Friday, October 2, 2009


By the end of August it’s obvious here that fall is coming. You can see it in the way the long grass leans over the roots of the trees where the mower can’t go; you can see it in the lengthening of the light across the lawn and hear it in the sleepy throb of the crickets. At night the far-off moon - a bright disc against a spray of stone-hard stars - shines down on pumpkin vines and the pale orbs of squash in the garden.

At the end of August my garden goes gray. The magenta, red, orange, yellow and vermilion of the summer border quiets and softens. Under the drooping faded heads of phlox and shastas soft mounds of lamb’s ear gentle the path. Lavender, artichoke, artemesia and gypsophilia break in gray and white waves over the feet of coneflowers, butterfly bush and rudbekia.

In the field heads of New England asters foam around the dried tassels of goldenrod and crest along the road in billows of white. When we wake in the morning it is more often than not to fog and the gauzy weaving of hundreds of little white spiders, each of their webs a handkerchief filled with droplets as tiny as the head of a pin.

Then our world is gray and white - and so quiet that birds questing among the grasses at the end of the road hear me turn a page in my book and spill gently up from the brushy border to arrange themselves in a neat line on the telephone wire above.

Late August is the time of year when the lights go down on summer; soon enough the curtain rises on fall.

Suddenly a spill of bright red leaves appears along the dirt road by the water and before we know it swamp maples are burning up the edge of the meadow and lavender clouds, thick and heavy with unshed rain, build and billow behind them. In the late afternoon when the sun is low, a bar of light reaches the tops of the trees - a stripe of gold as bright as a searchlight.

Now, blue wood asters cluster along the road, their bright purple eyelashes fringing yellow centers. Winterberries and wild rosehips light up the boggy places where last spring I noticed the first skunk cabbage emerging; Tarzan vines of bittersweet enliven the peaty blackness of the firs. Most days, the sky is as blue as the inside of a mussel shell and the water below it a deep navy. In the garden a final blush of nasturtiums, sweetpeas, coral bells and late anemones glow against yellowed spears of iris and lily. When I take my walk in the evening poplar leaves, as papery as flaked gold, whisper ahead of me along the road and swirl behind me into the woods.

The birds, busy at the feeder, are bright and light as drifting leaves: red cardinals and their golden-buff orange-beaked mates; blue jays and bold black and white woodpeckers, goldfinches already in their winter olive drab, cedar waxwings, classy in khaki and black.

On a fair early October day it is impossible to stay indoors. I sit on the bench in the garden where the sun pours down, syrupy and warm, all afternoon. It is so quiet and so warm in the sun - a better-than-summer sun. And the garden is somehow a better-than-summer garden - no longer a kaleidoscopic tangle with every shard tumbling over every other. Now each flower, yellowing leaf, seedpod and stalk is eloquent and individuated.

What we experience now is an ever-changing ribbon of color that will fade from the hectic scarlet of maples to the elegant burgandy and dusty gold of oaks; a gradual gentling of the landscape that prepares us for the monochrome of winter. In another month or so our seaside world will pare down to undulations of snow, gray green firs and black branches against the sky as one year tips into the next.

Monday, August 3, 2009

An Absence of Fog

We have been in the fog and rain so long, it's old news...beyond old news. It's boring news. Depressing news. Not even news any more.

But this weekend an amazing thing happened. The fog lifted and there was a whole world waiting behind the curtain. A world we had forgotten existed: a world without snails and slugs, frizzy hair, damp towels and a house that smelled a bit too much of Dog.

We emerged from our homes blinking, mole-like, at the unfamiliar light...and immediately began to take credit for the change in the weather. "We deserve this sunny day" is a phrase I have heard a lot over the last 48 or so if we had any say about what we deserve.

But such hubris can be forgiven. We are giddy with sunlight on grass, starlight on water, flowers blooming on top of flowers in gardens. There is a brightness, not seen in years, to the goldenrod along the road. Queen Anne's lace towers over alders. Dame's Rocket shoots up in sparks of bright magenta; woodland pools have cleared - insects have gone back to the misery of mud from which they sprang.

