Monday, April 30, 2018

Yesterday's reading/performance was lovely--low-key, gentle, filled with emotion. The program alternated between musicians and poets, and I recollected once again how vibrant the music life is in Portsmouth. There is an intense songwriting circle down there, and many of its members are involved with the Writers in the Round program. If you are a poet or a songwriter who is at all interested in exploring the crossovers between those arts, I encourage you to consider signing up for the group's Star Island retreat. There's more than a little Frost Place heart in this gathering. You will feel at home.

Today I'm back to work, though I'm close to the end of my current, very complicated editing project. I think it will be a cool day, with passing showers, though at the moment the sun is shining. Everywhere in Portland tulips and daffodils are opening, and down in Portsmouth the forsythia is in full glory, and I have a permanent allergy headache. Not that I care. I am all for flowers.

And maybe I'll get my car back, with her expensive young 17,000-mile transmission. Gah.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Yesterday I planted seeds: sunflowers, nasturtiums, love-in-a-mist, cosmos, zinnias, calendula; also rapini, burgundy beans, scarlet runners, chard, kohlrabi, and bok choi. Thus ends my spring planting season, bar a few more herb plants and any irresistible flower seedlings I come across. I've saved space for tomatoes, peppers, a cucumber, and basil; and once we finish cleaning out the backyard, I'll sow some wildflower seeds out there.

Today, I'm off to a reading at the Durham Community Church in Durham, New Hampshire, 2 p.m. A number of musicians will also be performing, and I think I'm going to get to play fiddle backup for a song, in addition to reading some new work. Maybe I'll see a few of you locals?

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Another wet spring night, which I spent reading on the couch beside a wood fire, half-listening to the Red Sox lose a game, then half-listening to Tom watch a movie in the other room, half-watching the cat snooze upside down on his chair, then floating drowsily up to bed, scissoring into crisp cotton sheets, and then time telescoped, and now it is now.

In this morning's bare dawn, fog drapes over houses and street. But the rain has stopped and Ruckus has already hopped out to prowl the sodden yards.

I hope to start planting in my new garden plot today; I need to prep for tomorrow's reading; I should borrow Tom's truck and go grocery shopping.

Yesterday I started a bad poem that seems to be going nowhere, as if my brain has gotten stuck in the wrong gear. Ah well. At least I managed to make cookies for the guys at the library. At least I watered my plants. At least I've been copying Akhmatova's poems and reading Johnson's novel. At least I cooked dinner and talked to a son on the phone and hung out with Tom. But sometimes I do feel as if art has forsaken me.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Today is the day I will learn how to take the bus into downtown. Having no car is a great way to quit procrastinating about such things. And I've worked out a ride to Sunday's reading, so for the moment I'm managing without too much trouble. It's a whole lot easier in town than it was in the country, that's for sure. Rural dependency on machines: I know I wrote about that in my Milton memoir. It's one of the many ironies of the bucolic.

Yesterday I learned that Vox Populi will publish my essay "Lost Time," so that was much better news than transmission failure. I haven't been sending many things out lately, so maybe this will encourage me to start doing so again. Or maybe not. I don't seem to be full of enthusiasm about submitting, though I am planning to read some new work on Sunday.

I'm getting more and more attached to Johnson's Tree of Smoke. I still can't get over how good he is at capturing the nuances of individual voices in dialogue. Great novelists amaze me.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

[Insert long scream here.]

Transmission is shot. Repair and replacement will cost $4,000.

Car is a 2014 with only 75,000 miles.

Of course, the warranty has expired.

[Insert another long scream here.]

* * *

Okay, let's change the subject. I'm reading on Sunday with Jeffrey Harrison, Ellen Taylor, and a number of seacoast musicians and songwriters at the Durham Community Church, 17 Main Street, in Durham, New Hampshire, 2 p.m. I'd love to see you there. [I hope your cars work.]

