Meeting the Prince

Meeting the prince 6She was up past her bedtime and delighting in every minute. My little Isabella Rose was having dinner at Newport Bay with the grown-ups, patiently ingesting the main course, while impatiently waiting for the promised sundae at the end.  “Ma, I don’t want the nuts on my ice cream, just lots of chocolate sauce and extra whipping cream. Do you think that’s okay?”   I did.

After her cherished indulgence, we moved to the ladies room to wash the sticky remains from her body. The restroom had a single wash basin and mirror, being fully occupied by a woman applying lipstick in shades of fire engine red. Fishnet stockings with attached rhinestones crawled up her legs, intersecting with a gold lame skirt, which barely covered the essentials.  Her stiletto heels glittered, as did the plunging neckline of her blouse before opening to reveal a red lace bra against aging breasts. When she finished painting her lips and cementing locks of colored red hair with spray, she refreshed eyeliner by drawing little wings that moved seductively toward her hairline. She seemed completely unaware of us, as she dabbed perfume in her cleavage, then adjusted the dangle of rhinestones that fell from each ear.

I was thinking paid escort or street walker, as I glimpsed the emotionally weary spirit behind the glitter. The next thing I knew, Isabella was tugging the hem of her skirt, her eyes lit with wonder. The woman looked down, as if seeing us for the first time. “What do ya want?”

“Are you on your way to the ball?” Isabella asked. “To meet the prince? You look beautiful, just like Cinderella.”

The woman smiled, a crack of warmth opening in an otherwise hardened face.

“Yeah, somethin’ like that sweetie, somethin’ like that.”

Sing for me

Isabella is curious about my early training as an opera singer, an expense my parents incurred without return. The career did not stick, due to gross lack of ambition on my part, and my incompatibly with lofty heights.  

“Sing for me, Ma,” she’ll say, as we drive down the highway. I gently fill the space with the sounds and lyrics I recall from Italian and French arias, my memory dulled by time, but my voice surprisingly willing and able.

Last night Isabella brought out her hamster, who was doing his own theater by hanging from the ceiling of his cage and then racing around the house in a small plastic ball that allowed mobility. Bella needed to finish her homework, so I sat and waited. “Done!” she announced, slamming her notebook closed.  “Now what shall we do?”  I had run out of ideas.

“Sing for me, Ma. Sing the way you would sing in a concert hall with a thousand people, so everyone could hear you.”

“Even the folks in the back row?” I asked. Isabella nestled her hamster against her chest.

“Especially the ones in the back row,” she challenged.

I stood, pretending elegance and importance, as if performing for the queen. When the room was hushed, I issued forth a very loud version of nothing in particular, having mustered all the volume and range I could find, ending with a piercingly high note. Quite satisfied with myself, I sat down.

Isabella looked at me in disbelief. “I think you just killed my hamster.”

The Trespass



The white soccer ball crashed against the long resident’s hall of the ashram. We were sweaty and breathless, running back and forth, up and down, overflowing with happiness.

“It’s mine,” I screamed. “No, No!” Isabella roared, elbowing me out of the way.  I have it; it’s mine, mine, mine!”

I had forgotten I could run like that or laugh so hard.

My daughter, Kristen, lives in an ashram, a quiet contemplative place for meditation, yoga and inward looking. My eleven-year-old granddaughter, Isabella, lives there as well, and had just gotten a new soccer ball. The large meditation hall was upstairs in another building. It was seven o’clock in the evening, the hour when all good residents put dinner dishes away and leave in pursuit of dynamic stillness, being guided by a spiritually-awakened teacher in lessons of devotion and service to humanity.

I thought Bella and I were safe. Of course, I knew that playing soccer in the ashram was a trespass, not unlike starting a game in the halls of the Vatican, but could not resist. Isabella was my heart and saying no to an innocent demonstration seemed silly.

The area was clearly defined. The pair of potted palms near the east wing would be one goal, the residents’ kitchen in the west, another. Kick. The ball bounced off the walls near the brocade thangka of the Green Goddess Tara. Kick. It neared the ceiling and bounced down by a vase of stargazer lilies. Oops, too out of control. “We don’t want to get in trouble,” I warned. “Keep it low, keep it down.” Ah, a sneaky corner kick from Bella careened against a resident’s door. A head peered out. It was Sam. “Join us,” I said, continuing to run. He declined, retracting his head with a quick, “No thanks.”

