Late Night Rambles

My daughters and I often wonder where our cat Acer sleeps at night. His brother takes turns tucking among our feet, or curling on our faces.

In the middle of the other night, I walked into our upstairs glassed-in porch, looking for a book. On the little couch there, Acer sprawled, wide awake in the moonlight. I bent down and rubbed his velvety pink nose, this little cat who needed his own private room.

Here’s a few lines from the late master, Andre Dubus.

So many of us fail: we divorce our wives and husbands, we leave the roofs of our lovers…. Yet still I believe in love’s possibility, in its presence on the earth…. in an ordinary kitchen with an ordinary woman and five eggs. The woman sets the table She watches me beat the eggs. I scramble them in a saucepan…. I take our plates, spoon eggs on them, we sit and eat. She and I and the kitchen have become extraordinary; we are not simply eating; we are pausing in the march to perform an act together, we are in love; and the meal offered and received is a sacrament which says: I know you will die; I am sharing food with you; it is all I can do, and it is everything.

— Andre Dubus, Broken Vessels



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Chance Encounter

Walking home from the library last night, I met a friend on the way, who walked with me up the hill, through the cemetery, and into our back yard, the half moon overhead watchful.

My friend’s decades-long job had recently ended, and she was painting the cabinets beneath the kitchen sink. Laughing, we exchanged painting stories, and I confessed my intention to turn the downstairs of my house into sunflower hues.

Over my barn, not far above the wooded horizon, hazy red Mars kept company with the pearly moon. My 13-year-old, walking barefoot over the dewy grass, came to say hello and remarked how near the planet seemed.

Oh mysteries of twilight, when the impossible seems possible.

Holding the umbrella,
The mother is behind.
The autumn rain.

— Nakamura Teijo


chicken door

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Simple Sweetness

Eleven years ago, my family had a member injured in a woods accident, involving a nighttime search and rescue, and myself driving to the ER at two in the morning with my two-year-old in the back of my old Volvo.

Of that time, I remember many things — in particular that so many people I knew had chainsaw accidents, men and women, that people compulsively shared with me.

That family member healed; our lives moved along. But every year, that shadow of how very badly things might have gone awry for us, in a few single moments, moves over me.

So, it’s with particular satisfaction that my two-year-old is now thirteen, and spent a recent night sleeping with her friend on a trampoline. All around them, the coyotes howled, and the sky, unbroken in the rural dark, was radiant with shooting stars. At three in the morning, cold and covered with a heavy dew, the girls ran into the friend’s house, laughing, and fell asleep again.

Just simply alive,
Both of us, I
And the poppy.

— Issa


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Small Thing

While my 13-year-old chatted with a woman in an office today, I leaned back, yawning, thinking about another cup of coffee.

The woman’s low leather boots were worn at the heels. She was well-dressed with a silk blouse and gray slacks, in a professional position, and I assume lack of money was not the reason for her worn shoes. Love, likely. The boots probably fit her well, and she loved them.

How hard we can wear the things — and the people — we love most. Like this bowl, broken at the edge, that I keep filling. Fresh salsa — peppers, tomatoes, onions, salt.

There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are.

~Somerset Maugham


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Fat Garden

A monarch butterfly followed me to the post office. Since the store closed last year, the village is quiet — only a garage and the post office remain open, and the post office keeps merely afternoon hours. Save for the elementary school, the town feels emptied out.

With no one around, I walked with the butterfly along the dirt road, until the winged beauty turned and fluttered over the weeds along the stream.

September: with the weather still warm, the frogs sang last night. Just before dusk, the girls and I picked a mountain — and then a mountain more — of tomatoes from the garden. More to put up. The younger daughter keeps track, satisfied, with our harvest.


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Gold, On a Rainy September Morning

Good lord, what a mystery this single sunflower holds — and how my creative attempts pale in comparison. This photo is a mere image — the beauty itself fell from a 10′ stalk, pecked where head joined stalk by birds. I picked it up from the grass and carried it into the house into both hands.

I first planted sunflowers many years ago, when I was a very young woman, after I admired a single enormous sunflower in a woman’s garden. The face of the sunflower was so heavy it hung down. I stood beneath this great bloom of pure gold, staring up. That sunflower’s size and beauty was improbable. How, from a single seed, from soil and water and light, did such a beauty emerge?

And yet, evidence to the contrary.

What a forest of sunflowers this year. Weeding in the garden, I hear the leaves rustling in the wind, like a canopy in a forest.

I don’t think there is any other solution than constantly coming to terms with the past, and learning from it.

—  Simon Wiesenthal, The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness


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Home Work

Frost sprinkled around us last night. I hear the local reports on Goddard College-supported WGDR this morning while the cats stretch on the sunny kitchen floor. Alan LePage in his Curse of the Golden Turnip radio show takes calls and shares his farmer’s intel on climate change.

Halfway through the weekend, our house lies in actual physical chaos: the upstairs floor I bungled painting and must repaint. Failure, I remind myself, clasps hands with creativity.

In Vermont, season’s change — from a luxuriously warm summer to chillier fall where the shadows hold no light — begs interior reflection, too. Where are we headed? Or, what’s the plan?

As part of a larger writing project, I’ve been interviewing a woman in recovery from opiate use. Again, what impresses on me is the constant motion of life, that while our past imprints on us, marking each of us indelibly, life goes on.

A misprinted floor — wrong paint — is so minor, a mere irritant. A surmountable challenge. Perhaps, a sheer piece of luck.

With writing, we have second chances.

Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated 


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