earwaxAren’t you amazed at what you can produce — for good or ill? The dainty things — the nice turns of phrase, the perfect batch of heart-attack cookies, the accidentally wonderful photograph — these get pinned up for public appreciation right away. But the other things — the smelly, sitcky, somewhat disgusting and embarrassing productions — I usually throw a tissue over those. I imagine you do, too. But they are just as worthy of attention. They, too, have their marvelous qualities.

Take earwax:
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Things I Like

I like the first cup of coffee in the morning.
I like t-shirt sheets.
I like the Boston Red Sox.
I like Bob Dylan’s music.
I like the Beatles, too. And John Prine. I love John Prine.
I like Annie Dillard’s essay, living like weasels.
I like the sound of snow at 15 below.
I like Elmore Mountain glittering the way it looks to me on the way to work in January from up on West Hill, or actually by then it is probably Town Hill.
I like encountering wild things in wild places; I like the way we stop time when we pause and take each other in. Continue reading

HLF’s Extremely Good Vermont Squash/Apple Soup

It’s that time of year…


A stick of butter
A sort of large sweet onion
2 pretty-good-size butternut squash
A little olive oil
2 granny smith apples
Some maple syrup (dark amber is best)
A little bottle of cider (a pint is more than enough)
A quart of stock (vegetable or chicken – not beef)
Salt, nutmeg and ginger & fresh sage
1 cup heavy cream (or half n half)
(Some like cloves or cinnamon, but I don’t.)
Duct tape. Continue reading

Yard Sale!

My trash is your treasure.

Funny: It feels like I am making money.

The summer is officially on! The calendars call it the Memorial Day Holiday. Unofficially around here it’s also known as Yard Sale Weekend. Just after dawn the tarp-swaddled card-tables appear in the dooryards. By breakfast, all over town, small printed signs flap like loose scales on the stakes, stumps and roadsigns to which we have stapled them. Too small in fact to read from a passing car, the signs are easily deciphered by their clustered profusion and positioning alone. 9 AM is a magic hour. The tarps come off, the cashbox is dosed with change from the night-stand, and up and down the North Country, Vermonters turn out their old junk for its annual airing.

Items have their seasons: battered paperback copies of Steig Larsson’s two published thrillers (“Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl who Played With Fire”) move briskly this year; the third in his trilogy is due later this summer. Other items self-deposit like glacial till — crockery, dusty silk flower ornaments, children’s games — creeping passivley and persistently, year after year, back and forth between the households lining these highways.

Our Morning Routine

Mmmm...Swamp water!

Just about every morning Tucker & I leave the house around 8:15 or so and hike the half-mile trail through woods and up the hill to my parents’ for a cup of coffee and a breakfast visit. On the way we pass the frog pond, where Tucker rousts the natives and stomps around in the tall grass for a bit.

At the top of the hill I take his leash off and he makes two or three rounds all the way to the house and back to me while I slog up past the veggie garden, the raspberry patch, the pool and the back/front lawn. He has short little legs, but covers more ground in less time than I can, by orders of magnitude.

Once inside, he breaks straight for the living toom. He doesn’t even bother with the formality of greeting anyone who might be sitting just inside the kitchen door. He bolts for the big plate glass window before my dad’s armchair, and takes up his sentinel post on lookout for doves, chipmunks, robins, juncos, hummingbirds or whatever might be out there. He clocks in at various positions along the window by pressing his nose prints into the glass.

Tucker doesn't even pretend to greet us any more. Breaks into a run at the door and takes up his post at the window in the living room. Note white smudges at far end of glass, about nose height...

Tucker watches for doves, chipmunks, robins and juncos.

This is Tucker’s idea of heaven.

First [Spring] Day…

It was hot enough today to fill Tucker's wading pool for the first time. Too hot to kayak.

It was hot enough today to fill Tucker's wading pool for the first time. Too hot to kayak.

I’ve been here a week now. A week and change. I’m starting to feel like life here is normal life. I’m starting to not-notice things like what time it is, half-way through the morning. It’s been hot today — easily into the 80s, maybe even 90. Summer is officially about a month away. Unofficially, it starts early next week — the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Yard Sale Weekend. We're making signs and inviting everyone we know. We’re having a yard sale too this weekend. My neighbors and I. We’re making signs, cleaning house, tagging stuff, telling everyone we know. It’s a good little project for me — a change of pace [not!] from what I’ve been doing lately. Packing, moving, finishing up — I know teachers have a great job, a job on terms 90% of the world would kill for, but you know it’s not perfect when one of the best things about it is the amount of time you don’t have to spend there. Continue reading

What I saw: May 2010

In a small, country burial ground beside a dirt road, far back on the right, in the back corner, by the fence, there is a small square hole, and a large pile of earth. Also, a small wooden bench or bier, made from a slice of tree, on post-legs. Green grass. New spring green grass. Behind, below the worn fence rails, rest the shovels, spooned. Quiet, under the rails, in the grass.

This is Josh McGowan’s grave.

46 Years Ago Today…

shoreForty-six years ago today was a Friday. Not a rainy day in Beverly — but I was indoors. In Mrs. Knowlton’s room, I think. Fourth grade, at Shore’s Lower School. It was afternoon. Not all the usual people were present. We weren’t in class, but we were doing something “schoolish” and organized, Continue reading

One times 10 to the 9th power

Watched Beijing with the fam last night. And was seduced, like most I imagine, by the spectacle of the Opening Ceremony, the genuine exuberance and the evident pride of the Chinese. I had blasphemous thoughts: that the poverty, the oppression, and even the emblematic domination of Tibet were all — for a nanosecond — beside the point. Even for the poor. Even for the oppressed. Even for the real Tibetans. Continue reading