way.  Here are the places that are fearful to look upon.”  I have so much to learn.
4.  Healing energy like that bright winter sun, shimmering all around.
5.  Assessing and tweaking

May we walk in Beauty.

Bowl Full of Winter

Here in the space between what it means
and what is brightly shining,
in the moment between breathe out
and breathe in again,
in the doorway to May

I have found the key to the door
of my grandmother’s old house.

Here in the thin space
between sun rays,
in the verdant corner
between the wren and the bluebird,
on the threshold between worlds

I place the key,
along with a small white stone
and the small arm bone of a squirrel
into my bowl of winter.

I have been pulling poison ivy
from among the honeysuckle vines,
plotting kindness to my neighbor,
watching how the wisteria twines
around the iron railing,
how it cascades into sunshine
like a purple waterfall.

Gratitude List:
1.  Reiki.  I saw so many colors during my session.  Such colors.
2.  People who support their local farmers.  I am humbled and honored by it every year.  Grateful, so grateful.
3.  The Gnomes of Goldfinch Farm.  They offered Jon the gift of a stunning clear quartz crystal today.  A twin, with double terminations.  Jon would say he found it.
4.  The way the wheel turns so lucidly into May.
5.  Fried Rice.


I Keep Forgetting

It’s early (-ish) morning, my early-riser 3yo is up, the chickens have not been fed, and I am off to work in a couple of hours.  It’s been a few days since I have written a poem.  Maybe I’ll diddle something onto the page, just to keep up the energy of it.  I want to try another glosa soon, but that will take more time than I have at the moment.

These last few days I have been obsessively reading a book written by a dear friend.  She inspires me to not let it all go by without some work at capturing and interpreting it, making it my own, feeling out the meaning. 

If I have learned anything through the process of writing a poem-a-day last month, it is that often the moments when I think I am just tossing off a little bit of nothing into the air, often those moments are the ones when some little bit of magic happens.  Perhaps not the glossy, well-formed show-dog things, but I’m a fan of the open heart of the mutt myself.  (Though I am eager to train up a few of these little mutts from the past month and see how well they do in the ring.)

I feel a little lost without an external poetry prompt. . .

I keep forgetting to mention how your smile made my heart dance
on that grey day last winter
I keep forgetting to tell you how, when you said curtain,
I felt scales fall from my eyes
I keep forgetting my name
I keep forgetting the steps of the dance you showed me
I keep forgetting the words to that song
I keep forgetting whether or not I have already written this poem,
it has been so many days in my heart