walking with the one I love

Went out walking with my best friend this afternoon. Step by step and side by side a few tenths less than three miles around and about the neighborhood after school. Warmed by the late afternoon sun. Talking. Kicking acorns and hickory nuts down the road. Laughing. Each telling the other a story or two from the day. Or pleasantly silent. Sometimes hand-holding. Always loving.

I don’t know what it is about fall afternoon walks, but it’s become a habit for us over the past several years. And it’s so simple. So easy. Grab a pair of walking shoes and go.

Up and down hills, past fields and fences, alongside a stream or two. Out there, we’re walking right out of summer into fall. The landscape’s changing. The air feels and smells different. The sun’s giving way to a bit of a chill. There’s apples on trees and a few leaves coloring. Every sense tells me: Fall’s coming.

Life out there on the road is uncomplicated and the breathing is easier. A gentle way to end whatever kind of day came before. Maybe plan the weekend. Ask a few questions. Remember some whens. Share the road, ideas, and uninterrupted time.

It’s hard to tell if we walk to hang on or if we’re learning to let go, out of one season and into the next. Or maybe we want a roadside view to each and every change, gathering a few more memories to store away before the snow flies. Side by each. Walking with the one I love.

do or dream

A few minutes shy of six this morning, I left the early Sunday comfort of home to greet the sunrise. I must’ve looked a character in gym shorts, my husband’s oversized t-shirt, plum-colored windbreaker, and tall, black rubber boots. I cared not. Clutching my keys and my camera, my new tripod, my wallet, and glasses, I left a quick note for my still-sleeping husband. My heart was as full as my hands and off I went.

For me, there’s such a dichotomy between dreaming and doing. I’ve oodles of dreams and years’ worth of intentions. What I don’t have – often – is the daring to do. Or the time. Or the energy. Or the opportunity. Whether one or all of the above, the point is dreams remain dormant until and when I decide to do, to act, to move, to create, to dare.

Dreaming isn’t doing, and many days, all I do … is dream.

But back to the sunrise and me in all my sartorial glory. And while I didn’t much care what I looked like to whomsoever passed me by at 5:59 this morning, I felt a bit vulnerable out there in the wide, open world of what if. Vulnerability or not. I did it anyway.

I’ve often imagined a dawn cresting over the farm down the road. Imagined the sky. Purpling and pinking. Imagined the solitary trees shadowed against the brightening sky. I imagined the horses off in the distance, the greening slope of the hill, and the brown barn. Imagined myself right there, experiencing it all. Photographing it all. I’ve dreamed it. And today … done it.

No matter I chose the wrong camera lens. No matter I couldn’t quite find the angle I wanted. No matter the car idling and blinking roadside (or my anxiety about leaving it there as I wandered away with my camera.) No matter the on-the-fly tripod learning curve. No matter my appearance or as yet unbrushed teeth. No matter my vulnerability. What mattered most was me. Out and about in my little town, chasing a dream and the sunrise.


present participles

recent present participle verbs at home, work, and play

  • paddling
  • walking
  • Vermonting
  • (weight) lifting
  • eating (more intentionally)
  • meditating
  • granddaughtering
  • baking
  • puttering
  • writing
  • paring (down our possessions)
  • meeting
  • (re) connecting
  • painting
  • assembling
  • organizing
  • planning
  • cleaning
  • thinking
  • imagining
  • (jigsaw) puzzling
  • playing (cribbage)
  • worry beading
  • praying
  • hoping
  • thriving

And what are you up to?

more and less

  • more sunrise – less sleep in
  • more listen – less talk
  • more focus – less multi-task
  • more self-acceptance – less self-criticism
  • more books – less phone
  • more proactive – less reactive
  • more water – less coffee
  • more outside – less inside
  • more open windows – less air conditioning
  • more walk – less sit
  • more appreciate – less complain
  • more do – less someday when
  • more hope – less anxiety
  • more prayer – less worry

postcard: star island

I am all about the feel of a place. The energy. Or whatever I call the spiritual song and dance of souls or faded footsteps of those who came before me. I know there’s a pull to this shore like the breath of the tide in and out. If not quite a sense of homecoming, there’s for certain a feeling of belonging. Of welcome. You can feel Star Island greet you before your boat even docks.

Being on Star Island just plain feels good.

Known collectively as the Isles of Shoals, Star Island and its neighbors form an archipelago of nine islands scattered along the New Hampshire and Maine border in the Atlantic’s Gulf of Maine. While not the largest, 43-acre Star Island is likely the busiest with a full summer schedule of conferences, workshops, and retreats to enjoy for long-term visitors as well as day-trippers like me out to escape life’s present tense for an hour or two in the past.

There’s the beauty of the island, of course, with its simple, white-washed buildings gazing out beyond the rocky shoreline in contrast to the deep blue of the sky and sea. There’s the history. The Oceanic Hotel. Explorer John Smith. The Gosport fishing village. Shoals poet and writer Celia Thaxter. There’s legend. Lore. Mystery. Celebration. And endless inspiration.

There’s even ritual. At each day’s end, a procession of candle-bearing guests walk the path to the Stone Chapel for evening services where no doubt blessings are counted like stars in the deepening darkness of the sky. In a farewell ritual, folks gather at the dock to send off those departing the island and rhythmically remind: “You will come back! You will come back!” In reply, a promise from the boat’s topside: “I will come back! I will come back!”

For all its social activity, there’s solitude too. Waves to contemplate. Rocks to climb. Kites to fly. Flocks of birds to watch. There’s a sense that you’re standing still with time. On solid ground. Breathing easily and deeply.

There’s peace to be found out there on Star Island. And a certain serenity. Only six miles out to sea and an hour-long boat ride away.

My promise: I will come back.