What I Did Today

Not a fan of the inauguration. Not a fan of whining, either. So here’s what I’ve done, to both help and help feel empowered.

I donated to three organizations that will most likely be negatively impacted by the incoming administration:

The Southern Poverty Law Center https://www.splcenter.org/ for justice for minorities, the National Resources Defense Council https://www.nrdc.org/ for the environment, and Planned Parenthood https://www.plannedparenthood.org/ for women’s rights.

Kindness is important.

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Alrighty then. Supercross Cup

The Good, The Bad, and the Pitiful

The Bad.

Apparently Richie and I are slow learners. I don’t know how many times it’s going to take us finally realize that there are other people in the world trying to get somewhere on a Friday afternoon, especially in the major metropolitan areas we seem to travel on a regular basis. In any event, we didn’t learn it this time, either. Stuck in traffic. But only for an hour or so and at this point in ‘cross season, a four hour trip that was supposed to be a three hour trip isn’t much at all; it’s when the trips ease their way into eight-nine hours that we start to whine. All three of us.

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The Good.

Excellent food trucks! Wafles. Waffles. Latte. Wafles. Coffee! Waffles, wafles, waffles. And the sunset.

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The Pit-iful.

What on earth was going on with the pits?

Let me enumerate:

  1. The pit entrance is. . .where? Hint. As race goes right, you go straight, then take a sharp right (avoid the spectators in the pit lane, they are just as lost as you are) swerve around the tree, then straight ahead. I think.
  2. Trees without hay bales standing like bouncers on all four corners of the pit. Ouch.
  3. Tree roots. If by some slim chance of fate, your rider had found the entrance to the pit and has entered, s/he then makes the bike switch and, adrenaline pumping, takes off like a shot, only to encounter serious root-age while still in the pit. Unless said rider has a firm grip on handlebars, it is likely the bike with go careening away, nullifying the whole point of pitting.
  4. Really, really fast entrances. Imagine, for a moment, that you are racing downhill on pavement. Whoosh. You are going really fast. Then imagine that you must navigate your way to the pit while going really fast. Then picture hopping an asphalt curb at a challenging angle all the while going—yes—really, really fast. That was the entrance to Pit Two on Saturday.
  5. Curbs on both entrance and exits. See 4 above.
  6. So you’ve found the entrance to the pit (probably you had to go around a lap longer than you wanted to accomplish this) you’ve gotten in! Congratulations! You switch bikes! Yay! Whoops, you slide out on the pile of oak leaves that are strewn picturesquely in the lane. Oh well, two out of three.
  7. On Saturday, Pit One and Pit Two were in the first third of the race. Woe betide you if you need a pit after you’ve passed Pit Two, because there’s two-thirds more race to get through.

And on Sunday, the pits were, just to put a little more spice into things, backwards. But by now, we, the pit people, had no expectations of pit-sanity and so we just shrugged our shoulders and good-naturedly helped each other out, as we do.

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Late Summer, Salem Witch Trials and Sex

Summer ended Wednesday in the northern hemisphere, with the autumnal equinox. Since I’m not looking forward to colder, darker days—not after the winter we had last year—I’m going to dwell on summer for a bit longer.

Late summer is a time of plenty. Whether it’s all those tomatoes dragging down the vines, or the drowsy nodding late blooms filled with the buzz of bees, the acorns rolling underfoot or the hummingbirds feeding single-mindedly from nectar-dripping flowers, it’s hard, if you just stop and look and feel for a moment, to not get a sense of the abundance.

One late summer, when I lived on a farm, this sense hit me in a strong and different way. I looked at the bursting seed heads on their smooth stalks, the fruit trees heavy, the swelling rosehips and thought, Whoa! It’s all about sex. Well, of course it is. The whole point of flora and fauna is to procreate and thereby insure the continuation of their species. Often, when people write about nature (I include myself) the tone is so holy and ethereal. But hang out in late summer for a bit and the ethereal becomes fecund (although to my way of thinking, the holy stays holy.)

I recently read an article in The New Yorker about the Salem witch trials. I am mildly curious about what happened back in those witch hunting days of the 1600’s. Times were tough, so was it mass hysteria brought on by unrelenting hardship and stress? Or was it, as I once read, hallucinogenic mold in the food? Could it possibly have been actual possession? Nobody knows, and this particular article made a point of underscoring the puritanical nature of these earliest settlers. “Puritan” has come to mean a person with censorious moral beliefs, especially about pleasure and sex, and the article also stressed the Puritan’s fear of the “wilderness”—it being the place, they believed, where the Devil hung out.

