My Ancestors on Nantucket: Quakers and Whale-Hunters Both?

I’ve just had a brush with some of my ancestors, and the experience has left me quaking in my sneakers. OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. I wasn’t exactly frightened…more stirred up, the way somebody on a turbulent ride might get. The questions I had before the meet-up have been partly answered, but now I have many more, plus a few contradictions that aren’t easily put to rest, as the ancestors themselves lie silent. Hearing that I … Read More

Attention Must Be Paid…Or Maybe Not

Less is more…especially in June, a dazzling and also tumultuous month that might as well be called “Jewel of a Jumble.” Shifting to a watery image, because it’s so hot today, I would also offer another name: “A Time to Keep Paddling, A Time to (Mostly) Refrain from Plunging.”     At this everything-is-happening-at-once time of year, deciding what not to do a deep dive into is just as important as deciding how to keep swimming forward through all the … Read More

Looking at Ashes from Both Sides Now

Following right on the heels of Fat Tuesday as usual, another Ash Wednesday has come and gone. Learning still (and no doubt in perpetuity) about the rhythms of the Christian calendar, I have come to the conclusion that this is a not only a mysterious but also a downright weird time of year, and getting weirder too. The fact that life and death are more mixed up than usual is a big part of it, but there’s also a distinct … Read More

Driving With My Son Past Family Church

Let’s hear it for summer, and the pleasures of leaving those pesky home chores for a while to take in some kind of elsewhere, to see how others struggle with their chores—or maybe loll on their front stoops. Just about wherever you go that’s really away, you’ll draw something from the change, see something with a new twist. Depending on what kind of existence we’re accustomed to, each of us takes a journey with a particular slant in our vision. … Read More

Any June, Maybe Especially This One, is the Right Time for Haying

It is against the backdrop of unpredictable, terrible acts of violence in different parts of the world that I appreciate anew the peacefulness and splendor of haying in June. The two have nothing to do with one another, of course, and that’s just the point. Over the past half a century, a whole lot has changed—the way we live, the way we communicate with one another and also sometimes isolate ourselves, and the threats we either experience or imagine someone … Read More

Serendipity Strikes Again

Looking on the bright side, I have to start by saying that any annoyance caused by the delay in posting this blog has got to be nothing compared to the irritation experienced recently, especially in Chicago, by thousands of travellers in airports who had to wait for hours, and sometimes miss their flights, to go through security. Ok, so that’s probably not such a good comparison. And plus it goes without saying that there are way, way worse things than … Read More

The Advent of a Really Hard Workout

As Advent begins, leading to the season of Peace and Joy, I figure it’s as good a time as any to shake things up a bit. Before Thanksgiving, I had been considering starting yoga, but on Monday I went to a “Body Combat” class instead, and now I’m hooked. Left hook, right hook, just plain hooked. Something about having the kids here for a spell and taking in all the changes happening with each one of them—well, it just makes … Read More

Family, Food, and Flexibility: The New Age

Today we’re going to look closely at two terms with an almost automatic heartwarming quality: FAMILY and FOOD. Ah yes, I know, your whole inner being is already feeling the glow…there’s a big table, smiles and laughter, glasses clinking, sharing of tales, a high chair with a baby banging a spoon or, why not, perhaps a slightly hunched over grandparent sitting near a sullen, for the moment anyway, teenager. Disorganized, perhaps; raucous, sometimes; but generally good, right? Except, remember, this … Read More

Alabama in August? Yup, That’s Right.

“What brought y’all down to Alabama?” the coffee seller on a Montgomery street corner asked, as friendly as she could be. We paused. It wasn’t so easy to explain to a welcoming Southerner that we were a group from New Hampshire travelling through their state to commemorate the murder 50 years ago of a civil rights activist from our state– Jonathan Daniels. But she didn’t flinch and, in fact, said something like, “Oh, that’s SO interesting!” Then she went on … Read More

Boyz to Men, All Around Us

Each time I dive in again here, I remind myself that my theme is contrasts…things that are next to each other but strikingly different. Life is a lot about merging, but those lines of demarcation are everywhere, too. Take, for example, the fact that we try to appreciate the little treasures that glimmer through our daily lives while not shrinking from the full force of tragedies outside of our own households. Sometimes, of course, it’s the opposite: our own lives … Read More

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