A sideswipe and steal from me pushed Isabella’s speed into high gear. Shoes were not allowed in the ashram so kicking had to be done on the inside of the foot. There were no off-sides, no points, just running and panting in uncontrolled merriment. Kick. The ball flew against the wall near a painting of the Buddha, safe within a circle of lotus petals. Kick. It hit the ceiling again, bouncing against a door. Wally stuck his head out this time, grumbled and went back in.

“Wait, wait, I need a minute!” I was bent over, my hands on my knees, hot breath pounding my lungs. “No mercy,” Bella shouted, grabbing the ball and lurching toward the goal. I rallied, determined not to be defeated, bursting into a sprint by the mandala of Mahamaya, blocking the finish. We both crashed on the rug, bodies twisted and sore. We giggled, screamed, ran and kick- kick-kicked full throttle. The ball came to rest near a series of madras as residents begin trickling on to the playing field.

We’d been competitive for a full hour. We both knew we should stop but couldn’t give it up. I invited returning residents to join the team. All declined until the guilt of our trespass pushed us back to normality and a sad letting-go of athletic bliss. Kid-sitting was over.  We shared a strenuous salty embrace and parted ways. I walked past exotic guardians and deities, slipped into my shoes beneath a photograph of a temple in Katmandu and made my way home.

The next day Kristen was counseled about the wayward actions of her mother and asked to prevent such behavior from ever happening again. She obeyed and so did we, but neither I nor Isabella would regret one second, nor could we ever think of that hallway in the same peaceful light again.

We aim to please

apple treeThere is something so beautiful about falling asleep with my granddaughter in my arms. The smell of her wild curly snarled hair, her arms dotted with mosquito bites and her feet as dark as the ground she runs on. There is nothing that opens a heart like a child.

I remember asking a new father how he felt about being a dad, and he said, I was not prepared for the joy. Well, being a grandmother is even better. There is nothing my granddaughter could ask that I would not do.

So – now that you know my weakness, let me tell you about my morning. 

Last night Isabella, ten years old, announced that the forest swing was too far from the house and had too many mosquitoes.

Could you put up another swing, ma? One that is closer?

This morning I decided to solve the problem.

I woke early and spotted a limb on an apple tree half way up the drive. It was small, much closer to the house and more accessable than the old growth cedar that holds the forest swing. I did a quick assessment and decided to go for it. If I cut through a lower branch, I could manage enough height.

Inspired, I went to the barn, where three chainsaws sat shining and waiting on the tool bench, like new cars on a lot, sneering at someone who could only ride a bike. I gave them a wide berth, knowing that if I tried to use them, it would be my limb I’d remove instead. I not so secretly hoped the gardener would show up and turn 20 minutes of labor into 20 seconds, but of course, he did not. The best I could manage was a flimsy joke of a handsaw that would require brute strength and long tedious back and forth arm movements, but I was determined. Patience, I decided and time would be on my side. I walked from the barn into a hot morning, shouldering a large silver ladder and a green triangular handsaw. 

I was breathing hard as I propped the ladder against the trunk and began muscling the flimsy excuse of a blade back and forth through a limb it was never meant to cut. The aluminum steps wobbled and sweat ran down my brow as I persevered. Finally – snap, creak, release. The branch fell three inches, then refused to budge. It was entangled in larger limbs along the crest of the tree. I pulled, twisted branches backwards, removed bark from my eyes, threw my body over the limb and used language I will not print here.

Finally, it crashed, a large gangly albatross of a branch with smaller limbs shooting off in all directions. I dragged it across gravel, dirt and pavement to the log pile, pointing the heaviest part skyward and shoving it with a scream to the top of the heap. I found loppers and returned to the apple tree to remove  any branches that might interfere with a clear launch. I gathered rope and a swing seat to finish the job, but had forgotten something to cut the rope, so I trailed back to the barn again where I found a machete. Overkill I know, but at that point I was too tired to walk to the house. I hacked away at the thick braids of twine until they severed. Success!

Isabella woke and came outside, rubbing sleep from her eyes. She could not believe the size of the knife I replaced in the sheath.

Ma, what is that?

It’s a machete; I use it to keep pirates away.

I could see her little brain filling with dangerously fun ideas so I redirected her focus. We stood knee deep in twigs and discarded rope, so I asked for help.

Bring this stuff back to the barn with me, then you can try your new swing.  She was delighted. It took three trips to clear the ground before we were ready. My right arm was sore, I was dirty and exhausted, but it would all be worth it to watch Isabella on her new perch.

Are you ready? I asked.

