Peonies

On my walk to the co-op, I stop at a bed of peonies and cup a giant blossom in my hands: perfect white stained with drops of red, like a strange variation of the drops of blood on the snow in the Grimms’ tale. Enchantingly beautiful. And that, perhaps, is metaphor enough for one Saturday morning.

When the peonies bloomed,
It seemed as though were
No flowers around them.

– Kiitsu

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Wear Your Sunscreen

As if to compensate for last winter’s length, June turns ineffably beautiful. Last night, a downfall again: this morning, our world sparkles, the greenery drinking up rain and growing — every day. Every day, the mock orange beneath my bedroom window unfurls more leaves. The skinny pears in the front yard are fattening their branches lushly.

From New Hampshire, my 14-year-old writes me, I went on a 10 mile hike today. Today, with family, she and her sister are kayaking in a river. I can’t help but remind her wear your lifejacket, use sunscreen. After work, I swim in the evenings with my friends, whose children — paired up in ages and friendship with mine — are also elsewhere. Down the pond, a loon fishes. We make up a silly story about a goose and goslings we see, and the other goose who makes its way along, later….

This June is not a variation of Ram Dass’ Be Here Now. The past is always with me, clinging, and the future unfolds around me, every day, mine and the lives of others’ around me. But there’s this: from where we live we can see deep into the valley where our town, Hardwick, lies. We can see storms mixing in the distance, the white sheets of rain before water dampens my garden. We’re surrounded by the mysteries of the world — the swifts, the pollinators, the raccoon determined to eat our chickens. We’re here, at this moment, taking it in.

And… my daughter’s photo (much to her happiness) heads up my recent Postcard from Hardwick in State 14.

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Car, Deer, Collision: Tuesday

Driving to work, listening intently to an NPR piece about the capture of Saddam Hussain, I hit a young deer. As these things often go, in a kind of slow motion I see the deer leap the guard rail and then stumble.

Braking, I pull over on the graveled shoulder, and the tailgating pickup behind me roars by, in some godawful hurry. While the traffic continues to rush by, I stand there in my sandals, a breeze blowing my thin sundress above my knees. I haven’t brushed my just-washed hair yet, either, so I’m pulling long hair from my eyes and mouth as I walk back along the road. But the deer is gone — whether off to die in the lush and flanking forest or free, maybe even okay, I don’t know.

Gently, rain begins to fall, just a few drops on my face and hands, maybe a harbinger of an all-day soaking rain, or maybe that’s all, simply these few drops on the roadside, while I’m wondering what’s happening in that forest.

If we are lucky, the end of a sentence is where we might begin.

— Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

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Notes from kids beneath the library backdrop….

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Reappraisal

When my oldest was seven or so, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma changed the way I think about food and the food industry that, inevitably, feeds the vast majority of the country. His newest book, How to Change Your Mind, about psychedelics, is a book I’m reading exactly at the right time in my life. While I’m unlikely to be looking to score a few tabs of acid — I am a single mother who intends to stay on one particular side of the law, for one thing — the book is primarily about reappraising your life — in the supposed midstream, after a few years — maybe decades, compounded by child raising — of living.

What was I looking for at 21? Same, but different….

The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.

— Michael Pollan

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June — and More June

On the first glorious day of summer, my daughters are on Lake Champlain, walking along a causeway in this enormous lake. The day holds that nearly unbelievable deep green. Walking down to the diner to meet someone, I keep marveling. Just soak it in, I tell my deeper, more distrustful side. Sweet summer… sweet…

Before the white chrysanthemum
the scissors hesitate
a moment.

— Buson

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My cat at work in my office…. thinking…

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Turtle Emergence

Driving home from a soccer game in Barre — I must always be writing about driving, driving, as maybe that’s when my mind wanders most, maybe thinks the best — we’re tired, or I’m tired at least, and my daughter must be starved. It’s raining, and the way is wooded and green.

Stopping at my library, on the way home, it’s wood turtle day. The hard-backed creatures have laid their eggs and are edging their way back to the wetlands. I see a six almost immediately in the grass. Looking down at the kids’ soccer field, the turtles are on the move, their ancient dance alive on this hot and now rainy summer evening.

My daughter stands silently, rapt.

Some late night reading….

(Aldous Huxley after an LSD trip wrote he saw)… ‘the direct, total awareness, from the inside, so to say, of Love as the primary and fundamental cosmic fact.’ The force of this insight seemed almost to embarrass the writer in its baldness: ‘The words, of course, have a kind of indecency and must necessarily ring false, seem like twaddle. But the fact remains.’

Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind

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Flipflop Cobbler

All day long yesterday, June hummed along, perfect in temperature, glossy green but not over-brilliant, busy with hummingbirds, bumblebees, a few stray mosquitoes.

What a day, everyone repeated, all through these hours capped off with a retirement party. One high school student shared the story of the facilities manager who repaired her broken flipflop when she was six. He used duct tape and a staple, gave it a test wiggle, and said, It’ll do.

‘Auto Mirror’
In the rear-view mirror suddenly
I saw the bulk of the Beauvais Cathedral;
for a moment.

— Adam Zagajewski

 

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June, old quarries, Barre

 

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