The boggy odor that clung to the low places along the road has been replaced with a crispness and tang reminiscent of early autumn and the mold has disappeared, as if by magic, from the bathroom ceiling.

For the first time in weeks we can actually see the top of the towers of the bridge that leads to our island and glimpse the frill of twigs at the peak of the north tower where the osprey have built their nest - see the osprey too, for that matter.

In fact the birds, which had been huddling in the copses and hedgerows and woods fluffed up against the damp, are now out in a profusion of feathery abandon: goldfinches, robins, jays, thrushes, killdeer, finches, nuthatches, cedar waxwings are all but running into each other across their mysterious skyways while eagles and gulls wheel above and the sun beats down.

Soon enough we'll wake to another gauzy day, but for now we'll take this summer gift and be grateful.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Is there anyone who doesn't hate their lawnmower? Or is that just me? Over the course of a long marriage I have come to believe that the spouse who cuts the grass should choose the mower...but that has not been the case with us.

What I fondly call "Lawn Mower Wars" began early on when I realized my husband doesn't like to cut grass. Nor does he like to rake leaves, but that's another story for another season. I, on the other hand, used to like cutting grass. In fact one of my fondest childhood memories is of my patient Uncle Al teaching me to use his powerful self-propelled (as in take a dive into the woods) lawnmower and allowing me at age 8 to maneuver it over my grandmother's acre or so of a "backyard". Come to think of it there may have been an ulterior motive there too...

Anyway, lawnmower selection was done by my husband from year one - or rather three, when we bought our first house. Our first mower was a serviceable machine quite capable of cutting our big, country lawn that dipped in odd places and from which thorny patches grew. It is interesting to me that in all of the lawn-cutting pictures of that time, and there are many as it was our first house, I am the one behind the "wheel" so to speak. About that time Dick also bought an old-fashioned pushmower. As far as I could see it bent the grass over rather than cutting it, but he liked it so I didn't say anything, grateful for the enthusiastic, if infrequent, help.

I am not a fan of lawns in general. I have taken over more and more of ours for gardens, which pose their own set of problems of course. I have plans to dig up even more lawn this summer in an effort to conquer a back-breaking hill in front of our house. But a patch of green is nice in front of the flower border and I love the smooth, undulating expanse of our back field which is mostly grass and lupine. It gives me pleasure to see the neat line of mown lawn - a demarcation between the tamed backyard and the wildness of the meadow after the grass is cut. And of course the scent of newly mown grass is one that takes us all back to lazy days lying on our backs and watching the cloud circus roll by.

So lawns in their place are fine, and now we are back to the issue of the lawnmower.

When we first moved to Maine we bought a new one. We were assured by the man at the local hardware store that it would tackle "puckerbrush" and would be an excellent "bush-hog". This proved to be incorrect, although it did an average job on the lawn. The blades, dulled by frequent collisions with man-sized boulders lurking under the surface, had to be replaced regularly and the self-propel mechanism died the first year. It served us fairly well, but after several seasons of rough use it became apparent that we needed a new one. Let the Wars begin.

First, Dick resurrected the old manual from the barn. (I had thought we sold it at the yardsale we held in New Jersey before moving, but somehow it made it to Maine.) This lasted exactly a day when there was a major confrontation in the front yard regarding whose responsibility it was to cut the grass and who should be allowed, in consequence, the choice of weapons. Fortunately, the pushmower capitulated all by itself by jettisoning it's handle into the blades on the next pass around the lawn. We (I) struggled along that summer with the old gas-powered machine, but late that August Dick came home with a bargain "for you"...a mower he found at a yardsale for "only $75". Now my opinion of yardsale lawnmowers is not high, but when the machine started right up and roared off with him behind it across our lawn I began to feel better. The big wheels in the rear of the cutting area enabled us to hip-hop the machine over hummocky spots and the blades ground up roots and thorny shrubs with gusto.

