collective nouns (of summer)

a snip of zinnias

a straggle of petunias

a cheer of sunflowers

a wonder of days

a sweat of nights

a hum of fans

a goosebump of air conditioning

a drip of cones

a slurp of popsicles

a sizzle of cookouts

an aura of fireflies

a glee of children

a boom of thunderstorms

an anticipation of farmers

a plethora of zucchini

a nest of tomatoes

a clutch of green beans

a delight of peaches

a fantasy of corn on the cob

a harvest of gratitude

notice

At the top of a morning, I notice the energy of possibility. Hope, wide awake and willing, greets the day face-forward. Counting on roadside petals, life loves me and I love it right back. How fairy-taled the deep green velvet of a moss-covered path. How gladly sunlight dances with daisies and trumpets daylilies. How fun to chick-a-dee-dee-dee with chickadees and honk with geese flying over the lake. How gently the fog lifts as the day warms. How delicate a thread of web stretches from flower to flower to flower, a tell-tale trail of one spider’s travels. I marvel at the intricacy of a gravel road, two miles into my day. And returning, notice now how I feel right this very minute, tip-tapping on keys. Happy.

one hopeful year

An unusual activity for me, but I did a little math this morning.

In one year, time passes accordingly:

  • 31,536,000 seconds
  • 525,600 minutes
  • 8.760 hours
  • 365 days
  • 52 weeks
  • 12 months
  • 4 seasons

From one season, month, day, hour, or minute to the next, there are so many opportunities to learn. To explore. Experiment. Create. Build. Design. Discover.

Imagine all there is to see, do, conceive, or dream up in the time it takes the earth to travel its 92.96 million mile orbit around the sun.

Think about all I can learn from new moon to full moon. From Fall to Winter and Winter to Spring. What new challenges can I meet from sun up to down? Who will I become from this one hopeful year of my life to the next?

Let’s find out!

Having just turned 60, I’m aiming for 60 new experiences. Recipes. Destinations. Classes. Books. New friendships, new challenges, and goals. New knowledge. Questions answered. Dreams fulfilled.

Maybe 60 is my once upon a time. My someday when. One thing’s sure and certain, it’s my next hopeful year.

As of today, it’s been 604,800 seconds, 10,080 minutes, 168 hours, and 7 days since my birthday, so it’s time to get started. I’ll share along the way … and feel free to offer suggestions and ideas for me to try.

New experience number one: Lemon Blueberry Scones.

sixty

Growing is growing – especially if it’s growing older.

Turning sixty wasn’t as bad as the anticipation of turning sixty. Or maybe now that it finally came and went – my biggest birthday ever, I mean – maybe being sixty is not as bad as the anticipation of being sixty. A mere flip of the page on the calendar. Sunday to Monday. July 10th to the 11th. Fifty-nine to sixty.

Still the same me.

All those years, one added to the next, equal a living sum of who I am right now. Shy. Curious. Loyal. Sensitive. Sometimes weepy or worried. Strong, but anxious. Always hopeful.

Devoted to love in just about any form I find it.

Six decades of learning.

I suppose I thought I’d be wiser in the whys of the world. After all this time. All of my experiences. Relationships. Mistakes. Do-overs and never-agains. After mothering and daughtering. Sistering. Friending. I was a teacher. Still a wife, full to the tippity-top with love for my husband. Role after role, day in and year out.

Turns out, what I know best – now – is me.

It sounds strange to say, “I like me.” But I do. And I guess it took adding up all of those years to be able to say those words and mean them.

Sixty and growing. A great gift, being sixty.

Even better than I anticipated.

feelin’ groovy

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last

Laze. Window gaze.

Stretch. Smile. Be.

Here. Now. And nowhere else.

Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy

Walking. Talking. Seeking. Finding.

The first wild daisies. My favorite.

“There’s only a handful of days like this in the whole year,” I say.

“Could the sky be any more blue?” you answer.

Ba da-da da-da da-da, feeling groovy

Hello lamppost, what’cha knowing
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t you got no rhymes for me?

Hello peace and peonies. Peaches and berries.

Hello to the what’s possibles and the always predictables.

Hello to the maybe I wills and the probablys I won’t.

Good morning sun, I see your shine for me.

Hello Monday, make some hope for me.

Doot-in doo-doo, feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

Thanks to the breeze. The green, the growing.

Coming to be the me I’m knowing.

I’m humbled and happy and couldn’t want more.

Life I love you, I’m ready to soar.

I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me

Life, I love you, all is groovy

*The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) by Paul Simon

in the morning kitchen

In the morning kitchen, evening memories linger. Too tired to wrestle with dirty dishes, I’m more likely now to leave it all be. Gathered eggs nest in a basket on the counter next to the remnants of last night’s dinner and a pile of plates. Just lately, I’ve come to love the quiet calm and purpose I find in a morning kitchen. Despite whatever state of chaos I might find upon my arrival, I’m so happy to be there.

I’m done with the guilt I’ve given myself over the years – choosing bed over tidying up. Yes, it’s lovely to brew coffee in a clean kitchen, but there’s delight in a warm bed after a satisfying meal too. I don’t mind the morning mess, and finally how I actually feel is taking precedence over how I think I should feel.

