The color of things…

IMG_0667Overlooking the Bering Sea, Unalaska, AK

Life is the color of things:

of place, of thoughts, of people, of sky and trees.

(I have lived in gray, know that place well, for which I am grateful –

for its gift is to know, for the first time, the color of things).

Life is the color of things, and

it is good to breathe the riches of sky and earth,

of shadows across sky, of green grass that carries earth’s fragrance,

of long autumns and bright maples, of spring melting snow banks,

of a navy blue awakening, dawn.

The color of things lives in the eyes of friends, when sadness lurks,

when pain is not covered with dull happiness.  The color of things, this gift, earth, and all

that is in it,the heart, and all that is in it.






In the morning distance, a train


rumbles, marking work and action.
Here, hummingbird darts at the red feeder,
chases the giant sparrow away (chuckling, of course).
Squirrel hordes nuts and things for winter.

The small creatures of earth move as if there is no train in the distance,                                          as if this moment is all there is, which is truly true,                                                                                    busy, bursting bodies, breath.

A siren roars , cuts through silence in which the creatures  thrive,                                               part of the mystery, also.



Reflections, autumn morning, city




“Houseplants,” a poem by Mary Elyn Bahlert

IMG_0525My little friends,
yellow and brown and purple and green,
I treasure you,
my hands among your leaves,
my fingers at your roots.

My little friends,
there is so little I am good at in this world:
my children want for what they cannot have –
I have only these hands among your leaves
and a few places of sunlight in the house.

My little friends,
my eyes drop tear-less on your stalks;
I protect you from the cold in this place.
I touch you with these worthless hands
and you flourish.


I wrote “Houseplants”  as part of a series of poems that belong to my grandmother, Feodosia.  For these poems are the story of her life, told through me over the course of a year or two in the late 1980’s.  Surely our connection to the ancestors goes deeper than we know – or than we are taught to cherish, in our culture.  The magic my Grandma – a bent-over babushka in a long black coat walking through the slush of Milwaukee’s narrow alleys – must surely have come through me, the magic of our connection told through the words I recorded.



switching gears – the easy way


In the past, I could be in a funk for days. My thinking was off, everything was going wrong (especially in my thinking!), I was crabby, nothing suited me, the cat was a pill… you get the picture. If you’re honest, you can contribute your own list.

This morning, I awoke with that kind of thinking. Yuk. I am not a pleasure to be around, particularly for myself. Today, though, a gift arrived.

I spent time with a friend in her yard and garden. First, we cleaned the koi pond. Then, we cut off lilies past their bloom in the bushes. Finally, we took a tour of the vegetables in her suburban garden, dragging huge zucchini squash from their hiding places onto the lawn. Bees and dogs followed us around the yard, interested, of course, in every move.

Afterward, my friend and I parted for our separate days.

I feel better now. For a “city girl,” for one who has lived most of her life in her thinking and feelings – as if they are the center of the Universe! – the small tour of yard and garden was a gift. My friend apologized for all I would have to do when she leaves and I tend her garden for a couple of days. I don’t see it that way.

A day. A gift. Grounding. Something simple. Something profound.  Memories of the ancestors, people of the earth.  Songs.

Small pleasures. Gifts of God.