I figure that when Dick bought that mower it was already about two or three years old. That was 12 years ago and "old reliable" as he calls it has outlived two newer more expensive models although now it is really showing its age.

About 8 years ago the handle for the choke fell off and we now have to jimmy the wire out when starting the machine, and in when we want it to stop. The pull cord for the starter broke years ago and was first knotted together and its handle replaced with a sturdy stick (not ideal) but has now, thank goodness, been replaced. The baffle on the back that prevents rocks and gouts of grass from shooting out from under the blades has been gnawed off in several places; the chute on the side that directs clippings into the non-existent collection bag (did we ever have one?) is hanging on by one fastener and there is an odd piece of unidentifiable but very strong and rigid metal projecting out of the opening. The sound the machine makes as it goes up hills is a terrifying rattle that always makes me think that at any moment some loose engine part that has been bouncing around inside the guts will suddenly propel itself through the housing and hit me in the eye. The padding around the handle has long ago disappeared and been replaced with foam fastened down with that machine maintenance essential, duct tape. It's rusty, moldy, and noisy. The front wheels are cantilevered at an angle that surely can't be intentional.

I hate the thing.

But it starts. And with the new blades Dick put on last fall, it cuts the grass. So what if I have to haul it around like a sack of concrete?

So what if I feel like I have been inside a jet engine and have trouble lifting my arms over my head after mowing the grass for an hour? So what if my sneakers and the cuffs of my jeans are covered so thickly, post-mow, with grass clippings that I have to use a paint scraper to clean myself up?

It starts. And it cuts the grass. And life goes on.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


We're moving uneasily into a gentler season. I am happy to leave the winter behind. It's best not to think too much about winter until it's over. In winter I sometimes get the feeling that we are all hanging onto life by our fingernails, deluding ourselves that our little cardboard houses can protect us from the elements, that we won't end up sliding into a ditch, that the power will stay on. Obligations have required a lot of driving this worries have made the anticipation of long drives stressful, but once we get going I begin to enjoy and appreciate our transit of Maine, particularly the stretch of I-95 between Bangor and Augusta.

Along that route we pass through forests thick with second-growth fir, cedar and spruce. The early sun pinks up the bark of birch trees in groves; we pass by meanderings of black creeks winding into a softness of still-snowy woods. We pass over rivers and ponds; hedgerows of leafless trees make lacy patterns on the snow and across the new grass; beaver dams rise out of the marshes where sumac wands redden with a hint of spring. The sky on fine days is a wash of blue-gray and on cloudy days a creamy white expanding into infinity over the curving road. I love that drive. I, in fact, love most drives.

I have often thought that driving alone across the country would be a wonderful time of self-discovery and affirmation - I don't think I would be lonely doing it. Of course, being lonely and being alone are very different. Loneliness implies permanence, despair and a certain underlying sense of panic. But being alone is a temporary state that anticipates the eventual and inevitable embrace of others and as such, my moments alone are times I look forward to with pleasure.

The sense of the impermanence of being alone gives me the space to think comfortably, get things straight in my head (if only briefly) and then I can happily look forward to not being alone.

Driving alone I think long thoughts, appreciate the distance between things, feel the bones of the countryside and immerse myself in the waterfall of impressions glimpsed at 50 - 60 mph: the minutiae of backyards, little towns, clouds, distant city skylines, horses in fields, hawks sweeping over the road, and my own internal landscape.

And then, best of all, I can turn around and drive back home to the people I love.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Our neighbors now keep chickens. As I walked by this morning their rooster was in full voice and it struck me as so odd that instead of reinforcing the realities of our rural life here, the sound of the cock's crow instead took me back to the farm in New Jersey where I grew up. Memory is a strange thing. I have been thinking a lot about memory lately, having recently reconnected with people and places from the past and having just come home from a reunion of our tiny nuclear family: me, my mother, daughter, her husband and mine.

