- Sunflowers painted on the ceiling of an ultrasound exam room
- Getting to an appointment 10 minutes early so I can sit in the car and stop rushing
- Living in a place where the trees are taller than the buildings
- Mentholated cough drops: bits of eucalyptus trees born thousands of miles away, soothing my throat and my lungs
- A tiny white pill that keeps me from breaking into tears every 15 minutes
- Miracle cures that ease cold symptoms, even if they do need to be taken again and again again
- The rain washing down the windshield of the car, softening edges and smearing lights
- The Fort Point Post Office, open 24/7/365, even at 7pm on the Sunday before Christmas
- Working in an industry where skills matter as much as connections
This morning on my daily walk, the woods were bare, barren, still in disarray after Sandy. Branches and whole trees strewn across the trails, the trails themselves obscured under a carpet of rust-colored oak and beech leaves. I’m fortunate enough to live next to not one but two different pieces of conservation land. On the opposite end of our townhouse complex, past a grove of eastern hemlock, is a circuit through a wetlands, boardwalk in spots, bare earth, rock, and mud in others. Closer to our house are the woods. Maintained by a different municipality, they’re the local stomping grounds of all the discontented youth in the area. We regularly come across the vestiges of bonfires and parties: carcasses of beer cases, crushed and empty cans, glass sparkling among the mica on the granite outcroppings. Once, an entire couch, or rather what remained after most of it was consumed by flame.
This morning, the woods were fully Novembered, bare branches and trunks rising over that russet-brown carpet, and the sky above marshallowed with clouds. The cold nipped along the edges of my fleece and I was glad I’d thought to bring gloves. Underneath though, legs swinging through the empty crunch of the bare woods, I felt myself opening, enlivening, made vital in the way that only the cold air can make one vital. Sweat ran down my stomach, cooled when I stopped to stretch against a boulder at the top of the hill, drove me on to greater exertion to bring my body temperature up again.
On the way back, I picked around the edges of a red oak, its entire crown fallen over a pathway as wide as a street. Someone had already visited the swamp’s pathway, taken a chainsaw to the trunks that had fallen. Who will come to tidy these woods, one small island of wildness in the city of Boston?
Later today, I drove from an off-site meeting to my office under skies still glowering and chill, skies that seemed to promise snow. Instead, at 11:00am, just as I pulled up to parking spot, the sun came slanting through my sun roof. I opened it, and basked for a moment in the November sun.
Forget April. November is the cruelest month for me, mashing rust-colored leaves in the raw days of no-sun clouds. A good month for a long slog, and long slogs are always easier in the company of others.
This year, I’ll be slogging on the gratitude train, with 30 days of thanks. Which starts on Day Nine for me, apparently, since this is the first I’ve heard of it. I’ll spare you the story of what I was doing for the first eight days of the month.
Gratitude opens new holes in the swiss-cheese brain of possibility. So here’s some gratitude for today:
- Star moss peeking out from beneath snow-patches, over rust-colored leaves
- The prodigal sun returns from in absentia
- Tom Robbins’s books led me enchanted through jungles of wordplay when I was 15 years old
- How extra glad I am to be the protagonist in my own novel, and not one written by Tom Robbins
- My thumbs work
- It is Friday.
clouds obscure the sun
al fresco lunch in winter
dirty snow, green grass
afternoon sun slants
shows the marsh in a new light
witch hazel, hemlock
three deer in the trees
bound away with startled tails
tiny wild island
Solstice. The Longest Night. The shortest day. We wake at 6:00 a.m. or thereabouts, with the windows outside still black. Day dawns rainy, chilly, but not freezing cold; it’s in the 50s on the solstice. Still, we know that January and February — the real bitch-winter months — have yet to come.
I’m hurrying to get through these pages because M has already left and the movers are coming to his house at 9:00 a.m. They were late, so very, very late, when they came to my house on the 17th. Five hours late. By the time they were done unloading the truck, it was 10:00 p.m. And I tipped them anyway.
Stop for a moment and be still. Know that the Goddess is with me always, the door as close at my own heart. Invite Her to walk with me today, to travel with me.
And with the invitation comes gratitude for M, my life’s partner, my heart’s desire. The first man in this lifetime I’ve trusted enough to intertwine with like this. Gentle soul, sensitive and real — and still a man, unaware of his privilege and its effect on me, as unaware as I must have seemed to Quick, as a white woman partnered with a Puerto Rican.
Echoes of Quick, echoes of April, all the myriad mistakes I made in the past and learned from — and learned from. All the bumps and stumbles in the dark we made in our marriages, because lesbians have always known what the state denies: that marriage begins when you rent the U-Haul and put two sets of china in the same cabinet, not when you rent a church and put two sets of relatives in the same function hall.
All the bittersweet lessons I learned from my lovers, and all the savory friendships and sisterhoods I’ve been blessed with since.
Anaphase and I, two bright minds burning in the darkness. Lucy’s gentle soul, pregnant and fulfilled, endless source of love and compassion. Two things I’d never expected to have in this lifetime: straight women as my good, good friends.
The Goddess in all her guises, made manifest around me.
What joy and passion to be alive, in this place, at this time. Oh brave new world, that has such wonders in it!
deep snow on the trail
spreads the ground under dark bark
winter. silence. here.