All posts filed under: seasons

2015

In 2015 I  became a mother. This is Orion Augustus.  He’s been out in the world with me for 14 weeks now.  I am filled with awe, impatience, and nostalgia at every moment.  He already moves his hands with purpose, laughs when I kiss his belly, and opens his eyes wide in front of books. The past year seems now like it was all devoted to bringing him into the world, but so much else happened. I finished reading and writing my doctorate qualifying exams: on landscape studies, and on craft and work. I was on the teaching team that developed a new Harvard course on Boston’s history and culture.  I lectured on my own work on Haymarket, psychogeography, and oral history (read it here: I live in three different Bostons).  I also oversaw a group of undergraduate research projects, some of the most fulfilling work I have done as a graduate student. I began a series of interviews with artists about their relationship to place and work.  The first two, with potter Judy Motzkin …

The smell of cardamom

Happy New Year everyone. Today – or sometime in the next week, depending on which Christian tradition you might come from – is the day when the Christmas season is traditionally put aside.  I got home to Cambridge last night from two weeks of celebration with friends and family, in Oakland and Berkeley, Austin and Dallas.  There were new babies and puppies to meet, old mementos to look through, and even a trip to San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, a new production that I have grown to love as much as the one I grew up with. But, like many of you are, I’m ready for the joy of the holiday season to make way for the quiet work of resolutions and planning, new projects simmering with my weekly pot of beans.  My social media is filled with “I love this time of year” confessions, moments of solitude in the middle of white-dusted sidewalks or, in my case, the stacks of the library.  Weekend afternoons under blankets with an endless mug of something hot.  So, in …

Celebrate: Halloween

“legend says there is a seam  / stitching darkness like a name.”  (Annie Finch) Tomorrow is Halloween.  Why not get in the mood?  I’ve never been much for costumes but I love the iconography and the old meanings of the holiday, the day of the year when this world and the next stand just next to each other, and small glimpses across the divide become easier. I’ve been interested in watching Dia de los Muertos become more mainstream in the States, too!  When I was home in California I reflected that it felt so much more authentic to the place, so I loved seeing skull sugar candies in supermarkets next to Halloween candy, and hearing about how families and schools celebrate it now.  A holiday for celebrating ancestors, feeling the presence of the past, is a wonderful thing. It’s what this time of year is for me. Here are some of the things that have been knocking around in my head this week as I think about the coming of Halloween. . The Physick Book …

My October: fire and quake

for the next week I’ll be in Edinburgh, Scotland, at a storytelling festival called “Once Upon a Place.”  I’ll also be thinking about this time of year, which the Celts who created Scotland’s bardic traditions called Samhain (the predecessor of Halloween).  In many folk traditions, this is the time of the year when the boundary between this world and the next is thinnest.  There will be stories about land and I can’t wait to share them with you. October has a whiff of calamity. As a child in the San Francisco Bay Area I lived through two natural disasters, and they both happened in late October. In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake hit San Francisco on a Tuesday evening at rush hour.  I was six.  When the rumbling began, my mother gathered my sister and me under the broad wooden doorjamb in our dining room.  My sister’s little friend froze under the ceiling fan; I remember the feeling of urgency with which my mom darted out from our place of security in order to scoop …

Cultivating: Harvest

On the Autumnal Equinox, I put out a cutting board laden with apples and honey. I sliced an apple at its equator and left it open on the table, revealing the star of seeds. Apples and honey are a symbol of Rosh Hashanah, the first holiday of the Jewish High Holy Days and the marker of the Jewish New Year, but that core of seeds made me think of Persephone.  Seeds, the rhythms of the day and the year, the poetry and work of abundance and austerity — those are some of the things that this season means to me. Persephone, the daughter of Demeter (Goddess of the land and earth), was just a girl, playing in the fields, when she was taken by her uncle Hades and brought to the underworld. While she shivered in the darkness, her mother roamed the earth, her grief shriveling crops and blackening seeds. Hades offered Persephone a pomegranate, a gesture of the summer that she had left behind aboveground. When Demeter found them, she negotiated for her daughter’s release. Hades …

Cultivating: Midsummer

I’ve been thinking this summer about nostalgia.  This is the season for remembering first kisses (mine: 17 years old, on a balcony in San Sebastian, Spain, sometime in mid July, during a rainstorm), family camping trips, and the long days of daydreaming of past summers (that’s me in the hat, as a young teen, at left.  This picture gives me that odd feeling of not knowing where we are in this picture, and not remembering the moment at all).  If you have kids, it’s the time when they make memories like this for themselves.  I wonder what it’s like to watch them do that, to see echoes of your former self in them and experience the simultaneity of memory and experience.  This is the tinge of sadness that summer brings – knowing that it comes to an end, knowing that we’re getting older, that the year will soon get colder again.  The hopefulness of spring and the resilience of fall and winter lie on either side of us, and at the height of summer we …