She flashed a big smile and hopped on, her red pajamas and bare feet leaving the earth.  Up she went, leaning back and forth on her maiden voyage. She made six or seven full swings before hopping off. 

Actually ma, this swing is nice but I think I’ll stay with the forest swing. I like it better after all. This one doesn’t go very high.

Remembering August

My neighbors own Grossen’s Peach Orchard which goes on for miles in all directions. Standing in the midst of their trees makes me feel timeless and whole. Overripe peaches lie smashed against hot summer earth, green ones hide at the center of the tree, and perfect golden orbs bedazzle each branch ready to release into my eager hands.

Mr. Grossen runs up and down the lanes of his farm on a four wheeled tractor running errands and transporting neighbors who’ve come to pick. We bump over peach strewn paths and bounce beneath rows and rows of ripe fruit, as he smiles his good natured smile and points out the best picking grounds.

dogIt’s not unusual for the orchard to open to the public one day, then place a sign by the road saying,  “Closed for Ripening” the next. I respect that sign, but Gib doesn’t think he means it. The Grossens are an older couple who believe in being neighborly and kind. They should throw Gib on his ear when he walks past the sign, but they open their door and their orchard instead. That’s Gib’s Los Angeles pushy side. I would be mortified to do such a thing, but Gib has this golden retriever way about him that folks can’t seem to resist. Next thing I know, we’re scooting around the orchard looking for bounty.

We often pick with my daughter Kristen and granddaughter, Isabella. Juice runs down my arm and drips from my elbow as I wipe peach fuzz on my apron and plunge into the warm center of the fruit. Isabella’s chin is already sticky. There are juice spots on her neck and stains on her summer blouse, as she offers her nine year old opinion about the readiness of this year’s crop. We overfill our baskets in delight and greed. When we weigh our bounty, the bill resembles the national debt. No wonder they let us in.

Canning equipment waits at home. We set up an extra table in the kitchen and become a production line. Water boils on the stove, one pot for sterilizing, another for plunging to release  delicate skins. Isabella and Kristen lift them steaming from the bath, drop them into ice water and begin to peel and cut.

Gib and I pack slices into sterilized jars. His white chef’s apron is already stained. His belly is flush with the table where juices overflow, drip dropping to the floor. I don’t look much better as I fill each jar with honey lemon glaze and lift them into their canning bath. We place rubber circles on the top, wait the allotted time, and listen for the familiar pop that ensures their seal.

The last two seasons at Grossen’s have been bleak. Winter lasted too long, spring was too wet, and summer was reluctant. Their crop was either green or cracked and fell uneaten to the ground.

How can you survive such loss, I asked standing in their field.

It gets harder every year, Mrs. Grossen confides.

When my thirteen year old granddaughter, Britan, came to visit from Los Angeles, I was determined to have peach time with her, but the orchard was damaged. Our yield barely filled one basket, but I was persistent. In the end, we did all the work of canning with only six jars to show for our effort. After a long afternoon, Britan looked at me with her clear blue eyes and said, Exactly what is supposed to be fun about this grandma?

The last third

ice-skateI bought water from a machine in the basement of the ice skating rink, but could not open it. My fingers no longer grasp or close. I asked a stocky farm woman to help me out. She twisted the bottle open with ease.

Isabella asked me to lace her skates, really tight, Ma, but I could not. Not only couldn’t I pull the laces snug through the golden eyelets, I struggled to tie a bow at the top. She gently took the task away from me, as I spoke of scouting the room for a person who could do the job for us.

There was a moment when I felt tears surfacing. Is this where I am now? Is this what is next?

I had my astrology chart done today by a woman my age, who kept talking about us being in the last third of our lives. I wanted to say, ” speak for yourself. I’m only in the middle of mine. I am young with lots of projects stacked on the table, other countries to visit, and dances to dance.”  But tonight at the skating rink I had a sad moment when I joined her in the last third of my life.

I am told that if I give up chocolate, desserts, tomatoes, citrus fruits and all things wonderful, and replace them with medicine and oils that I might have a chance to get my fingers functioning again. It’s worth a try.

Good Medicine

Isabella spent the night in my bed, and I spent the night removing her foot from my neck. It was not restful. I forget what windmills those little ones can be.

We were pretending I was her taxi driver on the way home. She was a famous singer who just flew in from Beverly Hills.  I asked why she liked her work and she said, because I make enough money to help half the world. There is no more homelessness now, or poverty.  I asked her about the other half of the world. She said, I’ll get to them next year. 

crazy-soxI became Ma again when we reached the house. The girl had as much luggage as a Beverly Hills rock star, which we schlepped in together. Once inside, she laced up her roller skates and was off, making great circles on the hardwood floor. I shoved the plant in the corner, took up the rugs and watched her fly by.

