ankle deep

stepping one foot and then

the other
into colder than wanted
water standing on solid rock waiting for the shock to
subside,
almost okay with just going ankle deep,
actually being okay with that, and also aware of the possibility for
more
so even if it takes me one minute, or 12,
when I finally submerge my whole being into the river, i let any and all sounds of hollering come out of my mouth into the cold
and for a moment i understand what they were saying last week in meditation class, chogyam trungpa and that whole idea of gentle
            bravery because now the water is everything i wanted and i don’t see how it could have happened any other way

 

she breezes through

staffing the tent at the farmers market (for the first time) and a girl dressed in all black, (maybe seven years old) walks up and tells me straight away that she wants to play the seed game

i ask her to guess what the seeds are in each of the 10 mason jars arranged in front of me. so she breezes through the first two

pumpkin
            sunflower
then gets to the third one and lifts up the jar for a better look. hey no cheating i say knowing that they are all labeled on the bottoms,
and she looks up at me and says i wasn’t cheating. i never cheat. well, only a little sometimes just to be funny.

 

 

clunks gently

when there is a sudden downpour as i’m riding back from town
and i pass a man who is also riding
his bicycle, who gives me a thumbs up through the rain and calls out to me,
we’ve got two hurricanes headed our way

when the rain clears and the sky lights up orange and lavender and i shake off some of the dripping, and stop by c’s new house for a moment to check
in on the painting progress and give him a hug with my helmet on so it clunks
gently into his chin

 

clap freeze change history

we are doing a workshop during orientation called theater of the oppressed, based on Paolo Freire’s pedagogy, and one group acts out a skit about m’s experience of how she was the first girl ever picked for her little league baseball team (1974), and her coach called her to say maybe you shouldn’t play, you will mess up the team dynamic, but then she makes Allstars (1976), and the coach calls again, maybe you should sit out this game, m.

but the point of the workshop is that now all of us are watching the skit and we can clap and freeze the action, to switch places with one of the actors and turn the oppressor around.

someone claps in, switches places with the coach and says

m, we are so happy to have you on the team, we fully support you here!

oh really? m says, I thought the other coach said that i couldn’t play.

he was wrong, the new actor says. he was very wrong.

as more groups act out other skits depicting personal stories of small oppressions, in classrooms, in offices, from childhood we get into a groove of clap freeze change history and now everyone wants to clap in to right the wrongs, and some of the improvised more empowering dialogue makes us laugh.

afterward people share what was hard and what was easy, and we talk about lessons in responsibility. not always up to the authority to correct an oppressive action. hard to do it in the moment. easier to challenge a bigoted stranger. harder to challenge a misguided friend.

 

talking about talking

during orientation for my new gig all about growing food, teaching about food, working for food, (justice and accessibility) (a land stewardship coordinator) i attend a workshop
called the art of listening and although the instructor is captivating, uses lots of great hand gestures, and we even break into pairs and do a few speaking exercises, i make a note that it is a deceiving workshop title because he is mostly teaching us about how to use presentation techniques to make people listen.

someone would be deluded to thinking that they could now listen after leaving that workshop.

he could have at least called it the art of speaking

at the end of the week i am rehashing my time with r as we walk around cranberry pond, talking about talking. and listening. why does it make someone more convincing if they are speaking with hand motions? not to everyone. to certain people?

why is it that we are trained to listen to people who speak loudly with conviction?

couldn’t we be training ourselves to listen for what’s true?

together sitting

starting a new thing tomorrow i say to the jade plant on the table next to me and the bouquet of wildflowers in the mason jar and the leftover pound cake on a plastic tray that someone must have brought to the party on Friday and no one had finished eating since then

how it wouldn’t be a big deal, starting a new thing but also how
many new things have i started. 3 different jobs. just in one year? 4 different homes. how many times
will i pack up everything? not to mention the other countries, and my big (and heavy) red backpack, and all of the buses. last fall. then the (stillness and agitation of) winter. and then come spring i must have memorized at least a hundred
new names of kids that came through every week to learn with me in the woods of the berkshires

 

i call mw as i’m walking to find some woods around five o clock, and i leave a voicemail message for her that wanders and when i hang up i start singing one of her songs- not hers, but the ones that she taught me, the ones that we sang
together sitting on her couch in her
house in the prairie, a little less than a year ago when i rested my
travel weary body in her living room for 10 days to watch the colors change and the lake water turn cold.

the water shines

watching the steam rise from three mugs of tea on the kitchen counter in the morning of a workday but i am on vacation

peach juice dribbles down my chin near where webber road enters
historic whately and my fingers are sticky so i wipe them on my
shirt before grabbing the handlebars again and srs says this is what i want when i retire and at first i think she means running a peach farm and setting up a stand like the one we’ve come across, which seems like a lot of work for retirement
but then i realize she means biking over back roads in the hills with friends stopping along the way to eat peaches

the way the water shines on the rocks above the dam
glimmering in afternoon light
and i slide into it and submerge myself (just a little bit colder than i would prefer)