Rock On…..

Anyone who knows my daughters and myself knows our story of moving from this beloved house to another; our path not wholly determined. These days, in the rush and glory of Vermont spring, we are still fully here, reveling in the first sighting of trillium blooms, our familiar dirt road we have walked and biked thousands of times. This spring, surrounded by the upheaval of change and illness, reminds me yet again that the salvation of our world is through children: in the steady joy of trampoline jumping and chocolate-egg-with-sweet-cream-yolk eating.

Yesterday, standing outside the library with another adult, listening to the raucous chorus of Woodbury’s wetland peepers, far down below the school’s garden, concealed in the thick brush, we heard children’s voices. As we listened, into the song of frogs and robins and sparrows wound peals of laughter. On and on…..

Here’s the beginning of a poem one friend wrote, and another sent me today:

Out walking in the swamp picking cowslip, marsh marigold,
this sweet first green of spring. Now sautéed in a pan melting
to a deeper green than ever they were alive, this green, this life…

– David Budbill, “The First Spring of Green”


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Robert Pirsig

Robert Pirsig, dead at 88, I hear this morning, driving along a rutted back road.

I pilfered Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance from my dad’s bookshelf when I was a teenager, intrigued by its title, lured by the lush fatness of reading material. Not that many years later, my dad showed me an article (in the Times Book Review section, maybe?) Pirsig had written about his son’s murder.

What I’ll always remember about that book is the high school teacher who told me the book saved his life. What higher complement to give a writer? And yet every time I think of Pirsig, I think of that essay, too…..

Sometimes I like to think about truth in the image of an old and wrathful Buddhist master who grabs us, shakes us, and shouts, ‘Drop it now!’ Truth can be wrathful.

– Anam Thubten, No Self, No Problem: Awakening to Our True Nature



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Bluer Than Blue

Last evening, as dusk threaded in slowly, the 11-year-old and I played leisurely games of croquet, stepping around the blooming Siberian quills we planted late last fall. They flower in profusion over the lower leach field, whereas the other bulbs, in higher ground, are merely slender green leaves, with no apparent sign of flowering. Fitting?

That mimics a line I read early this morning from Katie Kitamura’s Separation.

Imagination, after all, costs nothing, it’s the living that is the harder part.


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When my girls were little, we played Signs of Spring for weeks, enthusiastically spying the first unfolding daffodil bloom, robins’ beaks clamped around strands of nesting material, tiny dresses flapping on clotheslines.

On the evening shift now, my 18-year-old came home last night and said a goose wandered into the nursing home. With another woman, they lured the wild, spitting creature through the open door with bread.

Spring tidings in Greensboro, Vermont?

Laughing, my daughter digs into her salad, a pile of fresh greens piled high with salty feta and kalamata olives, already thinking of other things. She’s sparkling, this young woman.

spring begins
as it has deigned to do
for a thousand ages

– Issa


Montpelier, Vermont

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Spring Notes

Emptying boxes of recycling at the transfer station, I found a drawing of my daughter’s making, from a few years ago. In a shallow sea of mud, surrounded by the mighty clangor of trash-moving activity, seagulls pinwheeling overhead, I studied her bright creation, laid it carefully on the passenger seat, and returned it to our living room wall.

Flowers? More, please.

Nothing is so beautiful as spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush….

What is all this juice and all this joy?

– Gerard Manley Hopkins


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We’re in a holding place, these days of rain and returned cold, the earth sucking up the steady, daily downfall, gradually greening. I tell my daughters the line my mother used when I was a girl, April showers bring May flowers. They appear as unimpressed as I must have seemed, in my own long-ago girlhood.

This school break, after dinner dishes and reading, the 11-year-old is determined to watch all The Lord of the Rings movies again, while eating watermelon. The older sister’s working evenings now, so to keep her company, I sit beside her, finishing up a little more of each day’s work, ridiculously over-occupied in my own adult world.

Last night, my daughter asked me what the heck was happening with Gollum. I glanced at my marked-over pages I had tossed on the rug, where I had written about Buddhism’s Three Poisons. I said simply, He’s gone mad.

Ever pragmatic, this girl studied me. I like the Shire, she said.


This must be every parent’s perfect moment: watching a child asleep and safe from all the storms of the world outside…. I’ve been through enough to know this kind of peace is rare and fleeting. This is all I’ve ever asked of life: just to be here, to achieve this humble goal of harmony… to smell lilacs and the coming rain, to move beyond economics and consumption into dream work, to live as if this life is an open window in spring.

Stephen J. Lyons, Landscape of the Heart


Photo by Gabriela

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Leaf by Petal

Bit by bit, color rubs into our muddy world. My younger daughter remembers bulbs we planted, late last fall, and runs with her friend to find them: snow glories, grape hyacinths, the deep blue Siberian squills. Tiny clusters of emerging mysteries. Where, again, did we bury those knobby roots, and what will appear?

Out of school this week, my daughter and her friend switch back and forth between houses and parents, sometimes complaining there’s nothing to do, and almost immediately wandering away into one of their myriad projects.

Easter night, the peepers sang in profusion as the four girls and I walked down the dirt road in the dusk and then stood at the crossroads near a stand of old maples. In summer, tiny sparkles of birds often burst from their leafy branches in a radiance of soaring yellow. Rain began falling.

History, especially a family’s, is elusive, and memory is, as it is often said, a poor guide…. History is made in what appears to be at first glance mundane and ordinary ways. It’s written at kitchen tables and printed in the small boxes of calendar days… Sometimes in life it may seem as if nothing of consequence happens except the small acts of routine that occupy countless hours and ultimately frame our short lives. But I want you to know: Everything counts.

– Stephen L. Lyon, Landscape of the Heart: Writing on Daughters and Journeys, whom I discovered through his essay in Full Grown People


Hardwick, Vermont

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