amy in blueberry land

Several people –myself included– have asked me recently, how am I doing? How do I feel about our move, now? Depending on the day, even the moment, the answer seems to vary greatly: busy… happy… completely overwhelmed… incredibly grateful… so tired… a bit lost… inspired… in awe… in tears...

We’re still settling in, the dining room is still a storage space for a slowly dwindling pile of unpacked boxes, and this whole “living in Maine” thing?… it still feels kind of surreal. I do not yet feel a clear sense of place. But mostly, lately, I really love it here! It feels right, and I am content, and at peace, being here, now. Slowly, I am beginning to find my ground in our new house, our new town, our new life. And I’m feeling such gratitude for the basic ok-ness of it all! In the early days after our move, before we had moved into our “forever home,” and begun to truly “settle in” here in Maine, there were some moments when something (a line from a song, the taste of a sip of tea, an email sent from far away, some words spoken by my oldest son) would bring forth such a sudden, strong wave of longing, I could barely register it before noticing I was weeping. Most often the longing was for a loved one back in Boulder, a dear friend I wished I could meet for a tea date, see in person, touch, talk to, and hug… or for an old, familiar ritual that used to, perhaps, mark the passage of our days through the seasons, or simply shift our energy when the boys and I were having a frustrating morning together. Have we made a mistake? I worried, in those moments, or, what if it takes a really long time to find friends as loving and supportive and intelligent and inspiring and brave and soulful and, and… sigh.

These things –meeting people, connecting on a deeper level, establishing lifelong friendships, and cultivating conscious, soulful community– well, of course these things will take time.

But creating new, place-based seasonal rituals? Well, we can get started on this immediately! And so, my new obsession was born this summer…

… in blueberry land! This is where I live now, and will live for a brief, delicious time from about mid to late summer, every year from now on.

Looking for berries, berries for jam

Blueberry picking was so much fun, and such a wholesome, summertime activity for the boys.

Later that week, turning those piles of sweet, juicy berries into jam was the most satisfying of tasks. Working in the kitchen of my 150-year-old home, I thought about all the other women, over all those years, cooking and preserving food for their families.

As I stood at my stove, stirring a bit of honey into those simmering, bubbling blueberries, while the boys played nearby with my mom, my thoughts moved from those mothers of years past, to the days ahead of us, the cooler mornings to come, when my family would spread this dark purple jam on our toast…

And slowly, slowly, as those berries began to be transformed into jam, and that sweet smell filled our kitchen, I began to feel my first glimmerings of a sense of place.

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peace in the present moment…

This morning, I’d like to share some words from Vietnamese Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh. The following essay is from one of his books,

Peace Is Every Step:

Twenty-Four Brand New Hours

Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.

Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We don’t have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky. We don’t have to leave our city or even our neighborhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child. Even the air we breathe can be a source of joy.

We can smile, breathe, walk, and eat our meals in a way that allows us to be in touch with the abundance of happiness that is available. We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.

This… is offered as a reminder that happiness is possible only in the present moment. Of course, planning for the future is a part of life. But even planning can only take place in the present moment…

Peace and happiness are available in every moment.

Peace is every step.

We shall walk hand in hand.

Wishing you all a lovely and peaceful day, friends.

right now: summer!

As these weeks of summer continue to move us slowly and surely toward the first cooler breezes of fall, I am trying my best to stay present with what is happening, right here, right now. For, though summer is, of course, luscious, delightful and full of juicy goodness, by mid-August, I usually find myself daydreaming about crisper air, turning leaves, the unpacking of colorful woolens, apples fresh from the tree… but wait! It is still summer, after all… and rushing it away by moving into autumn in my mind, well, that’s not what I want to be doing right now. The sooner autumn starts, the sooner winter will follow, and while autumn is my favorite season, well, winter is not. So, right now, I am loving:

Playing in water: at the beach, in the backyard, and under raindrops… (It rains here! A lot! I love it!)

Looking for shells on the beach on Orr's Island.

"Look Mama! I'm surfing!"

Beans, our silly dog, waits patiently for Quinn to throw water at her. She loves it!

Berries! Picked and eaten fresh, by the handful; made, by Joe, into incredible toppings for cheesecake and ice cream; baked into muffins; and whatever is left over, tucked into the freezer for those cold days to come… We’ve gone strawberry and raspberry picking this summer, and plan to go blueberry picking this week, this time picking enough for more eating and baking, but also, I hope, making some jam!

We found an amazing organic strawberry patch within a half hour’s drive from our house. Acres of ripe, luscious berries… I only wish we had made it back a second time before they closed for the season. The jam we could have made! Next year…

Morning muffin making boys

On my birthday, I took the boys raspberry picking.

Isaiah picked raspberries with me for a while, until he discovered a huge sandbox at the end of one of the rows of berry bushes… and that was the end of my help with picking! He did help me eat lots on the way home, though.

Quinn wandered around underfoot, picking and eating berries, until he too saw the sandbox. The next night during a diaper change, Papa discovered that Quinn had eaten a green beetle along with his raspberries! Hmm… natural immune-builder, perhaps? Words cannot express how happy I am that the beetle made his appearance in the one diaper I didn’t change that day!

