Yes, you.

You there…

(not you guys, of course, or you)

But you… yes you, looking over my shoulder as I write.

(and you too, faraway, but not invisible)

You think you know me? You think what I write here is the truth of me? The truth of us?

Pfft!

I can be anything… go anywhere… do anything… be anyone, here.

How would you know otherwise, really?

I can write any story, create any truth…

You’ll believe what you want… read your own truth into whatever I write, but know this:

I write with the knowledge of you, there, always.

What you create from my stories is your truth, not mine… a mirror of what’s inside you.

You’ve a very convenient window into what you imagine to be my world, but this is not my world. This is a story I tell to entertain myself.

Sometimes I write to entertain you… or to annoy you, maybe, just a little.

😉

(Of course you know that, right?)

For the wayfarer

You have to kind of wonder when, on a trip for the earliest blooming flower in the Pine Barrens, you step out of the car to find most everyone on their knees in the sand, peering into the vegetation with hand lenses or macro lenses.

What the heck?

I wondered just what bag of goods the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (via MevetS) had sold me on this trip… as if the setting on a bombing range weren’t crazy enough!

These tiny plants and their diminutive *flowers* were our focus.

My focus on them was never very good, by the way, because they’re so darn tiny!

Broom Crowberry is a very special plant, not only because it’s among the earliest of bloomers, but also because it’s quite rare outside of the pine plains habitat. Plant geeks seem to love it, despite its drab appearance. I was sort of less-than-excited about it cause I wanted SPRING! and PINK! and FLASHY! but whatever.

This attitude is probably exactly why I need to go on these trips… don’t you think?

😉

I love the Pine Barrens, but its beauty is very subtle. It doesn’t give away its treasures easily, I know. You have to drive and then hike past thousands of pitch pines and scrub oaks, get lost countless times on sugar sand roads that all look the same, sweat and freeze and question your sanity and then, maybe, she shows you something wonderful for your efforts.

Where it grows well, Broom Crowberry grows in great mats across the sand… it likes to be out in the open under the sun and flourishes, according to plant geeks who study these things, in areas of disturbance… hence our visit to the bombing range (and the area near some power lines where these photos were taken). Like so many Pine Barrens endemics, it’s well-adapted to fire… in areas that aren’t regularly burned (or bombed!) it’s shaded out by tall trees or shrubs.

We learned that botanists (among them Alexander Wilson of ornithological fame) traveled from Philadelphia to the Pinelands to find these plants and Thoreau described Broom Crowberry as “a soft, springy bed for the wayfarer”.

Indeed.

😉

Flying weather

Happy Spring!


The really nice breezes blow through my body and into my soul. ~Astrid Alauda

There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of wind. ~Annie Dillard

Forget not that the earth likes to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Kahlil Gibran

I listen to the wind, the wind of my soul. ~Cat Stevens

The sky and the strong wind have moved the spirit inside me till I am carried away trembling with joy. ~ Uvavnuk

We are from

A couple years ago now (!) I invited my brothers to write a “Where I’m From” essay as a way to explore the story of our growing up together…

I’d treasured what they’d written and held the essays close to my heart, but never felt quite satisfied enough with my own version of our story to publish it here. I’m still not, really, but thought I’d share anyway; mostly because their stories make me smile today…

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From Kevin, the eldest:

I am from Mexican dinners, from Cadillac and Lucky Strike.

I am from the typical 1950’s urban sprawl home on a postage stamp property, cut from the fabric of a long gone family farm.

I am from the fuzz of a dandelion, the wind; not always litely blowing me through life.

I am from sauerkraut and pork chops and stomping feet, from Neil and Claire and VonOesen and Whary.

I am from the “last to arrive” and “last to leave” family.

I am from “be careful crossing Middle Road” and “Don’t let a stranger buy you a Coke”.

I am from a Protestant upbringing, but with keeping an open mind and finding my own way to the truth in life.

I’m from Jersey City, Mom’s Lasagna on Christmas Day and Dad’s antipasto on Christmas Eve.

From brother Neil opening ALL the presents on Christmas morning before everybody woke up, the other brother who broke everybody’s toys on Christmas and the Holly Hobby House debacle.

