Circa 1949:

"Once there were four children named Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy..." 

Circa 2000: 
  Once there was two little girls, nicknamed Day and Jules, listening wide-eyed to a bedtime story. Their aunt was reading to them in the cold upper story of a farmhouse in Pennsylvania, the two little girls with blankets up to their chins, listening intently.  It was an enchanting story, and introduced them to many beautiful words and lands. It was dark outside, but inside there was a lamppost and then a resurrection morning.

 Circa 2014:
   Once there were eight little children, nicknamed "the studentry", listening wide-eyed to the morning story. They perch on their yellow chairs, listening, but not always quietly. 
"No, Edmund! Don't go with her! Don't listen to her."  
"Ooooo, I think I know what's going to happen."
"Teacher, I'm scared!"    
 "It will all come right in the end," I tell them, and take my turn introducing young eyes to many beautiful words and lands. Outside our circle is humdrum of November, but inside is timeless betrayal and then a glorious redemption. 

  And then I discover that unwittingly, lavishly, they repay me.  My eyes see a familiar land, but through theirs it holds the same wonder and intrigue it did during those first bedtime story-sessions.

 Narnia is new...  and I have found Aslan again.



It snowed. 


And it was like trying to keep eight objects under water, all at once. 

They twisted in their seats, glancing/staring out the window rather too often. This wasn't helped by the sporadic nature of the snow. One minute,white bees filling the air thick and fast, the next a mild blue and white sky. One never knew what would be there the next time one looked.  
Also unhelpful was the halfhearted way their teacher told them to focus on their work.  
It was snowing.... 

Tr, turning a 180 in his chair, stared round-eyed at the drifting flakes. Stage whispered: "THIS IS THE DAY, THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD...."   effectively side-tracking Ch and Ty. 

hath made, thought the teacher. Hallelujah.

It snowed. Delight reigned. 

And sometimes chaos.


Upon a Request, of sorts....

My heart does not wear shoes,
I told her when she asked what color they were.
It’s kind of unhandy sometimes, I said.
I mean, I often step on sharp pointy things
And it isn’t unusual to get insect bites on my instep arches,
And sometimes I stub my toes.

Oh, she said, that’s why I always wear steel-toed boots.

But, I went on, my heart goes barefoot, because I have felt enough
Moss patches to know that
There are some things steel-toed boots don’t cover.
Just think of new summer grass, I said, and cold mountain streams.
Think of beaches and blankets and other bare feet pressed close,
Think of leaf piles and cool tile floors and ladder rungs...
Hmm, she said. Once my shoelaces wear out, maybe I’ll try sandals.
And I watched her walk away heavily.


"And then, quite suddenly, summer was over.
   He knew it first when walking downtown. Tom grabbed his arm and pointed gasping, at the dime-store window. They stood there unable to move because of the things from another world displayed so neatly, so innocently, so frighteningly, there.
     "Pencils, Doug, ten thousand pencils!"
     "Oh my gosh!"
     "Nickel tablets, dime tablets, notebooks, erasers, water colors, rulers, compasses, a hundred thousand of them!"
     "Don't look. Maybe it's just a mirage."
     "No," moaned Tom in despair. "School. School straight on ahead! Why, why do dime stores show things like that in windows before summer's even over! Ruin half the vacation!"
      They walked on home and found Grandfather lone on the sere, bald-spotted lawn, plucking the last few dandelions. They worked with him silently for a time and then Douglas, bent in his own shadow, said:
      "Tom, if this year's gone like this, what will next year be, better or worse?"
      "Don't ask me." Tom blew a tune on a dandelion stem. "I didn't make the world." He thought about it. "Though some days I feel like I did." He spat happily.
      "I got a hunch," said Douglas.
      "Next year's going to be even bigger, days will be brighter, nights longer and darker, more people dying, more babies born, and me in the middle of it all."
      "You and two zillion other people, Doug, remember."
      "Day like today," murmured Douglas, "I feel it'll be...just me!"
      "Need any help," said Tom, "just yell."
      "What could a ten-year-old brother do?"
      "A ten-year-old brother'll be eleven next summer. I'll unwind the world like the rubber band on a golf ball's insides every morning, put it back together every night. Show you how, if you ask."
      "Always was." Tom crossed his eyes, stuck out his tongue. "Always will be."
      Douglas laughed. They went down in the cellar with Grandpa and while he decapitated the flowers they looked at all the summer shelved and glimmering there in the motionless streams, the bottles of dandelion wine. Numbered from one to ninety-odd, there the ketchup bottles, most of them full now, stood burning in cellar twilight, one for every living summer day.
      "Boy," said Tom, "what a swell way to save June, July, and August. Real practical."

