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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Bloomsday & Father’s Day

These two are aptly paired up for me as I learned about Bloomsday — this Irish holiday celebrating James Joyce and his Ulysses — from my father. I was probably 4 and sitting on the living room floor with my sister, a predominant childhood place involving wooden blocks and tiny dolls. My father was listening to NPR and mentioned the day was Bloomsday. Such a pretty word, I remember thinking. Much later, in high school, my sister and I devoured Dubliners and Portrait of an Artist.

James Joyce, so infinitely complex and rich — which, perhaps, pairs up perfectly with parenthood. Happy Father’s Day!

Welcome, O life!

— James Joyce

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Photo by Molly B.

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Summer, Age 14

14 years ago yesterday, I sat in my friend’s kitchen nursing my newborn while she labored to bring into the world her daughter. Her mother-in-law served me a bowl of chicken soup from an enormous pot she had cooked.

Returning from a walk yesterday evening, I spy my daughter reading on front porch with her cats. Those days with an infant I hardly had a sense of evening from afternoon, in that churning wheel of nursing and diapers and tending.

Time passing threads all through my writing — how can it not? — and yet, sometimes I find myself staring through a window, thinking, here we are, right at this very moment.

The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

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Little Bits of Beauty

Taking out the trash from the library today, I stopped by the crabapple tree planted at the back school entrance no one uses anymore. My goodness! An utter profusion of beauty by the stinking compost!

On this warm day, in sleepy, quiet Woodbury, the first and second graders walked over for their final visit to the library this school year. I read only one book to them — Jim LaMarche’s The Raft — and remembered the summer I was 10, and my family camped for weeks in the west. I brought the book I discovered with great glee in my father’s very grownup shelves of Hume and Kant and Heidegger. What else but Huckleberry Finn, still one of my most favorite novels.

The children listened quietly this afternoon, checked out their books, and I walked back to the school with a girl who wouldn’t return next year, her arm around my waist.

It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened…

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Left the Shoes on the Back Porch…

After a day of brilliant sunshine, rain moves in during the night. My daughters’ cats, in the screened windows, wake me with their hungry mewing, against the background chorus of steady rainfall and birdsong.

Arriving home from work, I see my daughters have been swimming that afternoon, their hair in damp lanks around their shoulders.

As if in an instant, summer has unrolled in Vermont — verdant and colorful — while simultaneously the woods darken mysteriously with foliage.

90 days, poet David Budbill wrote. Frost-freeze — maybe — for 90 days in Vermont. Hallelujah.

Sparrow singing–
its tiny mouth
open.

— Buson

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