My mother's memory is getting more and more selective. She shared with us last weekend that as a toddler I was allowed to keep a brood of bantam chickens. I have no memory of this, although I do remember other babyhood occurrences. Nor do I remember the charming picture she conjured up of my Pop-Pop coming in from the coop and offering me a double handful of tiny, perfect eggs. I can picture this, of course, but I don't remember it and, if it happened, I wish I could. My mother may, of course, have me confused in this pretty picture with a younger sibling of hers and that may explain the otherwise perplexing undertone of jealousy in her voice as she told the story.

Connecting on Facebook and in other ways with former fellow "victims" of the educational system and of other past lives, makes me realize just how subjective memory is - something about hearing the rooster I guess, but I suddenly imagined memories as eggs; not the kind produced by Martha Stewart's perfect Auricana chickens, but the kind I used to find among the chocolate confections and jelly beans in my Easter basket.

This egg was always placed in the center of the green, green Easter grass - a kind of ovoid jewel - inedible sugar sparkling with glitter and smelling, oddly, of dust. Inside were scenes, sometimes enchanting - who could possibly be living in that tiny shimmering paper house among the paper daffodils; disturbing: giant paper bunnies towering over paper cherry trees; mysterious: an ornate, white paper cross glowing amid a flock of adoring paper lambs. More than anything else on Easter morning, I looked forward to that egg. It provided a glimpse of the ordinary made extraordinary and, in a way, perfect.

I think memory is like that: we lift the egg to our eye and make of the contents what we will.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Last night we had a small dinner party to celebrate Dick's birthday. We're all hungry for spring, so I brought out the tablecloth with the embroidered roses and my aunt's Adams china with the stylized flowers and birds. This morning as I put the china away, I turned it over to see if the name of the pattern was stamped on the back and it was: "Country Meadow". I long ago realized, that although she was a career woman whose job and inclination took her all around the world and who lived in cities all her life, my Aunt Jean was a country girl at heart and collected things that reminded her of the country and her homeplace which actually was on a farm in New Jersey.

I have a lot of her things and they all reflect the tug of the country life: paintings of farmhouses and country cottages, books (especially the Stillmeadow series by Gladys Taber), transferware cups and saucers depicting country scenes and, of course, her china. Even when she traveled, the places she enjoyed the most were the ones that evoked memories of the gently rolling hills of Somerset county New Jersey where the rest of my family lived.

My grandparents moved to the farm on Valley Road in Millington after my aunt was grown up and in the Army nursing corps during World War II, so she never really lived there, but she visited nearly every weekend after the war. As a little girl I looked forward to her visits. She always had time to cook something special, carve a pumpkin, teach me to use watercolors, hunt for violets and wild strawberries or read to me. I now recognize that those weekends "home" were a way for her to enfold herself back into the family and so the farm became the focus of that connection and no matter where she lived or traveled, she thought of it as home.

I come from a long line of farmers. My grandfather, bless his soul, was a traveling salesman, but wore himself out on the farm after he got home from work each day. Driven by a need to feed a family of five, he grew vegetables, kept a cow and sold milk, tomatoes and corn from a roadside stand. His father was a dairyman, his uncles were farmers in Hunterdon and Union counties. My grandmother's people were farmers too - her relations had a big apple farm in upstate New York - so it's no wonder that I grew up with dirt under my fingernails and the scent of newly turned earth in my nose.

I have lived in cities all my life as well but always felt the tug of country life and that's undoubtedly how we ended up here in rural Maine. In a way, my whole family has led me back here.

In my daydream I am five or maybe six years old. It is late spring and I am sitting on the little step in front of the tool shed, or the “little house” as we called it. In my lap is a pot of earth and sprouting from the earth is the crinkled leaf that will be a marigold. I planted the seeds in Sunday school weeks ago and it has finally sprouted. When they bloom, the marigolds will be a bright, metallic yellow like the foil-wrapped chocolate coins I found in my Christmas stocking. The sun is very warm on my face and legs - and on my feet, bare for the first time this year. Behind me the little house is filled with tools, machinery, nails, and paint. It is cool and dark in there from having been shut up all winter and an intoxicating smell of machine oil wafts out the door and mingles with the lush scent of the lilacs blooming in the shade against the old house.

