The Year is Complete!

Please feel free to look back through the 365 days of 2010 sunrises, but "a year of getting up to meet the day" is officially completed. There will be no more new posts.


Thank you so much for visiting.
A one year blog project in which I share a process of transitions: emptying of the nest, reacquainting with my rusty intellect, plowing onward with my first full length book, entering the second half of my first century, and generally reflecting on life.

(see Dec. 29th, 2009 entry for further explanation)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

time and change, on a leash

sunrise:  5:19

I have experimentally signed up for 24 hours of connectivity with a local “hot spot” hub on a nearby island. It is a bit of a sacrilege in our island household to introduce the internet. We have no TV, no internet, and sometimes even spotty cell phone service. It’s part of the allure.

Simplicity. Back to basics. Life in the here and now, present tense. Cards, books, walking, lugging supplies in wheelbarrows, bird watching, rock scrambling, writing, cooking, talking, household projects, splitting wood.

But – I am committed to this writing project. It is my job, my work, my commitment. I’d like to post every day or two at least, in order to keep my sense of continuity and connection to the task. And besides – I have to hike to the shore to get a signal, so I can’t linger on line in the house! So I will skulk around the corner with a guilty conscience while I connect myself to cyberspace.

Back in Rachel Field’s day, she depended on the regular mail to send out manuscripts and receive work back by mail, boat and walk from the dock. She spent her hours of work in the back studio room, typing away with a woodstove keeping her warm. I doubt she would have hauled her typewriter out onto the rocks to do her work. She was a serious professional who focused diligently on her several hours of work most every morning. But - if she had had the opportunity to exchange work with her collaborators and her publishers in New York right away, would she have taken it? I believe she might have. Then she would put down her laptop and go pick more berries, or gather more mushrooms, or visit friends across the way.


This fine healthy doe stood and faced me for about 5 minutes before going on her way yesterday. The blueberries have been scarce this year on the island, and I think she and her cohorts may know the answer why.

island love, birds in flight, poetic inspiration

July 30, 2010 post
sunrise:  5:18

I sat in one place this morning to watch the changing sky. I am overflowing with gratitude today, for nothing in particular, it seems. I am not so naïve as to imagine that the magnificent scenery does not affect my soul. Why did the Christian world construct cathedrals - so many awe-inspiring works of architecture in which to ponder the glories of the world? The mosques of Islam are the same, the Egyptian pyramids, monuments of all kinds from all stages human history... We are inspired by transcendent beauty, and the human spirit seeks inspiration.

But who needs human architecture when you have the astounding privilege of waking up to the sun rising over the sea?

I cherish my family’s history on that Adirondack lake where I spent two weeks this month. I love its beauty and tranquility and the way I feel when I am there.

But – this island has become my heart home. The drama of the ocean’s presence, the ruggedness of the rocky shoreline, the power of the shifting tides, and the assertive fortitude of a small island in the midst of it all have inserted themselves into my soul. I rise above and plunge within and soar with the gulls in the sky. It is a profound sense of peace, somehow, to have evolved to this conclusion.


During softball season last spring I spent a lot of time at N’s college games. Since I have had a camera in hand every day this year, I tried my hand at sports photography. One of N’s best friends is a pitcher, and I took many photos of her on the pitching mound. It is a beautiful thing to watch her in motion – the wind up, the whirling arm, the stretch back to full extension, the whip of the ball as her hand passes her hip.

However, it is extremely difficult to capture the beauty of the motion with a still camera. Time after time the stills would freeze her in awkward poses. I got so frustrated.

All this comes to mind when I try photographing birds in flight. Gulls and cormorants are a continuous decoration in the great wide sky off the shore of this island. They have distinctive flight styles, and both are strong and graceful and lovely in their steady flight – though I must admit I have a particular love for a gull’s artful serenity in the air. But – a still photo freezes them into unnatural looking positions that do no justice to their grace and beauty. Some things are meant to be fluid, always in motion even in memory.

That’s part of what I love about the sea in general. There is no freeze frame to capture the ocean either, though it is more possible to capture it in beautiful poses. It is a constant rhythm, like a beating heart, like breath in and out. Its beauty is in its ebb and flow, its movement. Some things are just meant to be watched and felt and remembered, not as a frozen moment but as a passage in time.


