Napatree

In my mind I am often on Napatree. You're welcome to come along.

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February 28, 2015

Having seen, several times of late, a bald eagle circling in the sky, once coming incredibly close to my loft window, I have taken to checking in on the Minnesota DNR eagle cam. There you can see one of the eagle parents sitting on the nest where an egg, I recently heard on NPR, has produced a baby eagle and where another egg, is piping. Because nest sitting is nest sitting, and a tedious parental act, there is, at the moment, very little going on. But time promises more action in the aerie. 

9:53 am cst | link 

February 27, 2015

 

Living just two blocks from Buttonball Elementary, the children were able to walk to school. Which they did. But one day we were running late and it was not really raining but heavily misting, so I decided I would give the walkers a ride. At the school I idled, in the bus drop off area, while the first and second grader jumped out of the car. The toddler, strapped in, remained in the back seat. But when the car door opened the dog also jumped out and in the hubbub, the first grader dropped his bag of 'show and tell' items, some of which fell under the car. The excited dog, delighted to be loose, frightened the children departing the bus. That morning, etched in my memory, I was wearing a long bathrobe and nightgown under my raincoat.

 

This below zero morning, again idling in a bus only zone, I let a teenager out of the car. But when I applied my foot to the gas to move on for the many arriving buses, the car stopped and would not restart. This began a chain of events which included an extremely irate bus driver, lots of delighted looking kids and a few dressed up men, including the high school principal and vice-principal, pushing my car  into an out-of-the-way area. There was one saving grace. I was not wearing my bathrobe. 

6:10 am cst | link 

February 26, 2015

Yesterday when the snow had stopped, the air had warmed slightly and the sky had turned just that shade of blue, yesterday after I’d learned of a friend’s death and a teenager's suicide, I donned a heavy jacket and boots, a ski hat and double mittens and I did what I needed to do. I took a twilight walk in the woods.

6:04 am cst | link 

February 25, 2015

 

Small is beautiful. Yesterday a handful of small things that will soon be forgotten. Becky learned how to make a star – across, down, up, down connect. New tracks on the face of the pond. Popcorn with butter. The laughter of teenagers. A note, a wonderful note, from a daughter-in-law. A flowering plant and a candle made by a friend. A message from Napatree.

 

I am unsure exactly when it is that we realize it is not the big things but instead the unimportant things that make up our days, our lives. The wonderful big things can be rare, or even not at all. The small things are always available.  

7:16 am cst | link 

February 24, 2015

 

I don’t know how those living so close to the article circle, manage. Now, thankfully, the late February daylight is lingering into early evening just when we are beyond weary of short days, icy sidewalks, the snow white or dried brown landscape. But I speak for myself. Out my window and across the pond, two boys use sticks as swords and repeatedly fall into the snow. I imagine they are laughing. On the street a hatless teenager practices, over and over, a jumping trick on his skateboard.

 

In snowy Boston the baby, the tiny two pound scrap of life born months before he was expected to arrive, is holding his own.

6:24 am cst | link 

February 23. 2015

 

It was mentioned, in yesterday’s news, the possibility of a terrorist attack at the Mall of America. There exists, the news said, the possibility of an attack, nothing more than a possibility. But it went on to mention that security at the MOA has been increased. I have been to the Mall of America only twice, maybe three times. But I own a MOA story.

 

We were living in Connecticut when we came west to visit friends. On our visit we decided to check into the Mall of America for no other reason than we had heard about it. So off we went. One of the events on that visit was the opportunity to tour a beautiful Swedish cottage that had been set up in the mall atrium. As I remember, if you entered your name in a drawing and won, a similar cottage would be built for you in whatever area of the country you wished. The model cottage was handsome, the crowds large and the thought of winning was a nice one. Standing in line waiting to enter the little house, the person in front of me turned around. It was my neighbor in Connecticut. At the spur of the moment she had flown here to visit a relative. A surprise encounter. We all enjoyed a lovely lunch.

9:00 am cst | link 

February 22. 2015

For whatever reason, I have taken to reading the "Outdoors" weekend section of the Star Tribune. Actually there is a reason and the reason is that I am boning up to be a part of a ‘nature’ trivia team. Anyway, in this week’s edition of "Outdoors" there is an article about a man who photographed birds for a year calling his accumulation of photographs, "365 Days of Birds."  I identified. And I identified with his quote in the article. “I have found that increasing the difficulty of something you do in life is a good thing because the end result is really beneficial.”

