young girl statue in old garden

The year two thousand ten has aged out just about as far as it can today. It is passing away and so are we…

I’d like to recommend a book: “This is Getting Old” by Susan Moon, Zen teacher and writer She also wrote the very funny, “Letters of Tofu Roshi”. Even if you are not yet “getting old” or at least feeling older, Susan Moon writes with rich wisdom and gentleness that you will probably enjoy her book.
The entire book involves her clear and simple observations about changing life and her body as it is aging. Really an enjoyable read and an oh-so familiar story for us as we age. Many of her examples and reflections ring true for me. They resonate for me as simple daily discoveries I am making on my own. For instance, finding that suddenly I have become “invisible” in a crowd or large social gathering. It’s a a different way to practice the “spirituality of aging.” Invisiblity seems to be a kind of prejudice against the elderly and I resent it. It may be due to our getting lighter hair and a stooped posture, I am not sure. We are simply no longer seen. I first discovered this fact while standing at a crowded counter waiting to be asked for my coffee order. Why is the older gray-haired woman passed over repeatedly? Sometimes when it happens I stop and point it out to a woman standing next to me who has jumped ahead because she was called upon by the waiter. She will be honestly surprised. Her behavior was not deliberate; she just didn’t notice me. She might even say so, which hurts even more.

Susan Moon makes so many fine points about aging with grace and compassion. When she wrote this book she had “only” turned 60. It might be interesting to see what she writes in another 20 years. At only 170 pages it one of those books I enjoy reading and taking time to ponder the lifetime of wisdom Susan Moon shares.


December 20, 2010 ~ Full Moon (eclipsed)

What is it that happens when the full moon on this December night is in total eclipse across our continent? Can we say that moonlight has happened at all when the earth overshadows her own moon?
Will you sleep through it, since all will be in darkness?
Is this the night when the Winter Ghosts appear in the lunar darkness?
And those nagging ghosts within, what to do about them?

… I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much.
–Elizabeth Benedict, American author, born December 20, 1954

Do you write? Keep a Journal? Are you old enough by now
to exorcise your numerous ghosts by writing them onto the page
and then out of existence?
Or do you draw or paint them
and so give them form, perhaps even color,
before sending them to wherever suffering goes.

Try this little exercise: with paper and pencil handy,
close your eyes, settle your breath, if you can—
ghosts sometimes live wrapped on the breath–
then feel, see, experience the ghost of a painful memory.
Ah, there it is! Capture it and let it begone.

…paying attention to current experience stops the stories that create and recreate suffering.
– Sylvia Boorstein, Buddhist teacher, in The Wisdom of Discomfort

With love,
From Miss Winterfinch
Miss Winterfinch

Winter Dawn

With a brushing of snow every night now,
winter spreads herself over our gardens and woods,
out along the river and the ancient Chenango valley
bringing us rest and peace.


Does that number look strange to you? We are nearly there. Time moves so fast — I do not have enough time to get used to its new names.


Time is always ahead of us, running down the beach.”
—from “In the Middle” by Barbara Crooker

With love,
Miss Winterfinch
Miss Winterfinch

Earth day 8:27 a.m. 2010

The tide of the day rolls in each morning,
Riding on the sun, breaking over the Catskill hills,
Lighting up the Chenango River who ever-slogs past my cottage.
Unrelenting, it arrives,
pouring itself through my living room windows
swamping the house with unfiltered light.
So the day begins, beaming in a blinding flood that surges from the east while I sleep,
… just a little longer please?
The cats, who woke at first light, chased each other into boredom,
Waiting for me,
Two big cats, who hate getting their paws wet, pounce on my bed and softly tap me awake.
“It’s morning.”
“It’s flooding, again.”
“Help us, get up now.”
A soft paw pounds my arm. A small head butts my own.
“We must begin the swim through the waves of shimmering daylight.”
“…out into the garden to squat in your newly turned flower beds.”
And so, another day returns as predictable as the sea.
I watch the waves move south, high tide, high noon beaming overhead,
Light changes the order of the day, determines our meals– mine at the table,
theirs on the floor.
Until, finally, the ocean of light pulls itself back over my western mountain beach,
At low tide, I switch on a light
To examine all I have done and left undone,
On this one unique sunlit ocean named Today.

With love to all you Sons and Daughters of Mother Earth!

Are we there yet? Only half way, I think. Read books, seed catalogs, dream, sew, paint, watch DVDs… winter in New York

summer hatAugust 18, 2009

Today is the big day for the kitties. We have had it written and circled on the kitchen wall calendar for two months. Today is the almost Free Rabies clinic to be held at the Smithville Flats firehouse in Smithville Flats.