But I digress… Moving on to more of what I’m loving about summer:

Sharing some good old fashioned, small town New England summer fun with my boys…

Isaiah was so intrigued by the cotton candy, and sounded so wistful, asking if we could buy him some, "for a very special treat?" It's summertime, it's the fair, I loved it when I was four... yes!

Visiting with my parents and other beloved family members down in Rhode Island, a mere three hours drive away! This year we were present at my dad’s birthday in late May, and my mom’s in early August, with lots of visits from them (and help with childcare during our two moves!) in between! Such a gift, to live close to my family of origin once again. The boys are soaking up the grandparent-love…

Gramma has two helpers for breakfast-making!

Happy Birthday PePere!

Frosting Gramma's cake...

Happy Birthday Gramma! (Quinn, very concerned, is signing that the candle flames are "hot!")

I didn’t serve Quinn any of the chocolate cake, but he really enjoyed his first bowl of ice cream!

Summertime may be short, but it sure is sweet, don’t you think?

What are you loving right now?

more beach love…

My birthday was on a Monday in mid-July, and we spent the Sunday afternoon before it at the beach. My dad came to celebrate with us, which was a nice surprise. The first time in many years that he has been able to decide spontaneously to visit on my birthday, and just get in the car and drive on over! (Thanks again for coming up, Dad.)

I’ve been loving watching Isaiah’s play evolve at the seashore this summer…

Sand, water, a stick or two…

This opportunity for my boys to grow up so close to the coast is such a gift.

summer at the shore…

Hello from mid-summer in Maine!

We’ve been very busy settling into our new home this past month, and in between unpacking boxes, we’ve been playing at the beach! Today I uploaded about 400 pictures from the last few months, and decided it’s about time I posted some of them here, in this quite neglected space. There are so many, it’s hard to know where to begin… The following photos were taken in early July, at a sweet little beach we found at a nearby state park.

I managed to take a few of both boys together, looking extra cute in their sweet little matching swimsuits, courtesy of Grandma…

Watching the boys play in the sand, I remember so clearly being young at the beach with my family. We spent many days there throughout the summers of my early childhood.

The weight of the salty air, heavy with seawater, on my skin, is so familiar, and so comforting. In the midst of one of my life’s biggest transitions, sitting by the sea, soaking it up through every pore in my body, I know we’ve made the right decision. We’ve found the place we are meant to be, here and now.

On this particular day, Isaiah quickly requested I not photograph him while he played. Quinn, however, didn’t seem to mind…

The littlest among us agrees, I think– we’re happy to be here.

the blessings of spring

We celebrated Easter yesterday, our first holiday in Maine! For us, Easter is a celebration of spring. It is another opportunity to express our gratitude toward the Earth and Mother Nature, for all of Her gifts: from the food we eat, to the flowers we are seeing blooming outside, to the cool, fresh ocean air we are fortunate enough to be breathing these days.

A few days before we left Boulder, we celebrated the first day of spring, the Equinox, with egg coloring.

Most of the eggs were eaten immediately after being colored, but a couple were left to grace our Nature Table.

In early March we cleared all of the wintry treasures off the Nature Table, and then Isaiah set it up for springtime. He spent a long time thoughtfully arranging all of his gnomes, animals, stones, shells, pine cones, and other nature treasures — and what a beautiful display he created in honor of spring’s arrival!

Last week, we finally unpacked the box containing the Nature Table, and Isaiah spent some time re-creating the spring scene. Yesterday, we colored some more eggs for Easter. A couple of hard-boiled eggs turned out to be a great mid-morning snack for Isaiah, to balance out the early morning jelly beans and bites of chocolate bunny that he began his day with.

The Easter Bunny visited our house while the boys were sleeping, and left some wonderful spring-inspired treats and treasures for them. When Isaiah was a baby, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to support a belief in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, etc., but after some thought and discussion, Joe and I decided that we wanted to foster in our children as much of a sense of wonder and belief in magic as possible. Our world, after all, is often sorely lacking in these things. So, we’ve invited them all in, and I’m so glad we did! It’s so much fun. Yesterday, Isaiah asked me, “Mama, do you think the Easter Bunny, like, travels?” After some musing, he decided that there are likely many Easter Bunnies, living in different areas, hopping around leaving baskets of treats and hiding eggs for children, with some help from the local spring fairies.

Isaiah’s basket was filled with all sorts of goodies: a set of child-sized gardening tools, gardening gloves, and packets of seeds, colored pencils carved from tree branches, a beautiful wooden swan for the Nature Table, a chocolate bunny, a chick sugar cookie. (I think our Easter Bunny shops for treats at Whole Foods. Thank goodness!)

Quinn’s first little Easter basket had a sweet little board book in it from a series of seasonal books that we love, and a little wooden gosling. Instead of things like jelly beans, chocolate Earth balls, and glow in the dark bugs (!) the handful of little eggs in Quinn’s basket were full of rice cereal puffs and raisins. (Isaiah thought this was very funny.)

