Wednesday, July 27, 2011


~ dear jane, many of us, well, we women certainly, and also a generous helping of english professors and austen fanatics, have read your work. (many more have watched your books-turned-into-movies on a newfangled thing called television.) for a person who lived two hundred years ago you were remarkably ahead of your time. the brontes didn't have kind words for your prose, but henry james and many others did. and so do i. your house has changed; your garden is considerably smaller, your orchard is gone, but don't worry, the ladies have done a nice job—it's still quite a pleasant place. ~

jane austen wrote about what she saw in and around the villages where she lived; she wrote about life as she knew it, and even though nothing too dramatic happened in her imaginary world (except things like who was marrying who), that was the point, wasn't it—austen wrote with shrewdness and quiet satire about women's daily existence, a slice of the social order, her chapters filled with well-off young ladies, sometimes silly, sometimes not, who loved the latest fashions, learned to paint and play the pianoforte (if they were like jane, they would be encouraged to pursue their yearning for a richer education), filled the hours with social events and spent most of their time searching for a husband (beware of the perils lurking in that endeavor!). hmm, in some ways not unlike life today.

on the windowsills at chawton cottage vases of freshly cut flowers from the garden delight the eye, a simple homey touch which charms away the centuries and makes the cottage feel more like a lived-in home than a museum, as if jane were about to sit in her chair by the window overlooking the main thoroughfare and begin writing at her little table. (ha, her inkwell needs to be refilled first.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


on a night like this, when a heat wave arrives, nothing else to do but turn off the big lights and sit in semi darkness on the porch, the painful intensity of normal lighting banished in order to try and fool our brains into at least thinking we feel a bit cooler.

the dogs stretch out motionless on the wooden floor, too hot to lie on their beds, wag their tails, lick our hands, nudge our arms or nuzzle us with their noses—poor things—as the heat closes over our heads and seems to suck away our oxygen supply. dogs and humans remain still, almost smothered in a state like catatonia, the heat forcing us into dormancy, slowly breathing in and out, an effort which, fortunately, is involuntary or else we might opt to cease doing it at all.

we reluctantly leave our seats to peer inside the refrigerator and the freezer, hopeful that cold beers or a splash of ice cubes in lemonade, iced tea or a mixture of both (thank you arnold palmer), will offer some relief. we place a bucket of water out for the dogs, but they can barely be bothered to open their eyes, let alone their mouths, to look at what we're doing.

we humans on the porch are such wimps, unable to take the heat. our anglo-saxon northern european roots hide deep within our cells and tonight they cry out and expose us for what we are. our body's ancient programming is searching for a way to cool-off, a gene pool's primal urge for self-preservation.

in the middle of the heat wave three of my husband's friends from new jersey roar up the driveway on harley's, having completed their road trip to prince edward island. we welcome them to our "bed and breakfast." we were going to fire up the barbecue grill, but the heat forces us to abandon that plan and escape indoors to gritty's air-conditioned pub for dinner.


later in the evening, back on the porch again, the night cools down into the 70's. by 11 o'clock our dna finally relaxes and feels at home again in our bodies.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

her ladyship in henley

no, this story is not about you, lady katherine p. besides it would be called her ladyship in horton, right?


henley-upon-thames, especially the upon thames part, with its river walk and regatta, is a rawther british town filled with brits, naturally, and also filled, unnaturally, with tourists like me. when i was there the week before the regatta (a great time to go if you don't like snobby mobs) i stayed at the phyllis court club. the room was quite nice; it had a great view of the thames, somewhat blocked, however, by the regatta tents. (not this view of the thames, though, because this is the henley bridge in town.)

phyllis court was definitely dominated by an aging crowd; there were an awful lot of old, slow-moving, white-haired members hanging out in the restaurant, bar and tearoom. i felt downright young in their midst while i drank my gin and tonic and had a look around. it is a very traditional club, a tad stuffy, with a croquet green (players are required to wear all white), a dress code (just like prep school—no jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, sports clothing, must have a jacket and tie in the main dining room) and room keys that are real keys on a wooden fob (no plastic credit card keys here).

