Bird Conversation

“Goood morning Harriet. Check out that sunrise over there. Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Absolutely breathtaking George. Look how the light begins to show. I bet it’s going to be a great day. Ahhhh, such peace and quiet.”

“Well it WAS until Frank over there starting pecking into that tree! Geesh, does he haaave to sound like a jackhammer every morning??”

“Honey, that’s how he eats. You don’t want him to starve do you?”

“Well my dear, have you seen him lately?? He could stand to miss a grub or two. I just wish he could be more quiet.”

“I understand. That’s just now how he’s made though. Come. Speaking of breakfast, let’s go fly down to that patch down there. I thiiiink I see some movement in the grass…”

“Oooh, I spy with my little eye a worm! Race you to it!”

And thus the day in the life of birds begins…


That Special Person

Okay, I don’t know about you but I have many special people in my life. How in the world do I pick just one to write about? They’re all so unique in their own way. Thinking…thinking…thinking…

I’ve got it! I’ll write about David.

Once upon a time, I was really into yoga. I mean, REALLY into yoga. I would wake up every morning around 3:30, hop on my trainer around 4:00 and bike 30 or 40 miles every morning before work. Then, I’d come home after a full day of work and go to the yoga studio for three hours. Yup, three hours. I’d do back to back classes. I was a little obsessive about it to say the least. One of my favorite teachers at the studio was David.

At first glance you’d be like “Is this guy a yogi??” He had long white hair, he was older, his skin and body were worn and ravaged by life and the passage of time. Yet, he had this childlike twinkle in his eye and this infectious grin. Once I got used to him (which quite frankly, wasn’t all that long), I was in all of his classes. He took to calling me “Pixie Girl”.

He would always have us work on a pose called “Hanumanasana”; pretty much a split. I would curse and grumble and he would laugh. I took to calling the pose the “(bleep) Monkey Thing” because of it’s origin…I swear he would put it into every class just to spite me.

He died suddenly and unexpectedly a few years ago now. I have his picture up in my classroom in a frame. He was an artist in the true sense of the word. He had his inner demons that he battled. He had his darkness and his light. He had amazing love for his family and students. He was open, honest and pure. He was wickedly funny and wonderfully humble.

Yah, my special person today is David. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll renew my efforts with the Monkey Thing; just so I can hear him laughing at me trying to do it…


My Special Place

When I was a youngling, every summer we would shut down our house in Vermont (that’s where I was born and raised) and we would move over to Nantucket Island. Keep in mind that this was back in the day when Nantucket wasn’t a popular place and it didn’t cost a bazillion dollars to rent a cottage. We would stay out at Surfside and live in a cottage owned by the Folgers. It was always the same one. There wasn’t any television, it always smelled musty and like the ocean, it was kind of dark and it was simple. I remember there was an alligator skin hanging on the wall. For a while it used to freak me out, but then I just began to talking to him and all was okay again. I had my own room and my brothers had to share a room. There was a family room, kitchen and bathroom. There was a clothesline outside that was always full of bathing suits and towels. There were swimming rafts, snorkels, masks, flippers and sand toys all over the yard. You could follow the dirt road down to the sand dunes, walk down the long rickety plank board walk and then you were on the beach. We would spend all day at the beach, sun up to sun down. We would play in the dune grass and get covered in ticks. My brothers would pull them off, drop them into Dixie cups and then drop in a match and listen to them pop. We would swim and skim board, picnic and lounge about. When the bluefish were running, my dad and I would go down in the wee hours of the morning and surf cast until we caught one. I had my Nantucket friends, Stevie and Kari. Kari still actually lives on the Island; she never left.

We would travel all about the island too. We got to know the famous Madaket Millie and we would always see Mr. Roger’s crooked house (it really WAS crooked). My dad and I would bike all the way into town and get ice cream at the Sweet Shoppe. My favorite flavor was malachite ice cream. It was their own secret recipe and I can still taste it to this day. We would have clambakes on the beach with the Jemisons and the Englands until all hours of the night. We would ride in jeeps out to lighthouses and race back before the tide came in. We would fly kites high into the sky and then daydream about being carried away by them.

