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Monday, July 9, 2018

Anne wth an E Goes to Prince Edward Issland

We set upon a journey. Penney and I because we don't remember not knowing Green Gables. Claire to find her ancestors who came to PEI so long ago. The three girls, who had to read L.M.Montgomery through out the winter .Her books give flight to the imagination, and they had called themselves Diana and Jane and Ruby and had been already living here every time they got together. They are also planning to write a book. It will be the story of Matthew and Marillas lives before Anne. They have invited me to contribute a chapter! And then there is Moshe "Daniel Boone" Somero. A stalwart and stoic young man. Because all these giddy females need at least one person with their feet on the ground.

       We stayed in a cottage right by the bay, where the tides came and went. Where the wind whispered in the trees. Where a sleek, fat murder of crows talked in the mornings. Where fishing boats came and went. Where we had a pure view of the osprey nest and we heard him and his Mrs. talking as he flew hither and yon on his journeys. Where the star fish colony lived under the wharf, and jelly fish floated about.  Where we dug clams and ate them for breakfast. Where we toasted marshmallows and shivered with cold on a windy night.

         And then, Green Gables. It is just what you remember, from your living in the book. Like every thing on PEI, the houses and farms are tidy and painted and neat. It looks like a lovely patch work quilt, alternating with red plowed fields and lush green pastures. Stitched together with roads, the squares tied with white farm houses and barns.
         Marillas house was spic and span. We reveled in the kitchen and pantry where Anne made all her mistakes and learned her house keeping skills. Annes bed room, full of dreams. Marillas sparse room where the beautiful brooch got lost. Matthews bed. (Matthew is every ones favorite.) The parlor, where tea is set out. The cozy stove where Anne did her homework and ate apples. The red geraniums in the window. Just like we knew it would.

It was a most beautiful morning, so off we went to walk down Lovers Lane. It, too, was just how we knew it would be. The ferns were damp and fragrant in the morning dew. The forget me nots grew in huge baby blue patches. The brook danced and chuckled. The trees made shade and dim shadowy patches among the sunlight. The bridges creaked. Little baby squirrels played hide and seek in the rocks and birds flitted along with us. We found the dryads bubble, as blue as the forget me nots .
Back out in the sunshine we toured the barn and drank some raspberry cordials. (And did not get drunk!) A nice basket full of dress up. all clean and warm from the laundry. Sit and pose in Matthews buggy.

Off to the haunted wood we went! And just like Anne said, In the day light it is all gladsome and charming. But if you imagined the shadowy dusk, it would indeed be haunted with all the gory imaginary things you could dream up! Bare, boney arm branches and twigs groaning against each other and rabbits suddenly hopping out between your feet. "Diana and Jane and Ruby" held hands and peered about to see what they could see! We made it! The haunted wood led to Dianas house, but Dianas house is not there now. An old well. A hundred year old apple tree. The cemetery.  Back through the haunted woods to Green Gables. We are sated and happy and we know that Green Gables and all of those old friends will always be here.

We had lunch in Avonlea, which is only a faux village. But the lunch was delicious and it was fun. Then we had the rest of our days to spend at the sea. Every night we would go there and find a different spot to feel the great heart beat of the world. The wind and the waves and the sand and the rocks and the caves and the sunsets and the blue sky and the blue water. If you didn't have obligations, I suppose you would never leave. Prince Edward Island baked potatoes with the works for supper is food for kings. The girls were faithful with their journaling. It was a pleasure to be with them, still too young to not be embarrassed about their joys and enthusiasm. Still not afraid  to collect wonderful things that in a few years they probably would NEVER touch!

And we did go to Tignish. It was cold and windy. We parked at the beautiful old Catholic church and went searching in the cemetery for Claires people. (Almost like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack.) But we found them. Claire was so happy. Really. It made the whole trip even more worthwhile. I have this picture of her in my heart. Kneeling in the wind, brushing off the stone to better read the words. It was a holy feeling. That is when our stalwart, stoic young man, said " I never knew any body would be that excited over dead people". Gave us all a laugh!
         I hope all you Kindred Spirits have enjoyed PEI with me!