at one point i left my husband and our host and meandered down the hall to find the ladies room. it no longer had the fabulous pink sofa, only a boring tannish one. too bad. when i finished drying my hands i stood at the mirror and put on a little bit of lipstick and turned to leave. an elderly lady came in just as i finished with the lipstick, and i mean elderly, 80+, and i mean lady as in "her ladyship". she was the loveliest 80+ year-old i have ever seen: tall, slim, white hair in a classic french twist, expensive silk dress, pearl earrings and necklace. in her face, the beauty of her youth was still easily visible behind the wrinkles. no question about it, she looked downright regal. i thought here we go. this one is going to be a real piece of work, a real aristocratic snob. she is going to stick her nose up in the air and walk right past me like i don't even exist.

was i ever wrong.

this genteel woman looked right at me with the most marvelous, twinkling blue eyes and a big smile, and with a very posh british accent said "a little dash of powder, a little dab of paint, makes a girl look like something that she ain't."

as i hooted with laughter, she emitted a delicate, crackly, old lady chuckle and told me in a firm, friendly voice about how her grandmother used to recite those words to her when she was a young girl just starting to experiment with make-up.

i thanked her for those funny lines, which i had never heard before, and wrote them down in a little notebook.

it only goes to show, you never know who you might meet in the ladies room and, more importantly, oftentimes things are not what they seem.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

beach morning

the sands at popham beach have been eaten up by the hungry ocean. the wide dunes and dune trails used to lead you from the parking lot to the beach, but now they are gone, replaced by pitifully small banks of sand where park rangers have piled unattractive tree trunks and limbs hoping to secure what sand is left. the same powerful storms that wiped out the beach also pulled the quaint, wooden, open-air bathroom/shower facilities into the sea. they rebuilt it out of drab cinderblock.

on monday it was cloudy—a great day for a hike on the beach. the inland temperatures were in the high 80's, but here it was 75 with a good breeze. to me the beach is best when it's cloudy. i don't like to roast in the blazing sun.

i walked out along the curving sand to the granite mound that is fox island. the tide was coming in, but there was still time for me to explore a little and safely get back over the sand bar to the mainland before the bar was surrounded and then covered by the treacherous swirling waters of the 2 p.m. high tide.

at popham you need to leave the island about three hours before high tide unless you don't mind being stranded on the bald, rocky dome until the tide turns.

popham beach at low tide is a beautiful, unique beach to explore.

at high tide it is almost entirely swallowed by salty waves.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

surgeons and blogs

thank you dr. asherman for prescribing pain meds after my foot surgery last year which caused me, as i was flying oh-so-high, to think "a blog, what fun! what's a blog?"

thank you christina for suggesting i ought to look at jill's blog to help relieve my boredom ( right leg in a cast, no driving for 8 weeks) and to find the answer to my nagging question "what's a blog?" you are a sweet and thoughtful niece.

thank you jill for answering that infernal question and for being supportive. your blog inspired me to start my own blog. good to see you this weekend and congrats (again) on your engagement. your ring is awesome.

i ask you, where has the year gone?

Monday, July 18, 2011

saving a duck

traveling can get boring if.....'s just one sparkly-elegant-four-star-mostly-booked-solid kind of hotel and one boasting-best-wine-selection/world-renowned-elitely-trained-head-chef/brand-new-award-winning-gourmet kind of restaurant after another. (not that i would know anything about establishments such as these.) aha, perhaps you beg to differ with me? you have your mouth wide open in dismay and disbelief and are shaking your head thinking whataya crazy? what's wrong with places like that? they sound kinda nice to me. 

sure, nice, but i'm trying to make a point here and the point is.....when you're a tourist on a whirlwind trip through a foreign land, and you might be starting to miss your own pillow and your own bed back home, and you're hunched over a map in your rental car on the wrong side of the road where you might be having a tiny tiff with your husband about whether to take the scenic route or most direct route after having survived four roundabouts in a row, and when you're tired and you lost your passport but then you found it again, and when you might have even just forgotten where the hell you are (you look at the map again), it doesn't matter what hotel you're staying in or where you're dining. everything can start to look pretty much the same. what you need when a trip gets a little ho-hum is some drama, some action, some local color, to make you able to differentiate locations and recall them later on.

quite simply, you need a story.

oh yeah, i remember that place. that was in coggeshall, wasn't it, where the lady saved the duck.......

one morning at 7 a.m. i went down to breakfast in our very british hotel—hundreds of years old, and full of exposed beams, low ceilings and creaky floorboards—while ed checked out and put our suitcases in the car. a rather dirty lady—short, a bit plump, looked like she was in her 40's, but who knows, maybe she was in her 20's—hurried past me and breathlessly promised that she would be right back. i sat at a table in the empty breakfast room (breakfast had just started) and waited for her return wondering if she was the waitress and, if that was the case, if i wanted to be served by such a dirty woman.

