Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Feeling Torn Apart or a Bird in Migration?

I have friends in two places.

I have dear beloveds on both extremes who are convinced they are right.

They will not speak to each other, but to me they both speak of "standing up for what is right."

They are done searching and have settled into Certainty.

And it is tearing me apart.

...

I have two homes.

The one I grew up in and the one I came to know.

Neither has a real sense of the other, yet they speak with certain judgement.

They are disperate and quirky, small and proud.

Once I left, I could never show enough loyalty to be trusted again.

...

I have two sons.

They are best friends.

But when they are together they lean out to reveal differences.

They are moving in together.

I love them so.

...

I am 55 and I am still menstruating.

An empty nester with eggs.

I'm waiting for opportunities to come my way 

after all my schooling and experience

But now I'm told all those credentials

No longer hold sway.


I go to two different churches.

I swim and grieve and eat and wonder how to hang on to joy.

I volunteer and try new groups and learn of different causes

Then others tell me what is wrong with the group, which is why they can not offer help.

I eat more sugar because it takes away the bad taste in my mouth

For a time


The child in me is scared and wants me to stop and just take care of her.

I get a call from the University about a possible job, and cry with hope.

I can't get back on to Unemployment Insurance because I made $10 too much one week.

But the system won't let me restart; there is a glitch that takes too long to explain.

But I would have to wait 9 hours on hold with the same 20 second melody to talk to a specialist

So they can try to check the same boxes without perjury

Then ask me the same questions

Only to realize there is no box for me.


Why has everything become so depersonalized?

It's deflating to say the least.


...But then,

I walk through the city and it is so lush... and ignored. 


The Oregon grape, the canopy of leaves over the sidewalk, the day lilies, the lavender, the baby's breath, the purple, the red, the white, the fragrant and the tender, the shiny and the bold, the mysterious knot in the tree, the sun and shadows dance on the path.  Even the exposed roots make a braid of beauty and wonder.

And now, my troubles are small.

What if I lived each day following my happiness and delight?  I don't mean falling into dissipation or out of reality, but rather, stepping farther into it. Not just noticing my surroundings, but steeping in them.

Lately, when the air is cool, but the sun is shining, I like to find a spot near vegetation and turn my back to the light and let it heat me through.  And just breathe.

Instantly the child in me takes my hand and I am quieted.  My feet are solid, but my mind floats on receding waves back in time to every other day like this.

I realize there have not been many days like this in the last 30 years, so these conditions evoke childhood memories rich with sweet possibility and a sense of lingering... listening for the call, to tend to the heart and follow the body into peace and safety, beauty and connection with nature, with the wind, the bird song, the leaves, the grass, the ants, the wood, the blackberry, the stone, the water, the duck and goose, the sky, the osprey... none of this is common or sentimental while I'm paying attention.

My shoulders slide down my back and my wings fall into their favorite resting place.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

At the Crossroads between Old and New

I have been flooded.  Thoughts.  Feelings.  Opportunities.  Disappointments.  Blessings.  Starting over.  Missing friends.  Out of sorts.  Out of energy.  Out of temper.  Out of underwear.  Out of grace.  Out of sync.  Out of pencils.  Out of milk.  Out of patience.  And out of depth.

There is so much new and frustrating in trying to assert myself into a world that doesn't remember my name.

And then there is the wide open church that I stumbled into that welcomed me.  They tend to be artful.  They tend to be honest.  They tend to gloss over differences and invite me to participate in the human stumble-through of life.

There is another church that I have loyalties to that dissects the scripture like a curious cat and welcomes questions and doubt and admits suffering and meets infrequently.

Then there is the first church.  The one that I explored as a child and is now a grand thing that is earnest but exclusive and sure.  They have a new building from the one I remember best, but I happen to be spending time these days in the old building where I used to run all over the place.  Everywhere I turn memories come springing upon me.  The changes the new owners have made seem strange to me and I still see the walls as green and the carpet as red and want to slide down the bannisters and sneak into the adult Sunday School class and steal sugar cubes from the coffee table.  

