Being mindful of what’s right in front of us can always be a challenge. Here are 10 new items from my end.


  1. Been collecting bags of fallen leaves from the neighbors, urban farmer that I am. These days, a couple dozen bags are sufficient, unlike the 200-plus I gathered in many of our first years together. They get stacked against one side of the barn to break the sharp blasts of cold wind that otherwise freeze the pipes to the mother-in-law apartment on the other side of the barn. It’s another of my winter-prep rounds. Come spring, the leaves get moved to the big compost bin.
  2. I carry a sense of being responsible for making everything better – me, alone. Except I have insufficient resources. Which takes us back to my deeply ingrained fear of poverty. No wonder I always want everything to work just right – and get so upset when it doesn’t! And that twists back to my fear of conflict.
  3. All of my writing (as I’m venturing) assumes an experience, if only an out-of-nowhere phrase (exploring the subconscious, then), demanding discovery as some unity of the cosmos. Even when I’m writing about what I don’t know.
  4. My appreciation of raw oysters on the half-shell goes back to my girlfriend in college, who insisted I eat (real) seafood while visiting in Florida. (And here we were, staying on a cattle ranch.) Up till then, it had been frozen fish sticks or canned salmon. Flash forward, to New England, where these days just before winter provide some of the fattest, juiciest oysters imaginable. These bivalves have stocked up for their version of hibernation. And, as one Mainer points out, you can count their age on their shells, just like rings in a tree.
  5. Gotta brace again for the end of Daylight Savings, the day our winter begins. Really begins.
  6. Of course location affects my writing and sensibility. The slums of a small city can be as urban as anything in a big metropolis, if you look and listen.
  7. Turn up an old Gohn Brothers catalogue – Amish clothes etc. Realize that’s no longer me, either.
  8. Ever so messy, the girl with the Lord & Taylor shopping bag.
  9. Somehow, even my Quaker practice and theory break free from some past.
  10. Taking the bus to Boston, I look out to see a field of big trucks just before the state line. Then remember, from a detour, it’s the truck spa. Seriously, that’s what it’s called. Keep wondering if there’s something on the side for the drivers.


In a solidly residential neighborhood these days, an echo of a more rural past.
In a solidly residential neighborhood these days, an echo of a more rural past.

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