I look back at silent home movies now and it feels like just yesterday when I was there. It was such a magical time; one never to be repeated. The Nantucket I grew up with doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s more of a destination place, full of boutiques and fancy shops. The cobblestone streets are still there though, and some of the older cottages are still adorned with beach roses and weathered shingles. On the outskirts of town life remains as it was, a nod to the past. The Whaling Museum still harkens to what life was like when whaling and fishing were the sole livelihood of the Island. The Tuckernuck Yoho still flies through the mist and guards his treasure; if you listen you can hear his scream in the dead of night. The Nantucket Bake Shop hasn’t changed any of it’s recipes since I was a little girl, and I’m most thankful for that. Surfside is still the best place to go for killer waves. The ocean breeze is still strong and the ferry is still the main way to get there. Some things I suppose remain the same; but most things have changed. However, it will always be “my Nantucket” in my heart and soul.

Being Home

Today was the first day being at home. Weird. Just so weird. No, maybe “weird” is the wrong word; surreal is more like it.

I slept in this morning; not like me. Even the dogs slept in which totally threw me off. I puttered around and then logged in to Google classroom. Phew, Mrs. Marc-Aurele was there! Like her, I’ve been busy emailing and checking in on things. My dogs still can’t figure out why I’m here all day; though they seem to be adjusting. The cats; well, the cats are indifferent to my presence as cats will be. Ian, he’s on Spring Break this week so he’s casually keeping up on his college work and playing video games. We have a fire going and it’s very quiet. I take that back, the dogs are now chasing each other around and wrestling. So much for the quiet.

But, you guys are missing. The hustle and bustle of team 4/5 is missing. The hugs, the chatter, the general good vibes. I miss that already.

As Mrs. Marc-Aurele said, there’s always a silver lining. Now is the time to take care of ourselves. Slow it down but stay focused. Get fresh air and eat good food. Help with chores around the house but tend to your school work too. I think it’s also a time for the earth to heal. She’s been suffering. She needs this quiet time too. Things will look different on the other side of this, and hopefully a lot better. Maybe we’ll all be more mindful of how we treat the earth and each other. Maybe this is like pressing a giant reset button.

So here we are, getting into the flow of remote learning. An exciting and interesting time for all of us. Embrace it and enjoy the ride!

Don’t Duck

I think everyone has favorites of something. Mine, well I seem to have a lot. Most everyone who knows me knows I love being barefoot all the time, I love tea, I love seals and elephants (I still dream of having some real elephants roaming around in my backyard), I love to cook, I love the ocean, I love my dogs and cats, of course I love my son. The list goes on and on. But perhaps a little known fact about me is that I love to sword fight. Yup, with real live swords.

To me, swords are elegant. They’re versatile. They’re way cool. They become a beautiful, artistic movement if done well; a dance of sorts between swordsman and sword. But you know, they also hurt when they hit you.

So let me tell you a little story.

When I first learned to sword fight, I found that I took to it quite naturally. My son and I would spar in the back yard with our fighting sticks. He would teach me the moves and we would go round and round. After a time, a friend of mine made me my very own sword. It’s absolutely beautiful. She’s named Oceana, and she’s powerful. She was enchanted by the full moon, made from the wood of a 200 year old oak tree and steel that was tempered over a special fire.

Well, the blacksmith who created her came over to give me a lesson. There we were, in the backyard, practicing moves with real live weapons. It was April and there was still some snow on the ground. It was a sunny day. All was right with the world.

He decided, “Let’s try something new. I’m going to come at you with two weapons, one in each hand”

“Ummmm, okay?” I said.

So there he was, a sword in one hand and an ax in the other. He would swing one around in a semicircle and I would hit it, then he would swing the other one around and I would hit that. I was in a constant state of being on the defensive. As I was getting the hang of it, he started going faster and faster. A part of me felt like mentally he went somewhere else, like he was reliving fighting in a battle from long ago. But I kept on going. He came at me with the ax and I did the one thing you should never ever do…duck. But duck I did.

I dropped to the ground but I didn’t fall, I came down to one bent knee.  I still had my sword in my hand. I got back up and was like “What the??” I was mad. Mad I got hit, but so excited I didn’t drop my sword. Cardinal rule is you never drop your weapon. I went to go after him and he just stood there. I said “C’mon, you can’t just stand there. I didn’t drop my sword! We’re not done yet!”

