decay to bloom.

    As the snow peels back and a rich and sleeping earth thaws to reveal itself, leaves and branches in various stages of decomposition stare me in the face.  Last summer's oregano and hydrangeas reach stringy brown arms in a spray of limbs around our dormant garden.  This past weekend I hacked out the long legs of last year's raspberry brambles, pruned back all manners of flower stems, turned the soil in our vegetable beds, and made a mental list of all that needs to be done in order for our summer garden to bloom.  While I snipped and raked, the growth of seasons past sifting through my fingers, I had a sense of wonder at all the surrounding decay.  The sky was gray and mysterious, thunder rumbling in the distance, and I was there with the past.  The echoes of last year and the year before whispering their stories in my ear.  

 

As the snow peels back and a rich and sleeping earth thaws to reveal itself, leaves and branches in various stages of decomposition stare me in the face.  Last summer's oregano and hydrangeas reach stringy brown arms in a spray of limbs around our dormant garden.  This past weekend I hacked out the long legs of last year's raspberry brambles, pruned back all manners of flower stems, turned the soil in our vegetable beds, and made a mental list of all that needs to be done in order for our summer garden to bloom.

While I snipped and raked, the growth of seasons past sifting through my fingers, I had a sense of wonder at all the surrounding decay.  The sky was gray and mysterious, thunder rumbling in the distance, and I was there with the past.  The echoes of last year and the year before whispering their stories in my ear.  

    I am forever wondering at these vestiges of the past, how they color the present and allude to infinite possibilities.  It is these reverberations that guide and provoke.    As things are destroyed, beloved clothing moth eaten or worn to a thread, last years flowers, pedals long gone, a beautiful skeleton, an opportunity comes to imagine something new.  

 

I am forever wondering at these vestiges of the past, how they color the present and allude to infinite possibilities.  It is these reverberations that guide and provoke.    As things are destroyed, beloved clothing moth eaten or worn to a thread, last years flowers, pedals long gone, a beautiful skeleton, an opportunity comes to imagine something new.  

    Amidst all that is broken down, chives and tulips creep up from beneath the bed of leaves, buds begin to burst open, the grass is looking greener and in the quiet between the bird song and raindrops there is the hum of new life- fed on a healthy diet of yesterday.

 

Amidst all that is broken down, chives and tulips creep up from beneath the bed of leaves, buds begin to burst open, the grass is looking greener and in the quiet between the bird song and raindrops there is the hum of new life- fed on a healthy diet of yesterday.

urban tundra.

 
        Every year I eagerly await the arrival of our local urban tundra.  Chicagoland may not exactly be the Arctic circle, but sometimes it resembles such vast, flat, frozen land.  At the height of winter one can sometimes find twenty foot tall ice walls, temporary caves and icebergs along our lakefront.  This is my eighth winter here and each year is different.  Last year there was little sign of the beloved temporary glaciers as our winter temperatures never stayed below freezing for long.  Given that we are steadily warming our planet, to devastating effect on a large scale, I feared our scenes of winter might never return.  But this year, while the warmest winter on record for so many areas of the world, was full-fledge, old-school winter here in the mid-western United States.  We had four days where the temperatures plummeted to fifteen degrees below zero and almost three months where we never broke freezing.  That said, this was an epic year for our urban tundra.

    

 Every year I eagerly await the arrival of our local urban tundra.  Chicagoland may not exactly be the Arctic circle, but sometimes it resembles such vast, flat, frozen land.  At the height of winter one can sometimes find twenty foot tall ice walls, temporary caves and icebergs along our lakefront.  This is my eighth winter here and each year is different.  Last year there was little sign of the beloved temporary glaciers as our winter temperatures never stayed below freezing for long.  Given that we are steadily warming our planet, to devastating effect on a large scale, I feared our scenes of winter might never return.  But this year, while the warmest winter on record for so many areas of the world, was full-fledge, old-school winter here in the mid-western United States.  We had four days where the temperatures plummeted to fifteen degrees below zero and almost three months where we never broke freezing.  That said, this was an epic year for our urban tundra.

        I had grand plans to closely chronicle the ebb and flow of said tundra, it's beauty and detail in different lights, the mounding shattered ice piles as they stretched ever further out into the lake.  Alas, there were many occasions when I failed to have my camera in hand at the right moment, and other days when the cold was anything but persuasive at enticing me toward the lake.

     

I had grand plans to closely chronicle the ebb and flow of said tundra, it's beauty and detail in different lights, the mounding shattered ice piles as they stretched ever further out into the lake.  Alas, there were many occasions when I failed to have my camera in hand at the right moment, and other days when the cold was anything but persuasive at enticing me toward the lake.

