On Sodom Pond

Postcards from rural Vermont

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After Writing

IMG_20140427_172056735The forest air is cool on my cheeks. My heart skips as I walk, moss and pine needles soft under my boots. Tree limbs squeak and sigh.

Who else but other writers can tell you, “She’s holding two lattes on page 3 but then she’s handing her a hot chocolate…”

“Can you sop up spilled coffee?”

“You might need another cue so we know she’s entering a parallel universe….”

And who else but that ginger-haired gentleman bakes a tray of blueberry muffins and leaves it on the table then gallops off and leaves you to your writing group?

Sunlight through the trees. It’s 5:00.

The faint faraway peep-peep-peep of a nuthatch.

After writing, everything is hopeful again.IMG_20140427_172658791

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All right then. I see it. Folding myself onto my meditation cushion, reaching for the timer to set my hard and humble ten minutes. Out of the corner of my eye, at the edge of the woods, where I’d overturned a wheelbarrow of leaves two days before. Out there, in the rust refuse, past yellowed lawn and spindly apple branches clawing at another gray sky–:

April 23 002


I mean, green. You know the one. The green that begins it all. The green you can never imagine coming back. Hard on the eyes. Soft on the heart.  An unripe, uppity green. Tawdry, almost. A green that knows nothing but sets forth anyway, picking up everything around it in its light.  You can’t un-see it once it’s found its way in. It is juvenile and unready but boasts at the door.

Pull it together. Strap yourself in. The race is on.


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Eastering (ii)

IMG_20140421_083129340Driving home from Easter weekend this morning, I found myself remembering a particular moment with a special person. We were standing in the sun, smiling and playing, with the future near and the present at hand. It was one of those perfect moments: brief and whole and deep.

As I drove, I replayed the moment a lot in my mind. And then a silly thought came: Why isn’t this moment just like that one? Why isn’t it still happening?

Because it’s over!

But in my mind I’m reviewing, reliving, replaying.

I want it to go on forever.

This moment isn’t so golden. I’m driving for three hours, alone, and heading for work.

Life isn’t about feeling good all the time. Or having what you want. Or even having golden moments. It’s life. Which means it’s about all the long bits to and from those golden moments.

And if you happen to have a special one who will meet you in a parking lot to say hello as you’re traveling through town, and lift you off your feet when he greets you, and remember that you’re collecting Shaw’s sweepstakes tickets and hand you ten, along with a bag of his favorite coffee, roasted just yesterday, and listen to you and make you laugh and allude to the future, and wink at you and wave….

well then, consider yourself lucky.

Let the moment die.

So it can live.


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IMG_20140420_151036284It happened somewhere on Route 4 near Rutland, with a fiddle on the stereo and a blue sky above. Headed for home and Easter dinner. I didn’t plan on it or try. But it happened. And I let it.

Suddenly, I knew I had to leave something behind, something I wouldn’t need for the journey ahead. For the life opening up before me. It was as simple as dropping a stone in a river. Not tortured or dramatic, like I thought forgiveness should be. I didn’t try to make it happen. It’s like a voice said, You can go back in now and remember. And I did. The good things before the bad. The hope before the loss. And it was completed. And I got my heart back.

Rejoice! I said to each passing car.

Blessings on you!

And when I got to my destination, I lay on my brother’s deck in the sun with my shoes off while the adults talked and the kids hunted eggs. And then we ate, and ate some more. Damn good coffee was made and bocce was played. And the kids kept laughing. A cardinal sang and I pointed it out in the trees and the kids turned their faced up, hopeful and full of wonder.

My brother showed me magic tricks and his new guitar. My sister-in-law fell in love with her neighbor’s Shorkie. And nothing–nothing–could be wrong. Any day now, everything could change and skies darken, the world turn upside down. But today the sun rose and I saw it and felt its glow.

Today I went home.

I brought nothing and I was fed.IMG_20140420_152644276


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IMG_20140407_084221_784I carry a Pyrex bowl of black oil sunflower seeds with a one-cup measure scoop down to the apple tree where the feeder hangs, carrying it like gifts of communion to the altar. In winter, the trees groaned and creaked in the wind like old floorboards and the snow was crisscrossed with fresh turkey tracks. Today the snow is nearly gone. I am the recipient of songs and calls and the soft purr of bird wing. Then my meditation is interrupted by the red squirrel.

He is hungry and voracious. Like me. He chatters like a wind-up toy that won’t turn off. I dislike his herky-jerky strobe light leaps. He doesn’t sound free or sweet, like birdsong. He is rooted, embattled, desperate.

I’d rather be the mewling nuthatch, peeping as it flies and then turning on its nasal siren. Or a cheerful chickadee. Even a cocky jay or ragged crow.

The squirrel stuffs seed in his cheeks, doing acrobatics to slurp them up from the tiny tube. No dainty grace of the silent grazing junco.  His eyes half-mad, frantic, he’s a jerking mess with nowhere to flee but up a tree and down again. Such a linear existence. No mystery of owls chorusing at full moon, or dashing fierceness of the evening grosbeak. He is a warrior crying out at nothing. Is it even wild? It surely belongs in a cage somewhere. The poor squirrel is dumb, with nowhere to go but up. If only it migrated somewhere, taking off on some hidden jet stream, making us gasp at its impossible feat and yearn for its safe return. Instead, it never leaves, and is a banal reminder of our own clay-footed existence.

It destroys.

It can’t go that high or far.

It goes where it needs to go.

It is as relentless and unstoppable as my own thoughts under the bird feeder today…


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IMG_20140411_172434308I can hardly describe my feeling today, driving over the hills and seeing land! It’s catch-my-breath staggering, tug-at-my-heart lovely, that mushy brown sparse, sodden-looking land…it’s still there! I feel like some big frozen giant is loosening its grip and returning my beloved to me for a little while. Come to mama, Spring, I’m gonna hold you tight and treat you right, and never let you out of my sight…


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Today the purple finch arrived. And the nuthatch. We found an old nest in an apple tree we were pruning. The snow was still knee high. Wood was chopped, the fire lit. And I have two shiny new light bulbs over my license plate.

Spring cleaning.

Winter’s almost over.