Ah, there is the old nursery where I'm told I rolled off the counter as a babe.  --That door used to lead to the organ pipes that I climbed up and crawled out over the sanctuary in the ceiling slot.  That tunnel has been covered up -- whatever for?  All the old windows are getting replaced, but they have no character.  And the old corners and pillars are showing age and neglect.  The drinking fountatins are still there and all the intention for worship and gathering.  Only now we worship virtuosity of music and dance... hopefully in service of story.

I am a chorus member, bowing first in a flight of 8 tiers, representing a mama of Anatevka, being reminded keenly of how much it truly takes a village... while missing my old village in Alberta.  The throat swells at moments of recognition of the immensity and universality of a wedding, a loss, a son, a stick of wood, an old forgotten church, a community of people, and feeling compelled to leave a home.

If I were to list my opportunities you would think I have nothing to complain about.  An opportunity to write narrative scenes for a professional ballet, coordinating community engagement in the arts, singing in a choir, joining a small group for weekly truth telling, reading a screenplay, announcing at track and field events, producing a play this Christmas...

Yes.  I am scared and grateful and tired.  And I still feel unsure at times or misunderstood, or simply invisible in places where I am used to being a leader.  There are groups and histories and connections that I don't share a kinship with... at least not yet.  And then there are new friends and aquaintances who take me at face value -- or at least heart value.

And I am aging and realizing that my children are becoming independent and watching my husband try on new hats of vocation and meaning.  And my couch is so large in my apartment that I can't fit all 6 chairs around the dining table.  First world problems; I know.

But these adjustments affect how I relate to my home, my family, my daily routine and myself.

I now have to drive in a car to connect.  I hadn't realized what a change that would be and how good I used to have it.  In Rosebud, I could step outside my door and wander and find communion with people and nature within minutes.  I only drove about twice a week.  Here I drive 6 days a week and find it hard to trust others outside my windows or see any evidence of kindness.  Here I have to pay to park.  Here I have to drive through rain, sometimes for several days... and yet it is lush and beautiful and familiar and sometimes downright balmy.  Priviledged Pacific Northwest problems, I know.

And yet world-wide there are similar problems post-mid pandemic: we're all scared and feel like we've been robbed.


So, how do I embrace the new and hold on to the old?
The old church is now a concert hall and theater, the old concert hall and theater often hosts tours from out of town.

The old furniture doesn't quite fit and may need to go.
The old ways are not always followed.
The old me is still inside -- sliding down the bannister when no one is looking.
The new building for the old church is a more impressive theater than the theater in the old building.
The new opportunities are fraught with the same old human problems of fear, control and habit.
The new apartment is older than floor heating but full of large growth trees and wildlife.
The new me is smaller in some ways, but honest.

At the confulence of past and present, it can feel quite unsettling for the future.

A brilliant woman in my small group is dying.  Her brain is sharp, her grace and humor intact, but her muscles no longer let her speak freely or hold up her head.  I can't handle seeing her deteriorate so rapidly, and yet... I have no clue what she is really going through.  My problems seem so small in comparison.


I have the opportunity to learn.  I get to remember what it's like to be in the chorus.  I get to watch others lead, shine and make the decisions, while I pay attention and acknowledge my instincts, even if I'm the only one who knows.

What better training for the future than to start over, try new paths, carry pieces of the history, and listen; waiting for an opportunity to lead?





Monday, June 26, 2023

Through a Veil... Lightly.

I am sitting on my couch.  The couch that we almost didn't bring down from Canada because we weren't sure if it would fit inside our townhouse in Oregon, let alone fit inside our moving truck along with all our other belongings we weren't prepared to give away yet.

We moved.

We did it.

We had a lot of help, and we needed it.  Folks in Rosebud came out to help us pack, tetris the truck, clean up the empty house, deal with things we were not taking with us, providing a place to sleep, food to eat, lovely send-offs and farewells and good wishes... and we arrived after two days of travel...

and our new place was not ready for us.