Last night the rain poured down, and it's still coming down this morning, but I have a new pile of dirt heaped on top of my new garden bed, so imagine me outside in the wet, happily raking and not thinking about my car. [Sob].

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

So, the bad news is: poor little Tina the Subaru was towed from the garage to the transmission shop. I await further word. Sigh.

The good news is a warm spring rain and company for dinner. And I can walk to work this afternoon.

I've been reading Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke and I can't decide how I feel about it. The characters are amazingly vivid, so that is a wonderful thing. But there's something about the chronological structure of the novel that is confusing. Even though the sections are clearly labeled with dates--1963, 1964, 1965--the later sections can feel like flashbacks to something that has already happened or been mentioned in earlier sections, which perplexes me. Of course Johnson did this on purpose, but my brain hasn't figured out why. Anyway, I am plowing ahead, on the assumption that everything about the Vietnam War was chaotic so why shouldn't the timeline of a novel about the war also be chaotic. Still, if there's any novelist out there who's read this book, I'd love to hear what you have to say about its construction.

Fortunately reading Akhmatova is like drinking water.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Downstairs the radio news is earnestly describing Melania Trump's plans for setting the dinner table. Apparently she's having the Macrons over for a meal. No one will have a good time.

Meanwhile, here at Alcott House, the cat is campaigning to go outside. I expect him to hire lobbyists at any moment.

The sun is shining, the day will be warm, and I will be spending most of it inside at my desk. But at least the windows will be open as I dread the car mechanic's phone call.

I've started reading Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke. I'm still immersed in Akhmatova's poems.

Last night I made potato pancakes with guacamole--a fine combination that I highly recommend. Tonight: seafood risotto and carrot-lemon salad, with, if I'm lucky, a few gleanings of tiny lettuce sprouts.

Did I tell you I planted my peas?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Today will be a day filled with things nobody wants to do, such as Take Car to Garage and Hope I Don't Get a Terrible Phone Call Later This Morning, and Convince Maytag to Send Someone Over to Fix the Burner on the Stove for Free, and Hope That I Don't Spend Two Hours on Hold When I Call the Insurance Company.

So Wish Me Luck.

I've also got my endless editing job, and a batch of curriculum planning for my high school poetry residency, and all of the housework I ignored over the weekend when I was outside doing all of the yardwork. . . .

Well, every member of the bourgeoisie has to have a Monday like this once in a while.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with these lines from an untitled Akhmatova poem, dated "Spring 1917":
The mysterious spring still lay under a spell,
the transparent wind stalked over the mountains,--
and the deep lake kept on being blue,--

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring arrived yesterday--cool, breezy, but certainly spring. I spent the entire day outside: first, at the nursery buying plants; then home putting them in; and then, for the rest of the day, bagging brush, wheelbarrowing leaves, and generally trying to make something out of nothing in the dead zone of the back yard. Meanwhile, Tom reamed out the rickety shed, hauled crap to the dump, yanked out a prickly bush with a come-along, and discussed chainsawing some ash and maple saplings that are growing in all the wrong places. Right now, we are still in destructo mindset: we can't improve the back yard until we get rid of the random tree growth and deal with our own construction detritus and the garbagy leftovers of the previous inhabitants.

But the front yard is coming along nicely. I'm still waiting for soil for the new bed, but yesterday I planted a small parsley and rosemary hedge, planted a small lavender hedge, hauled rocks for a miniature retaining wall along the sidewalk, planted mint in a beautiful blue pot, and wedged some creeping thyme into the crevices of a stone wall. My peas are in, and I have planted beets, arugula, cilantro, dill, lettuces, and radishes. The garlic shoots are glowing, and tulips are budding. Yesterday, I had a long talk with my friendly gardening neighbor, who tells me that this area of town is well known for its rich soil and easy growth. After twenty years spent gardening in a hard climate and on fir-shaded ledge, I don't know if I can handle such ease. Good thing I have an ugly back yard to keep me from swooning.

