“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


writing the years away. 7 down, number 8 begins.

the friday sky through camellia bushes-almost-trees. 

despite the snow and cold and the icicles that hung from their branches, the trees are budding, though perhaps those buds and baby flowers are frozen in place.  perhaps i'm wrong about it all, but i daily pass pear trees that seem to be standing still, just waiting to usher in the spring, and i have hope they will.  there is snow still on the ground in places, and a cold wind still blows, and there is a threat of more last minute winter, but i refuse to pay attention.  instead i say my gratefuls - the tree that was cut down (last year? the year before?), whose leaving broke my heart, opened my view to the tulip tree, which seems grateful for the space and extra sunlight, and stands dotted with pink blossoms, a good morning moment at the beginning of a gray day.


sunday morning: my hurry up walk, rain due at noon, found me passing a boxwood hedge towering overhead, a thick hedge squared off on all its edges with a door connecting two sections, a wooden door closing off the magic yard beyond.  it is, nonetheless, a yard i can see a bit of, the top of the door about face high to me and no hedge overhead.  it is a door you can't see until you pass the edge of the boxwood, nestled back as it is.  i cannot overstate its magic and seclusion, but when i walk i usually pass by quickly and think later.  but this past sunday, when i rounded the edge of the hedge, i found myself eye to eye with a red tailed hawk, he sitting atop that door, then gone in half a second, so fast and so close i am surprised his feathers didn't brush my cheek as he leapt into the air.   . . . and exhale.

did the hawk mean anything more than the lizard i'd awakened to the previous sunday?  i think not - i take them both as gifts.  i wonder what this next sunday will bring and wish i had a box in which to keep these gifts, and then remember i do.  it's called emma tree, and i drop them in oh-so-carefully with words and a soft pat on the head.

i'd not thought of this place here on the internet as a keepsake spot, but of course it is.  it's what keeps me coming back.  when i think i'm done, i open the lid and look around, and know i'm not.


monday was my 7th blogiversary, and i forgot.  i have been filling this space for 7 years and now into 8, and it feels like a part of who i am - there have been times i wouldn't have thought or said that, but only this morning it occurs to me that it is a treasure box, full of secrets and losses and bare toes and flowers.  it calls for a celebration and a give away, i think, that sudden awakening, but i am running late and rambling, and will have to give it some thought.

but first a thank you.  to the people who have been visiting from the get-go, to the people who drop in now and again.  to the people who have stopped visiting - you've taught me more than you'll ever know.  to the people who believed in me and published my words.  to the people who've bought paintings and photographs and magazines just because i'm in them.  to the people who comment and the people who don't.  to the people who hold my hand through the hard times and laugh with me when a laugh is needed.  to the ever-wonderful michael, who has believed in me before i ever hit the publish button.  to my family and friends who have always been supportive - always.  y'all have been on these pages with me every day.

xoxo to you all.

let's see what this eighth year holds.



a glimpse of yesterday

we had snow, a few hours worth anyway, on top of monday morning's almost gone ice.  this was as close as i could convince myself to step to the edge of the bridge-that-really-isn't, water running cold beneath, the ice still slippery, the snow still wet, not yet piling into the few inches it would eventually be, the creek threatening to fall in right about there, and i was chicken.

i was early to work and had the whole morning to myself.  i kept the radios off.

everywhere i look i see horizon lines and i wonder what's beyond.  the world seems painted in stories to draw me closer, or farther, depending on where i'm standing and in what direction i head.  this week i desperately want to stand still, but i move anyway.  unwillingly, slowly, trudging.  snow and ice lately bring hard news, not my news to share, but hard news nonetheless, news that pushes me when i don't want to be pushed.  katie says that life is a school, and she is right, but this week i want to play hooky and sneak off somewhere to smoke cigarettes and drink beer.  



everything and more. spring always returns.

i was home early yesterday, angry at just stuff, needing to get away, home early enough to catch the 4 year old next door, his hands full of wildflowers and red camellias, home early enough to have a conversation with him.  to hear him explain to me the importance of daffodils, to watch him defy his mother and climb onto the rackety bridge-that-really-isn't, to tell him i had no idea where the water comes from or why the ladder was standing where it was. he finally gave in to his mother and turned to go home, but then turned back to me to tell me to replant my flowers when they died, and next year i would have more.  i couldn't believe how tall he'd grown.

when my niece was that age, she and my mother stopped by, and we all walked to the arts and crafts fair, up the road a ways, through fallen dogwood blossoms and scattered springtime everythings, my niece picking up everything, enchanted by it all.  this year she leaves for college, time gone that quickly.

this morning that was supposed to be rainy is only gray, the rain maybe not here until tomorrow.  a friend messaged to say say a prayer for me, she on her way to the hospital to check on the illness she has been battling. the tears i'd been holding back, the ones because my niece is all grown up, finally fell. my prayer contained a lot of pleases and i don't knows, but please.  today i am the rain.


the yesterday 4 year old's mother wants a camellia tree or bush, and i'd said a pale pink one, and yes!, she'd replied. just minutes ago i watched her sneak across the street to the tulip tree and steal a bulb or two or three, scurrying back home through the chill.  she'd promised me stealing rights to the camellia tree in her future, and i like to think i gave her ideas.



