verge (vʉrj)
the edge, brink, or margin (of something): also used figuratively the verge of the forest, on the verge of hysteria

to tend or incline (to or toward)
to be in the process of change or transition into something else; pass gradually (into) dawn verging into daylight

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Art of the Sand Dollar

I used to spend my summers on the Cape looking for sand dollars.  For countless hours I hunched myself over the sand, covering one square foot at a time while squinting my eyes and gritting my teeth, trying to force sand dollars to materialize right there before me in the sand. I did this for miles of beach, day in and day out. C'mon!  I know you're there! Show yourselves, dammitall... Once in a while someone would walk by carrying a few.  Show offs....But each year I went home empty-handed, defeated, disheartened.  Finally I surrendered.  I quit the search.  Not only did I refuse to try, but I made a point of not looking.  Nope, not going there anymore.  A waste of time.  Always turns out the same. Eventually, I even forgot about that too.  I didn't look for them, and I didn't not-look for them. I just walked on the beach. Just simply walked...on the beach.

And I kept walking, summer after summer.  Those walks became magnificent.  No cares.  How beautiful is the ocean and that undulating verge between sand right here and water, right there.  My feet mind followed.  I found an odd and unexpected fulfillment in my emptiness.  I knew that there were millions of sand dollars out there, and I didn't want a one. There was way more peace in not seeking than in seeking. At last, I had conquered the sand dollar.

And yes, of course. That's right when it happened.

I was doing my thing, walking my walk, minding my business of solitary nothingness when there before me, with unassuming beauty and unmistakeable spirit lay a single sand dollar on the sand.  I stood frozen. I blinked, and my eyes filled.  The hallowed space between my eyes and this elusive sand dollar was infinite...and I couldn't move. With unutterable joy, I scooped this treasure into my hands.  I kept this our secret, our find, our silence.  I held it quietly in my hand and said nothing.  

I continued my walk, now carrying this small piece of magic in my hand.  To my amazement, I found another, and then another.  In all, I collected twenty sand dollars during my stay and not one--not one-- did I seek.  I simply can't explain that. But I now know my searches had been misguided all those previous years. I thought I knew what I was trying to find. I thought I could make It happen. I had practiced The Art of Manipulation only to come up sorely disappointed and very lonely in it. Painstaking loneliness, yet unspeakably loud.

But in that unassuming surrender, some inner barrier was dislodged.  I had begun to take in the wider landscape. There was so much to see there.  I was only a small part of it...I found a quiet and joyful anonymity in such a landscape.  How freeing to join it in that way. As I began to spot more and more sand dollars, I began to pay attention to their prompts.  Sand dollars reveal themselves when the eyes sweep the landscape, without censorship. While scanning, the thin, crescent-shaped shadow of the sand dollar will reveal itself first, as it rests near the water's edge.  It's that little sliver of a shadow, a knowing slice of smile, that makes itself known.   It catches the eye, and it says hello....

But don't look for it. No, don't. Instead, practice the Art of Giving Up.  You will find yourself in precious company, and very rich in sand dollars.

Photo by Meredith Bempkins 

Dog Dude

Man-Oh-Man--has it ever been hot! This summer's been a-sizzlin'. For you too, probably, wherever you are.  One can hope...

Hanging out with Otis the other day turned the heat into a little lesson in Cool.  Otis was born cool, as you already know. Wicked cool. Take his name. I mean, Otis? If there really is a dock at the end of the bay, that's where he was born.  He's the essence of cool dude-ness.  

The two of us got worked into quite a lather during our visit recently. It was stinkin' hot--so hot that even the birds were silenced.  The trees didn't dare sway out of fear they wouldn't be able to straighten back up.  Otis, hottie that he is, was undaunted and coaxed me into a little frenzy of Go Fetch which I handled like any out-of-shape, aging and immature 50 year old dog walker would.  I whined and I sighed, I gasped and I heaved, and I pretended I was proud of my underarm sweat stains while little gnats stuck to my legs and teeth and forehead.  And my feet...oh wow--yeah--my feet.  Let's just leave it at that.  

But then there was Otis. Imbued with dude-ness, he managed to settle us both.  He wandered us over to the center of the shade under the umbrella-ish apple tree in the yard, and he got his belly all down-low in the grass and flopped those two hind legs of his way behind him while he lifted his eyes upward, a big ol' smile rising across his face and that mouth as big and open and grinnin' as it could be.  And his eyes blinked big blinky-blinks at me...slowly, happily, cooly, and so dude-ly.  

I stood there all stink-like, looking as slimy and greasy and uncool as I felt, and so I figured I would take a page from The Book of Otis and find me a way to get down and get cool, and sample a little piece of this dudeness.  We sat there looking at each other.  As I looked at him and he looked at me I could start to feel my stink blow right off.  And then came that nice cool giant wet kiss and Man-oh-Man, being hot never felt so cool. Like hey, what a dude, Man.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ms. Mammoth and Her Man

I met a little slice of perfect this week.  Her name is Madchen and his is Her Man. They love each other. That's not the perfect part.  The perfect part is in all the ways they adore each other.  Rich, simple. A piece of perfection, if I ever saw it.

She knows what a beautiful field looks like and how to rove it.
He knows how to tend it...

She knows just what's in that special drawer in the kitchen.
He knows exactly when to open it.

She knows how to savor those made-with-love cookies.
He knows how to make them, with his hands, and with love.