        I did make many pilgrimages to our fair frozen land.  It's massive size, colors ever changing to reflect temperature and weather, are a source of grounding, solace and context for me.  We don't have great mountains here or epic canyons or briny seas, but this body of fresh water serves as a primary connection to nature here in the Midwest.  In late August there is no greater freedom than swimming out towards the endless horizon at sunset.  But, winter's waters offer a different form of meditation.  Some mornings the lake appears almost haunted, a subtle sheet of fog hovering over the icy sheets and other times stark and bright, fully revealed.  

     

I did make many pilgrimages to our fair frozen land.  It's massive size, colors ever changing to reflect temperature and weather, are a source of grounding, solace and context for me.  We don't have great mountains here or epic canyons or briny seas, but this body of fresh water serves as a primary connection to nature here in the Midwest.  In late August there is no greater freedom than swimming out towards the endless horizon at sunset.  But, winter's waters offer a different form of meditation.  Some mornings the lake appears almost haunted, a subtle sheet of fog hovering over the icy sheets and other times stark and bright, fully revealed.  

        And so we watch it grow, waves slapping against the shore forming sculptures that join hands with themselves climbing higher.  We strap on crampons and scale sheer faces, look for our reflections in the bluey cold, and slide joyfully down frosty mounds.  Until one day it begins to slowly fade.

     

And so we watch it grow, waves slapping against the shore forming sculptures that join hands with themselves climbing higher.  We strap on crampons and scale sheer faces, look for our reflections in the bluey cold, and slide joyfully down frosty mounds.  Until one day it begins to slowly fade.

        Ice chunks break apart and drift off into warming waters.  Mountain faces slip back into the blue abyss and we watch it go.

     

Ice chunks break apart and drift off into warming waters.  Mountain faces slip back into the blue abyss and we watch it go.

        Then one day rising temperatures ease the last jagged edges back into rolling waters and we are left with wind and waves.  I know that I am eager for the warmth that Spring brings, the joys of new growth and the possibility of casting off coats and substituting winter boots, for rain boots, for clogs, for flip-flops, but in this loss I feel a little bit of heartbreak, a little fear that this may be the last year of the giant glacier.  So, as I dream of planting seeds and growing sunflowers and tomatoes, I will squirrel away my hopes for urban tundra, pack it tightly in the nest of my heart like so many nuts, ready and hoping for next winter.

     

Then one day rising temperatures ease the last jagged edges back into rolling waters and we are left with wind and waves.  I know that I am eager for the warmth that Spring brings, the joys of new growth and the possibility of casting off coats and substituting winter boots, for rain boots, for clogs, for flip-flops, but in this loss I feel a little bit of heartbreak, a little fear that this may be the last year of the giant glacier.  So, as I dream of planting seeds and growing sunflowers and tomatoes, I will squirrel away my hopes for urban tundra, pack it tightly in the nest of my heart like so many nuts, ready and hoping for next winter.

as seen: nyc.

This commences my life as a blogger.  I've been weary of entering the blogosphere for eons only because I'm somewhat disorganized and often forget to follow-up on the many things that need doing in life.  But, with more than a few pokes and prods and the loving support of those near and those dear, here I am.  How shall I introduce myself?  How shall I share bits and pieces of what needs sharing?  This I do not know.  So, it seems, I should start in the middle of things, from where I stand.  Deep breath.  Here goes.

One of my dearest loves is wandering the streets of cities both known and unknown.  I look for the old in cracks on the sidewalks, on ancient windows- the sink and swirl of their glass, gaze at bricks laid one on top of another long ago.  I attempt to transport myself into that city.  What life would I live if this were my home?  How would I be me?  How would I be different?  Who would I love and cherish?  I look for what inspires my heart, inspires my fingers.  I look for the crafty skills of makers and the signs of artisanal food.  I love the quiet of my imaginings against the soundscape of the city.  I love the possibility of connection with strangers, the fleeting bits of conversation shared.  I love the options for transport, the common acceptance of being self-propelled, the fact that, for instance, so few residents of new york city actually own cars.  Oh, I do love cities, the hot bed of chance, the act of life being lived so vividly, but I also love the rural life and everything in between.  I could make an argument for each, no one more or less intriguing.  Yet, when I travel alone, which is a rarity these days, it is a city that calls my name, a city that embraces me, sings me to sleep.  On Thursday last, that city was the place of my birth.  We had a short visit, not entirely dreamy, but one that brought me to my edge, that place where you feel the ache of what it means to be alive.  Here are a few snippets of that city I love.