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

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Got GPS?

Artemis and Biscuit

Beloved Navigation Specialists
Experts in 360 Degree Perspective and Hindsight
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Sunday, November 21, 2010



The sun pushed against our backs and we paused to feel it. Our silhouettes were black and floating on the surface of earth. And we paused to feel that.

We walked for a long time.  No one said any thing about any...thing.  Grasses and trees and sky opened to us as if we were born there.  

I watched us for a long time.  One two three. We three opened to the grasses and trees and sky as if they were born in us.  I could find myself in the weight of the sun.

And I paused to feel that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

From the Ledge(r)

Mary and Pam

I am sitting here in my office writing this blog (shhhh...) while Pam reads to me.  She's reading one of my favorite columns:  the Monadnock Ledger Police Log.  It's a treasure. This is one of the most precious aspects of my work--not the Ledger itself--but the sharing of the Ledger.   And the sharing of everything else.  In the case of the Ledger, we always share a great rip-roaring laugh.  In the case of this morning, we shared a collective gasp.

I have to write about this.  Have to.  We show up in this office to help usher people through hard times.  Sometimes hard times change and become good times.  We like it when that happens.  Sometimes hard times stay hard, so we try to help people feel heard and maybe a little less alone.  Sometimes that is all we can do, and most times, it's the best we can do.  We carry many stories with us, but the stories that cut closest are the ones we share with each other--about ourselves. These early morning check-in conversations are an important part of preparing for the day's work we are about to undertake.  And for me, they have become an essential part of my heart.

Today during our morning conversation Pam shared a story. Pam also has a blog and I don't know if this story will make her blog, but it's making mine.  Pam's mother is dying of Alzheimer's.  Outside Mary's room is a memory box which contains mementos from Mary's life:  photos, a plate, small trinkets of the past.  This glassed-in box has shelves and a lock.  Last night Pam discovered that some of the items had been rearranged, and others had been removed.  Pam found the missing pieces carelessly stuffed into a magazine rack in her mother's room.  It remains a mystery as to how or why these items were moved.  An explanation is in order, and I'm sure it will come.

But as Pam shared this story with us, we became riveted. As we heard that the memories from the memory box had been unexpectedly handled and moved, we became disturbed and upset.  Mary is unaware that any of this transpired.  But Pam--Pam knows it happened.  That was hard to bear. Pam felt it for her mother; we felt it for Pam. It's hard to not become terribly protective of each other.

We share our stories in the office.  We laugh, we share silence, and sometimes we cry.  Thankfully for the Monadnock Ledger Police Log, we always get back to laughing pretty quickly.  As she sits here reading to me about some drunken hunter, I am grateful for the chance to tell and hear these stories.  As she ushers her mother forward, I realize that all I can do is listen and help her feel a little less alone.  And knowing that--that is the best I can do.

*Pam's blog:

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I heard this milkweed pod.  It was worth the hike to get there.  Artie, Biscuit and I walk through this hidden field late in the afternoon.  Here the fields and sky touch each other as if they were two hands folded together, cupping a secret.  I come to hear fall.  Traffic, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers are far away.  We lean into the sound of fall, the sound of wind, of leaves, of grass, of nothing.  Even my dogs sense this.

The magnificence of this spot is its quiet.  Silent sacrament. The colors of the leaves, the substance of bark, and the fabric of field are in concert here.  The black glassy pond is so silent, it's audible.  Milkweed pods are one of the virtuosic highlights of our visit.  Poised in their finest attire, they amplify the wind's presence as they trill and tumble into space towards oblivion.  I am struck by their individuality.  And their sound.  Maybe they make the sound of faith.  They don't know where they are headed...only someplace...but they go.

I don't go to church, but if I did, this is where I would go.  I come to here, this field.  I come to hear...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Boxed In

This is Tiger. 
Hear Tiger hiss.
Hiss, Tiger, hiss.

