Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

The one in Concord, Massachusetts. Not the “original” one in Sleepy Hollow, New York. In August 2006 my daughter Larisa and I visited the one in Concord, which, as far as I know, does not have its own website.

Julie left a beautiful poem – written by Louisa May Alcott about doves – in the comments on yesterday’s blog. The poetry made me recall the visit with my daughter to Orchard House, also in Concord, where the author and poet lived. We weren’t allowed to take pictures at Orchard House, but we got quite a few when we went to locate Louisa’s grave along the Author’s Ridge path in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Emerson lie buried there as well.

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Author’s Ridge ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

The unpretentious gravestones reflect the ideas of these Concord neighbors, writers who were prominent transcendentalists, naturalists, pacifists, philosophers, abolitionists and teachers. Louisa’s father, Amos Bronson Alcott, founded of the Concord School of Philosophy, and a building was constructed behind Orchard House to serve as a place for the public to attend the summer lectures offered about transcendentalism. Louisa’s parents rest on Author’s Ridge as well.

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Larisa and I were so touched by the little stones people left in tribute. People from all over the world come here to pay their respects to the dearly loved writer. We were curious what people might have said in the notes they left, but chose to respect their privacy.

My father taught in the wise way which unfolds what lies in the child’s nature, as a flower blooms, rather than crammed it, like a Strasbourg goose, with more than it could digest.
~ Louisa May Alcott

Alcott family marker ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

All the beauty and advantages of Conversation is in its bold contrasts, and swift surprises… Prose and logic are out of place, where all is flowing, magical, and free.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)

Wherever I turn I see the yoke on woman in some form or other. On some it sits easy, for they are but beasts of burden. On others, pride hushes them to silence; no complaint is made, for they scorn pity or sympathy. On some it galls and chafes; they feel assured by every instinct of their nature that they were designed for a higher, nobler calling than to drag life’s lengthening chain along.
~ Abigail May Alcott (1800-1877)

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Direct your eye right inward, and you’ll find
A thousand regions in your mind
Yet undiscovered.
Travel them and be
Expert in home-cosmography.
~ Henry David Thoreau

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

It is to the credit of human nature that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of Nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Another grave I’d like to visit one day is that of Emily Dickinson, which I think is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. A day trip sometime… Maybe with Larisa??

In this quiet valley, as in the palm of Nature’s hand, we shall sleep well, when we have finished our day.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Barbara ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

fledging mourning doves

mourning dove family ~ source uncertain
mourning dove family ~ source uncertain

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will.
~ Charlotte Brontë
(Jane Eyre)

The above picture I found on the web… Had to use something to illustrate what I saw this morning!! There are a couple of mourning doves in our neighborhood who love my garden. (Or perhaps even me?) They are so curious and they will often look for seeds, coming very close to me, studying me while I’m weeding. When other folks are about they zip up to the power lines, their wings whistling, and then sit and watch to see what develops in the human world.

This morning when I opened the door and stepped outside there were four birds in the garden. As I was trying to figure out what the two smaller birds were I slowly realized that they must be baby mourning doves! And then the whole family took off together!

Wikipedia says that the squabs “stay nearby to be fed by their father for up to two weeks after fledging.” So, if I’m calculating correctly, they could be about three or four weeks old! We’ve been living here for 17 years and this is the first time I’ve noticed the little ones.

What a wonderful morning!!!

swirl and swing of words

6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut
We like to go in the back door! ~ 6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

When we have house guests, more often than not we wind up taking them on a little trip to one of our very favorite places, the Book Barn, a huge used bookstore, with two satellite stores, in Niantic, Connecticut. Most of our guests are eager bookworms and they come away impressed and smiling with arms full of books. Even more often we go, just the two of us. Today we made it there early, ahead of the rain, so now we’re back home and happily tucked in for a rainy afternoon.

Lately I’ve felt like a dormant bookworm waking up from a long nap, like Rip Van Winkle, discovering that a lot has changed while I was dozing. I can’t believe how many books I’ve read the past couple of months and what sorts of things related to reading can be found on the Internet.

Clicking around from blog to blog this past week I was amazed to find that there are more than a few blogs about books, just books, and there is a social network named GoodReads, and site called the Historical Fiction Network. Not to mention many websites devoted to some of my favorite authors. There will probably be a lot about books in the future of this blog, but I’m not going to limit myself to this subject. But for now, to celebrate my reading revival it seemed like a trip to the Book Barn was in order…

6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut
“New Arrival Mysteries Only” ~ 6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

When we go to the Book Barn we usually go our separate ways, Tim favoring science fiction and I love exploring historical fiction, among other things, like genealogy and consciousness. Greedy thing that I am, when we meet up my pile of books is usually higher than his, no matter how much I set out to come away with fewer books than he does…

6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut
this cat followed us around ~ 6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

The store is actually a huge three-story barn and several smaller buildings and makeshift nooks and crannies surrounding it. Cats roam freely inside and outside. One can snuggle up in a chair with a cat if one so desires… Gardens filled with ornaments and baubles line the paths between the buildings. Two goats have an enclosure to themselves. The business even expanded to two “downtown”  and “midtown” branches, ¾ and 1 mile away.

