Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Happy birthday to my dearest Pops (i.e. Dandy), who has dedicated his life to building good houses for others, loving his wife & children & grandchildren, providing a good education for the children in his community, being a steward of the woods and land he grew up on, providing good food for others, preaching simplicity & sustainability, modeling humility & humor, decorating our hillside with funny stone art, fearlessly loving and caring for all of humankind, practicing curiosity, and, in recent years, being one of the kindest and most badass grandpas that ever walked the earth.  (He has also, on this fine morning, eloped with my two-year-old so that I can work and write this post). All touched by the concentric circles of your generosity and compassion are ridiculously lucky.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

a dreamer

Because it is fall now, and with every new season I seem to have to try and figure out who I am (again). 

Who are you this early autumn?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

the world salvaged from the lords of profit

Teach the children. We don't matter so much, but the children do. Show them daisies and the pale hepatica. Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen. The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin-flowers. And the frisky ones—inkberry, lamb's quarters, blueberries. And the aromatic ones—rosemary, oregano. Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit. Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms.


Attention is the beginning of devotion. 

-Mary Oliver, from "Upstream"

Thursday, September 4, 2014

contemporary vermont fiction's been a loooonnng time coming, but I am currently editing proofs of Contemporary Vermont Fiction and our publishing date is set for November 3rd! It's a beautiful thing to see all of these stories (and writers) together in one document. They are speaking to each other and bouncing off each other and echoing and reverberating in all sorts of surprising and interesting ways. (Helped along their journey by Dede Cumming's beautiful layout and book design.) 

And look at this line-up of writers! Laurie Alberts, Julia Alvarez, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Joseph Bruchac, John Elder, Castle Freeman, Jr., Miciah Bay Gault, Suzanne Kingsbury, Jeffrey Lent, Ellen Lesser, Howard Frank Mosher, E. Annie Proulx, Bill Schubart and Wallace Stegner. Some of my old faves and my new faves, together at last within these pages. 

The book is distributed by Midpoint and can now be pre-ordered from Amazon, here, or better yet, ordered from your favorite local bookstore. 

For Vermont natives and Vermont lovers alike.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

the unconditioned air

How To Be a Poet

(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.   
Sit down. Be quiet.   
You must depend upon   
affection, reading, knowledge,   
skill—more of each   
than you have—inspiration,   
work, growing older, patience,   
for patience joins time   
to eternity. Any readers   
who like your poems,   
doubt their judgment.   


Breathe with unconditional breath   
the unconditioned air.   
Shun electric wire.   
Communicate slowly. Live   
a three-dimensioned life;   
stay away from screens.   
Stay away from anything   
that obscures the place it is in.   
There are no unsacred places;   
there are only sacred places   
and desecrated places.   


Accept what comes from silence.   
Make the best you can of it.   
Of the little words that come   
out of the silence, like prayers   
prayed back to the one who prays,   
make a poem that does not disturb   
the silence from which it came.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

mint, rising

It's here! Summer, dusk, grass, leaves, green. Visitors, mint, fans, bugs, lakes, rivers, screens.
Last night the lightning blew our phone and modem, blew my parents' inverter, fence charger, phone line. We cooked marshmallows over an open flame while the storm rolled in, took cover 
under the porch eaves, kept away from the windows. 
Avah Margaret floats on her back now, head tipped back, arms flat out, trusting. 
Owen Cricket lives naked in the woods, cooking pizzas made of sticks and leaves. 
Our garden offers: kale, chard, peas, basil, mint, cilantro. 
On its way: sun golds, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, beans.
I'm no gardener (as any of you who have stuck around here know), but alas, a garden!
The room we've been building for three years (unfinished walls, unfinished floors) 
holds: a guest bed, old friends.
An essay of mine was just accepted. 
The old phone we had stashed away in a drawer seems to work. Today: cooler air, a breeze. Up here on the hill I hear it rustling in the maples, whistling
in the cooler, darker pines. 
My grandmother's ghost, rising. Later: cool drinks, cool water, mint in

