Once again, I’ll be in the choir along the Charles River as part of a free concert to welcome the autumn equinox and to praise the extraordinary cleanup of the once noxious waterway on its way to Boston Harbor.

For its 15th annual RiverSing, Boston Revels is moving the family-friendly event upstream from Cambridge and into the Allston section of Boston on the other bank.

We’ll be performing on a Saturday night, rather than Sunday, and it is part of an ongoing series of performances the park hosts, so we’ll have more publicity support than usual for a one-off event in what’s otherwise simply a good place to sunbathe in season.

But the change also means we won’t have our usual gaudy parade down a congested street from Harvard Square to the makeshift stage beside the John W. Weeks Footbridge. That procession has always been glorious and joyfully chaotic, but greatly annoying to any number of drivers waiting to continue on the busy thoroughfare we were blocking. Not all of them are amused, believe me.

On the other hand, free parking won’t be scarce, either, and we’ll be on a permanent stage at the Herter Park amphitheater, which also includes seats for the audience rather than bring-your-own-chairs or blankets on the ground.

For me, it’s always been memorable. Imagine looking down from the back row and watching a pianist in the guest group with us and thinking, “He’s an incredible keyboardist” – and then hearing he plays in the Boston Pops Orchestra. Or singing behind Noel Paul Stuckey of Peter, Paul, and Mary. That’s even before the sunsets, which we get to see from the stage but are behind the audience. This year, it will be off to the side of everyone. Get the picture?

Join us tonight, if you can. For details, go to the Boston Revels website.



Just a taste of what’s popping up. In case you were looking for a prompt.


  1. Somehow as a Subway Hitchhiker (at least in my imagination and dreaming) I’ve settled in a small city in a cluster of small cities amid moose and deer and the occasional black bear. As well as the eagle, overhead. Here, with my city farm, as we garden.
  2. Always the Outsider – even when I’m the Leader.
  3. This slow process of learning to trust each other again.
  4. Yet some Wants are also Needs! (To be loved, accepted – even as a writer – even successful or victorious in some manner.)
  5. My Wall is an aspect of Control. (Even if it’s so classic it’s trite.)
  6. Sometimes it seems we don’t play. We don’t play enough.
  7. The pathway is not straight but strait. Not even like a tightrope. No wonder I’m so often off-kilter.
  8. In the beginning was the Plan and the Plan was (as I paraphrase the gospel of John). Yes, simply was. And all we have to do is step into it! As if it could really be that simple.
  9. This is hardly a Literary Life. How different my work would be had I led another existence. Something with more time for serious reading, teaching, refined social circles. Rather than laboring out in the field.
  10. So comforting, this thick terrycloth bathrobe that reaches to my ankles – not a given, at all, when you’re tall. Nice way to round out the year.


Set for winter. We burn about three cords of firewood to help heat the house each year.
Set for winter. We burn about three cords of firewood to help heat the house each year. As they used to say, “Half your hay by Groundhog Hog,” meaning the amount you’d need left to get through a full winter. It applied to firewood, too.


Why wait for the dust to settle? Here are 10 bullets from my end.


  1. Is anything more relaxing than sitting in front of a wood fire? Even when it means sitting on the floor?
  2. Gift-buying husbands? Just look! As she says, they’re subjected to indentured shop-itude.
  3. First day of winter and the flannel sheets should be on the bed by now, if not earlier. Flip the mattress and rotate, too.
  4. Our traditional Christmas dinner includes fresh homegrown Brussels sprouts, which means I’m out in the garden harvesting – sometimes in several feet of snow. Likewise with kale and chard: frost improves the flavor.
  5. Let me suggest Mary, as the mother of the church … a slightly different twist on the Nativity story.
  6. For someone who’s lived under relentless deadlines, Christmas itself can be seen as another damn deadline. Or series of deadlines. This year, I think I’m ahead.
  7. Still, I’m deeply grateful for the sense of release – notes, poems, correspondence … the logjam broken … now that the poems and novels are available.
  8. Grandfathers have grandfathers too. In case you’re in one of those inner-child perspectives.
  9. What are the theological dimensions of Alzheimer’s or dimentia? Where are the connections – the response ability – when your story gets so fragmented you’re no longer connected to anything you encounter?
  10. Tell me something true.


Our own holly, in front of the house.
Our own holly, in front of the house.


The mind dances here and there, rarely in a linear fashion. So what’s on my mind these days? How about counting on these fingers?


