Here’s a new category that’s been percolating for some time, and I’m finally launching it here at the Red Barn – a format with 10 short, bullet entries each round, ideally reflecting places my mind roams and reaches. Admittedly, the title Tendrils is a pun, but among other things, the series is supposed to be fun.

The essential point is quite simple. Being mindful of what’s right in front of us can be a vital practice, but it’s also a challenge. The observations don’t have to be profound or run off in depth, but the simple act of acknowledging their presence does have spiritual and psychological value.

One of my ways of entering the silence of Quaker worship – or of settling down into meditation, for that matter – is to try to recall what’s happened over the previous week, something that can be surprisingly elusive in the rush of daily life. For me, it’s a way of getting grounded and staying on course rather than being blown mindlessly about.

Here goes, then – 10 from my end.


  1. For many gardeners, January is a time for perusing seed catalogs and planning what to plant where. My wife refuses to even look at the catalogs that arrive before the new year – feels it’s somehow sacrilegious, like all that Christmas decor before Halloween, much less Thanksgiving. I’ll agree. Besides, far too much holiday action has been going on up till now.
  2. I’m still not reading the news. But I am revisiting a lot of the Bible these days, especially where the prophets seem to be addressing today.
  3. We traditionally attend to one of the Revel’s last winter performances right after Christmas Day. See our trip to Harvard’s Sanders Theater as an affirmation of the 12 Days of Christmas that run till January 6. What a lovely time for family and celebration!
  4. The buyout came five years ago – followed by another year of part-time shifts, which were curiously free of office tension – at least of the kind caused by wondering about any remaining security. The proposal had been hanging through months of negotiations, pulled off the table, and then, suddenly, I was informed I’d be unemployed by the end of the week.
  5. When we moved into our current home, the place across the street was in impeccable shape. But changing circumstances led to nearly two decades of deferred maintenance and neglect, and it was frightening to observe how quickly a house can start falling apart in this harsh New England climate.
  6. There’s been no Maine shrimp season for several years now, and the moratorium has been extended for this winter – the fourth in a row. While the local shrimp are small by market standards, they’re quite tasty and easy to work with. The shells pop right off. We’re hoping the fishery recovers in time for next year.
  7. Considering the challenges before us? The hippie legacy needs to kick into gear about now. Resurrection of the Dead, as it were. Older, wiser, tougher. Keep the faith – and keep on truckin’.
  8. My wife says I have an Old Testament countenance these days. My face has changed, she continues. Dunno, but I can say I’m feeling different. More grounded, perchance. Or more focused on what remains.
  9. Looking back on the past year, I remain inspired by a paragon of courage and integrity: Khzir Khan and his wife, Ghazala. The cause is far from over.
  10. In the mirror of our national turmoil, we who believe in reason, justice, and commonwealth need to remember what we stand for – much more than what we stand against.


This wrought-iron love seat in a far corner of our yard also serves as a measure of our snowfall. Frequently, the snowpack rises to the seat itself -- and often to the top of the back rail.
This wrought-iron love seat in a far corner of our yard also serves as a measure of our snowfall. Frequently, the depth rises to the seat itself — and often to the top of the back rail or higher. But that doesn’t make for a telling photo, does it?



One thought on “AND NOW FOR ‘TENDRILS’

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