Straight ahead of me I can see my grandfather’s head bobbing along beyond the honeysuckle hedge as he maneuvers the old tractor up and down the field making rows for planting. I can’t see her, but I know that behind the tractor my Aunt Joyce is walking along, grumpily feeding seed corn into the furrows he is making. On this side of the hedge bordering the yard, the ample form of my grandmother bends over the flower border. She is weeding or transplanting or simply peering at the earth to see what is coming up there. Next to her stands her tiny sister, my Great Aunt Mame, holding an enamel bucket of scraps from breakfast to take out to the to compost heap.

Next to the house, in the shade of the lilacs, my mother is on her knees, her gloved hands patting bright red geraniums into the earth. Behind the geraniums is a thick growth of snowberry bush. My father is toiling along the strip of grass next to her cutting a crisp, pale path through dark, new grass with the old push mower. Behind me in the little house, my Uncle Al is tinkering with the gas-powered mower with which he will cut the big back yard.

My Aunt Jean walks up to me from the old barn and in her hands are the first red, ripe wild strawberries from the tangle out back. In the little basket swinging from her arm is a bunch of violets and lily of the valley that she has picked from the sunny corner near an old foundation where they are growing wild.

From my spot on the steps I can see the ancient catalpa tree in the front yard is just beginning to bloom - some of its orchid-like blossoms already scattering across the grass. And on a sudden breeze the scent of the sun-warmed strawberry bush out by the mailbox rushes over me. I breathe, and breathe, and breathe it all in.

We are all so different, my aunts and uncle, parents, grandparents and I. My grandfather is a hardware salesman, my Aunt Joyce is still in high school. My mother is a laboratory technician at the VA hospital nearby; my father, newly discharged from the Marines, works in the office there. My Uncle Al is a car mechanic, my Aunt Jean, home for the weekend, is a nurse. My Aunt Mame is a dental assistant and my grandmother is…well, my grandmother: cook, laundress, head gardener, seamstress, decision maker, and leader of the pack.

But at this virtual moment, which is really the distillation of so many moments from my childhood, we are all gardeners.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I rarely fold a towel and don't think of my summer job many years ago as a chamber maid at the Hilton Inn in Tarrytown, New York. I learned a lot things during that brief stint: not to eat the frozen parfaits they gave us at lunch, how to hide from problem guests and who were the nicest ones, which rooms were the easiest to clean, how to fold a hospital corner and that bellhops would always and forever get the best (sometimes the only) tips. But the most lasting takeaway from that job was an unforgettable lesson on how to fold a towel. There was a very strict aesthetic at the Inn, and each wing had a matron who checked each room after we finished. Many times I went tearfully back to fix some minuscule infraction. In the beginning I was called back regularly to correct the droop of the towels on the bar in the bathrooms. Finally, the most militant of the matrons took me in hand and spent a half hour coaching me in towel-folding. I still mentally repeat her instructions every time I fold towels in my own bathroom: fold the towel in half, bring right and left sides into the center, fold the towel in half again and voila! It is a satisfying nicety that I actually enjoy performing.

Neat folding, I have to admit, has always been somewhat of an obsession for me, going back as far as my infanthood. Family legend (and my own dim memory) has reproduced the story often enough, of how my aunt, at the time a hospital infant ward nurse, tried to teach me how to fold a receiving blanket around my baby doll. She placed the blanket on the floor for me, point north in a diamond formation; placed the doll in the center of the diamond, brought the bottom point up over the doll's feet, folded the east and west points across the doll's body and the top point over the doll's head: a perfect papoose. But not perfect for me. Time and again, apparently, I yanked the blanket off in a fury, doll flying to the other end of the room, because the point of the blanket didn't end up in the exact center of the doll's forehead. Fortunately I got over this fetish by the time I had a real baby of my own.