6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut
“The Underworld” ~ 6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

When I was in ninth grade, many moons ago, I had a few “defining moments” about reading and writing that left an impression on me.

My English teacher said that we would be spending a good part of the school year reading the Bible as literature. That kind of excited me because my father was an atheist so I knew nothing about the Bible, except that my maternal grandparents loved reading the same passages of it every night while they were separated and attending different colleges. Seemed very romantic to me! So in class we studied the Hebrew scriptures pretty thoroughly. When it came time to start on the Greek scriptures, to my shock and disbelief, the instructor announced that this part of the Bible was obviously written by delusional people so it wasn’t worth covering. Excuse me?? Our last weeks were spent studying science fiction, at which I turned up my nose. The teacher – don’t even remember her name – told me in no uncertain terms that science fiction was written by very intelligent people and enjoyed by very intelligent people. I was not convinced at that time, equating it with the trashy stuff it seemed my then boyfriend liked to read. Still can’t get into it much, although husband and sons and even daughter have tried to warm me up to it. And yes, they are all very intelligent!  🙂

6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut
word wagons and garden ~ 6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

I also took Creative Writing in ninth grade. Turned in a short story assignment and the teacher – can’t remember his name either – asked me to see him after class. He told me my short story was very well written and that I should consider becoming a writer! Couldn’t believe my ears! He also told me I should read a John Updike novel, because I had a similar writing style. Don’t remember which one I tried to read, but I disliked it. I couldn’t see the similarity in any way, shape, or form!

Adults are so hard for confused ninth graders to figure out!

6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut
one cannot get lost, confused, but not lost ~ 6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

When I was in tenth grade, we were living in Greece and I attended an international high school. When we were asked to write a short story, out of laziness, or maybe I really did want a second opinion, I turned in the same short story I wrote in ninth grade. Again it was praised, and this teacher wrote some very helpful comments about why she thought it was good, for which I am grateful, even if I still feel a little guilty about my deception.

6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut
contentment ~ 6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

And the memory losses of middle age are sometimes hard to fathom. When my children were very small I read a James A. Michener novel, and I’ve been trying desperately all day to remember which one it was. None of them ring a bell of recognition. But I did read one and remember being very impressed when I learned how much meticulous research he used to do before writing each book. It was that book that made me realize how much I love the historical fiction genre and how much respect I have for the authors who do the research so thoroughly. Sigrid Undset comes to mind, and a book I couldn’t put down this past week, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See. Surely there are many others.

I love writing.  I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.
~  James A. Michener

6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut
“Haunted Book Shop” ~ 6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

My darling husband startled me when, out of the blue, he explained to the owner of the Book Barn that I was taking these pictures for my blog. I wanted to crawl under a rock  But the owner said, “That’s wonderful!  We welcome the exposure!” So if you are ever close enough to make a trip, be sure to stop in!

6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut
lobby in the main barn ~ 6.12.10 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

For more pictures, a slide show can be found on the Book Barn website.

more waiting

Mid-May I started re-reading The Master of Hestviken tetralogy and this morning I finished the last volume, The Son Avenger. (see Changing Perceptions) My reason to begin reading it again was that I remembered loving the descriptions of the natural surroundings and the inner thoughts of the characters living in medieval Norway. Or so I thought. What stood out quickly to me in the first volume, this time around, was all the waiting Olav & Ingunn had to do to get matters settled so that they could finally be together.

In my “Eternally Terminal” post I commented on the waiting again, and connected it to the waiting theme in my current life situation. Little did I realize that the theme would keep coming around again and again in the four volumes. Waiting. Some things cannot be rushed.

Like many of the other characters, Olav was not to have a quick or easy death. He had a stroke and could no longer speak or use one side of his body. His son and daughter-in-law did their best to care for him as he lingered on for a few years. When Olav felt his death was near he struggled, inch by inch, to drag himself outdoors near dawn one morning without his family hearing him. He wanted to see the fiord once more. He finally climbed high enough to find a spot where he could see the water and the sky and be with nature. The next two paragraphs took my breath away:

The immense bright vault above him and the fiord far below and the woods of the shore began to warm as the day breathed forth its colours. Birds were awake in woods and groves. From where he lay he saw a bird sitting on a young spruce on the ridge, a black dot against the yellow dawn; he could see it swelling and contracting like the beats of a little heart; the clear flute-like notes welled out of it like a living source above all the little sleepy twitterings round about, but it was answered from the darkness of the wood. The troops of clouds up in the sky were flushing, and he began to grow impatient of his waiting.