Then I felt something go in my eye. I always have hair dropping in my face, so I thought it was that and I blew it away. I felt it again. I was getting annoyed. Then I looked down in the snow. There was all of this blood in the snow. I looked up at him. I looked down at the snow. It dawned on me that it was MY blood. I looked at him and yelled, “Did you hit me?? What the heck?? Did you really just hit me in the head??”

“Ian, go get your mom a towel, QUICK!”

Ian ran in and got me a towel, came back out and I stuck in on my head.

By this time I had blood pouring out of my head. It was staining the snow. I was mad. I felt totally fine but man, was I mad. Not mad at him mind you, but mad that I ducked and got hit.

Once it was clear that I was okay, Ian piped up, “Mom, I have to tell you. You looked SO epic with the blood pouring out of your head and down your face into the snow. You looked like a real warrior Mom. That was cool!” Just move me into the cool mom category for life now.

After a week or so I went to the doctor’s just to have her check it out. Not only did I have a gash (it healed up beautifully without a single stitch), but I had a concussion and an actual mark on my skull as discovered in the MRI.

I told her step by step the whole story of what had happened. When I was done with my story she stared at me in disbelief and said “You know, you could have lost an eye.”

Me: “Yah, but I didn’t”, I said with my finger pointed in the air and a big grin on my face.

Her: “Well you could have died you know.”

Me: “Yah, but I didn’t”, still with my finger pointed in the air and smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

She shook her head at me, not quite knowing what to say or how to handle this one. So she finally smiled and simply said, “Just be more careful next time, okay??”

So next time you see me, you may notice the scar and dent to the right of my right eye. It comes with a good story, as all good scars usually do. My lesson learned and one I pass on to you: when you’re sword fighting, fight all instincts and don’t duck…and don’t ever drop your sword.

Barefoot and boxes

I love being barefoot. I go barefoot everywhere I can. I find I have to put on flip flops for stores and such but aside from that, you’ll find me barefoot. When I run, I use barefoot running shoes, but those too will go away soon. Being barefoot makes me happy. I like to feel where my feet are leading me. I like to know if the path underfoot is really my path, or if I’m only walking in the shadowy footsteps of one who came before me. You can feel these things with your feet. If it feels funny then you can move to a new path.

I’m not sure why some people find being barefoot so offensive. I’m not hurting anyone. I have beautiful tattoos atop each foot and who wants to cover up those works of art. I wash my feet and put bag balm on them every day to keep them soft. I feel more connected to the Earth when I’m without shoes, I can feel her hum and sing, or cry in pain. I’m certainly not forcing my “barefoot philosophy” on anyone else, so why this aversion to it? Why the weird or nasty looks when people see me barefoot? I don’t know the statistic but there are plenty of people who don’t wear shoes in this world and they don’t get funny looks. Sometimes I think I’d get fewer cross-eyed glances if I had an alien sprouting out of my belly. 

That being said, I DO understand why I get those looks in the winter…snow and bare feet can be a bit tough to take. The occasional romp in the snow is fun for a minute or two but after that, not so much. So then what? Yes, my feet have to be resigned to being trapped in socks and boots. Ugh, the sheer horror of it all. Even handmade eclectic socks don’t offer any solace to my toes. Oh, did I mention I only have four toes on each foot? Well, to be precise, I have ten toenails and eight toes. 

I’ll let you sit back and ponder that one for a minute. 

Your minute is up. 

Whether you guessed it or not I’ll fill you in on my secret…two of my toes were sown to the toe next to it, resulting in four toes on each foot. And before you ask…no, I don’t swim any better because they’re really not webbed like a duck, they’re one giant toe. 

Where was I going with this…ah yes, socks. So I can’t even console my poor feet with fun toe socks because you guessed it, they have five toes and not four. Come winter, you’ll hear my poor toes and feet crying to be freed from the confines of foot prisons. Yes, socks and boots are foot prisons and my toes are not happy.

While I can eventually give in to socks and boots, what I can’t seem to come to terms with are boxes. I’ve never liked boxes. Corners and hard lines; unyielding and never bending. Functional yes, flexible no. Now that I think about it, I’ve never liked boxes. I’ve always preferred circles. They’re more organic in nature. More smooth and flowing to me. No dark corners where things can lurk and hide. No corners where dark seeds can be planted take root and grow unnoticed. No spaces where shadows and monsters can lurk. There’s nowhere to hide in a circle. You’re either in the middle or along the perimeter but there’s no hiding. There’s no darkness in a circle, only light. 