i waited almost ten minutes for her and then i learned three things:  her name was daisy*, she was indeed the waitress, and she had a story to tell me.

the first time i saw daisy, the front of her white shirt was splotched with mud and something green, and her face had a good helping of mud (and something green) on it, too. the second time i saw daisy, although still out of breath, she had put on a clean shirt and her face was washed pink and bright. she apologized profusely and had her pencil and pad of paper in hand ready to take my breakfast order. the minute she opened her mouth, her delightful local accent and delicious choice of words (i cannot begin to tell her story as wonderfully as she did, i wish i had a recording) had me hooked. i said "never mind my breakfast! first tell me, what happened to you this morning?" and then listened intently as daisy happily launched into her tale.

it was on the narrow, winding (here we go again with those little english streets) road through the small village center of coggeshall, where it all began. a duck had decided he was going take his morning waddle in the middle of the road, in the process slowing down and holding up the morning commute to work. daisy's friend, alice, worked in one of the shops in town right where all the duck action was taking place and, as daisy walked by on her way to work, alice called out to her friend. after saying a hurried "good morning" alice pleaded with daisy to please get the duck off the road since she couldn't leave the shop at the moment.

"oh my, the poor wee thing, frightened by all the honking horns," she told me. "i was already late for work, but the dear mite might have got hit by one of them and i couldn't live with myself if that happened, so i ran into the traffic, waving my arms all around so everyone would just stay calm, and grabbed the sweet duck and held him tight against me and that wasn't easy because he wanted to wiggle himself free and walk by himself, not with me holding him, you see......."

her story came out fast and without a pause. it seemed such a relief to her to have someone to unburden herself to.

i begged her to continue her story.

"well, not much more to tell, is there? i saved the duck, is all."

i said "but i have to know, what did you do with the duck?" i was still curious as to where the mud came from, too.

"oh, the duck? well, there's a little stream down there, it's not massive, mind you, but good enough for a duck, so i hurried as fast as i could to get him into the water but first i had to get myself and the duck over the fence and that was full of muck and green, slimy stuff. when i scrambled over it i got my shirt dirty, but the duck was safe at least."

i congratulated her on saving the duck and we chit-chatted a while longer. daisy was a real character, honest and outspoken.

you know, there aren't many people who would go through all that to save a duck. i have to say, daisy made my day with her story and now i'll always remember that small village in the uk because of her and, of course, the duck.

*not her real name

Friday, July 15, 2011

a queen's walled garden

after a high speed ferry ride and then a jump over a small, puddle-like inlet of water on the unique chain ferry (if you don't take this little car ferry, which is actually, incredibly, pulled back and forth across the water by chains, you have to drive way around a river to get to east cowes on the other side), i ended up on the isle of wight with four hours to myself. i decided to visit osborne, which was once the private seaside retreat of queen victoria and prince albert.

i enjoyed strolling around the villa (until i ran into a large tour group), and the italianate terraces and lawns, but the real attraction for me was the walled garden.

i thought of the secret garden, one of my favorite childhood stories, when i stepped through a side door in the brick wall which surrounds the magical garden and came upon a welcoming, flower-filled retreat. it was peaceful and uncrowded (only a handful of people), unlike the queen's house, where i encountered too many people, and most annoyingly, a very large group of noisy german tourists.

inside the house two women in the tour group insisted on going in the wrong direction to view osborne, in the process running into people going in the right direction, which was supposed to be an orderly, circular, self-guided procession through the rooms. the guard politely and patiently—i was impressed—turned them around and told them not to go back the way they started, but to proceed on their tour the correct way.

sometimes i hate being a tourist.

the women argued loudly with the guard—they in heated german, he, coolly, in english, all rather comical—about this point for a moment, then shrugged and seemed to comply with his wishes. they were in front of me for a while as we flowed along, a current of bodies surging through rooms, but then, thankfully, the women disappeared into the crowd.

sometimes employees at tourist attractions must hate being employees at tourist attractions.

my elbow-to-elbow walk with other tourists around osborne house was interrupted a second time by the german tour group leader herself, an attractive woman in her early 40's with a loud professorial voice. i understand some german and this woman was obviously knowledgeable, but did she have to have such a booming, loudspeaker set of vocal chords? perhaps some of the german tourists had hearing problems.....