My ears are back too.  Ask anyone who has seen me lately.  The Verge is a great place for me to hang out but I have managed to box myself in a bit, causing me a small internal hissy-fit over my writing and the sound of my own niggling thoughts.  I have tried to keep to a certain format--discipline is a good thing--and I've tried to describe my Vergy experiences through my walks and works with dogs and cats and chickens and rabbits and their humans.  But this box could use a good airing out right about now.  You've been there too.  You look at your favorite room and suddenly think yuck, ugh, boring! so you decide to rearrange all the furniture and though nothing is new, it all feels refreshingly different.  There most likely won't be any obvious changes--this is mostly an inside job--but I am going to veer off just a bit and see what happens.  The dogs will still be with me of course, and if we get too lost in the woods, they'll lead me back to where we started.

So for today....It's a stunning day out there.  Cold, crisp, bright, still.  In the absence of leaves, the birch trees are now marching forth, preparing for center stage.  I love how they fade forward to winter like this, these brave ethereal souls. Tiger has to stay inside, but I don't.  Millie, Boo, Artemis and Biscuit await their turns in the sun.  Decked in hunter orange, we're heading out to the woods to see what we find outside this box.  We'll also blow the stink off while we're out there.  Mine.   

Friday, November 5, 2010


I was in the woods last weekend.  I walked alone.  Well, sort of alone.  I passed lots of dogs being followed by dog-parents who were each anxiously fussing over their own dog, giving nervous and stern directives about not jumping, about being nice, about stay here, about being a g-o-o-o-o-d dog.  Most of the dogs blithely blew off their parents to go sniff something just off the path, or to trot a few feet ahead.  As I trudged along, I found myself becoming increasingly irritated by the constant stream of disciplinary directives, wishing that parents would hush themselves and trade in control for silence. The woods felt more like Wednesday than Sunday. Silently, I praised dogs like Hannah The Young Shepherd who happily and freely ignored her mother's rapid-fire commands and skipped ahead on the path towards me to say hello.  Mother was overly aghast by Hannah's behavior but I happened to have a treat in my pocket and as soon as I whispered "Hannah", Hannah became an instant listener and expert sitter. I am aware that I probably rewarded Hannah's rebelliousness but that is an aspect of my own rebelliousness which happens to emerge now and then. (Quite truthfully, I actually considered telling Hannah's mother to sit and stop barking but I only had one cookie with me...)

In spite of barking parents, I continued along the path, seeking aloneness.  I crave this solitude.  My work requires constant expert listening.  Constant unsilence. When I can be alone like this, I trade in listening for hearing.  I don't always like what I hear on these solo walks, but I seem to have no other way to hear my own echo.  On this day, I noticed how restless and unsettled I feel.  Unhappy?  No.  But un-comfortable, yes. And to my consternation, my own echo was feeling a lot like those dog-parents were sounding.  The day was particularly beautiful which only seemed to accentuate my disconnect, my discord, my diswhatever.  I was struck hard by beauty and struck hard again by how distant it seemed; a barn recently painted in crisp cold white and outlined in warm copper gutters, perched starkly against a thick stand of dark shadowy pines, the smooth-as-glass river sneaking and snaking beneath fallen limbs, the emergent lush mosses braving the decayed leaves.  These images were both glorious and private.  At best I could only observe and acknowledge these artful scenes.  I was unable to breath them in, to be penetrated by them.  I felt so outside of outside. I don't know why.  

But I did become curious about these sculptures.  Both were as friendly as they were indifferent.  How is that possible?  Both tree and dog were rooted in their places.  Content.  Fixed.  Dispassionate. Peaceful.  Cold.  Unflinching. Friendly.  So what? they said. I liked that.  In fact, I thrived on their quiet indifference and found comfort in it.  My disconnect was put into a context that seemed safe and gratifyingly insignificant.  Control gave way to a rebellious and penetrating silence. I was inside the outside--or perhaps the outside had finally come in. I doubt I can explain it.  I left the woods the same way I went in, but I knew that I had heard the echo I needed to hear, and finally standing back I could just say so what...


Dog Walker Tip#637: Know When Pheasant Season Begins

...and don't dress up a like a pheasant that day and walk around in the woods with pheasant-colored dogs.


But if you decide to do it anyway?

Make sure one of those dogs is Artemis.  She tackles shooters.