Planting Bulbs…

On this frosty November morning, a few lines from Rebecca Solnit’s newest book:

To garden is to make whole again what has been shattered: the relationships in which you are both producer and consumer, in which you reap the bounty of the earth directly, in which you understand fully how something came into being. It may not be significant in scale, but even if it’s a windowsill geranium high above a city street, it can be significant in meaning.”

Woodbury, Vermont


Home from work in the late afternoon, I listened to my daughter share about her last day of virtual high school. Good God. I mean, what else can I possibly say to that?

As a writer and a mother, I’m feeling up against the wall these days. Who isn’t, really?

There’s no antidote but to move on, I know, as thoughtfully as possible, while trying to be as decent and kind as possible. In my world, that includes the wordlessness of watering my garden, listening to the geese winging their way over my head from one patch of open water to another. Listening…..

Listen: you are not yourself, you are crowds of others, you are as leaky a vessel as was ever made…

— Rebecca Solnit


Photo by Gabriela Stanciu

Phone Chat

To save some cash, I switch cell phone companies, and I realize,  while I’m on the phone with the representative, that she’s working at home when she talks to her dog.

Knowing this opens up our conversation, and I learn her husband likes to turn down the heat, they’ve been living in Phoenix for two years, and she sought out this job because she likes the company so much. I’m amazed, because I never considered working for a phone company an interesting career option. She insists the people are all just so darn nice. It’s a great job.

While she types in my info, she hums faintly. I hear a screen door squeak open, and her husband’s voice. We chat about the coronavirus, and what it’s like to work only from home, for week after week.

When she’s finished setting up my phones, she wishes me good luck and welcomes me to the company family. I feel weirdly delighted. I don’t even know this woman’s name.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve more or less resigned myself to a kind of lone wolf existence — raising kids and gleaning work hours — and much of the work I do requires solitude. But this coronavirus existence has made me realize how valuable are our slenderest connections.

When I hang up, I step over my daughters who are sprawled on the rug doing a workout in preparation for bikini season. The cat wanders between them, clearly confused, likely wondering, What now? I step out on the back porch. Snowflakes are twirling down. Summer? Hello? I wonder.

Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors… disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected… One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.

Rebecca Solnit


Sunday Searching

Evidence below of color in the February Vermont landscape.


When we sugared, February was the month of gauging when to tap — and sometimes a month when we began boiling. Other years, the winter dragged on and on, and February often seemed a month of hurry up and get ready to sugar — and then wait.

Having spent most of my adult life sugaring, those physical patterns wore into me. At a concert the other night, I thought how the drummer must have the habit of transporting his drums, to all kinds of places.

Winter, for long-term New Englanders, I think, comes with its own kind of baggage, our knowledge of particular hardnesses of snow, or the how the fluffiness of drifting snow globe flakes should be savored. Or, perhaps, our determination to seek that flash of color in a landscape of white.

The unexamined life is not worth living, as the aphorism goes, but perhaps an honorable and informed life requires examining others’ lives, not just one’s own. Perhaps we do not know ourselves unless we know others. And if we do, we know that nobody is nobody.

Rebecca Solnit, Whose Story is This?


The full moon gleams in the sky this morning as I head out to start my daughter’s car this pre-dawn morning.

Winter, my familiar friend.

Yesterday, chatting with my neighbor while we’re back to our traditional winter activity — snow shoveling — he said laughingly, Well, what are we going to do? Be mad about it?

Winter, dear friend, I now know you very, very well, in your elegant beauty. This year, I’m going to love you wholly — for at least two weeks.

Here’s a few Rebecca Solnit lines for this impeachment hearing week.

Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world.


Icy Reminiscences

This February reminds me, yet again, of how rapidly our world changes: nearly 70º degrees yesterday, with my daughter reading on the back porch and eating a turkey sandwich, to this nearly colorless day, where the younger daughter and I slide over the ice around our house, tacking to the neighbors’ bare patch of ground beneath her pines.

Early today, I drove to Greensboro, pausing in my few spare moments to walk on the frozen beach at Caspian Lake, a soul-spot for my girls and me.

Scene of innumerable sand castles, swimming lessons, watermelon slices, of cold, wonderfully clear water, and the legendary wind that rushes black thunderheads across the water.

Sure, some of days parenting young children I’ll let go from my memory without a tinge of sadness, but I’d keep every one of those beach days. Every last one.

I think one of the primary goals of a feminist landscape architecture would be to work toward a public landscape in which we can roam the streets at midnight, in which every square is available for Virginia Woolf to make up her novels.

— Rebecca Solnit


Greensboro, Vermont