Thursday, October 11, 2018


I took a break from everything. Mothering, teaching, managing meals around our family's various activities schedule. It’s been great. I took a LONG weekend (nearly a week) to spend some time with my parents in Idaho. My dad had open heart surgery a little over a month ago and my siblings and I have taken turns going out to stay with them. I think I planned it out just right though—my brothers and sister have done all the hard work of getting their farm and house ready for winter and I mostly just spent time with them. 

Part of me is still here in in this place.

Sunrise from the deck

My dad is limited in what he is supposed to do, and my mom is limited in what she can do only because she is, contrary to what some might believe based on what she accomplishes on a normal basis, human. And she has to keep Dad from doing too much. They are the hardest working people I know, and they live off their land. They can make anything grow. Anywhere. They have two big gardens, a gigantic berry patch, and a large orchard. 

This is their retirement. They live on a hill above the lake I spent my summers at when I was a kid-- just up the hill from where my grandparents lived.  

Have I been a little anxious about how all my boys are holding up back home? A little. And I miss them. I’m so thankful for Brian being so supportive of my decision to come out, and for taking care of the boys all week. But this is the place I need to be right now. And it’s so quiet.

We always come here in the summers, but then it is busier. There are all the summer boaters and swimmers and it's very much a vacation-y time for me and for my family, as well as for most other people at the lake. Now it is quiet and chilly. There are a lot of fall colors in the orchard and in the brush along the roads. I’m rockin’ my flannel shirt. The deer smell hunting season coming. Most everything in the garden has been harvested. The old raspberry canes are stacked up to burn. All the apples and pears have been picked. I picked the last apple tree the other day and helped my mom and dad press cider and make applesauce.

The earth is getting ready to sleep under blankets of snow.

I got to watch playoff baseball with my dad, the one who taught me to love baseball when I was little. The highlight of that was seeing the Yankees get eliminated. I got to go kayaking on the still, blue lake, roast s’mores over a fire with some cousins, and visit my grandparents’ graves. I picked herbs from my grandma’s herb garden for her and Mom picked various noxious (but flowering) weeds and some pine tree branches for Grandpa, from his fields and woods. I went to water aerobics with Mom and some old ladies. It wiped me out, except for my biking legs, that held up fine. :)  

I helped my mom cook a ton of tacos and burritos for their church’s Awana kickoff night. I did a fair amount of paper grading at the table while watching sunrises. Now that I type this all out, it seems like I did a lot. But it felt very laid back and peaceful, and like I said, quieter than my normal life.

It has put me in a poetic mood, but I haven’t come up with a poem I’m happy about sharing yet, so I’m sharing one I wrote the summer before last about being in Idaho at my parents’ house. The power of place interests me. How people can become so much a part of a certain place. I have lived in Virginia nearly as long as I lived in Idaho, but there’s something about those formative years that leave an imprint on a person. I do love Virginia and could (and should, actually…good idea) write a poem about Virginia too. But for now, here is what I wrote about being part of a place and a place being a part of me.

In summer dry air
In cool blue mountain shade
In prickly yellow wheat fields,
always whispering, never heard
It’s Here.
In quiet gravel steps
In calm rows of cabbages and corn
In dust ribbons rising behind trucks,
dancing away, never remembered
It’s Here.
In slender pine tree needles
In silver blue green water
rippling on a lake born of glaciers
always moving, never changed
It’s Here.
In still moonshadows at the garden gate
In crickets’ midnight songs
In silent zig zag lights of a car descending a mountain
always inching, never stopped
In pink purple clover blooms
In tangled orange honeysuckle
In ditches of milkweed and teasel,
always growing, always spreading
I’m Here.
I’m the little girl in braids
you almost see
skipping under sweet cherry trees
shoulders pink from sunshine
Always Here, never gone

And now, when my plane leaves from Denver, I'll be on to my noise. My beautiful, beautiful boy noise, which is another place where a very large part of me is.

apples from the last apple tree



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