March 25, 2014 § 4 Comments
We were wide eyed and speechless for the first 10 miles of the day. I could not remember a drive like this in our 18 years in New Hampshire. Here we were, on March 25, deep in the mountains of western Virginia, on a steep, narrow and completely unplowed road with hairpin turns, the only way out toward North Carolina. Having no idea of how long this road would last, all I knew was that the minutes were stretching and the silence weighed ominously.
Five hours later, as we crossed the state line into North Carolina, it stopped snowing and the first trees we saw had just begun a pale pink bloom. As in The Wizard of Oz, the movie, the landscape instantaneously turned from black and white into color.
Our long day ended with another unbelievable, a dinner at Herons in Cary, North Carolina,
with a glass of great wine.
Finally the last (and best) unbelievable: The words from my husband as he looked at the forecast on his phone before we went to sleep: “Wow! In 48 hours it will be 73 degrees…”
March 20, 2013 § 1 Comment
January 20, 2013 § 1 Comment
About two and a half years ago I decided to go for a walk. On a beautiful late-summer morning I walked for about three miles, a loop that went from my house through various neighborhoods in my town and along a golf course and playing fields. I was alone and it was early morning, so peaceful and quiet. I loved it so much that I decided to do the same walk the next day, again two days later and eventually up to 6 days a week, rain, shine or freezing cold. Always the same loop, rarely the same hour of the day but most often alone.
It has not been boring even once. I think, look, hear, breathe. I give myself time to do these basic activities, which I would forget to do when caught up in the fast flow of a normal busy life.
Along that same path, I have noticed the change of season, not with my calendar or the school schedule, but with the birds’ and insects’ behavior, the plants and wildlife of the pond by the road, and of course the same flowers, bushes and trees I see day after day.
I have often lost sense of time, deep in my thoughts, either surprised to be back at my house so soon or to have felt out of touch for so long.
I have processed major events and minor annoyances. I have cried without control about my father dying, I have subdued my worries, detangled or loosened complicated knots in the fabric of my family’s dynamics, and breathed through impatience and frustration.
I have paused and smiled at a beautiful sky, shivered with joy under a brief dowpour in July, wondered about a bird’s call, felt drunk with deep breaths of crystalline arctic air and marveled over the beauty of an old elm, leafless against a white sky.
I have dreamed about traveling, starting a new life after my youngest child leaves the house, or what it will be like to be a grandmother one day. I have fantasized about my kids’ exploits, future successes, amazing feats, even my daughters’ wedding dresses — because I could do so in private with boundless imagination and unlimited possibilities.
I have daydreamed.
I have discovered that, for a moment, I can step out of a life where my senses get so overstimulated they become numb, where my soul is fed only by shallow sensations, into one that fulfills my needs for meaning, wonder, truth, creativity and grace.
At first I thought it was a luxury to have time for a walk. Then I discovered it’s a necessity to make time for this walk.
October 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
Fall colors in New England.
These words instantly evoke images of flaming reds, fiery oranges and golden yellows setting ablaze trees and forest for a last flash before winter.
Even after living in the rural Northeast for many years I never tire of this spectacular display. I literally can stop in my tracks in wonder and awe when walking or driving on a day of crisp autumn sunlight and royal blue sky.
But this year I seem to be less inclined to mind this seasonal show.
Often taking walks in drizzly grey weather, under leaden skies, on dim and overcast days or early mornings when the river fog is slow to clear away, I gradually noticed a different kind of palette:
Subtle hues and pale shades, patinaed coppers and silvers, flaxen shimmers, cool white glows and faded tawny tints.
June 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
When my children were little the hardest thing for me was to get up early in the morning. I remember telling them to ” go play” until I was ready, I mean forced by their numerous un-welcomed interruptions, to finally emerge from my torpor.
As the kids were growing and some parental obligations (like taking the kids to school, which I often did in my PJs) involved using an alarm clock, I managed to perform the minimum necessary to be somewhat alert and punctual for the early morning duties.
I guess it was part of growing up (for me).
Still, I never gave up on sleeping in when possible.
Then, 3 springs ago, my youngest son decided to join his high school rowing team.
I had to face the inevitable: someone would have to drive him to a landing on the Connecticut River, five days a week for 10 weeks, on time for the 5am practice.
So, always hopeful to gain some credit as a good mother, I boldly announced that I was willing to get up at 4:20am and tackle the job.
One of the best decision I have made in 30 years…
The season starts in late March when the river has not completely thawed, the predawn temperature is hovering just above 32 degrees and sunrise happen well after the boats are launched and the rowers are hard at work, puffing like steam engines, their fingers numb with frost, their hands burning with blisters.
