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)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

sunrise over Boston Harbor

sunrise:  6:08
Boston, Mass.

As we drove into the city of Boston yesterday afternoon, T looked around at the crowd of buildings and bridges and roadways tangled in a dynamic throb of activity, and she said, "I can't believe I'm going to live here."

Moving in was quick.  Lots of very vocal, welcoming classmates cheered her on as she passed by, preceded by bright-shirted orientation leaders pushing her worldly belongings in vast, canvas laundry carts from the streets to the elevators.

We just learned that a friend from the west coast, who will be attending the funeral today, was leaving his daughter at Emerson for her freshman year as well.  As we left T yesterday evening, we happened to run into him on a street corner. 

Strange juxtaposition of events - parting, reunion, hope and loss, anticipation and devastation.  At our age, at my age, life experience has taught us that life carries on in its messy way.  No matter the calamity, no matter the hole in your heart, you do find a way to keep going, and even to return to some semblance of a happy life.  But it takes time.

More than anything I wish for the young people whose world has been wrenched out from under them, that they learn as quickly as possible to see that there is a way out of the black hole of despair, if they can just be patient.  Life is so thoroughly immersed in the present tense for children, especially teenagers, somehow.  You just have to hope that they can manage their overwhelming present, that they will persevere, survive it, and arrive at that future that will inevitably come.

Boston was beautiful this morning.  I was surrounded by quintessential Boston landmarks:  Union Oyster House, Quincy Markets, Faneuil Hall, the North End, the harbor, a man wearing a t-shirt that said "Yankees Suck."  And it was high summer Boston weather - already hot and humid at 6:30. 

I was not alone out on the long wharf watching the sunrise.  There were joggers, transients in sleeping bags, and a handful of people just watching the eastern sky.  Everyone with a story behind their presence.  Some hold themselves up, others look weighted down.  I was curious about this woman's story, but she was so full of concentration, I thought I should leave her to her thoughts.

With one sunrise gazer I exchanged a smile that held a shared glow of appreciation.  It was the first time I have seen a stranger in my morning rounds that seemed to be there for the same reasons that I was.  I guess it must be happening all over the world.

That's encouraging.

Monday, August 30, 2010

happy new year

sunrise:  5:55

I love these mornings when a thin veil of fog hugs the ground in the fields.  A fine covering of mist feels like a comfort to the earth - cool, gentle moisture held against the sun beaten ground.

The landscape is showing increasing signs of fall.  A wall of green, a bank of sumac, both tinged with red.  Sure signs of back to school.  It used to make me feel wistful when I was a kid, still basking in summer freedom.  But there was always that little stirring of excitement to begin anew - new class, new teacher, new me, new year.

Really, the beginning of school each fall feels a lot more like the new year than January 1st.  Sometimes I feel like we all should be holding our happy new year celebrations around Labor Day weekend.  I guess you could also make a solid argument for starting the year in the spring. 

What the heck, we could just have multiple new year celebrations throughout the calendar year.  It's always a good way to feel inspired to make a fresh start. 

That is really the allure of sunrise.  A fresh start every day.  It is a wonderful time of daily meditation, a way to feel that you get to begin again, on a regular basis.

T is all packed, has said her goodbyes.  In a few hours we are off to move her in to her new life.

thought for the day:  apples and sunrise

Sunday, August 29, 2010

seismic shifts

sunrise:  5:54

For the last 7 years Bangor Maine's biggest music event of the year has been an enormous, 3 day, 5-stage folk festival held at the end of August, and admission has always been FREE.  It is an extraordinary treasure for the region and for all attendees -- unique and irresistible music from all over the country and the world, dancing, local craft and homemade product booths, delicious food, and crowds of tens of thousands of very happy people moved to mellowness or joy or wonder by the magic of music. 

I believe is partly due to the success of the folk festival that Bangor has put so much care and attention into its waterfront downtown, which used to be a shambles of junk along a railroad bed.  It is heartening to see a community putting so much pride and effort into the face it presents to the world, and so many people all together enjoying it.