i had to pull away and separate myself from the noisy masses at this point. luckily, i was nearly finished looking at the rooms open to the public anyway, so i could make a dash for the door and get outside on the terraces and lawn, where i finally had space and could breathe properly again. i ended the day in the walled garden, content and thankful to be in the secret company of flowers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

in the new forest

beaulieu means "the beautiful place" and so it is.

in the south of england, in hampshire, you sit in your rental car and drive past deep woods, shady glades and the open fields of the new forest national park, once upon a time william the conquerer's hunting grounds—making it, in fact, a very old forest indeed—on your way to the villages of beaulieu and buckler's hard. you are surprised by the number of "wild" ponies that you pass—ponies set free by their owners to roam, breed and graze as they wish for most of the year—around every corner, sometimes literally on the corner. you slow down and remain on the lookout for these amazing creatures.

after one particularly sharp turn as you cruise under a thick, tunnel-like canopy of green branches and experience close encounters with stems, twigs and leaves grabbing at you on the passenger side of the car, you emerge in the sunlight again and admire the pastureland on both sides of the road. you see a foal nibbling in a patch of ferns on the right, and his mother with her face in a hedgerow on the left. you pull over and start taking pictures, slowly inching your way over to the mare. you pull an apple out of your pocket, bite off a piece and place it on the palm of your hand, an offer of friendship. she accepts the offer. her curious son ambles over to see what's going on, holding up traffic in the process. just another day in the new forest.

and then, right there, a foot away from the pavement and three feet away from where you are standing, the foal impatiently nuzzles under his mother, thirstily searching along her belly for comfort and a drink of sweet milk. you are oh-so-thrilled to be in the right place at the right time to view this event taking place on the side of the road, the pristine, natural order of life unfolding before you as it has since the dawn of time before the development of organized farming, and the restrictions of barns, barnyards and fences.

you aim your camera one last time and then walk away and leave the pair alone. even if you don't see another pony in the forest for the rest of the trip, you will still be happy with what those two have given you. (luckily, you do see many more ponies as you explore the forest, but never a scene like the one you just witnessed.)

you pass beaulieu. ahead is buckler's hard.

Monday, July 11, 2011

comings and goings

{the walled garden at osborne on the isle of wight}

she stands at the top of the stairs and starts to walk straight down, but then changes her mind. instead of hurrying, she inhales a deep breath, turns, and takes a last look at her bedroom door and the emptied-out space lying beyond it, her eyes sweeping across the vacant air where her childhood played itself out.

she heads out one door and through another to her first apartment that, by the end of the day, will be filled with boxes and bags containing the vital things bed, bath and beyond supplied, things like a colander, a blender, a vegetable peeler, pots and pans, sheets, pillows, towels, a shower curtain, a bath mat.....

in and out of rooms, the flow of life in a home is an an endless repetition of comings and goings. generations of friends and family stay here and then leave us. until they return, we are quiet and alone in this space. but then, here they come again. in the summer we throw open the windows and let the breezes wash over us. oftentimes, all the beds are occupied, with extra sleeping cots for the overflow of bodies on the screen porch—mosquitoes, fireflies, raccoons, coyotes and bats inhabiting the darkness past the wire mesh. in winter, with the smell of woodsmoke and pine outside, people are closed up, cozy and crowded, inside.

we welcome the food, the stories, the chaos, the sweet noise people and dogs bring with them, reverberations that cross the threshold and rhythms that hold us solidly together even when we are far apart.

Friday, July 8, 2011

stone saints and other men

the letters on the keypad rest under my fingers as i stop and think of the uk—of the gardens and woods of delight, of the ponies running wild and free in the new forest, of the inscrutable (and dare i say, even attractive after all these years) stone men in kent who watched me walk across the grass and under archways made of sandstone.

for the first few nights of the week we spent in england we unpacked very little each evening, only removing from our suitcases things like toiletries, pajamas and a change of clothes for the morning, since we would be moving on right after breakfast. in my mind i had envisioned lightening-fast stopovers due to our crazy schedule: madly driving through lovely english villages in a flash, jumping into bed, and then sadly leaving the villages behind and losing them forever as we drove away and they became smaller and smaller and disappeared in the rear view mirror.

as it turned out, though, our business itinerary left us with enough time to pull into town, check in to our hotel and still have part of the afternoon and all evening to poke around the countryside.

