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, January 28, 2011

Bare Bones

I love these bare bones that emerge from the white canvas of snow. All the noise gets stripped away, allowing the heart of the matter to take center stage.  I'm struck by the harmony between lines and swirls, and snow.  A tree branch melodically curls outward and upward while a white pine stands stoically still. I pass through communities of young trees, rising close but not too close, reaching towards each other or bending away, each one lending order to their chaos.  Light whimsically fills the spaces in between, punctuating design and shape, truth and mass.  Shadows bounce along the top of the ground. Today I found a starburst in the snow, beaming as if it filled the entire sky.  Its echo traveled the contour of my bones, dancing in the spaces, illuminating shadows, touching the heart of the matter.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Yes, that is what I said.  Eek.  Next, ick. Then a long and grunty ew.  Indeed, you are looking at a snake.  And yup, that's snow.  Nope, it's real. That is very much a snake on top of the snow. In peak hibernation time. On snow. On very deep snow, mind you. In the middle of the trail.  Specifically, this snake--let's call him Crusher-- is in the middle of the place where I put my feet when I walk. Artie, Biscuit and I were trudging through the very deep snow (the only kind we have here) when we came across a tattooed and pierced Crusher, who looked quite out of place against this backdrop.  We all became paralyized with fear stopped and stared of course--the dogs have never been fond of snakes either.  We edged closer. And then even closer.  And then....(drum roll)....We touched it.  It was quite frozen. We picked it up.  We put it down. To our great relief, nothing happened. 

I am not a fan of snakes.  They terrify me.  I have still not recovered from That One Time. I had put my hand on a doorknob and was mortified to discover that a snake had curled itself around that very same doorknob, tossing and turning against my hand and wrist, mercilessly taunting me with his cleverness and wit.  Crusher didn't quite stop my heart from beating but he has occupied my mind ever since we found him last week. 

Enter Biology Ben.  Professor Ben shows up in the college cafeteria every so often and inspires us with his insect insight.  It just happens that Ben also knows all about snakes.  I asked Ben to explain this Crusher thing to me.  Ben tells me that garter snakes are one of the only brands of snakes to freeze in winter, and they usually do so under ground.  Something must have dug old Crusher up and dropped him there in my trail, in the middle of where I put my feet when I walk.  He suggested--and I am not kidding about this--that I put Crusher in a bag and bring him to school.  Gasp.  I will not be doing that. Never ever. I absolutely do not want Crusher to thaw himself out in a bag that I am holding. 

Ben asked about Crusher again today.  Did you bring him, he (fearlessly) asked. Oh, I suppose he's buried under the new snow, I assured him (ok, myself). We had a little conversation about the wonders of nature and just as I was starting to feel a little progress in the Squirm Department, Biology Ben says this (and I kid you not):

...and you should see the May flies in the spring near Lake Erie--yeah, they're so dense that they use bulldozers to clear the dead ones away....

Ew.  Really, really big ew.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Each morning walk awaits us like a book wanting to be read.  The landscape reveals a new cover, hinting at the trek ahead.  We journey onward, silently reading the trail. Yesterday, we followed a couple coyotes who were following several deer.  We don't know the ending--their tracks vanish over a snowbank, leaving us to wonder about their encounter.  Hanging from a tree branch, a small leather bracelet with a shiny silver charm says Peace. I imagine the girl who dropped it (how long ago?) and who hung it there...

We pass no one.  Day breaks.  Bitter cold air reads like shards of glass pages, bound into a tight mass of edges and spine.  A woodpecker drum rolls the silence. Its echo a confirmation--yes, you are welcome here. Mercy is busy reading something I can't detect.  Her nose, buried deep in investigation, works with urgency and speed.  Though I can't see the reason, she is suddenly satisfied and moves on.  I too get lost awhile in my own thoughts and eventually wander back to my feet and the ground beneath them.

We scan these pages every morning and know them well, yet they remain as mysterious as ever. We wind through the woods, watching sunlight's arrival on the ground as if it had never been there before. Mercy takes great joy in running ahead and racing back, again and again and again.  Her enthusiasm turns to contentment as we round the familiar bend towards the road. We are small and safe in this forest, dwarfed by its magnitude and protected by its benevolence. We leave the woods for another day, anticipating the next chapter and all it will tell.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Morning Glow

I wake up happy.  I wake up happy again.  I can feel it in my feet.  I am connecting to the ground again--I can feel the warm earth through my soles. Sometimes in recent months I would wake up empty. I don't know why--it doesn't matter. Emptiness has a way of seeming both infinite and confining. It's weightless and smothering. Emptiness is quite full of hole-ness, I tried to believe each of those empty mornings.  Holes are hope vessels.  They fill in. 

Along came a dog.  
And I quit my job. 
Here I have a new routine.  

