“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


old and new

yesterday morning's air was chilled, with one last gasp of honeysuckle hanging over the creek, holding onto the very last of summer. november opened her eyes.

the churchbells on the corner sing us into the day.
my front door is open a bit and there is a fire in the heater.
this afternoon will be almost warm enough for the air conditioner.


juxtaposition is magic.

brick by brick, brick next to brick.  another wall is changed, this one behind my bed, and only because i painted the piece of wood i use for a headboard, the flat part of an old drawing table, painting it what looked like emmatree blue in the can and in my office at work, but what looks more green in my bedroom, not so wonderful against the old taupe wall.  so brick by brick the taupe turned white, just that wall, just like that, and now the room lights up in the best of ways.

piece by piece.

a new grayish color now covers my mother's old skinny picnic table, skinny enough to fit on my tiny back porch, a porch i've neglected for a couple of years.  i'd thought to paint the table white, but knew immediately it would be too too.  it needed to be softer, it needed to sit on the old wooden floor with ease, it needed to collect falling leaves with grace.  it has a history, this cheap old table. it once was my family's dining table, all my parents could afford, and while i  thought it was cool, being all young and teenagery, my mother did not - she saw it as evidence of their poverty and would cover it with tablecloths when company came, and laugh about it, but in truth it broke her heart.  she wanted pretty, and this table wasn't that.

times got better bit by tiny bit, and a new house was found, a new table bought - still not the pretty one she longed for, but one she could live with, one that fit into the new space more easily, one that allowed the picnic table to assume its intended duties on the outside of the house; years went by and she moved back to texas, the tables traveling with her.  eventually she found the dining room table she wanted - i liked it so much less, all formal and darkish wood - but she loved it, and when she moved again, after my father died, she dragged all the tables with her once again and even added another, one i actually liked, dark wood notwithstanding.  it sits in my art space, waiting to be painted white, but in the meantime, the picnic table called, and last weekend, the lovely, lovely katie and i moved all the stuff off the porch, everything but that table, and painted.  we watched the redwood soften into a gray and nodded our heads.  yes, this would work.  in the spring, we will paint the back wall of the house, just the bottom brick part, brick by brick, and perhaps the table will change colors yet again, but for now the gray feels right.

2 nights ago was halloween and somehow i forgot that meant trick or treaters, only remembering the candy part as i pulled into the driveway.  ghosts and goblins were already out & about, and i, needing a place to hide - i say this with guilt and laughter - found refuge on the darkened porch, not yet finished, the table piled with empty planters and all the other outside stuff, waiting for this weekend to finish the transformation.  katie came downstairs and we sat in the glow of candlelight and talked the night away, until skye cat came home and the street was once again quiet.  it was more than nice.   
last night was the end of a warm day, temperatures in the mid 80s, and we once again found our way to the porch, sitting by the light of the candle.   the porch, the table, the surrounding darkness, katie's dog next to our feet, things next to things next to other things, begins to feel like home, like a new ritual, like safety and silence and peace.  there will soon be string lights and flowers and chairs befriending the benches, but last night one taper in an old candle chandelier chased away the hardness of the day.

thank you, mother, for keeping that table that made you feel so poor. 



  1. i love every bit of this. i smiled all the way through, we have a picnic table on the porch of our now defunct cabin that was my husband's family's dining table when he was growing up, and the house I grew up in had a porch while the house i live in now does not, and that is the thing i miss the most.

    porches are altars of silence. of watching the world, the weather and books and sunsets.

    i am so glad that you have rediscovered yours., and so glad that you mother kept that table, so that you might find the perfect place for it.

  2. I have missed you. But finding you on the back porch with a candle on the gray picnic table
    made the wait more bearable.
    and in response to Mrs. M. Porches are altars of silence. Wow.
    in fond thoughts,

  3. Hi, friend. I've been thinking of you.

  4. Juxtaposition is indeed magic. I do so love your words.

  5. this was like a soft blanket for me tonight ... thank you for the tender way you share !


come. sit under the emma tree & let's talk. i have cookies . . .