Robin Songs

Certain Saturdays at my library the parents arrive with their babies, the little ones dressed up in their cutest outfits — fox prints, flowered rainbows, little ears on hoods.

The enthusiastic parents are as likely to talk about politics or soil chemistry as teething and sleep patterns.

They are all so new, parents and babies alike, that I’m a little awed, a bit overwhelmed at times, just by their sheer niceness.

My soul is not new, ragged and hardworn like the leather on my favorite pair of boots — been around. I mean this entirely without judgement, as I expect 19 years into parenting, these folks will be a bit ground down, too — although likely just as lovely.

And yet…. it’s spring. While the crocuses haven’t yet bloomed by our house, the avian life is bursting. Herons, turkey vultures, redwing blackbirds. Robins sing in a maple, a pure and unadulterated melody of beauty — no past, no future, simply there.

What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.



Photo by Molly S.


Tree Collecting

I stepped outside the Montpelier Library today and stood for a moment with my face turned up to a shower of cherry tree blossom petals steadily raining down.

As a writer, I collect words I particularly love: myriad and succor, litany and exquisite, constellation and pinwheeling. For years now in my travels around Vermont, I’ve noted particular trees of exceptional grace, like Hardwick’s beauty mark of three silver maples on route 15.

Last weekend, stepping out the back door of my brother’s brewery, I nearly walked into an enormous apple tree covered in pearly blossoms and humming bees. What’s this?  I asked.

Amazing tree, he answered.

What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.

– Issa


Photo by Molly S.

Children & Flies: Biosphere Companions

A rainy March day yielded existential questions regarding flies in my fifth-grade daughter’s day. At supper, she chatted about catching a fly in the minutes before the first class and another hidden in a friend’s desk all day, allegedly feasting on granola bars.

The Woodbury schoolhouse is 200-years-old, with filled with all kinds of corners and crannies, high ceilings and gorgeous windows: delightful habitat for flies. I asked if she thought the flies might be back tomorrow. She didn’t know. Tomorrow, she guessed, their companions could be wasps or ladybugs. In third grade, the children kept a keen eye on a mouse hole concealed behind the teacher’s desk. It’s not long until the birds begin nesting in the trees around the school, and the snapping turtles emerge from the wetland to bury their eggs in the ball field.

At the end, while I was laughing, my daughter said simply and matter-of-factly, “We are all in the biosphere.”

All the time I pray to Buddha
I keep on
killing mosquitoes.

– Issa


Woodbury, Vermont/Photo by Molly S.

A Starlit Night

Last night, my daughters and I walked the neighbor’s child home in the dark. We had been outside for a while, playing a variation of tag with flashlights and laughter, resulting in the older daughter slipping on ice and lying elbows-down in mud. With the flashlights off, we walked along the muddy road beneath the starlight. The night was balmy for mid-March, suffused with the scent of thawing earth: a rich odor so pervasive it was a constant companion. The moon, a white curve, shone a pure, yellow-white light.

On the way home, we saw our house through the bare hardwoods, the strings of little lights the girls nailed along the eaves twinkling. We passed just one house along our road where a single light shone; they must have been gone. It was just the girls and the star-and-moonlight and the mud and I. The peepers are not stirring yet, and none of the woodland creatures called. Beneath our boots, the earth shifted, softening, giving up its winter frost. My older daughter said, I could walk forever, on a night like this.

This morning, watching a single robin tugging at our lawn, I thought of my older daughter, and how, before long, this girl will be on her womanly journey, walking different patches of earth – in boots, or sandals, or heels – beneath this same exquisitely beautiful sky. I opened the window and listened for birdsong, relishing the season we’re in.

What a strange thing! to be alive beneath cherry blossoms.

– Issa


Vermont, Mach 2016