Napatree

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

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September 30, 2015

 

From my car outside Sibley School, I watched neighborhood parents and grandparents arrive to pick up and walk home their young students. Clustered by the crossing guards and grouped by the bicycle racks, they waited for the closing bell to ring often accompanied by the younger siblings of their Sibley students. Walking by my car I observed such a parent. This young woman pushed a stroller containing a toddler. Attached to the top of the stroller was a baby carrier cradling an infant and leashed to the side of the stroller was a dog. A very large dog.  This contingent also included a child of about four who held on to her mother’s left hand as her mother pushed the stroller with her right.

 

After the bell had rung and I was pulling away, I again noticed the quartet plus dog. But now a little girl of kindergarten age had been added to the group. My first thought was, how did I ever do it? My second thought, I hope, on this beautiful day, the father of this group is not off playing golf. 

 

8:06 am cdt | link 

September 29, 2015

 

Near our old home in Connecticut was a small, auto repair business called Village Vettes. There were always a handful of new and old looking Corvettes parked outside the sand-colored building owned by Peter, who wore thick glasses and a Bardahl Motor Oil baseball cap. Sunday driving back from Red Wing a Corvette, closely followed by another, appeared over a hill on highway 19. Then, 18 more Corvettes. A long line of low riding, road hugging vehicles whose power seemed to be held reluctantly in check. I liked seeing these cars from the past, my past. I liked thinking about Peter, who sometimes fixed our old Volvo, and about Village Vettes on Main Street near the Parson’s Daughter Restaurant.  I liked thinking about Home. 

 


7:48 am cdt | link 

September 28, 2015

Driving west, we saw the sun going down in front of us and the perfect circle of moon rising up in our rear view mirror. For moments, on the path between the two of them.  The sky grew dark and the moon climbed higher in the sky turning reddish as the shadow of the earth fell over it. A blood moon. But the world did not come to an end.

7:27 am cdt | link 

September 27, 2015

 

Yesterday, a late September day with a cloudless sky and 75 degree temperatures, three soccer games, plus a child’s soccer clinic, took place on the fields near here and monarch butterflies fluttered above zinnias in the field garden.

 

At Menards, a Christmas tree was adorned with twinkling lights.

 

8:24 am cdt | link 

September 26, 2015

On the Grand, “Eat, Drink and be Married.”  Our best wishes!

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September 25, 2015

 

The challenge prompt, these words. Time, regrets, health, birds, money, laughter.

 

                                                     A Haiku

 

Time without regrets,

gives health for watching birds when

money steals laughter.

 

Paula Poundstone says this. “Sometimes you can look at an elephant and know they are counting out syllables in a haiku.”

 

 

6:09 am cdt | link 

September 24, 2015

Today, I heard my long dead mother’s voice. When I was replacing a button on a button-down-collar shirt, a button from my vast collection of buttons like the button collections of my mother and grandmother before me, a button that was just a tiny bit larger and a shade darker than the button that held the collar point down on the other side of the shirt, an expression, a comforting expression my mother used when I was a child, arose unbidden, in my head. “No one will notice the difference on a Flying Dutchman.”

8:03 am cdt | link 

September 23, 2015

 

September is the anniversary of the 1938 hurricane that swept all 44 beach homes along Napatree's Fort Road, into the Atlantic Ocean. The storm, when it hit New England with winds of 120 miles an hour, killed many people, 15 on Napatree alone. As the storm occurred in September, most residents, fortunately, had left their summer homes for the season.

 

Napatree, now owned by the Watch Hill Conservancy, is a wildlife refuge. There is no sign of human habitation on the beautiful spit of land which curves out into the ocean. But at low tide near Napatree’s rocky tip, you can see the ends of old pilings washed smooth by 77 years of Atlantic waves. Remnants of before which belong to someone’s story.

 

6:41 am cdt | link 

September 22, 2015

Laugh. Healthy. Money. Regret. Birds. Time.     The prompt.

6:35 am cdt | link 

September 21, 2015

 

We know the story: the idea that seemed foolish but caught on, the child who appeared not to amount to much who made a fortune, the player that didn’t initially make the team but later became a star. The runner who stumbled but went on to win the race.

 

We planted morning glory seeds at the base of a wrought iron planter on the patio in not quite enough soil. When they came up, they were regularly eaten, in spite of liberal sprinklings of cayenne pepper, by the rabbits. The few surviving plants I often forgot to water. When I looked at them a couple of weeks ago they were dry and turning yellow and I decided to pull them out. But I forgot to do that, too. In the last few days the struggling vines have produced dozens of pale blue, dark blue and pink flowers which light up a September morning. We know that old story and the story, is true.

 

7:20 am cdt | link 

September 20, 2015

 

When asked what her ideal book club would be like, Mindy Kaling said this.

