A woman in season.

Shelby Farms Park 2015

It is autumn, occasional chill begging a blanket’s comfort, occasional warmth reviving sandal straps. These are unpredictable days, suspended somewhere between bronze and silver. Foggy morning mist gives way, perhaps, to unexpected sun. But, then again, maybe not. Clarity may lurk just out of reach.

It is hard to feel settled in this season, the languid folly of summer put to bed, the certain chisel of winter lying ahead. Is this day achy with longing, or simply achy with age? It is hard to tell, in these shifting hours.

This should be harvest season, crowned with a bright harvest moon. It is time, now, to reap what was sown, time to collect the long-awaited bounty from spring buds that ripened to August bloom, autumn fruit.

What will this strange flower do, now that its golden season has arrived? Will it wither at first frost, like cosmos, or hide in hibernation, like chrysanthemum? Perhaps it will be like a camillia, waiting for November to show its splendor, when all the other flowers have gone to seed.

The beauty of an ordinary life.


Perhaps the real purpose of keeping a journal is for the assurance, at some later date, that one is still oneself – voice, hand, and eye as distinct as fingerprints. The years spanned are a blur, but each minute is frozen in crystalline precision. Only in time do the entries divulge what they always were: fragments of a collage being revealed more than constructed. Only in retrospect is it apparent that the picture has not become anything other than itself, that which it was from the beginning.

Ah, the delicious beginning. A smooth, pocket-sized Moleskine. A crisp, over-sized sketchbook. A pristine screen, absent any characters. Vast, beckoning oceans of white. What would each become? Which pages would be lined with borders, each a tiny island getaway? Which with illegible scribbles, stretching cover to cover in wandering stream of consciousness?


Here is the shelf, in catalogue:

This one was concrete, housing observations and insights: Birds. Buildings. Art.

This one was a repository for a wandering mind, adrift and seemingly untethered.

This third one, and its many siblings, were lavish, untidy scrapbooks, filled with quotidian litter: Letters. Programs. Our breakfast. The sleeping dog. Trees, so many trees – some verdant, others bare. From the window, once, nothing but trees.


This handsome leather one was, is, my story of you; but it is, I see, more my story than yours. Here is the day you were born. Here is where you taught me what homesick feels like. Here is my life as your mother.

Here is the present, seeking its provenance in a swarm of orphans, chapters unfinished and incomplete, each bound in black, stacked in the library, by date. Here is the ground for discovery, rifling through the past, spot-checking old reference points and wish-casts into an invisible future.

Only now, from this afternoon harbor, is the familiarity of the anchor clear. Only here does each unfinished journal hook the same distant vantage point, seed the same future port of call. Each loose thread was always part of the same fabric, nothing random or haphazard in its patterning. Each page began, as it must have done, with ignorant intent, unaware that life unfolds not in full chapters but letter by letter, word by word, verse by verse, into one lyrical poem.



The splendid table.

harvest bowl 2015

From my window, I am watching the neighbor’s dog survey her kingdom. She is sitting atop a wrought-iron table, under a green canvas umbrella, watching birds and squirrels and, perhaps, a few invisible things of her own imagining. She is the picture of utter contentment.

I should get up and do something, should walk or sew or play a game or make sun prints. I should water the plants and change the sheets. I should do something, anything. Certainly I should get organized for tomorrow’s first Sunday school class, as I am entirely, thoroughly unprepared for it. Also I should figure out what the hell to do with the patty pan squash from this week’s farm share bag (or, as Bernard likes to call it, next week’s compost addition). When all else fails, cooking usually works.

But what I have promised myself is that I will sit down and write, at least for 20 minutes, despite having run completely out of words, at least for the time being. I have puttered here and there for several weeks now, poking at various essay drafts, none of which will cooperate and come together the way I’d like. I’ve been writing, in fits and starts, about the comfort of routines and about how, over time, the death of one’s parents becomes more liberation than loss. But it’s all sort of muddy and mushy and very much not ready for sharing, and that’s that. The more I push, the less it complies, making me want to avoid the whole thing.

The neighbor’s dog is now stretched out fully across her table, soaking up the warm sun. She is oblivious to her audience, me, perched by forced march at my own table in my library, the table I set for writing and sewing and drawing and editing photographs. The table to which, someday, the words will come back.

Happy week.