I am always straightening things. This doesn't mean that my house is tidy - far from it - but certain things IN it are tidy. The forks in the silverware drawer, the handles of my pitcher collection all at the same angle, the arrangement of the photos on my desk, the soft stack of scarves in the coat closet and, of course, the pile of towels in the bathroom.

We often leave off the niceties in this rushing world. I was reminded of this again recently when a dear childhood friend reminisced about my own grandmother having sent this friend a corsage for some long-forgotten occasion when she was a little girl. I found it so poignant that my friend remembered the gift clearly, but not the occasion. Gram was a stickler for such gestures but it was because she enjoyed performing them. I remember lunch parties under the apple tree in her back yard, the card table set out with an embroidered cloth, her good china, and little plates of thin sandwiches with the crusts cut off, pressed glass goblets and a frosty pitcher of lemonade. Perfect.

My mother was a perfect housekeeper even though she had a full time job outside our home. I know that she took pleasure in orderliness and I have tried, fairly unsuccessfully, to emulate her in my own housekeeping. I'm getting better at it. I like, for instance, to iron. I know, I know, but I do like it! I like the smell of the steamy, clean clothes, the glide of the iron over the surface of the garment as it presses out the wrinkles and the quiet rhythm of the work. I wouldn't want to do it for a living, but it's not a terrible way to spend an hour on a gray afternoon.

One of my friends once asked me when I was between jobs what I enjoyed most about being free all day. I astonished myself by saying that, aside from being able to spend more time with my daughter, I loved being able to finish a load of laundry from beginning to end: wash, hang out on the line to dry, fold and put away, without feeling like it was just one more task I had to rush through. And I think she astonished herself by saying, "I know what you mean!"

I think we all, on some level, long for the time to be able to do things the right way - a little stab at bringing order to our world.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Frost Heave

The Maine landscape is entering its unlovely phase. On our drive out to lunch yesterday there was no escaping the dismal: dreary trailers, plow-rucked yards and, in the fields, abandoned vehicles muffled in drifts. Dirty snow lay along the verges, salt frosted passing cards, potholes and frost heaves roller-coastered our drive. Maine's slip was certainly showing and its stockings both had runs.

But here and there a glimpse of the beautiful: a view of the Camden Hills, still looking mistily fresh- snow-powdered and stately across the water; the reflection of a blue-painted porch ceiling against the white walls of a house; a spray of bright red rose hips rising from the drifts along the road.

We're color-deprived at this time of year. We emerge from our holes, pale and blinking, and a sea of white and gray - snow, sky, ocean - nearly blinds us.

On the Reach at low tide the sea ice cracks and subsides over boulders. Seaweed, crisp with rime, supports the busy gulls who never seem to feel the cold. Clammers bend over the flats and in the wind the leaden water crinkles like foil.

Really, it's no time to be here. We're isolated by inertia and the acres of ice in the dooryard and driveway. Snow piled in alpine heaps at crossroads make it difficult to see oncoming traffic; black ice along darker stretches lies in wait.

Some find refuge in seed catalogs and it is lovely to dive in on yet another relentlessly gray day and swim in visions of scarlet runner beans, Empress of India nasturtiums, ruby chard, sunflowers, broom corn, larkspur, sweetpeas and strawberries. At such times, it's wise to guard against ordering too much, staving off the inevitable dismay, late March, when too many boxes of seeds and plants arrive.

By this time of the winter there's a sag to the seat of the part of the couch that faces the windows overlooking the water. Every morning (and most of some afternoons) I sit there, strangely comforted by the sameness of the view, waiting for the first soft morning, surely not far off, when I can plump up the cushions and step out into Spring.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Nest

On bright summer days as we cross the cobweb bridge that leads from our island to the mainland, it isn't unusual to see an osprey sitting high up in the rigging, eyes raking the water below. Every summer the osprey return to the nest perched at the very top of the bridge's east tower. For most of the month of May they refit the nest, carrying inch-thick branches to the top of the tower and working them in, repairing, refining, insulating, shaping, until it's finally ready for a brood of chicks. Unless you know it's there it's easy to miss the nest, but I always look for it as I go across. Sometimes tiny heads pop up from the frill of sticks around the edge; if I am lucky, I will catch a glimpse of a returning parent bearing an unlucky fish.