Sitting on the rocks at dawn today brought me back to a visit to my grandparents in Florida when I was 8 years old. I sat on a window ledge in their condo, with a view from a high floor of their building looking out towards the sea. The seaside is far more gentle than this one in Maine. Sandy shores blend silently into the sea, without all the tumult and crashing of waves that we get on the rocky, gravelly, cliff strewn coast of Maine. Still, there is a similarity in feel, especially when I watch the gulls gliding around on pockets of air.

I was in third grade, on February vacation, and I had a homework assignment to write some poetry. I think that was the day that I first felt myself to be a poet. I was lost in thought and word play, young as I was, highly moved by the scenery outside that window.

Still – I didn’t just write about the sea and gulls in flight. I also wrote about Halloween and scary things and other aspects of the world. I learned that there are inspirational settings that summon up one’s creativity. It may not bring out creativity about the immediate surroundings, but draws out the spirit of the poet, the artist, the writer, the innovator. It is good to search for one’s creative places.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

the strength of your conviction

sunrise:  5:18

I was posting an on line article last week and had to narrow my photo selections down to three.  My sister's husband happened to be the only one around while I was debating  - which great photos to leave out?  I asked his opinion, and he was exceedingly helpful.  He looked through the choices carefully, was quiet for a moment, then said with finality - "This is the better one out of these two, and drop that one." 

I have always admired people who can make decisions and state their case with such certainty.  Even when the consequences are minimal, I tend to second guess myself, play both sides in my head, or get caught up in the paralyzing whirlpool of "what if...?"

When you speak with conviction people listen.  When you perform with conviction people take notice, even if you're not that good.  You also feed confidence to yourself by presenting a confident facade.  It is important to maintain humility and an open mind, but a detriment to be bogged down by what ifs and self-doubts. 

Spend a day noticing how often people say, "Hmm, well, I don't know, maybe, could be, I can see that, I suppose."  How often do people just say, "Yes.  No.  the blue one." ?  Decisiveness is a rare commodity.

Through much of my life I have found myself deferring to others who present themselves with confidence and conviction.  When someone speaks with authority, I tend to imagine that they must be righter than I am, since I'm often uncertain.  Experience has taught me, though, that those who speak with authority are sometimes (often?) wrong.

This stunned me at first.  How can they bear to be so wrong when they were so sure of themselves?  The answer for good people is that they just say, "oops! My bad."  They apologize, if necessary, adapt, adjust, and move on.  Just because you might be wrong doesn't mean you shouldn't approach something with courage and certainty.  It lends power to your cause and your own spirit, so your attitude itself may lead to the success of your endeavor.   If not, so be it.  But if you always hang back and defer to others who appear more certain than you, you may miss out on presenting the best alternative - which could be your own.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


sunrise:  5:17

This morning I am in a bit of a writing paralysis. 

My extended family lost someone dear yesterday, and I am preoccupied by sadness - my own, my parents', and that of those closest to the loss. 

I wish them all some peace, some rest, some consolation wherever they can find it.  The balm of sleep is a haven, but the re-entry into grief on awakening is rugged.  I ache for their aching hearts.

The sun and the moon will continue to circle the globe, and we will carry on.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

rose-colored glasses

sunrise:  5:16

This morning felt strangely incongruous.  The air was humid and sultry, with a light dancy breeze that felt so full of moisture that I kept thinking it was cloudy and about to rain.  But the sky is blue and wide open.  It's just a mild, moist and gentle summer morning.

I took these pictures of the moon in descent and the sun emerging from one spot in the northeast corner of our back field.

I wish my camera could translate for you the dancing of leaves.  Many, tiny individual zephyrs of breeze created a sweet display of bending, gliding, skittering and jigging amongst the greenery.  In one bank of leafiness you could see three or four different kinds of movement, as though each leaf was listening to its own personal music.  Nature's little advertisement for the Ipod shuffle.


I took a look back at my premise for this year long blog project.  The idea of the natural world as inspiration is in my first entry back in December '09, but it is not on my home page summary.  As it turns out, this reconnection with nature's beauty and serenity has become one of the most prominent gravitational tugs for me this year.

Life is ever-changing.  Aging is under way; endings march along in their inevitable progression.  In moments of depression one could feel that life is just one long, gradual decay.  In my children I see the beginnings of that entry into adult lives where entire days can be eaten up by the trivia of paperwork and frustrating bureaucracy.  Living in society has many weighty responsibilities and tiresome minutiae.