I am from family albums filled with pictures of days gone by, faces almost forgotten, slices of memories, stored in boxes, waiting to be divided on some future free weekend.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

From Brian, the middle child and family poet:

I am from the dirt field where we grew up as kids, from Band-Aids on so many skinned knees with wet shoes and soiled socks so often left in the downstairs foyer.

I am from that big house facing the field, where from our picture window you would show us the seasons as they changed from brown to green to gold to white, never far from its delights, if only to pick flowers next spring so as to surprise you.

I am from the Black-Eyed Susan daisies that grew so wonderfully there, unbothered by the wind, and that sturdy mulberry tree by the jumping fence behind Wolfkind’s, whose fruits always littered the ground with their sweet exhuberance and so stained our hands and lips with their purple goodness.

I am from Friday night fish stick dinners and the strength that was brought to bear in the face of incredible sadness, from Dad, from Grandma VonOesen, from Old Man Wheary.

I am from the solid determination of good Pennsylvania stock and from the hardiness of the anthracite coal our family toiled for so long to bring to light.

I’m that child you told to “sit up straight at the table and mind your manners,” so that Mom and Dad could brag to us and the rest of the family at holidays that they were never embarrassed to take us kids out to a fancy restaurant for dinner.

I am from that busy corner’s stick-built church where Dad was an elder on Sundays and us kids the freest of spirits along for the joyous ride to the corner sweet shop after Sunday School to pick out our favorite chocolate-covered treats. “Remember not to eat it before breakfast,” Mom always said. I am the one who usually could never quite wait.

I’m from a family from Shamokin Pennsylvania and from those Jersey City ballfields we mused about as kids from the raised highway as we passed by them on our way to Aunt Letha and Uncle Doc’s apartment in New York City for Thanksgiving, or Easter, and from Mom’s special lasagna and tomato sauce on Christmas Day and that chilled chocolate pudding we so loved from the icebox in those fancy crystal cups.

I am from the son of a son of an adopted boy who grew up strong and proud as the result of a shared love and kindness the Whary family gave, and from a man whose only son would attend school only to the second grade, but who would grow up to be a power engineer, role model and generous friend to so many people.

I’m from that white-haired Shamokin man whose youngest grandson’s persistence and drive for the better things in life would finally allow him to announce the coveted role of senior electrical engineer to his congratulatory wife at home.

I am the one you see in those black and white pictures from Gerald Square and Washington Park at Easter… the one in that fancy blue baby carriage that carried all us kids just the same, so snug and warm in our new outfits that Mom picked out with so much love and faith for our family’s bright future together.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

From me, the baby girl:

I am from paper-bag lunches, Scooter Pies and tea with Grandma.

I’m from the house on the corner with the weedy front lawn, a parade of Cadillacs in the driveway and pots banging from the stoop at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

I am from firethorn, spirea and quack grass. A neighborhood creek to play in, lounge chair forts at the pool club and ice-cold plums at the beach. A lonely dog staked out back and the shadow of a tall weeping willow.

I’m all legs, blue eyes and skin that freckles in the sun. From the radioman and the roof-model, Neil and Claire and others a part of the past now, too.

I am from late nights at the kitchen table, the coffee always on, talking long into the night. A daydreamer and a dawdler.

From the family that eats together stays together. From little pots that have big ears. From God’s eyes and the healing power of pyramid water. The temple on Osborne and Vacation Bible School at the church on the corner. From children are to be seen and not heard.

I am from the water’s edge and the dour faces of Pennsylvania coal mine country. I’ve never stopped looking back. Forever landlocked within my own body, I lose myself when far from the coast for too long.

From Uncle Doc who peppered his beer and ground his teeth and never spoke Spanish after Franco. From Grandpa with his cigars and baseball games on the radio in the parlor.

From a battered box of costume jewelry and a closet full of my mother’s clothes that I’ll never grow into. The baby girl, the tattletale, the spoiled one. I’m from the stories I heard, but never loved until they stopped being told.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

What’s most interesting to me, I think, are the things we each choose to claim…

Anyway… the template is here… give it a try, share your story.