Unfazed by construction work, which on our marginal bridge is almost ongoing, or by tourists with cameras, or the schooners in full sail that dream by under the span during the summer and fall; undaunted by thunderstorms and n'oreasters, blistering sun or disorienting fog, the ospreys endure and thrive.

By November, the nest is abandoned for the winter. In this respect it always puts me in mind of the many summer cottages on the island and along our lacy coast: suddenly bereft of life, shuttered, dark and cold. We have some wild storms in late fall and early winter and, as unwary visitors from softer climes discover, even into late spring. After each storm I look for the nest sure that it has been blown away or fallen, shattered, on the roadbed below, but it is always there. Even after an ice storm tinsels the cables and handrails; even after a windstorm rakes, unforgiving, the groves of balsam that fur the road on either side; even after gouts of snow blast the piers and pucker the icy water; even after the intense and brittle cold, the nest is still there.

Sometimes a two- or three-foot long stick - a hint of the size and durability of the nest that appears so small and fragile from below - will appear in the road, but as far as I can tell the nest's superstructure remains in place waiting for spring repairs when the osprey return in May.

As I watched our new president take the oath of office last week, I was reminded of the nest. I won't strain the get the point.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


3 am - up,
Disturbed by dreams and things that are not
Rambling window to window in the cold house,
Startled by a sudden, reflected glow along the stygian road.

In a froth of snow, the plow, lights flashing,
bucks the storm.

Back to bed - calmed,
As when a child awake,
afraid and lonely in the wide night,
The whistling train at the crossing charmed me back to sleep.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chips Fall...

What to think of during these silver and gray and white days (and why does "gray" seem so much grayer when it's spelled "grey") when energy is sucked away by the relentless wind, and the snow, so eagerly looked for around Christmas time, turns to ice/sleet/rain and back to snow?

I always have a moment (day or two) of panic after the Christmas decorations are packed away when I get an glimpse, unobscured, down that long, shiny tunnel of ice that leads to Spring. I can see Spring waving greenly at the end, but wonder how many times I will slip and fall before I reach it.

All I want to do is nap, or read by the fire or eat cookies (but not bake them). I think this state is called "hibernation" and everyone else I encounter seems to be experiencing it too.

When I muster the energy to go out to the store, my feet weighed down with socks and boots, I see everyone else trailing around in a similar fashion, staring glumly at the shipped-in-from-afar vegetables(we're too lazy at this point to even try to be localvores)and the palid, "previously-frozen" fish and the somehow compelling cheese aisle. I see a lot of people in the wine section. I notice lots of bags of taco chips in shopping carts - or was that just my shopping cart? I took a brief census of my shopping cart recently: carb, veggie, carb, carb, carb, fish, meat, carb, carb, cheese, cat and dog food and - oh - carb.

The ever-wise and knowing "they" tell us to shop the outside perimeter of the food store if you want to lose weight and eat healthily. In my store, that path will take you from the organic section to the fruits and vegetables to lean protein and soupcon of "healthy" carbohydrates and around to the newspapers just before the checkout where, if you haven't already lost your appetite, you will after reading the headlines. But I am impelled down the dangerous canyons in the middle of the store - to the raisin bread, sugary cereal, cookies, crackers, processed foods and pasta - and then to the ice cream.

After paying for my misdeeds "credit or debit" I am temporarily aroused to physical exertion by the challenge of negotiating the icy and precipitously tilted parking lot, grappling with my cart like a wrangler with a wild mustang, against the wind.

I'll get my bearings long about the second week of January and begin to actually look forward to the months of snow and cold ahead...until then?
I usually eat all the chips on the way home.