Teen Dreaming

What’s up with the lilies in Vermont this summer? Even my kids noticed they’re crazy tall — like an advancing army of flowers, about the coolest thing imaginable, in a summer that’s turning not so temperate.

Now fully a teenager, my 14-year-old is not a street-legal driver, which in rural Vermont makes a real difference. She and her friends have their eyes on the road, anxious to spread beyond this small town.

Summer to her now seems interminable; I remember that sense as a small town girl myself, as though the hot days would just keep appearing, one after another. While I’m at work, I leave her alone for long periods of time, with two cats and a list of chores and the freedom to do what she wants, within these physical confines.  I don’t know if that’s wise or not — but at the very least it gives her the space to imagine….



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Day Travels with Kids

We stopped at the top of Lincoln Gap, still cold from swimming in the rain in the Otter Creek.

This photo perhaps best sums up our summer. Girls, growing, nature, and, all around, words.


Summer, Vermont. 2019.

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A Creamy Moon…

… rose over the hillside. Like a surprise, the moon simply appeared.

All day long it often seems, I go about moving things — words, dishes, weeds. Laundry from the line to the basket. My own sometimes tired bones. Then the moon, rising infinitely serene and wise.

After a late soccer game, the girls sat at table outside, the air abruptly cooling as the sun began to sink. The girls kept eating strawberries, shortcake, whipped cream. A forkful dropped on the table.

There you are, my daughter said to the moon, laughing. A hello from her to this heavenly sphere. July.


White Mountains. Hiking with my brother. Photo by Jess.

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Female Talk

A friend and I both read Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women. We compare notes: where are you? Reading, I wonder what my friend will think of this section, or that; I wonder what we’ll say. Irritatingly, Taddeo divides these women’s three stories into mixed up pieces, so last night, I skipped through the book and simply read a story straight through.

My daughters return in the night and a rainstorm, bubbling with stories of kayaking and a friend. We talk and talk. Underneath, I sense how much more they’ve shared together, these three females, ages 14 to 20. I can’t help but wonder what I was talking about at that age. Not enough, I’m sure.

Three Women is about sex — sexual power and the inverse of that, sexual vulnerability. Good lord, I think, reading: finally.


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Same, Same

The weeds lining the pathway beginning my evening walk are shoulder-high now, wet last night after the afternoon and evening downpour. We chatter this year about ticks, ticks, and Lyme disease, and at soccer games, the parents wonder when did we become afraid to sit on the grass?

Nonetheless, I push through the wet grass while the kids are home, playing Yahtzee or laughing about something or someone, possibly me. Midsummer, gloriously hot, weedy, chaotic. When I dig out the Japanese beetles burrowed into the pink roses, the flowers yield their heavenly fragrance. That’s summer in Vermont — both hungry pest and the ineffable delicacy of roses.

There are other birds too, visitors we hear only
in the summertime, but it’s the screened door slamming
that is the definition of summer for me.

— David Budbill, “The Sound of Summer”


Photo by Molly S.


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Working Days

At my desk this morning, I realized all three of us are working this week — myself and my older daughter, and the younger sister now, too. At 14, she’s a junior counselor in a camp for a week — a take-it-seriously kind of kid, paired up with a friend she’s known her entire life.

Sure, learning to talk and walk are major milestones, but this? This employment thing turns a bend. Next week, she’ll be back to Kid Land, searching for something to do, and not particularly looking to me for anything, save for a ride and a restock of the larder. But still. For this week? Wow. I’m not quite sure what to think of this.

Grown ups are complicated creatures, full of quirks and secrets.

Roald Dahl


Our domestic July world

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Under the Hood

At dinner, my daughter mimics the whine of her car engine. Entranced, the cats stare at her.

After dinner, my youngest, at 14, carries out the Harry Potter she’s reading and the car keys and starts the car. What’s the sound? my oldest asks.

Power steering fluid is low, I answer.

The oldest tells her sister to turn off the car, and I tell my oldest to put away her phone and look for a dipstick and a reservoir. The youngest pulls out the manual, because it’s always a good idea to read the manual, too. We have a little conversation about the index.

The fluid’s low.

Neither girl asks me how I knew that sound corresponded to which fluid. Who taught me that? In an odd kind of way, I silently take this as a parenting compliment. We drive my car downtown to get more fluid. My oldest is annoyed, and I mention what’s doubtlessly irritating: It’s basic maintenance. You know, it wouldn’t kill you to learn a few simple car skills.

What-ever, she says, and flings open the door of the store.

The distant mountains
are reflected in the eye
of the Dragonfly

— Issa


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