Friday, March 29, 2013

hope, that feathered thing

I leave the house at seven with a cup of hot tea and walk up the road to our studio, housed in the upstairs of my grandparents' barn/garage. With two feet of snow still on the ground this is the time of year when garden plans become outrageous, obsessive. I draw sketches of hoop houses, raised beds, cold frames, bean tipis, sunflower houses, peach trees, plum trees, apple orchards. I forget about the blisters shovels cause and how hard it is to even get out the door with two kids and how much loads of manure cost. Who cares about any of that now? All that matters is that sometime, not too long from now, there will be green in my life. Rebirth. Resurrection. The full moon that kept us all up the last week has many Native American names: Fish moon, sleepy moon, windy moon, big famine moon, moon when eyes are sore from bright snow, moon of winds, chaste moon, death moon. Every one of which seem appropriate. My garden sketches are a prayer of sorts. They are me on my knees begging. They are hope, which is imperative, and yes, is the thing with feathers. How grow your dream gardens,  friends? 

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me. 

-Emily Dickenson

Saturday, March 23, 2013

White Flowers

A friend of mine lost her luminous, joyful, beautiful boy last week. What can we do with grief like this but peel back the layers and look for truth amidst the snowdrifts and the roots and the stars and the pines?

White Flowers

Last night
in the fields
I lay down in the darkness
to think about death, 
but instead I fell asleep, 
as if in a vast and sloping room
filled with those white flowers
that open all summer, 
sticky and untidy,
in the warm fields. 
When I woke
the morning light was just slipping
in front of the stars,
and I was covered 
with blossoms. 
I don't know
how it happened--
I don't know
if my body went diving down
under the sugary vines
in some sleep-sharpened affinity
with the depths, or whether
that green energy
rose like a wave
and curled over me, claiming me
in its husky arms. 
I pushed them away, but I didn't rise. 
Never in my life had I felt so plush,
or so slippery,
or so resplendently empty. 
Never in my life
had I felt myself so near
that porous line
where my own body was done with
and the roots and the stems and the flowers

--Mary Oliver

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Yes, it's that time of year again: sap, steam, sticky fingers, babies in boxes, muddy boots and hours by the fire. Hallelujah goodness thank the sweet lord (who, in my way of thinking, happens to course through the veins of trees).

Friday, March 8, 2013

of my own

I've been wanting a desk of my own for a long time. Like since the day my daughter moved into the second bedroom in our house, making my desk there dysfunctional. (Which happened about two months after we finished building the room.) Yes, I have a little tiny room of my own planned in the new addition, but that addition is still a shell and I don't yet dare dream (or ask) about when it might actually be warm enough to write in.

So I did some rearranging this weekend and made myself a desk in the tiny corner of our bedroom.

I once spoke to an astrologist who said, with confidence, yes, Robin, you can move home to Vermont, but don't try living in a tiny cabin in the woods with Ty. You need space. You need space of your own. Otherwise, well, it won't be good.

Which is how it's been for the last six years, perennially living in tiny rooms without a space of my own  and feeling that, much of the time, well, that hasn't been ideal.

This desk is far from a room of my own. It shares a bedroom with three of us. But it is a surface of my own. I've strictly forbidden others from laying books, socks, or bills on it. And what is this lovely surface? A maple table my dad built for my parents' first cabin when he was about eighteen. That mirror? Salvaged from my dear, departed neighbor Eileen Pinkerton's house. Those stunning cups? Made and fired in the wood-kiln up the road by my friend Rob Cartelli. The books? Inspiration. And those photos? All of my people in various stages of "when we were young."

May you all find a surface of your own, too.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

buckets, snow

The industrious folks in my family (mother, father, husband, daughter, brother, sister-in-law and nephew) tapped out (drilled holes in sugar maple trees) this weekend hoping for warm weather this week. Instead we got snow. Which means we're in a holding pattern here at 921 MacArthur Road: waiting for snow to melt, waiting for sap to run, waiting to fill that greenhouse with tomato seedlings, waiting for mud season (the only conduit to spring), waiting for the raspberry canes to sprout green. But no complaints. These hues are pretty. These days quiet. And for that reason alone, dear.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

will you be found?

Yes, woodbird is still here. What has she been up to?

-shoveling snow snow snow snow snow
-reading this phenomenal, life-changing book about cooking food “with economy and grace” (and living well)
-writing and recording more Red Heart the Ticker songs
-playing Red Heart the Ticker gigs with a nine-month-old, a four-year-old, a grandpa and a dear old friend in tow
-attending our local Town Meeting Lunch
-writing grant and fellowship applications (so that I can actually write!)
-writing Case Statements for our community’s grassroots capital campaign to buy the recently shut down store in our town and turn it into a cooperatively owned and run grocery, cafĂ©, deli and community space
-helping tap out. Sugaring season is here!
-drawing yet-more chicken coops
-building block castles and sewing dolls and playing make-believe and nursing and oh, reading this wonderful, quirky story in Orion Magazine by the fire last night about maps. It’s "Cartography" by Bonnie Nadzam and here is a paragraph for you on this fine, tender morning at 5:53 am before my children wake:

There are beautiful things in the city. Mountains, rivers, little painted houses, stone avenues lined with bakeries and bookshops. There are distant fires eating trees, houses, entire towns. There are earthquakes and floods. There are crooks behind some of the most elegant doors and honest men dying alone in the shadows. Sometimes you smell smoke in the wind, and some days in the city the air makes you sick. Occasionally you hear the sound of a flare gun fired by someone else lost in the same metropolis, and the beauty of its illuminated rain burning across the sky makes you want to throw your own city map in the trash; you have no such signal, and wonder how, with your dim little sketches, you will be found. Isn’t that, somehow, the point of your art? 

I think it's the point of mine. 
Happy morning to you all.