This isn't much of a photo, I know, but I'm not much of a photographer. Still, maybe you can see the outlines of what's to come in this bed. There will be a hedgerow of shrubby herbs along the right side; the green visible in the center is my garlic; the other patches of green are tulips planted by a previous occupant. At the back is the blue pot of mint. At the front, where you can just glimpse the terracing, are more tulips, some lavender, and, if the seeds sprout, a row of black-tipped ornamental grass. On the left, beside the foundation, are hyacinths and tulips and, eventually, I think, there will be dahlias. Closer to the front is a new bed waiting for a soil delivery. It will mostly be vegetables, with screens along the walkways of low sunflowers and ornamental grass.

Anyway, that's the dream plan. We'll see if the squirrels and the weather and the insects and my dedication to weeding will allow some version of it to come alive.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Some excellent news yesterday: Allan Monga, the young asylum seeker from Zambia who won the Maine state Poetry Out Loud competition, triumphed in his lawsuit against the National Endowment for the Arts and will be going to D.C. for the nationals. The judge was firm in his decision, citing a Supreme Court case verifying that all children, no matter what their immigration status, have the right to a full education. He compared Allan's situation to one of a soccer player who would be allowed to play on the school team but not allowed to compete in the championship. He then asked, "Is this what we as Americans stand for?"

I feel so happy about this, not least because I had my teeth gritted in preparation for the decision to go the other way. As I've said before, I understand that a poetry-recitation contest is a tiny blip in the broader tale of misfortune, disenfranchisement, rejection, and unfairness. But of course I took it personally, having been a state judge and thus responsible for the decision that brought Allan to this point. He deserved to win, he did win, and now he will move on to the next level.

Yesterday was altogether an immersion into the conversation of poetry. In the morning I had a long quiet visit with Baron Wormser before he headed home to Vermont; in the afternoon I sat with the guys in our community writing project and listened to them talk about each other's writing, share thoughts, make jokes, ask questions, wonder about their purpose in life. And then one of them, an asylum seeker from Angola, shouted, "I want to open a center for everyone, and I would call it Come In!"

Yes, we all agreed; yes, we all laughed. Yes. That's the place we need to be.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Yesterday was one of those days when everything seemed to go wrong and then everything seemed to go right, so who knows what to think?

First, Chestnut Ridge got a big rejection from a major poetry publisher that had held it for more than a year and then wrote me a letter filled with praise about it but declining it anyway. Then I started my car (I was up north in Wellington), and all the dashboard lights started flashing like crazy, as if everything under the hood and all the wheels and even the cruise control had broken, but why and how since all it had been doing was sitting quietly all night?

Anyway, I took the risk and drove the two hours home anyway, without consequence, so apparently there's some kind of computer malfunction but not imminent meltdown.

And then, when I got home, I spoke to another publisher, who very kindly asked me to send him the ms of Chestnut Ridge. So that was comfort.

And things got better yet: I spent the evening listening to my friend Baron read at Longfellow Books, and then Tom and I had a late dinner at our favorite Portland restaurant.

So all in all, I guess it was a good day rather than a bad one . . . though once the car goes into the shop on Monday, I may feel differently.

But poor Chestnut Ridge: always a bridesmaid, never a bride. I am finding it hard to believe it will ever settle down.

* * *

P.S. There was also this good news: a poem I thought a journal had forgotten to publish actually turned out to be in the journal. Thank you, Green Mountains Review, for removing one worry from my day. The poem is called "Eight-Track Tape Player," and it's dedicated to my sister.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

So much sun this morning! The roofs are glints of light, shards of glitter. The phoebes flit and flicker along the fences. Rush-hour traffic grumbles along the main ways, as cats tread purposefully across this quiet offshoot, with its shadowy bare-armed trees, its gardens of dead leaves--an old-fashioned suburban cloister, its nest of houses rising out of time--from 1890, from 1920, from 1940--and its scattering of bike riders, dog walkers, hustling bus catchers, fervent schoolchildren.