With their sleepy eyes and not quite out of their night dreams, they watch the moon bowing out for a slow rising pale winter sun, shrouded in pink and casting a silver light over the black waters. A thick white fog floats in slow motion over the surface eventually lifting up in thinning swirling steam.
I saw this.
One early April morning this year, I decided to go along with the coach on the motor boat to witness this absolutely magical, numinous moment.
And I thought: “This is why I have children”.
Filmed with my iphone. Music by Penguin Cafe: “This or That”
October 25, 2011 § 2 Comments
It sounded like a small animal, hyperactive and speedy. One that could be seen scurrying all day long outside the house. After a thorough investigation and brilliant detective work we had a suspect: A squirrel, or two. Or maybe many.
Something had to be done. Either we or the squirrel had to move out of the house, or we would not sleep until next May.
Consulting with our salt of the earth, true New Englander neighbor and everyone else who had an opinion on the internet we found no clear, clean and safe solution.
Until the morning when Peter, who had been challenged if not eaten up by the question, greeted me with a mischievous and somewhat triumphant smile: “I came up with an idea! I am going to build it, a simple device that will produce a buzzing sound and I’ll put it against the wall near the bed and every time we hear the noise I’ll press a button and.. you’ll see it’s going to work.”
He was so excited! To design and build a small, simple machine, using electrical components and just a few parts had been a never fulfilled childhood dream of his.
I never knew… Talk about deeply entrenched frustration for so many years!
I was so happy for him.
To tell you the truth I had long settled my squirrel problem with my own sure bet solution: sleeping through the noise and forget it. But I would never deprive my husband of absolutely unmitigated joy and anticipation over such a mighty and promising project.
Starting with rummaging in our garage and eventually on the internet, Peter, in no time, assembled and proudly presented me this nifty and ingenious little marvel:
The button plate was going to be placed at Peter’s bedside and the box at my bedside against the wall where we presumed the noise was coming from. At the pressing of the button, the device would emit a buzzing sound that we hoped would rattle the squirrel and scare him enough to flee and abandon the premises.
That night we went to bed with the eagerness of a general who is about to conduct a mission that will annihilate his enemy forever. But not before we demanded our son, who was truly getting a kick out of all this and kept on testing the machine, to leave our room and go to sleep.
Well… here is, in a nutshell (no pun intended) what happened a few hours later, at the darkest hour: noise…buzz…silence, then noise…buzz…silence. Then again and again and again, same sequence.
I just offered my hand to hold under the covers in an attempt of quiet solidarity.
The squirrel resumed his activity, most likely only wondering what this buzz was all about.
The next morning, I was dreading the possibility of seeing my husband somber and tired but, ever the gentleman, he acted as if nothing was the matter and the night had been just fine.
We spoke no word about Operation Squirrel and just tacitly agreed to give it another try that night.
And the next night and the next one…Until Peter announced a few mornings later: “I think I have a better idea to make the buzzer work and if it doesn’t we’ll open the wall and bring the Shopvac!”
Now how would I be able to fall asleep next to the scene of utter devastation with a starving and homeless squirrel going out into the winter with no prospect of survival. Bad Karma. But I said nothing.
Next thing I hear: We have an appointment with the exterminator.
So fortunately we will never know how the squirrel was finally convinced to relocate elsewhere his winter quarters. Ignorance is bliss!
My husband is always the best at resolving problems and, as he says, he does this just to make me happy! It does. And for that, we have the best marriage…
October 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
Autumn. Nature prepares for winter. Animals and plants get ready for a long sleep in the quiet months of cold and dark.
Prepares…For some this seems to turn into a frenzy such as one would witness in a coastal town before a hurricane. I am talking about the squirrels who have been populating our garden for generations: the place being prime real estate equipped with three bountiful walnut trees, no pets and an old house with plenty of access holes.
Yes, plenty of access holes to cosy little shelters in the walls and eaves. Ideal for storing food and hunkering down for a few months.
One of those shelters is precisely located in the wall behind and next to our bed.
And we found out the hard way, for the little critters did not bother to give us prior notice of their moving in.
On a blissfully quiet night in late August, as my husband and I were deep in the realm of Morpheus, a sudden and very noisy racket startled us out of sleep .
What’s this? Can you hear it? Where is it coming from? Oh, it’s probably an animal running on the roof. Go back to sleep…
Yeah try: The noise intensifies, stops, starts again, erupts in various spots and seems to happen right next to our heads, our ears. We knock on the wall and for a few tense seconds of held breaths and immobility, it stops…and starts again, ensuing a futile waiting game that soon wears us out. The next option is to bury our heads under the pillow and ignore.
And so we do, careful not to remark on the dawn’s early light that forebodes the imminent wake up time.
To be continued…in my next post.