-excerpt from Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury


a 3-month old piece of writing (choir tour), dusted off.

We are aboard a spaceship. We have already made this home. We are tethered to it somehow. Every planet we land on, we explore, but no matter how far we go, we are not free-floating. We are tethered to it. We feel its presence always, tugging us back to its steel frame. It will take us pioneers home, eventually. Until then, we stop on many planets, find fresh sources of water and strange clocks. We meet the friendly natives, forging bonds that will always haunt us, tug us from afar. We are astronauts and we sing for our supper. We sail across these galaxies; travelling from time to time, placing space between us and our home-folk and lessening the space between us and our notes. We are astronauts. We are tethered to our ship, and we sail among these clouds, singing.


Because she has been talking of the sea and making me miss it all over again, and because I heard gulls last night, and because today is rainy and the sea would be dark if I were out on it: a poem. 


The restless sea is calling, and I would be away
To where the surf pounds up the beach to thunder in my ears,
To where the salt wind tastes like wine, and sailing vessels gay
Go out to strange sea-guarded ports and drift home gray with years.
From books and shells and scraps of tales these thoughts have come to me,
For I was born far inland who long to go to sea.

The midland has its voices, but they call to me in vain.
I care not for the whispering road nor drumming city street,
My heartbeats do not quicken to the thrush's joyous strain,
Nor to the sighing music of the wind upon the wheat.
The bees drone their contented song- but what is this to me?
For I was born far inland and long to hear the sea.

The sky is like the sea today and clouds like galleons ride-
I found a tiny river just beginning near the spring,
That called for me to follow and it would be my guide;
A boisterous echo in its tone, that yet was whispering,
Gave me a hint of ocean surge, and soon I know that we
Shall leave this inland country and make our way to sea.

-James S. Hearst

p.s. thankfully I live near forests, which can be like oceans sometimes...


And before the fireflies... the ferns.

   There are wrinkles embossed into my left arm. The creases look like the laced leaves of a fern. Who knew babies' blankets could be so green?

  The baby is asleep next to me on the bed. Finally. He is worn out after all his adventures this afternoon.

This is just one of them.


(Did you know that adventure is common-place to a child?) 

   We sat down on the front steps (me on the concrete, him on my lap), and enjoyed the fresh evening air together after the steady all-day rain. The low clouds of the morning had cleared off and not only was the air fresh, it was golden. The baby was very young. Old enough to look at the world and follow it's motions, but young enough to surprise himself with his own. 
  I noticed he was looking at the tall ostrich ferns beside the wide steps. I reached out, and pulling a fern frond towards us, brushed it up and down his chubby legs. His toes curled tight, and he held very still, watching. "This is a fern," I told him. He surveyed it suspiciously. "Oh?" he seemed to say. "What's that?"  "Well-" I started to say, then: "What is a fern?" I asked myself, and suddenly, I caught a glimpse of it through his wondering eyes.

Tall so tall eye-level green shades of the same colour, so many but all the same, offered in an array of dizzying lines. A creature that swayed in so many directions all at once, softly, subtly. Was it alive? Was it nice? Or menacing? Was it like that animal the girl-person had called 'River' and had stuck his toes into? It had bitten him with cold...    
For a moment, the emerald was all-consuming and there was nothing but green for so far, and always shifting.

