April Notes

April Notes

the first bouquet of bluets left by a boy beside my bed this April morning


the first bouquet of bluets; left by a boy beside my bed this April morning


(insight at dawn)

i think it’s dangerous to live in an idea of your life. your relationship. your work. your politics.
but even this is an idea.


(return of the geese)

Thursday morning trumpeted by the negotiation of nesting rights over Neringa Pond.



they passed their stress between them like they had this winter’s cough.



I find myself softening more and more into generalities, which leads to increasing ease, and also anxiety–about further aging–how it separates me from the specificity upon which so many lives depend… like road signs, and names, and numbers, and dates. And also how it releases me, into the merging light of the One.


(body memory)

Casey & I served on the organizing committee for the first-ever Earth Day Fair in Cape May County. A few days before the event, I miscarried, and a week later, after heading the Beach Sweep, we put out our resumes to dozens of schools across the state of Vermont.  23 years have passed, but the preciousness & fragility of life (human & planet) continue to pulse–inside of me–forever shaped by this week in 1993.


(The Seated Woman of Çatalhöyük circa 6,000 BCE)




I don’t need to bash Hillary to feel the BERN.


(politics, continued)

“Reality” isn’t everything.
Challenge it.


(Seasonal amnesia.)

Sunburn. Black flies. Ant hills.


(the center)

Last night, when faced with the astonishing talent of a 16 year-old, I felt the despair of the ordinary. What is the point for the rest of us? How can we bear our generic gifts in the face of such greatness? But then I saw the earnest face of the cellist, and the violinist, and the percussionist, along with the multitudes in the chorus, and the rapt attention of the listeners around me, and I knew. Our work is to stand in the center of our own lives. And celebrate that too.



I lost my diamond earring yesterday. I’ve worn the pair for more than 30 years. In the shower. In the ocean. Over seas. Over night. Dancing. At my wedding. At yours. During labor. During loss. In the garden. In the woods. It’s amazing how something so small can topple something so large as identity. If the diamond is found, what a delight. If it isn’t, what a meditation. Equally profound.



every so often, if i stay put, i’ll slip into that soft space–of grace–sensing the gentle breeze, the promise of summer’s pace, the mating duets of birds, the chorus of peepers across the pond, the company of my people, the caress of stillness and place…



first sign of leafing revealed at dusk in the stencil of the cherry tree against a robin egg sky


(a robin’s meditation)

step, step, step, pause…
step, step, step, pause…
consider, contemplate, commune.

there is more to life than activity.


desperate spring

desperate spring

the smell of rain
the smell
of rain
the smell of

Waiting on Spring, all rights reserved, Nicki Steel, 2013
Waiting on Spring (photo:Nicki Steel, 2013, all rights reserved)

Hugs between friends last a bit longer this time of year; while caffeine and chocolate consumption climbs. It’s not winter. It’s the in between time. The waiting. The last foot of snow. The slow melt.

Those of us who can’t leave, head east to Brattleboro, where a 10 mile difference makes for grass. Like winter refugees, we soak up their signs of spring; our lives held hostage by a hill. By mud. By a home. By a family to whom we’re expected to return, and to make dinner and small talk; when what we really want to do is drive south. And never stop.

(I can’t go. I can’t go. I can’t. Right? Even if friends post beach weather just 300 miles away. )

My husband suggests that I work down in Brattleboro this week. “It’s supposed to be sixties in town,” he says. “It will only make it to about 50 up here.”

I add another piece of wood to the stove and try to settle in with a cup of tea; but my mind is as itchy and inflamed as my skin; desperate to shed winter’s wool.

I look outside and note the increasing signs–the green cap of the septic tank, the garden beds, the dry patches of dead grass–indicating land in what has been a sea of snow. Despite this welcome melting, winter continues to trump spring; white beats brown; and my glass is half-empty, and leaking.

“Why don’t we go down to Brattleboro now,” my husband says.

Though it sounds like a booby prize to the beach, I reluctantly get dressed so that he and I can walk the streets downtown, without boots, and drift into shops, and join an event at the River Garden center which sits on the Connecticut and has a glass roof that lets in lots of light.

There we find live music and hot chai and loads of desserts and fellow refugees from up the hill. I hug one too long, as if holding on; and then I dash back toward the front entrance. Toward a sudden and unexpected rain. Not rain on snow which is a sad, sad thing. But rain on earth. And rain on roads. And rain on sidewalks and rooftops–and us.

Just as the sky really lets loose, the sun bursts onto the scene–with a rainbow–stretching across the Connecticut and touching down at the foot of Mt. Wantastiquet. People flock out the back exit onto the deck to see the promise of color; because even though Brattleboro has lost its snow, it is stalled in monochrome.

One man turns toward me, beaming, noting the sweet smell.

“Don’t you love it,” I say, restraining myself from embracing him.

“I smelled it this morning too,” he continues. “Up at our place where there’s still a foot of snow.”

“Two feet,” his wife counters.

“But it smelled like rain, even without earth,” he says.

I smile. And sniff. And consider the different scents that come with rain; and wonder if it has its own.

I walk back to the front entrance and smell the sidewalks and the road. I return to the deck and smell the wood and the earth and the river. I finish back at the road and stay there awhile because it takes me to my childhood. To rain on hot tar in Virginia. Lying face down in the road so that I could soak up every ounce of that delicious, fresh scent before the sun smoked it away.

We linger past the rain, and into the evening at the River Garden, and when we finally head home, into the hills of snow, I feel freer. I decide to stay put. To be here to bear witness to my own spring’s emergence–to the return of our very first Robin; and even more beholding–to the appearance of a baseball–tribute to the life once lived–right here–where it shall return again.

Kelly Salasin, Marlboro, VT, April 8, 2013