Twisting Vines

David and I arrived at the unveiling for Eric’s Uncle Ben in East Haven, CT almost an hour early yesterday.  We drove down the dead end Brockett Place, past the tall iron spike fences on either side of the small road, tall headstones behind the black rails, turned in the circle at the end, and parked heading out. Then got out of the car to go for a walk.

We wanted to stretch our bodies after the drive, and we didn’t want to be present for any family drama that might show up early.  All summer I’ve been trying to stay clear of the discord that’s erupted in Eric’s family since Ben’s death.  It occurred to me that family disputes that arise after someone dies, centered around wills and inheritance and who got what, or didn’t get what they expected, may just be grief displaced.  Or maybe I’m being too nice.

We walked into the driveway of a school and sought the shade along the edges of the open field to each make calls to our families.  There were vines twisting up the trees, curling around themselves, circling into spirals that climbed up.  The twists looked like family to me, all the ways we love each other and wrap around each other and how some families forget how to make sense of their lives together without conflict and how the best of families support each other’s twisting, new vines growing on old wood towards the clear light at the top of the tree canopy.

High Pressure

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Scattered rain showers moved through last night as we ate take-out Mexican food in Adrienne’s back yard on Long Island.  Those dark clouds must have been riding the edge of a high pressure system, because today was clear and dry, with hot sun and cool wind.

That high pressure wasn’t inside me, though.  I’ve been thinking I have nothing to say yet about what it’s like post-job, post-Coalition ED, post-high pressure busyness.  But I do.

We came to Long Island yesterday to take a baby break on our way back to New Hampshire — we needed some time on the early life side of the life=death equation.  This morning we went to Sagamore Hill, the estate of Theodore Roosevelt on Cold Spring Harbor on the north shore of Long Island.  We walked through a small forest with enormous oaks and tulip poplar trees out to a boardwalk over Eel Creek to the small beach along the harbor shore.  Back on the estate grounds, we walked through the fields up to the house.  By the front door was a grand old copper beech tree, planted by the Roosevelts in the late 1800’s, with a trunk like a leathery animal and a towering crown.

Once we got back to Adrienne’s house, we got to be on Emilio duty.  I gave him pear and zucchini pieces to gnaw on, fed him a bottle, let him play in his crib and on the floor, and did some dinner preparation.  The afternoon hummed along as if on a smooth track.  At one point late in the day, Emilio was on my hip, sleepy and a bit dazed, while David lifted his hand out towards him opening and closing his fist, to see if Emilio would mimic him.  Emilio lifted his arm slightly and opened his hand.

At that moment I realized I didn’t feel any pressure or any need to be anywhere else, doing any other thing.  I’d gone for a beautiful morning walk on a crystal summer day and spent the afternoon taking care of a baby.  “Ah yes,” I thought, “this is different.”

Haiku XCIV

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Maple catkins lace
Grand old cemetery trees
Wind sways sweeping seeds.


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Maple buds redden
Furry knobs unfurling leaves
Bare branches still swirl.


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Central Park picnic
Flowers families tree buds
Winter walks away.