Last night I roasted a chicken, mashed potatoes, and made gravy--a meal fit for an anachronism--and already this morning I've ground coffee, fed the cat, plumped up couch pillows, stacked clean dishes, made the bed. I live in time and out of time; my small tasks fade into the invisible rounds of story. Louisa May Alcott grinds the coffee; Emily Dickinson feeds the cat; Phillis Wheatley makes the bed.

Who lives in this house anyway? Am I myself, or am I these ghosts? There is a detachment. There is a pressing-on. There is this doddering pattern of staying alive.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

This morning we woke to fog and silence, which was a relief. Yesterday's rainstorm turned out to be much more than rain. It was a full-force gale, and it howled for hours. Trees whipped and tore against the sky; garbage cans sculled down driveways; buckets of water poured from the clouds.

This morning, though, things are serene, if sodden. The neighborhood is draped in an islandy mist; and should you be into mud wrestling, do consider locating your event in my backyard. But no branches came down on the cars, and the squirrels and birds are up-and-at-it, prowling and singing and chattering and chasing each other through my garden.

Happy spring, I guess.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Yesterday morning I did manage to make progress on my essay, and I copied out a number of Akhmatova poems as well.  Accomplishing that work was a good feeling. And Akhmatova is clearly the poet I need to be reading now, to the point that I've started propping her poems up around my room so that I can see them while I'm editing and doing other non-writing tasks.

Those poems are miracles of faith to the imagination, yet as clear as birdsong. I want to write like that.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Yesterday I did manage to do everything I hoped to do outside: clear away branches, finish raking out the side yard, cut out maple saplings, wrestle my way around the world's meanest rosebush. I still don't have much idea about what's in this area of the yard, other than a sea of scylla and a few daffodil and tulip prongs. But at least now I'll be able to see the growth.

I also weeded in the cultivated beds, where my arugula and lettuce and radishes have sprouted, the garlic looks eager and healthy, and the hyacinths are in full regalia. If only we could get some steady springlike weather: I'm perfectly happy with regular rain, but this morning's freezing rain is just ugly.

Still, the birds are starting to arrive, despite the weather. Yesterday I watched a nesting crow anxiously patrolling the backyard. I saw a pair of phoebes and a pair of titmice flitting here and there among the rocks and roots, and a single enthusiastic wren inspecting the crevices in the stone wall.

Clearly today will not be a gardening day. I suppose it will have to be a housework one, but I'd like to carve out some writing time. I have thoughts about the laundry essay, and I suppose I ought to take a look at my manuscripts and see what I can do to improve them before embarking on another round of submissions. Sigh.

I could also sit beside the fire and read a Virginia Woolf novel. That would not be a waste of time.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

We had a day of spring yesterday, but by tonight we'll be back to winter, with snow, sleet, and freezing rain forecast into Monday. It's very difficult to get anything accomplished in the garden, but I have faint hopes of doing some weeding and stick collection today, before the glop moves in.

Anyway the Red Sox are winning, and that serves as a facsimile of spring.

Though waking up to the notion that Trump is in charge of a war in Syria is not a good feeling. Waking up to the notion that Trump is in charge of anything is not a good feeling. [Understatement of the century.]

* * *

I've been thinking about the definitions of being useful . . . in particular, how much of my work--editing, teaching, mentoring--requires me to restrain my personal ambitions and pride . . . really, such restraint is a necessity in all facets of the work I do outside the privacy of my own writing. Perhaps this is one reason why I find Trump and his cronies so unbelievably coarse and gross and sickening: because they have no comprehension of any need for self-restraint in service of another's voice. Unless it's Putin's.

* * *

I have begun rereading what has become my favorite Virginia Woolf novel: The Years. It suits my Akhmatova project as well . . . two writers with such an ability to concentrate on those points of synthesis, when past and present become fused.

* * *

For some reason I'm feeling a bit glum this morning. Maybe it's Trump's fault. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe I'm recovering from all my passionate upset about Allan Monga's Poetry Out Loud disqualification. Maybe I wish someone would say yes to my poor floating manuscripts.

