old men in cafes

Winging-It-Text

For years, the women whittle away perfectly productive days in parks and cafes and street corners
with little ones at their knees
Grasping for food or love or the toy that has fallen
While they attempt to finish/speak/have a complete thought

And now they are all gone…

Replaced by aged men
Who fritter away entire mornings
Engaged in the ritual of companionship and conversation

While their female counterparts
similarly aged,
Practice yoga or Pilates
or run a campaign
or build a community center

Each balancing
what was lost
in the heat
of living

notes from the sea

Marblehead Harbor; Kelly Salasin, 2014; all rights reserved

the ten thousand things
a divination
of attention
~
all burdens made
light
by the sea
~
she captured attention
not with her beauty
which was great
but with her presence
which was full
of grace
~
dutch travelers ask how it is that their flag
hangs
in front of every shop
in the USA
with one word:
OPEN

Summer reeling

I cannot tell if the day is ending, or the world, or if the secret of secrets is inside me again. ― Anna Akhmatova

IMG_0020

I want to tell you about something, but I’m not sure how.

It’s about summer’s passing.

It’s about the sun setting.

It’s about walking away from the beach, across the field, leaving summer behind.

It’s about feeling like summer is under my feet, reeling backward, faster and faster, with each step I take.

It’s about seeing my youth dragged along underneath it.

It’s about the sudden knowing that summer’s ending echoes my own.

Ripening still

I want to tug only on those things that are truly ripe.
I want to let everything else take its sweet time.
(Virgo New Moon, Wise Harvest,  )

My youngest brother & sister, 1994
My youngest brother & sister, 1994 at the farmhouse we rented when we first moved to Vermont

As an adult, I’ve never been an author of fiction, and yet I remember delighting in it on Thursday mornings in the 4th grade where each of us got to put her hand into a packet of prompts: one for characters, one for setting, and one for plot–and then get to imagining!

I loved the surprise of it. Not knowing what strips I would get. Not knowing what story would unfold.

It’s the same with the writing I do now; even though I harvest the strips from my own life: this quote about the Virgo New Moon at the top of the page for instance, and this vision that has been rippling in my mind’s eye of my mother on the front steps of my first house in Vermont, 20 years ago.

I’m not sure how or if they go together or what may come of either, but they beckon and I follow…

My mother disliked Virgos. My father was one. She cautioned me about my choice in a husband, scolding me that it was only a matter of time before his easy nature revealed a truer self–one with a critical need for perfection.

She was right and she was wrong. (My father and husband must have different risings.)

My mother loved astrology. The tarot. The runes. Transcendental texts. All things beyond.

Me too. Only I came to it slower, and then sprinted–when my mother was taken from me too soon.

In the years before her death, before we knew she would be dying, I left my hometown by the sea for a little house in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Though my mother was 50 at the time, she still had little ones at home–my youngest brother and sister, twenty years my junior–and I brought them up to enjoy a week in the country while my mother enjoyed a rare week to herself.

When my mother arrived to fetch them the following weekend, they were covered in bug bites and bruises and they had so much to tell her.  That next morning, while the children were still sleeping, I was surprised to see mother out on the steps that led up from the field to our front lawn.

She sat there on the stones in the warming sun of a cool, summer morning, with a steaming mug in her hand, embraced by the mountains.

I was struck by the depth of her presence. Of her stillness. Of the stark contrast to her lifetime of doing. And I paused in my busyness in witness of her.

It’s where I find myself now. At the same age. In the same season. The sleeping children–my own. The house–the one my husband later built–the home my mother never met. And the stone steps? Brand new.

For ten years, I’ve had to leap out the French doors to place myself on the front lawn.

But with the ripening of August and age, I am invited to step down.

To sit.

To be still.

To receive the embrace of mountains.

And the warmth of the early morning sun on stone.

With the added delight of an unexpected communion, across time.

~
(more on stillness: The Still Ones)

 

Life like Summer (and a good book) ends

June-July-August-2014-Calendar-Printable-8
On my second read through the Prodigal Summer, deep in the middle of winter, I began to think that I skipped a chapter or two, particularly as the end came on so quickly. I was so certain that I remembered more to the story that I paged through the entire book, seeking the missed parts.

But that’s all there was.
It was over.
Just like that.

I feel the same way now.

How is summer coming to a close?

I look back at the weeks gone by and still can’t fathom that I have lived a full summer, but here it is: the middle of August (past the middle of August)… leaves turning red, school starting in a week.

Someone has stolen summer! Maybe I can blame it on the schools; or on the tenacious cough my son brought home from camp; or on climate change?

I bet it’s the same with our own endings.

Takes us by surprise.
Comes too soon.

(Even when we see it coming.)

Excavating Old Fears

Small-plane-crashes-into-houseAs the plane approaches, I cringe on the couch beside the vaseline and the box of tissues and the glass of water.

My breath shallows. My stomach clenches. I wait, suspended, until it passes over my apartment.

Planes have been known to crash into homes. I’ve heard it on the news. I think about it every time. Even when I’m in the car.

I also worry about car crashes ever since those kids dashed out in front of us on the bike. I keep the soles of my feet on the dashboard and use them as brakes. Casey doesn’t like it because it leaves foot prints. But he’s the one who hit them. (They were fine.)

Trucks too. Obviously. But that’s been a long, long time. I still hold my breath. I have to pass them as quickly as I can.

I return to my folders. The pile of them. On the coffee table in front of me. Each one holds the contents of a different aspect of planning, labeled with marker: dresses, flowers, photography, reception, gifts, honeymoon. Inside I tuck magazine clippings and make carefully written notes on lined paper, the new recycled kind.

Now that he sees how much work a wedding is, he doesn’t want it. But it’s already in motion. And until he walks through the door after his shift, I’m afraid the phone will ring. That call. That news. That fucking truck.

I roll some more vaseline on my lips.

I have a vaseline stick in my pocket too, and in my purse, and in my car, at my desk at work, and beside my bed, the kitchen table, the office, and in the dining room which isn’t used as a dining room at all but a place where I do the Firm–Levels 1 through 6, a video workout, or Jane Fonda, or the new Sports Illustrated series, of which my favorite is the gentle class with Elle McPherson, that gorgeous model from Australia with the sweet accent, who introduces us to something called yoga, which involves holding her toes.

I don’t know what it is, but I think it has something to do with yogurt. Maybe they’re from the same place.

The first time I had yogurt was when we were visiting my Poppop in the hospital in Boston. It was like ice cream, only sour. Now there’s a TCBY off the island, and I love the white chocolate. It’s the only chocolate I can have without a headache.

Each time I figure out something else that gives me a headache, I give it up: chocolate, alcohol, meats with nitrates like hotdogs, bacon, sausage and ham (my favorite), salad dressings and other prepared foods with preservatives.

It was salad dressing that tipped me off to the preservative connection. Because I thought, this is ridiculous, how can salad give me a headache, so I got up from the table, opened the refrigerator, pulled out the plastic bottle and started reading ingredients.

I’ve been pretty much headache free since. Except weekends.

The counselor who visited work said that I should try Al-Anon. I have no idea how that could help, but it has something to do with how I told her that weekends are really stressful for me, especially Saturdays.

My colleague, the PE teacher, saw me coming out of the tiny room off the back gym where they hid the EAP counselor for the day. “Is everything okay?” he whispered.

“Everything is fine,” I said. “It was free.”

I guess I was the only one who tried it out, and now I feel kind of embarrassed, but I’m glad I did it because Al-Anon changed everything.