It makes me sad to see my child sighing with weariness after a long and relatively fruitless day of sorting out the misspelling of her name on official paperwork.  This is the same girl who used to love to lie in a pile of leaves and look at the sky, then write a poem about it.  

It is so important not to lose touch with the foundational premise for living here on this Earth, on this earth.  Remember the magic of childhood, the beauty of innocence, the wonder of existence, the joy of the rising sun and a blooming flower, even when our rose-colored glasses are off.

Sometimes it is difficult, but it is a good idea to keep those glasses in your pocket.  Submit your reports, fill out your forms, clean up the mess in the kitchen, face the family conflict.  Then slip on those glasses and go outside.  Find nature's unflagging insistence on survival, perseverance.  Celebrate a sea gull or an ant or a pile of leaves, or a reflective puddle, or a green vine growing out of a crack in the sidewalk.  It is still a beautiful world.

Monday, July 26, 2010


sunrise: 5:15

Last night as T and I drove up I-95 through Maine we watched the sunset to the west and the full moon rise to the east.  I had one last glimpse of the bright orb through the trees as it was setting this morning.

I picked up my youngest daughter at a bus station along my homeward route, following a fun and food filled weekend at her sisters' summer apartment in New Haven, CT.  She is happy to be getting home and back to work, which is gratifying.  I, too, find myself with a smile on my face even as I sit here at my familiar desk with my fingers feeling happily at home on a full-sized keyboard.

All of the nearly 12 hour way home, in fact, the world was a wonderful place.  What was filling my insides with that tumble of excited joy? 

I have spent a lot of time recently in a sea of children aged 6 to 13 (a lake of them, more appropriately), and it was lovely.  But...I love where my own children are now, how their lives are blooming and sending out new green tendrils into the world.  And my life enjoying them from a bit of distance is still enormously fulfilling, and allows me some more room now to send out some tendrils of my own.  We are all still full of promise and anticipation. 

Speaking of tendrils...the fields are overgrown, the goldenrods are frothing, the lawn is a bit of a jungle.  A small mountain range of mail awaits, the to-do list is expanding on its own.  Still and all - how nice that it feels so nice to be home!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

lovely lake sendoff

sunrise:  5:38

This beautiful, sleek craft was built by my own little brother, who suggested I take it for a ride this morning. It was a bit wobblier than the nice little fat kayaks I’ve been using, but my brother was right about the glide. I flew across the water so fast that I decided to go all the way to the north end of the lake. Even against the wind I skimmed along in half the time, it seems, that the other boats would have taken.

What a glorious goodbye morning. At the lake’s far north shore there are no camps and there is a very protected cove. These two little islands used to be one – called North Island. Erosion wore them away, and eventually they seemed to demand a new name, which is now “twin islands.” They don’t look at all like twins to me.

Here is the view down the lake’s full length, about 3 miles. One summer day when I was young and full of energy and ideas, I decided to swim the entire lake. I was dropped off by a boat right here. At one of the first islands I passed a cousin’s dock, where he was lying in the sun. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Swimming the length of the lake, all the way to the club!” I told him. He dove in and joined me for the whole swim.

Behind the islands is this beautiful cove, where I saw a kingfisher and a breathtaking pair of herons that circled around me in the sky and alighted on a tree. That’s something I had never seen before. They looked slightly prehistoric high in the treetops.

Then another bird encounter dazzled me. A pair of loons and their baby were swimming nearby, so I paddled in their direction. The father sounded his haunting trill just a few yards from me. When I got close, he did the classic dive, but surprised me by coming up even closer to my boat.

What better way to finish an Adirondack stay than to capture a loon and the sunrise in one photograph.

The mother and baby were harder to approach.

I couldn’t grab for my camera too enthusiastically for fear of tipping myself over, and they were too fast for me. The little baby kept diving under for quick little dips, as though he was practicing his evasive maneuver by his mother’s side.

I finally came too close and got the mama upset. She let forth a piercing barrage of loonish cries before taking off across the water in a tizzy. I felt badly to have stirred them up so and made a quick exit. The baby seemed to have mysteriously disappeared. I was slightly worried (not as worried as that mother loon, however), but I waited at a more comfortable distance and saw him reappear.

This place and its residents stirred the core of me on my last day of lake mornings. It was a marvelous privilege to have been here all this time.