Archive for February, 2010

Day two of endless snow. The photo above was taken on day one. Beautiful. On February 13, I saw two robins. In disbelief, I grabbed the bird book thinking I must be looking at some rare species from Canada that found its way south…nope, they were robins and I hope they survive–the worms are buried under at least a foot of wet snow with more on the way.

I’ve been hunkered down in front of my computer building a website. Not something I ever thought I could do by myself. I’m having such a good time that I can’t stop adding pages! You can see for yourself at:

The Institute for Mindful Living

At this moment, I’m awed by the white world outside…the silence, the white snow, the white sky, the contrast of tree branches–black against white…the driveway invisible…the cars mostly buried…the shovels and brooms just outside the back door…the snowblower calling from the shed.


How beautiful the sun as it skims
across the air in the hush of ten degrees,
disc of palest yellow hope along a sky
of circumstance; how beautifully we watch it fall,

the random tern, forgotten mole,
the infant tree inside rough winter bark.
How beautiful this frost, female fingers
tracing down the glass, how beautiful

this world too cold to criticize itself;
how beautiful Earth’s creatures are, happy
and forever safe from the only perfect tragedy,
which is of course to never have been born.



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Warmer today. The temperature rises above 25 degrees. Ice flows move south on the Hudson. In the first light a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers¬† gore the half dead Catalpa tree by our pond. There are eight male cardinals waiting…taking turns at the feeder. Bluejays, rosy finches, goldfinches, juncos, sparrows, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches and the smaller woodpeckers hunker in the brush. There are bird songs…some sense of spring gathers.

I take a break to walk with my friend Sunny–both of us hoping for snowshoeing weather. The predictions for tonight are that the pending storm will swing south of us…we’ll get a light dusting.

Later in the day, I visit my Dad, stopping on the way, as always, at the Goshen Bakery. This time it’s a mini Chocolate Mousse Tart and a piece Chocolate Cheese Cake to share. He’s in heaven…”Delectible!” he says, over and over again. He tells me that he’s been gone a lot and when I ask where he’s been, he says, “All over the place…everywhere! In fact, I just got back today.” Some thing has changed for me. I no longer feel the need to “correct” his reality–I just smile now and say, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

Last month I reread Reeve Lindbergh’s book, No More Words. It is a memoir of the last seventeen months of her mother’s life…the experience of coming to grips with loss, with acceptance, with the enduring wish that things might be different, with the strangeness of a parent who becomes gradually smaller, more childlike, silent, dependent, fiercely frail, disconnected, delusional and yet still here. This along with all of the second guessing, the longing and the yearning to be close, the recognition that there is no separation, the fear, the frustration, the buffeting between generosity, obligation, resentment, compassion, deep caring and protective distancing. She captures so completely the initial stages of relating to the promise of death…how the expectation, perhaps spoken–“It won’t be long now, maybe a few months.”–begins a process of stiffening and tightening, a certain quality of vigilance and separation…and how later, there’s a softening when the predictions are past their shelf life and the preciousness of connection, regardless of how it unfolds, is enough…is, in fact, deeply satisfying and nourishing. Time and the person of the parent becomes kaleidoscopic…their youthful qualities mix with memory, humor and the poignancy of the present.

The first time I read her book, I soaked the pages with tears…seeing myself; understanding and relating to all the contrasts of her life–her visits with her mother, her times with her husband and son…the joy of the changing seasons and bittersweetness of month after month after month awaiting the inevitable. This time I cried, too, but differently…perhaps simply being moved by how much I’ve let go and allowed my own heart to soften.


Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath,
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.

Until now.


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