Wednesday, May 31, 2017

More Summer Memories

Mr. Judson Shea was short on words but long on wisdom and teaching all those little things one might ordinarily miss. He liked to grow things; vegetables, flowers, trees, children. I remember him plucking a flower from a bush at the side of his house. He held the bloom one way and showed me a Bleeding Heart. He turned it upside down, gently pulled at the petals with his overworked fingers, and made Dutchman’s breeches dance in my outstretched hand. Before dinner one night he called me to watch as he cut up broccoli. He chopped off the “trunk” of the tree and said, “Most people throw this part away but here’s what you do,” and proceeded to peel the woody bark and expose the tender middle. “This is the best part!” he assured me and I’ve enjoyed my favorite heart of broccoli trees every since.
  The summer I was six our two families shared a day at Loon Lake. The Sheas had a little row boat and Mr. Shea wanted to take all the kids for a ride. Judilee, David, and young Jud piled into the boat like pros but I balked. I’d never been in a boat. The way it rocked and swayed as the other children settled made my stomach roll. Older Jud held out his weathered hand and in the calmest voice said, “Come on. Nothin’s gonna happen to you.” Tears ran down my face. I shook my head “No” with vigor from my stubborn stance on stable earth. Dad held my hand and urged me toward the end of the dock reminding me how he’d taught me to swim the year before. We must have stood there for twenty minutes with Mr. Shea holding out his steady hand and repeating “Come on now. You can do it. You’ll be fine,” as I envisioned sharks and piranha and sea dragons tearing me limb from limb should I happen to fall in the lake.
  Finally, grounded by the steadiest of unflappable adult voices and hands and conviction, I hopped down into the boat to meet my destiny. The ride wasn’t so bad after all and from that day forward I jumped at every chance to be on a boat; row boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, party boats, motor boats I could ski behind, lobster fishing boats that toured around harbors teeming with wildlife, boats that sailed me out to greet whales and dolphins and more sea birds that I could count. I was hooked on a newfound source of joy and all because Judson Shea (accompanied by my Dad) never lost faith that I could do something, even if it scared me silly, and he gave me the time and space to make the decision on my own.
  I faced many more decisions and choices after that one but more on that another day. Until then breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!
xo Robin

Monday, May 29, 2017

Summer Memories Part 3

If you’ve been following this thread of “Summer Memories,” you know that I started out finding a
“spirit rock” and had followed the spirit line it contained like a road to the past. As I stood holding the rock at creeks edge, my mind part way between now and the then, a frog jumped into the water leaving ripples in his wake. I recollected a frog making the same plop sound way back when as he jumped into the shadows and hid himself from perceived danger when my friend Judilee and me appeared to catch tiny fish and pollywogs swimming in the warmer sunlit pools. Later my little friend and I bugged her brothers to let us join them in the treehouse her dad built the summer before. They claimed “boys only” and went about their manly impersonations. We girls were oblivious to any danger in our quest to gain entry to that treehouse. If the boys could scale the makeshift ladder, so could we. The boys heard us coming and reiterated “No girls allowed!” from their lofty perch. Our victorious giggles rang out across the cow pasture after Mr. Shea stopped his tinkering long enough to call to the boys “Let the girls come up there now, ya hear?”

We scrambled up the ladder, climbed hand over hand, and when I reached for the next handhold near the completion of my goal, a broken branch stabbed my palm. I struggled back down with one bum hand held protectively at my side and ran through the back door wailing a pained cry. I held out my injury to Mrs. Shea who turned to a nearby cupboard and grabbed a tissue for my tears and a clear unlabeled jar filled with who knows what. She dabbed the mysterious, mustardy yellow, foul-smelling salve onto the wound, bandaged it with gauze and tape, kissed my cheek, and hugged me. “There. It’ll be fine.” She smiled down at me and I trusted her faith that it would indeed be fine and when she said I could tackle that ladder again, I believed her.

In later years I referred to Mrs. Shea as my second mom for all that she brought to my life. She remains at the top of the list of many loving adults who cheered me on as I grew. Her husband remains in my heart for similar reasons but I’ll save that for next time. Until then breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!

What are some of your summer memories? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, May 25, 2017


As I mentioned in my last entry, my parents early championing of my abilities fortified me with courage and the assumption that all adults – that they approved of, of course – would back me with equal sincerity. But not all adults were so easily swayed. My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Mahoney, and I started off on the wrong foot. A few weeks into a very rough beginning, she knew I was still missing my mother. One day I felt sick and stood before her holding my stomach. “I need to go home. I’m sick.” Mrs. Mahoney would have none of it, sure in her conviction this was a ruse to get me home to my mother’s comforting arms. Unfortunately for my teacher, the only proof I could offer that I had come down with the flu, was to decorate her shoes with that mornings breakfast. Mrs. Mahoney never doubted me again. After she got to know me better and saw that I could manage time away from my mom quite well she came to believe that as shy as I was I could handle a leading role in the Christmas play. My mother nearly fell off her chair when I belted out my solo in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Though she wore a gruff expression most of the time, I’m grateful for Mrs. Mahoney’s encouraging gesture that planted the seeds for future stage aspirations. I'll say more about that next time... Until then, I encourage you to breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!😀


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Summer Memories

I gave myself some extra time to explore while out on my walk on a recent day that hinted of coming summer. I meandered along the edges of the creek and found a rock containing a “spirit line” as my Native American friends would call it. Spirit lines are typically placed in artwork to allow the spirit of the artist to exit the work when it is finished. The line in this rock invited me to wander past some of the sharp edges of now and into gentle thoughts and memories of people and experiences I am grateful for.

The line on the rock that has now taken up residence on my hearth is light gray with a narrow black line dividing it down the middle, like a road. When I hold it my finger traces this spirit road until I find myself in warm past summer places, remembering all who helped me along my path to the person I am now.

My mother started me out right with bright white walking shoes and “You can do it honey!” It was the summer of my second year when I finally took my first steps unassisted. Her applause urged me on, though after waiting fifteen months she may also have been secretly cheering for herself and her aching back that had hefted a rapidly growing me since birth.

When I was off and running she and my father took me out on summer nights to see the stars that floated down to glimmer about our yard. They each cupped their two hands like clamshells and urged “You can do it sweetheart!” as they caught blinking stars one by one and placed them in a jar for us to admire. 

Their love of being outdoors showed me a love for and connection to nature that sustains me still. That early championing of my abilities fortified me with courage and the assumption that all adults – that they approved of, of course – would back me with equal sincerity. But not all adults were so easily swayed as you will see in my next edition. Until then breathe in the beauty of this day, your day, and the Earth that supports you! Wishing you well in it!