Tag Archives: summer

The light changes

On Tuesday I hiked along the reservoir shore with my children. I lay in the sand while they surrounded me with driftwood, became a sculpture: Mother at Rest. We found the bleached exoskeleton of a crayfish, and watched a snake curl up at the base of a tree. The loons bobbed on the waves in the distance, little more than black marks in the open water. The summer light had already broken, changed in the way that tells us to prepare, prepare, the leaves will fall, the snow will come.

It’s all so short, isn’t it?

On Wednesday I sent my son away with four other boys, two men, for five days of wilderness. Today it’s been raining on and off, and somewhere my boy has made himself a space in the woods, is warming himself by his own fire, preparing for this night, the one he will spend completely alone. Before he left, we looked each other in the eye, me looking up, because my little boy is now inches taller than I am, and what I saw was this, a boy who is less and less a boy, who needed me to see that he is straddling two worlds right now–one of driftwood sculptures and one of tending his own campsite through the night–and to begin to let go.

It is tempting to hold on too tight, to try to keep things unchanged. Stay, I long to say, stay small, stay safe, stay by my side. But we’re made to grow. As much as we seem hellbent on stasis, as much as we put all our energy into refusing change–of bodies, of hearts, of minds–we are made to grow, to learn, to evolve, right up until the end. To deny that is to bring about our own ruin.

The light changes. So do we. So does everything. Instead of stay, I say go, I will be here when you come back, to hear your stories, to help you ready for your next step away. I will try to make this world a better place to go out into, and I will try help you learn to stay open, to hear, to carry compassion with you, to know that laughter doesn’t stay, but neither does tears.

Go. Be bold. Be brave. You are loved.

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Late July, 2014

Isn’t summer supposed to be lazy? Slow, relaxing, full of lemonade and good books and camping?

Apparently not.

This summer offers up driving and not sleeping enough and everything breaking–holy carp, everything I lay a hand on or live beneath or even think about breaks this summer. The plus side to it: I secretly enjoy broken things that prevent me from being able to use my computer to connect with the outside world from home. Only that lack of connections puts a damper on things like, oh, blog posts, for example.

How am I managing this post? The library, of course. I’ve been touring local libraries, depending on where life takes me. This one has plugs built in to the tables, which is brilliant if you have a sad little netbook battery that no longer wants to hold a charge (see–everything breaks). It has very high ceilings, and portraits of dour white people, and never as many patrons as I think it should. This morning, it is quiet, and in a moment I’ll be getting back to work.

The other thing about this summer? The wilds have come to call on us. Moose in the pond. Bear trying to strike up a conversation during dog walks. A lone hummingbird diligently milking the flowers outside the bedroom window. I suspect they have meetings in the early morning where they discuss the situation on our road. “Truth is,” the moose might say, “There’s a lot of breakage going on there. I can see it through the windows. I think it’s safe to move in closer.”

Another thing? My thyroid is not trying to kill me. That’s always a good thing.

The last thing? Throughout the spring and summer I agonize over turtles. They cross the highway everywhere around here, and they are killed in catastrophic numbers. I was driving a few weeks ago with too many fast cars behind me, and a very big truck coming toward me, and a turtle making a break for the other side of the road. I couldn’t stop to get it; I never would have made it in front of the truck. I was heartbroken about it, and dreaded turning back and finding the aftermath.

There was none. The turtle made it. The truck must have stopped, and the stopped truck must have made others stop, and this one time the turtle made it. I felt like the Doctor in the episode where he jumps wildly about after managing to save everyone from a medical accident and shouts “Everyone lives! Just this once, everyone lives!”

I hope your summer is going well.


Already?

It is not the end of summer, it is not the end of summer…

As those of you who like to read bios may have noted, I am a homeschooling parent. I don’t talk about it here because my children’s lives feel private to me, and because homeschooling is really a topic that deserves a blog of its own. In a nutshell: we’re secular homeschoolers, we do so because it is the right choice for our children at this time, and yes, I was also homeschooled as a child (until the age of twelve).

In practical terms, it means that my life changes in significant ways once September arrives. I pushed to finish Wren with good reason, and I’m very relieved to say I did it. That’s not to suggest there won’t be any changes to it from this point on, but the bulk of the work is complete, it’s been read or being read by the people who read for me, and I’m on to new things.

It also means that right at this moment, I’m a little adrift. I sit down at the computer and wonder what to do. It’s hard to pull your head out of something as comprehensive as a novel. I’ve started work on tailoring The Lost to match the new material in Wren, and I’ve got a short story that needs a few things added before it can go out, but I’m still in Wren a bit. Just like the summer, I’m not quite ready for it to be over.

Tomorrow “The King’s Huntsman” will be out at Giganotosaurus. I’ll post something here about the story then, along with a link. If you haven’t read anything at Giganotosaurus before, please check it out. It’s one of my favorite online venues, and I’m excited to have Huntsman there.


Interlude

Yesterday there were thirteen turkeys in the front yard. Four adults, and the rest half-grown young ones from this year. There were also two turkeys in a pine tree out back. If you’ve never seen a turkey in a tree, trust me, they don’t exactly look at home there.

There are chipmunks with full cheeks everywhere, and red tomatoes, and apples coming in. There are beautiful, spotless blue skies, and that wonderful light that tells us the dark is coming. It’s the time of year to wonder why I didn’t spend more time outside, and why summers are so short in New England.

In another six months the snow will be almost over, and the sun will be stronger and stronger. We’ll be waiting for the birds to return, and the grass, and hungry for the first asparagus of the year. We’ll be thinking about no longer wearing coats, and cracking open windows now and then.

But for today, the trick is to look neither back nor forward, to stay right here, in this perfect, endless summer afternoon.


Summer

There is a place I know, a hilltop kept in great open fields, that feels like the top of the world. Not in terms of height, for it’s not much in elevation, but in the openness of the land, the completeness of the sky above. In Massachusetts, everything is bordered, by trees, mostly, by roads, and houses, and ocean.

This place, even with the boundaries of trees in the distance, feels boundless. You could lie in the grass for an entire day and watch the dragonflies and the swallows; you could stay through the night and watch the stars rise and fade. You would feel not the passage of time, but the great lazy loops of it, round and round.

This time of year, summer, is like that. There’s the sense that time moves not relentlessly forward, but in a circle of day and night. The only thing to tell you otherwise is the way, even now, that the light changes, the sun not making it over the pines in quite the same way. It is, I think, something only adults look for, and only because we are not wise enough to stay in the moment, instead always looking ahead to winter.


The desk

There’s a packet of sunflower seeds on my desk. For planting, not eating. They are surrounded by bills, and envelopes, and old cards, and embroidery floss (?), and spoons for stirring tea, and books I’ve not read, and notes, and a little clay tablet made by my son that says “Mom the book writer.” In case you are imagining a very large desk–it’s not. It’s that cluttered.

The walls around it are a bit better, but not much. A card from a former client, and one I bought myself because I liked the quote; a paper bag puppet strumming a guitar; some paintings from my daughter; a piece of blue paper neatly pinned up that once held a certificate, but the certificate fell behind the computer, and now I stare at the piece of blue paper; and the back section of an old pair of kid pants that have nice pockets for storing stamps and index cards and such.

Through the window in front of me I can see the big pines in the backyard. This time of day during this time of year, I can just make out their shadows. Come summer, I’ll be able to watch the young barred owls sitting on the branches, and hear their calls well into the night.

The sunflowers promise the summer will come again. The pines tell me that things continue, that sometimes you hunch beneath the weight of snow, and sometimes you risk a lightning strike, but much of the time you just live.

It’s a good place to sit.