My birthday has fallen on a festival day several times.  It is a great way to celebrate - or make an extended celebration, since we often go for all three days.  J and I, plus our two present daughters and friends, all went into town yesterday. 

Yesterday's trip to the festival was helpful in another way this time as well.  It was a way to pull ourselves out of a stunned paralysis of grief.

J got word in the morning of the sudden, accidental death of one of his best friends from college, a bright, passionate, vital man - deeply devoted husband and father.  We've also known his wife for 28 years, shared each other's lives of growing love and growing family. 

Living through life, there are these inevitable seismic shifts that devastate.  They alter the present and the future irrevocably.  You read about them in the paper every day -- sometimes they affect entire regions, sometimes they are local and personal, but they are always equally tragic to those at the epicenter.  It is only our good fortune if the seismic shifts don't hit too close to home, and don't come very often. 

For our friend's family, this is a shipwreck without warning.  Sometimes you are sailing along under sunny skies, then suddenly your mast is snapped off and you are inexplicably adrift. 

In the very moment that I was feeling both grateful about my life so far and hopeful for my life to come, just arrived at age 50, the news of our 50 year old friend's death left me struggling for explanations, where there are none.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Birthdy presents

sunrise:  5:54

I appreciate the first gift of today.  Pre-dawn, the moon, and sunrise all offered stirring displays for the heart of one new 50 year old.

Even Clara seemed to have trouble taking her eyes off the eastern sky.

Peaceful home, slumbering family, beauty, companionship, a well functioning body to walk in the glow, a healthy mind to ponder its significance, and the freedom to go back to bed if I so choose.  Not a bad list of birthday gifts to lead me on into the day, and into my next half-century.

Of course I should also mention that gift of life.  Sometimes we forget about that one.

There have been times that I wondered along the way if I would even live this long.  Here I stand, with so much life behind me that it almost seems like overindulgence to imagine so much more life ahead.

But here I am -- I am certainly not going to turn it down, whatever is coming next.

Bring it on.

Friday, August 27, 2010

mooning about the house

sunrise:  5:52

A touch of a summer cold, too much time absorbed in a book, not enough exercise, and a nagging feeling of limbo had me pacing the floors in restlessness last night.  I keep thinking it's really no big deal, that it's not affecting me that much, the fact that T is leaving for school on Monday.

But the reality is that I'm not entirely engaged in life right now.  I'm waiting.  I'm killing time until my nest reaches that long anticipated state of emptiness, so I can start a new kind of existence.  Just a few more days.  It's too easy to put everything off until I can give it my full attention.  So I wait, and futz around, trying to act busy with one thing or another.

Of course, part of it is just rubbing off from T herself.  Saying goodbye to her best friend who left for college the other day made it all seem suddenly real to her - and at the same time, unreal.  She is filled with excited anticipation, can't wait to get started.  But...there is that leaving everything else behind part, and that facing the unknown part.  Both linger in the shadows, making it hard to clear the mind or sleep deeply.

She hasn't really started packing.  We're both hovering.

Last night we sat up at the kitchen table talking about all kinds of things.  Then she wanted to talk more, so I lingered in her bedroom until very late.  Lots going on in that growing mind, and I might as well take advantage of its physical presence for a few more days.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


sunrise:  5:51

I published one of my favorite articles so far on my local "news" page on line yesterday. 

This summer has been so filled with travel and family that I have been sidetracked from my writing job - the one that pays something like 2/3 of a cent for every visit to my pages.  I have produced at least one article a week, but that is down from the 3 per week from the early part of the year. 

That's okay, though.  It was an active choice, which always makes things feel better.  Now I am beginning to feel ready to write some more - and this recent story helped me to define my motivation. 

What I really enjoy about writing, and reading, is the stories.  A few years ago my son spoke at graduation about stories - how each one of his classmates had his or her own story.  Their stories overlapped each other during high school, and now they would each go off to continue the next chapter on their own. 