“New-Englanders are a people of God settled in those, which were once the Devil’s territories” wrote Cotton Mather, Puritan extraordinaire, in 1692.

So here’s an interesting extrapolation. Early New Englanders weren’t keen on pleasure and sex and they feared the wilderness (nature) as a place of “Devil’s territories.” I’m thinking their fear of nature and their censorship of pleasure and sex are connected. Nature: all about sex since that’s what keeps life going. Puritans: sex/pleasure bad.

Doesn’t it make sense that if you morally censor sex and pleasure; you’re not going to “get” nature? And is it possible that this puritanical belief passed down through the generations is why we are so exploitive of our environment? We see it as something to be feared and tamed (which, now that I am thinking about it, could also be the root cause of the oppression of women, who, after all, are the ones to continue the cycle of nature and the species.) Food for thought.

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Transitions

Monday, September first, I took my spinning wheel outside on the deck and placed it so I could spin the merino I am working on and watch the pond, like I do almost every pleasant morning in summer. I have placed a thistle seed feeder near the deck (in defiance of bears) and I like to listen to the noises of the summer morning as the thread accumulates. This morning, though, seemed more than usually still—and then it hit me. The phoebes were gone. Those tail-wagging birds who perch on the canoe line or the dead branch, then swoop out in a rush over the water snatching at insects; those feisty April arrivals who build a nest under the eves on the light fixture of the cottage next door, and raise two, sometimes three nestfuls.

They were gone. Nary a one to perch and swoop and wag. I felt like a child whose summer friends—you know, that noisy family with kids your age who come every year—had left, taking with them the golden bubble of summer and signaling with their departure the sure and concrete message that summer is over.

Unwilling to take this in just yet, I strained my eyes and ears for summer sounds. Whew, I could still hear the catbird and was that two cedar waxwings flying by? I hoped they would stick around a bit longer since we’ve had a bumper crop of blueberries. And then I heard the chickadees, goldfinches and cardinals who are year-round residents. But so many had already quietly left. The kingbirds—when had they gone? The scarlet tanager, the orioles—gone. A few weeks back I had a glimpse of warblers—a blackburnian and a black-and-white—and I realize now they were migrating through.

No, they’re not all gone, the summer birds, but they will be, as their time comes. I was fond of those phoebes, dammit; it’s hard to let them go. But there, a plump hummingbird just careened by. Mary Oliver understood.

Of course.

To live in this world

you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and when the time comes to let it

go,

to let it go.

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Robin and Me

So saddened by Mr. Williams’ death. I met him once–he was as extraordinarily delightful as you would expect him to be.

Debra Paulson

I was at NAHBS—the North American Handmade Bicycle Show—and Robin Williams was there. He had a bike on order with Dario Pegoretti, the renowned Italian custom bike builder and I guess he wanted to meet him in person as well as tour the show. Dario’s booth was across the aisle from ours and when Dario came in that morning, fresh from Italy, he pulled out, from the voluminous folds of his overcoat, a bottle of Italian wine. “This is for you and Ricardo,” he said in his wonderful Italian accent, “for a romantic moment.” That’s Dario—the consummate romantic and artist. I just love him.

So Robin Williams toured the show with an entourage of fans, and you could always tell where he was by the hive of people buzzing around him. (Not that I was looking.)  FINALLY, he got to our booth, but two people were talking to me (endlessly) and…

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SCBWI

I am off to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference this morning and didn’t get a chance to write anything (oh, the irony!) so I’ll just offer you two pretty pictures of spring. See you next week!IMG_1668

I love the Vermeer-esque lighting on these tulips.

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Is there anything happier than a golden bird in a red-budded tree?

 

Spring

Okay, I’ve changed my mind. I  re-posted something I wrote last year for this week’s post, and then I looked out the window at the grey and brown and white that has been here for quite a while and I saw a flash of yellow at the feeder. A goldfinch, just starting to turn! We may not think spring is coming, but the birds know it is. The goldfinches are beginning to turn that  amazing shade of yellow, and bird songs are different now–more sing-song, more carefree, less terse.

If I stop and just listen for a moment, I think I can even hear the icy grip of winter loosening.  In the brook that has more laughter, in the ground that has a hint of cushion, in the minutely beginning swelling of buds.

It makes my insides swell with nourishment, to see it and hear it.

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