In all frankness, it’s the dreariest month. In a flash, the trees are bare. The switch from Daylight Saving Time has many folks going to work before daybreak and coming home after sunset. Still, we can try …

  1. Harvesting root crops.
  2. Chill mornings with fog wisps rising from ponds and rivers.
  3. Election Day. We can always hope for a miracle. A return to sanity, for starters.
  4. Ministry and Counsel retreat – even years in Deerfield, Massachusetts; odd years in Winthrop, Maine.
  5. Days can be warm enough to work outdoors … or go for a hike.
  6. No bugs. Beware of ticks, though.
  7. Neighborhood souper. Everybody brings a pot of their own creation, then eats what everyone else has concocted. It’s outdoors, though, rain or clear.
  8. Tagging a Yule tree.
  9. Thanksgiving dinner. Why mess with tradition?
  10. Community Thanksgiving service. It’s turned into a showcase for local church choirs.


What do you like about November?


A sampling of carrots and parsnips from our garden.




The Mixmaster is back.

When my first novel was published, back in 1990, I was described as “a mixmaster of ideas, images, jokes, philosophy, and nonsense that defies categorization” – as well as “very eclectic and ebullient.”

I’m realizing how much that still fits, and so I’m returning to it as a core of what some might call branding.

As one longtime friend recently described me, I’m “an eclectic human being with a funky sense of humor and a large perspective.”

That’s what I like to do as a writer and thinker – toss a wide range of colorful things together and concoct fresh and exciting connections.

So if that’s what I do and, as I hope, do well, that leads to a new label: Mixmaster Supreme.

Now, where are the frozen strawberries?

Remember, the drink is shaken, not stirred. As for the emotions? Let’s go for both. 


  1. The air turns crystalline. I love the clear blue sky.
  2. Dover Greek Festival. Every Labor Day weekend, fun dancing to a live band and singer. Don’t overlook the food, either. Anyone else know the meaning of kefi?
  3. Kids are back in school. Freedom’s in the air!
  4. Ditto for the crush of tourists. Mostly couples now.
  5. Some of the best days for swimming in the ocean happen this month, if a hurricane doesn’t blast all the warm water away.
  6. The equinox Riversing. It’s a mostly folk-based concert beside the Charles flowing past Boston. Join us if you can. We’re on the Cambridge side of the footbridge.
  7. Anniversary. My wife always gets the date wrong.
  8. Great time to hit the mountains. Not too hot, not too cold, not too crowded.
  9. Wild asters – big asters, too – grace the yard.
  10. More apple picking. We go for the drops on the ground. They’re half-price.


What do you like about September?


It’s a great time to get out in the countryside.



  1. High Summer arrives … gloriously, breaking the oppression of July. Days and nights are nearly perfect.
  2. Annual week of sessions at New England Yearly Meeting.
  3. Homegrown tomatoes. Who needs bacon? Good bread and mayonnaise set them off perfectly. I add a dash of Old Bay in memory of Baltimore.
  4. Lobster prices come down.
  5. Same-day corn on the cob. Boil it in the same water before or after the lobster. Eat both in the Smoking Garden, where a mess is quite easy to clean up.
  6. Apples and peaches at Butternut Farm.
  7. Ice cream.
  8. Body surfing at Long Sands.
  9. Two weeks of swimming laps in the city’s 50-meter outdoor pool while the indoor pool undergoes annual maintenance. On my backstroke, especially, I watching for bald eagles in the distance or count the contrails of jetliners heading for Logan – one a minute.
  10. Instead of a profusion of birdsong in the morning, it’s now crickets fiddling in the night, starting a crescendo that will end only with the first killing frost.


What do you like about August?


Shriners in an annual parade, Castleton, Vermont.


  1. Fireworks. I can do running commentaries on the artistic excellence of the Boston and Portsmouth displays. The crowds are another matter.
  2. Blueberries and raspberries.
  3. Languid evenings in the Smoking Garden.
  4. The ocean finally warms up enough to venture swimming. It’s brisk, not icy.
  5. Raw oysters on the half-shell.
  6. Florence Street block party.
  7. Daiquiris on 90-degree days.
  8. Portsmouth Greek Festival.
  9. Listening to Tanglewood broadcasts or Sox games.
  10. Great thunderstorms.


What do you like about July?

Anyone up for a parade?



  1. Birthdays … my wife’s and then elder daughter’s.
  2. Natural light lasts long into the evening and returns again early in the morning.
  3. Warmth! Open windows!
  4.  Nobody gives you funny looks for ordering ice cream.
  5. We get serious about charcoal grilling.
  6. Ox-eye daisies blaze forth.
  7. I don my Hawaiian shirts for more than contradances.
  8. Mountain laurel bloom.
  9. Bare skin all through town the sidewalks fill with people once again.
  10. I can put my snow shovels away.


What do you like about June?

Sounds like a balanced meal to me. Damariscotta, Maine.



  1. Green – lots of bright green.
  2. Lunching in the Smoking Garden on any sunny day.
  3. The hammock comes out from storage.
  4. Trees are covered in new leaf.
  5. Fresh asparagus. You can’t buy anything like this.
  6. Our own lettuce in abundance.
  7. Whales are migrating north — a great time to take a whale-watch cruise.
  8. If you could only see my ferns in all their glory.
  9. The kids are still in school … in case we decided to play tourist, things are still uncrowded.
  10. Alewives migrate up the river, pursued by cormorants, fishermen, and eagles, along with osprey.


What do you like about May?

Osprey are truly incredible birds. They can hover over a river, do a power dive into the water, and emerge with a fish that they then turn to face the airflow. Not that I’ve yet captured any of that on my camera — some photographers specialize in the challenge.