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Words

Words have immense power. They paint mental pictures and weave meanings. They convey information and make promises. They also stake territory and set forth identity. This last I’ve been thinking about a great deal in the few weeks I have been working with a group of twelve- to fourteen-year-olds. It’s my first foray in a long time into communication with another generation. […]

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Speaking from the Heart

Last week in my writing group, I burst out at one point with a bracing, “Shut up!” This isn’t the way I want to communicate with my friends—or with anyone else, for that matter—and so afterward I gave some thought to what I’d said, why I’d said it, and how I could avoid such outbursts in the future. One of the things […]

Reciprocity

At the height of the pandemic, I was adopted by a cat—a blue-eyed, probably part-Siamese female who had been left with my next-door neighbor. The cat’s name was Marie, but this didn’t seem to suit her, so I began calling her Mira—which is close in sound but quite different in association. Mira is the name of one of India’s poet-saints, a sixteenth-century […]

Cross the Line

It’s been a hard month. I’m not entirely sure why. A few weeks into it, snow fell, and I let that cold white blanket covering the ground keep me in my house for maybe four days. I had heat. I had food. I had work and entertainment. But I felt as if I were allowing myself to succumb, to lie down in […]

Christmas

I do like Christmastime, and I hate to admit it, but I think part of the reason has to do with the lights, the sparkle, the surfeit of cookies and candy, and all those wrapped presents. My favorite image from Christmas is the tree with presents around it. My experience has almost always been that the gifts themselves are bittersweet—not quite right, […]

Rite of Passage

A few months back, I heard inside my mind my teacher’s voice saying, “It’s not the way you think it is.” That’s all. I don’t know what “it” refers to, and so I have no idea how I am thinking about “it.” What I do know is that something I’m depending on to be a certain way is not that way. Since […]

Henry Tunes Turns Ninety!

In the Art of the Mini Memoir class that I used teach in the local senior center, I would always bring cookies the first week. Then I’d ask for volunteers to bring cookies in the three weeks that followed. I’ll never forget the class where the first volunteer was a man I knew to be in his eighties. “But not cookies,” he […]

Something to Defend

Since I no longer have care of a cat or a ten-pound dog, I am able to consider the finer qualities of the raccoons that live in close proximity to me. I looked up one day recently and locked eyes with a raccoon not ten feet from me, poised in the branches of the venerable cherry tree in my backyard. The two […]

An Ounce of Prevention

I was on my way to pick strawberries, driving down a country road when it happened. About a quarter of a mile ahead, I saw a fawn step onto the blacktop. I slowed down. The fawn saw the car, turned, and began running straight toward us. I stopped, but the truck behind me didn’t—or, anyway, not as soon as I stopped. The […]

No False Spring

Spring snuck up on me. It was beautiful for a week in early February, and then I looked around and the whole world was in bloom. At first, I didn’t trust it. Twenty years on the East Coast taught me not to have confidence in an early spring. There, the weather would warm for a few beautiful days, maybe a week, in […]