There’s hope in a morning kitchen, a kind of promise to the day ahead as the room’s set to rights. This morning I lit a candle on the counter as I began to clean. A long, white dinner-party taper lit simply because I like candlelight – even in the morning – and especially in the kitchen. The act of lighting – a prayer – a pause – a moment of appreciation and offering, lighting whatever world-weary darkness may be on mind.

I’m home in the morning kitchen. There’s a flavor of peace. Leftover nourishment. Contemplation out the kitchen window over a sinkful of hot, soapy water. I watch the bounce of a bluejay from feeder to branch. The trot of a turkey hen across the yard. The greening of grass.

When I arrive home again at day’s end, the comfort of a clean evening kitchen will greet me. I’ll no doubt light the candle again. Feel happy again. Home again. Content. Right there in the kitchen.

miracle

If you’re in want of a miracle, you need only visit New England in spring. You’ll find the glory you’re looking for in the unfurling of daffodils, the birth of wild violets, and the promise of lilacs. The splendor you seek will be discovered in a burst of forsythia alongside granite rock walls, and there’s something undeniably magical about the magnificence of a magnolia tree in bloom. We’re a ways past sugaring season – one of spring’s first miracles, and impatient as we are to plant in the garden, we welcome the soft purple velvet of pansies in a pot on the porch.

I’ve yet to see Canada geese, though I’ve heard a few honks. The turkey toms are all strut and nonsense out back by the chicken coop where the girls are laying regularly again. So many birds are back, and on my walk I hear a towhee whistle, a repetition I’ve gone so long without. There’s a persistent drill of a woodpecker somewhere off in the distance, and I feel almost dizzy with gratitude to be outside and warm again.

There’s a particular patch of peach daffodils out front of a favorite old farmhouse I walk past. I wait all year for their bloom. No blooms yet, but I know there’s a measured pace and pattern to growing. Just as I know the apple trees blossom sometime around Mother’s Day and the peonies a week or so after that, I know nature takes its own sweet time with no regard for human opinion or hope. Those peach daffydowndillies are late bloomers is all, and if pleasures like these awoke all at once, they’d be done and over, there and gone before I knew it. Too much, too soon is never a good thing.

Beyond the old farmhouse I can hear the rush and tumble of a usually slow and humble creek all proud and boisterous after this week’s Nor’easter. I’m on the watch for baby ducks paddling single file in the quieter water below the falls, or if we’re lucky, maybe some goslings too. Just to smell fresh water and first-mown grass feels almost impossible somehow. Wasn’t it snowing and cold only yesterday?

My silly watch measures my walk and my much slower-than-normal pace, once in awhile messaging: Are you done with your workout? I’m sure it wonders why on earth I’m walking so slowly.

As if that requires explanation.

I’m witness to the greening of grass, the golding of weeping willows, and the arrival of a New England spring. A privilege. A blessing. A miracle.

balance

There comes a tipping point in my balance.

When what’s good for me becomes just one more thing to do, and I am no longer one of my own priorities.

No amount of candle lighting or journal writing can recenter the weight.There’s only the passage of time, hope for a good night’s sleep, and the certain knowledge this time too shall pass.

In the meantime, there are negotiations. Trades. This for that. Time borrowed here and spent there. Adjustments.

And the truth is, imbalance is just as unsustainable as balance.

Because there arrives a day when the pressure subsides. Responsibilities lift. Check marks ink all the to-be-dones as done. And I wonder what all the fuss was about.

Hope emerges from underneath the pile on the desk.

I turn a new page in the journal, flip the calendar to April, and finally choose to pack the camera after all.

I breathe in. Exhale. And smile.

Every little thing’s gonna be alright.*

Thanks to Bob Marley for the reminder.

small celebrations

Thirty-six hours at home. One hot shower and one warm bath on a extremely cold day. Twenty-eight tidy, white stitches cast on Nana’s knitting needles (with any luck, mittens-to-be for a pair of toddler hands.) Five hardy Red Star chickens in the coop out back. A cluster of six red tulips plucked from a grocery store bucket. Two pieces of homemade pizza for dinner. One rainbow shirt and a wish granted. Two days until the full Wolf moon. Eighteen additional minutes of daylight since the New Year. The hope of a 27 degree heat wave tomorrow.

gathering

outside

lift nose to breeze, face to sun

rustle leaves, greet squirrels, bid fare-thee-well to geese

feel grateful, feel open wide, feel hopeful and free

think: this is what glorious feels like

collect treasures, nature’s loose parts

colors, textures, leaves, nuts and needles, berries and branches

tuck pleasures into pockets

walk home

outside smells follow inside

pink cheeks, fresh-air ruffled hair

empty pockets

admire wealth spread across a tabletop

acknowledge time and its impermanence

arrange the bounty, the beauty

partner colors, plop berries just so, fan pine needles, nestle nuts

please the eye, pleasure the soul

focus the camera

freeze time and memory

of gathering fall one October morning