With a set of jacks, a hopscotch marker, and a jump rope in hand, entire afternoons could pass before anyone thought to say, “I’m bored.”
While we envied the skill of the Double-Dutching older girls, we took our turns at the single rope and were content. Pigtails and ponytails flying, we jumped to rhymes still known today: “Teddy Bear,” “Spanish Dancer,” “Cinderella.”
We giggled at verses filled with favorite beaus, kissing, marriage, and baby carriages, but the rhymes weren’t freighted with adult meaning. Their short, easily memorized lines were nothing more than markers for the entrance and exit of jumpers from the ropes. Continue reading
Some years ago, I published “The Sentinel,” an essay about Florida environmentalist Charles Torrey Simpson and a pair of shells I found washed onto a Texas beach.
The shells, a deep, rich purple, are known in scientific circles as Janthina janthina. Elegant, tiny sea snails, they form great rafts, then float around the world. When Simpson found such a raft in the Florida Keys, he chronicled his experience, and through his notebook entry I was able to identify my own bits of purple.
Soon after I posted about Simpson, one of my readers offered a request. Her love of all things purple had been stirred by the piece, and she wanted a “purple poem.” At the time, I didn’t think of myself as a poet, and demurred. As it turned out, she did think of me as a poet, and was convinced I could produce some verse for her. Continue reading
Princess at Teter Rock, Kansas ~ 2013
When the lovely, straw-colored Toyota came into my life, friends giggled at my choice of name. “Princess?” they asked. “Aren’t you afraid naming it ‘Princess’ is going to cause trouble down the road? What if it ends up expecting to be pampered, and demands new parts and service every other month?”
Politely but firmly, I corrected them. “She. Princess is a ‘she’, not an ‘it.’ And she’s going to be just fine.” Continue reading
A shadow of my future self
Somehow, WordPress saw fit to change the publication date for my post titled “At Seventy” from January 9 to January 5, which prevented it from appearing in the Reader. Those who use the Reader can find the orginal post here.
My apologies for the duplication, but I didn’t want the post to disappear.
A shadow of my future self
Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy the wisdom and dry wit of May Sarton, a woman whose books — particularly Journal of a Solitude, The House by the Sea, and Writings on Writing — have joined my collection of literary touchstones: volumes I find myself reading and re-reading multiple times.
And yet, another of her highly-praised books remained on my shelf for years, unopened and unread. It seemed appropriate to save it for a particular and quite special occasion. From time to time, I found myself thinking:
One day, I ‘ll be seventy. Then, I’ll see what May has to say about the experience in her book with the tantalizing title: “At Seventy.”
When the much-anticipated birthday came, I celebrated with a trip to the Tallgrass Prairie bottomlands, where I took my first, shadowy selfie.
Then, in the late afternoon, with bees buzzing about in the late gaura and goldenrod, and the Burlington Northern rumbling both south and north, I opened Sarton’s book. Continue reading
This much is certain: choosing to forego modern ways of connecting to the world has consequences. Over the course of three weeks, with no television, radio, newspapers, or social media to keep me informed, I became blissfully unaware of a good bit: the start of baseball’s World Series; the long-term forecast; the latest roiling of the political waters; the inevitable celebrity scandals.
Not only did I begin forgetting the date, with sunrise and sunset serving as my only markers for the days, the realization that it soon would be time to reset the clocks came as a bit of a shock. Continue reading