Sunday, December 17, 2017


   The road has not been plowed. We park the truck and trek through the snow. The wind has drifted it and the snow is deeper than my LLBeans. It is a cold, white world where the bare trees make black shadows. Below us the lake is a deep, deep blue. It has only a scrim of ice around the edges. The water ripples in the wind. The sun makes a golden road across the water, and around the golden road there are millions of sun diamonds. They glitter and dance with the ripples. Up here it is quiet. So quiet we can hear the memories. When you are surrounded by noise and busyness, you can hardly hear memories.
   We remember fishing in the rain. Smoking salmon in the PNW. Steaks in the moonlight. El Caminos. Peterbuilts. Stories in the sugar house. Oranges on Christmas morning. The laughter of many children. Nights in the fur shack. Gallons of coffee. Ash trays, heaped up. 50 years can make a whole lot of memories.
    But most of all, we remember you.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Story Day

        Some days are like a picture. Some days are music. Some days are poetry. And some days are a story. Every once in while you get that perfect October day that is all of them. A picture of blue sky and blue water and all the colors of fall. You know why they call it fall, don't you? The leaves fall. The pine needles fall. The acorns fall. The apples fall. They all fall. A vagabond wind sings through the trees. The music is the swish and crackle and the drum beat is the nuts and the apples. The sunlight filters through the trees and every thing is suffused with gold. The water is flecked sun diamonds.
        This day was all that. And it was a story day, too. I think all days are story days. But mostly we don't listen.
        It used to be a junk shop. Not a cute name for a vintage store. Oh, no. This was the real thing. The building was junk. The roof leaked and most of the windows were boarded up. The stairs were rickety. And, it was full of junk. Piled high every where, with small paths here and there. There was no way you could ever get to see all the junk, much less buy any of it. Even the proprietor was rather junky. He sat glumly on a junky stool, like he was waiting for the place to collapse and be done. None the less, we always stopped there if the flag was out when we were going by. Then it was closed for a long time. We wondered what had become of all the junk.
         This day, much to our surprise, a flag was flying and the door was open and we pulled in. A man was busily sawing and measuring, but he cordially invited us in. It was amazing. It was beautiful. It was perfect. Not the kind of perfect where you have to take off your shoes  and speak in hushed voices. The kind of perfect that said, "Come in." The kind that spoke of years gone by, and life and living. Open to the day, mellow with time. Boards and beams that said, "We have been here. We welcome you back."
         He said he was Jessi. His muscles rippled under his coffee colored skin. His hands were strong and gentle. He wore a bandana over his hair, pulled back in a pony tail. He had on a carpenters apron. His face was lined. He spoke with a slow, southern accent. Shut your eyes, now and listen.
         " I grew up in South Carolina. Low country. I never knew my father. My sister and I were raised by my grandparents. I rarely saw my mother. It was good. Grandmother was loving and grandfather was the boss. But my grandfather was sick. He had tuberculosis and cancer. One day, when I was thirteen, I was sitting at the table doing my homework in the evening. My grand father came in the kitchen and as he walked behind me, he placed his hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently. I was surprised, because he never did anything affectionate like that. And he said to me, real quietly, " It's going to be all right." I was puzzled, but shrugged it off and had forgotten about it by the next morning when I went off to school. But when I came home on the bus I saw that there were police and ambulances and all kinds of commotion. My grandmother had heard one shot, and she knew what had happened.
             It was all right. Life went on. I finished school. I went to New York City. I got married and had two beautiful children. When my mother was dying she sent for me, and I went. I told her it was all right. I didn't have to know why she did what she did. I had had a good life with my grandparents. I saw that every thing happens for a reason. Life goes the way it is supposed to. No one should fret over the way things go.
          After 9 11 I couldn't stay in New York any more, so I moved up here to New Hampshire. I thought it would be all right. But we got divorced and I lost every thing. Now I'm starting over. And it is all right. I was supposed to have my marriage, even if it didn't last, because other wise I wouldn't have those two beautiful children. That was the reason. You can't fret. You have to keep on living and see what comes next. Now I found this falling down building. The town had condemned it. But I cleared it out and I refinished it. And its my home and my business and its beautiful and its all right."
          We shook hands and promised to come back. We rode quietly for a while, letting it all sink in. Thank you for a story day!