Saturday, July 19, 2014

sweet tea, cooling

6 am robins, a veery, other birds I can't yet name.
my daughter's sing-song voice from her room (half-dreaming).
the pop of day lilies, the hush of goat's beard (half-gone by).
bare feet in wet grass, the blue snake of the garden hose, the lemon lilies, the spirea, the clematis vine, rising.
the tea, hot, milky, cooling.
the blush of sunlight across the spider's web in the upper joists of the porch's eaves.
last night: the pond, dinner, the fire, the sand, jars of wine.
the girl learning to swim (to swim!), not wanting to leave that cool dark water, warmer than the evening air, the sensation of underwater agency coupled with risk.
girl, water, dusk, limbs, pond water, dripping.
now: the light, rising. the girl, waking.
footsteps on pine floors.  the sun, rising. the sweet tea, cooling.
good morning, friends.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The strangest thing has happened this summer: we've all begun sleeping in. Thus no early morning woodbird posts, no pre-dawn shots of mist rising or skies lightening. We have been busy, happy, healthy, engrossed, and consumed in this thing (too short, too sweet, oh my god, too short and too sweet!) called summer: greens, berries, lakes, woods, trails, peas, friends, mint, wine, sun, rain, lightening, porch, chickens, pigs, friends, lakes, woods, pools, beaches, mint, sun...

That is the refrain. These are the faces. Oh, these faces. And now I hear footsteps, and my tea is cooling, and the day begins...good day, my loves. May it be vivid and bold and remarkably tender in the shadows. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

sweet spot

I don't think I've mentioned my dear friend Desha's book to you yet (it's been a crazy, rich month!), but here it is. In it Desha features the homes of twenty artists, designers, and just plain interesting people whose style reflects their lifestyle, values and thriftiness. Photos of the homes are paired with interviews, in which said artists and interesting people discuss what their house means to them, how their home reflects their lifestyle and values, where they collect all their funky, eclectic stuff, etc. And THOSE pieces are paired with Desha's earthy, sassy and helpful tips (with a bit of Arkansas twang) on how to make your house a reflection of your inner self without the aid of much cash. A win-win combo, no?

My funky, eclectic house is featured in here as well, and in my interview I talk about all sorts of things, including: what I did in my cabin when I was young, the balancing act of mothering, writing and making music, my grandmother's bathtub, and Sharon Olds' poem, "New Mother."

Desha is about to head out on a national book tour (hubby and cute-as-anything daughter in tow): you can check out her schedule and order a copy of the book here!


Thursday, June 5, 2014

a thousand words

A couple weeks ago on the playground I overheard a (sweet, kind, innocent) six-year-old girl tell my five-year-old daughter that she should exercise every day so that she can be skinny like her, the friend. 

My daughter, sheltered thing that she is, said, "Why would I want to be skinny?" To which she was told, "Because being skinny makes you pretty. Like me."

I stood there and thought: Fuuuuuuuck!

And then I hopped over towards them, like a twittering bird, and said something about how all bodies are beautiful, all colors, shapes and sizes, but those girls were long gone, running across the playground in hunt of a good tree to climb.

I tried to bring it up in a casual way at home. I infused a couple conversations with comments about the beautiful shapes all bodies take, about how I love the way my post-pregnant belly jiggles, but really I was thinking, Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. 

What power do I have in the face of this big old world? 

Which is why when Dede Cummings gave me a copy of The Bodies of Mothers by Jade Beall, a new release by Green Writers Press, I though, ah, this. I thought: images. Maybe.

I spent hours/days/years poring over The Family of Man as a kid. I memorized those photos, those subtle expressions, those faces, those wants and desires and emotions, finding myself in them and making sense of the world I belonged to. 

I brought home The Bodies of Mothers yesterday and lay it on the table where my daughter was sure to see it. She did. She picked it up. Brought it to the couch. Said, "Mama, will you come look at this with me?' Which we did for an hour, looking at these naked bodies covered in tattoos and stretch marks and moles, these bodies with sagging breasts and big asses and skinny asses belonging to beaming, radiant, self-loving women of all different shapes, colors and sizes.

I thought: yes. 

I didn't buy this book, but I would, for any daughter of mine. Images like this are the best tool or weapon we have to stave off this culture of judgment, body-hatred and competition. My daughter and I looked at the book again this morning. It's a bonafide magnet. We read the women's names. How many children they have. We looked at their bodies. We looked at their radiant faces. 

Go buy a copy, friends!

You can order a copy HERE, though much better would be to order it at your local bookstore. That cheap price they offer? That just means they're giving less than their share to the author and the independent, green publisher.