Later in the afternoon, it was time for the egg hunt! The big, tree-filled yard of our spring home here in Harpswell was perfect for egg hunting. It had been raining, but it stopped just before we went out to look for the eggs, and was surprisingly warm outside. A beautiful spring afternoon…

After the egg hunting excitement, we had one final treat: sharing a delicious home-cooked Easter dinner with some of our East Coast family members. We are very blessed, indeed.


gratitude for what has been

Goodbye, Colorado… I’ll miss so much about you…

I will miss the mountains, and the energy they impart into the landscape, and into the people living near them. For ten years I’ve lived in Boulder, a unique little city nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. At some point during each day, I’ve found myself gazing toward the western horizon, drinking in the view of those mountains, and every time I’ve looked at them, often without even thinking about it, I’ve taken a deeper breath. Now, as we move our little family from those majestic Rockies toward the ocean, I’m hoping that looking eastward, toward the sea, will give me that same unconscious nudge to pause, take a long, deep drink of the ocean-soaked air, and be grateful for it. I think it will. Goodbye, Rocky Mountains! Thank you for all the lessons you’ve taught me, for inviting me to hike along so many dusty trails amidst red rocks and silvery sagebrush, butterscotch-scented pine trees, and mountain wildflowers. Sigh. I will miss those hikes.

I will miss our beloved Boulder Creek, and the paths we’ve followed along it, all over town. I will miss sitting by the creek outside the library on hot, hot, sunny summer days, watching my boys wade around in the chilly water, dig in the mud, fill buckets with pebbles, stones, and mud, and rest in the welcome shade of the trees growing nearby. When I first moved from the East Coast to Colorado, I was a bit concerned about the lack of proximity to the coast, and wondered how I would manage without that water energy close by. Soon, however, I discovered the magical effects of this lovely creek, an almost-constantly moving source of water… the glacial ice and snow melts, rushing down the mountains, flowing through town, clearing the energy as it moves. In the warmer months, the cold water cools the air around the creek as it flows, creating the perfect respite from the intense sun, which can feel a bit punishing, sometimes, at a higher altitude. Boulder would not be the amazing place it is, I don’t think, without this creek, and the impressive network of paths –and inviting resting places– that run alongside it. Goodbye, Boulder Creek! Thank you.

Most of all, I will miss the people. The amazing, inspired, inspiring, conscious, creative, loving, kind and generous people that I have been fortunate enough to know and love, and have in my life, during the decade I lived in Boulder. Too numerous to mention individually, they know who they are, and they know how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to be in relationship with each of them. They have taught me so much: to slow down, and notice; to feel, deeply; to open up my heart and let the world in, even though it hurts, and even though it’s scary; to look within, and excavate that which no longer serves me, and figure out how to let it go, and keep letting go, and letting go, over and over, until I’ve started to become healthy, and so much more authentic than I ever was before. I have learned so much from my friends and family, teachers, co-teachers, midwives, and energy workers over these years I’ve been living “out West.” And I am still learning, still excavating, still being reminded, daily, to breathe and let go, breathe… and let go. I will miss all of these beloved people. They really know how to live, to embrace life in all its gifts and suffering, to not just float through their days, inattentive and busy. I appreciate that about so many people I’ve known in Colorado — some born there, but most brought there by choice, by their desire to plant themselves intentionally in that rocky soil… and bloom!

In particular, I will miss “my Naropa people,” some of whom have already blazed trails away from Boulder, and all of whom know how to breathe consciously, bear witness, hold space, laugh and cry simultaneously –even gracefully– and, perhaps most importantly, give the best hugs. (My husband loves to joke about what he calls my “Naropa –ahhh– hugs,” which are long, soulful, and punctuated by deep, satisfied sighs. Ahhh… love.)

And I will so miss my mama friends, whose presence, guidance, and support I have been so very blessed with during these early years of being a mother. These women are so honest, so brave, loving, and funny, and so, so devoted to their little ones… their children are blessed to be in the care of such compassionate, generous, intelligent and self-aware women. Mamas, I am honored to have had the privilege to mother alongside of you, to watch our babies explore and play, and (so quickly!) grow into such unique, strong, sensitive little people. Dear friends, I will miss you each, so very, very much. Thank you. Thank you.

I moved out to Boulder, to attend graduate school at Naropa University, ten years ago this May, in my 1986 Oldsmobile, packed full of all my worldly belongings… and now I’m moving back east, to a place a few hours north of my birthplace, with a much more reliable car, (and with a whole moving truck full of furniture and “stuff”!) and one dear husband, two small, beloved children, and two dogs. Boulder has been good to me, and my cup surely runneth over. Onward, Eastward… my boys and I are off! (Yes, we’re really doing this!) Please visit us in Maine, by the enchanted sea, and the elf- and gnome-laden woods! You’re always welcome. Farewell, my friends… the circle is open, but unbroken. Merry we’ve met, merry part, and merry may we meet again!