So disappointing.

But we had a ready crew of helpers to unload so....

We cleaned a spot on the living room floor from all the dust of painting and plastering and new flooring and other turn over tasks that were not yet done, and brought everying inside.

The place was worse than we thought.  Granted, they were trying to get it ready for us, and having to work extra hard (the horror story of the tenant evicted before us was pieced together over the next several days), but it was especially disappointing because we had just worked so hard trying to make our old place so welcoming, and the prospect of doing that all again, only with even more history of grime, was a heavy thought.

But when I looked out from the tiny kitchen and saw Gutenberg College students on their hands and knees mopping the floor with my dish towels, I was moved by their humble generosity.  Once again, we were aided by helpful humans to nudge us forward into uncertainty but also community.

So yes, I am sitting on my couch -- the only part of it that is accessible that is, because our flat screeen tv which is still wrapped in mattress eggshell foam which used to line the wall of our small voice studio in Rosebud, Alberta, is protecting said tv of any damage, but also from any viewing for the past month, is also sitting on the couch.  That's okay.  I really haven't missed it much, yet.  But the point here is that we are still unpacked... for the most part.

That is because even though we have planted flowers in the entry (after bringing in soil and mulch to give the roots a place to breath), we have given notice.

We move again July 12.  The thought is overwhelming if I don't take a deep breath right after.  We will move closer to Eugene, closer to potential work, closer to family, closer to familiarity... closer to neighborhoods that resemble what we value, generally... we think.  

The privilege and possible entitlement of this last paragraph is not lost on me.  It is offering much food for thought these days as the marijuana drafts in again with the heat and argument from outside the back sliding glass door.  They don't allow a screen so we bought a fabric magnetic thingy that kept falling down but now is secured with extra packing tape.  I don't mean to complain as much as be curious.  The "screen curtain" is actually a lovely lacelike white and even thought it's not made to stand up to wind or ants, it veils the outside just a bit.

Our tiny concrete patio was the work station for the local turn around crew and cluttered high with supplies, old doors, old appliances, trash, tools and debris when we first arrived, and now much of that has been removed.  I'm told there were several truckloads that they pulled out of our townhouse and took to the dump.  Like... 13.

As you can imagine, the doily barrier doesn't actually shield me from much, but I'm struck with the image as it gives the illusion of separation -- a flimsy white line of privacy.

But,

I had wanted to be more free to connect and know more diverse people and foster goodwill when I came here.

Why am I shying away?

When David and I go on walks, people seemed surprised and almost suspicious when we greet them.  Drivers do not yield to us.  One woman hissed at me.  Others ignore us and don't mean anything by it.  And some are kind, some are bossy, some are inebriated and some are just tired.  I'm tired too.

Some ditches are full of trash and others have huge grasses.  The land is teaming with life -- it's almost a jungle.  Springfield and Eugene are so rich in velvety roses, you can smell the fragrance when the wind is south.  Glorious.  Broken roads, and then painted bike lanes, and then evergreens everywhere, and then angry shouts, and then silence, and then birds and squirrels and more and more flowers.

Over where my folks live it's a very different vibe.  Immaculate lawns and beautiful spacious homes and water and grass and wildlife... where the biggest concern is the poop the Canadian geese leave behind.

I feel sometimes that I have failed here in this first neighborhood.  Even though I am still friendly, I have not ventured out too much when David is away in Eugene at night at rehearsals, I have stayed inside, among the boxes, remaining in trasition/limbo/liminal uncertainty experiencing life through the sieve of my white flimsy curtain.  Last night I was sure I heard gunshots and someone getting beat up.  I wasn't sure what to do... and then I realized it was a neighbor playing a video game quite loudly with an open window.  My romantic of vision of diversity has not been granted, in fact there is little diversity in this neck of the woods.  I would have to apply myself to look and learn closer between the layers of what most might call "white trash."

