The Tulip

squirrel, tulips, Louisa May AlcottHelen can’t identify the strange sonorous sounds coming from outside. Usually in her little corner of the world, the loudest noise early in the morning is the red squirrels arguing with each other as they sit on branches, trees apart.

But this sound is unfamiliar, not the high-pitched shrill squirrel bickering she’s used to. Helen runs out the front door, the spring rain falling on her as she instinctively looks upward. A strange looking plane is overhead. Old-fashioned propellers make a swishing sound, yet the beautiful light blue body is  sleek.  Helen notices the glint of sun on the front, which of course isn’t possible because it’s raining. But no – there, on the left horizon, blue sky emerges, along with an impossibly bright rainbow. rainbow Continue reading

WILD Days

All Good Things Are Wild & FreeOne of the reasons we’re so scared when our children leave the nest is because we remember our own flight.

The pure joy of leaving the straps and bindings of our parents’ rules is still nestled deep in the happy place of our subconscious. We savor the memories of tossing out their warnings and racing into wildness – a place we weren’t allowed before.

Which brings me to my freshman year in college.empty nest. birds leave nest

I hadn’t realized I’d been bound and gagged in a parental hold until, suddenly, miraculously, on a weekend morning in early September, I was set free.

It took me weeks to loosen up, but day after day I discovered a lightness of being that I’d never experienced during my first 18 years of life.       

And then, my first college party. Continue reading

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Henry David Thoreau, simplify, Walden PondOne of the pleasures of moving to New England, after 16 years in California, was learning more about our country’s history, and in particular, our literary history.

I toured the Orchard House (where Little Women was written, and where Louisa M. Alcott lived with her parents and sisters).

Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott, Concord MA

The Orchard House,
Concord MA

I breathed in the literary dust of Emerson while touring his home, just across the street from Louisa’s.  

Daily walks from my own home led me pass the Old Manse, where Thoreau and Hawthorne, Fuller, Alcott and Emerson, laid plans for a garden, and a better world.

Old Manse, Concord MA, Hawthorn, Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott

But I was most affected by my strolls around Walden Pond, just a few miles away, and the stomping grounds of Henry David Thoreau. Every time I took my guests for a hike around the “pond” (much more like a lake) and then meandered around the cabin replica and gift shop, I’d pick up a book on Thoreau’s writings or a book mark with one of his quotes.

Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau

Walden Pond
Joseph Sohm/Visions of America/Corbis

You know, Thoreau had a lot to say.

“Be true to your work, your world, your friend.”

“Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond

Statue of Henry David with cabin.
RhythmicQuietude

The one I took to heart the most was, perhaps, the simplest one:

Simplify Simplify Simplify.

Don’t we all know the value of this thought, deep inside?

The more ‘stuff’ we surround ourselves with, the more our heads get stuffed with non-necessities.

The more we add to our lives (items, not friends), the more we lose sight of who we really are, deep down inside.

My man and I took Thoreau seriously. First, we named our new puppy, Henry (Henry David when he got in trouble).

And then we really got serious. We left our beautiful, much-loved 5-bedroom home, and downsized to a 2-bedroom condo.

To make the move, and the change, we had to get rid of a lot of “stuff.” All of my beloved books – off to the library and the thrift shops. Lamps, couches, extra rugs and dinnerware –  sold. Oak headboards, mattresses, linens and towels –  gone. Antique dressers, hope chests, and piano – offered to family and friends.

simplifyI never cried for any of it, and to be truthful, never missed it either. The need for those things seemed to blow away, like tiny bubbles in the wind.

I discovered that Thoreau knew it all, back in  the mid-19th century. The less we’re encumbered with possessions, the more open we are to the world around (and inside) us.

That said, I’m going to simplify a bit further for the next two weeks and not write. Gasp! Well, no, I’ll write, but I won’t share my flashes of writerly wisdom while I’m frolicking with grandchildren, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, avoiding the East Coast jellyfish, and all around playing.

I hope your next few weeks are simply – joyous!

Summer joy, simple joys, simplify

Frolicking granddaughter.