The Great Escape

1970951_10152342628658746_1383157807_n-1“Be in a devotional relationship to your life force.”
(Shiva Rea)

On Saturday, we had one exquisite hour of hope: the sun shined and the temperatures rose above freezing for the first time in way too long of a time.

Everyone (and I mean, everyone) abandoned their snow encrusted homes on the hill and ventured forth to points east and south.

We were among those souls, stopping in town for provisions: the library, the pharmacy, the grocery store–and coming across handfuls of neighbors moving from place to place. We were like a village of ants. Not so much joyful or even relieved, as we were urgent about capturing this moment.

The clouds moved in later that afternoon, as did the rain, but before then we made our way further south, heading to a place with less snow and a larger art museum, where we came across yet another handful of neighbors who had done the same.

Then came Sunday. Frozen and cloudy and winter all over again. I checked the weather: more of the same on Monday. I re-read my daily inspiration: “Be in a devotional relationship with your body,” and I hatched a plan to do just that.

Monday came in dark and cold and heavy, but I followed through with devotion.

I headed south, alone, in my car, with my backpack and my journal.

I’d been to the Butterfly Conservatory at least once every winter before, but this time would be different. I wouldn’t just stroll through and then depart. I would stick.

I spent 3 hours on the same bench among the butterflies and the flowers and the warm moist air.

I sat. I drew. I read. I wrote. I even napped.

There was the sound of water. Of toddlers toddling. Of birds peeping.

There were scents of life unfolding.

And there was fluttering.

Constant fluttering of magic, color and wonder.

And then it was Tuesday. Today. Brilliantly sunny. Still frozen, but with temperatures climbing, promising true spring.

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17591643The sight of the Legal Load Limit sign at the bottom of our road brings a leap of joy to my heart.

“POSTED!” I say, with an exhale of…


Followed by a flip

of my stomach.

Not so easy, I remember.

Like any birth, first comes
the labor.

And like any labor, we can’t  be sure how

it will last.

How hard
it will feel.

How filled with complications
it will be.

In Vermont that labor is called

MUD Season.

And it lasts longer than any labor,
so long that it really is a “season,” apart from the others
spanning weeks or crossing over into a second month.

Every year, we consider a truck.

We can’t afford one.

But it’s a necessity, we sigh.

Until it’s over.

And then, like any mother,
with a newborn in her arms,
we forget.

Spring returns, and we swoon.



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Where I belong

img_2220The Co-op is quiet this morning; the town itself demure–wet and waiting–for spring.

The ice spitting from the sky before dawn was the first sign that the winter was willing to surrender, something, before April.

I step through the tiny glistening shards as I cross the parking lot, thinking the day dark and heavy, just as the first flock of geese flies overhead, announcing its return.

The regulars are waiting. Mostly men. Mostly older men. Like an Italian piazza. They talk politics, instead of bocce ball, because this is Brattleboro. One has a wild, silvery beard and could be in Russia, playing chess. Talking treason. Instead he is running for office. Asking for signatures. Interrupting his companions’ reading of the cafe copies of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

There are 8 men now, some a bit younger, one on a computer with headphones, smiling. A single, middle-aged woman unpacks her morning pills, her breakfast, her book.

“It’s like we are home,” says the cafe attendant, as I step up to the sink to wash my dishes. “We all know each other. It’s the way it should be.”

I don’t know any of them, really, but I know their faces, and their smiles, and their bad days. I join them in their morning ritual, a few times a month, when I’m needing an escape from working on the hill, where I live, encrusted in snow.

The mountain across the river is our steady companion, in every season. The Co-op itself sits beside a brook that runs into that river. The black, grated iron along its banks defines and holds the space we occupy: captures our silent gaze, keeps us safe, serves as a leaning place for children tossing pebbles.

As we crest 9:00 am, the cafe empties and fills, new faces, a few women; and the traffic across the bridge and up the main thoroughfare picks up to a hum to fill in everything in between.

A father and son cross the street at the light, beside the tall amber grasses at the corner, which some kind souls planted to remind us that there are other colors coming even when the world has been monochrome for so long.

It is this time each year, March, when I seriously consider moving; but this morning I’m right where I belong.


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Forced Poetry

It is impossible, is it not, to step out into our landscape,
without receiving or sensing or feeling, or in my case, spontaneously writing…

How this soft, silent, sparkling world of fresh snow
with stenciled trails made by tiny paws,
and carved paths, made by larger ones–mine–

In a southernly snow-shoed spiral on the front lawn
just beyond the waves of White tossed
by Jimmy Cloud’s plow late last night

Is now being sprinkled by fairy dust falling
from the blue sky, or is it the Evergreen
boughs shaking

Upon me
as I write
this verse
in my mind.


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Marlboro Vigil for Sandy Hook

1450665_10152109651913746_1794014680_n 2

Community members in front of the Marlboro Post Office

We woke to zero and bundled up better than ever to stand in a circle outside the post office where the green banner hung with the sweet faces of those 20 children and the tender adults who cared for them.

There would be no classroom photos of loved ones this year. Noah would not turn a year older. He would not lose his tooth. The candles of the Menorah would be lit without him.

We came for different reasons and for the same reasons, and we came because…

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Marlboro Meetinghouse

they couldn’t;

because children deserve our protection;

because it’s criminal to let this continue;

because without the collective consciousness, we are without a compass…

Despite the bitter cold, we chose not to step inside the Meetinghouse, but we rang its bells, “28 times,” (as decided) including Adam and his mother, among the names we spoke:

of each child,

each teacher,

the Principal,

the aide,

the substitute,

the therapist,

the psychologist.

We were an aging group–the youngest almost 50, and the rest older still. The young people were at home with the children, doing the work of families; while we stood as their representatives, in witness.

There were 10 of us in all, some strangers, some dear friends, sharing hopes and tears, and ending with a long, group hug.

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Susan & Casey sounding the bell… 28 times.

Saturday, December 13, 2013
Marlboro, Vermont

Susan Kundhardt
Joe Mazur
Jennifer Mazur
Beth McDermet
Marge Wright
Jonathan Morse
Ellen McCulloch-Lovell
Chris Lovell
Casey Deane
Kelly Salasin


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Frost Artistry

ceef1363ada046430c060110.LFrost Work,
by Thomas Bailey Aldrich, 1882

(from National Wildlife’s December Treasury, 1985)



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Apology (to the house)


Now that summer has abandoned me for good,
and I’ve packed up the picnic baskets and the flip flops,

I surrender to hearth & home,
to cooking and cleaning and creating again,

To tackling all the clutter that crept up in the crevices of neglect while i languished
perfectly productive afternoons beside the pond.

Once resenting, now grateful
to the Cold, who

Tidies the land–the brush, the unmowed grass, the garden
and aligns Everything,

the bare branches and the naked forest to the single aim of staying

And finally grateful too,
like a matured child,
to this familiar House,

Whose weight I railed against each summer day,
longing to be free of the mundane

But now, as the days grow short,
and the nights grow long,
and the skies begins to flurry,

I toss aside my petulance,
embracing this steady companion
called home.


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