My goodwill and patience are in need of tanking up and I don't yet have purposive work that feeds us.

Do I not have a thick enough skin to tough it out in a poor neighborhood?  Am I so used to comfort and quiet and small town hospitality that I can't weather a night walk without fear?  Well, maybe.  Maybe not.

I keep putting out feelers and resumes and dreaming up hopes and visions for theatre and it's hard to find a place for those dustballs to stick on the velcro of possibility and mutual interest.  

Everyone seems busy and holdiing their place.  Some are interested in collaboration but are slow to respond, and some are demanding to start something new since and draft me into their resentful charge because what is already in place is supposedly too narrow.  I am open to connecting to whoever responds at this point, but one thing is clear -- it's all volunteer.

Sigh.

However, we are asserting a show at the local Springfield theatre this Christmas and we have some wonderful souls joining us and that is something to be grateful and excited for.  Heck, there are actually many wonderful things and possibilities coming up, it's just that the foundation of provision is cloudy.

I could go on and on.  And I should for my own clarity because this is tough and fine and strange and scary and sad and good and true.  And I am in one neighborhood while preparing for another while trying to get settled and then feeling stuck -- not sure which good thing to work on first.  I still feel like I'm visiting and on vacation -- taking advantage of family nearby, old haunts, great food and local entertainment for the first time in 28 years.

I still hope to continue to connect to a few more of my neighbors and leave graciously, without them worrying too much about the Canadian poop we might leave behind.

Where we're going to has a small pool.

I can't tell you how much that makes me weep with joy.

I hope I can find work to afford to live there long, if need be.

And I hope to keep learning, from everyone and everything around me.

Thanks for listening to my part of my story.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Kicking at the Gate

I am back.

Back into winter.

I went from spring into winter and it continues to strike me.

Rosebud is a whirl of its own concerns and I feel like my Oregon self is getting swallowed up in the current of busy and needy and familiar and cold.

Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful here: blue skies and pristine white snow... everywhere.  But I feel like I've been shoved back three months and never left.

I am grieving the show, the people, the geography -- the new/old familiar of my hometown... the ease.  Yes, that is it too.
I was buffered by comfort.
I got to walk with my mom in the mornings without worrying about ice.
I got to eat well and not have to do the dishes.
I got to breathe deeply and fully.

I also encountered a lot of hurting and angry people.  Some are so jaded they have no margin for conversation.  They have put up walls so they will no longer be badgered and in so doing cut off opportunities to learn.  They are outward focused only to the point of labeling and separation and I see no evidence of self reflection or curiosity.

This is true everywhere, I know.  But it was startling to see in my idealized town.
And yet... I still feel a call, an aching in my heart to offer points of connection through theatre.
So in the midst of responding to what is right in front of me here in frigid rural Alberta, I am also pondering where to toss seeds in Oregon.

I have a foot in each world.  My mind and heart and body are confused, but walking forward...
Into spring, once again.

The waiting and the anticipation both pulling at me.

It reminds me of the "5 minutes" before places time before Something Clean would start at the Oregon Contemporary Theatre this past month.

My castmate Paul Dunckel could hardly stand it.  He had so much energy and no where to put it.  He would crack me up as the pranced like a fawn in the side room or pace our side stage area like a tiger.

I, too, was not enjoying that suspense.  I was always nervous and like a horse in the gates, ready to run.  Once the show began there was no stopping for me, not even to grab a drink... even though there were bottles around just in case.
My heart and mind and gut would be racing inside me and I was trying to regulate my breath and still the fear inside me.  Deep breaths.  Bending the knees.  Stretching the legs. --Whatever I could do to be patient and yet ready to carry the story through my own journey thought to thought, place to place, action by action, and a whole river of bends and rapids of emotion and discovery.

I was told I was too bouyant and so I was consciously trying to lower my center, allow my voice to drop in, and have the openness of a bottomless well of pain and longing from which to resonate.

