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April 20, 2014
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River Muse

Turning 21

Our last child has come of age. With our guidance, and without it, she learned to walk and to read, to cook and sew and ride a bike and drive a car. Singing seemed to be divinely granted. There were piano lessons and Girl Scouts and summer camp and basketball league. She was an easy learner and an eager one. She spurned my attempts to guide her sartorial style, developing her own at 18 months when she insisted on dressing herself—many times a day.  Read more

Going local

The feeling had been creeping up on me for some time, but it wasn’t until we sat down to brunch recently at a favorite local bistro in our Manhattan neighborhood that I could identify it. I was a tourist in my own home town. The hostess did not recognize us. She sat us at a table for two in the netherlands of the middle dining room.  Read more

The ‘Freedom’ Towers

“Now things will have to change,” was my first cogent thought after witnessing the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. It didn’t take long for me to make the connection between these horrific acts and the desperation engendered in the world by a corporate system run amok. Before the TV anchors had figured out that the two planes weren’t a fluke, I knew that much. But what a fool I was.  Read more

Summer food

The joys of weeding have eluded me this summer. I’ve been tending the algae growing in my pool instead. I treated it with chemicals, vacuumed, brushed, said daily novenas to the Virgin. Did you know there are different algaes? Green, of course, but also mustard and black. It was some small consolation when the pool clerk said “everybody’s growin’ it this summer.” It must have been a July thing. When August came, it went.  Read more

Lessons of the open road

An astronaut recently returned from space travel with the observation that “everything seems smaller now.” I know what he means. It was precisely my experience returning home from a 9,000 mile road trip across America. “Smaller” as in more achievable, less daunting rather than insignificant. Imagination often has its own agenda. When I imagined this journey, as I did many times over decades, I worried about the long flat stretches of the Great Plains, the heat and desolation of the deserts, the rough inclines of the mountains.  Read more

Wanderlusting

There has always been a wanderlust in me, seeking escape from the known to the unknown. A train whistle in the night excites my senses. I yearn for the freedom of an open road. So it was not a hard sell, this road trip from New York to California with my daughter promising to share the wheel, her newly minted driver’s license in hand. The moment the idea loosened from her lips, I seized it, imagining nights around a campfire and days exploring small towns and grand vistas.  Read more

Time travel

As I prepare to set out on a journey of 10,000 miles with my 20-year-old daughter, I am also being swept back in time by a group of people I have not seen in 40 years. As a result, I am dangling in a kind of suspended animation between the past and the future. It may be that we all live this way every day without awareness; but right now I am aware.  Read more

An Earth Day column

Everyone wants me to celebrate Earth Day. My inbox is full of green mail—no trees were harmed in the making—urging me to buy shoes and cosmetics, go to a yoga retreat and help Robert Redford rally the American people. Of all these, I’m most likely to buy shoes, but I’m not deluded that it will help the earth.  Read more

Keeping secrets

How well do you keep a secret? When your best friend tells you something in confidence, do you tell your husband and no-one else? Do you tell a small circle of friends and hope they’ll keep it in the circle? In my experience, keeping a secret that doesn’t involve our personal safety is rare and difficult.  Read more

When food is the best medicine

Our six-year old Schnauzer Aengus has taught us a thing or two about love since we brought him home from a pet store in Port Jervis at eight weeks old. We named him Aengus, Dog of Love, knowing immediately that love was what he was all about, for us. His name was a play on words: Aengus is the Celtic god of love for whom Yeats wrote “The Song of Wandering Aengus.”  Read more

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