a castle we had wanted to see in the tunbridge wells area was closed the day we were there, so we looked at my map with historic sights marked on it and decided to drive (with ed behind the wheel on the uk's alarmingly wrong side of the road, and me pointing and oohing and aahing at the scenery) along the nail-bitingly narrow and winding, hemmed-in-and-almost-swallowed-by-hedges roads, toward the kent and sussex border.

we missed the turn to bayham abbey and bayham old abbey house the first time around—the sign was smallish and partially covered by, what else, england's ever-present hedges—but since we sailed right by it we ended up having the good fortune of discovering a cozy pub with outdoor seating adjacent to the lovely lamberhust vineyard where we would return at dinnertime.

the landscape in the area was one of the prettiest we have ever seen in the uk (hence the oohs and aahs), all woodsy thickets, green, green fields, rolling hills and streams which led us, on this perfect summer day in the midst of this idyllic nature-the-beautiful, to backtrack and finally find the road to the abbey.

above the dense hedges in the car park the abbey rose up and almost glowed in the strong sunlight. the silvery and occasionally golden ruins, some of which date back to the early13th century, consist of the fine and extremely durable local tunbridge wells sandstone, and are remarkably well-preserved.

i walked off to the right; ed went left. there was nobody else at bayham except the young man minding the tiny gift shop (a lovely one with nice books), and dozens of rabbits, if you want to count them as somebodies.

when i got near the north and south transepts of the abbey i looked up and, beneath the string course—a kind of projecting moulding running horizontally across the facade of a building—i was totally surprised to notice.....him. this huge, gorgeous, sandstone head of a man, maybe 600 or 700 years old. and then i saw another glorious man's head. i felt a little tingly all over. both were marvelously good-looking considering their age and the fact that they were stone heads, not full-bodied, flesh and blood, men. i don't know who they were supposed to be representing; the abbey guide doesn't say. saints, martyrs, monks, other holy men or maybe one of the family of sackville noblemen (who dominated the scene, perhaps around the late 13th century, in this part of kent; many sackville's were buried here), someone with an important religious connection, anyway. saint richard of chichester who once stayed at the abbey, perhaps?

i wondered, who were these anglo-saxon stone men resting high above my head? what did they believe? were they good men, benevolent and generous, or calculating and selfish?

seeing the stone carvings of the holy men made me think about another man, a muslim man, i saw at the airport in copenhagen. he was a bearded, middle-aged guy, well-dressed in western clothing, who was accompanied by two petite young women, presumably his daughters, who were dressed from head to toe in the black robes of their religion. they sat right across from us, the man sitting between the ladies. i tried not to stare, but when the women looked up i couldn't help glancing at their eyes, jet-colored eyes precisely framed like black and white photographs in the rectangular openings of their burqas; large, clear eyes with dark brows and lashes (the lashes enhanced by a bit of mascara? or not?). the women were busily texting, fingers flying over the keys, each with a large prada handbag on her lap and expensive shoes on her feet.

the man hovered protectively, tenderly, over the women, leaning in closely as he murmured his words and they murmured back. when one of them started to walk to a ben & jerry's vending machine in our gate area, he jumped up and stood beside her, pressing in as she made her selection. she demurely followed him back to their seats to wait for the flight to london.

was this father a holy muslim man? a devout man? did he read the holy word of his religion? was he a good man, a good father? was he like one of those stone men—whose faces stare down at me still, even though i am thousands of miles away—well-known in his community, respected, worthy enough, holy enough, to have a carving made of his likeness?

how do you become so worthy as to be chiseled out of stone? what does it take to have your face placed on a religious house high above the rest of humanity, to be left to stare out over the hills and valleys as if pondering the enormities of life and death while the centuries flow by underneath you?

i click away on my macbook. i am left to ponder these particular ancient stones and the meaning they might hold for us today. bayham displays all the basic design elements of henry III's time but it is the work of a master builder, a man whose awesome skill was such that it most certainly should have shown up elsewhere in the uk, but apparently does not. the hand of this man is found in the kent religious house alone, making him an enigma, a real mystery man.

and i do love mysteries.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

where time stood still

there are a few places on earth which remain, amazingly, as they were two or three hundred (or more) years ago, places time, for some interesting reason, seems to have ignored and passed over as it hurriedly moved on and set up shop elsewhere, leaving these isolated pockets of human activity to continue in the old ways, as if forgotten by the rest of the world.