Opening night I was particularly scared.  Paul and I found ourselves waiting in the little curtained off vom during a preshow chat that was longer than we expected.  I needed a physical activity to focus my pent up nerves and try to ground myself and I imagined the physical passion Maori warriors share when giving honour to a brother or competitor and wanted to try my best to pound and flail myself to my own spiritual readiness.

So I put down my purse and my prop and warned Paul what I was about to do so he wouldn't be shocked at me making strange faces and sticking out my tongue and making strong gestures. -- He joined me.

It was powerful, right, centering, and charged.  It gave us a chance to express our angst and readiness, and it was delicious too because it was secret.  No one in the theatre suspected that just behind the curtains the actors were stomping out their fear and gaining courage in a violently beautiful odd ritual.

Soon I would be pushed out to pasture and I knew I had to lead.  And I did.

Thankfully my scene partners, the lights, the set, the sound, the staging, the story, the props were all there like they had been everytime before... only now I had the audience.  Would they engage?  Would they follow my lead?

They did.

Whenever I was clear and in the moment, I could feel them with me.  At times I carried them.  At times they helped me.  They showed me when to slow and catch the next wave, but we were going on this journey together.

And I could feel it.

What a rush.  To bare my soul and have it given back to me whole and seasoned with new community.  

I hope to always cherish that gift.

Getting to engage with the audience in the lobby afterwards was a testament to the necessity of theatre and the incredible power of sharing story.  

Humans can learn and grow 

and become softer.

Let's keep telling stories together.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Inside the Whale


I went wandering down memory lane -- several times on this trip.  Once to my little sister's grave, once to my old elementary school neighborhood, and once to an old park where I used to play with abandon.  

I knew what I was looking for walking along the river -- images and memories overlapping in the rolodex of my mind.

The Whale.

On the south side of town, it would have been the Rocket, but here near where there used to be a ferry carrying you across the river. it would be the gray whale.  The small concrete kid climbable whale -- gray with small sparkles, where you can climb inside its mouth -- yeah, that one.

Two young girls and their young mom or babsitter were already there engaging with it, as well as another abstract playground climbable -- they shied away as I drew near.

It saddens me that I scare them.  Even though I present as a female nurturer/curious student of the world, I still represent and resemble the white privileged ruling class and am simply imposing with my tall frame, bold colors and red hair.

Their beautiful Hispanic features are not lost on me as they scurry to the corners as I dare to enter their safe space.  If only they could see the little girl inside me incesantly tugging me forward.

I choose to address the caretaker to try to explain and put them at ease.  "Hi, I too used to play with this whale 50 years ago" (How could that number be correct?)  The two girls give no sign of welcoming me into their club, but one of them launches herself on top of the whale, rightfully claiming it as her toy in the present tense, while also demonstrating her prowess.  I love it.

Emboldened, her younger sisster follows suit and they straddle their large catch at home on his back.  I give them space, but study the cosmetic treatment this 70's installment has undergone -- the once gray with tiny diamond flecs that my four year old hands would caress is coated in white and bright and pattern like an outdoor tablecloth.

The oldest perks up, "So you used to play on this when you were a girl?"  So she was listening and is now offering a small story stick to me.

"Yes", I say, "but back then it was just gray."  

Both girls scrunch up their faces trying to imagine such a plain whale.

I lay my hand on its side slowly, trying to garner the memories, the feelings and the significance of my childhood perspective.  I'm tempted to crawl right inside it.  That's what I remember -- Little Jeany standing inside its mouth, safe and hiding from my mother telling me for the third time that it was time to go home.  

Instead I keep all my five feet and ten inches outside it, but my mind has already flown back.  I am in the shadow of the secuity of the made-just-for-kids space inside the whale.  I seem to remember sand underfoot, a little stone igloo oven of sun warmth, and the sense of rest and adventure and safety -- like the security I used to feel climbing inside a cupboard that only I could fit.