* * *

But, hey, I have a house to live in. I have flowers in my garden. After yesterday's session with the homeless writers--listening to them tell their stories of loss and dismay and worse--I know I should be happy all the time.

Friday, April 13, 2018

On Wednesday, while I was on the road, I learned, via my friend Gibson Fay-LeBlanc (Portland's poet laureate), that Allan Monga, the young man who won this year's Maine state Poetry Out Loud competition, had been disqualified from competing on the national level because of his immigration status. By the time I got home yesterday, both of Maine's major newspapers had posted articles about the situation. Allan and Portland Public Schools are suing the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation for civil rights violations.

The newspaper articles will give you the gist of the story, including information about Allan's and his school's good-faith efforts to make sure he was qualified before competing. Lawyers have taken this on as a pro bono case, so it seems to me that everyone is quite sure that they have grounds for this action.

Allan is a teenage refugee from Zambia. He is not in the country illegally. Moreover, he has been issued a social security number. He has worked steadily at clarifying his status, and any delays in final paperwork are the fault of the system.

As a judge at the competition, I feel strongly that Allan should be allowed to compete at the nationals. We were not aware of any immigration questions, but the powers-that-be allowed him to compete, and he won fair and square.

But wait, there's more: I discovered from the article in the Bangor Daily News that Allan learned that he would not be allowed to compete at the nationals during the state finals. This means that I, as a judge, was working under false pretenses and that the arts commission staff knew that our final decision was moot, even though we as judges did not.

I am irate about this.  No one at the arts commission has ever spoken to me about what really was going on. I had to find out about it from the newspaper.

On one level, this mess may seem tiny: a poetry-reciting contest; what could be more petty? Yet Allan's situation is emblematic of our nation's larger cowardice and its dismissal of the richness of our future. Likewise, these administrative deceptions put all of the participants into extraordinarily uncomfortable positions.

Here are some contacts, should you care to make your voice heard about this matter: the chairman of the NEA (; the head of civil rights at the NEA (; a general contact for POL (; the Maine coordinator of POL (

And here's a link to one of Allan's recitations at the state finals. Clearly, he knows something about poetry's fire.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Everything's just as it was: fine hard snow
beats against the dining room windows,
and I myself have not changed:
even so, a man came to call.

[from Anna Akhmatova's "The Guest" (January 1, 1914), translated by Jane Kenyon]

* * *

Today, our whirlwind visit with our college boy ends, and I'll be lugging him back to school. It's been a good visit--one involving many windy seaside walks, innumerable serious and not-so-serious conversations, enthusiastic baseball listening, the gleaning of childhood detritus, and much eating of seafood. I'm sad to relinquish him but glad to listen to his excitement about what he's learning and experimenting with and figuring out in his composition and directing classes. In my life anyway, there is no joy like the joy of watching my sons become fascinating and complicated men.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

We seemed to have dropped into a refrigeration weather pattern. The plants have retreated into stasis, the breeze is steady and cold, and the temperature never rises out of the 40s. Still, Paul and I enjoyed our walk on the beach and along the marshes. We saw no migrating birds, but we did find some beautiful sedimentary stones, striped and rough to the touch. We looked into an empty crab shell and noticed that whatever animal had eaten it out had decided to leave the eye stems. We watched a big seagull lug off an enormous quahog.

I have been rereading Laura Ingalls Wilder's By the Shores of Silver Lake and noting her discussions of laundry . . . more fodder for my slowly unfolding essay. These mullings over the historical minutiae of housework are conflicting strangely in my mind with the distractions of the news: FBI raids, talking-head meltdowns, presidential tantrums. The horrible gaudiness of our current political moment does not have much to do with hanging up clean shirts in a stiff wind. Yet the horrible gaudiness is mesmerizing.

