Plugged In = Gmail Offline

For the first time in more than two months, sitting down at my desk to write, I shut down my email. Which means I won’t hop back there to see if there’s something new, and then click Facebook real quick to see who liked my latest post, then back to email to answer a message or send one from my list to get done, then see if the library has the next book for book club and then check weather — will it ever rain? — and on to Amazon for Oxi-Brite to get stains out of doilies my grandmother crocheted before I send them to my sister.  And on and on, into that endless rabbit hole.

At the beginning of June, when I’d finished a major revision of the memoir and looked at all the weddings and gatherings and family time ahead, the week at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, a final trip as an Advisory Council member of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, I decided I was going to take until August 15 off.  Nine weeks with no internal obligation or commitment to writing.  I was going to take a vacation from writing.

I did and it was over last Monday.  The board member and friend and community member went back online last week, but the writer didn’t.  A few times during vacation, in the last three weeks when we were at the pond and looser than I’d been in a long time, David too, I’d see something — a cross hatch of ripples on the surface of the pond, the back lit silhouettes of ducks scurrying from Sam’s dog Quinoa as he jumped through shallow water towards them –and start to formulate the image in language, hold it in words, think about what it might lead to, a poem, an essay?

Then I would think, fuck it.  Why do I have to write everything down?  Could I just have these moments when some small particular pops out to grab a big chunk of world without trying to write it just right so others will see that too?

Last week I wondered about those thoughts, because when I sat down to write, my planned week back at work, I never shut off email, standard practice for me when I’m putting in my few hours a day of focused writing.  It helps keep me on track.  I wasn’t focused.  I wasn’t on track.  Talking with David I wondered if maybe I really was going to stop writing.  At least for a while longer.

“Not having to write everything down?  That’s what being on vacation is,” David said.  Of course.  Fuck it on vacation doesn’t equal fuck it forever.

Obviously.  I just wrote about the ripples and the ducks.




“This is the most unplugged I’ve been for a long time,” David said last night as we drove back to our house from our camp rental on Jenness Pond.  After three weeks of living on the water, mostly sleeping in a corner of the screened porch so that lying in bed at night I could look out on the overhanging maple and oak trees to the night sky beyond, and spending much of every day in the water or looking at the water, I knew just what he meant.

For the last three weeks it’s often been almost unbearably hot out in the world which continued to report the usual bad and distressing news.  On the water it’s been comfortably cool and when it got too hot, I got in the water.  When my periodic checks of the NYTimes website to stay updated on Trump missteps was too distressing I clicked off my phone, put it on the hutch on the porch and went outside.

There were stretches every day when I didn’t know where my phone was and didn’t care. There were days I didn’t open my computer.  There were many meals with many friends and lots of family eaten on the long porch table, watching the sun set over the pond. There was an unending supply of zucchini brought to the camp by visitors.  Emilio learned what a “dip” in the pond before bed is (a skinny one) and learned to jump off the swim raft, plunging deep and popping back up above the water with his eyes wide and blinking every time, as if he was just being born.  That was the big news of the week.

Now I’m on my porch at home, listening to geese chatter as they circle the farm ponds across the street.  There’s a breeze and late light on the horizon, the geese silhouetted as they circle the fields.  Tomorrow instead of waking up to water off the porch it will be the cows in the pasture.  But I may keep trying to lose track of my phone periodically. Unplugging  can be blissful.

On Jenness Pond


A small fish jumps from the water beside the dock and skips five times, like a flat stone, disappearing into the rushes that circle the pond, a green edging blushed with the copper of small flowers.

Dawn, no wind, thin shreds of mist floating a few feet above the water. When the sun breaks the horizon behind the trees to the east it colors the clouds which colors the water around the dock, a peach atmosphere.

A heron cuts across the view framed by the screened panels of the porch, barely clearing the water, great wings floating in their long, slow rhythm.

Light fills the sky and the hill across the pond brightens, a single tree near the top already golden, a beacon.

Wood plank rafts float in a curve that follows the shore, a long lane for swimming.  The water is warmer than the air for a change.  When I dip my foot in it feels like a hot tub.

A fragment of rainbow hangs over the trees on the far shore,  deepening as the morning comes on.

Swallows scan the surface of the pond for insects, twirling and swooping, touching down in quick spurts that send rings out into the barely rippled surface.

The clouds directly above begin to unthread and a rich blue shows through.

David and I sit at opposite ends of the table on the porch, writing.  A bald eagle flies by, scanning the length of the pond.

Evenings, a pair of nesting loons with two chicks float past the end of the dock, making a circuit on the pond, then scream and warble as dusk tightens.