Join me, she shouted!

It had never occurred to me to roller skate around my house.

Why not? I could use a new experience. I slipped on my skates and tried to keep up. We circled the couch, went in and out of the kitchen, entryway and bathroom, swirling round and round in dizzy circles. Eventually we changed locations and skated in the art barn. She wore me out there too. After an hour, I was sweaty, out of breath and stripped down to my underwear.

When the skates were put away, she moved to the computer, eager to let her imagination flow into a story. In a misguided effort to help, I began to suggest changes and restructuring. I wanted to shape and censor, so her writing would fit my idea of how a story should be. I was appalled when I realized my trespass. Her ability to see outside the box is the very heart of creativity and magic. And there I was standing over her shoulder, reining her in, telling her to walk like the rest of us, while she still has wings to fly. Thankfully, I saw my mistake in time, apologized and moved out of the way.

Isabella is good for me, better than a vacation in the tropics. When I step into her world, I am young again, free and treat myself to experiences I would not otherwise have. She is closer to all that is divine, because she just left that realm, being only nine years in this one. She will become conditioned soon enough, and I hope I am not part of it.


bass-playerSomething in me does not know the difference between an AK47 and a camera lens. When I look up and see a metal box where a person’s face should be, I freeze. Vacate. It’s automatic. Others comment on it. Gee, your picture doesn’t look anything like you. You’re so much more vibrant and fun. When people look through photo albums they can’t find me. Is this one you? No kidding. How about this one? I wouldn’t have known. It’s because I’m not there. I don’t know where my spirit goes, but it’s definitely absent. It’s the firing squad effect.

That said, you can imagine how thrilled I was to hear I needed a photo for my website, the close-up kind that shows all the wrinkles. Vanity aside, I’d just as soon be scheduled for dental surgery. I was complaining loudly to my daughter, Kristen, who is a professional photographer, when she and her nine year old, Isabella, came for dinner. Kristen has pretty much had it with me because I make her job impossible. It’s only duty and the umbilical cord that keeps her from doing me in. I was getting ready to ask her anyway, when Isabella sprang into action. I’ll handle this Ma. (She calls me Ma, which means teacher in the Buddhist tradition and royal pain in the butt in the daughter tradition.) Isabella grabbed me off the couch and took me into the closet, decisively pulling clothes off the rack. Here, hold these, take this one, put that on. Next we headed for the bathroom so she could do a make-over, which is not easy with the handful of cosmetics I own. She sat me on the toilet while plastering my face with powder. She gobbed my lips in color, browned my eyelids, rosed up my cheeks, dripped black from my lashes, combed my hair and pronounced me done.

Let me back up. Before we girls met for dinner, we met at the Goodwill to see if there were any treasures among the grunge. Kristen and I found nothing, but Isabella walked away with roller skates – great roller skates, exactly her size, in perfect condition roller skates. She put them on as soon as her feet touched my hardwood floors, becoming a peripheral blur. Isabella was doing my make-over while gliding, spinning, and doing a trick called shooting the dog, no pun intended.

When I was deemed beautiful enough, we went next door to my neighbor’s house for a change of scene. Bella sat me down in the library next to the books, posed me at the Grandfather clock, moved to the bedroom which looked like I was drumming up business for a brothel, then finished with a meditation pose on a circular blue rug.

I was playing with her, with no expectation of result, but I’ll be darned if I didn’t get a picture. Having spent all nine of her years on photo shoots with her mom, the girl’s learned a few tricks, plus she doesn’t hate me yet for being impossible. She was gliding by, sitting on one skate while extending another in front of her, when I asked how much money she’d like for her time. She looked at the ceiling and decided five dollars would due nicely. I gave her a three dollar tip.

Ode to Lydia

What is that instant connection with another person; that sudden timeless knowing that you know or have known each other; that warm immediate acceptance that feels like a welcome reunion between strangers?

It’s not exactly falling in love, but it is a falling of sorts, perhaps into the eyes of another’s remembering. This mysterious bonding can happen anywhere, with anyone, at any age. It’s a rip in reality as we know it, an opening, both uncommon and familiar.

Her midnight eyes caught my attention, not the color, but a spark, a flash of light; an almost tangible electricity. Our meeting took less than a moment as we walked in opposite directions along a quiet ocean shore.

