Song of the dog at the door


The house can barely contain her now, its four-cornered world no match for what calls to the dark forest from within. A flimsy summer cottage of a house, full of strangers, windows thrown open, their screens torn away at the sill, the better to admit small animals in the night.

She’s at the back door with the leashed dog, looking out across grass to a scene at the forest edge. A man and a boy are there with four German Shepherds, an adult male and three pups. The middle pup is posed on an overturned garbage can, its throat tied with a complicated rope, its wild enthusiasm spilling over. The man works hard to pose it while the boy aims a camera, but the puppy is too rambunctious and won’t stop moving. Continue reading

Listening for the birthday song


One day, fifty-two trips around the sun ago, a soul made its leap into the body of a baby being born. The young mother had an artistic spirit and was already stretched to her limits with three children. She wouldn’t let herself admit her misgivings about this fourth because her husband, a soldier, was a good man who loved his growing family.

The soul saw all this and chose this family for its earth walk, and to help the child weather the coming storms, it bestowed these gifts: Continue reading

Sentimentality and Cynicism at the crossroads


Once upon a time, in a far-away land, a sister and brother lived in a tiny cottage at the edge of a vast forest. They were called Sentimentality and Cynicism. You might be thinking that the sister’s name was Sentimentality, while the brother’s was more befitting a man of the world. In fact, it was the reverse.

Their parents were lost to them when they were young children and they had fended for themselves for ten years. They had a few neighbors who sometimes dropped by with eggs or a loaf of bread, but for the most part, they were on their own.

Cynicism was older by two years and ruled the house with an iron will and military order. Sentimentality was grateful for the safety of a roof over his head, but he was happiest wandering in the meadows and fields surrounding their house, conversing with the grasses, flowers and birds. Fortunately, he had started a vegetable and herb garden, so his sister couldn’t complain that he was outside from sunrise to sunset nearly every day. He also cared for her with his medicinal herbs, for she often had terrible headaches and weeping fits. Continue reading

One hundred words for why


I was born asking why, and have never understood why the question bothers so many people. I used to drive my mother crazy, asking her why about everything; her annoyance would build until she finally snapped. My husband learned years ago at a corporate training event that asking why is aggressive and off-putting. It threatens people and stresses them out. He took it upon himself to purge to our household of the question why.

The problem is, why is so ingrained in my nature; it’s an expression of my innate curiosity. Liz Gilbert tells an audience from Oprah’s stage that not everyone has a passion they can follow, or maybe they don’t know what their one big passion is. But, she says, we all have curiosity. We can start the day being curious about something, and that’s enough. That curiosity emerges from me as the question why. Continue reading

Uncertainty crashes the summit


Once upon a time, a beautiful but downtrodden young woman named Uncertainty lived on the edge of town with her three homely and unpleasant stepsisters, Certainty, Control and Data. One day, the three stepsisters went to a fancy-dress summit on climate change. Uncertainty, as usual, was left behind to clean: breakfast dishes piled high, clothes scattered all over, and newspapers in great drifts in the living room (this was in the days before e-readers).

Uncertainty wept lonely tears as she swept out their tiny cottage. Suddenly, a kindly old man appeared at the door.

“I’ve come to take you to the summit, Uncertainty,” he said, patting her hand after leaning the broom against the wall. “But first, we must dress you up in a clever disguise.” Continue reading