Foxglove Moments

Foxglove Moments

Foxglove is the name of my property, five acres overlooking the Lewis River Valley that was covered with the wildflower when I first moved here in 1996. 


















A balmy 33 degrees out (I had to remove a sweater) and still 6-8 inches of snow.

At this rate I should be off my hill probably around May.

Went out to check the road. During these winter storms, it becomes a toboggan run
down to the valley below.






 [First posted: February 10, 2014]











Going nowhere today.

Or anytime soon.




 [First posted: February 8, 2014]













New neighbors moved in over the weekend.

We're getting acquainted.







 [First posted: November 18, 2013]





















I once begrudged these little fellows for eating “the birds’ seed,” even investigated ways of keeping them out of the feeders.

But then I realized how much delight I take in their antics and acrobatics. Extra birdseed is a small price to pay for the enjoyment they provide.


















[First posted: November 14, 2013]



















When I can’t put what I’m feeling into words, I turn to poets who can.

This past weekend, observing autumn nestling in, I turned to Edna St. Vincent Millay
(she who famously burned her candle at both ends):

“Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me…”
















[First posted: October 30, 2013]



                                    Glory be to God for dappled things--
                                       For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
                                          For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
                                    Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
                                        Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;
                                           And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
                                    All things counter, original, spare, strange;
                                        Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
                                           With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
                                    He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                                           Praise him.


Sometimes, as I walk this hillside, I recite a piece of verse that captures the moment,
and it’s as if I were connecting to the soul of that poet who wrote the words

(You once experienced this, too, this what I'm experiencing now)

and I continue over the hillside in a kind of shared communion.

The above is Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “Pied Beauty.”
Hopkins is worth spending an afternoon with.



 (Those who have read The Legacy of Emily Hargraves may remember that this was a habit of the old caretaker in the cemetery—Or you may not remember.)





 By the time I came to the Lower Columbia Community Action Program in 1999 as the new Community Services Director, I had been engaged in the AIDS epidemic for over 12 years. By then, I’d lost more than thirty friends, colleagues and clients to AIDS. I needed a change.

Friends expressed their concern for me, joking that I was moving forty miles and fifty years north of Portland, into the American “heartland” of small towns and small minds.

But I had already accepted that I’d be alone.

It didn’t come up until my second week, when I was meeting each of my eighty-plus staff individually. She came into my office, an older woman looking rather stern, I thought. We’d only just started, when she said abruptly, “I heard you worked with the AIDS people.”

The AIDS people. It was the way she said it, like the Sand people, or the Pod people.

“Yes. Yes, I have,” I said. “For a number of years.”

I braced myself to get an earful of what she thought of “those people.”

Her gaze dropped, her voice falling to a whisper. “My son has AIDS.”

I got up and closed the door, came back and sat down. “Would you like to talk about it?”

And as she told me about the family secret and the family shame and the family silence, and spoke of her own terrible isolation, I realized that I had come into the Heartland.




[First posted: October 6, 2013]


These photos were taken within the same week.

Were I a poet,
I'd compose haiku
on the beauty and brevity of life.

Or the fleeting nature of glory.

Or maybe the peace that comes
with raking autumn leaves.

Lots and lots of leaves.







[First posted: October 19, 2013]








Working on my roof this weekend, cleaning gutters, removing moss,
I was struck by how different everything looks from up there, and thought: it's probably a good idea to climb on one's roof at least once a year just to be reminded there are different ways of seeing the world.

And to clean the gutters while
up there.





[First posted: October 16, 2013]


















"Earth's crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God..."


I don't know it for a fact, but I'd be willing to bet that Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned those words during some glorious autumn weekend like we've just had.





[First posted: October 7, 2013]