Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Morning Fog

Fog fills the woods behind the house this morning, and it’s a bit gloomy. Yesterday we had sunshine and the early morning brightness brought energy and determination to get work done. As dawn rises, the grayness of the particles of fog changes to white, as if a fine snow is coming down. Then I noticed it. I could see the closest trees clearly. The further the trees were away, the thicker the veil that covered them, and I could see only one-hundred feet into the woods instead of a thousand. Yesterday all the trees in the woods were visible and none stood out. Today only a dozen trees are clear and I see each in an individual way, the patterns in each of their dark brown trunks, the way one tree bends slightly to the right before straightening, and the tree with broken branches from the ice storm last month.

Sometimes I need my day fogged in so that I notice what is around me. Otherwise I see everything, but in a blur and nothing specifically. It’s the difference between being at a party and talking to everyone, and sitting at a table with one person, looking at her eyes and seeing history that is not being spoken. It’s a sharing not just of words but of what we haven’t yet been able to put into words. It’s a relationship that deepens as we decipher each other’s faces.

We think that we want to experience and know everything, as if this knowledge will bring us happiness. What we really want is to experience something real each day. And we won’t do this until we notice what is standing in front of us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I’m doing nothing. Just sitting in a chair without moving, watching the woods outside my window.

The day is overcast without a breeze and the trees are still. The temperature is rising into the forties for the first time this spring and the snow is slowly melting. We’re in between seasons and something could be happening because two weather fronts are pushing against each other, but nothing is. Outside, a young squirrel that was carrying mouthfuls of leaves up to a hollow in the tree to make a nest has stopped its work to rest with its arms on the edge of a hole to watch the world go by.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Landscapes of Home - Seamus Heaney

There are many definitions for where home is. Typically people say it’s where you were born, or where you lived for more than a month, or where people have to take you in when you need help. For me, home is where I have a feel for the land. Seamus Heaney speaks of the importance of connecting to the land when we are young, otherwise we find it hard to do.

I grew up in the woods and on the lakes of Wisconsin, canoed in the Boundary Waters above Minnesota, sleeping on tiny islands, and lived in Edmonton, Alberta where summer lasted two weeks, but the winter snows were wonderfully deep and the aurora borealis spectacular. I also lived in the Bay Area and hiked on Mt. Tamalpais along the ocean, and now I help out on a farm in central Illinois. Each one is a place that I call home.