   Suddenly, he decided the fern was staying in it's place (wherever that was) and uncurling his toes then holding them stiff, he reached out both tiny hands, fingers spread wide- into the fringes of the frond. He wasn't coordinated enough to grasp them even though he wanted to, and they slipped through his fingers. He curled and uncurled his toes rapidly, waving his arms jerkily, gazing raptly still at the plant. I traced the frond down the middle of his face. His eyes closed as it passed and opened again, startled, staring. I tucked it between his toes and waited for his reaction. He paused his movements, toes automatically holding the stem tight. 

It didn't feel nice, but it didn't feel nasty at all. Somehow the thing was alive, but it didn't look at him. When would it come towards him? It moved all the time, in small incessant rustlings. It had to be alive, but that strange girl-person seemed to be friends with it, and SHE was ok.

   He started moving again, and the kicking waved the frond around, and somehow he managed to get his fingers tangled in it enough to actually break a piece off. Of course, he tried to put it in his mouth. Give that one brand-new tooth some practice, you know. He was fascinated by the fringes as long as we sat there.

   It reminded me of a poem I'd read earlier this spring.

the little horse is newlY

Born)he knows nothing,and feels
everything;all around whom is

perfectly a strange
ness(Of sun
light and of fragrance and of

Singing)is ev
erywhere(a welcom
ing dream:is amazing)
a worlD.and in

this world lies:smoothbeautifuL
ly folded;a(brea
thing a gro





I have felt gigantic
as if I could hold oceans
ever since I discovered
this afternoon
that the distance between the
of my fingernail and the first
of the middle knuckle on my
index finger


Bog Slogging

So it's summer you know. Earlier in the season I thought perhaps I would dance from sheer joy after seeing the first firefly, but now I have beheld it and the joy turned out to be a hold-your-breath-in-amazement type of silent moment, all still.

That wasn't what I was going to write. But somehow it Came. (said Pooh, humbly.)

This was what I was going to write.

This afternoon my father and my sister and two of my brothers and I sallied forth to slog a bog. Or slush through one. Or goulash through one.  (We were trying to come up with a word that captured the peculiar slurping sound one's boots make in a bog...)

Here are some Bog Observations rescued from my notebook which, although nearly submerged in seeping brown water at one point in time today  *ahem* , is still legible.

Bog Observation #21.
(they begin at number 21 just because I happened to like that number at the moment)
Beware pitcher plants; moss sometimes surrounds them so that they are transformed into old wells whose covers have rotted off. It would be terrifyingly simple to fall down one.

Me: Here be Dragons.  RUNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!
J: As if you could in this sphagnum and these boots...

"Never set down your waterbottle, it may disappear." -N, upon seeing me snatch mine from a certain watery grave

"It's hot, and it's warm, and there's often this sinking feeling." -W, upon being asked to describe the experience of bog-slogging

"It's wearying to have to dig your boots out each step..." -J, after reaching down and hauling herself out of a particularly murky spot

"You have to be optimistic when you're in a bog, otherwise you keep getting these sinking feelings..." -N,

*you will notice a theme here*

"It's a good thing I kept my optimism up, otherwise I might've sunk for sure that time."  -N

"Bog-logs are awesome!"  -J

"But if the log rolls over we'll all be dead..." -J

Me:  OWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!
N: Did a rattlesnake get you????
Me: No, it was a stick.
N: Those are dangerous.

Me:  Which way are we going?
N: That way.
Me: Oh.
N: Actually, I should be more specific. We're going in a southwest direction.
N: Now we're going at a south southwesterly type of angle...
Me: Oh.

*a little bit later, said in a faintly Australian accent*

"Heah's a fahct which cahn be eNAWMously helpful; ferns always point North. Or South. Or East. Or West."   -N

"I love goulash." -W, after a juicy, slurping step

"This swamp bugs me!" -N

Me: You sound like a moose.