7:58 am cst | link 

February 21, 2015

Brrrr.

8:01 am cst | link 

February 20, 2015

 

I case you didn’t know, and I didn’t, these are the upcoming fashion trends according to the New York Times Style magazine.

 

Denim. Lots and lots of denim.

Clothes influenced by the world of sports as opposed to sports clothes.

Good girl lace paired with bad girl leather.

Poppy floral prints paired with military jackets.

Luxury pieces with a handmade artisanal edge. Not knowing what this meant exactly, I looked up the example shown, a white coat that looked exactly like a white shirt. It was mid-thigh in length and had five large buttons of varying sizes. The price listed was $1,535. The blurb accompanying the photograph read.

 

“Welcome to a season of exposed topstitching, frayed edges, crinkled linen, drawstring burlap and other disciplines of applied art.”

6:45 am cst | link 

February 19, 2015

Tests taken in elementary school now are sometimes called ‘show me what you know’ papers.  The ‘show me what you know’ papers have me thinking about tests and how our lives are such a series of them. Our first test, the one given a minute after we are born, is the APGAR test. We move on to the preschool readiness test and the many tests taken all through school years which include physical fitness tests. Then, there are the PSATS, SATs ACTs and the written and road test to get a driver’s license. There are tests in college ending with comprehensive tests and possibly, GRE tests. There are the many tests taken for professions and careers and somewhere along the line, we encounter IQ and aptitude tests. And of course there are the medical tests including blood tests and pregnancy tests and the tests too many to mention. In our dotage, we are given tests to check our memories. We are tested and tested and tested some more. Our hope is to keep passing the tests. 

6:25 am cst | link 

February 19, 2015

Tests taken in elementary school now are sometimes called ‘show me what you know’ papers.  The ‘show me what you know’ papers have me thinking about tests and how our lives are such a series of them. Our first test, the one given a minute after we are born, is the APGAR test. We move on to the preschool readiness test and the many tests taken all through school years which include physical fitness tests. Then, there are the PSATS, SATs ACTs and the written and road test to get a driver’s license. There are tests in college ending with comprehensive tests and possibly, GRE tests. There are the many tests taken for professions and careers and somewhere along the line, we encounter IQ and aptitude tests. And of course there are the medical tests including blood tests and pregnancy tests and the tests too many to mention. In our dotage, we are given tests to check our memories. We are tested and tested and tested some more. Our hope is to keep passing the tests. 

6:19 am cst | link 

February 18, 2015

 

Yesterday, Shrove Tuesday, was the day for pancakes. I wasn’t sure why pancakes, so I looked it up.

 

Shrove is from the word 'shreve' which means to confess and receive absolution. Shrove Tuesday is the first Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, today, which is the beginning of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is also Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, which is where the pancakes come in. Mardi Gras, the celebration before the Lenten period of fasting, is a time of eating and merrymaking. Pancakes were a good way to use up fats and milk that one couldn’t store over Lent; the first pancake meals became the start of a tradition. Pre-Lenten feasting can also include a cake with the plastic image of a baby baked inside. Culturally we are, all of us, interesting. We have our ways.

9:02 am cst | link 

February 17, 2015

Today is Shrove Tuesday and it is snowing again on Napatree. Constant snow that has been hampering my friend from meeting her newborn grandson, a very premature infant in a Boston hospital with a 2 pound grip on life. Today, though, she will attempt the trip. In my heart I’ll travel with her. 

8:57 am cst | link 

February 16, 2015

 

When perusing the sports page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, something I don’t ordinarily do, I saw an article written by a man with a name I was familiar with, a name from my childhood.  A name that belonged to friends of my parents and their son who I remember, somewhat vaguely, from childhood.

 

I liked the article and its environmental leanings and because I felt certain this must be the person I once knew, I wrote to thank him at the address posted at the bottom of the piece. I also told him this. When I was a new freshman in college and probably a little homesick, his parents were visiting my out-of-state college town. They called the dorm and asked if they could take me out to dinner which they did. I’m sure I thanked them but probably not enough. It was a long ago kindness which I have always remembered. 

8:19 am cst | link 

February 15, 2015

 

The snow that came on Tuesday no longer covers large areas of south facing lawns; longer stretches of sunlight and the wind have done what they do. But the pond I look out on from my second story window, the pond ringed with dried weeds and grasses, is still uniformly white.