He saw that all about him waited with him. The sea that splashed against the rocks, rowan and birch that had found foothold in the crevices and stood there with leaves still half curled up – now and again they quivered impatiently, but then they grew calm. The stone to which his face was turned waited, gazing at the light from sky and sea.

What a profound moment of intense awareness… It reminded me how when playing in the woods as a child I never felt alone, sensing and delighting in the energy of the trees, my friends. I now feel I was led to read this book again so I could pick up on this message about waiting. Patient waiting is definitely not one of my strong points! I’m impatient for my father’s suffering to end.

I’m also impatient for menopause to arrive, because I’ve been assured, by older women who have been through this and by my neurologist, that my hormonally triggered migraines – and they are the worst of them – will disappear. Every time I go several months without a period my hopes climb a little higher, only to be dashed as they were yet again last night.

Both these things I wait so impatiently for are part of nature. Maybe like Olav I can learn to become more aware of all of nature waiting with me. To let nature calm me down and soothe my frustrations.

Poor Olav. When his family discovered him missing they came looking for him and when they found him unconscious they carried him back to his dark little bedroom and there he died a couple of days later. They meant well…

Eyjafjallajökull

photo by David Karnå
Eyjafjallajökull – Image: David Karnå

Watching the news last night, about all the flights grounded because it is too dangerous to fly through volcanic ash clouds, got me thinking… Years ago people used to respect the power of Mother Nature and they did their best to live in harmony with it. It seems like today we are determined to carry on with our plans with no regard whatsoever for the weather, the seasons, the climate, or natural disasters.

One of the things I loved about reading Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken was how Sigrid Undset portrayed the characters waking up in the middle of the night and knowing what time of night it was by the subtle sounds they heard outside and the feeling they got from the depth of darkness around them. Imagine being that in tune with the earth!

In Jane Smiley’s book, The Greenlanders, a mother poignantly explains to her son why his grandfather doesn’t have to do any chores:

After a long day, folk rest at night. After a long summer, folk play games and sit about in the winter. After a long life folk sit about the fire and stay warm, for the chill of death is upon them, and even the thickest bearskin can’t keep off the shivering.
~ Jane Smiley
(The Greenlanders)

Life is a mixture of positive and negative things, a delicate balance. On a walk in the woods we see the process of death and decay right along new growth and mature life. It’s more natural than a garden, where unwelcome plants are weeded out, and dead ones discarded as soon as possible. Once we went to a butterfly conservatory where my young friend asked a curator how long the butterflies lived. Usually a day or so was the answer. What happens to the ones that die? They’re swept up every morning. So all we see is the beauty, the dying part is hidden from our awareness.

I’ve been hesitant to blog the past couple of weeks because so many “negative” things are disrupting the rhythm of my life, and it seems a shame to whine about it. But perhaps negative things can be discussed without whining? More as part of the ebb and flow of life? Sometimes I think we pay a price for trying to carry on as if nothing has happened. Maybe we need to go to bed when it gets dark early, maybe we were meant to sleep more in the winter. Maybe we need to accept the universe and stay home when Mother Earth says we should not be flying…

Our little spaceship creates some very big dark clouds sometimes. So why should we expect to sail through our lives without limits on our plans and our share of disappointments and grief to endure? Yes, it would seem I’ve got a rather large dark cloud following me lately, but in the words of my favorite songwriter…

Isn’t it strange how we move our lives for another day
Like skipping a beat
What if a great wave should wash us all away?
Just thinking out loud
Don’t mean to dwell on this dying thing, but looking at blood –
it’s alive right now, deep and sweet within, pouring through our veins
Don’t beat your head, dry your eyes
Let the love in there
There are bad times, but that’s okay
Just look for love in it

~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Pig) ♫

gaia community shutting down

To live is to change, to acquire words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know.
~ Barbara Kingsolver

Well, here I am again! Time to change things around again. This afternoon I was stunned to learn that my beloved social network, Gaia Community, will be forced shut down at the end of this month, because of the economy. When breaking the news our director, Siona, aptly quoted Dr. Seuss:

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

But the tears came anyway. For a year and a half since I found this wonderful “place,” full of amazing like-minded friends, I’ve never felt happier spiritually, and never more connected.

But all is not lost! As the afternoon turned into evening and I chatted with one of the first of my friends found on Gaia, we began to comprehend that Siona had found another place for us all, Ning, and she set up a Gaia network for us there. It won’t be the same, but at least we will still have a place for group discussions and a place to stay linked to one another. For those of us who like to blog she suggested WordPress. So this is where my blogging will land after all!

I will be adding my old blog posts from Gaia to WordPress over the next couple of weeks. The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is where I can keep my quote collection. Oh, and how to add pictures to this blog. But surely I will figure something out sooner or later. For now I must turn in for the night…