November 2016


I’m in Maine this weekend. My daughter and I drove North with a friend last night after work and school. I left work early to beat traffic. That didn’t happen. We drove and drove. We arrived late, my daughter and our young friend to a Quaker Meeting House outside of Portland full of exhuberant young people, me to a farm house outside Woldoboro near 10:30, where I received warm welcome from three dogs and Richard’s sleepy kid. 

I had left my bedding and towels at home in the hustle to get on the road, as well as the homemade granola I baked Wednesday as gifts for my hosts. Oh, well. I had a bed to sleep in at the farm last night, will have another to sleep in here tonight in the staff housing where Richard’s kid lives. 

This morning I woke in the farm house to happy dogs, enjoyed the home of a family of blueberry farming teachers and architects and their sons. I walked the farm and ate greens in the greenhouse, saw wild blueberry farming off season for the first time, thought of Robert McCloskey, Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, Time of Wonder, took photos, took off. 

On the way to the semester program campus where I am now, I stopped for breakfast in Wiscasett, visited with a bookseller and his customer friend, talking of progressive and alternative and local public schools, then on to campus for family weekend where I was just in time for salad of local greens, cheese, roasted veg, and pumpkin seeds with visiting families, where I was introduced as family, as Richard’s partner. 

Then I wandered awhile, soaking in the details of another place to love, focused on the local and natural world, visited the new elementary school classrooms, the art displays of the high school students, the conference room with plans for the future of this place. 

Then back to the staff house for tike in a chair in the sun, now a walk in the woods by the water, time to get close to the earth as I haven’t been in too long, earth under my belly and arms and legs and feet, sun shifting down towards the horizon as I type, with a loop back to circle and cut thru the farm and back to the house for a shower and maybe writing before dinner, writing class this Monday on my mind. 

After a long fall and a tricky summer, hard year before that, a weekend in Maine is balmy on two levels, warm sun for my body, soothing energy for my soul. 

The traffic was worth it. 

Tomorrow it’s Meeting in Portland, a little social time there before heading home to Somerville for a short week of day care and a full week of hosting. My mom and boys are coming Tuesday and Wednesday, my sister’s family Thursday for our first Somerville Thanksgiving since my wedding China left the house. This round we’ll add the melamine picnic plates to the everyday dishes so everyone gets a plate, fancy gold leaf China be damned, it’s the people and good food that count, not the 24k gold the food is served on. 

Happy Thankgiving to you all. 

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As I think of what to write, I remember my four-year-olds last spring, as they were about to turn five, chanting “Dump Trump! Dump Trump!” I wonder what they’re chanting today, three in their public kindergartens, two here with us downstairs, while upstairs I type, in between preparing for a meeting at my daughter’s public high school.

I fell asleep last night just after ten, after watching the election results come in on our newly installed cable tv. I had wanted access to public events like the debates, the Thanksgiving football games, the Olympics, all things we’ve gone without the last several years since we dropped access to tighten our belts single mom trying to keep it going style. Going to bed early means I wake up early, which I did, in the fives, in the dark, in fear of checking my phone for the election results, which I did, only to find on my Facebook and in the feed and in the New York Times online that they had not gone as I had hoped/expected/wished when I fell asleep. I am not a fan of Trump. I have Facebook friends and no doubt family members who are. I am afraid for what the messages he sends will mean for our country, my children, my friends and family, the world. As my housemate the teacher of middle school english language learners who watched the results come in with me on the new cable said on her way to work this morning, “What do I tell the Muslim children in my class?”

What do I say to my jewish boyfriend, whose parents and grandparents fled Nazi Germany, losing livelihoods, property, family members, belonging, a country, and a sense that the world is just and good?

What do I say to my children, two of voting age, one in public high school, about the future they can expect?

What do I say to the day care kids, who want the world to be a safe and loving place?

All I can offer is love and the belief that even in the face of a country voting for hate, love exists, that it will not be shut down, that it will grow. As the housemate said on her way to school, I can tell my students that millions of people did not vote for Trump.

I can work with this belief in the power of love to build connection in the world, something I must believe is lacking in those who want others to leave, or be punished for being born brown or muslim or in another country, even female.

I can find my own center and voice and learn to use them to treat those around me with respect and communicate to the world in whatever way I can that love and justice, not hate and punishment is the way.

So, this morning I text and call my boyfriend. I write to the family and friends who share my house to suggest a potluck meal, a place to come together and talk and find our way. I organize my thoughts for the meeting at my daughter’s school. I tidy my house, do the dishes, clean the cat box, eat leftover oatmeal from the day care with nuts and fruit and milk and Ashfield maple syrup, drink tea and light a candle, do my meditation, yoga, and now writing, shower, dress in warm clothes, put the storm window in the back porch door, caring for home and people as best I can, knowing the future holds more uncertainty today than it did the day before, also knowing that those who can live simply and on the edge must hold together and be prepared to buckle down, to stand up, to speak out in the face of whatever comes.