A week ago I checked it out first by driving there — 13 miles from my home each way. So far and so different are the laws of nature over in the next valley that when I left Route 12 at the “10 Miles to Smithville Flats” sign the sun was mostly out with some big elephant type clouds closing in on it. Two miles into the research trip the heavens opened up and the wipers went at full speed while I made my way along the twisting country road to find Smithville Flats. I did. There is a cute country store and a few small houses. The white clapboard firehouse building was all locked up although the reader board outside proclaimed a pancake breakfast coming there on Saturday. No signs about the traveling rabies clinic.

As a community service the county offers a nearly free traveling clinic for pets to get their shots. I say “nearly free” because they expect you to pay $5 for the serum. It’s better than a full priced trip to the vet when you have two healthy cats, which I do.

I was told about this clinic, closest to my home in Oxford, by a vet’s office. The vets, I think, offer their services for free. Not sure, since this is my first time going to a rabies clinic. My cats are one year overdue for their shots and since they both spend daytime hours outside; we are kind of rural with wildlife available to wander on the property at any time.

Anyway, I have been planning “the seize and capture” action into the carriers event for some time. I waited until they were both nicely settledinto their mid-morning naps. PD Budd, the smaller and more skittish of the two, was easily surprised out of the basket. They own one round basket with soft bedding by the bird watching window. Sharing this prime location has been worked out between them as either cat gets there first gets in or whoever is the heaviest and most forceful pushes the other out. Usually this mean that Buddy Budd gets the basket when he wants it. PD was stuffed into the best, sturdiest carrier before he knew it.

By the time I got the softer duffle bag like carrier from the closet and into the bedroom, Buddy Budd was awake from his nap and looking into the shadowy recesses of PD’s carrier to find out why he was whining.

Getting Buddy into his carrier was a lot like stuffing myself into an old bathing suit in the springtime. Somehow he seems to have outgrown the carrier. After I shoved and kneaded his long, heavy, black body into the red bag his eel-like moves allowed him to escape twice. I needed to close the zippers with a twist tie because he easily pulled them open. Wrestling match over we all got into the front seat, turned the air conditioning on high, radio too and away we went to conquer rabies for another three years.

On the way to the Smithville Flats firehouse Buddy spent some of the time trying to scratch his way out until he went to sleep. Also not long before we were on Route 12 before the Smithville 10 mile turn off, someone pooped. The air conditioning helped blow the smell into the backseat and the radio blocked out a lot of PD’s whining. And so we drove through the countryside. No cars on the road just us. Also, no Rabies Clinic at the closed up firehouse. 11 a.m. an hour after I thought he clinic started and no one there. The only place with people in Smithville Flats is the country store when I entered and asked. The slight woman with a tight perm behind the counter listened to my problem and promptly called Whitey on her cell phone.  Yes! There’s a Rabies Clinic at the firehouse tonight at 5:30.

Home we drove another 13 miles to sounds of moaning and scratching. By the time I pulled into the drive I looked at PD through the black screen on his carrier. He was lying on his side, tongue hanging out, panting, looking at me in desperation.

I let them out, discovered the pooping culprit… PD. They immediately ran into their house while I did some garden watering. Little do they know that we are going to repeat the capture and stuff procedure at 5 p.m. How little they know, how much they trust.

For the past few months I has been watching the changes coming up from the ground, that lie hidden until their arrival time comes. There is a small, square meter patch of lawn that has not been mowed at all since the snows melted in March when the violets bloomed among the grass blades. Please see the violets photo in my first gardening post in which I debate the problem of growing out a lawn and the wildflowers in there or mowing it down weekly as my neighbors to theirs (and wish I’d do mine).

Soon I’ll post a photo of the same spot taken from the same angle of how the violets have been replaced by other flowers, mostly the Butter and Eggs golden yellow ones as well as much taller grasses that are blooming. Today here is a view of the blooming meadow formerly known as the lawn.backyard meadow

A friend came by last week with her big Craftsman riding mower and harvested for me the meadow that my backyard had become. My small push mower, even though it is “self-propelled” could not handle the height of the grass. Wonderful woman roaming around all the tiny seedling trees stuck in various places and leaving certain patches of interesting wildflowers intact. Some of these include oxe-eye daisies and Indian paintbrush or hawkweed making little islands of color in the vast brown and green of drying hay.

From this I got– for the first time ever– a “hay fever” reaction to hand-scooping the long cut grass and moving it to my future raised vegetable bed and compost pile. Runny nose, eyes swollen and red, forcing me to take an anti-histamine several times a day. But I am not sure I would not do this again next spring instead of doing the constant grooming necessary to prevent nature  sending up a succession of decorations until frost. For now I like the backyard mostly cut and the little islands of wildness floating on that ocean.