 

“My ideal book club would be held on Sunday afternoons. Dress code: warm weather black tie. Cocktails from 3:00 to 3:30. Chitchat from 3:30 to 4:00. Personal drama from 4:00 to 5:00. Book discussion from 5:00 to 5:30. Early dinner from 5:30 to 7:00. Then everyone goes home.”

 

7:44 am cdt | link 

September 19, 2015

The Republican candidate debate is, for the moment, over. About it, opinions in all directions fly. On Tuesday, Pope Frances arrives in Washington from South America. About the papal visit, more opinions are sure to fly. Advance information about what the pope will be talking to North Americans about, have those who know his agenda saying this. “The pope is coming here to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. His visit is going to give heartburn to both the left and right.” I say, “Amen.”

7:56 am cdt | link 

September 18, 2015

Fall, we are told, starts with three letters: PSL. Pumpkin Spice Latte. Sounds good.

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September 17, 2015

It is good to be informed. It can be difficult, though, to find the correct information among erroneous and outdated facts, personal bias, our penchant for weird people and events. I was reading last week’s New Yorker magazine where a writer mentioned that presidential candidate Ben Carson does not believe in evolution, that he regards global warming as “irrelevant.” Then, there is candidate Trump whose main interest appears, to me anyway, to be in building a border wall. Can these reported positions be accurate, be true?

I watched the reality TV of the Republican candidate debate last evening. For a while, anyway.

 

6:53 am cdt | link 

September 16, 2015

Justin excitedly asks me this.

“What did the English book say to the math book?”

...“You’ve got problems.”

 

6:54 am cdt | link 

September 15, 2015

Minority Report

 

It is a clear September morning.

I high step through weeds

to the pond. In my path grasshoppers

arc great distances through drying

echinacea, overhead geese honk

their way to I know not where.

The pond’s surface is pockmarked

by unseen insects, the Odonata

anisopter hover and tremble at its edge.

I am somewhere wild, rare and ordinary.

Astonishment has brought me here.

 

7:09 am cdt | link 

September 14, 2015

The Queens have lifted off their crowns and the band members have returned their trombones and flutes, to their cases. The venders have loaded their cars with what nuts, bird houses, scarves and wind chimes that didn’t sell and the horses, so groomed and gleaming for the reenactments, have been curried, fed and are back in their usual surroundings. DJJD is over for this year. But a single sign remains posted, a sign that was put in place to encourage runners participating in the annual DJJD run. A sign with what seems an important message. “Smile, you’ll go faster.”

5:58 am cdt | link 

September 13, 2015

The Sunday morning sun has not yet pushed away the darkness. The pond seems ironed smooth; steam like smoke rises from its flawless surface. There are no lights visible in neighboring homes. No shouting children run after balls, no teenagers, knees bent, twist along on skate boards. Cars parked on a distant street are unmoving. In the almost light a muskrat appears in the pond swimming the way a muskrat swims, easy and one with the water. There is a whole lot going on.

7:00 am cdt | link 

September 12, 2015

 

In yesterday’s paper, a photo of President Obama and writer Annie Dillard. In Ms. Dillard’s book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a book that resonates in my life, is this memorable, for me, line.  “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."

 

I can lay these words out on the desk in front of me, like a stone with many facets, and study them. Maybe too much of this, not enough of that. I don’t always like what I see.

 

8:02 am cdt | link 

September 11, 2011

DJJD and the time of year to see things: an abundance of cowboy hats, lots and lots of bling, anxious dogs on leashes, a rainbow of hair colors, tattooed body parts, and enough T-shirt messages to fill a book. And maybe, just maybe, the walleye shortage is nothing more than a rumor. Customers at the Walleye Wagon snaked out into the street.

6:08 am cdt | link 

September 10, 2015

 

On Sunday the chrysalis my friend has been caring for produced a Monarch butterfly. The orange creature emerged into the world and for an hour it slowly moved its wings, at times appearing to tremble, before lifting taking off.

 

Late yesterday the small duck glided out of the weeds and onto the water. I was delighted to see it. This morning it is again missing.  Missing, I remind myself, from my view.

 

6:29 am cdt | link 

September 9, 2015

 

The morning is very still, light easing soundlessly into the sky. In the quietude of now I am unable to think about the hardship and suffering of the displaced people: children, old people, pregnant women, walking days, weeks and months to find a country, a home. It is too difficult to get my thinking around such global upheaval. Too many, too much.

 

So here, overlooking the pond, I have been watching for an absent duck, a bird still too young to fly. A duck I have not seen for two days, a creature I worry might have become someone’s dinner. Like the refugees I can do little or nothing about, I anguish, and as helplessly, over a missing, small and wild duck.

 

.