Her name was Lydia, eight years old and going into fourth grade, but I wouldn’t find that out until the next day. Now all I had was the flash of recognition that we once knew each other and wanted to again.

Lydia’s long brown hair spilled over her shoulders in full waves of curl, accenting her vibrant turquoise jacket and pants. She watched me watching her, as she planted her hands in the sand and rose barefooted into a cartwheel, then another and another still; her young legs never quite extending above her confidence. She looked back as if to say, Did you see what I can do? What do you think of that? Pretty cool, huh?

Her parents walked beside her. Her father, a slender man with early grey hair, her mother average and withdrawn. They walked happily forward, insular in their privacy. Lydia shot me a knowing smile, she was an obvious beacon in their careful lives. That was Thursday night.

 I was at the ocean with my granddaughter, Isabella and my daughter, Kristen, having a mother-granddaughter vacation. I kept Lydia in mind as a playmate for Isabella, deciding to introduce them if I saw her again.

On Friday we rose eager to walk and explore the shoreline. The tide was out and small bodies of water dipped into little pockets of discoveries. Isabella found several starfish in purples, reds, browns and blues. She pocketed countless agates and two hard earned sand dollars. We climbed cliffs and discovered new views, Bella always staying behind to make sure I got up without trouble. I’ve got ya, she’d say, extending her hand over rocky terrain. When did we switch roles? I wondered. When did I become the one falling behind and not her?  The ocean air invigorated our spirits as we made our way back for lunch.

It was late afternoon before I saw Lydia again. Isabella was flying her multi-colored bug kite, the one with the curly tail and face that reminds me of a protective Hindu God. Lydia watched from afar, then pulled out a pocket-sized kite of her own, a dragonfly trailing yards of shimmering gold metallic. Both girls ran as only the young can to keep them airborne. As the kites slowed and fell to earth, I took the opportunity to introduce myself.

I know you, I said running next to Lydia, You’re the girl that did those amazing cartwheels on the beach yesterday, aren’t you?

She did not lower her eyes or pull back in shyness. No, she met me eye to eye drinking in our conversation like the desert wanting rain.

Yes, that was me, she said. I’m eight years old and going into fourth grade. I’m here on vacation and I’ve been here before. We live in Washington. We came here last year too, only it wasn’t so cold then.

Her face lit like the sun itself, radiating light in all directions. I loved watching her generate words from her inner excitement and give them to me, like small wrapped gifts from an unseen self.

I do lots of things, she continued. I study gymnastics and learn piano from Miss Barker. She’s been my teacher for two years and she lives in the brown house just down the street. It doesn’t take long to walk there. She has a really small dog with red hair who waits for me by the corner of the house. His name is scruffy but he is not at all scruffy. You would like him, I bet. Have you ever been to the ocean before?”

I come to the ocean every few months because it’s a short drive and beautiful in all kinds of weather.

The ‘every few months’ part struck her as impossible. She was mulling that over when her mother approached.

People can do that when they live near-by and this woman does not know who Miss Barker is, Lydia, nor does she care. Lydia’s father stood next to her now, joining forces with her mother like a bucket of water waiting to extinguish light.

We have a nice fire going, I offered, and plenty of marshmallows, if you’d like to join us. I’m sure Lydia’s as good at roasting marshmallows as she is at doing cartwheels. She beamed in my direction, unable to contain her excitement. Can we mom, can we?

We’ll make a fire before we end our vacation, her mother promised. An indirect and unchallenged refusal.

Are you enjoying your time here, I asked.

 Now we are, the father offered, but we had to move our lodging when we first arrived because the landlady was getting too friendly.

Oh, I see, I said, and I did. Point taken.

Lydia looked at me for a moment and beyond to distant flames that spit and rose in the air.

Perhaps we’ll see you out here tomorrow, I said, It would be nice for the girls to fly their kites together.

We’ll still be here, the mother answered, collecting Lydia’s pail and shovel. Her father folded their beach chairs in one arm and Lydia in the other.

I’ll be here tomorrow, Lydia said eagerly. I’ll be here at 9 a.m. and if you want to, please come get me. I’ll be in cabin 18 ~ right over there. Her eyes were saying, I want to go home with you, as her body turned in reluctant compliance.

We didn’t see each other the next morning. She was not on the beach, but my daughter saw her later that afternoon while I was resting. Yes, they played together for awhile, Kristen said, but Lydia had to leave. She gave Isabella a butterfly kite as a goodbye gift.