 

There are many kinds of snow. The kind that came last week, that icy mix, is perfect for holding animal tracks. On the face of the pond you can see the prints of rabbits that move along the edges and cut across where it narrows. Moving back and forth across at the widest point, are the tracks of a fox.

 

One can follow these wild tracks with only your spirit. Yet that can be enough, I think, to take you where you need to go.

9:34 am cst | link 

February 14, 2015

Valentine’s Day is our reminder that love, makes the world go ‘round.

9:09 am cst | link 

February 13, 2015

My first love was David. David Martin. David played cornet in the seventh grade band where I played the flute. Our uniforms were white duck pants, white shirts and a red wool cape. Dark-haired David, I remember thinking, looked handsome in red. Once, after a parade, David and I walked together, just the two of us, back to the center of town across the Grand Avenue bridge. Thinking back, I have no recollection of David in high school. I have, in fact, no recollection of David Martin in eighth grade.

6:18 am cst | link 

February 12, 2015

 

Valentine’ Day is the day for showing love, the day for giving chocolate. The day I associate with the old fashioned Whitman’s Sampler. I don’t remember how the candy box made it to my childhood home on Valentine’s Day, no memory of that at all.  It could have come from my dad, my Aunt Doll who sent things to our family from Texas, from my Godmother, Viola. If it was around February 14th, the chocolate candy made an appearance.

 

There were memorable things about that Whitman’s Sampler starting with the box. I loved the yellow box that looked like a quilt, the box whose cover’s edges slightly stuck out. I also loved the map inside the cover telling you just where the candy varieties were located. A study of the map located my favorite chocolate creams and enabled me to avoid the chocolate covered nougats.

 

There are finer chocolates available now; our palate for chocolate has become more sophisticated. On Valentine’s Day, though, nostalgia wins out. I’m good with a Whitman’s Sampler.

6:14 am cst | link 

February 11, 2015

 

Brian Williams and his story about being in the helicopter that was fired on, or not being in the helicopter that was fired on, fills the news. Who knows how our memories work, who knows the reasons we choose to stretch the truth. I only know how fallible I am, we all are.

 

My friend relates this story. She remembers getting as a gift, when she was a small girl, the very ugliest doll ever. Her sister also remembers the very ugliest doll ever yet she recalls that she was the one to receive it. But their childhoods, they both say, contained only one, extremely ugly doll. “My present was the ugliest doll ever.” "No, it was mine. I was the owner of the ugliest doll.” Only one person might know which of the sisters received, as a gift, the memorable doll. That person would be their mother, and she is no longer alive.

8:00 am cst | link 

February 10, 2015

 

The Valentine’s Day countdown has begun. Actually, it began weeks ago. Today the kids made valentine ‘bags’, all of them the same, for Friday’s party event. Things are politically correct surrounding valentine celebrations in school, a class list is sent home with every child’s name on it. If you are giving out valentines, all of your classmates get one. This was true when my own children were in elementary school, also. But my memories of my own school Valentine’s Day events are slightly different.

 

I recall elaborate valentine boxes with crepe paper ruffles. Big boxes. And all of the boxes different. A handsome valentine box was very desirable and you worked hard at making it spectacular. I also recall hoping for special valentines from special people like Dennis B. or Larry K. There was suspense, and sometimes jealousy, involved in sending and receiving valentines. Kids also brought cookies and cupcakes for the party but not baked goods from the bakery or grocery store. The cookies brought in then were made by a mother or grandmother. About Valentine’s Day, those things are what I remember. Yet this. There can be, as a wise person once said, fiction between the lines of our memories.

9:13 am cst | link 

February 9, 2015

 

People keep journals, diaries. I imagine millions of such tomes in drawers, under mattresses, on a bedside table. Finite numbers of words arranged in infinite ways. Young girls, teenage girls, keep diaries, diaries with locks to keep their mothers out. Arranging words on a page is a way of arranging your life. Making sense of it, coming to terms, draining away sorrow and pain through the tip of a pen. There is, currently, an exhibit of diaries at the Northfield Historical Society. Diaries written by men and women during different periods of time. I loved reading the entries in these diaries, loved reading about these strangers’ lives.

 

“It rained again today.”  “Father made a cake, mother frosted it.”  “The baby’s fever has broken.” “We plan to start harvesting tomorrow.” “The party was a success, everyone appeared to have a good time.” “We have just received news that Abraham Lincoln was shot.” “The children need new shoes.” “Annabelle is coming from Iowa.” Ordinary words, telling ordinary, extraordinary stories.