Sunday, May 7, 2017

" I Go A Fishing"

       I have been thinking about those four little words. " I go a fishing." John 21:3.
 These men have just lived through a horrible time. They are scared. They just lost their friend to a horrible death. They feel lost. So many things have happened, they don't know what to think or do. So Peter says. " I go a fishing." And his friends went, too, out in the boat all night long. They are cold and tired and hungry.  Their faith has wavered.They have caught no fish. But at sunrise, they see a warm glow on the shore, and the fragrance of fish frying comes wafting across the water. Jesus beckons them to come to shore. Their nets fill up with fish. How welcome is that moment. This is one of many times Jesus has broke bread and fishes with the multitudes.
      Now. We have the same Jesus. When we are afraid and cold and hungry and our faith is gone. When the nights are too long and our hearts are broken. Look to the far shore.  Jesus has sent  us out those friends who have taken the time to gather drift wood and build up a fire and tend it until it becomes a bed of coals. They have fried us some fish and bread and asked us to come to the warmth. There we are fed and warmed and we hear the gospel and our faith is renewed.
    Have we humbled our selves to be one of those messengers? Are we too clean and good to walk out in the sand and dirty our feet and clothing and hands? Too busy to go out before dawn and find those fishermen with empty nets? We don't have to do miracles or preach sermons. all we have to do is be there. working with our hands and hearts to bring comfort to our fellow man.
     Just asking.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I Am a Ship Builder

I am a ship Builder. I built me a ship of hope. She always sails forward, into uncharted seas. Her prow gleams snow white in the sun, and her sails are filled with the breeze. For hope is the bird that always sings before joy comes in the morning.

I am a ship builder. I built me a ship of dreams. It can sail anywhere, back to the things that I've seen. The moon light turns it golden and the star shine gives it light. The memories are the cradle that rocks me to sleep at night.

I am ship builder. I built me a cargo ship. To store all the treasure I've gathered while sailing the seven seas. I will sail around and give them out to the ones who think they have none. And the rest I will trade for the things that I need when my sailing days are done.

I am a ship builder. I built me a ship 'O war. I flew a proud flag from the highest mast and I plated her hull with steel. I armed her with courage and I sailed around the world. Every part. To secure all the harbors that lay in my heart.

I am a ship builder. I never sail alone. I have a crew that stays on board where ever we may roam. They are strong on the deck and steady at the helm. Our music is the wind in the rigging and our lure is a siren song.

I am a ship builder. Will you come sailing with me?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Merrie Month of May

          We headed north, in a week of rain. The rivers were dancing and leaping in wild abandon over the granite, accompanied by the primal music of this merrie month of May. Wisps of clouds hung over the near hills and the steeples. Like tattered lace curtains in forgotten windows. The far Notches were hidden in mystery, ever beckoning us onward. The hardwood trees still stood in silken nakedness, caressed by the soft arms of the evergreens. The cattails are shabby. Golden fluff being carried off by the wind. The black crows strut in the brown grass.
         We stop to visit Daniel. Years ago we met him, exploring an old dusty road. The stones are ringed in by a stone wall, and you enter through the iron gate. The slate is blackened, mostly unreadable and they lean in crazy angles. But there is a break in the back wall, and , curious, we go through it. That's where we found him. Daniel, who fought in the civil war. What happened after he came home? Why does he sleep outside the wall?  We scrape the moss off his name and listen to a flag slapping in the breeze. A dove sorrows in the trees, Daniels music.
     We follow the Lost River as it cuts through the land, free at last of ice and snow. We drive through covered bridges and birch groves. Those white birches, the brightest things in a gray landscape. A herd of Scottish Highlanders huddles near the feed rack in a pasture. their horns glistening with rain. A duo of huge, handsome work horses watch us from the fence, muscles rippling from the strain of standing still. When we go by, they whirl and dash off, manes flying.
        We drive through the little towns. Little churches. Small schools. Barns with the roof caving in. In all the houses the smoke swirls the chimneys, and the windows glow with friendly light. We drink our coffee in the warm truck, watching the wipers sweep the rain. Its cozy. The talk is in no hurry. There's peace in the valley. A beautiful day, in May.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Legacy of Life