7:18 am cdt | link 

September 8, 2015

 

The immigrant dilemma is overwhelming. Thousands of weary displaced seeking refuge in Europe and the sorrowful image of a young Syrian child washed up on a Turkish beach.

 

The French movie ‘Welcome” stays in my thinking. A single story, a touching story, is the story of so many. The world shifts and moves, propelled by war and hunger, lack of work and despotic rulers.

 

Angela Merkel, so many thank you. 

 

 

6:49 am cdt | link 

September 7, 2015

 

Tomorrow, schools in Northfield will swing open their doors. Formalized learning in the classroom will begin. We continually ask, as test scores fail to improve and children are left behind academically, is our education system broken?  According to Sugata Mitra, winner of the 2013 TED prize, it is not broken. It is instead, obsolete.

Mr. Mitra advocates self-organized learning environments in favor of the Victorian concept of how we currently teach the kids. He advocates a “grandmother approach” to positive learning along with abolishing negative testing.

I have spent a fair amount of time in classrooms of all kinds. I like what Mr. Mitra is saying.

 

 

7:26 am cdt | link 

September 6, 2015

 

This month’s book group selection is The Visitors, by Anita Brookner. Brookner is a writer. A writer’s writer who spins a story of what goes on when little is going on, when the main character, who is in her dotage, relates what she is thinking about young people, particularly a young male house guest.

 

The writing is so measured, so detailed so proficient and so internal. And most of all, so quiet. It is perfect reading for a Sunday, the day of rest.

 

8:00 am cdt | link 

September 5, 2015

Yesterday I had a grilled cheese sandwich. Sharp cheddar between whole wheat bread lightly buttered and fried. Sweet pickle slices on the side. My mother called grilled cheese sandwiches, which she always served with tomato soup, cheese dreams. Cheese dreams were standard Sunday suppers in my childhood. Grilled cheese sandwiches originated in the depression and were regular soldier fare in WWII. (I looked this particular bit of information up.) My friend’s son likes yellow mustard on his cheese sandwiches and my mother-in-law, a great cook, served her toasted cheese with a slice of tomato. I have a friend who prefers her grilled sandwiches made with Swiss cheese. Grilled cheese sandwiches are plain, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, comforting fare which matters not. They just taste good

7:07 am cdt | link 

September 4, 2015

With summer over and the start of the school year pending, the streets around Carleton fill, each day, with more and more parked cars. And I become aware of the license plates on these cars. As Carleton is a college of excellent reputation, a college that attracts students from all over the country, all over the world actually, the neighborhood cars bear license plates of all states from Alabama to Wyoming.  Here a car from The Land of Enchantment, over there a car originating from The Empire State. On a lucky day, you might even see a car from The Last Frontier. I have my eyes open for license plates from The Constitution State, The Ocean State. Seeing them, I feel the brush of home.

6:42 am cdt | link 

September 3, 2015

 

The talk at writers turned to talk of crickets. Crickets, katydids and cicadas.

 

In early September the world outside the window can be noisy. In late afternoon the cicadas, at dusk the crickets and in the night, the katydids. Long stretches of insects in chorus, choruses which will diminish when the temperatures turn cool. I own a childhood memory of cicadas. One afternoon when I was outside playing in the yard I heard, really heard, the droning sound of insects. I remember thinking why isn’t everyone talking about what surely they were hearing, too. Was I, I wondered, the only one privy to the constant one-note sounds?

 

Last month’s fireflies blinking above the pond grasses have disappeared. But nature does, as we are told, abhor a vacuum. The ‘singing’ insects have taken their place.

 

6:44 am cdt | link 

September 2, 2015

 

"Women today are flocking to tight designer jeans, narrow at the bottom and low at the waist, hoping to accomplish what the gym couldn’t.

 

"Well, their wallets are thinner.

 

"You, on the other hand, have never been one to follow the crowd; so I’d like to suggest something different. A new take on the silhouette that made stars like Harlow and Hepburn lankier, leggier.

 

"Yes, wide-legged pants in denim.

 

"“Hmmm, you look taller, somehow: new hairdresser?”'

 

Okay I did it.  I bought those Peterman jeans.

 

6:55 am cdt | link 

September 1, 2015

 

These few words are written to honor the life of Merl Reagle, a friend I didn’t know. Merl Reagle died a few days ago leaving behind a legacy of crossword puzzles. Clever puzzles, humorous puzzles, puzzles that could make you laugh out loud. Puzzles that I enjoyed trying to solve.

 

We have no idea whose lives we touch in our own existence. I was always pleased when I saw a puzzle constructed by Merl Reagle, always eager, when I came across it, to grab pencil or pen. Mr. Reagle touched my life with his puzzles, giving me hours of brain stretching pleasure. Thank you, Merl Reagle.

 

7:00 am cdt | link 


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