Category Archives: poems




with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
looking up from tables we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

W.S. Merwin
Rain in the Trees

 (seven posts in seven days)

Three things


Today, I’m less interested in food for thought and more interested in sitting a spell. You too?

Read what Katrina Kennison has to say about the last Saturday afternoon in September.

Listen to Carrie Rodriquez and Chip Taylor sing “Big Moon Shining” and feel yourself exhale.

Linger a while over at habit. I’m a guest over there again, starting today and through October.


“Camas Lilies”

Consider the liles of the field,
the blue banks of camas opening
into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers’ hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?
And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.”
Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

Lyn Ungar
Blessing the Bread: Meditations


Blue skies reflected in the pond!promisespeekmaple budsMountain laurel or rhododendron? Help!Bolted!bolted arugulaskunk cabbageNettles!

A couple weeks ago the spring peepers launched headlong into their moony chorus and I don’t want them ever to stop. A few years ago I found a copy of The Gardener’s Bed-Book: Short and Long Pieces to Be Read in Bed by Those Who Love Husbandry and the Green Growing Things of the Earth at an estate sale, or maybe it was at a fantastically Hogwartian junk shop near our old farm. Either way: I find it a (largely) addictive and delightful little book, even if author Richardson Wright does refer to the “infernal squallings” of the peepers. Me, I say their song is about the prettiest and most heartening thing I know. There I am, plodding along in my slippers, shoulders hunched in cold self-preservation over another cup of coffee, cracking the front door to check the weather and wondering if I can summon the wherewithal to suit up self and child for a bracing evening walk – and there they are! When I hear them I know for sure that we are on the other side of winter’s worst. (Did you know though that the cold-blooded peepers can tolerate sub-zero temperatures without dying? Whoa! It’s a pretty complex process; more here.) And they do most of their eating and, umm, merrymaking after dark and throughout the night – which is to say: they sing us to sleep.

So it’s moony peepers and moony me. Last week the forsythia woke up and this week it’s just exploding, fountains and fireworks of it everywhere we go. I don’t know what made me think we’d moved too far north for magnolias, because we haven’t – they’re everywhere too and instead of making me feel homesick they are just making me feel at home. Inside the high tunnels where we’ve been gleaning scraggly kale and rosemary, the greens are bolting and the herbs are flowering and the heady smell of it all makes me grin so wide I can hardly speak. And I’m not sure what’s redder: the maple buds against a sky that is one hour thick with thunderclouds and the next a blinding blue, or the robin’s breast in the pear trees behind our house, or the barn in the setting sun??

And the skunk cabbage! It’s huge now, up to my knees nearly and bright bright green, and as I walked in the marsh behind our house yesterday and the day before I saw that wherever the skunk cabbage is growing, nettles are too. Nettles! I will wait just a little longer, and then I will put on some gloves and get to work. I want lots of tea, and I want the buttery nettle soup a friend made for me in France 10 years ago this summer, and I want Nicole’s nettle tart. The marsh where they grow, half frozen just a few weeks ago, is carpeted in thousands upon thousands of tiny cotyledons. Is it too much to wonder if some of them might be watercress? This marsh habitat is so new to me. I don’t know its calendar yet at all.

Oh, friends. It has been a very long winter. This is how I am finding home.

“The Peace of Wild Things”

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry
The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry


Sweet Annie/Artemisia annua. February 2013, Virginia.

Sweet Annie/Artemisia annua. February 2013, Virginia.

So grateful for this practice of noticing and remembering some really delicious stuff, here in the thick of the move. For National Margarita Day on Friday, which brought joy to my packing, and for our whole grain waffles the next morning, which brought joy to my belly. For a child who called out gleefully from the backseat, “Turn that up, Mama!!” when this came on the radio, and then “Dance, Mama!!” when I was too still at the wheel. For a fantastic coffee date where we really did fit in a fair amount of adult conversation, even with our little ones at our sides. For the moment when I showed myself a little compassion and tossed the dry lumps of whole wheat tortilla dough into the pig scraps bucket and pulled out the tub of white flour. (I still want to talk about my seemingly Sisyphean efforts to find the perfect whole grain tortilla recipe – but not today.) For last night’s riff on our favorite new one dish meal: baked bratwurst with cabbage, carrots, and sweet potatoes, inspired by Dinner: A Love Story. For Connie Britton. For sleeping in. For this berried breakfast cobbler (two suggestions: top it with yogurt thinned with juice from the orange you’ve zested, per the recipe, and use salted butter – it does something amazing to the crust), and for the wee boy who did all the measuring and mixing himself. For the blue skies and blinding sun, and for the coffee I drank while the boy dug in the dirt and (ahem) threw dirt at the chickens. For a long midday snuggle with an under-the-weather bub who needed his mama.

And for this:


Touched by your goodness, I am like
that grand piano we found one night on Willoughby
that someone had smashed and somehow
heaved through an open window.

And you might think by this I mean I’m broken
or abandoned, or unloved. Truth is, I don’t
know exactly what I am, any more
than the wreckage in the alley knows
it’s a piano, filling with trash and yellow leaves.

Maybe I’m all that’s left of what I was.
But touching me, I know, you are the good
breeze blowing across its rusted strings.

What would you call that feeling when the wood,
even with its cracked harp, starts to sing?

Patrick Phillips

(joining Amanda at The Habit of Being)

Jon Kabat-Zinn made me do it.

Eastern red cedar/Juniperus virginiana. January 2013, Virginia.

For years (truly) I have brushed away a pining to create my own space online. My doubts hung thick like fog:

I’m mothering and running a business and doing my share of keeping a home. And I want to learn how to do so many new things. How would I make the time?

If I’m going to take time away from family to do this, I should try to figure out a way to be compensated financially, right? But then I’d need to commit to regular, meaningful content. I already struggle with this on our farm blog and in some other online places. I struggle with discipline in many parts of my life, frankly. Why would this be any different?

How do I honor and respect my husband’s private nature and my child’s right to grow up well away from the public eye?

Will this make me too proud? Will it be too much navel-gazing?

I don’t want to inspire anyone. It can be a slippery slope, right, that space between sharing my joys and making people feel inadequate? That scares me.

And does the world need another blog? It can’t possibly.

But quiet and tenacious as the rising sun, that pining to write just kept showing up.


I’ve decided I’m done with feeling tortured.

I’ve decided to name the notion that I can predict what and who will come into my life because of writing here for what it is: hubris.

I’ve decided – looking back over the last six or seven years of showing up on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, our farm website, some other projects I’ve been a part of – that the net effect of all this showing up has been overwhelmingly positive. There has been more connecting, more compassion, less suffering, less feeling alone.

I’ve decided I want more of that connecting, and also a place where I can challenge myself to dig a little deeper, work a little harder, say a little more, ask a little more.

I’ve decided to be here.

I hope I can manage to walk that line between honoring my family’s privacy and talking about what it means to be in a family with grace. I hope I can welcome imperfection. I hope to celebrate these days that are the good flesh continuing and then to be able to look back on them too. I also hope I can manage to not take myself too seriously. That’s perhaps funny to say in a post like this, but it’s the truth.

This afternoon I was listening to Krista Tippett interview Jon Kabat-Zinn on On Being. That show regularly makes me weep, and today was no exception. I was listening, but my monkey mind was also thinking about this maybe-space of mine, and about how we are all enough, right now, right here, and can reminding one another of that be the main thing we do? Then toward the end the interview, Jon Kabat-Zinn read a poem by Derek Walcott. I burst into tears. Then I pulled into my driveway and sat down at the computer.

“Love After Love”

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott
Collected Poems, 1948-1984