*I was actually referring to the generous way in which he crashed through ferns and brush*

"If you wear huge boots in the swamp, take them off in the woods and go stocking-footed to save your blisters..." -J

N: Where are they going?
Me: Toward the swamp. Daddy can't stay out of it.
N: Yeah, bogs attract Dad as easily as they attract bugs.

We kind of lost track of time. The remaining two Observations are from our speedy trip towards home.

"Going to church, late, in clean clothes?! Where's the adventure in that???" -W, during our discussion of whether we should go straight to church (muddy as we were) or stop at home and change first

"Stealing wood is more of a Tuesday thing..." -N

*I really have no idea where that came from*

These are all very scientific observations. Consider yourself fully enlightened as to what one might encounter while alternately wading through, falling into, splashing about in, exploring and/or otherwise disappearing into:

A Bog.


"There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach."

-The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien


Life Machine

this is a machine that takes your life & does all the hard parts & leaves you all the parts you enjoy & almost everyone discovers they're not the parts you'd think they were at first glance.



This Shining Night

   The stars were muted, but still present, as if the cathedral arches they decorated had suddenly become much further away than usual. Branches meeting overhead kept us from seeing just how far they soared above us, these invisible pillars holding our galaxy away from us.  
    Snow dimly outlined dark hemlock boughs, and the crunch of our many footsteps slowed, stopped, We waited.  Softly the strains began, a choir in a woodland gently breaking twilight hush. "Sure on this shining night..." they sang, and I thought that this evening was more shadowy than shining. 

    Later, when the trees thinned and I whispered to her; "Are we still in our own century?", she laughed. It was the lack of color mostly, that made me feel that way. She felt the timelessness. We assumed British accents and discussed the possibility of our being in a place without time. It turned out that we mustn't have been, because a time arrived to return whence we came, and I followed the texture of our boot marks back through the trees melting into the snow.

   But somewhere along the line something began shimmering. And by the time he wondered if the distant glow was the moon rising, it didn't have to be, because the night was shining all around with the wonder of a walk through a winter night.   

  It has only now stopped echoing inside my head, and settled down into a lovely memory of trees and sound and friends all in one place, together.


In Which I Dream And Then Write It Down...

So you know how sometimes you wake up smiling, or as the case might be, weeping at the memory of particularly vivid dream you'd had?

This was a dream that made me stronger, more at peace with the world, and absolutely okay with the thought that summer will return someday. It also made me write a lot.

I tucked a strand of hair in place, watching carefully in the bathroom mirror that snowy morning, and strangely enough suddenly remembered what I had dreamed the night before.

I had dreamed of a young boy. He was lovely, a little prince, but he was going to die. So we ran away. We ran and ran, laughing. We ran through a field, towards something. I wasn’t sure what it was, but we were both looking for it. We ran past seasons. Snow around our feet, then autumn leaves, then we could see to the sides of our path growing things; strawberries, lettuce, radishes, some kind of vine, and finally up ahead, corn.

With the sight of the corn came a sense of relief, and a renewed purpose. That was where we were supposed to go. We entered the rows, running, laughing anew at the lovely absurdity of rows of corn growing up alongside you as you ran.

Apparently, not only were we running through seasons, we were running through weather. It was windy, then sunny, then a curtain of steady rain. We were through that one in a flash. Stop! He said, Let’s go back. So we did, and lay down in the rain shower on the warm, wet dirt, and soaked it all in. There was all through us and around us the wonder, the joy, of a much-needed summer rain. We gathered every particle of beauty into our silence, and kept it deep within us. We no longer needed to go anywhere. 

We had been running to give him experiences or perhaps memories before he disappeared, and we had accomplished that, reached the height of it, in the rain shower. We were done. We lay there, water droplets tracing down our faces like tears, and talked to each other.

I don’t remember how he left. My last memory of him is how red his lips looked in the gray of rain, against the brown of crumbly dirt, and surrounded by the green of strong young corn.