On the Move.

Council Bluffs, Iowa, comes up randomly in conversation at work, and I remark idly that I’ve been there. A coworker asks why, and I answer vaguely that my family was passing through.

I haven’t driven around the country since I was in my twenties, and the country seems even larger and more unknown these days. In Vermont, again this summer, we see plenty of license plates from distant places — Tennessee, Missouri, Oregon — people on the move, for all kinds of reasons. There’s plenty of jobs, but nowhere to live.

Swimming at dusk, the water ripples before me, fracturing the raspberry sherbet sky into broken curves. August is the month when the peas are finished, and the rudbeckia blooms wildly.

Friday afternoon, I wash the screens and leave the windows open. The cicada sings, and my youngest teases me, You know what that sound means…. Our neighbor’s little boy pushes his toy mower across their grass, back and forth, serious about his work, in his own private world. Sunlight falls through the maple leaves fall above his head, the green fading toward gold, even this early in August.

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.

— Alan Watts

Sacred Space

I repaired the vacuum cleaner. That’s something.

On the kitchen floor with a screwdriver and a spew of dirt, cat hair, and balsam needles from our last Christmas tree, I listened to my daughters washing the dishes and talking about little things — a song, a work schedule, a high school teacher.

It’s holy, I thought, this time is: all of this, every bit, a rare and holy time — even the hard and worrisome parts — so, so many of them. No matter what happens, though, we’ll always have this time as a family, the three of us, the texting and calling with my brother, the phone calls and emails with family. In an odd way, it’s as though my daughters are little, little again, and we’re back in isolated rural Vermont.

We now live in a village. My oldest daughter is all grown up, shouldering her weight of our world, and more. But, like darn near everyone else I know, this Stay Home, Stay Safe mandate has slowed our life down immeasurably. No flying out the door in the morning. No when are we meeting up for dinner?

So while it’s here, with its scary gravity, I’m reminded so often these days that the holiness of our days is both the dirt on my kitchen floor and my daughters’ laughter. Who knows where we’ll be next week — heck, who knows what news the governor will share tomorrow, or today — so this, now, this.

We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infintesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future.

— Alan Watts


Late Night Reading

As summer blended into autumn, the days were warm enough to swim, but we simply didn’t.

Instead, I lie awake at night, listening to the tree frogs thrip, thrip, thrip, singing as though this season will linger on and on, and then it’s me and the cat lying on the couch in the middle of the night, reading about economics and slavery, and when that’s too much for those tiny wee hours — while the stars pass over our roof — the cat suggests Alan Watts, which has somehow been shoved down the back of the couch. The book is an old paperback that I either swiped from my dad’s shelves when I was in college, or he passed along to me. Which of us can remember any longer?

Finally, the rain pours down in an enormous wash.

You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.

~ Alan W. Watts, Cloud-hidden, Whereabouts Unknown 


Photo by Molly B.