52 Photos ~ Street Art

Hand prints

19 years this summer. That’s how long we’ve lived in this house. Three times as long as I’ve ever lived anywhere else.

Some days it feels like I never have lived anywhere else. Until I take a new turn off a familiar street and discover a road in my own town that I’ve never seen before.

That’s interesting. Maybe they just put that road in?

Well, it’s nice that this old place can still surprise me.

I gripe about the unimportant things that annoy me about living here, but my list is pretty short: the cold winters, the dearth of decent restaurants, the frost heaves in the road that sort of never go away, the bicyclists who can’t seem to ride single file, the lack of places to shop for basic housewares, like sheets and pillows.

But, really, my only significant complaint is that we can’t get a pizza delivered to our house.

Mostly, I love living here, in the house of my childhood fantasies, posts and beams and creaky floorboards and all. The comforting hills, the foggy morning river valleys, the piercing peeper chorus, the star-strewn nights.

I love that I drove all over Vermont today, on my way to pick up a used mini refrigerator where we can store milk for making cheese, and I looked hard for some graffiti that I could photograph, and you know what I found?

Not much. Sets of initials on bridges, summed together with heart operators. A sketch of a funny face on a highway overpass. The word “Respect” on the side of a building. And a mural entitled “Community,” painted on the side of a rough, cement wall that buttresses a railroad bridge. At the bottom of the mural, the river is painted wide, bright blue, the foundation of everything else. Above it are the mountains, a pair of hot-air balloons, a rainbow, a sun rising above puffy clouds, a leafy tree with a little owl in its branches, and hand prints, in all colors and sizes, some perched on branches like birds, some taking flight on a perpetual summer day.

It’s an idyllic image of a place that doesn’t really exist. Except when it does, briefly, out of the corner of your eye, when you can’t feel the difference between your body’s temperature and the air’s temperature, and you and the day are one perfect thing.

This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Microscopic



Trust that there is a tiger, muscular
Tasmanian, and sly, which has never been
seen and never will be seen by any human
eye. Trust that thirty thousand sword-
fish will never near a ship, that far
from cameras or cars elephant herds live
long elephant lives. Believe that bees
by the billions find unidentified flowers
on unmapped marshes and mountains. Safe
in caves of contentment, bears sleep.
Through vast canyons, horses run while slowly
snakes stretch beyond their skins in the sun.
I must trust all this to be true, though
the few birds at my feeder watch the window
with small flutters of fear, so like my own.

–Susan Kinsolving, Poetry (May 2003)

This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Conversation

Wells talking

Like many people who write for a living, I sit here alone at my computer much of the day and mutter.

Not to myself, mind you.

The cats, with their interrogative tails and their insistent meows, are always making demands disguised as questions.

When are you going to feed us? What’s that on the counter? Can we have it? Now? Are you going to try to stop us if we get on the counter? Why did you have to buy that stupid dog? Can’t you get rid of him? Are you going to feed us now? Are you eating something? Can we have it? Will you give it to us if we walk on your face?

They don’t wait for answers. They just keep asking. I answer. No. Later. You can’t have that. Leave the dog alone. Leave each other alone. Get out of the sink. We keep up this exchange until they fall asleep in little cat piles on the sofa cushions, or until I boot them into the basement and shut the door behind them.

Our conversation is not very satisfying, but at least it’s reliable.

With the dog, it’s more a series of polite requests and assurances.

Dog: If it’s not too much trouble, I’d sure like to go for a walk. Might you have time soon to go for a walk?

Me: Don’t worry, we’ll go soon. I just have to write this thing.

Okay, I can wait. Oh, there’s a scary cat. Can you please make the cat go away? Also, I love you. So much.

I love you, too. Go away cat.

Can we go for a walk now? I mean, if it sounds good to you, it sure sounds good to me!

Soon, soon.

Now? I love you.

It’s a sweet-but-tiring sort of conversation. The walk would be good for both of us. The cats are scary. But I don’t want to talk about it all the time. Can’t we talk about something new? Like, I’d really love to know more about what he can smell when we go for a hike, or his opinion about which route we take on the walk, or why the toaster used to scare him.

The goats and I have a different patter. Every morning, I greet them with a bright, “Good morning” and they stare at me from the pen. Then one or two bleat in greeting. I know it’s a question. Have you got any banana peels, or artichoke leaves, or grain?

Once I’ve answered that question, the conversation changes. Albus talks to me by sniffing my hand and my hair, then exhaling next to my face, then inhaling my breath. Lars stands close, shyly, bends his neck, silently presents his forehead for scratches. Willow nickers, asking if maybe I have an extra treat, then sloppily licks my nose, regardless of my answer. Westie stand away from the crowd, stares, and asks me with those gentle gold eyes to come to her, to rub her forehead.

And Wellesley. A week from her kidding date, Wellesley and I talk a lot. Her bleat sounds like she’s softly clearing her throat over and over. Ahem. Ahem. She has expectations. They include being served grain, then being served cuddles. She rubs my legs with her head the way a cat might. She makes satisfied little grunting sounds. Sounds of contentment. I reply in kind, with little bleats and grunts and sighs. I don’t know what either of us are saying, but I get the gist. I remember, long ago, that feeling of waiting, and expecting, and wanting a snack and some affection.

So we talk about that. And then we’re silent. And we wait.

This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.


Going pink

Swamp Rose


All Access


New leaves

Just as we all predicted, spring is springing.

Two weeks ago, we drove a few hours south, through slush, ice, and hail, and were met with a cold ocean and hibernating buds. And then the sun came out and we watched as spring unfolded in a matter of two days.

Then we returned home and, though the snow was gone, spring wasn’t quite here. It was dallying on the beach (can you blame it?), but, a few days ago, it finally decided that vacation was over and it was time to come back to Vermont.

So here we are now, with signs of spring everywhere.

The brown grass is suddenly vibrantly green. The budding maple trees are turning the hillsides pink. The apple and rose buds are relaxing from their knotted sleep. The irises are coming out of hibernation, stretching their green arms above the crumpled soil.

The local independent film festival was going strong all weekend and, thanks to my thoughtful sister, I had the chance to attend for the first time. It was sort of a shame to spend the pretty days inside, in the dark. But it was a glorious, childhood feeling to step out of a dark theater into the bright, warm spring day. And it was exciting to meet and talk with people who are passionate about images and words and sounds and ideas.

It feels like a time for new projects. New ideas. New ways of looking at things. (Yes, it’s probably just the sunshine talking.)

Last April, I started a daily photo project, which I completed a couple weeks ago. I still have to do more thinking about that project, and I plan to write about it here, but now I need a new one.

Hey! Remember back in January when I said I was going to do another weekly photo project, but this time I’d be choosing my own themes?


That didn’t go so well.

It turns out I need someone else to come up with the themes. When I try to do it myself, I’m just too predictable (read: boring). Luckily, just when I was casting about for a way to get myself thinking in new ways, I read about the 52 Photos Project, which just happened to be starting last week. The theme for the first photo, due by tomorrow, is “Conversation”.

Meet me back here tomorrow. And we’ll chat.