Blessings of Light in the New Year


All good wishes for 2014, starting with the Irish toast below!

*     *     *

May the blessings of light be within you,

Light without and light within.

And in all your comings and goings,

May you ever have a kindly greeting

From them you meet along the road.

The Snow Lies Down


A Snowy Afternoon Last Winter


Over the local stations, one by one,

Announcers list disasters like dark poems

That always happen in the skull of winter.

But once again the storm has passed us by:

Lovely and moderate, the snow lies down

While shouting children hurry back to play,

And scarved and smiling citizens once more

Sweep down their easy paths of pride and welcome.

  – Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems


My wish for you in the New Year:

May there be lots of “smiling citizens” in your life. May the worst of the storms pass you by.


On Not Discussing the Government

Display, Davy Crockett Homeplace

The thought of having to make a speech made my knees feel mighty weak, and set my heart to fluttering almost as bad as my first love scrape with the Quaker’s niece. But as good luck would have it, these big candidates spoke nearly all day, and when they quit, the people were worn out with fatigue, which afforded me a good apology for not discussing the government.  — David Crockett, 1786 -1836.

Growing up in western North Carolina, I heard a lot about Davy Crockett. He was an icon in southern Appalachia — frontiersman, soldier, congressman, advocate for the poor. He was a complex man, but became almost a caricature when Disney Corporation did a series of television programs about him in the 1950’s. By the end of the series, every child in the southern mountains knew about coonskin caps and buckskin and could sing every lyric about the man who was “born on a mountain top in Tennessee” and “killed him a bear when he was only three.”

I visited Davy’s homeplace in Limestone, Tennessee last fall. It’s not on a mountain top. And I don’t know how a three-year old could possibly kill a bear. The truth about Mr. Crockett lies somewhere beyond the image created by television producers, storytellers, and his fellow politicians. I guess that’s the case for anyone who ever became famous or ran for office.

If Davy was around today, I hope he’d use his humor and clout to remind political candidates, “You’re wearing out the people. Don’t talk about the  government all day!” And with the holidays coming up, maybe Davy could tell the people, in turn“Best not to bring up politics at family gatherings. It can set the heart to fluttering.”

Spinning Silver Threads

Outside the Window This Morning


The spider spun a silver web

above the gate last night.

It was round with little spokes

and such a pretty sight.

This morning there were drops of dew

hung on it, one by one;

they changed to diamonds, rubies red

when they were lit with sun.

A spider’s nice to have around

to weave a web so fine,

on which to string the drops of dew

that catch the bright sunshine

 — Mary Ann Hoberman


Winter Sky

Off Into the Skies

                    The road at the top of the rise

           Seems to come to an end

               And take off into the skies.

                             –  from “The Middleness of the Road” by Robert Frost

Wishing You the Grace of the World

Male Mallard in December

                    THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS          by Wendell Berry 

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound 

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, 

          and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought 

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Jump at the Sun

Max Patch

Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at the sun’. We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.

– Zora Neale Hurston