Saturday afternoon, I’m walking with an acquaintance on the trails behind the high school, talking about public education. How is education changing? What’s happening?
Beneath a maple, we stop and talk for a little. I tell her about my youngest daughter, who’s 16 and at a place of reflection, asking, Who am I? Where is my life going? Writing made me realize how easily we drift into one life or another, drawn along by circumstances and the people surrounding us. How easily we fall into what seems like a good idea, a fad that might define us.
What seems like a hundred years ago when I was an undergraduate at Marlboro College, someone painted Know Thyself on the sidewalk beside the dining hall. Listening to my daughter as I go about doing my same old things — washing dishes or making dumplings or knitting a hat for a Christmas present — I realize I’m witnessing her small adolescent pack struggle with this same old question made completely brand-new for each of these young people. I’m riveted.
On the trail, a flock of geese flies so low I hear their wings flapping. On our way back to the school, I keep thinking about those geese.
One can claim that growing up… means abandoning magical thinking for rational thinking, yet one can also maintain that nothing should be abandoned, that what is true on one floor of the mind may not be true on another, but that one must live on every floor of the mind, from the cellar to the attic.”
On this balmy October morning, the cats and I woke up early to read Katherine Dykstra’s What Happened to Paula. In book’s midpoint, the word “possibility” appears, the same word that appears in my book Unstitched.
As the mother of two daughters, there’s so much conversation in our house about women’s bodies in this world — what keeps us well, what feeds our souls, and, inevitably, how women and men have a different experience in this world. Dykstra’s book is a narrative about a long-unsolved murder of a young woman, but also the story of women’s bodies and souls in our nation. Dykstra writes: “There is rarely physical equality between men and women.”
The forsythia bush I planted four years ago as a forlorn stick with a few ratty leaves is taller than me now. I’m not a giant — I’m not even five feet tall — but this forsythia has leapt from bush to sapling.
We’re at the annual point in the year where I appraise our tiny homestead. The garden needs to be prepped for planting garlic, and there’s plenty, yet, to rip out there. The sunflowers are bending their stalks earthward. I’ll leave their fat heads for the birds to pluck seeds all winter. As for the forsythia, I wonder, Will you bloom next year? Each spring, this plant has given few gold blossoms, but I keep thinking its true radiance has yet to shine.
I offer this bush a fat layer of compost — chocolate for plants. Time will tell….
If you’re in my neck of the woods, I’ve been invited to a book discussion group at the Craftsbury Public Library, Sunday, October 3, at 4 p.m. The Craftsbury Library hosts outdoor events, so wear a good sweater.