Monday, April 9, 2018

I hurried home from Wellington yesterday morning, then hurried out to the markets, and then my travelers appeared. I raked some leaves off the crocus sprouts around the stone wall, baseball started chattering on the radio, the cold sunshine beamed, and I was getting ready for our little house's first dinner party . . . a crowded table surrounded by dear young people plus Tom and me. I made them bouillabaisse with Casco Bay mussels and scallops, and I got to use all of my favorite little glasses and plates and created an unholy stack of dirty dishes for poor Tom to wash, and now the house is full of daffodils and tulips and it's Monday again and there is a boy asleep in our back room.

Today I'll work while he sleeps, and then I think the two of us may drive down to Wells and hike along the estuary. Or maybe we'll walk to the map library at the university. Or maybe he'll decide to plug in his piano keyboard and do his composition homework. Any of this would make me happy. I'm just so glad to have him here for a few days.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

This afternoon I'm heading north for a gig, and then tomorrow I'll be rushing back to greet my college boy, who'll be home for a whirlwind "spring" break. It is nice to imagine that the temperature will rise above 40 degrees, but I doubt it. This gig I'll be playing is advertised as a Spring Fling, and we're supposed to wear Florida clothes and play Jimmy Buffett songs and and such, and I am, like, ugh. It's a good thing I love the guys in my band because I do not love Jimmy Buffett songs.

In meantime, here I sit comfortably in the gray living room. Snow fell yesterday, and the wind howled all night, but things seem to have calmed down now. Most of the snow has dissolved into plain wet, and the clouds should clear out. And there will be baseball on the radio for my drive north, so that will help me pretend that the weather is balmy.

I tell you: there are some things I will not do for money, and one of them is wear a Hawaiian shirt on stage. I have already informed everyone in the band that I draw the line there. Also, I will not play any Eagles songs. You may ask, "Why Jimmy Buffett but not the Eagles?" And all I can say in my defense is that the Jimmy Buffett songs sneaked up on me.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Last night was the final session of my essay class, and I'm sad that it's over. The participants, their work, my own opportunities for reading and thought and conversation: the entire experience was so absorbing. I think it was a successful workshop, but it has also prompted me to cogitate about how I could have made it better and more useful, which is, I suppose, why teaching, like writing, always remains compelling.

Anyway: now a day of space has opened back up in my week.

This morning I am turning to one of the copies of Akhmatova translations that just arrived, and I'm reading the first words of Jane Kenyon's introduction to her translation of twelve poems: "As we remember Keats for the beauty and intensity of his shorter poems, especially the odes and sonnets, so we revere Akhmatova for her early lyrics--brief, perfectly-made verses of passion and feeling."

Then she quotes these lines:
With the hissing of a snake the scythe cuts down
the stalks, one pressed hard against another.
In that image I feel as if I am lifted into the life of a Tolstoy novel, where the physical world, and physical engagement with that world, have such an intense influence on the way in which the novelist's characters expand into both self-knowledge and a broader humane knowledge embracing time and geography and community and the inner private flames of yearning and hope. But all Akhmatova has done is to transcribe the details of a single moment. The miracle of poetry is its mystery.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

And the sun goes down in waves of ether
in such a way that I can't tell
if the day is ending, or the world,
or if the secret of secrets is within me again.

[from Anna Akhmatova's "On the Road," translated by Jane Kenyon]

* * *

Yesterday, in the midst of school, a poem draft began unrolling itself in my notebook. I am almost afraid to hope that the long embargo might be lifting.

This morning has dawned bright and cold and windy. This evening will be the last night that my essay class meets, and we will have a small reading celebration. In the interstices, the quotidian world.

But perhaps words are rising; perhaps silence is turning toward something, toward somewhere.

I am trying to keep the door open.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Rain and rain and rain: a beautiful sound in early spring. Even in the dim light of dawn  I can see that the remaining snowpiles have melted away overnight, and I know the small plants are opening their arms in the darkness. This is the perfect rain . . . mild and steady, a long drink for the dormant earth.