6:43 am cst | link 

February 8, 2015

Perusing through the Brown alumni magazine I came across an article about the New York Times best seller, "Worn Stories," by Emily Spivack. I read the article with a great deal of interest because the stories that surround clothes are my interest, too. I like using old fabric in my textile work. And if there is a story attached to the apron from the 1930’s or the Christening dress that belonged to a great aunt, I like knowing it. At the moment I have a piece in Textile Center’s member show. The piece is a sculptural pear about 20 inches tall. The sculpture is comprised of heavy wire fashioned into the easily recognizable shape of a pear, wire that has been wound with yarn and strips of yellow fabric. I like this piece, am proud of this piece. Best of all I like that much of the yellow checked fabric I used for it had an earlier life. Years ago, many years ago, it was the dress worn by a friend to the Northfield High School Junior Prom.

8:17 am cst | link 

February 7, 2015

The sky was blue with only a few chalky clouds. The still air, after a windy day, feeling almost warm. The sun was bright enough and close enough to melt snow on the roofs and south facing lawns. On the unblemished white surface of the pond, you could see long sentences of rabbit tracks perfectly spaced and going in rabbit directions. It was a day for imagining spring.

9:46 am cst | link 

February 6, 2015

 

My art group meets once a month. Meetings happen at various places: an accessible conference room in a downtown building, someone’s home or someone’s studio. There are eight of us and when we get together we talk about our favorite subject, art. We show current projects we are working on, share techniques and materials. We also eat.

 

Art group meets during a long noon hour as a few members have jobs they must return to. Today one of the members brought a jar of daffodils she put on the conference table just because it is winter and they are yellow. Beautiful. She also bought along oranges from a Harry and David February, fruit-of-the-month-club box. I mention these oranges because they were new to me. Honeybells. Large, sweet oranges and so juicy they called for more than one napkin. Curious about Honeybells, I looked them up. Honeybells grow primarily along the Indian River in Florida and they are really not oranges at all. They are a hybrid of a tangerine and a grapefruit. On a ski hat, mittens, warm scarf kind of day, with snow drifting in a strong wind, the Honeybells tasted as good as the daffodils looked.

8:04 am cst | link 

February 5, 2015

 

Harper Lee has published a new book and Bob Dylan has issued a new recording called "Shadows in the Night." As yet, I know little about Harper Lee’s book. I have heard a few of the tracks on Dylan’s recording.

 

Criticism, I’m sure, will abound concerning the new work of the old artists. We all have the right to criticize. Listing to the old standards sung by Minnesota’s Bob, the sentimental songs written before rock, one is aware of an old voice, a not as strong or athletic voice. A voice that sometimes seemed slightly flat when reaching for a note. But the raspy, gravely voice, the remembered voice, was still there in the quiet words that protest nothing.

 

We all have the right to our opinions. I like the old songs sung by the old artist. I identified. And I felt young

6:09 am cst | link 

February 4

 

The name of the new popcorn being pushed in my local markets is BOOM CHICKA POP. I purchased a bag of the caramel cheddar flavored corn, a flavor which seemed an unlikely combination, and it was delicious. Just delicious. Though who, I ask, doesn’t like popcorn, especially the movie theater kind which is reported to be bad for us because it is too salty and popped in unhealthy fats.

 

I have a popcorn memory from childhood. Our family bought, or received as a gift, a popcorn maker. Previously we had shaken popcorn in a pan on a stove burner. But adding to the wonderfulness of the revolutionary popcorn maker was the large metal bowl and the six small bowls, everyone a different bright color, which accompanied it. Now we each had our own popcorn bowl, and such a beautiful bowl. Our family had arrived.

9:10 am cst | link 

February 2, 2015

 

Two things. Just two things.

 

I saw the bald eagle. Again. Flying high over where I was standing. A big dark body, powerful wings, a white head. I do not tire of the sight of him.

 

And on the marquee of the old Grand Theater these words that are the start of a story. “And so it begins.” D and J    1/31/15.

8:45 am cst | link 

February 1, 2015

Last week the wind blew across Napatree with great intention. The snow fell hard and drifted high in some places, leaving other places summer bare. If there had been trees on Napatree they might have been broken by the wind but this spit of ocean land is held in place by rocks and grasses which remained, for the most part, undisturbed. Napatree has survived many storms, land tends to survive. Today more snow is predicted. 

9:36 am cst | link 


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