Think that’s how I view labels too. Labels are like boxes. Self limiting and inflexible. I mean, I understand it in a way. I’m a writer and well, language is pretty much a necessity, but how do we get around labels? If you call someone “grumpy” maybe they’re really not, but at the moment you saw them they had unexpectedly just swallowed a bug, so they were wearing an expression that you interpreted as “grumpy” but really, they were in shock. But now, since you called them “grumpy” they suddenly feel grumpy and poof, there goes their day and they now have a label. 

How did I get on the top of labels? Labels are another box. Why do we do that? Is it easier for us humans to compartmentalize things into neat little boxes, orderly rows of opinions and perspectives, easily digested and more removed from emotion? Why do I have to call you anything other than your name? Then again, I guess your name is a label too. So I call a chair by its name but what if that chair doesn’t WANT to be a chair, what if it really wants to be a flower, but I’ve now put it in a box and called it “chair”…did I just limit its potential? If we don’t label, how do we communicate? How do we determine which labels are “ok” and which aren’t; isn’t that really an individual decision? Labels are a part of language, and language, I think, is how we have to communicate. After all…without language, I wouldn’t be writing and you wouldn’t be reading this.

Long tangent short…if you ever see me walking by barefoot, hopefully you’ll just smile and wave and think “there goes one happy barefoot sea pixie”…oh wait…did I just label and put myself in a box…

Musings From a Sea Pixie

Some people find their solace in the mountains. They enjoy the feel of the earth beneath their feet, the analysis of looking for this trail or that ledge. The stability provides them physical grounding, thus allowing their thoughts to flow. They feel the hum and the beat of the earth through the rocks, the dirt, the grass and the trees.

Me, I find my peace on the water. I’m not so good with hard surfaces. Water is akin to the blood flowing through my veins. The flow of water is life to me. I don’t need to think when I’m on the water. I feel the pulse and the rhythm of life.

I think I prefer water over mountains because there’s no beginning and there’s no end. When you climb a mountain you reach the top, have a look around and then go back down. Now, you may go a different way and all of that but you have to stop once you’ve reached the top. If you want to go further, too bad, can’t be done. 

With water though, you flow along until you feel the urge to turn around. The only one telling you not to go on is you. Not the path, not the water, you determine your journey. 

Water is soft too. I don’t know about you but I’m not the most graceful person around. More often than not, I’m tripping over my own four–toed feet, bumping into a wall cause I’m too busy looking around or just plain getting lost between here and there. When I’m on the water I feel like I’m in my element. I no longer feel like the floundering oaf of an elephant seal, rather, I feel like the graceful selkie that I’ve come to know and appreciate. When I put on my wet suit I can be buoyant and warm and stay in that water realm for even longer. Water doesn’t hurt or sting. It flows and cools. Water is life.

Don’t get me wrong though, water has power and I’ve immense respect and feel humbled by her presence. Storms and winds come up from seemingly nowhere, and if you’re not at least a little aware, you’ll be swept out to sea and then look at the mess you’re in. 

When you’re hiking in the mountains, you need to bring stuff. You need to pack and be prepared for changes. You can bring snacks. You can bring music and a camera. You can bring all sorts of fun and necessary stuff. When you’re on a paddle board let’s see, you have you and a paddle, a life jacket, if you have deck webbing you can even bring a water proof pouch to hold water and a small snack. You can bring your phone or camera if you dare, but you better make sure they’re water proof. For me, going out on the water with really nothing but yourself and your board is a very pure experience…just you, the water and your thoughts.

I actually wrote this post in my head a while back when I was out for a long trek on the New Meadow’s River. I got so lost in the beauty of the day that I ended up about 8 miles out. I had a seal with me for most of my journey. I usually see lots of curious harbor seals, eagles and herons, gulls and pipers on the rocks and seaweed beds that arise from the river as the tide withdraws to show her hidden beauty. I had it all worked out and smiled as the hand with the quill pen wrote it all on the piece of parchment  in my head. Notice how I said “had” it all worked out. 