  1. She’s big on Christmas traditions, including our observing Advent these days. I’m still surprised she inherited none of it in her family! Created it like a radical quilt. Makes this array all the more remarkable, from my perspective.
  2. Slush on the windshield. Ice underfoot.
  3. Winter’s setting in, though I’m already tired of it.
  4. The earliest sunsets of the year have plateau’d and are already inching back in my part of the world. The oppressive late-afternoon darkness will soon be obviously relenting. We don’t wait for the solstice.
  5. I like the Eastern Orthodox insight of Mary as the Mother of Light.
  6. In reality, I hate being the caretaker, responsible one, cleaner-upper, put-awayer. Contrary to my self-image.
  7. It’s been a long road to here. Sometimes it feels like a hangover.
  8. In working a seasonal job, she has a curious freedom in not having to worry about being fired, losing the mortgage, and so on. Just put the hours in and go home.
  9. Whatever happened to my collection of winter scarves? (As if I really need to ask.)
  10. Authenticity: something that speaks to the bones.


Brussels sprouts are one of our crops that taste sweeter after surviving a good frost. We’re known to harvest some for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and that can mean having to dig them out from the snow. One year required us to shovel more than two feet down.


With a holiday touch.
With a holiday touch.

Vittorio’s in the North End is famed for its espresso and pastries. With Mercury as one of the coffee makers, you can see why the neighborhood is also renowned as Little Italy.

Boston is a rich and varied destination – the Hub of New England, or the Universe, as they used to say. Living a little more than an hour to the north, we’re well within its orb.


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


  1. Hard to think Christmas is so near. It’s just not in the air, at least for me, despite the bell ringers and carols around the stores. But then I’m often off on another planet.
  2. I always intend to put up our outdoor Christmas lights while it’s still warm. Rather than freezing my fingers.
  3. I’ve long said if she would only dance, she’d be perfect. OK, there are few other details I’d add, all these years later. Learning to read music, for one.
  4. Another old fear? If you get to know me, you won’t like me. Or maybe: You won’t like what you find. (That muscular reaction when someone gets too physically close in a conversation.
  5. I seldom I feel myself fitting in – in a crowd, an audience, a group, a family.
  6. NOT THE USUAL … one of my strictures in my desire not to repeat myself in blogging. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Not that I usually remember.
  7. I miss being able to get the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on local radio. These days I have to listen on my laptop or cell phone. Just ain’t the same.
  8. In a depression.: Do I really LIKE anyone? Being with them? Am I having ANY fun?
  9. Well, I am drinking Virgin Marys during Advent. (Cheers in the morning!)
  10. You were supposed to save me.


Yes, light snow counts.
Yes, light snow counts. We know what just might be really ahead.


Just a taste of what’s popping up. In case you were looking for a prompt.


  1. My wife can’t resist an opportunity to make a holiday feast, and that means planning ahead. (Somehow the menu keeps growing, enough to feed twice as many guests as we have.) I’m impressed by the checklists she makes, too, to keep herself on track. Three days ahead – or more – the work actually begins. And then there’s the last-minute shopping for anything she wants to be fresh.
  2. Juncos and jays. Rituals and routines. Manners and mores.
  3. No matter my affinity, I never would have been comfortable in the Society of Friends in any of the earlier eras. I always would have chafed at the limitations and discipline. Nor, for that matter, do I see anywhere I would have fit in neatly. (We could start with my interior “fort” surrounding my emotions, despite my public interactions. Or my Aquarian/contrarian nature.) Well, the Mavericks have roots in Boston Harbor. Look ’em up. Doubt I’d fit in there, either.
  4. Opening my car door at the Nubble Lighthouse, I’m nearly knocked over by cold wind. Sustained, more than gusting. Barely a mile inland, only a mild breeze. This strange sensation of having my nostrils blown shut (or at least constrained): to breathe, I have to turn my back to the wind, a first in my experience. Make you wonder about sailors at sea?
  5. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, Mary is a temple of God that surpasses the one in Jerusalem. Within her, the Light or Logos becomes incarnate. The nuances are quite different from what I’ve heard in Western Christian teaching. How much else have I missed? I’m certainly invigorated by the sharp contrast to our austere Quaker aesthetic. I love the extremes.
  6. Launching this blog, as the horoscope said, came in my year to come out of hiding.
  7. In contrast to any sense of guilt or some shame or impoverishment: LOOK AT ALL THESE RICHES! Even the matters of what’s unfinished or undone, now turned to opportunity.
  8. A sense of progress, too.
  9. What do I really want? To be accepted and loved, without feeling pain? Certainly there’s more.
  10. What holds your life together?


I really should bring our bay trees and pots of rosemary indoors any day now. Yes, they can stand light snow or frost, but deep cold's another matter altogether. And we do like having fresh herbs at hand all winter.
I really should bring our bay trees and pots of rosemary indoors any day now. Yes, they can stand light snow or frost, but deep cold’s another matter altogether. And we do like having fresh herbs at hand all winter.