She knows just how to rocket through the air to snatch a frisbee as it skims across a baby blue sky.
He knows just how to send her flying.

She knows just how to instigate a little jelly-belly rubbin'.
He knows exactly how to tickle her fancy.

She knows how to make her mammoth self fit snugly into his lap.
He knows just how to make himself as big as comfy a couch, cradling her there.

She knows how to wiggle her tail and do a little dance around the room.
He knows how to sing to her.

She knows when and where to get the mail down the road.
He knows just how to make the mailbox a journey.

She knows how to sit elegantly tall and straight.
He knows how to treat her with grace.

She knows how to anticipate his glance as she sits close by his side.
He knows how to meet her eyes...and smile with his.

She knows how to announce a visitor venturing across the bridge.
And they know how to make her feel quite at home.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Millie and I have our morning ritual.  It's just ours. Its predictability feels like worn-in leather. Gentle, durable. We step into our morning with the reassurance that another day is here, and that we get to go meet it, just like we did yesterday, and the day before that. We have our customary good morning wags and kisses and then skip out the door towards the very same route, in the very same direction, saying g'morning and hello to all the very same birds, and rocks and mail box posts and flower boxes.   We love the rhythm of those greetings, the two of us.  Every so often we catch each other steeling glances at the other and that seems to make us walk a little faster and and a little sillier.  We make a little deal with each other to be as silent as possible while we pass sleeping households and other sleeping dogs,  and as we pass them by our insides are laughing free and easy at our companion ritual-ship.  The shared certainty of this routine makes us both a bit giddy.

After we get home and take care of breakfast, we both have a little quiet moment before heading in different directions as day wears on.  And it dawns on us again and again in each morning pause that the predictability of our routine serves to nurture and cultivate the unpredictable. Unpredictability is an open door. Neither of us really knows what's on the other side.  But based on the routine of So Far,  it's going to be pretty good.  It's quite worth waiting for, and hoping for, I predict. C'mon--the door's open, curious one. Keep walking with me here. I look forward to the next one, and the next one.

And the one after that....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Lily...the essence of cool.  Cool, clean, smooth.  And very, very, very quiet.

That is such a lie. 

This little lady has enough energy to light Manhattan.  She's Thelma AND Louise. Standing all of  6 inches high, this little dahling diva rrrrreally rules the roost.  From her beautifully coiffed shag to her pale pink diamond-encrusted choker, she's got opera-soprano style, celeb, and well, spirit, shall we say.  She sparkles.  Literally.  She's never ever without her bling. When she zooms by (which is always), dizzying dazzling sparkles sprinkle the air in her wake. And when Lily's around, there's no doubt whatsoever about what's happening next and what your particular part's going to be.  Don't even THINK of tip toeing past.  She's all over it and voicing her opinion about it, besides.

But then too, there's her heart. It's as big as her sparkle. Once she knows you, you're in.  You're so in.  She'll shower you in love and adoration,  giving little diva kisses while telling you how perfect you are,  and she'll see to it herself that you are made to feel comfy, cozy, and cared for at all times.  

She's a handful--one mighty hot ticket.  I've grown very fond of her in the past year.  She keeps me on my toes and barely one step ahead.  She has certainly brightened my world.  That's so hot, it's cool.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Surprise Beginnings

Things have a way of coming 'round.  And when you least expect it.  Endings have beginnings attached to them, the sort that aren't always evident.  And they manifest as surprises...the very best sort.

Diane's farm.  The precious farm--the one where she planted her feet, and finally her soul.  The one where she hunkered down and gave it life...while hers gave way.  Diane took such care.  Nothing was left undone.  Each detail had a reason and a thought.  But as October descended and her days there reached their end, the details of its future lay fallow by winter's weight.  Yet, as if by an unspoken promise, The Pony Lady and Her Partner stumbled onto the farm and fell in love with it just a short time ago.  They see what Diane saw...its river, love gardens, and a life abundant tucked between wood and iron, rocks, memory birds, and deeply webbed roots.  A tangle of history, housed in those tendrils.  And in their search to learn more about Diane, they found me.  And as we scrambled to find each other, we found ourselves in a new story--one that takes an ending thread and braids it together with a beginning and a promise.  And so we arranged to meet, only to discover that our lives have crossed paths unknowingly over the years, for they live just down the street! In a teary-eyed evening, an ending was woven into a new that Diane would have loved and chosen.  The farm is in good hands.  That's a promise, my friend.

Another Ending-Turned-Beginning is the story of the Baby.  This grand Baby has raised three generations of children.  All those curly fingers, all those melodies!  It too has ended its days in our hands, but has begun a new life in the happiest of places.  As the team of expert movers rehearsed and rehearsed its exit down my long stairs and into the van, I too rehearsed my goodbye, preparing myself to let it go so that it could come back.  That turning point happens in a subtle quietly it comes. But come back it will, to new curly fingers and new melodies, and with generations of joy as its echo....And as they drove away, I intuitively knew that I was saying hello to a new life.

And now there's now.  Right now.  A Now that's also very right. Another ending is making its beginning, surprising me in the most quiet of ways.  I am rapt as it unfolds.  This Verge began at an ending but has unintentionally become a beginning.  Such beginnings keep themselves secret until the right moment and right time, when they can at last be born. I am trusting what I know about that and trusting even more what I don't know.  And to that end I welcome these Surprise Beginnings....