000_1949It started with the peeper frogs. Theirs was the first song of spring I heard this year. Many people complain about the “noise” of the peepers, and I am sorry for them, that they are not able to allow this high, pure, angelic chorus to melt their hearts after a long winter freeze. I have no frogs in my yard right now, and the peepers are a few blocks away in the creek and in the woods, but they have big lungs on them, and the music weaves its way into my bedroom window at night over the mechanical drone of the paper mill below my house.

I have never in my adult life lived in town before, and it is a big adjustment. The seasonal sounds that stirred me all of my mature years are not so evident here. I have to listen for them, to put my attention to them so that I will not miss these holy songs. My body counts on the songs of the seasons, opening to them, morphing itself around them. The call of the geese in the fall beckons me into stillness, automatically. I don’t need to say to myself, “Susan, it’s autumn. Time to start turning within.” Because with the call of the geese in my ears, my body melts into deep quiet repose and stays there until spring…. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Uncategorized


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The chilling cold seems to have left my small corner of the Northwest for now. I can’t say that it won’t return before winter has its last hurrah, but we are back to our typically cloudy, mostly-wet days. There are some signs, however, that spring may be stretching her mint-green arms and yawning.

Spring Nettles

Spring Nettles

Just a couple of days ago, as we were taking Mazel for a run along the Washougal River, our dog jumped into the bushes after his ball and suddenly let out a sharp “yike!” I thought he might have hurt is paw on a blackberry sticker, but Carter pointed to some new, sprouting greenery and said, “Is that nettles?”

I bent down low, admiring the crinkly patches of leaves popping out of the ground in small bunches, like fresh nosegays, and stroked my finger along one of the leaves.

Instantly, my finger reacted with an intense burning, as though I’d pricked it with a hundred acupuncture needles. If Mazel had put his nose to this stuff, I could understand where the “yike” came from. And in that moment of burning, I was absolutely delighted… Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Dreaming of perkier times...

Dreaming of perkier times…

I am allowing myself the luxury of listening to my body today, and my body is saying “Stay in your pajamas, wrap up your chilled neck and chest, try an espsom salt bath later. Recline. Nap.” My body is chilled and achy. I feel no pull to do anything other than nothing.

Here in my cozy, warm bed with the wall  heater humming along, I have been pondering just how easy it is to avoid listening to the body. It occurs to me, too, that many, many people don’t know how to listen to their bodies at all. My 91-year-old mother tells me about all the sickness, stomach problems, headaches and what-all that plague the old folks in her retirement apartment plaza. She says, “None of these people listen to their bodies! If you have diarrhea all the time…well…change your eating habits!”

My mom always listens to her body. When her body tells her to take a slow day, she does. When she craves cold, juicy food, she eats it. When she is not hungry, she has a glass of milk. She tends to ignore most of her aches and pains, and always makes sure she gets up before the sun comes up, because if she doesn’t get up with the sun, she says it ruins the rest of her day. Who am I to argue with 91 years of success? Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Uncategorized




000_1836I had a revelation recently. These don’t come to me often, but for a few days it was as though the skies in my brain parted for a time and allowed me a rarified view of my life. This particular revelation had to do with my thoughts—how they come and go and take hold. How they uplift me, or slay me, or undo me, or delight me. How these thoughts, for the most part, feel as though they ARE me.

I base many of my choices (and an untold number of unconscious choices) on my thoughts. I hang my idea of what kind of a person I am on my thoughts, and my thoughts determine—to a great part—how content or ill-content I am to live in my own skin—that is, to live with the person who is the product of my thoughts.

This revelation I want to tell you about was a visceral one, and I’ve searched for a metaphor that would allow me to offer this revelation to you in a way that you could feel it ring in your throat and it your chest, as it did in mine… Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Uncategorized


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There are legs down there. Somewhere.

There are legs down there. Somewhere.

I awoke to the start of the shortest day of the year before daylight, feeling a bit baffled that the end of the darkest days of the year are almost behind me. Where did this month go? While I sipped my coffee, Mr. Big, the hummingbird, appeared for his morning beverage of choice at the feeder, and commenced his daily preening ritual outside my window. He always starts by flexing his shoulders back as far as he can stretch. Then he flutters his wings to the sides and back, sometimes scratching his head with his small foot. He sings a lot in the morning and makes a very loud to-do about things. For several minutes, he is a tiny ball of motion stretching neck and head and legs and wings. He tips his beak skyward, reaches forward, and licks the morning air with his tongue. Finally, he fluffs his feathers and snuggles down onto the dogwood twig, where he will sit and ponder the new day for the next hour or so…. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Inside the hive.

Inside the hive.

When I came home from the hospital in early November, the first thing I did after put my bags down was to run outside to see my bees. Mazel dashed out ahead of me and barked at the two neighbor cats lurking around my bird feeders. It was a sunny afternoon, and I planned to spend some time sitting near the hive squashing yellow jackets. But when I reached the hive, I stopped cold. Not a bee was in sight. As my eyes slowly registered the alarming emptiness of the scene, a yellow jacket landed by the hive door and casually walked right in. Not a single bee guarded the entrance. Not a single bee flew out, or flew in. I caught movement on the left side of the hive entrance and watched, heart sinking, as a thick line of ants scurried in and out of the hive… Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Mr. Big stands guard at the bedroom window.

Mr. Big stands guard at the bedroom window.

Carter woke me up early this morning. “I wanted you to see the snow!” he said. In the glow of the outside yard lights the yard looked like a field of milk. A strong east wind had picked up somewhere in the night and as I watched the snow, it twirled and billowed outside my window like white, sweet smoke from a pipe. 

At six in the morning, Carter had already gone outside to hang the hummingbird feeders, which have been freezing overnight. I put the feeders in the kitchen at night now, on the heat of my stove’s pilot light. By six-thirty, the first hummingbird had already arrived, fluffing his feathers in the dark and taking a long, deep drink of sugar water. He is an Anna’s hummingbird, a common winter neighbor here in the Northwest. I call him Mr. Big. Around the corner at the other feeder by the kitchen door, I knew Mrs. Big was standing guard over her sugar goldmine. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


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