coming across such a place is not, for most of us, an everyday occurrence. amish country in pennsylvania, certainly frozen in time, comes to mind, but i can't think of when i last drove somewhere, parked the car, looked around, saw evidence of human habitation but nothing else whatsoever, besides the car i arrived in and the one car belonging to the people who lived there, which would indicate the view i was looking at existed in the year 2011. and yet that is exactly what happened the day we drove down to the northern shore of horsens fjord where it widens out near some islands at the mouth of the fjord.

we left horsens around noon and drove through soevind toward the fjord on narrow, winding roads which led us past fields lush with growing wheat, hay, rape (brassica napus) and poppies, and pastures filled with lazily grazing horses and sheep. when henrietta showed me around the old barnyard where we parked and began our mile or so hike to the water—and passed yet another thatch house!—i was astonished by how much i felt i had gone back in time.

the very long, white, beautifully preserved farmhouse (one end of it probably housed cows and horses at one time), barns and other buildings, remain as they stood hundreds of years ago. the house is rented out to the retired headmaster of a private school in horsens, and the buildings are used by the school for educational purposes. there were no electric wires, street signs or paved roads; no farm machinery, gas grills or patio furniture were visible. in fact, nowhere to be seen were any of the conveniences or other trappings of modern life. all there was to see was revealed in nature's vast murals, tamed by the invisible hand of man and then left to continue on as nature always has and nature always will.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

the little red grocery store

all i can say is, for the most part i vehemently dislike huge stores, you know, the big box ones like wal-mart, home depot, pet quarters, b.j's and other large grocery chains, and some department stores. notice i didn't include bed, bath and beyond in this list. i think that's because i am able to find things i need there owing to the fact that knowledgeable salespeople actually exist and can be located in that store, and it's a good store for young people—and people like me!—on a budget who can't afford 900 thread count sheets but need a few good items for their first apartment.

in gigantic stores i get a little worried and maybe i even start to hyperventilate a teeny bit. the huge quantity of inventory seems, to me anyway, to be messy and disheveled, piled to the ceiling miles above my head and ready at any moment to come crashing down on me and kill me on the spot. oh boy, and the mother ship of all gigantic stores—i had the pleasure to visit this cavern for the first time a few weeks ago—is ikea. don't get me wrong. the merchandise is great as far as low priced items are concerned, and they have so many choices, and it is very clean, neat and organized, but my eyes started to get a crazed, vacant look, and my hands got clammy and i experienced mild tremors and palpitations as i drifted along the marathon course of showroom displays and the infinite universe of warehouse space.

phew, now that i'm outta there, let me relax a minute and then i'll invite you to do some shopping in vermont. this is vermont: fresh air, huge green open spaces, rushing streams and rivers tumbling down from the peaks, fields planted with all kinds of organically-grown veggies.

need some groceries? head on over to a typical small, vermont grocer offering fresh, locally grown/produced organic food. walk in the door of the little red market in "downtown" richmond and you will experience a real, full-of-goodness neighborhood market, almost like the ones in the various ethnic boston or nyc neighborhoods. see, you don't have to travel to the wilderness to get good food, but here's the thing: before you go in the richmond grocery, look at the view and you will be faced with a sight you'll never come across in boston or new york.

witness the incredible mountains all around! admire the twin peaks of camel's hump towering beyond the entrance and then go get some fresh, no-preservatives, whole-grain vermont bread, baby spinach, tomatoes. enjoy the view again on your way out......

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

a vermont fourth of july

as we drove along past mountains, rivers, fields and forests on friday morning, we looked forward to a nice four-day, fourth of july weekend in vermont which actually turned out to be one of the best, and busiest, independence day holidays we've had in recent memory. we helped one daughter move into her first apartment and another daughter build a railing on her new deck. we barbecued, enjoyed street performers in burlington, saw great fireworks. we did a lot of walking, talking, hauling, lifting, trudging up and down stairs (to the second floor apartment), unpacking, shopping at bed, bath and beyond and the hardware store, laughing (and laughing some more) and eating.

one night when both daughters had other plans (one scooted off to a party, the other, a wedding), ed and i went out to dinner in burlington. after dinner we took a long walk and, as the sun set, listened to some live music in the park on the waterfront, then watched the sunday fireworks on lake champlain. we were staying at alex and kevin's house. at 10 p.m. alex called and asked where are you guys? she said they were already home from the wedding—were we going to be home soon? we laughed and said we'd be home in an hour or so. they were in their pajamas when we got back to the house. funny to have your kids worried about you and checking up on you if you're not home before they are!

the weekend went by far too quickly. now the real lazy hazy days of summer begin.....july and august in maine are absolute bliss.