The house is quiet. I’m looking back at photos from two years ago, searching for images to accompany an article about garlic, when I come upon photos of the bittersweet vine that grows behind our house.
The red berries — each folded inside a pair of orange wings — are vibrant at this time of year. The vines, climbing at least twenty feet up a tree, are unmistakable against the grays and browns of a soggy November day.
We were outside just this morning, cutting some twisted vines to bring inside.
And now I see that we were outside almost exactly two years ago, also cutting a tangle of vines.
So much change in two years. And so much remains the same.
Still so lovely in her fading colors.
And here are the moments leading up to this photo . . .
I’m watching them from across the room,
moving around together
like a little pack.
A crowd of cousins.
Now they are surrounding Grandfather.
He moves through his brood of grandchildren
with his usual calm and kindness.
The girls dressed up for our Christmas Card photo opt . . . but the group shots didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped (getting all three, smiling, in the frame is a lot harder than just two!).
And Wallace’s boots kept falling off. So we took a walk.
I know that getting a Christmas Card photo will take a few tries . . . but I wonder just how many times we’ll do this before I’ll be satisfied with the results?!
We have just set out on a morning walk, and we’re walking up a snow-covered hill, in the woods behind our house. Ellen is complaining about walking in snow pants. “It’s SO HARD to walk in snow pants!” She is right behind me, dragging her feet in big boots. Her mood begins to creep around me like a fog.
Then, suddenly, she calls out in a completely different tone of voice. “I found a nest! A nest and it still has an egg in it!” She is elated.
This little nest. It turns our walk around. It transforms our morning. What is it about a nest? So intricate. So imperfectly perfect. We wonder about the birds who built it and nestled in it. Were there other eggs? Did they hatch? We look up into the trees. We notice pine needles in the nest and wonder if it came from the white pine tree above us?
The nest fits in the palm of Ellen’s hand. The egg is just a bit bigger than her thumbnail. She and Amabel take turns carrying it carefully, all the way home.
All day long, I think about this nest. It seems to call out to me, from its place on the nature shelf, surrounded by petoskey stones, feathers, and chestnuts. I hold it in my hands. It is so light. It is made of such beautifully simple materials. And it is enough. Enough to be a home for new life.
We’re making tiny things with our favorite goldsmith. Maybe Christmas presents for little cousins . . . ? There is some debate about whether or not these delicate foods will be well received by a two-and-a-half year old. Is she too young? Should we wait?
I hear their voices. Their voices give me so much joy. This joy is so simple. So clear. So good.
(It’s that time of year again when darkness comes early and, thus, bedtime photos are in order!)
70 degrees yesterday; 30 degrees today.
I’m in the dunes;
she is in an oak tree;
he is creepy crab scooting across the sand;
and Ellen is singing, somewhere close by.
Today I awoke
from a fog —
a fog that had settled around me
while I was immersed in the back and forth
and so did not notice the thick air
clinging to the landscape
of my mind.
by the lake,
taking deep breaths —
perhaps that is what did it,
lifted the fog,
and cleared the air.
Made way for a higher view.