Kilimanjaro was nothing to this

A couple of sappy Instagram posts for Matt seem to be worth sharing here.  We are newly empty nesters and just celebrated 23 years.  Wow!  FWIW I do most of my writing on Instagram these days. I’d love to come back here.  Maybe someday.

I’ve shared this picture before and I likely will again. It was taken 25 years ago, in August 1998, by my father in Marion Massachusetts, in the exact spot we would take our wedding photos two years later. It’s framed in our house. Matt just sent it to me and I am struck by how much has changed and how much has not since this photo. The last 25 years have been full of adventure and both ups and downs, challenges, heartbreak, surprises and joys. Most of all welcoming and watching grow our two beloved children, both of whom are now in college and off on their own paths. And so we are full circle and back to these two people again. Circle Game. May we remember this joy as we move forward to this next phase, Matt.  I love you and I have for a very long time. Onward.

23 years. Wow. Craig, the visiting minister who married us, was right. Kilimanjaro was nothing to this. And we find ourselves at a new camp now, in a new season. Back to where we began: just the two of us. I found 8 selfies of just the two of us taken since June. This is our new reality. It’s different and it’s quiet and we really miss G and W but wow I’m lucky that all those years ago you chose this difficult redhead. Thanks for walking this path with me – challenging and surprising often, stunningly beautiful sometimes, interesting always. I love you MTR. Here’s to the next 23

Mornings during a time of transition

Morning in the mouse house. Coffee in my favorite Ratio mug (thank you VJQ). Phoebe. Crossword. Matt is sleeping. Whit’s been gone all weekend. This is such a time of transition, hanging between what was and what will be. I guess it’s not a surprise I am feeling emotional and raw (Dr Thompson made me absolutely weep on Friday morning at BHS – high school graduation is the end of childhood). Whit is leaving and we are entering the empty nest. Grace is halfway through college. We are not in our house. I can look out the window from where I am sitting and see the house my parents lived in for 30 years and where Dad died. Blink, and everything changes. I think of last year’s holiday card message, which is still true: “Once again a time of change. Oh the change makes music.” Music and heartbreak. Beauty and loss. This is apparently the lesson I have to keep learning in this life. Can’t have one without the other. As Dad told Grace after John died (a month before he died): everything passes. The only thing to do is to reach out for the future with both arms, even if it hurts. What I’m learning to trust as I enter deep midlife is that I can let go of the past and it will still be there. I lived those years well. I paid attention. They’re always with me. Those small children, that younger me, that Dad, those moments – they exist in some way in this one. I’m just figuring out how. Onward. Both arms

Originally posted on instagram.


Sometimes a book says things that are in my heart, puts words to things I have felt but been unable to express.  Enchantment by Katherine May is such a book.

“We are a forgetful species, obsessed with the endless succession of tasks that hover over our days, and negligent of the grand celestial drama unfolding around us.  And here I am, remembering.”

“Slowly and slyly it had crept into me, this conviction of . . . what? That something is there, something vast and wise and beautiful that pervades all of life. Something that is present, attentive, behind the everyday. A frequency of consciousness at the low end of the dial, amid the static. A stratum of experience waiting to be uncovered.”

“The act of seeking attuned my senses and primed my mind to make associations.  I was open to magic. and I found some, although not the magic I was looking for.  That’s what you find over an over again when you go looking: something else.”

I think I’m beginning to understand that the quest is the point. Our sense of enchantment is not triggered only by grand things; the sublime is not hiding in distant landscapes. The awe-inspiring, the numinous, is all around us, all the time. It is transformed by our deliberate attention. It becomes valuable when we value it. It becomes meaningful when we invest it with meaning. The magic is of our own conjuring. Hierophany—that revelation of the sacred—is something that we bring to everyday things, rather than something that is given to us. That quality of experience that reveals to us the workings of the world, that comforts and fascinates us, that ushers us towards a greater understanding of the business of being human: it is not in itself rare. What is rare is our will to pursue it. If we wait passively to become enchanted, we could wait a long time.  But seeking is a kind of work. I don’t mean heading off on wild road trips just to see the stars that are shining above your own roof. I mean committing to a lifetime of engagement: to noticing the world around you, to actively looking for small distillations of beauty, to making time to contemplate and reflect. To learning the names of the plants and places that surround you, or training your mind in the rich pathways of the metaphorical. To finding a way to express your interconnectedness with the rest of humanity. To putting your feet on the ground, every now and then, and feeling the tingle of life that the earth offers in return. It’s all there, waiting for our attention. Take off your shoes, because you are always on holy ground.

I remember you

Woke up to a text from my beloved sister that she read this poem and it made me think of her.  I have read this before but not in ages, and was touched that it made her think of me.  I love it.  Happy almost-spring Wednesday, all.

What the Living Do – Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Right now; February 2023

sunrise, Boston, February 2 2023

Happy new year.  A few things on my mind lately.  I’d love to know what you’re reading, loving, and thinking about.

More and More, I Talk to the Dead – I love all of Margaret Renkl’s writing (her book, Late Migrations, is gorgeous) and this piece in the New York Times is no exception.  This article made me gasp out loud, and I relate.  The article reminded me of one of my most vivid memories, which is from years ago on the Solstice, December 21st.  I was walking at sunset (which was around 4:30) and had a sudden and strong sense of people that were gone to me – most of all my grandmother and my mother’s best friend Susie, who was a kind of second mother to me – standing just over the horizon.  It was like they were there.  And instead of being eerie, the sensation was reassuring, comforting.  Now dad is with them, and my other grandparents, too.

I’ve also been thinking about when Matt and I summited Kilimanjaro, in June of 1998.  Perhaps because I’ve been listening to Southern Cross on repeat.  And as I wrote on Instagram, as we headed up to the summit we could see both the southern cross and the big dipper in the sky at once.  As we kept climbing, a storm rolled in.  Our summit photos could have been taken in front of a show blower at Killington; the background is just white.  No spectacular sunrise for us.  Anyway, at the top of Kilimanjaro we met two other people who we thought were heading to the summit. You get towards the top and there’s about an hour to the actual summit (and the famous sign that you’ve seen in friends’ photos – but not ours!).  They had stopped moving and were heading down.

“Did you get to the top?”  We asked them.

“No, but we got to this spot and it’s close enough.” One of the two men answered.

We nodded at them.

“I mean, who will know?” He continued.

“Well, you will.” I said, before I could apply my filter (my filter is not, at the best of times, particularly well developed).

We continued up.  It was slow going.  We got to the top and headed down.  The next day, we were getting onto a bus at the base of Kili back to the hotel where we had been staying.  One of the men we’d encountered at the top was sitting on the bus.  He smiled at me, and said hello. “I have you to thank,” he said to me, surprising me.  What was he talking about?  “I would never have gone to the actual summit if not for you.”

“Oh, wow.  I did not realize.  I’m sorry I was so abrupt with you at the top.”  I had been feeling badly about my comment to him.

“No, I want to thank you.  It’s because of you that I got to the top.”

I’ve never forgotten that.

That’s my February 2 2023 update.  How are you all doing?  What are you reading and thinking about?