I lit a fire in the stove last night, and we listened to baseball and ate roast lamb. It was a good evening to be home. But today, when I walk to class in the rain: that will be good too. I think my sap is running. Why else would I feel so awake and eager?

I've been chipping away at my essay, reading Akhmatova, editing a difficult manuscript. I've been raking leaves and piling twigs and uncovering plants. The jobs seem parallel.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

This is a relatively quiet week for me. I'm not on the road till Saturday, and my teaching responsibilities are low-key. So mostly I'm editing and working on my essay and doing housework and thinking about Frost Place stuff and hoping that the weather will allow me to get outside and work in the garden. Yesterday there was snow for much of the day--a meaningless constant flurry that did not accumulate. Today the sky should be clear for a while, but rain is scheduled to move in later in the afternoon. In the garden, pale pink hyacinths tremble on the cusp of blooming. A few purple and yellow crocuses have appeared, and the tulips and daffodils are in leaf. Alongside the driveway, a mass of scylla is sprouting, and some has even spread even into the dead zone of the back yard. It must have been planted a number of years ago to be so hardy and well established now. I'd like to know who that lover of spring flowers was.

And my arugula seeds have sprouted! With tonight's warm rain, I expect to wake up to see greening grass and swelling lilac buds, and perhaps my radishes and spinach and dill will be thrusting their first leaves through the wet soil. I'm still waiting for a load of compost to arrive, so much of my planting is on hold for the moment. But I still have lots of twigs to pick up and leaves to move, so that's what I plan to do today.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The other day, a poet acquaintance made reference to "old-fashioned" communication platforms "such as blogs." Of course this made me laugh, because of course it's predictable that I would turn out to be comfortable communicating in a social-media manner that attracts the fewest number of readers.

Which leads me to my periodic dither: why not give it up? Perhaps one of these days I will throw up my hands and cry, "Enough," and you eight readers and I will make a pact to send postcards to one another.

Tom and I ended up spending most of our lovely mild Easter wandering around the Wells Estuarine Research Reserve, which we discovered by accident after running out of trails at the Rachel Carson Refuge. If you haven't been there, you should make the trek. The trails wind alongside a remarkable variety of terrain: freshwater bogs, saltmarsh, vernal pools, and open ocean. In a few weeks it will be a significant bird-migration pitstop, and I'm hoping to get back to see that in action.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

I have been dreading this weekend. No children at home means no little Easter rituals, and though both boys have been out in the world for a few years now, I found myself, during this season of Lent, missing them so intensely. Somehow Easter, in my mind, would inevitably be the pinnacle of that loneliness. I did not want to plan for the day, though I knew I needed to do something to foil my expectations.

But as is so often the case, things aren't turning out the way I feared they would. Yesterday Tom and I went for a long walk down to Capisic Pond and listened to the birds sing and sat on a bench labeled "Harvey" and "Polly." Then we went out and bought a grill and some charcoal and some flank steak and some vegetables, and we planned an Easter cookout.

For twenty years in Harmony, Tom cooked over hardwood in his self-designed fire pit. Then, for a year in the apartment, we did no outdoor cooking. So even though buying a grill may seem like a boring suburban activity (and it is), it also felt like relinking ourselves to our history of cooking together. I don't suppose the city of Portland will ever condone a giant wood fire in our backyard, but now we can still make flame-roasted peppers any time we feel like it.

Once, a long time ago, during a particularly late and obnoxious winter, Tom built a fire in the snow, cut flowers out of paper, stuck hotdogs on sticks, and all four of us went outside in our winter boots and pretended it was summer. This Easter is not the same story, but it might belong in the same album. Despair, you've been foiled again.

In other wonderful Easter news, I have just discovered that there will be a sea of sky-blue scylla billowing alongside our driveway. My cup runneth over.

By the way, according to the Bingo Bugle (a free paper all about the bingo lifestyle, which Tom snapped up at Pat's Meat Market), this is my horoscope for the week: "Your love of harmony keeps you leaning towards the sweet side of life." No kidding.