Now and again that idea comes back to me. 

When I was young, taking one of those occasional trips into New York City from my suburban home, I used to marvel at the huge apartment buildings that we whizzed by on the train.  Each one of those windows, I thought, has a person behind it, a family, a story with drama and excitement and love and tears - or a little girl looking out the window at this train going by, wondering who is on it. 

My mind wandered in the same way on a crowded highway.  In my own car was my own world - my sister, my parents, my dogs, my stuff, singing silly songs, playing the alphabet game with road signs, headed somewhere wonderful, or fighting over who got to sit in the front for a while, or spotting familiar landmarks.  Then I'd look at ALL THOSE OTHER CARS.  Does each one have so much world in it, like ours?  It overwhelmed and fascinated me.

Every person, every commercial venture, artistic production, community event, has a story behind it.  Some are more interesting than others, certainly, but it is the stories that fascinate me.  And "behind it" is the accurate way to express the idea.  On the surface you just see a man or a woman, like thousands of others.  You see a storefront, a logo, a photograph, a creation.  To get the story you have to go deeper.  Sometimes you find gold, sometimes you find a snakepit, but it's generally a lot more interesting than the public face.

The other interesting idea that my son expressed in his talk about stories, if I remember correctly, was the idea that in at least a figurative sense each one of us is a writer.  We are the authors of our own story, which will unfold sometimes according to our own plan, but sometimes take on a life of its own.  And each story inevitably overlaps with other stories which come and go from the chapters of our own tale.

All the world is a woven fabric of stories.  I'd love to unravel some threads and tell a few of them.

(It's amazing how still Clara sits when I have dog treats in my pocket)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

spheres of existence

sunrise:  5:49

In 5 days we leave for Boston to take our last child to college.  T is so excited to go that she can hardly drag herself through the motions of these last days of life at home, at work, in the old familiar territories.  She has more than one foot out the door already; I'd say that at this point she has only one foot left inside the door.  

When T suggested that I drive with her to Bar Harbor yesterday there was certainly some self-preservation in her request.  It's an hour and a half commute each way, too much idle time for a preoccupied mind to keep spinning about where it's heading and what it's leaving behind.  It was also a great invitation and a fine idea for me.  "Mom, why don't you come with me and you can go climb a mountain?"  So I did.  I also got material for two stories for my online column, and went out to dinner with my darling daughter in a bustling summer hot spot on the coast of Maine.  Pretty good deal for all.

Despite the summer crowds, I was struck by my incredible good fortune to live so near Acadia National Park.  It is a gloriously beautiful place, with a unique juxtaposition of rocky top mountains and rugged seacoast that is perpetually breathtaking.  The mountains are easy to climb with incredible views.  So why do I get there so rarely?

There are two reasons, I think.

First, it's amazing how small our sphere of existence is when it comes to daily living.  I grew up 40 miles from New York City.  Men (mostly men, back in my childhood days) commuted to the city every day on the train.  Yet I only went to the city once every year or two.  To this day I have never visited the Statue of Liberty.  Our daily lives keep most of us within a few miles' striking distance of home and the workplace.  Even as our global connections increase, our physical lives remain bounded by a pretty limited circumference.  How many weeks, or even months sometimes go by while you plan and fail to get together with a friend who lives less than an hour away?

There is some irony in the second reason.  Although we may never see some of the "great sights" that others come to see in the vicinity of our home areas, they are too near for us to think of them as a destination.  When it comes time for us to take off and explore the world, we skip over a lot of world that is close to home.  Travel time, for many people, means getting far away.

We take for granted the wonders that are right in our own back yard, in a figurative sense.  Everyone should take the time to be a tourist in their home town, in their home region, in their home state - and try to see it through the eyes of someone "from away."  Your inside information might make you appreciate it even more.

And sometimes there are even wonders in our own back yard in a literal sense.  Too often we miss out on what is right here, in our busy yearning to see what is out of reach.