Bells, Books, and Echoes

I think I hear church bells one night. I step outside onto our back doorstep, lean over into the humid, still-hot evening, and strain my ears, my soul, my whole being toward the sound I thought I heard. Nothing. Just summer-still evening air, quieter even than a normal August night. No bells. This is maybe…

Plans and the Pet Store

The pet store wasn’t supposed to be today’s highlight. I actually didn’t plan to go there at all, as I almost never plan to go the pet store. Certainly not this one, anyway, a dimly-lit, big box affair off of a wide and depressing avenue in the north part of our city. (Yes, our dog…

Two Decades, from the Delta

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 I have a good memory. It’s the kind of memory that teachers like, the kind that absorbs all of those names and dates, which the most up-to-date pedagogy spends a lot…

85 Sunflower Seeds

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. Annie Dillard, The Writing Life A day such as this, in which I endure a measure of sickness or unease, is a reminder that the redemption of all…

Of Raspberries and Resurrection

 Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24 (NASB) I really did think the raspberry bush was dead. I’m not the primary gardener in our family; that’s my husband, the garden visionary, shopper, planter,…

Blood, Proximity, and Things We Learn to Love

I’ve never known as much about sheep farming as I do now. I could say it was an accident, that I didn’t know quite what I was getting into when I started reading James Rebanks’s A Shepherd’s Life: A People’s History of the Lake District, but that wouldn’t be technically accurate. I worked hard to…

A Little Like Teaching

Late at night, I open my laptop again and retrieve a Google Slides presentation. It looks eerily familiar, the same layout of a slide that used to gleam each morning at the front of my classrooms. On one side, a word of a orientation for those entering the room. Where am I? Language Arts 9!…

Blank Days and the Bulletin Board

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,even in the leafless winter,even in the ashy city.I am thinking nowof grief, and of getting past it; I feel my bootstrying to leave the ground,I feel my heartpumping hard. I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.I want to be light and frolicsome.I want to…

Things That Made 2021 Better

Though 2020 overall held more dramatic surprises, I can’t imagine I’m alone in the feeling that 2021 was not the year I thought it would be. Many large-scale hopes—like forgiven student loans or confidently executed travel plans—went unmet, but the year was peppered, at least for my small corner of existence, with sweet surprises. Though…

Writing Now

A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to A Young Poet I once wrote a novel in a month. I wrote alongside thousands of other writers, all around the world, for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal of the project, on a large scale,…