seasons change, and so do i

it's winterspring and behind these valentine tulips, outside across the street, baby pink buds hang almost awake on a tulip tree.  forsythia has opened yellow bright and paperwhites nod lazy hellos at me as i pass them by, boots on the ground.  i keep moving through the parade of early spring, past pink camellias and daffodils.  they say, as they do every year at this time, to expect a wintry mix of sleet and snow next week, but they said that last week also - i have learned that what comes, comes.


i opened my eyes to a lizard sunday morning.  he was a pale spring green against the wood of the chair i keep next to my bed, and he didn't struggle when i picked him up and dropped him into the monkey grass in the back yard. the cat, sleeping soundly in the way that only cats can sleep, never knew.  never batted an eye or twitched a tail. saturday was a morning walk through awakening birds, the day warming step by step, and it was an afternoon spent in the sunshine, feet bare, a moment of early spring.  blue sky.  we needed sweaters before darkness fell, but only then.  sunday began warmer, the sky gray, and cooled as it moved through the hours toward evening.  by monday night it was cold, and i walked through the wind and the night, my gloves not warm enough.

my calendar last week told me nothing important comes with instructions.  i tore off that quote and taped it to the wall, lest i forget.  i am lately teaching myself the art of just-doing-it-ness, which turns out to mostly be just start. baby steps.  one foot in front of the other and all that jazz.  there's no real instruction book for it, and it's how i found myself in cold wind and darkness 2 miles down the road - one foot through the door and go.  it seems to be the way to do it.  just move and you will take yourself with you.

it's that first uncomfortable moment that stops me.  stops us?  this summer it will be the heat, it will be the humidity, it will be fears founded and not.  but right now?  today?  i understand that most of my couldn'ts are really wouldn'ts.  i am tougher with myself, and kinder.  i allow myself stillness within all the movement.

where i live, there is a slight hill across the street from a church, and my only goal is to make it up that hill when i near the end of my walk.  a small thing.  a small hill, as most hills are.  a small goal.  the hill is strewn with the fruit from a sweetgum tree - dangerous little devils - and i have to pay attention.



i know she holds my hand

here's a thing i do.
when i walk at night.

i walk and i don't think and then somewhere there on the sidewalk i begin to count, i don't know where, it just shows up out of silence and i find myself at 39, 40, 41, and then the counting falls into prayer, and sometimes in my prayers i ask to hold my mother's hand, me and god and her, a circle of clasped hands, and i don't know if it happens or not, but i tell myself it does and i bounce my gratitudes and sorrows and wants off them both, tell them things i figure they already know.

and i walk.
and i count.

one inhale, two exhale, step step inhale. exhale, and i watch the christmas lights going going almost gone in perfect rhythm to the lengthening of days, one light traded for the other, and i know, i know,
that when i at last step out into late daylight the christmas lights will all be dark.

when i walk at night.



the way the week moved

fog: thursday.


last sunday.  the beginning of february.  the warm weather woke me at 5.  warmhumidwarm.  enough to make me suppose the heater had overheated, but a window opened to let in cool air showed me the truth - i was surrounded. the morning was in the 60s early, though with promises to grow cooler.  it rained - gray sky gray - and felt like tornado weather.  not a nearby breeze anywhere.

until i stepped all the way outside.

and then the air began to move.  the cat followed me from our yard to the neighbor's and around the corner.  there were crows in the magnolia tree, loud, and camellias bloomed and blooming and already dropping, red circles against the dreary morning.  by ten, sunlight shuffled in, not much, but suddenly there were shadows next to the trees, pale, then less so, then pale again, then gone.

movement.  this year's word.  i have the blisters to prove it.


monday night.  february continued:  2 miles under the full moon, a stroll through the neighborhood, an easy talk and walk with a friend.  accompanied by dog.  tuesday night: the comet lovejoy visible through the thinnest of clouds. patience required.  i'd walked earlier, watching shadows on the ground, treading carefully around and over sidewalks pushed helterskelter by tree roots who refuse to be stopped.  wednesday: a morning walk to wake me.  it was a day full of tired and sweat.  a bit-more-than-a-drizzle of rain in the evening, hauling groceries into the house, tracking mud and leaves behind me.  katie met me downstairs and waited with me until i caught my breath, talked me into calmness when the computer misbehaved, and then we walked.  in the slight rain, in a different direction, headed north under the streetlights.  we decided that anyone who leaves their christmas lights up should have the courtesy to turn them on. the stairs at our house are lit with red, winding to the third floor. when i turn the corner to home, i always smile.  thursday night.  february fog:  i sat still, with a book and leftover mexican food.   friday. new fairy lights at work, using my thumbs as hammers.  another exhausting day, my brother to the hospital, my arms aching.  i was grateful for the night, the clear sky.  michael was out of town, away from civilization, and messaged me for comet information, where to look, and when, and all my words were useless.  you need a star map, i messaged back, and then stepped outside to walk under the sky.

today.  sunday again:   skye cat is killing lizards and offering them as gifts.  there are buds on the tulip trees.  i walked a morning walk to work to feed lily cat, my mind empty on the way, full of thoughts on the way back.  i passed a man singing aloud, whirling to his music, and truther bumper stickers plastered to utility poles.  i questioned the color of houses, stepped over hearts and true love drawn in the sidewalk, exhaled with each breath words i could be writing. lately the feel of a camera around my neck, all the time, just in case, feels like a burden. it will pass.