The adult me ponders the image of Jonah.  Am I longing to be inside the whale because I too want to run away?  Will God send a Great Fish to carry me to the shores I refuse to tread upon? Or am I safely being guided to my new people group?

Will the words and offerings burning inside me fall on deaf ears in this sorely divisive new/old homeland, or will some have a ringing of truth resound in their ears and actually turn to listen to the prophetess?

I don't want to sound melodramatic.

I don't want responsibility of following all the ideas springing up everywhere I look -- possibility for a story share there, community connection there, theatre there... it's too painful to hope.

Could that have been true of Jonah too?  It's easy to write him off as a coward, but maybe he was hurt and scarred and not sure if he could handle more ridicule, let alone a huge revival and eventually, even the loss of his own shade.

So many parallels to my own humanity; both brave and fagile; visionary and suspect.

I begin to walk away, thank the young women, and leave the sea of reflection.  Stepping forward yet still flooded with other memories of frisbee tossing, roses, potato salad and tandem biking on the day of prom -- all a wash of teal and froth passing north on the Willamette.

Prophetic encounters with my past while yearning for signs for my future.

All while remaining open in the present.  Breathing deep.  

Sounds just like navigating through the play I get to be in.  

Stay present.  Stay grounded.  Listen.  Allow myself to be transparent.  Go thought by thought.  Allow my heart or hope or fear and longing to stab at the despair and confusion to validate each truth in the mystery of it all.  A woman falling out of order into chaos and greater sight.

May I own my story in the midst of hers and step forward, further in. 

Humble but brave.
Specific yet generous and spontaneous.
Open but discerning.
All in community
And on the search for kindred spirits.
I am learning so much through Selina Felinger's Something Clean
(Did she ever play inside the whale at Skinner's Butte park as a fellow Eugenean?)
While learning so much through recognizing and honoring the world that I carry inside.
In the mix of pain and glory.
Taking the next step, while living in the moment
Inside the whale of Possibility.

Tickets to Something Clean at the Oregon Contemporary Theatre found here: https://www.octheatre.org/somethingclean 

 

Monday, January 30, 2023

When Your World is No Longer Tidy

 Today I embark on my Journey as Charlotte Walker in Selina Fillinger's drama Something Clean at the Oregon Contemporary Theatre in Eugene.
The story begins as Charlotte and her husband Doug return home after their son has entered prison for rape.

This play reveals the ripples of grief and dyfunction that surface when one's life is turned upside down. Charlotte is at a loss and tries to fix everything without acknowledging that she is in shock or recognizing her attempts to alleviate her own shame.

Before she can be of any help, Charlotte has to learn to see. Through the help of a friendly manager at the local safe house, we watch this white suburban housewife come to grasp the pervasiveness of sexual assault. We come alongside her fragility in suddenly finding she is not able to be touched by her husband. And we witness the beginning of her discovery of her privilege and helplessness.

This play is so relevent, poignant, and kind in its telling... I am humbled and honored to be a part of it.


And in other ways too I am so so grateful. For one, I get to work in my beautiful hometown of Eugene. Just walking around yesterday I saw so many sights that took my breath away and then allowed me to inhale deeply with appreciation. Everyone here is complaining about the cold, but to me it is balmy and vivid. Green, green grass, blue, blue sky, craggly tree branches with warty trunks reaching up -- some still with a few red or brown leaves, and the wet dark soil pierced with light green daffodil sprouts... oh it is a bouquet of lush splendor. It takes years of being away from this environment to really let it stop me in my tracks, so I hope I can hang on to this blessing. Even the new murals and mosaics are stunning.
And, I get to be near my boys, share meals and walks with my folks, and connect with old friends and hopefully make new connections as well. I am offered many comforts. And I am grateful.
But there are things here too that concern. There are dysfunctions and judgements and misunderstandings in the greater circles I tread in. Walking down beautiful Broadway in Eugene, there is also neglect and houselessness and hurt disguised as hatred hurled into the streets as I walk by. There is a sense of unease, injustice, vitriol and addictions. These are dynamics that are not as visible on the streets of my small hamlet in the frozen north, where I have often been tucked away on my couch with my fuzzy socks watching baking shows.