As I rounded Malaga Island Preserve, I found a lovely little sand bar. I pulled up, sat down, ate a small snack and drank a bottle of water. I then realized I needed to pee. Well, I’m not ashamed to admit that if I need to go, well, I need to go. Fish do it, seals do it, snails do it, sure won’t hurt anything if I did it. Here’s the catch; I had a wetsuit on. Never having done that in a wetsuit before, I figured it would act the same as when I had my bathing suit on. So, in the sand I sat, did what I needed to do and felt most relieved. As I sat there for a few minutes it dawned on me that I was feeling warm. It then dawned on me further that what I did in my wet suit was still there. “EWWW!” was my first thought. Then I stood up. It didn’t move. So there I stood, on a sand bar, by myself; in a wet suit full of, well, you know. I then proceeded to pull and tug on the wet suit, pulled out the legs and felt the warmth slowly move down and empty out by my ankles. I couldn’t quite decide between giggling and gagging from being disgusted. “Sure hope people who do triathlons know about this” I said aloud. So into the water I went, pulling and tugging the whole time, hoping against hope it would all get out. Once I was all set, I got out of the water and walked the bar for a bit then decided it was time to trek on home.

As I started back I realized I was going against the tide. No problem thought I. Well, no problem until the north easterly breezes picked up…picked up in my face the entire journey back. This was my first time ever that I had to sit or kneel the whole trip back to shore. All. Eight. Miles. While never in any true peril, it did remind me to not be complacent when it came to water; even my seals had abandoned me. It’s times like that though, you pull yourself together, dig into your reserves and go “Well, got to get back, the car won’t float out and fetch me,  it’s only me so get going”…2 ½ hours later I finally made it back to the boat launch; utterly exhausted, but a bit stronger and very clear headed.

The point of this blog? I’m not quite sure. Clearly, I love the water; it soothes my soul and clears my mind. Paddle boarding is meditation in motion for me. You may love the mountains. You may even be one who is comfortable in both elements. Wherever you go to find yourself, your inner peace, make sure you go there as often as you can. In this crazy dream of a world that we live in, now more than ever it’s important to carve out time for you and you alone. Pack for your adventure, be safe, be open to what comes and enjoy the ride….just don’t pee in your wetsuit.

A Writer’s Mind

So it’s time for me to craft a blog. I find myself at that awkward time of having a million and one thoughts and no thoughts at all. That space where everything is right on the fringes of consciousness…can’t quite reach a thought to grab. As a writer, what do you do? I suppose it’s different for everyone. Me, I’m going to try meditation.

Okay, that didn’t work. As I was calming my mind and getting into my meditation groove, I became too calm and one with all that is; void of all thought. While normally that’s a good thing, not so good for writing.

On to music. But what kind of music. Something to get the energy going. Yes…Nahko &Medicine for the People, “Father Mountain”.  Sweet lyrics, jamming hand percussion section. “Cosmic rays have amplified your place and been revealed to me in the strangest places…” How can she DO that with a hand drum? Amazing talent…wonder if her hands hurt after a while…I should send her some bag balm… Wonder why drums speak to me, so tribal like the heartbeat of the earth…Hands tapping, toes tapping, singing along.

Okay, clearly that didn’t work either. Got totally lost in the music. Still no thoughts.

This post is going to be harder than I thought.

Maybe going for a walk down to the waterfront will help.  A brisk winter walk is sure to do the trick. Take some photographs along the way and get the creative juices going. Oh look, there are the resident bald eagles watching me from the trees. Oooh, the water is beginning to thicken and move more slowly. Ah, Jim has his smelt shacks up and waiting for smelt season to begin. They say it’s supposed to snow soon, I wonder if we’ll have a white Christmas after all. Ugh, still not a whole lot to write about.

Perhaps some tea and new age type music…no lyrics or heavy percussion to entice me to lose my way. Quiet sounds, warm tea, comfy spot on the couch under a blanket. It’s worth a shot…save me Spotify.

In THEORY, tea and spa music is a lovely idea…in reality; it’s like being given a handful of knockout drops.

So here I sit, at the laptop, having just chronicled part of my day. Turns out I had a bit of lots of different things to say, but nothing of substance. Maybe this is just the mind of a writer. Maybe there’s a lesson in this. Sometimes trying to collect your thoughts is like herding cats, while other times it’s like throwing your net into the breeze and returning with nothing but empty net. You see, that’s how writing works, and, that’s okay. The important thing is to just keep writing…write about nothing because even nothing is something…and sometimes, the greatest ideas are found in the very nothingness of thoughts…