   It's Indian Summer. A day as warm and sun-kissed as June. Yet, the scent of autumn is on the air, for we have had our killing frost, the foliage is almost over, the dry leaves skirl in the breeze. It's early morning and I am out cutting cedar for Christmas decorating. As I gather, the warm cedar smell , faint and elusive, wreaths around me, and I am years and miles away in fragrant dreams.
   It's the old Norse in me. I know this. My Scandinavia coming along  and getting the beast of me. Of the many legacies I received from my Father, I am gifted with the love of trees, and the love of books. Books covers so many things. things like Words, beautiful flowing words, knowledge, imagination, hope, love. And Trees. Norse mythology is entwined around trees. I know this because my father had books about it. Books that I read. I clearly remember standing in my parents home, by the glass door, in the gloaming light of the Douglas Fir forest, reading one of those books. My Mother said, "You are just like your Father, standing there, reading, when there is a comfy chair right there you could sit in." I stopped reading, for that minute. Something inside of me glowing with happiness. No one had ever said that to me before. "you are just like your Father."
    The Scandinavians believed that all life was centered around the tree. And when you examine it? Its true. Life begins in the roots, and lives and breathes, and branches out and makes new growth, and grows and always there are the insects, the birds, the animals, the humans that contribute to its growing. And it feeds them, and shelters them and gives them life. And when it has accomplished every thing then it slowly dies down and feeds the good ground and makes new life.
     I think of all this, now under the cedar tree. It was here when I came here, those many years ago. Much smaller, then. Now it is a huge old tree. It measures seven feet around the bottom of the trunk. The Ice Storm a few years ago took off the top half of the tree so it's not so tall any more. But still it flourishes. Generations of children have climbed it and swung from the branches and hid among them. Always it is green, full of tiny clusters of cones. Full of birds and squirrels. The roots and the trunk are smooth and grey. It's a beautiful tree.
     My father loved his trees. When he finally built his own house, he picked a spot in an old growth Doug Fir forest. He only cut enough trees to put in his house. No more. If you have ever been in the Pacific Northwest, in the forest, you know what I am speaking of. Straight and tall, close together. Soft and gloomy, with only shafts of filtered sunlight streaming through the vast network of trees. Damp and mossy, every trunk covered with moss. If I suddenly became blind, and some one brought me there, I would know by the smell that I was among the giant firs.
     The trees hid the house from the road, and the curved drive kept you from seeing the house until you suddenly came to the clearing. At night it was dark in those woods, for you could not see the stars. Only the owls talked in the scented darkness, and the coyotes called from the hills. But he loved those trees. Never would he cut one down, unless it clearly needed to be gone. One day he took me out through the dim path to the edge of his property. He was already old and ancient as his trees, I walked behind him. He was unsteady on his feet. But he pointed out certain trees. Trees that he loved. And we came to the prize of his forest. He knew how wide it was. How tall. How many board feet of lumber it would make. We leaned against it and looked up, up, up, into the heavens and we didn't have to talk. My Father and I. We knew that he would never need to make lumber from that tree.
     I married a man that also loves trees. But in a more practical way. Our life revolves around trees. Here in New England there are more trees than any thing else. We stay warm with trees. We manage our woodlot, so there will always be trees for us. Interesting to note: the word ecology comes from the Greek word oikos, which means house. (Taking care of your house!) We built a home with those trees. We cut them down and we saw them up and we split them and pile them and lug them in the house and feed the wood stoves. The stoves warm us, and cook for us, and make cheerful crackling sounds and dry clothes, and yes..they make our life.
     Every spring, we tap the maple trees, collect the sap, and boil down that beautiful amber syrup that sweetens our lives and helps sustain us. My children grew up to love trees, too. And my grandchildren. And hopefully, my great grandchildren. Many generations. Some of them are loggers and sawyers. Some of them draw them and paint them. Some of them write about them. All of read about them. And we love trees. The legacy goes on.
     An old Scandinavian poem reads:
              " Talk of what Home is -
                 snow and forest is home.
                 From the first moment they are ours.
                Before any one has told us that it is snow and forests.
                They have a place in us,  and since they are there,
                Always and always. Come Home.
                Go in there bending branches -
                Go on till you know what it means to belong."