The day I left Alberta the roads were scary slick and unpredictable. Once strapped into my plane we were on the Tarmac in a blizzard in Calgary for another two and a half hours of de-icing and waiting for a plow and re-icing because of the delay, etc. etc. By the time we rose above the gray muck of winter I was surprised to see the sun. How do I forget that it is always up there shining, even when I can't see it?
I, like Charlotte, have a lot to learn and see.



The only hard part in leaving is leaving David. We have never been apart for more than 10 days. We have grown accustomed to eating every meal together, processing our days and nights together. This will be a new adventure for both of us, and we're actually a bit excited. Well, excited and scared. --And he does get to come down and spend the last three weeks of the seven with me here. But right now I just miss him.
To be honest, there are other hard parts about being here, but this is all for now.
A new adventure begins with
Oregon Contemporary Theatre










Thursday, November 24, 2022

Felling

 





The Tree Men are here today. 
Five lean lumberjacks ready to scramble up and trim some overhanging branches threatening to intrude on our neighbors roof in a large windstorm.  I will miss them.  I didn’t think I would, but now I know I will.

It’s not often I can feel the earth move under my feet while sitting in my living room.  The branch thunders down after a chainsaw severs it from the rest of the tree and then it is chipped and sent sailing into a holding bin.

Wow.

The trees are naked, beige and spindly and all around is white: the ground, the sky, the road… everything is white with a bit of the beige tree bark.  These are not my favorite colors.  The range is quietly disappointing.  But it is warm.  Well, warmer than it was.  My Oregon friends would never call this warm, but to us over here wrapping ourselves in blankets like fuzzy burritos – it’s so warm.

Of course that makes for slick tracks walking down the road at an incline.  Even though I have small cleats that pop out under my boots for days like this, I still look for the crunchy snow, the bits of gravel, the chunky spots so I don’t slip.

Because falling has gotten more costly.  It’s never fun, but lately it has become scary.  My aging body is not so spry or quick to forgive and so slow I go. 

I remember in high school trying to play the age I am now in theatre class.  Mr. Markworth put plastic wrap over our eyes and had us walk around the auditorium.  We inevitably hunched over and reached for railings.  This was a revelation to me – that old people moved differently because they couldn’t see or couldn’t bend or couldn’t balance or had a fear that they would break something if they fell, so they go carefully.

Some trees get to grow old and spread and twist and find their way to the skies and under the earth.  Some are blown over by storms or struck by lightning and burned.  And others are cut down because they interfere with or endanger the lives of humans, the supposed caretakers of the earth.

We bring our metal teeth at exhilarating speeds and bite through your mass and mince you into little bits.  But these bits foster new life on my garden and Dave’s flower beds and my dear elderly neighbors will no longer feel threatened from the next gust from the north.


I will miss the piles of golden leaves.  I will miss their towering presence.  What stories could they tell?

Of boys playing in the dirt at their feet

Of candlelit talks on the table under their boughs

Of robin song and leaf flutter

Of snow, wind, rain and frost

Of the many comings and goings on foot because I live and work and eat in this small world

Of the arrivals and departures of my beloved family in the old van, the Honda Pilot and the zippy Mazda

Of imagination and grounding and dreaming on a bright picnic blanket

Of a long table supper for Donovan’s graduation

Of the day the first tree fell by a gust of wind from the west

Of Joel laying down the new boardwalk with slats on the angle

Of Davey tending to the flowers and lining their beds with stones from our travels

Of bees and butterflies and wasps and spiders

Of creeping clematis and honeysuckle and day lilies and columbine

Of Weston helping to arrange small worlds of variety and story into a planter for Mother’s Day

Of snow men and hail

Of ice tea and lemonade

Of poppies and straw flowers, tulips and flax

May their memories live on in our hearts and whisper joy and life to the next generation of dwellers