On Sodom Pond

Postcards from rural Vermont


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Late October

I have news, people.  Change is here to stay. No matter what we want or think or do. What you’re clinging to today might not be there tomorrow. One benefit of having the rug pulled out from under you in life is that you get this message in bold block letters (hopefully once and for all). A loved one leaves. You get sick. Your house burns down. YOU HAVE NO CONTROL.

I went out Friday to find first snow. I was giddy taking photos around the yard. Why praise the coming of ice and cold? Because it was beautiful. It made me want to play. It made me take notice. Click click click. It made me present. And then I remembered that I feel like a crumpled piece of paper inside, kind of like suddenly stubbing your toe, and I cried.

So I went out and you know what? Lots is happening out there. Fires are burnin’. Chipmunks are runnin’. Hunters are huntin’. And there’s more, I learned from the ladies on a Saturday morning hike:

Tamaracks and white cedars are slow dancing in the bog.oct 21-25 043

(Tamaracks are deciduous but turn yellow and drop needles. Why should they do such a thing?)

oct 21-25 048 Pitcher plants are devouring prey. (There’s a bug in there!)

And Labrador Tea does this funky thing:oct 21-25 051 It rolls its leaves over and seals off to keep from getting too much water. (It lives in a bog!)

Everything is adapting, persisting, leaning into change.

I came home, made macaroons and colored mandalas in front of the fire.

The good thing about change is that if you’re not happy, you can change that, too.

So fire up. Lean in. Do what you can.


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Kindling

oct 15=23 028

It’s coming. The time of emptiness and waiting. Hunger. Quiet. Today, in the warm morning sun as the thermometer ticks up above 35, I find kindling. Tiny tendrils that feed a fire and encourage it to grow. On their ground they are just fallen branches. But in the fire they will crackle and pop and burn.

Soon it will be, as Vermonters say, “stick season.” Barren and spare. With no distractions. But for now there is more gathering to do, more daylight to not squander, more running  to cook and can and freeze. Chop wood. Seal the windows, get the snow tires on. What will we do in the dark?

Kindle. Before the snow comes. Before silence sets in.

What we do in the dark has to do with what we do today, in these last moments of light.

 

 


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Live like a mofo

cropped-mid-october-022.jpgYou know how they tell you that when one door closes, another one opens? Well, I’m here to tell you it’s just not true.

100 open.

I have been amazed at the calls,greetings,hello’s, talks, shoulders to cry on, people offering sing-a-longs and dinners, quiet talks and places to live. Clients come and an agent wants to see your book. I am going to walk through every one of those doors in spite of the fact that part of me wants to settle down for a long winter’s nap. (I bought 5 pillows at Target today).

Awake!

As my analyst said yesterday as I sniffled and stuttered: “If life doesn’t feel dangerous, you’re not doing it right.”

What dangerous thing will you do today? Invite a neighbor for tea? Read a poem to a friend? 

You are being taken care of.

Jump!


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A new road

mid-October 007I am moving to a magic cottage. It has a wood stove and day beds, a deep tub, a bright kitchen, a dining table, and a game of Clue in the cupboard. There are lots of sofas and a landline, wi-fi and three cords of wood with a chopping block and ax. Maybe a squirrel or mouse now and then, but I know how to use my .22 rifle. There’s a flower garden, space for vegetable rows, a shed that could be made into a studio. There is light and windows and low ceilings. There are spaces for friends, good ones who like to snuggle in. A couple of kitties, maybe a dog. A place to hang a bird feeder. An archery target. Wind chimes.

I know the woman who built the cottage. She is an artist. Her name is Janet, too. She is my hero. She has the brightest smile in the world. She makes art and doesn’t give a damn about selling it. She is nearly 70 but looks younger than me. She is my hero.

There are trails out back. Quiet.  I can write there. Walking the grounds I felt like Madeleine L’Engle, another hero, walking in her gardens. The vibe there is incredible. Janet said when she was building it she was going through a sad time but would only go work on the cottage when she felt good, to not bring a “down” energy into the place. I will strive to do the same. Make it a place of peace and joy, because of, and with, not despite, my sorrow. It will be a place of permission and acceptance. A place to grieve and grow.

The only hitch is a steep brief hill at the beginning of the driveway, a hill my two-wheel drive city car may not always make it up in the winter.

I will call it my learning curve. (And buy snowshoes.)


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Wilderness

As I sort and sift and begin the long process of moving on, I pass on words shared with me over the past four days:

From my friend Eva:  Do what supports your own self-respect. Be as kind as you can to yourself. There is no shame in this. This community wants you.

From Allison: You are real no matter what. You are a woman of grace and dignity.

From Brother Geoffrey: “We are on a kind of wilderness journey. Of course, true wilderness has nothing to do with sand dunes, cacti, and searing sun. True wilderness is the experience of having the familiar patterns of our life suddenly turned upside down: the breakdown of regular routine and patterns.”

And from only the Jodi: “You take care of you. It doesn’t always feel as good as one would expect, to stick up for yourself, do the right thing, but you take care of you. The end of Eden was the beginning of the world as we know it, if one is to believe the story as it were written. Go forth. Create worlds.”

Thank you. I will need more. For now, these are tattooed on my heart. I will never forget them.

 


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The End of Eden

The rows. The seeds. The soil. The rain.

The pea pods. The tendrils. The tiller. The hoe.

The boots. The dirt. The poles. The weeds.

The deer. The worms. The snails. The woolly bear.

The kiss. The moon. The apples. The chipper.

The shears. The kiss. The mower. The winterberries.

The yellow birch. The rose hips. The vernal pools. The trails.

The splitter. The harness. The ropes. The kiss.

The soil. The seeds. The rows. The rain.

The mesclun. The beets. The carrots. The squash.

The blueberries. The asparagus. The meadow. The marsh. The trails.

The soil. The seeds. The rows. The rain.

I will be signing off from this location. And will be finding new digs up here in the little towns with the friendly people and the hills and the hardness.

I am lost today.

But I’ll find my way. I woke to a changed world. But it’s common as dirt.

The soil. The seeds. The rows. The rain.

Who will watch out for me? Who will take care of me?

Maybe it’s time to grow up, grow into myself more–

Do, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, the thing you cannot do.

Stay tuned.