Now I start each single day walking the woods.  Each morning the ground is different from the morning before. The light is always new and pink.  Sharp air cuts very deep and cleans my head while bone cold seems to say keep moving. Sometimes I catch myself smiling at nothing at all, and at everything.  I don't know why--it doesn't matter. I can feel the warm earth through my soul, again.  These mornings glow.  But they always did. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It Helps When a Tall Handsome Hungarian Man Who Looks Just Like George Harrison Shows Up on a Snowmobile at the Exact Right Time

We were huffing and puffing and blowing our boots out trying to get through fresh snow that measured about thigh-high on me and shoulder high on them.  I had underestimated the depth of the snow on these trails, and overestimated their enthusiasm for this kind of hike.  C'mon kids--it'll get better, I kept telling them.  Artie rolled her eyes and sighed while Biscuit swore old man swears under his breath.  The more we walked, the more it didn't get better. They stared at me like I was out of my mind.  Of course, I'm out of my mind, I assured them.

As we pressed on, my hopes for easier walking began to fade.  I had hoped that the wind would have blown off enough snow to make our walk reasonably invigorating but instead, the only thing being blown off was my plan.  In protest, Biscuit finally stopped walking.  Artemis held the On Strike sign.  
I slumped into the snow and figured we'd eventually be eaten by wolves.  Oopsie, I thought to myself.

But alas...

In the distance came the sound of a buzz.  The buzz grew louder until it became and hum and the hum became a drum roll and the drum roll became a symphony of machine-chompin' commotion heading right to our Desperation Camp deep in the snow.  The man on the snowmobile slowed his machine as he approached our spot.  He hopped off his machine and as he said hello, he pulled off his hat, revealing a warm, friendly (and very handsome) smile. [Let's see here--I'm stuck in the snow with two tired dogs who refuse to go forward or backward and out of nowhere comes a man on a snowmobile who happens to look like George Harrison.] I had to pinch myself and check to see if I knew the date and my address and the names of my children.  

He spoke (with a beautiful accent...sigh) and this is what he said:  Hi there.  I hope you don't mind that I'm out here on this noisy smelly machine.  So sorry if I am disturbing your walk (loved how he said walk.  Could I get him to say it again, I wondered....).  

Me: Oh, you've come at just the right time.  I'm hoping you'll blaze a trail for us back to the road.  *It's too deep for the Old Man Biscuit to make it.  

Handsome Snowmobile Man:  I'd be happy to!  Tell me which way you want to go and I'll lay some track. (The way he said track....)  

Me:  Thank you so much!

HSM:  Have a good afternoon.  Enjoy the snow!

And we were saved from starvation and hypothermia and big bad wolves and we lived happily ever after.

The end.

*I know.  I blamed it all on Biscuit.  He said I could.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

State of Our Union

Okay, for a few minutes--and I mean few--Mercy is asleep.  I repeat:  Mercy is asleep.  It's a beautiful thing.  I would like to (briefly, probably) review the past 22 days of our togetherness and set a vision for the future.

Together, we have learned:

1. Where to piddle and poop, where not to piddle and poop, and perfecting the art of noticing.
2. Crates rule.
3.  Everything is interesting.  Every single thing.
4.  Rules at the dog park:  we arrive together, we leave together.
5.  It's only a couch.
6.  It's only a book.
7.  It's only a rug.
8.  Everything is food.  Every single thing.
9.  Our names.  We know our names.
10.  Balls are for chasing.
11.  Sticks are for chasing.
12.  Dropped food is for chasing.
13.  Dishwasher = Dog Disneyland.
14.  Running alot is a very good thing.
15.  Baths.  Hmmmph....
16.  Kongs rule.
17.  Kongs with peanut butter rule even more.
18.  Dog treats in pocket = instant fame.
19.  This matters.  That doesn't.
20.  Everyone is interesting.  Every single one.
21.  Waking up is the thrill of a lifetime--every single time.
22.  Mercy + me = Bingo

And a vision for the future......

Oops--gotta go!  The future just got here and Mercy's all over it. Visioning where my other boot might be....

First Comes Love

Then comes house shopping.
Boo and Mercy talking it over....

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011: Peace and Mercy

Mercy abounds!
Dear friendly 2011,

Welcome! I am so glad to see you. Seriously, 2011! No offense to 2010, but it offered very little mercy.  What a sucky challenging year! We had some bright moments--yes indeedy--but mostly those were experienced as we began to see you come on to the horizon.  I'm not going to list the major issues events of 2010 (things like the onset of empty-nest total maladjustment disorder--TMD, prolific hot flashes that triggered spontaneous, profuse swearing and sweating worthy of reality tv, putting the house on the market, giving up and taking the house off the market, temporarily losing sense of humor, getting pink-slipped,  getting unpink-slipped, thinking the unpinked slip was a good thing, engaging in prolonged fake-smiling when it became ridiculously clear that the unpinked slip wasn't a good thing, moving three daughters and three bedrooms to three different addresses, saying goodbye to some bad habits and hello to even worse) but suffice it to say, dear and friendly 2011, you are quite welcome here and you have come at exactly the right time.

As 2010 was screwing with me working its way towards its conclusion, I could already see promise in your face, 2011. I made a few decisions to cooperate with you upon your arrival here. These are worth listing.

1. Cherish friends and family.  Turns out they tolerate anything in italics with patience and love.
2. Get a dog.
3. Be the one who issues the pink slip.
4. Exercise.
5. Help others.

Already, 2011, you have exceeded my expectations.  Mercy and I--beginners together-- have taken a running leap and I know you will catch us in your arms.  You are going to be a very good year--one of great change and even greater peace. We believe that.  In fact, we will sleep meditate on that theme.

Peace and Mercy