Faerie Ring

You have to look closely to see the Faerie Ring, but it’s there. The clumps on the upper left are hidden in the grass. This is, of course, why they’re so dangerous–you could stumble into one unknowingly and not come out for years. . .

A friend of mine has asked me to avoid saying “rules” when I write about shelter-in-place, because that sounds too martial, too authoritarian. I sort of understand. But “guidelines” feels wrong, too, because so many people seem to be taking them as just that, and ignoring them, going out without masks, not maintaining social distance, acting as though this is all gone. Part of me wants to say: May it be so. May it be gone. But we don’t make a thing “gone” just by declaring it so.

The science seems to be offering us a different picture, one in which we could be facing quarantines and sickness and death for a long time to come. I also want the governor (of PA, where I live) to take us more quickly to yellow and then to green. But I want my parents to be safe, I want the random people who seem to die from this for no apparent reason not to die, I (selfishly) want us to avoid a second peak so I can go back to my classroom in the fall.

Call them what you will–guidelines or rules or orders–please follow through a little longer, for all of us. Wash your hands. Stay home. Plot the Green Revolution. Practice caution and simplicity. Get along without. Keep us all safe.


Gratitude List:
1. This morning at the feeder: goldfinches, bluebirds, doves, downy woodpecker, chipping sparrows, indigo bunting. An indigo bunting in the sun seems lit from within by blue fire. An indigo bunting in the shade sucks all color into itself, holding all the shadows around it within its little bunting shape. What a magical creature.
2. Yesterday I did my Ten Breaths inside a fairy ring of mushroom clump beside the stump of the poplar tree. It was a perfect circle. The faeries did not whisk me away to the Faerie Queen’s realm, perhaps because I have long been a friend of their beloved poplar, perhaps because I am not imaginative enough for their purposes.
3. A family of vultures have taken up residence in the edges of the bosque across the road. Such somber and thoughtful folk they are.
4. The amazing crimson of that little red Japanese maple, and the scarlet of the cardinal up on the hillside above, and the glowing scarlet fire of the head of that red-bellied woodpecker.
5. Nothing in this part of the hollow died of freeze last night. This morning is crisply frigid, breezy and shining.

May we walk in Beauty!


“No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.” —Lupita Nyong’o


TO MAKE A PROMISE
by David Whyte

Make a place of prayer, no fuss,
just lean into the white brilliance
and say what you needed to say
all along, nothing too much, words
as simple and as yours and as heard
as the bird song above your head
or the river running gently beside you,
let your words join to the world
the way stone nestles on stone
the way the water simply leaves
and goes to the sea,
the way your promise
breathes and belongs
with every other promise
the world has ever made.

Now, leave them to go on,
let your words alone
to carry their own life,
without you, let the promise
go with the river.
Have faith. Walk away.


“Feminism requires precisely what patriarchy destroys in women. Unimpeachable bravery in confronting male power.” —Andrea Dworkin

Take Up Your Whole Space

Gratitude List:
1. Indigo buntings
2. There are twins in the holler! Fawns who’ve just been allowed to start exploring dancing through the neighbors’ yard, flicking into the woods. Curious. Sweet. Timid.
3. Vulture or eagle or hawk shadows that spill down the hill.
4. Last weekend’s Elements class. Such a marvelous group of thoughtful people.
5. Re-reading Hugh Lofting’s The Twilight of Magic with the boys. I discovered this book in my school library in fifth grade, and I read and reread and rereread it. MY first real introduction to the character of the wise woman who is accused of being a witch.

May we walk in Beauty!

I Just Love that Kid

I wonder if my students sometimes find themselves filled with a warm feeling out of nowhere, as if someone has just whispered, “I just love that kid,” and they can feel the vibe like a gentle breeze across their souls. I always feel a little frustrated with myself at the end of a semester when I still have a stack of grading to finish, and I wish I could have handed the papers directly to the students for the feedback; still, I also love to have these final moments of quiet, thoughtful contemplation of each one of them, bringing them back into my mind as I read their last words of the school season. Often, I catch myself whispering, “I just love that kid.”


Gratitude List:
1. My own schedule. Sleeping when I want. Working and taking breaks when I want.
2. Planning for next year. While I am doing this last bit of grading, I am thinking about how to make next year’s classes even better. How to define my assignments more clearly. How to ask more effective questions. How to get them interacting with each other more. How to elicit critical thinking. How to stimulate curiosity and creativity. How to challenge them without creating frustration.
3. Indigo bunting
4. Nettle/mint/dandelion/wild chamomile/catnip/plantain tonic. Good for what ails you.
5. Solitude

May we walk in Beauty!

A Blessing in Blue

Gratitude List:
1. Around a corner down the ridge, I caught a flash of blue in the road, and an indigo bunting burst into flight. A blessing in blue.
2. The summer’s first monarch.
3. Graduation. Beautiful, earnest young folk.
4. Huge bales of hay in a green meadow, and the evening sun casting their shadows across the grass.
5. My dear friend Marie gave me lots of sea glass that she collected over years on trips to Maine. During the last two days of school, when the seniors had gone, my one Creative Writing class was down to a handful of students. They spread out my sea glass and picked out their favorite pieces–I told them they could take lots. Then they placed what was left in the glass jar in colored layers. This treasure, given to me by a friend, is a treasure I can share with my students. We talked about how appreciating sea glass is about finding beauty in the brokenness. The glass has to be tumbled in sand and waves before the sharp edges are worn down and the surface is worn to softness. Like us, of course.

May we walk in Beauty!