Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Walk with the dreamers....

" Walk with the dreamers, 
the believers, 
the courageous,
the cheerful,
the planners,
the doers,
the successful people
with their heads in the clouds 
and their feet on the ground.
Let their spirit ignite a fire within you
to leave this world
better than when you found it.
by Wilfred Peterson

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Writing, writers and lessons learned

I am sad today. Some days are like that. Writing has brought up all kinds of memories of late.
Writing is a bit like excavation; you dig up more bitter than sweet most of the time. I am beginning to understand why our band of experienced writers has dwindled . Yesterday I looked at the original email list. Half the people have left. One friend who left told me, " Robin, I just couldn't handle it. I didn't want to think about all those memories. It made me feel like I might lose control." I understood. She has two young children to raise, to "stay in control for".
I've been talking to Thelma Nason, a 90 year old writer I help out one night a week. Tima ( her other name) spent seven years writing " Ethel, A Fictional Autobiography " the book is about Ethel Rosenberg. Tima was struck by the excruciating choice Ethel made to go to the electric chair when she had two young boys; at the time Tima had children the same ages. She told me, " I felt people needed to think about Ethel as a mother and the terrible choice she was forced to make."
Tima is a very beautiful ,intelligent woman. She taught at John Hopkins where she became friends with Tillie Olsen. She also went to Mac Dowell and The Virginia Writers Center. There is much to learn from other writers especially those who lived through the depression, WWII and the Red Scare.
I love my Thursday nights with Tima. We read Mary Oliver poems, talk about other writers we like and we talk about life. The last time we talked about writing she said, " When you write I think you discover yourself."
We all have sadness in our lives. I'll embrace it, then let it go. A walk in the peaceful woods of
Punkatasset always does the trick.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The worst of November,the best of November on the cape

Early last week I spent a few days on the cape. The weather was so frightful even I couldn't brave the beach for long. It felt like a full blown nor'easter though there was little mention of it in the news. At night the wind howled outside my bedroom window like a sad, sad woman. It was the bleakest weather I have ever seen on the cape; when the elements we love so much in summer take on a new and frightening dimension.
These photos of Nauset Beach in Orleans do not convey the raw force of the waves; they were breaking out as far as the eye could see. Row after row of a roiling sea. It seemed the white foam stretched to infinity. The beach had been so battered there was no where to walk and high tide was a still a few hours away. It was one of the most thrilling spectacles of nature I have ever seen.
I was the only person on the beach. If a rogue wave swept me into the sea no one would have been the wiser; I stood back respectfully and watched in awe. I thought of my son, Peter, now in snowy Aspen. We spent so many days together here this past summer. He surfed and I collected wampum to make into earrings. I wished he could see this Nauset!
No one in my family understands why I am so enthralled with the cape off season. There are a million reasons. This was one more.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A photo of my father

A photo of my father stares back at me. It is dated " Timmy 1938 outside of Bones"
The writing on the back of the photograph is in red. It is in my mother's distinctive handwriting, though more shaky than usual. Daddy is in the middle, clearly the center of focus. He is relaxed, happy, handsome and smiles earnestly at the fellow to his right. I don't know who this man is, he looks attractive, though I can only see his profile. He sits cross legged on the grass with his wing tip shoes and dress pants. The look between my father and this unknown fellow is of total connection and comfort; a kind of "yes, yes!, I get you, I'm finding this story funny, revealing, maybe even racy." Then to the left of my father is another fellow, also sitting cross legged on the grass, with a big white cloth hanky, the kind they all used to use.
My dad looked so happy, so in the moment and in his element. How handsome and unfettered he looked. Before the war, before mum, before four children and all the weight that carried. Before Morgan Guaranty Trust Company and conforming to a job he was not suited for. This day, this moment, in this photograph looks like one of the best times in his life. At Yale, before the war, in 1938.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Strangers in the woods

The woods are filled with strangers
until you get to know them
the winter berry
and the china berry
blue greens
and bright, bright reds
the softest blue
of the chicory flower
and the brightest blaze of the virginia creeper
the yellow leaves of the grey beech
and the frizzy flower
of the native witch hazel