Cat Joy

When I returned from a school board meeting last night, so tired I might actually have been sleepwalking, the kids had taken the trusty yardstick, swept out the toy mice from under the couch, and the cats were ecstatic. Our house was reveling in utter joy.

I write this, because I admire those cats so much, epitomizing the be here now bliss of existence. But, bless them, these are cats.

After Vicki wrote in about the fires in Australia, my older daughter and I kept reading and reading about these fires. Our globe is literally in flames. Like just about everyone else on the planet, I’m lacking an answer, a real solution. I know just how privileged I am to live in what often seems like the Shire of Vermont, this particularly sweet spot.

When I was a young woman in the 1980s and 90s, the sentiment I was given was pretty much an all for yourself one. But for my kids, that’s not even an option. I didn’t think adults were particularly bright when I was young, but they were just adults, neither more nor less. Now, listening to my daughters and their friends, I know they’re thinking what a mess you’ve left us.

If only there was a yardstick solution to this…

Maybe learning how to be out in the big world isn’t the epic journey everyone thinks it is. Maybe that’s actually the easy part. The hard part is what’s right in front of you. The hard part is learning how to hold the title to your very existence, to own not only property, but also your life.

Meghan Daum

IMG_6944.jpg

The Mind of Winter

Poet Wallace Stevens wrote: One must have a mind of winter/To regard the frost and the boughs/Of the pine-trees crusted with snow.

In northern Vermont — thus far — the winter has been cold and dark and ice, scant on snow. When the sun is out, we lift our faces, as if our bare cheeks can gather the light like June’s strawberries in our hands.

The mind of winter is the Vermonter’s mind, for sure, for sure — slipping away in the swimming and gardening season, returning in late fall.

Each of us in my house is sunk into work and school in ways that seem particularly pleasant — at this time. Keep the house warm, the cats and kids fed, and walk under the stars at night.

IMG_6922.jpg
Barr Hill, Greensboro, Vermont

One Day, Otherwise

A few drops of rain graced the very end of our walk yesterday afternoon. Later, our kitchen redolent with baking pies, rain hammered on the roof.

I hope all my readers have many, many things to celebrate. Oddly enough, on this day I’m mostly grateful to be in a place where I can be grateful. My life has not always been that way — or, more accurately perhaps, I’ve been pressed at times where I could think only from here to there, and not have the luxury of gratefulness. I know I’m not alone in that. Gratitude, it seems to me, needs not material or financial space (although those things certainly help), but the spiritual space to be simply in the here, the now.

One of the very loveliest gratitude poems is Jane Kenyon’s Otherwise. Here’s a few lines on this holiday morning.

I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

IMG_5812.jpg
And, more happiness in a world with such dear creatures, my beloved hardworking cat.

First Sledding

In the dusk, children screamed as they sledded down a hill — so screechingly at first I worried they were injured. When I stepped around the garage, though, two children in  raggedy snowsuits were laughing at the foot of a very short hill. The kids ran up, holding orange sleds.

I know I posted this last fall — but, again, here’s one of my favorite poems.

Although there is the road,
The child walks
In the snow.

— Murakami Kijo

And here’s my big kid, taking a holiday photo and begging me to please, try to smile!

IMG_6868.jpg

Rain, Sleet, Snow, Silence

Third snow day, and it’s only November. Driving from one side of the state to another, I travel through a landscape of gray — pavement, mountain — flanked by icy trees in that always questionable terrain around Bolton.

Then — the lake. I’m late already to work, with a list of things I absolutely want to do that day, check off, simply be finished with. But I turn around anyway, find a parking space and put an actual nickel in the meter, hoping no reader will be walking by in this snowy day.

The rain by then has turned to lacy snowflakes, the perfect kind for a child to lean back her head and open her mouth to catch a flake on her tongue. There’s no one out at all along the lake — improbably not even the dog walkers. Just all that snow, for just that moment.

A cessation.
You’re not searching.
How nice it is tonight.
Two birds fell asleep in your pocket.

— Yannis Ritsos

IMG_6819.JPG