The Pinnacle of Creation

A lightly worn trail runs up a north slope in Hubbard Park, where Kiki and I walk most days. Near the top, in a grove of magnificent red oaks, stands a beautifully built stone bench, just the right height, that invites a sit-down to think and breathe and watch the woods below. Beside the bench, set into a boulder, is a bronze plaque dedicated to the memory of an infant named Falko, who lived only eight days in midsummer of 2020.

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Fast-Forward 71 Years

During my first year at a boarding school where all the students worked about ten hours a week, I was assigned menial labor in the barns. Perversely, perhaps, I loved it — spreading chopped silage as it poured in overhead from a chute, shoveling manure from the gutters behind the cows, grading apples and potatoes, beating the feathers from dead, scalded chickens (not a favorite), and slopping the hogs.

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Being Treated as if I’m Old

Much of the travel writing to which we’re exposed reminds me of the old fable of the six blind men inspecting and describing an elephant: it reports on only a portion – and often a small one, at that – of the reality of the travel destination.

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A Very Distressing Phenomenon

I’m sitting in my snug office, wearing fleece (damned if I’ll activate the thermostats yet!), listening to a cold rain dripping from the eaves, and thinking back about 48 hours to a happy circumstance – a golden apple of a day stolen from the weather gods – and a very distressing phenomenon: my only experience ever, as far as I can recollect, of being utterly spent physically.

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This Week, Focusing on Happy Things

We had an overnight guest coming, which set the housekeeping staff (me) a-humming. I laundered the sheets and pillowcases in the guest room, hung a fresh towel in the guest bathroom, and even dressed up my end of the house, making up the bed with the flannel winter sheets and wrangling a new denim duvet cover over the old comforter.

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Her Feet Weren’t Muddy, Then They Were

Monday this week, like the two days before it, was gray and drizzly. It was also the Feast of St. Francis, that cheerful, optimistic 13th-century Italian friar who’s most often pictured with birds on his shoulder, animals around his feet, and a halo about his head. The day before in church, we’d observed the Blessing of the Animals: everybody who could, brought their mobile or portable pet to be blessed.

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