Themes I keep coming back to











I’m still figuring out how they all relate to each other…



We are back from a five day vacation to Florida. As we were driving home from the airport my first thought upon seeing the swaths of snow still covering most of the ground was sand. Because for however brief it was sand was so much a part of the daily comings and goings. It stretched for miles outside the window of our rental. It was the forest bed where I hiked. It was in my hair and bed and shoes and stuck to my feet at all hours. And it was white sand that looked just like the snow covering Minnesota and other northern parts of the country – the untouched snow that hadn’t yet been painted brown and grey with mud and exhaust. And so when I saw the snow I resorted to the thing that it most looked like and that was most fresh in my mind.


I took walks every morning while in Florida. One morning, I stumbled upon a forest with sandy trails that abutted a new housing development. It was filled with pines and palms who extended their arms to reach out to the sun. As I walked along the sandy trail I noticed soft, green puffs scattered on the shaded floor beneath some of the trees. I got closer. I hadn’t seen anything like it. I had no reference. I wanted to look it up. Send it out on Instagram to see if anyone knew what it was. But I didn’t. I just let it be. Not filed away into any sort of bucket in my mind. Just in there somewhere. An image without a name.









Alive Together

Things by Lisel Mueller

What happened is, we grew lonely

Living among the things,

So we gave the clock a face,

The chair a back

The table four stout legs

Which will never suffer fatigue.


We fitted our shoes with tongues

As smooth as our own

And hung tongues inside bells

So we could listen to their emotional language,


And because we loved graceful profiles

The pitcher received a lip,

The bottle a long, slender neck.


Even what was beyond us

Was recast in our image;

We gave the country a heart,

The storm an eye,

The cave a mouth

So we could pass into safety


I come back to this poem again and again, each time it strikes me with a deeper meaning. I think it continues to offer meaning because I have gained some other vantage point through wrestling with the idea of labels. That underneath the labels and words there is: everything. But then again someone could read it and find a completely different meaning in it.

It reminds me of a Brain Pickings post on Thoreau who said “A man receives only what he is ready to receive…We hear and apprehend only what we already half know.” What we look at and what we don’t look at can change the course of our life. An extreme example is an accident, but what of the tiny daily attentions or misses, and how those attentions and misses build upon each other and create a map of apprehension and meaning. A life.

What is the point of sharing or explaining if you have no control over what or how someone will receive it, which will most likely be different than how you have received it? To feel less alone, I suppose. And so here we are, then. Back and forth we go. The loneliness of a life, uniquely built. And then sporadic recognition of commonality and connection. Beauty in both. Alive together.

Alive Together: the name of the book that the poem above comes from.


one above the horizon

another above the mountain

I only saw the second one

and claimed it as the one

but somewhere else

someone had claimed it earlier

had puttered away to their day after watching

the sunrise

I was waiting for