How were the parents?

Distant, separate, aloof. Lydia did not stay.

 And that was that. I never saw Lydia again and don’t expect to.

But here I am two days later writing about her. She is on my mind. She left an impression. I’m pondering her journey through life and what it will be like as she reaches toward the cornucopia of the world, while her parents diminish the flow to crumbs of fear and safety.

Lydia is a child living in radiant color next to shadow people. I wonder what affect that will have. I wonder if their fears will come to own her, or if she can use their example to push past them, into her own growing wisdom and remembered knowing.

But most of all, I wish I’d had a moment with her; a small island of uninterrupted time when I might have spoken into those clear receptive eyes; when I might have spoken with the freedom people have when they recognize each other from another time and place. I think I wanted to tell her that it will all be okay and that there are others like her here. I wanted to say, Don’t worry dear, you are not alone.

written 8-12-08


 So many young women with hopes held high. 4H teens showing horses they loved, brushed, trained and stabled; each child doing their best with the immense animals that held their dreams. I was pre-occupied by heat, a hard wooden bleacher and dust funneling around my feet like little tornadoes. I wanted water and shade, wished we had gone to the river instead of the fairgrounds. But I was doing this for her, my 13 year old granddaughter, Britan, visiting from Los Angeles.

One week ago, she stood tall and handsome in her English riding habit, sun-streaked hair tucked in a neat ball at the back of her neck, like an elegant ballerina. I had dropped her at the stables and drove home to have time alone. Then I got the call, her voice sounding small and frightened. Grandma, I got bucked off. I landed on my head. I want to come home.

We are here on a too hot summer day, watching the horse competition in the hope of keeping her near the sport she loves. Her neck and shoulder trauma healed with the speed of the young, her willingness to ride again present but needing time.

We toured the 4H stables before the show, examining the horses and photos of each young owner. The teenage women living on remote farms and ranches immediately sensed the difference between themselves and this green eyed girl from the heart of the city. They stopped and studied her, stealing glances over their shoulders as she feigned disinterest.

Together we watched the girls parade in the arena, displaying their best horsemanship and finest clothes. The lens of a camera gave my granddaughter the distance to be both present and removed. She stepped in through the lens, documenting the world she loved, picking favorites and tracking competition, while I excused myself to buy ice water. The walk to the shed that sold drinks felt like being swirled in a clothesdryer. A paper cup was lodged under a bush, discarded napkins pushed into the dirt. A baby in a carrier positioned next to a fan smiled at me as I paid and left.

 When the event ended she turned and said. Oh, Grandma, the paint should have won, don’t you think?

The paint, I thought, yes, I guess there was a paint out there, somewhere, one of them.

“That rider was dressed in extreme shades of pink. I could never wear an outfit like that.”

Very, I said, It was very pink. She continued talking about the paint and why it should have won. I reached in my pocket grateful to find the car keys and pull away from the heat of the day. How was that for you, I inquired? Did you enjoy it?

written 7-9-08

The talk

The peaches in my neighbors orchard were not good this year, another fall-out of an avoidant summer. I missed picking them and putting them up. I missed seeing their golden beauty radiate from my shelves. My mason jars stand empty and rimmed with dust. I didn’t plant a garden this year. Our beds don’t get enough sun, the soil is better suited for brick making, the deer eat my efforts and well, I just wasn’t into it.

I did pick apples and pears along the driveway with Isabella. She liked carrying my new basket and wearing the tall black boots I bought her for horseback riding. She made up stories as we walked, giving us names and histories other than our own.

We had a serious moment down by the raspberries when she talked about the hard parts of her nine year old life. I am glad she trusts me with that. She asked me if I was wealthy, so I carefully explained the difference between being rich and being generous. Never use money as the measure of wealth, I told her. She wants me to buy her a farm and a horse, one she can care for and love. I wish I could please her in that way.

I told her I was sad at leaving my homelands in New York. I even spoke out loud about buying a cottage on the lake and moving back.

“If you do that Ma, I guess I would not stop crying for a really long time. Maybe days, or months or maybe forever.” 

And so I put that idea in the far corner of my interior shelf. No need to entertain moving when it’s balanced against the heartbreak of a child.

So many strings when we get older, so many roots. Gib says that carrots and potatoes are like eating dirt. He means it as a compliment. I baked a blueberry crisp last night with the last of the fresh berries. The season is turning. Change is in the air. I can smell it and feel it, but for now my feet are firmly planted right where I stand.